Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Updated Draft Value Chart

The value of a draft pick has changed since the new rookie salary cap as teams have become more willing to trade inside the first round. While there is only two seasons worth of data, I was able to create a new Draft Value Chart that is based upon a 100 point scale.

Post Rookie Cap
This chart fairly represents the trades of each team during the draft and can be used for evaluation purposes of draft pick value. Keep in mind that any trade that is within a couple points of each side is a positive trade as 6th and 7th round picks are worth under 2 points on the chart- and picks that late are regarded as easily obtainable.

Over the past two seasons, there have been 50 trades of just purely draft picks (ie: picks that do not involve players). Of these 50 trades, only 16 have exceeded 2.20 points in differential (the cost of the very last 5th round pick). Of those 16 trades, 12 involved first round picks as teams are willing to pay a premium for players they believe are the elite members in the draft. Generally, a sweetener of approximately a 5th round pick is needed to beat out other teams negotiating for the same first round pick.

As the pick moves into the top 10, draft charts should be thrown out. It comes down to how much a team wants a player and how much the team with the pick is willing to move. Players selected in the top 10 typically have nothing to do with value. They are supposed to be elite game changers who can change the face of a franchise- and that can't have a price tag. With that said, premiums are necessary when attempting to move into the top 10 and those premiums will be determined on a team-to-team and a player-to-player basis.

 With this chart, we can determine a six pack of the most lopsided trades of the past two seasons:

6. 2012: Green Bay Packers vs New England Patriots - The Patriots were trying to trade #62 to gain more ammunition in the later rounds. The team had no picks and, as a result, had no leverage in the transaction. The Packers pounced at the opportunity and took the Patriots to town with a differential of 9.27- approximately the value of the 100th pick of the draft. The Patriots had to accept a discount of a top 4th round pick if they wished to pick up later slots.

5. 2011: Kansas City Chiefs vs Cleveland Browns - The Browns wanted to move up and grab nose tackle Phil Taylor before the Colts (a DT needy team) or any other team was able to take the huge defensive lineman. The Browns were playing with some house money after trading with the Atlanta Falcons and were willing to pay a little extra to get their guy. The Chiefs were all to willing to acquiesce and walked away with a 10.8 point victory- the value of a late 3rd round pick.

4. 2012: St. Louis Rams vs Dallas Cowboys - The Rams had already traded down from the #2 spot and were sitting pretty until the Jacksonville Jaguars moved up and grabbed wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The Rams were unhappy with the other players available at this time and were looking to trade down. Lucky for the Cowboys, top talent cornerback Morris Claiborne was still available. Claiborne was the top defender in the draft and the Cowboys needed to revamp their secondary. The Cowboys packaged up their #14 pick with their second rounder (#45) to move up to 6th overall. The Cowboys got their guy and the Rams walked away with 19.3 points of value- the price of an early 3rd round pick.

3. 2011: Washington Redskins vs Jacksonville Jaguars - The Redskins walked away the big victors as the Jaguars moved up to grab their potential franchise quarterback. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert was available at the Redskins' #10 pick and the Jaguars collected their #16 and #49 picks to get their quarterback. The Jaguars are still developing their offense around Gabbert, while the Redskins picked up 20.8 points- also the price of an early 3rd round pick.

2. 2011: Cleveland Browns vs Atlanta Falcons - The Browns were sitting at #6 overall with a couple intriguing players still on the board. The Falcons agreed and wanted wide receiver Julio Jones to help quarterback Matt Ryan take the offense to the next level. To move up, the Falcons parted with #27, #59, #124, and 2012 1st and 4th round picks. The Falcons got their receiver and Cleveland walked away with 31.0 extra points- roughly the 50th overall pick.

1. 2012: St. Louis Rams vs Washington Redskins - Same teams, right? Quarterback prospect Robert Griffin III was one of the elite talents in the draft and one of the franchise quarterbacks available. The Rams already have their franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford and had no need for RGIII. The Redskins, on the other hand, were all too willing to move up to the #2 slot. In exchange, they offered #6, #39, and the 1st round picks in both 2013 and 2014. Washington hopefully has their quarterback of the future and the Rams picked up a small ransom of 79.23 points- roughly the value of the 10th overall pick in the draft.

Of course, it's important to note that these premiums can be worth it if the player pans out. No one will question the Redskins if RGIII leads the team to the playoffs. However, these values show how much a team values a prospect and how well front offices can manipulate the draft markets. True Wizards (Green Bay, Baltimore) will consistently walk away from the draft as value winners. Others realize that one bad move (New England Patriots and #6 on the list) can tank a team's draft value.

How do teams win? Hunt the value and pounce at the right time.

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