Monday Morning QB (cont.)
Posted: Monday April 9, 2007 7:59AM; Updated: Monday April 9, 2007 11:16AM
3. Too many teams are slaves to the Draft Trade Chart. You may have heard of this chart. It was invented as a way to equalize the value for both sides of a trade in the NFL. I'll use the Giants' silliness as an example of the silliness of the chart. (And I'm not even saying the draft chart was used by Ernie Accorsi when he made this deal; he did not live his life by the chart.) The draft chart assigns a value to each pick in the seven-round draft. Some teams have different values for picks, but the value board does not vary widely.
On the chart I have, the first overall pick is worth 3,000 points; the fourth is worth 1,800. So by the chart, the Giants would have to make up 1,200 points to make the trade. They dealt the 65th pick in the 2004 draft (worth 265 points) and first- and fifth-rounders in 2005. How do you assign value to these picks? For most teams, it's simple. You assume they'll come smack dab in the middle of the round. In this case, the first-round pick in 2005 was worth 1,000, while the fifth-rounder was worth just 34 points. Add those points together, and the Giants actually traded 3,099 points of value for the 3,000 points the top pick was worth.
The only time a team should follow the chart, I think, is when there's such a no-doubt player that you think your team has but one choice, and that's to select Player X. Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson, for instance, in this draft.
On the other side, a team trading down shouldn't think it has to get perfect value in a trade to justify the deal. Case in point: In 1995, when Bill Polian was the Carolina GM, the Panthers had the first pick in the draft. Polian knew he wanted Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins, but he also knew Collins wasn't worth the No. 1 pick. By trading down, even if he didn't get fair "Draft Trade Chart'' value for the pick, he'd be making a smart decision. So he dealt the first pick to Cincinnati for the fifth and 36th overall picks and selected Collins at No. 5. First-pick value: 3,000 points. Combined value of numbers five and 36: 2,240 points.
But Polian knew he couldn't do better, and he also knew if he could get the same player with the fifth pick -- and get a high second-rounder in return, and pay them less, combined, then he would have had to pay the first overall pick -- why not do the deal? Turned out to be just OK for Carolina. Collins did lead the Panthers to the playoffs in his second year, but he and defensive end Shawn King, the second-rounder picked with the other pick from Cincinnati, didn't become the franchise players Polian had hoped for. The Bengals took running back Ki-Jana Carter with the No. 1 overall pick. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but you have to judge value based on what you see in front of you at the time -- not as a fixed system of unbending value based on the Draft Trade Chart.
"What's so interesting about the draft,'' said Peterson, "is that the risk-reward ratio is so much different between the top 10 and the picks you make as you go lower in the draft. You find out how hard it is to say good-bye to players in the top 10 of a draft. That's why you don't see the trades you used to see.''
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