NFL

Draft Day Trades and New Value Charts With the Rookie Wage Scale: What Will 2013 Show?

Bill Belichick in a big December game again

As we head into tonight’s draft, I’ll be watching for some broader trends in addition to the specific locations that players will be going. Last year was the first draft that we saw post-Rookie Wage Scale following the 2011 lockout. We saw eight trades on the first night of the draft, and ten more by the end of the next night.

I went back through those trades to compare them to both the old “Draft Value Chart” and the chart prepared by Chase Stuart using career data by draft position based on “approximate value”. I wanted to see if any patterns were emerging after one year.

One thing to watch is this: are teams finally getting smarter about trading away future picks at the top of the draft? (next year’s first for a second, or next year’s third for a second round pick). The first trade on draft day last year that involved a future pick wasn’t until the end of the third round, and involved a future 5th. I wrote about trading future picks a few years ago, even comparing Bill Belichick to a pawn broker willing to take your future picks at an exorbitant rate. We’ve seen the Mark Ingram trade by the Saints, giving up a future first that eventually was used on Chandler Jones, along with a second rounder. We’ve seen plenty of other bad trades on that front. I’m not prepared to say it is a trend, but I’ll be watching to see if any teams go that route or whether for a second year in a row, teams avoid trading future first or second day picks to move up.

The other thing is to see if the discount rate off the old Value Chart continues. Of the seventeen draft day trades in 2012 involving at least one pick in the first three rounds, only two of them saw the team trading for the best pick give up as much value as the chart would dictate (and both of those, just barely). The average result saw the “trade down” team getting 92.5% of the old chart value. Most of the deals were still in line with the old chart, but at a slight discount.

Now, we know that the old chart wasn’t a good reflection of actual value. Using Stuart’s values, almost all of the teams trading up gave up excess value still (119.6% on average, meaning the teams trading down got good value), even if the Jimmy Johnson Trade Value Chart said otherwise.

The most unusual one, based on past precedent, was the Patriots and Packers. We know that New England has been at the forefront in these trades, but they made a trade that was completely off the board from the old chart. By taking a 90th overall and 163rd overall for Green Bay getting the 62nd pick, they got barely half the value according to the old chart. It was virtually dead even, though, per the AV chart by Stuart. It stands out as an outlier.

Will 2013 bring more trades that are simply discounts off the old chart, or will we see more trades like Patriots-Packers, where the team trading down is willing to take equivalent value based on actual results, rather than adhering to the old chart language? This draft sets up to have some hot spots for trades. We have the uncertainty about the quarterbacks, with no clear top prospects but teams that might be willing to jump in front as the first round progresses. We have a fairly flat top 12 with plenty of disagreement on the order. We also have several teams in the late first who could be looking to move out, or move up, for specific needs, and a very broad class of players who could go in that range.

[photo via USA Today Sports Images]

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