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Analyzing the Trades in Day 1 of the 2013 Draft

There were five trades in the first round of the NFL Draft.  Who were the winners and losers?  Which draft chart was used — the traditional Jimmy Johnson chart or something closer to my chart?  I’ve never argued that teams use my chart when making trades (rather, I’ve argued simply that they should), but it’s worthwhile to see the trade market has shifted under the new CBA.

1) Oakland traded the #3 pick for Miami’s #12 and #42 picks

At the time, most thought the Dolphins were trading to select the last of the three left tackles, Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson.  Instead, Miami drafted Dion Jordan, the DE/OLB out of Oregon.  Jordan will team with Cameron Wake to give Miami an incredible set of pass rushers, although the left tackle situation remains unresolved.

My draft pick value calculator says the Raiders received 107% of the value they gave up, making it slightly in their favor.  On the other hand, the Jimmy Johnson chart says the Raiders only received 76% of the value of the third pick back.

Winner: Oakland.  The Raiders were able to select the player they really wanted (D.J. Hayden), so they essentially received the #42 pick for free.  Meanwhile, the Dolphins gave up a high second round pick, a risky move in a draft that is flat on talent.  Miami fans will be happy with Jordan now, and the team could still send their other second round pick to Kansas City for Branden Albert, but strictly on trade value, the Raiders won this one.

Chart Used: This trade deviated far enough from the traditional chart to at least consider this as one data point that teams are beginning to use more reasonable charts.  On the other hand, the #3 pick was likely less valuable this year than most, so this may be an isolated situation. Reports indicate that Reggie McKenzie was prepared to use the #3 pick on Hayden, and at the very last minute got this deal from Miami. Since he knew he could get Hayden at 12, this trade may not be very useful in predicting future team behavior.

2) Buffalo traded the 8th and 71st picks to St. Louis for picks 16, 46, 78, and 222

It was no secret that the Rams wanted Tavon Austin, as St. Louis has failed to surround Sam Bradford with playmakers.  And while many expected Buffalo to do something foolish (Ryan Nassib?), the team played this one perfectly.  The Bills received 118 cents on the dollar according to my chart, sending 28.9 points of marginal AV in exchange for 34.2 expected points.   However, the Jimmy Johnson chart had the deal as nearly perfectly matched, making it clear that teams are still basing trades around that chart.  Austin fits a huge need for the Rams, but they paid a significant price to get him.  The 5’8 West Virginia Mountaineer is the shortest wide receiver ever selected in the top ten of the NFL Draft1, and he’s at least three inches shorter than every other receiver drafted in the top ten outside of Desmond Howard.

Winner: Buffalo.  The Bills are rebuilding, and the 46th pick will make that an easier process.  Then again, since Buddy Nix then drafted E.J. Manuel with the 16th pick, perhaps the Rams got the better end of this one.

Chart Used: The Jimmy Johnson chart.

3) Dallas traded the 18th pick to San Francisco for the 31st and 74th picks

Clearly, the Cowboys weren’t high on any of the players available at eighteen; Jerry Jones even hinted as much earlier in the week.  Dallas then surprised everyone by selecting Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, who had a third round grade according to Mike Mayock.  As for the trade itself, the Football Perspective Draft Value Chart says Dallas received 123 cents on the dollar by trading down; according to the Jimmy Johnson chart, the Cowboys received only 91 cents on the dollar. San Francisco drafted safety Eric Reid to replace Dashon Goldson.

Winner: Both teams. The 49ers were obvious trade-up candidates, as they have arguably the most talented roster in the NFL and way more draft picks than they could use.  They overpaid according to my chart, but not egregiously so, and “won” versus the traditional chart.  Dallas, meanwhile, was able to add a third round pick.  They probably could have used that pick on Frederick, but at least the Cowboys didn’t spend the 18th pick on him.

Chart Used: Combination of the two.

4) St. Louis traded the 22nd and 2015 7th rounder to Atlanta for the 30th, 92nd, and 198th picks

A 2015 7th round pick is worth roughly three cases of beer, so I’m going to leave that out of this one.  My calculator said the Rams won the trade, receiving 19.6 points in exchange for just 14.9 points (giving St. Louis 132 cents on the dollar).  Meanwhile, the Jimmy Johnson chart called it a nearly even deal, with the Falcons actually giving up slightly less than what they received (St. Louis received 98 cents on the dollar).

Atlanta, who traded up for Julio Jones two years ago, pulled the trick off this season to add Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant.  The Falcons desperately needed a corner, but they might have been able to wait it out and grab Trufant (or Xavier Rhodes or another corner) at 30.

Winner: St. Louis lost a lot of value in moving up to get Austin, but did a great job recouping draft capital in this deal. The Rams selected linebacker Alec Ogletree at 30, another strong player who would have made sense for the team at 22.

Chart Used: Jimmy Johnson chart.

