Late last night, in case you missed it, the Washington Redskins completed a trade to acquire the Rams’ second overall pick, presumably to draft Robert Griffin III. They gave up the 6th overall pick this year, plus their 2nd round pick this year, plus next year’s first round pick. Oh, and their 2014 first round pick as well. To move up four spots, the Redskins threw in two future firsts and this year’s second round pick.
I don’t even know where to begin with that trade.
I guess I will start with this. That trade could work out for Washington. It could work out if Robert Griffin III is Peyton Manning and John Elway rolled into one package, and the next 14 years are a halcyon era that ends with Daniel Snyder hugging RGIII and crying at a podium, because he has to move on after the Redskins had a rare bad season when the 36-year old Robert Griffin III had a knee injury, and the team is set to draft Owen Lisk first overall. So yes, all that could happen.
Short of that, there is little way that they actually get equivalent value to what they surrendered, even if RG III turns out to be among the top 25% or so of all quarterbacks selected in the Top 3 of a draft. If Griffin is merely an average 2nd overall pick, which is to say a pretty good starter for a period of time (think Jim Everett), and if the Rams are just average at drafting with those four draft picks, they will get more than double the value of Washington.
A few weeks ago, I talked about what the draft value chart would look like based on actual results. I also delved into the history of the Draft Value Chart, looking at the actual years used, and seeing that there were only three trades at the top of the draft included, that were likely not representative. I was meaning to do a follow up post looking at the years prior to 1987, to show that it was not representative of actual trading behavior. Then, the Scrutiny on the Bounty hit, and things got crazy, and I figured it would be best to wait until all the March Madness and Manning Madness and Bounty Madness passed before getting back into it.
But now seems like as good a time as any. I can tell you that, yes, the Draft Value Chart created by the Dallas Cowboys never actually reflected trading behavior in the league, beyond a small four year window with a small sample size. If they had included a decade’s worth of data, rather than four years, the chart would have looked much, much different. For example, did you know just a few years before the Draft Value Chart was created, someone traded the first overall pick for the #16 pick and the #28 pick. That’s all. Just those two. Could you imagine if that happened today? Well, that was in 1984, when the Bengals traded down and the Patriots gave up those two picks to select Irving Fryar. According to the chart now, that was a trade of 3000 points for 1660 points. Unconscionable.
From 1978 to 1986, in a period that was ignored in creating the Draft Value Chart, there were 13 trades of at least one pick within the top ten in a draft. Only 3 resulted in the team trading down getting more value than the Chart, and those were just barely over. The average result from those high draft pick trades was that the team trading down got over 400 fewer points than the Chart (based on 1987-1990) would have dictated.
If we were going to redraft the Draft Value Chart based on actual team trading behavior, and use a larger sample size, then the top 3 picks wouldn’t be worth 3000, 2600, 2200, respectively. They would be worth 2400, 2200, and 2000 (with the 4th pick still worth 1800). That seems more reasonable, doesn’t it? Instead, we got a poorly constructed chart that never really reflected reality, and it became dogma (Dallas was successful, ergo it became popular, when the success was likely independent of the validity of the underlying values).
It has become gospel, when trades are actually accomplished near the top. The problem is that people sort of knew it was bad, but couldn’t stop speaking that language. The result was fewer trades in the top 10 than a generation earlier, much fewer. Among those that were consummated, only the Baltimore/Jacksonville trade to get Derrick Harvey deviated by as much as the average trade from the 80’s.
One thing I can tell you, though, is that quarterbacks do generally demand more in trade among the top five picks. The problem is that the baseline is now out of whack, and then the Redskins just shot that through the roof. Let’s go through every trade where a team traded up to get a QB in the top 3 of a draft since the merger. The Washington Redskins lapped the field in what they gave up. I’ll go through that in a post later today, though.
For now, let’s just leave it with this. Robert Griffin III may turn out to be pretty good. This is still a trade that likely doesn’t work out for Washington. They have no first round picks the next two years, and no early second rounder this year. If he’s merely an average 2nd overall pick, it’s a disaster. If he is a bust, oh boy.
So congratulations, Robert Griffin III. The Redskins really want you. They also have no sense of value and just paid way too much, robbing you of getting good players around you. Using the value of the 12th pick in the next two drafts, Washington gave up 4520 points on the trade value chart to get 2600. But the future picks are discounted, you say? Yes, at usurious rates, which is why teams should not trade future picks. By waiting a year, the Rams almost double their chances of getting a good starter if we count that future first as a current second for trade purposes.
Daniel Snyder is the perennial offseason champ, and it looks like he’s done it again. As we know, that’s the only thing they’ve won since he’s been there. I don’t see that changing.
[photo via US Presswire]