A Quick Rundown of the First Round Trades

If you’re a fan of watching the ways that markets work, then the NFL draft pick trade market can be fun to watch.  I sort of got interested in the topic when it occurred to me that the way that the NFL values picks is not probably very efficient based on a reasonable expectation of the distribution of human abilities.  Basically the NFL works off a trade chart that assumes the existence of super human individuals.  I think it’s unlikely that those superhuman individuals actually exist and I would argue that actual player results back me up.

I thought it might be fun to look at the draft day trades and compare the trades on the basis of the Jimmy Johnson Chart and also my chart that focuses on how many games started you can expect to get out of each pick.  As a refresher, here’s my draft pick value chart shown versus the Jimmy Johnson Chart.

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In putting this together I relied on this recounting of the trades. 

Here we go!

Browns move up to No. 3: Wanting to secure their top choice, the Cleveland Browns moved to the No. 3 pick in a deal with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota acquired the No. 4 pick, plus three additional draft choices ( a fourth-round pick-No. 118 overall, a fifth-round pick-No. 139 overall and a seventh-round pick-No. 211 overall). The Browns moved up one spot to select Alabama running back Trent Richardson, while the Vikings grabbed Southern California offensive tackle Ryan Kalil with the No. 4 pick.

The table below breaks down the value of the picks exchanged.  image

Note that the JJ Chart is denominated in points, while my chart is denominated in “Games Started”.  So you can expect to get about 85 career games started out of the fourth overall pick.  The JJ Chart says that Cleveland won the trade by a pretty wide margin, and the FD Chart says that Minnesota won the trade by a pretty wide margin.  Note that if I were to include position specific data, Minnesota would have blown Cleveland out of the water on this one.  Offensive linemen tend to start a significant number of games more than a running back.  Then if you consider salary cap issues and the fact that Minnesota is saving a lot of money on a left tackle and Cleveland is saving less money on a running back, it gets even worse for Cleveland.


Moving on.  From the trade summary on MassLive.

Jaguars go up to get Blackmon: The Jacksonville Jaguars traded up to the No. 5 overall pick to select Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Tampa Bay acquired the No. 7 overall pick and pick up a fourth-round pick from Jacksonville (No. 101 overall). With the No. 7 pick, Tampa Bay selected Alabama safety Mark Barron.

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Again, the Jimmy Johnson Chart says that the team trading up won, my chart says that the team trading down won.  My chart says that the expectation for the games started difference for the 5th and 7th picks isn’t that great.  However, if you look at the actual picks, I think you could make the case that Jacksonville did alright with this trade.


Moving on.  From the trade summary on MassLive.

Cowboys jump up eight spots to No. 6: The Dallas Cowboys have moved up eight spots to the No. 6 pick in a deal with the St. Louis Rams to select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. The Rams acquired the No. 14 pick (which St. Louis used to selected LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers) as well as a second-round pick (the No. 45 pick) from the Cowboys.

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The JJ Chart says this one is about even.  My chart says that the team trading down (STL) won, and by a sizable margin.  The 2nd round pick that the Cowboys gave up is worth quite a bit.  In terms of the actual players, I do think there’s something to be said for getting the best corner in the draft due to positional importance.


Moving on.  From the trade summary on MassLive.

Eagles move up to No. 12 for defensive tackle: The Philadelphia Eagles traded up three spots to acquire the No. 12 pick from the Seattle Seahawks to select Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Seattle picked up the No. 15 pick (which Seattle used on West Virginia outside linebacker Bruce Irvin) plus two additional picks (a fourth-round pick-No. 114 overall and a sixth-round pick-No. 172 overall)

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From a pick value standpoint, my chart says that SEA won.  But from an actual pick standpoint, it doesn’t look like they really capitalized on the opportunity.  PHI got Fletcher Cox, who many considered to be a top 10 quality player.  To figure the pick value on this one, it might actually be appropriate to think about Cox in terms of what his inherent value is, not what other teams assigned to him.


Moving on.  From the trade summary on MassLive.

Bengals deal out of No. 21 pick: After taking Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick with the No. 17 pick, Cincinnati traded out of the No. 21 pick in a deal with New England. The Patriots gave up the No. 27 pick as well as a third-round pick (No. 93 overall) to move up six spots. New England selected Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones with the No. 21 pick. Cincinnati took Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler with the No. 27 pick.

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The only comment I have here is that we were talking last night about CIN and how they seem to be increasingly making smarter decisions.  I’m not even saying that they sharked NE here, but between their draft picks last year, the Carson Palmer trade, and then this trade, they are increasingly operating like the smarter franchises.


Moving on.  From the trade summary on MassLive.

Patriots move up again: The New England Patriots moved up for the second time tonight when they acquired the No. 25 pick from the Denver Broncos. Denver acquired the No. 31 pick and a fourth-round pick (No. 126 overall). Denver later dealt those picks to Tampa Bay. The Patriots went defense once again with their draft selection, selecting Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

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I think there’s actually an important point to be made here.  When NE trades down, they often are just swapping picks with a 5 or 6 pick difference, and they will sometimes get a future year number one pick in the deal.  When they do that, they are taking advantage of teams discounting future year picks too heavily.  But even when they trade up, they do in with terms that no other team gets.  In terms of Games Started (my chart metric), this is the first trade where the team trading up got the better end of the deal.


Moving on.  From the trade summary on MassLive.

Vikings jump back into first round:The Minnesota Vikings picked up a second first-round pick in a deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Minnesota acquired the No. 29 pick and in exchange the Ravens received a second-round pick (No. 35 overall) and a fourth-round pick (No. 98 overall). The Vikings selected Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith with the No. 29 pick.

I really have no comment on this one.

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Moving on.  From the trade summary on MassLive.

Broncos move back again: The Denver Broncos, who traded out of the No. 25 pick, also traded out of the No. 31 pick in a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Denver acquires a second-round pick (No. 36 overall) and a fourth-round pick (No. 101 overall). Tampa Bay picks up the No. 31 pick, to select Boise State running back Doug Martin and a fourth-round pick (No. 126 overall).

No comment here except that Tampa Bay moved up in order to select a running back.

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