Teams needed stability at the QB position so they traded up for these guys
The 2004 Draft was a remarkable one for first round quarterbacks. Eli Manning
was the first overall pick — to the Chargers — while Philip Rivers
went fourth overall to the Giants. Shortly thereafter, the teams completed an epic trade that landed Manning and Rivers on opposite coasts, where they still are 13 years later. With the 11th pick in the first round, Ben Roethlisberger
went to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he’s still there, too. One other quarterback went in the first round, and he was the subject of a trade, too: the Bills sent a future first round pick
to the Cowboys for the right to draft J.P. Losman
That 2004 first round may have marked a turning point in the league’s perception when it comes to “getting your guy.” The fact that Manning, Rivers, and Roethlisberger have become long-time starters with national recognition has likely had an impact when decisionmakers think about trading for a first round quarterback.
Since then, there have been 16 times over the last 13 drafts that a team “traded up” in the 1st round to get a quarterback. On average, those teams have paid about 149 cents on the dollar (according to the Football Perspective Pick Value Calculator) to move up in the draft to get their quarterback. But let’s put aside the cost for now, because there’s a theory that “if you think you have found your franchise quarterback, it doesn’t matter what it cost to get him.” So we have 16 cases where teams were really sure they found a quarterback that they had to get, and traded up to grab him. How did those quarterbacks fare?
While it’s too early to trade the last six quarterbacks selected in the previous two drafts, it’s not too early to grade the first 10. Seven of the 10 were busts, even if I am unfortunately labeling Teddy Bridgewater as such. An 8th was Mark Sanchez, and while he’s a pretty clear bust (he has the 9th worst era-adjusted passer rating in history among players with 1500 pass attempts), he won 33 regular season games and 4 playoff games with the Jets. It was a trade the Jets would have been better off not making, but he at least reached some level of success. The two “successes” were Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco, and neither could be called an unmitigated success.
Now, let’s get back to the cost. As I did yesterday, I am valuing all drafts picks in the current draft using the Draft Pick Value Calculator I created. For future picks, I used the middle of each round and applied a 10% discount rate; so a Year N+1 2nd round pick was worth 90% of whatever the draft value calculator says the 48th pick is worth.
Look at the first trade on the list. This shows the Texans, who in 2017, traded up for Deshaun Watson by dealing with the Browns. Houston sent the 25th pick and a 2018 1st, while the Browns sent back the 12th pick. The pick equivalent on the Houston side is therefore 25 and 16 (projected 2018 1st round pick), and the pick equivalent on the Cleveland side is just 12. The value given up shows the value my pick value calculator assigns: 14.1 for the 25th pick, and 15.2 for the 16th pick in next year’s draft (i.e., this represents 90% of the value of the 16th pick in this year’s draft). The value received is just the value of the 12th pick, or 18.8. The return is 156% — the Browns gained 156 cents on the dollar, with a raw difference of 10.5 points of draft value, by consummating this trade. [click to continue…]