5) New England traded the 29th pick to Minnesota for the 52nd, 83rd, 102nd, and 229th picks

The Jimmy Johnson draft chart says this trade was close to even, with the Patriots giving up 640 points and receiving 649 points (101 cents on the dollar). Of course, you know if a big trade down is even on the old chart, it’s going to look outstanding on my chart: the Pats received a whopping 159 cents on the dollar according to my draft values, sending 13.2 points of AV to Minnesota in return for 21.1 points.

With that pick, the Vikings selected Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson, an athletic wide receiver who should help Christian Ponder.  Add Patterson to an offense that features Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings, and Kyle Rudolph, and Minnesota should be a better team in 2013.  Putting aside the huge value hit they took in the trade, Minnesota had a great draft, catching the falling knives better known as Sharrif Floyd (Florida) and Xavier Rhodes (Florida State).

Winner: New England, as usual.  Trades for Aqib Talib, Albert Haynesworth, and Chad Johnson left New England without their 4th, 5th, and 6th round picks, but New England now has a significant amount of draft capital to use over the next two days.

Chart Used: Jimmy Johnson chart.

Recapping the Jets Draft

Things started poorly for the Jets and quickly went from bad to worse. Dion Jordan was always a pipe dream, but division-rival Miami traded up to grab him at three. Then Barkevious Mingo, the presumptive player the Jets were going to take at 9, was snagged by the Browns at six. Then, the Rams traded up to 8 to select Austin. When the Jets were finally up, they were forced to look at the top cornerback (Dee Milliner), a nose tackle (Star Lotulelei), the best run-blocking guard (Chance Warmack), or a second-tier outside linebacker (Jarvis Jones). John Idzik took nearly all of the ten minutes he was allotted, making it clear that the team was desperately trying to trade down. When the clock ran out, the Jets selected Milliner, a relatively safe pick that does fill a position of need.

I’m slightly skeptical about Alabama cornerbacks — Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson looked outstanding when they played for the Crimson Tide, too. Nick Saban is the game’s best teacher and a former defensive backs coach, and some feel that he coaches up his cornerbacks so well that by the time they reach the NFL, they’ve already reached their potential. But that’s a minor complaint: Milliner was rightly considered the best or second best corner in the draft, and with Kyle Wilson being a disappointment and Antonio Cromartie only signed through 2014, cornerback was a bigger need than you might think.

With the 13th pick, the Jets had two obvious moves: trade down for more picks or select Jarvis Jones. Idzik again took the full ten minutes, and my hunch is that he was way too aggressive (likely demanding he be given value equal to the old Jimmy Johnson chart) and should have accepted less to move down. If the team didn’t like Jarvis Jones, Lotulelei would have been a solid pick. Instead, New York drafted Sheldon Richardson, a 4-3 defensive tackle. My complaint isn’t about Richardson as much as it is about the scheme.

The Jets drafted Muhammad Wilkerson, a player capable of playing as a three-technique in the 4-3 or as a 3-4 end, in the first round of 2011. Last year, Quinton Coples was the team’s first round choice, and Coples was projected as a defensive end in either a 3-4 or a 4-3, although he is probably only capable of playing as a left defensive end. What the Jets really needed to complement these two players is a nose tackle — and the team did draft Kenrick Ellis in the third round in 2011, who was being groomed to start in 2013. A player like Richardson makes little sense, at least to me: the options would be to move Wilkerson to a one-techinque (ugh) or moving Coples to outside linebacker (double ugh). The other plan could be to move Wilkerson to defensive end and move to a 4-3, but that seems unlikely because the Jets would struggle to come up with at least two, if not three, 4-3 linebackers, and Wilkerson and Coples would be a very unexplosive pair of defensive ends.

Wilkerson is a Pro Bowl-caliber player because he can be an interior pass rusher, and Coples showed much of that same ability in 2012. Sticking to the 3-4 and adding an edge rusher or two at outside linebacker could have given the Jets a great pass rush. I would have preferred trading down for Jarvis Jones, trading up for Dion Jordan, staying put at 13 and selecting Jones, and just about anything to drafting a 4-3 defensive tackle at 13.

Before the draft, I thought the Jets had serious needs at the following positions:

Big, possession WR to complement Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley (Santonio Holmes will be gone after 2013)

Amazingly, the Jets drafted an interior defensive lineman who can’t play nose tackle instead of filling one of the many needs above. I just don’t get it. If the Jets were so in love with Richardson and viewed him as an elite prospect that you have to take regardless of scheme and your depth chart, (1) they should have selected him at 9, and (2) they wouldn’t have waited all ten minutes when they were on the clock as they desperately tried to trade down.

Drafts are about much more than the first round, but Thursday was a disappointing night for Jets fans.

[Note: A previous version of this article stated that the Raiders received 138% of the value for the picks in my chart and 90% in the Jimmy Johnson chart: I don't know why I wrote that. If you put 3 and 12/42 into the draft calculator, Oakland received 107 cents on the dollar in my chart and 76 cents in the traditional one. Obviously that's a lot worse.]

  1. Although 5-8 Joey Jones was selected with the 9th pick in the 1984 Supplemental Draft Pick of the USFL players. []