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Dave Gettleman
AP
Evaluations

NFL Draft Trade Rankings

by Hayden Winks

It’s been decades since Jimmy Johnson created the arbitrary nonsense commonly known as the Jimmy Johnson draft trade chart, so there’s no way that NFL teams are still using the chart for draft pick for draft pick trades in 2019, right? Wrong.

 

During the 2019 NFL Draft, there were 30 draft trades that didn’t involve players or future draft picks (Note: The NFL.com draft trade tracker, my previous source, has multiple mistakes, so I've updated my column.). 67% of those trades almost exactly lined up with the arbitrary pick values assigned by the Jimmy Johnson draft trade chart, 87% were within 30 points, and only two trades were more than 50 points apart. The conclusion: NFL teams are still using the Jimmy Johnson chart.

 

That’s important to know because we have a price tag for each draft pick, so the only thing left to do before going shopping for picks is to figure out how much each pick is worth. To do that, I used a very similar process as what Chase Stuart and others have done; I grabbed the last ten draft classes that have completed their four-year rookie contracts and built a trendline that maps out how much Approximate Value (AV) we should expect at each individual draft pick. Here’s how it looks in comparison:

 

My pick values (red dots) are quite different from Jimmy Johnson’s (blue dots), meaning there’s both draft picks on sale and money to be made by selling. To keep it short, the Jimmy Johnson chart overvalues picks No. 1 through No. 50 (sell) and undervalues every pick after No. 51 (buy). Specifically, trading away the highest picks and trading for picks No. 94 through No. 134 provides the most bang for your buck.

 

2019 Draft Trade Winners and Losers

This ranks how much draft capital was gained/lost while making draft pick for draft pick trades during the 2019 NFL Draft.

 

1. Seahawks - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 11 pick.

2. Broncos - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 96 pick.

3. Raiders - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 96 pick.

4. Vikings - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 102 pick.

5. Rams - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 105 pick.

6. Colts - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 122 pick.

7. Buccaneers - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 133 pick.

8. 49ers - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 151 pick.

9. Dolphins - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 163 pick.

10. Ravens - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 180 pick.

11. Bengals - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 204 pick.

12. Cowboys - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 209 pick.

13. Jets - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 209 pick.

14. Lions - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 224 pick.

15. Patriots - Draft capital gained via trades equivalent to adding the No. 249 pick.

16. Titans - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 253 pick.

17. Jaguars  - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 251 pick.

18. Chiefs - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 180 pick.

19. Bills - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 165 pick.

20. Browns - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 153 pick.

21. Bears - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 143 pick.

22. Redskins - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 126 pick.

23. Saints - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 119 pick.

24. Eagles - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 116 pick.

25. Panthers - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 96 pick.

26. Giants - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 91 pick.

27. Falcons - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 78 pick.

28. Packers - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 75 pick.

29. Steelers - Draft capital lost via trades equivalent to losing the No. 43 pick.

 

2019 NFL Draft Trade Rankings

This list ranks the trades by most draft value gained during draft pick for draft pick trades. The team listed on the left (good trade) received more draft value than the team listed on the right (bad trade), so the 35th-ranked trade was still a good move for the team on the left despite the low ranking.

 

