The old draft trade chart popularized by Jimmy Johnson’s Dallas Cowboys has been around so long that it feels like it must have grown obsolete. Surprisingly, it hasn’t.
A look at the trades from last year’s draft shows that teams still more or less follow the chart to determine what constitutes a fair trade. The trade chart assigns point values for every pick, and gives teams a general idea about whether they’re getting a good deal if they make a particular trade. For instance, the 16th pick is worth 1,000 points, the 26th pick is worth 700 points and the 60th pick is worth 300 points. So if a trade swapped No. 16 for No. 26 and No. 60, that would be a fair deal for both sides. If you believe the chart.
And teams do believe the chart. On the first day of the 2014 NFL draft, there were four trades involving only 2014 picks, and all four of them more or less followed the chart:
Minnesota sent No. 8 (1,400 points) to Cleveland for No. 9 (1,350 points) and No. 145 (33.5 points).
Arizona sent No. 20 (850 points) to New Orleans for No. 27 (680 points) and No. 91 (136 points).
Philadelphia sent No. 22 (780 points) to Cleveland for No. 26 (700 points) and No. 83 (175 points).
Seattle sent No. 32 (590 points) to Minnesota for No. 40 (500 points) and No. 108 (78 points).
Draft trades rarely result in exactly equal swaps of points because two teams looking to trade rarely have the picks that would add up to an exactly equal trade. But they’re usually pretty close.
What does that mean for this year? Here’s about what it would take for a few different teams to trade up to the No. 2 pick (2,600 points) and get Marcus Mariota:
The Browns have the ammunition if they want to do it. Cleveland could package No. 12 (1,200 points), No. 19 (875 points), No. 43 (470 points) and No. 77 (205 points) for a total of 2,750 points. That’s a deal the Titans would have a very hard time turning down.
The Jets would have to trade their entire draft and it still wouldn’t add up: The Jets’ picks are No. 6 (1,600 points), No. 37 (530 points), No. 70 (240 points) No. 104 (86 points) No. 223 (2.3 points) and No. 224 (2 points). That adds up to 2,460 points, which isn’t enough for the No. 2 pick to be a fair trade for the Titans. The Jets would have to trade not just this year’s first-round pick but also next year’s first-round pick for the Titans to bite.
The Eagles can’t even come close. Philadelphia’s entire draft adds up to about 1,544 points: The Eagles own No. 20 (850 points), No. 52 (380 points), No. 84 (170 points), No. 113 (68 points), No. 145 (33.5 points), No. 156 (29 points) and No. 196 (13 points) and No. 237 (a fraction of a point). If the Eagles are moving up to get Mariota, they’ll have to give up players or future draft picks, because this year’s picks won’t cut it.