When the Cowboys acquired a bounty of draft picks in several trades to build a roster that won three Super Bowls in the 1990s, they devised a chart that assigned point values to every pick in the draft to determine how valuable picks were, and what would constitute a fair trade. That chart made its way around the league and was eventually used by everyone, but it has changed through the years.
Those changes, caused by things like the rookie salary rules and teams beginning to see less value in moving all the way up to the top picks in the draft, have resulted in a new consensus about what constitutes a fair trade of draft picks.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been around long enough to see the changes in the chart, but he says those changes have now spread around the league thoroughly enough that every team is more or less on the same page.
“One of the problems with the draft chart, if we all have our own draft charts, which is fine, sometimes it’s hard to make a trade because, ‘Well, my draft chart says this. Well, your draft chart says that,’ whereas if we all use the same chart, we all agree on basic value,” Belichick said. “Then it’s a lot easier to get what we call, I’d say, a fair trade, which I’d say over the last few years the majority of the trades that we’ve studied have been within a few percentage points one way or the other of being the correct value for the trade. In some cases in later rounds, sometimes those get a little bit skewed just because you have fewer picks. So if you don’t have many picks to work with then you can only use the ones that you have, but a lot of times in the earlier round picks, a sixth round choice will get thrown in or given back or something like that to sort of balance out the value of the trade. I’d say, overall, in the last couple of years, as we’ve studied the trade values, they’ve been pretty consistent with what our evaluations show on the trade chart, which I think is what the majority of the teams use. Relative to resetting the draft, the trade chart, I’d say there’s been a little bit of a modification there.”
The Patriots have two first-round picks and two second-round picks, so they’ll surely be consulting the chart often on draft weekend, as they should be major players in trade talks.