Draft trades still follow the chart

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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.

39 responses to “Draft trades still follow the chart

  1. That’s right .. keep following how the Cowboys do it!

    Jimmy was the man! Go Cowboys! Let’s kill it again in this draft!!!

  2. I was watching 30 for 30 the other night about the agent who represented both John Elway and Dan Marino (really) in the 1983 draft. Among the many fascinating facts presented was the price tag that then-Colts GM Ernie Accorsi had set for trading up to #1 for John Elway. It was obscene… something like 2 #1s in 83 and the #1 in 84, and one of the 83 #1s had to be in the top 5. Plus the teams #2s in 83 and 84.

    No GM would even think to ask for that much today – or on the other end, to give it – but then, there isn’t a QB talent of Elway’s caliber on the board this year, nor has there been for a long, long time.

  3. 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.


    Yes, and that would be a terrible price for the Browns to blow for a QB after (potentially) wasting a first rounder on Manziel last year.

    It’s a bad deal. The possible upside is too small – Mariota is starter-caliber, but they used so many picks to get him the team is only mediocre. It’s too high of a price, and it would take too long to recover.

    Of course they’ll probably do it…:(

  4. So if Houston trades the 16th pick at 1100 pts to Cleveland for the 12th pick at 1300 pts plus sending them the 46th at 540 pts minus the 77th at 35…. Oh no, I’ve gone cross-eyed

  5. Thank you for pointing out what I have been saying for months.

    There is no possible shot the Eagles would even consider giving up what would be necessary to take Mariotta. That’s why they haven’t done a single thing this offseason that would indicate they were preparing to try. But the connection was so easy to make that lazy NFL pundits continued to push, even coming up with utterly preposterous three way trade scenarios (because THAT happens all the time in the NFL) that despite their complexity STILL didn’t make sense for the Titans.

    In fact, the Eagles spent most of what the Eagles did should have been taken as signs that they weren’t even thinking about it. Do you think the Titans might have been interested in Shady McCoy as part of a package? Don’t you think the Titans might have wanted the #2 as part of a larger package that the Eagles instead sent to St. Louis?

    Yet, there are STILL people calling the Eagles the “wild-card” in the Mariotta race. Give it up.

  6. Boy this could have come in handy for some posters about 5 weeks ago when the stories came flying in hot.
    The trick is future years’ picks and their value. No one would think NE would have worse than the 21st overall next year barring a trade this year, meaning they would have to miss the playoffs. I speculated the value of the Eagles 2016 pick in a post weeks ago, a 10 win miss the playoffs 20th pick and I would think most teams in serious discussions do the same.

  7. I believe the Eagles are still very well in play. Cox, and bradford m8ght be dealt along with kendricks to acrue extra picks, lets just say one of the browns first, wven if its the 19th pick, add in the eagles 1st round pick next year with the 19th 20th this year and extra compensation pick. Done deal

  8. The problem with the draft trade chart is that it’s a static general guideline and void of incorporating logic and reasoning into processing the value of any trade proposition. Every theoretical trade is different in terms of the value of the particular package of players that are involved in the trade, and if the Titans can conclusively and confidently determine that their football team has a better chance of winning in the present and in the long-term by trading their #2 pick for the entire Jets draft, then they should make that trade regardless if the points don’t add up.

    If they can’t use the chart to negotiate for more value, then they are losing if they fail to make the deal, if they are correct in their analysis that it’s a better deal than standing pat. The trade chart will never by itself reveal to a team whether any given trade proposition is a good deal. Every team should be able to evaluate whether any given trade proposition helps them or hurts them without needing to know the trade chart value, thus it’s fairly irrelevant information.

  9. Whether trades happen also depends on the player(s) involved.

    Personally, I doubt there will be any big-time trading going on this year… at least not for QBs…. Neither of the top 2 guys are evoking memories Elway, Marino, or Manning. So nobody’s going to swing a big deal when nobody’s all that convinced it’s worth it.

    It sounds like Tampa Bay has been working very hard to talk themselves into taking Winston.

    And nobody else is clamoring to get Mariota.

    If there’s any trading going on, it’ll be for the WRs.. And that’s about it.

