Comparing the NFL and NBA Drafts

The following was posted at on Saturday by Tom Kowalski.

The Detroit Lions have just announced that they have officially traded defensive tackle Shaun Rogers to the Cleveland Browns for a third-round pick in 2008 and veteran cornerback Leigh Bodden. The Lions now own the 76th choice (their own) and the 87th pick (Cleveland’s) in the draft.

Shaun Rogers was a second round draft choice of the Lions in 2001.  And he was named to the Pro Bowl in both 2005 and 2006. Bodden was never drafted, but did manage to become the starting cornerback for the Browns.  So is a Pro Bowl defensive tackle only worth a starting cornerback and a third round draft choice?

To answer this question, let’s convert this NFL trade into NBA terms.  The NBA has five starters and 58 slots in the draft.  The NFL has 22 starters, and last year had 255 draft choices.  Given these differences, the 87th pick in the NFL draft would be equivalent to the 20th pick in the NBA draft.  You can get this answer by either

1. Dividing 87 by 22 and multiplying by 5. This is the starter conversion method.

2. Dividing 255 by 58, which give us 4.4.  We then divide 87 by 4.4.  This is the draft position conversion method.

When we think about the Rogers trade in NBA terms, we see the Lions have traded a former Pro Bowl player for the equivalent of an NBA first round pick and starting player.  When Rogers is at his best, this trade will look bad. But Rogers has issues with his weight and/or motivation.  And when these attributes are evident, this trade will look pretty good.

By the way, here are the conversions for each draft pick.

Table One: NFL Draft – NBA Draft Conversion Table

As Table One indicates, the first and second round of the NFL draft is equivalent to the NBA lottery.  The third and fourth round is equivalent to lower first round NBA picks.  Draft picks from the fifth round and below are similar to second round picks in the NBA.

The NFL Draft in April is the highlight of the NFL season for Lions fans.  So hopefully this table will help my fellow Detroit fans appreciate who Matt Millen is selecting. 

This table should also further our understanding of the NBA draft and recent trades.  For example, here is how the Pau Gasol trade was described:

For Gasol the Grizzlies received the Lakers first round pick from last year (Javaris Crittenton), two first round picks in the future, and Marc Gasol.  Pau’s brother, according to Memphis, is like a first round pick.  So Memphis has claimed that they received four first round picks in this trade.

Converting this into NFL terms, we see that Memphis received four picks from the third and fourth round for an All-Star power forward in the prime of his career.  When we think about it this way, does this trade still look good to fans of Memphis?

– DJ

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