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Two of the top three picks in the 2017 Draft.

There were six trades in the first round of the 2017 Draft, so let’s do some quick analysis of those moves. To do so, I will be using two draft calculators used: the one I created and the traditional one referenced as the Jimmy Johnson chart.

Football Perspective calculator
Traditional calculator

1)
49ers trade: 2nd overall
Bears trade: 3rd overall, 67th, 111th, and 2018 3rd round pick

Chicago traded up for UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The 49ers moved down 1 spot and still grabbed Solomon Thomas, the player most expected San Francisco to take at #2.

If you value a 2018 3rd round pick as equivalent to the 100th overall pick, The 49ers traded 30.2 points of value, and received 45.3 points of value, meaning San Francisco received 150 cents on the dollar. On the traditional chart, SF traded 2600 points for 2627 points, making it a nearly perfectly even trade. If you valued a 2018 3rd as equivalent to the 110th pick, it’s a perfectly even trade.

In other words, this is a sign that teams used the traditional chart.  But we know that on average, the FP chart will provide a more accurate representation of player value. As a result, this was an outstanding trade for the 49ers, and a very, very risky one for the Bears.  If Trubisky doesn’t turn into a star, this is going to be a bad trade for Chicago.

Good analysis available here from Bill Barnwell.

2)
Bills trade: 10th overall
Chiefs trade: 27th overall, 91st overall, 2018 1st

The Chiefs moved up 17 spots to draft Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs could use a quarterback of the future, of course — after all, it’s now been 30 years since Kansas City won a game with a quarterback drafted by the team. But if you value that 2018 1st round as equal to say, the 24th overall selection, that means the Bills received a whopping 170 cents on the dollar on the FP draft value chart. Even on the traditional chart, it’s still a great trade: Buffalo gets 120 cents on the dollar. And the Chiefs 2018 1st round pick could obviously be better than 24, too.

This was a great trade for the Bills, who were on the opposite end of this sort of move 13 years ago. In 2004, Buffalo traded 43, 144, and a 2005 1st to move up from 43 to 22 to draft J.P. Losman. Now, the Bills move down 17 spots and grab a future first and a third. As for Kansas City? The only way this works, of course, is if Mahomes becomes a star. The Chiefs are using two firsts and a third on him, which means he needs to be more than just average.

3)
Browns trade: 12th overall
Texans trade: 25th overall, 2018 1st

Houston trades up for Clemson QB DeShaun Watson, and the simplest way to compare this deal is to the one right above.

Cleveland traded a slightly worse pick than Buffalo did (12 instead of 10), and got back a future 1st and a slightly better pick (25 vs. 27), while not getting that third round pick. Given that the Texans 2018 1st is probably a better asset than the Chiefs 2018 1st, that makes this pretty close in value: if you loved the Bills trade, you have to love this one, too, although I’d say Buffalo did slightly better. I’m sure the Browns tried to get that third round pick — or even a 4th — but I guess kudos to Houston for not giving in?

But let’s be honest: Houston paid a huge price. Let’s say the 2018 Texans 1st round pick is worth the 22nd overall pick. That gives Cleveland 154 cents on the dollar in my chart, and 125 cents on the dollar in the traditional chart.

Houston needed a quarterback, of course, so this was a trade borne out of desperation. The Texans have now given up their first round pick this year and their first two picks next year (traded in the Brock Osweiler deal) to the Browns in an attempt to get their man. That’s a lot of pressure for Watson, who admittedly seems to do pretty well in that situation.

4)
Seahawks trade: 26th overall
Falcons trade: 31st overall, 95, 249

Feel familiar? Last year, the Seahawks moved down with the Broncos from 26 to 31, and added the Broncos 94th pick. This was as close as you can get to the same trade. Atlanta moved up to select UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley, and paid a decent price: 132 cents on the dollar according to the FP chart, and 103 cents on the traditional chart.

5)
Packers trade: 29th overall
Browns trade: 33rd overall, 108

Cleveland gave up the first pick on Saturday and Sunday — the top picks in rounds 2 and 4 — to grab TE TE David Njoku. The Browns paid 130 cents on the dollar to move up 4 spots on my chart, and 103 cents on the dollar on the traditional chart. This, of course, is very similar to the Seattle/Atlanta trade above.

What you see throughout the draft is that paying a premium to trade up is simply the cost of doing business. This isn’t a knock on teams that trade up, who likely know that they are paying excess value. In a vacuum, it wouldn’t make sense to trade 33 and 108 for 29, which is why we don’t see 20 trades in each round of the draft. Rather, teams are trading up for specific players — if the Browns think Njoku is worth the 20th overall pick, then the Browns would have paid 110 cents on the dollar in my chart, and just 77 cents on the dollar in the Jimmy Johnson chart. Of course, this is often the trap teams fall for: they are overconfident that a sliding player is really valuable, and they are getting the 15th or 20th best player with the 29th pick.