  10. points dont factor in existing players either…….eagles are dangling bradford…a starting caliber player….different teams would put different value on that

  11. It was great for its time. Where the draft chart has changed is in 2 primary areas. The top 10 picks were a bit too heavily weighted. Too many points for top 5 picks vs. the rest of first round picks. The 2nd area where the chart has changed the most is from mid 4th round and on. He assigned too little value from picks 103+. On his draft chart you could move down in round 3 like 16 picks and get another teams 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th. Thats not happening today

  12. You guys are missing the point. Of course the chart isn’t the end all be all. That’s why he only analyzed picks for picks trades. The chart is just to give a general idea of what the value of a given pick is. Of course they are going to analyze the player(s) that may or may not be available when said pick comes around.

    If you are going to trade picks for a picks, the chart gives you a good guideline to follow. But every team is also going to do more analysis outside of breaking out the casio & adding up points.

  13. There is no possible shot the Eagles would even consider giving up what would be necessary to take Mariotta
    I guess you stopped reading a couple sentences short. What about next years draft picks and current players to boot?

  14. tccoats says:
    Apr 28, 2015 9:50 AM

    What point value does future No.1 picks get assigned?
    There isn’t an answer to that. It takes common sense and conjecture. Answer yourself this…Whose pick might be higher next year from what we know today? Seattle, who’s played in the last 2 Super Bowls, or Jacksonville, who haven’t been to the playoffs since Tom Coughlin was HC? You never REALLY know, but you can guess.

  15. Seattle sent No. 32 (590 points) to Minnesota for No. 40 (500 points) and No. 108 (78 points).

    This could be the best trade in Vikings history, because they got Teddy Bridgewater.

  16. The article forgot to mention the surcharge if you will for trading up for a potential franchise QB. The price goes above the chart for a potential franchise QB especially when there is more than one team interested.

    Washington paid 3 #1’s and a #2 to move 4 spots, Cleveland was leaning towards offering 3 #1’s for RGlll.

  17. conormacleod says:
    Apr 28, 2015 9:56 AM
    There is no possible shot the Eagles would even consider giving up what would be necessary to take Mariotta
    I guess you stopped reading a couple sentences short. What about next years draft picks and current players to boot?

    I guess you didn’t read the rest of my post. I said that the Eagles were never going to give up that much to move up. Obviously, if they had to give up all of their picks this year PLUS some of next year’s picks PLUS current players, that would tend to support my argument that the Eagles are not going to give up that much for one player.

  18. This has to be the primary Moneyball opportunity in the NFL. Some savvy GM should hire a Wall Street firm to perform an analysis of prior draft history and determine the value of each pick based on historical player performance.

    Having a more accurate valuation on each draft pick would be an enormous strategic advantage for any NFL team.

  19. The value of each pick changes during the draft and the value is different for each team as players drop off the board. Future picks values are speculative. Also, players are assigned a value on each teams board and I am sure a simple Excel macro can convert that to how other teams tendencies may value a pick in relation to another teams valuation..

    A team may see,for example, pick 15 to have a pick 5 value, if that team’s 5th rated is on the board and available at 15. So, a if a teams valuation of a player is correct, the deal may be viewed as way lopsided in the eyes of the team trading up.

    I recall Kevin Colbert talking about this at some point when discussing the circumstances behind moving up to select Troy Polamalu. For many years, that move was viewed as a steal.

  20. I thought it was Jerry Jones’ business partner Mike McCoy that created the draft chart? He created it from prior drafts and how trades were executed (prior to 1991).

    Do have to keep in mind that some drafts are weaker than others. The points attached to the top 5 picks, as a primary example, can vary from year to year if there is little to no interest in moving up to those picks. See the Raiders/Dolphins trade from a couple of years ago regarding the 3rd overall pick.

  21. If the chart is so heavily relied upon as a standard for the “value” of picks, then I have a question:

    Why are picks in near future years always “valued” more highly than far off future year picks?

    If a team would never trade a 2016 first rounder for a 2017 first rounder without getting something else in the deal, too.

    Bottom Line: The chart is garbage, if for no other reason than every year’s draft class is unique. Its a case by case basis, which is why trades aren’t done by robots.

