Today, the Rams — now in Los Angeles, of course — were on the buy side of things. And, as usual, to move up in the draft is quite expensive. THe Rams moved up from #15 to #1, and also gained a 4th (#113) and a 6th (#177) back in this year’s draft. But the price was exorbitant: Los Angeles had to give up both 2nd round picks it has this year (#43, courtesy of the Sam Bradford/Nick Foles swap last season, and #45, the team’s original selection), its third round pick (#76), and next year’s 1st and 3rd rounders. And while that doesn’t have quite the screaming headline of “Washington sends 3 first round picks for RG3,” make no mistake: the Rams gave up a massive amount to move up to #1, presumably to draft either Carson Wentz or California’s Jared Goff.
To simplify things, let’s try to cancel some things out. The 4th and 6th round picks received by the Rams this year is roughly equivalent to the 3rd giving up by Los Angeles next year; given the time value of the draft pick, a 6th round pick, it can be argued, makes up for getting to use that pick a year earlier, even if it’s a round later. I am sure both teams would have done this deal even if you take those three picks out of the mix, and it was probably included just to give Los Angeles a bit more in draft picks (instead of giving up 4 draft picks for 1 this year, now it’s 4 for 3). My hunch is the Rams were the one asking to throw in that last piece of the puzzle, even if it’s probably a better deal for Tennessee (since the time value of the draft pick is usually overstated).
Take that out, and you get the following: the Rams gave up the 43rd, 45th, and 76th picks in this draft to move up from 15 to 1, while also having to give up next year’s first rounder. According to my calculator, the Titans received 131 cents on the dollar in exchanging 1 for 15/43/45/76, and that’s without even considering next year’s first. If we assume that next year’s first is the 17th overall pick, and provide no discount for time, Tennessee would be getting 179 cents on the dollar in this trade (ignoring the 3rd round swap for next year’s 4th/6th).
That’s a pretty amazing haul. But what’s really interesting is to compare it to what the Rams received when they traded for RG3. Again, let’s take out the 2016 3rd/2017 4th and 6th selection swaps. And let’s call the 2nd overall pick in 2012 equal to the 1st overall pick in 2016, for simplicity’s sake. The Rams received the 39th pick in 2012 and gave up the 43rd pick this year, and the Rams received a 2013 1st (22nd overall) and gave up a 2017 first; let’s cancel those pair of picks out, too, to make things simple.
That leaves us with the following: in 2012, the Rams received the 6th overall pick, and got a first round pick two drafts away (2014 1st, which turned out to be #2 overall). This time around, the Rams gave up #15, but also #45 and #76. Using the pick value calculator, those sides would be perfectly even if we replaced the 2014 1st with the 37th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Think of it this way: receiving the 6th pick (AV of 23.2) and a hypothetical 37th pick (AV of 11.6) is the same as giving up the 15th (17.4), 45th (10.4), and 76th (7.0) picks. So when analyzing the trade, it comes down to what’s more valuable: the 37th pick now, or a first round pick two years from now. I think, although it’s open to debate, that the 49ers would not trade the 37th pick in this year’s draft for a 2018 1st rounder. That’s just too far removed for them to give up a pretty valuable pick. Of course, if they knew that pick would be the 2nd overall, I imagine San Francisco would do it in a heartbeat.
But if you think the following:
- this year’s 37th pick is more valuable than a 1st rounder two years from now;
- a 4th and 6th now is roughly equivalent to a 3rd rounder next year;
- the 39th pick and a first next year (#22, as it turns out) is roughly equivalent to the 43rd this year and a first next year; and
- this year’s 1st overall pick is roughly equivalent to RG3’s value in 2012,
then, you could argue that the Rams gave up slightly more this time around than they received last time around. That’s incredible, given how significantly St. Louis fleeced Washington back in 2012. But after four years without even a single 0.500 season, the Rams decided going for broke was the most enticing option.