But it’s hard to fault Cleveland for this deal: the Browns are swimming in draft capital, so if there’s a player the team really wants, it makes sense to go after him. For Green Bay, this is a no brainer move: the Packers get valuable picks to kick off the draft on Friday and Saturday, and my hunch is they move at least one of those.

6)
Seahawks trade: 31st overall
49ers trade: 34th overall, 111st overall

This trade is nearly identical to the one above: an early 4th round pick to move up 3-4 spots, from the top of the 2nd to the end of the 1st round. The 49ers traded up for falling Alabama LB Reuben Foster. A dominant college player, many thought Foster would go in the top 10, or at least the top half of the first round, making this a potential steal if Foster’s healthy. Of course, as usual, be wary: if a player slips from the top 10 to 31, there’s probably a reason the teams picking at 27, 28, 29, and 30 didn’t take that player, either.

But this is a low-risk gamble for the 49ers: giving up a 4th round pick to potentially get a steal, a player who could have been selected at any time.

As for draft value: the Seahawks got 131 cents on the dollar here on my chart and 105 cents on the traditional chart. Combine the two trades, and Seattle sent 26 for 34, 95, 111, and 249, gaining 161 cents on the dollar on the Football Perspective chart. Seattle didn’t make a draft pick on Thursday, but it was still a good night for the organization.

  • Keith

    If teams used your chart, their would never be any trades. Just saying.

    • What do you mean?

      • Keith

        I went through a bunch of possible trade scenarios. Using your chart, I would never trade down, at least from the top of the chart. Maybe it does make sense to have different charts based on the different rounds. No offense, because I know that you have probably worked on this and spent a lot of time.

    • Ehh

      This doesn’t make sense. If teams agreed to use Chase’s chart, they would make trades that were roughly fair according to that chart, just like they’re making trades now that are mostly fair according to the JJ chart.

      • Why? What would be the incentive for a team to trade down?

        • Richie

          If a team doesn’t feel like any players are worth drafting (and paying) at the spot they are drafting, it would be worth it to trade down for more picks.

          I feel like the draft is basically just a lottery, with a little bit of information instead of total randomness. I think if I was in charge of an NFL draft, I would constantly try to trade down. I’d rather have more picks than better picks. I think this will increase the chances of ending up with useful players.

          I also feel that having a roster that is deep with B+ players is better than a team with a few A+ players, surrounded with C players.

          • Keith

            Belichick seems to agree with your theory of having deep B+ players. Of course, he also makes sure that they get coached up. The Pats always seem to have extra picks, either through trades or letting FA’s walk and getting compensatory picks. In years when the draft is deep (this year) the Patriots may not have any early picks. In years when there is a lot of talent at the top, the Pats might have two 1st rounders. When that happens, everybody says how the F did the Pats get so many picks? Belichick is a football genius. He knows when to trade players for draft picks, which ones to keep and which ones to give up a draft pick for. He determines if certain players will fit the team’s system. Brandon Cooks is a great example and Belichick is not taking any chances. Since the Pats were drafting 32nd and last in the 1st round, he traded it to the Saints in return for a proven, young NFL player who will probably break out in the Patriots system.

            • WR

              Curious to know how you would define the Patriots “system”, because NE has run a diverse set of offenses since Belichick became the coach, a trend that will likely continue with the acquisition of Cooks. As I see it, the Patriots’ “system” is that there is no system-the type of offense and play calling are changed to suit the strengths of the the personnel. I’m expecting NE to run a more vertical offense next year, a bit like 2007, to take advantage of the skills of Cooks, Hogan, and Gronk.

              Also, it’s difficult to argue that Brandin Cooks will break out, when he’s exceeded 1100 yards in each of the last 2 seasons.

              • Keith

                When I say system, it’s meant generically. The system is whatever one they are using at the time. It changes, which is probably why they let certain players walk and don’t resign them. They may no longer fit what they want to change to. They were more of a run oriented, short passing team in Brady’s earlier years. When they got Randy Moss, it became bombs away. They play according to their own strengths and to what the defense will give them. Their defense usually has a different system each game, designed to their specific opponent. That’s why the Patriots value intelligence and versatility.

                Not that Cooks has been unproductive but I could see him gaining 1500 yds and 12-15 TDs with the Pats. I think he’s a perfect fit with Edelman, because they are so different in their strengths. I may sound like a Patriots fan, but I’m not. I just admire what they’ve been able to do.