  22. The big variable in these trades are existing NFL players on a team. Starting players are worth a lot yet you can not put a point number on them.
    So if a certain team trades a 1st rd pick,a 3rd rd pick and three of their starters then it is clearly possible that the team at the top of the draft would make the deal.
    The existing starting players are “known commodities” that have proven they can play and play well in the NFL. That is a huge factor. They have proven they can play!!!
    Every single player in this draft and every other draft are “unknown commodities”. Everyone can say this guy is a can’t miss star but that player hasn’t done it yet.
    So that is a huge variable that I believe will come into play!
    If the team giving up the high draft pick can get 3 starters and a 1st round pick and a 3rd round pick that is an amazing package. They are drafting at the very top of the draft because their teams are void of talent.

  23. Good thing the birds went all out for that last meaningless game against the Giants. Difference between 15 and 20.

  24. Let’s take a look at this, because this chart just seems totally screwed up.
    No. 2 pick (2,600 points) for the opportunity to get Marcus Mariota.
    Drafting out of the No. 20 slot and with 8 picks, Philadelphia’s entire draft class
    adds up only to about 1,544 pts, according to this old chart.
    The Eagles would have to add next year’s 1st and 2nd round selestions,
    ( or a combination there of, assuming they will be drafting No. 20 again ) –
    in order to get close to the necessary 2,600 points to move up only 18 spots.

    Is Mariotta a franchise QB? Perhaps. It remains to be seen, but history shows
    his chances are much less than a 50% chance. Trading away 10 picks for the
    opportunity to roll the dice on one guy, seems like fool’s gold to me.
    It’s a risky proposition and I don’t think the chart accurately reflects this.
    It is skewed and weighted way too much towards the first few selections, and
    needs to be adjusted downwards to reflect reality, IMO.

    Afterall, how many multi-player deals work in the favor of the team receiving
    the highly rated prospect? I bet the Redskins regret trading up for RGIII.

  25. Nice to see a piece involving trading up that truly doesn’t have the Chargers and Philip Rivers in it. Hurray for that deal being dead officially!

  26. The chart is outdated and should have been modified to take into account the new CBA. Much of the old chart was based on the absurd financial investment required for the top picks. That is no longer the case. A new chart should be made which reflects the smaller rookie wage scale and smaller gaps between the top picks. Perhaps a entire new chart isn’t needed but the first ten picks (at least) should be amended.

  27. RGIII Trade (2nd pick 2600)

    Redskins gave up:

    1st round – 6th pick = 1600
    2nd round – 21st = 160 ( selected Janoris Jenkins Great CB!)

    1st round 22nd = 780

    1st round 2nd pick = 2600 (Selected OT Greg Robinson)


    So Redskins gave up 5140 points for 2600 for R-Busted-Knee-Three!!!


    Rams flipped the 6th pick in 2012 to Dallas for the 14th (1100) and a 2nd (45th ovr = 440)

    So they only got 1540 back from the 1600 close I guess. But they traded that 2nd pick to the Bears… Bears got Alshon Jeffery!!! Rams move down 5 spots to 50th (400) and select Isaiah Pead. (now at 1500 for their 1600 value)

    Rams also go a 5th (value in the 30’s points) , with the 14th pick in the 1st rams picked up DT Michael Brockers who is solid DT.

    Rams would also trade with Falcons in 2014…

    Its easy to look back and see great players Rams could have gotten, also they did ok.

    And WASH gave up a ton for not much back.

    Its all about Supply and DEMAND!!! Yes the draft chart might have a little value, but if the talent is not there, or if you REALLY REALLY REALLY want someone then you OVER PAY!!! by a TON!!

    Philly can make a move for the 2nd pick. Anyone can!

  28. So theres value out there!! Top guys don’t always = Greatness…

    Look at JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, EJ Manuel, Jake Locker, Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez (5th pick), Brady Quinn, Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, JP Loseman, Kyle Boller, Rex Grossman, Joey Harrington, Patrick Ramsey, Tim Couch 1st ovr pick!) Akili Smith, Jim Drunkenmiller….. List goes on and on of 1st round Bust!!

    Don’t sell the Farm for Unproven Rook!! not many QBs can come in and start and be successful!

  29. Draft picks are way too valued in the NFL. You have to give up a 2nd and 3rd round pick these days just to move up a few spots. It’s absurd. I would trade my first round pick every year if I could get a star player or QB. It worked in Madden for years.

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