Updating the NFL Draft Trade Chart for 2009
Back in the 1990s when Jimmy Johnson and
the Cowboys created the Trade Value Chart it was revolutionary. The Cowboys
manipulated the draft with remarkable efficiency. As other teams picked up the
concept the chart began to lose its value. Part of the problem is the trade
value chart has remained a constant over the years. While the chart varies
slightly from team to team it but has not varied from year to year. Two major
considerations have not been taken into account.
First, the economics of draft picks has
changed drastically over the years. The value of picks at the top of the drafts
has diminished as the salary cap costs have risen. For example, the number one
overall pick in the 2008 draft, Jake Long, received a contract making one of the
highest paid offensive tackles without ever playing a down. The salary cap era
has also increased the value of the later round picks as well because those
players are less expensive than veterans.
Secondly, the players at the top of the
draft only hold a lofty value if the players available in those slots are worth
the value. The past two drafts have lacked a sure-fire #1 overall pick as a
group of players are rated closely together. As a result the value of the #1
overall pick is diminished. The 2009 draft follows a similar path as QB Matthew
Stafford, OT Jason Smith and OLB Aaron Curry are all considerations at the top
of the draft but none of them is considered an instant Pro Bowler. The value of
the group behind these players including OT Eugene Monroe, WR Michael Crabtree,
QB Mark Sanchez, DE Brian Orakpo and DT BJ Raji is not much different either.
When there is not a great disparity among the value of the top players the value
of the top picks is again diminished.
An example of the disparity in the value
of top 10 picks can be found in Jacksonville’s trade up from #26 to #8 overall
with Baltimore. According to the trade value chart the 8th overall
selection should have been worth 1,400 points. By trading picks 26, 71, 89 and
125 the Jaguars gave up only 1,127 points. Even with the recommended
adjustments in the chart the 8th pick is 1,350 points and the points
given up have only closed the gap from 273 points to 178 points. In other words
from a chart standpoint the Jaguars still got the better end of the deal just
not quite as good. It just goes to show how hard it is for a team to make a
move from the 20s into the top 10. Which leads to the next point of the trade
As the Ravens-Jaguars trade demonstrates
economics and the draft pool lowered the value of the players at the top of the
draft. In addition, with the need to add as many quality young players as
possible to one’s roster the value of the later round picks has increased a
little as well. In other words with the supply (i.e. teams wanting to trade)
outweighing the demand (team’s wanting to move up), it is time to update the
trade value chart. (see chart below).
With the top overall pick having less
value than in the past due to lack of a marquee talent and the increased price
tag of the top picks, the baseline has been reduced to 600 points to 2400. The
chart then drops 225 points to #2, 175 to #3 and 150 points for picks 4 and 5.
The drop continues to gradually work its way closer to the current chart around
pick 18. The side benefit of the new chart is the increased value (at least
proportionally) of 2nd round picks. The value in the draft the past few seasons
has been the depth of talent between picks 25-50 and 2009 appears that way as
well. The new chart takes this into account as teams in the top 10 should be
able to move up 4-5 spots by using their 1st and 2nd rounder. Teams outside the
top 10 need to dig a little deeper to move up but the price is not nearly as
prohibitive. A team in the 20s will still need to make a major commitment to get
into the top 5. The late round picks value is increased slightly their is minor
tweak to the chart to account for compensation picks after rounds 3, 4, 5, and 6
as those picks can not be traded.
Prior to last year’s Ravens-Jaguars
trade, moves into the top 10 had been almost non-existent and the constraints of
the trade value chart and subsequent backlash were partially to blame.
Sometimes teams may have determined they need accumulate picks, do not believe a
player on the board is worth the draft position’s salary slot or the player the
team wants will be available a few picks later and getting an additional pick
allows them to add another player. It just goes to show if teams at the top of
the draft really want to trade down they need to lower their expectations.
The best demonstration of changing expectations is provided by the Carolina Panthers in 1995. The Panthers valued QB Kerry Collins but did not want to pay him #1 money. They subsequently traded down from the #1 pick in exchange for the 5th overall pick and a 2nd rounder. They still managed to select Collins and acquired another top 40 pick in the process. In the end whether you use the traditional trade chart or the updated one, remember the Draft Trade Chart is a tool not a rule.
|Pick||Round 1||Pick||Round 2||Pick||Round 3||Pick||Round 4||Pick||Round 5||Pick||Round 6||Pick||Round 7|
|4 comp picks||4 comp picks||5 comp picks||4 comp picks||15 comp picks|