            • sacramento gold miners

              Agree about the value of Belichick “coaching up” players to maximize their skillsets. Elite teams in teams sports have that combination of strong ownership, front office, coaching, and resourcefulness in finding talent in unlikely places. I don’t know if the very successful teams are smarter than the rest, rather, they have stability, and a culture of accountability+winning.

              Having “B” type players is great, but the main on-field driver has always been Tom Brady. Robert Craft has often said if the Pats had any clue about Brady’s greatness, they wouldn’t have waited until the sixth round to select him. The system and philosophy can enable an organization to be successful, but it’s usually the elite talents which bring home the Lombardi Trophy. Belichick’s QB in Cleveland, Vinny Testaverde, wasn’t going to get it done, and neither was Drew Bledsoe.

              Brady has a combination of talent, football smarts, and will which helped make him one of great QBs ever, outside of him, there are no slam dunk HOF Patriots who spent most of their career in NE.

        • James

          Same as now: differing priorities. One team thinks they are “one piece away” while another needs to rebuild, or a particular player is worth 15% more than the expAV of the draft picks their giving up.

          The only difference between using the JJ and your charts are the specific picks given. Instead of future 1sts, it’s this years’ third and fourth round picks, etc.

      • Keith

        It may make the trades fair according to Chase’s chart, but in most cases, if I was a GM, I wouldn’t use it. The chart starts at such little value that trading back doesn’t seem to make sense. Like I told someone else on this post, according to Chase’s analysis of the 1st round trades, it appears that the NFL teams used the Jimmy Johnson chart. It may not be perfect, but maybe with some tweaking, it might get better.

    • sunrise089

      Nonsense. And, it’s obvious nonsense for at least two reasons:

      1) In baseball teams used to analyze players from one paradigm, and over the last two decades they’ve shifted to a completely different paradigm. Trades still happen, but rather than both teams valuing players via batting average and RBIs they now value them based on wOBA and DRS runs saved.

      2) Imagine Chase’s chart was universally used today, but then smart football analysts realized top picks were actually much more valuable than was thought previously, essentially recreating the Johnson chart. Would you argue that is teams switched to this new chart with its new valuations there wouldn’t be any trades?

      Interestingly what actually encourages more trades is teams using two DIFFERENT charts, so that both teams think they’re getting a great deal since the other side is using the ‘wrong’ metrics from their perspective. And in fact this seems to be exactly what’s happening with the Browns. So if you want trades you should be wishing for something like 25-50% of teams to use Chase’s chart while the others stick with the Johnson version.

      Ultimately though the chart is just a valuation estimate, and relative values of assets changing makes no fundamental difference to people’s willingness to trade. I don’t hold NFL coaches and GMs in any high intellectual esteem, but even they are capable of realizing that if X type of player or draft position is now more/less valuable it means they need to adjust the prices they’re willing to pay accordingly, it doesn’t mean they suddenly fear entering the market at all.

      • sacramento gold miners

        The other factor beyond charts is club ownership. The coaches and GMs can easily be overridden by ownership, and while I have no evidence to suggest this happened with the Bears, other sports franchises in Chicago are well aware of the Cubs success.

      • Keith

        No, it’s not nonsense, and if you read Chase’s analysis, it is obvious that the JJ chart was used in these trades. I’m trying to see the logic in your first paragraph of 2). If Chase’s chart was used first, there probably wouldn’t have been many significant trades. If they switched to the JJ chart, they would probably be cautious at first, but then they’d begin to make more trades.

        As far as 1), baseball is apples and football is oranges. Baseball is a team sport, but it’s the most individual team sport in existence. Every player has a multitude of individual stats to compare. Metrics is just an advanced version that goes deeper than the average HR, RBI, Batting Ave. In football, each teams scouting department values certain things over others. The NFL combine is mostly a joke. Some of the measurables are helpful but what’s on the film is what tells the story.

        As far as the Brown’s go, it is just a case of teams being desperate and overpaying to get a QB. It has little to do with charts. As far as coaches and GM’s intellectual esteem, the majority of them are pretty bright by most standards. They’re just stubborn and bull headed and keep making the same mistakes over and over.

    • Paul

      Many teams do use that chart and still make trades.

    • JeremyDeShetler

      Even if all teams were using the same chart (Chase, JJ, or whatever), there would still be trades because of differences in talent evaluation, a general manager’s personal style, team need, and talent plateaus. Chase’s chart is instructive, but it’s average return on investment. A guide.

      If you’re sitting at 25, and there’s a Top 10 talent (perennial pro bowler to you) that had an off the field issue, but you believe the issue was overblown. The guy is dropping and he won’t make it past 19, but you know you can jump to 18 if you trade your 3rd round pick to get there. It’s a bad trade by the numbers (about 1.30 on the dollar), but there are GM’s who would still take it.