1. The Broncos trading No. 10 to the Steelers for No. 20, No. 52, and a 2020 3rd.

2. The Seahawks trading No. 21 to the Packers for No. 30, No. 114, and No. 118.

3. The Seahawks trading No. 30 to the Giants for No. 37, No. 132, and No. 142.

4. The Seahawks trading No. 37 to the Panthers for No. 47 and No. 77.

5. The Bengals trading No. 42 to the Broncos for No. 52, No. 125, and No. 182.

6. The Ravens trading No. 22 to the Eagles for No. 25, No. 127, and No. 197.

7. The Rams trading No. 31 to the Falcons for No. 45 and No. 79.

8. The Rams trading No. 45 to the Patriots for No. 56 and No. 101.

9. The Colts trading No. 26 to the Redskins for No. 46 and a 2020 2nd.

10. The Buccaneers trading No. 70 to the Rams for No. 94 and No. 99.

11. The Patriots trading No. 73 and No. 205 to the Bears for No. 87, No. 162, and a 2020 4th.

12. The 49ers trading No. 104 to the Bengals for No. 110, No. 183, and No. 198.

13. The Colts trading No. 46 to the Browns for No. 49 and No. 144.

14. The Vikings trading No. 93 to the Ravens for No. 102, No. 191, and No. 193.

15. The Raiders trading No. 109 to the Colts for No. 129 and No. 135.

16. The Dolphins traded No. 48 and No. 116 to the Saints for No. 62, No. 202, and a 2020 2nd.

17. The Raiders trading No. 38 to the Bills for No. 40 and No. 158.

18. The Rams trading No. 56 to the Chiefs for No. 61 and No. 167.

19. The Jets trading No. 105 to the Saints for No. 116 and No. 168.

20. The Lions trading No. 111 to the Falcons for No. 117 and No. 186.

21. The Vikings trading No. 88 and No. 209 to the Seahawks for No. 92 and No. 159.

22. The Seahawks trading No. 114 to the Vikings for No. 120 and No. 204.

23. The Patriots trading No. 134 and No. 243 to the Rams for No. 162 and No. 167.

24. The Vikings trading No. 92 to the Jets for No. 93 and No. 217.

25. The Patriots trading No. 97 and No. 162 to the Rams for No. 101 and No. 133.

26. The Vikings trading No. 81 to the Lions for No. 88 and No. 204.

27. The Raiders trading No. 135 to the Falcons for No. 137 and No. 230.

28. The Cowboys trading No. 149 to the Raiders for No. 158 and No. 218.

29. The Cowboys trading No. 136 to the Bengals for No. 149 and No. 213.

30. The Vikings trading No. 159 to the Patriots for No. 162 and No. 239.

31. The Raiders trading No. 35 to the Jaguars for No. 38 and No. 109.

32. The Eagles trading No. 163 to the Patriots for No. 167 and No. 246.

33. The Jets trading No. 116 to the Titans for No. 121 and No. 157.

34. The Jaguars trading No. 236 to the Seahawks for a 2020 6th.

35. The Broncos trading No. 212 and No. 237 to the Panthers for No. 187.

 

Quick Note: Of the 35 draft pick trades, there was just one case where the team who moved up received the better deal and it was the 35th-ranked trade.

 

Valuing Future Draft Picks

In a basic economics course, you'd learn about time value of money (TVM), which really boils down to "a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow." The theory behind TVM is interest rates, inflation, and other market factors make tomorrow's dollar less valuable, but without these market factors present in the NFL world, I'm not convinced next year's picks are worth a whole lot less than this year's. To figure out how much of a discount there actually is on future draft picks, I’m analyzing all five of the 2019 draft trades that included future draft capital, and then we can decide if trading a pick this year for a pick in the future is worthwhile.

 

Trade 1: The Broncos trading No. 10 to the Steelers for No. 20, No. 52, and a 2020 3rd. … To make this trade fair for both teams, the Broncos needed to value the 2020 3rd round pick as being worth 70 Jimmy Johnson points, but the average Jimmy Johnson point value of a 3rd round pick is approximately 190 points, so the Broncos will get a 2.7x return on their future draft pick.

 

Trade 2: The Colts trading No. 26 to the Redskins for No. 46 and a 2020 2nd. … To make this trade fair for both teams, the Colts needed to value the 2020 2nd round pick as being worth 260 Jimmy Johnson points, but the average Jimmy Johnson point value of a 2nd round pick is approximately 416 points, so the Colts will get a 1.6x return on their future draft pick.

 

Trade 3: The Dolphins traded No. 48 and No. 116 to the Saints for No. 62, No. 202, and a 2020 2nd. … To make this trade fair for both teams, the Dolphins needed to value the 2020 2nd round pick as being worth 187 Jimmy Johnson points, but the average Jimmy Johnson point value of a 2nd round pick is approximately 416 points, so the Dolphins will get a 2.2x return on their future draft pick.

 

Trade 4: The Patriots trading No. 73 and No. 205 to the Bears for No. 87, No. 162, and a 2020 4th. (Note: My source incorrectly marked this trade, so there has been an update) … To make this trade fair for both teams, the Patriots needed to value the 2020 4th round pick as being worth 52 Jimmy Johnson points, but the average Jimmy Johnson point value of a 4th round pick is approximately 56 points, so the Patriots will get a 1.1x return on their future draft pick.

 

Trade 5: The Jaguars trading No. 236 to the Seahawks for a 2020 6th. … To make this trade fair for both teams, the Seahawks needed to value the 2020 6th round pick as being worth 2 Jimmy Johnson points, but the average Jimmy Johnson point value of a 6th round pick is approximately 10 points, so the Seahawks will get a 5x return on their future draft pick.

 

The Conclusion: Trading away a draft pick this year for a draft pick a year from now is netting 1.1 to 5x returns, so it’s definitely a strategy that GMs need to be taking advantage of if they have the job security to have a longer view than their opponents.

 

MORE ROTOWORLD DRAFT GRADES

Hayden Winks