Okay, last time we saw the actual numbers of the standard NFL draft pick point value table, commonly known as The Chart. A quick recap: I want to stress that the chart does NOT try to say whether a team should make specific trades or what specific players are worth. It is simply an index to help us all understand what kind of market value teams have put on specific draft picks in the past, based on all pick-for-pick trades over many years. It tells us what is, not what is right or wrong.
The version of the chart that I posted was the copy that the NFL sent to every team in the league before the 2007 draft. To get an idea of its ongoing accuracy, let's look at the trades that teams made during the draft in 2008.
The short version is that there were 23 trades that were strictly pick for pick within the 2008 draft (no future picks, no players). Of those, only one broke from the chart by more than 10% (for early round trades, where the numbers are big) or 11 total points (for later rounds, where the numbers are smaller). And that one trade was a four for one deal, with the one pick carrying the higher point value. Seven out of the nine first-day deals were within 5%.
For those who want the details (or want to see the proof), here's the list of first-day deals...
The Saints moved up from #10 to #7, also giving #78 to the Patriots and receiving #164 in return. Looking at the chart, the Saints received 1526 points worth of picks in exchange for 1500 points. That's a difference of only 1.7%. (New Orleans selected Sedrick Ellis. The Patriots selected Jerod Mayo.)
The Ravens broke from the chart in the day's second trade, moving down from the #8 pick and receiving picks 26, 71, 89, and 125 from the Jaguars. They gave up 1400 points and received only 1127 in return, and the 273 point imbalance (or 24% of the 1127 points received) was the farthest any deal broke from the chart during the entire draft. But note that it was a four for one deal, which might have made it a little more enticing for Baltimore. The Jags made the deal to select Derrick Harvey.
The Chiefs moved up in a deal with the Lions, giving Detroit picks 17, 66, and 136 in exchange for picks 15 and 76. That's a 1248 for 1260 deal, with the mere 12 point difference representing less than 1% of the point total given by either side. Both teams used the top picks to select offensive linemen, with KC taking Branden Albert and Detroit selecting Gosder Cherilus.
The Ravens moved back up to draft Joe Flacco, giving the Texans the 26 and 89 they had received from Jacksonville plus the 173rd pick in exchange for pick #18. That's 867 points given up to receive a 900 point pick. The 33 point difference makes a 3.8% windfall for Baltimore.
The Falcons moved up to draft Sam Baker, giving the Redskins picks 34, 48, and 103 in exchange for picks 21, 84, and 154. Atlanta did pay a premium of 8.8%, giving 1088 points and receiving 1000. That was the second highest differential of the draft.
But it wasn't as bad as initially reported - ESPN originally announced the trade as a 3 for 1 deal, saying that Atlanta had only received pick #21. GM Thomas Dimitroff emphasized that evening that the TV reports were incorrect and that it was a 3 for 3 swap. The team was willing to pay a slight premium (the 88 point difference is exactly the value of the fourth round pick #103 that the Falcons gave up) because Baker was the last of the top-tier offensive linemen on their board. The Carolina Panthers had just moved up to #19 to draft Jeff Otah, giving up their 2009 first rounder as part of the deal, so the Falcons knew they couldn't wait to get a top lineman. And considering Atlanta selected Harry Douglas and Kroy Biermann with the other two picks, Falcon fans probably shouldn't be upset with the results.
The always trade-happy Cowboys made their first deal of this draft by giving picks 28, 163, and 235 to the Seahawks for pick #25. Based on the chart, Dallas gave up 687 points (assuming a 1 point value for #235) for a 720 point pick. That's a 4.8% differential. It could be argued that Jerry Jones made the deal just for the sake of making a deal, but the Cowboys theoretically made the trade in order to get DB Mike Jenkins. Seattle used the #28 to select Lawrence Jackson.
Seattle moved down again with the #30 pick, sending it to the Jets for picks 36 and 113. That's a mere two point difference, with 618 points received for a 620 point pick. New York made the move to get TE Dustin Keller.
Baltimore and Seattle were the most active dealers of the day. In the second round, Seattle moved up to #38 (to select TE John Carlson), sending the Ravens picks 55 and 86. The 20 point differential is 3.9% of the 510 points Baltimore received.
Philadelphia and Minnesota also made a second round deal, with the Eagles sending picks 43 and 152 to the Vikings for picks 47 and 117. That's 511 points for 500, or a 2.2% differential. The Vikings selected Tyrell Johnson at 43, while Philly picked up DT Trevor Laws with the 47th pick.
There were three other trades that involved picks from #1 to #64. The most significant was that Carolina sent the Eagles picks 43, 109, and their first round pick of 2009 in exchange for Philadelphia's pick #19. The catch is that the major pick that Philadelphia received was the future first rounder.
The key question is how much to discount a future pick. For the sake of demonstration, I'm going to assume that the Philly braintrust used a 50% discount factor as their guideline. Neither side knew exactly where that pick would fall, but both likely anticipated that it would be a later pick. From Philadelphia's perspective, the pick received would be no worse than #32. That pick rates 590 points on draft day. Applying a 50% discount factor for the one year wait, the Eagles were receiving 295 points or more for that future pick. That would give Philadelphia at least 851 points for their 875 point pick.
Obviously, the team giving up the future first round pick is taking a risk, not knowing where that pick will fall. If Carolina also used a 50% discount factor and had confidence that they would draft no earlier than #22 in 2009, then they would value that future pick at 390 points or less. For them, the deal would be at most 946 points given away in exchange for the 875 point pick, for a premium of 8.1% or less.
But there's one other important note here - when a team moves up the way Carolina did (or Atlanta did two picks later), they aren't acquiring a draft pick. They know exactly what player they will select with the pick they acquire. So the other major factor is how the team values that specific player. I'll cover that in more detail in the next post...
The Buccaneers and Jaguars swapped second rounders, with Tampa sending pick 52 (at 380 points) to Jacksonville for picks 58 and 158 (348 points combined) plus Jacksonville's 7th rounder in 2009. It's hard to imagine any team putting much value on that particular future pick, but the 32 point difference is within 10% even if it carries no value at all.
And finally, the Miami Dolphins traded pick 64, acquiring picks 66 and 176 from the Lions. That's a 4.1% windfall for the Fins based on the chart. I mention it because even though it was the first pick of the third round, that pick would ordinarily have been the last pick of round two. (There were only 31 picks in the first round, as the Patriots forfeited their own first rounder over the videotaping incident.)