  • Four Touchdowns

    If I were a Bears fan, I’d be pulling out my hair — that’s a lot of drafts picks to move up one spot and select a QB that’s not expected to be Andrew Luck or Cam Newton.

    • Keith

      Yeah, I think Ditka must be running their draft. Michael Wilbon tweeted, (I’m paraphrasing)”Did John Lynch have a gun to Ryan Pace’s head?” Now I’m reading that he didn’t even tell his coach that he was going to draft Trubisky! http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000803863/article/bears-gm-ryan-pace-might-want-to-lay-low-for-a-bit

      • sacramento gold miners

        Trubisky reminds me of Akili Smith, also a late riser in the draft when he was selected by Cincinnati in 1999. Smith only had 13 career starts, but had impressive physical tools. Unfortunately, the lack of college experience became an issue in the pros, as Smith never panned out.

    • scott206

      What has Andrew Luck and Can Newton amounted to exactly? Luck is perpetually injured and barely above .500 in win/loss. Newton lucked into a Superbowl, immediately choked, fell off a cliff the next year and now is in rehab. for an injury.

      • Richie

        Newton also won an MVP. He’s not heading to the HOF yet, but so far his career has been a success.

        • scott206

          What did he do this last year? And now he’s recovering from shoulder surgery. You’re right, he’s definitely not going to the HOF.

          • Richie

            He struggled, partially due to injury.

            But that’s all really beside the point that you responded to. I don’t think many (any) people are really projecting Trubisky to be as good as Newton was projected to be.

        • MosesZD

          One hit wonder. It’s like Chase Headley, a career .260 doubles hitter, batting nearly .300 with 31 HRs one year. So what? He came right back down to earth for the Yankees – .260, 11HR/year (550 PA).

      • Four Touchdowns

        Wow, the “QB = WINZ” guys are on this site too? You’d think Chase’s articles about Archie Manning and Philip Rivers would have cleared away a lot of that nonsense…

        Bottom line, the Colts and Panthers would be the Browns without Andrew Luck. They would be picking in the top five every year without their ridiculous heroics.

        And Richie covered Cam Newton — he led the #1 offense in the NFL in 2015 and was named MVP. Not winning the Super Bowl, which is a team achievement, doesn’t take that away from him — like it didn’t take it away from Ryan in 2016, Manning in 2013, Brady in 2007, etc.

  • Richie

    It’s crazy to me that the traditional chart says moving up from 3 to 2 is worth all the additional picks.

    • Richie

      But for some reason, the trades that Kansas City and Houston made don’t seem nearly as bad as the numbers say.

    • Four Touchdowns

      It depends on who’s at #2 — if Dan Marino is there, it’s an absolute steal. But the word on the street is that Trubisky isn’t expected to be Dan Marino.

  • Richie

    ” 30 years since Kansas City won a game with a quarterback drafted by the team.”

    Funny. When I first read that I thought it was a typo, and you meant PLAYOFF game.

    That’s such a crazy stat.

    • Four Touchdowns

      Holy f**king sh*t.

      • Richie

        New Orleans also looks bad on that list. But they at least get a 10 year pass for hitting the jackpot in free agency with Drew Brees.

  • Richie

    “as usual, be wary: if a player slips from the top 10 to 31, there’s
    probably a reason the teams picking at 27, 28, 29, and 30 didn’t take
    that player, either.”

    This would be something interesting to quantify. Guys like Dan Marino, Warren Sapp, Randy Moss and Aaron Rodgers come to mind. It seems like guys who slide often turn into good players, while guys who suddenly jump into the top 10 don’t.

    But surely there are examples of players who slide in the draft and didn’t make it in the NFL. I guess Brady Quinn might be an example.

  • Michael Pool

    Let’s divide the six trades in the first round into two groups: trade-up for QBs and trade-up for other players. Put aside the particular players chosen with those picks. Using the FP Chase Stuart values, the three QB trade-up teams paid on average a premium of 58% for those picks. The trading partners received the average of 13.2 FP pts per year, or the equivalent of a “free” 29th overall draft pick, a low first rounder. The Bears, who traded first, paid the most points, the Chiefs, 2nd, the highest premium. The Texans, third in line, paid the fewest points and the lowest premium. But there’s not a major difference between the three.

    The three “Other Player” trades are very similar in premium and points paid. You might say they all paid market value to move up. Premium: average of 31%; the trading partners received an average of 4.2 FP/pts, or the equivalent of a free 118th pick, a lower fourth rounder.

    (Note: For the value of future picks, I used the FP average for the round, avoiding speculation where the particular pick might land in that future year.)

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  • MosesZD

    The 49ers have their own draft chart. I can’t tell you what the difference is because they don’t publish it. But Bill Walsh had it made up when he came back for his second 49er GM stint.