Basically, it boils down to too much reliance on player evaluation: the difference in chances that, for example, WR2 outclasses WR3 does not justify the price that teams pay to make that distinction (see: the price that the 49ers paid for Trey Lance vs. the price the Bears paid for Justin Fields versus the price the Patriots paid for Mac Jones).
To determine reasonable values for draft picks relative to each other, we have our own draft graph based on a regression of historical player performance by draft pick using the Pro Football Reference approximate value metric (similar to work done by many others, including Chase Stuart in 2013). By comparison, Jimmy Johnson’s outdated table trumps how quickly player talent declines as picks flow into the draft. Our analysis does not include the difference in salary by choice, as Massey and Thaler’s research did, which would result in an even more severe deviation from Johnson’s graph.
And if there was ever a year to trade, this was it. With suggestions that there was less information on the outlook this season due to circumstances dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the additional uncertainty has likely led to a flatter than usual talent curve. This means that the first round picks were probably worth less than usual and the midround and / or end of round picks were worth more than usual (because the probability of a gem falling was higher than the normal).
In that odd year of evaluating the Draft, an even stranger thing happened: Giants general manager Dave Gettleman gave up – for the first time. Not only did he do it, but he did it as part of the most valuable deal in the entire project.
We break down the five most valuable trades in this year’s draft (during draft only, so 49ers-Dolphins-Eagles deals are not included) according to our AV-based chart, starting with “Trader Dave”.
The exchange: The bears receive pickax 11; Giants receive picks 20 and 164, 2022 first and fourth round picks
The value winner: giants
The capital gain: First round pick
Let me start by saying that trading is not a zero sum game and this deal is a perfect example: it is a win-win game. The calculation of value changes for a team trading for a quarterback – the advantage of “hitting” over pick is considerably greater than hitting on a non-quarterback – and so bears paying that premium for. Fields is, in my opinion, not only acceptable but valid.
But for the Giants, it doesn’t matter who the Bears choose: New York comes away with a ton of extra value. The expected production of a player selected with the No. 11 pick is about 20% more than for a No. 20 player in an average draft. In return for that 20%, the Giants landed quite a few more first-round picks and then some.
If we assume that the bear pick is in the middle of the first round of next year and we don’t reduce any value for that first additional being in a future year (which, to be fair, there should probably be a reduction) , so Gettleman nearly doubled the value of his No. 11 pick with this trade. It’s just a good deal.
The exchange: The jets receive peaks Nos. 14 and 143; Vikings are given picks 23, 66 and 86
The value winner: Vikings
The capital gain: Early third round pick
After leading these rankings a year ago, the Vikings once again took advantage of the advantage they gained in the trade market. In this case, it was an incredible deal for them, especially considering the player they ended up with: Christian Darrisaw, who was a logical pick for Minnesota at No.14 pick and ended up falling to No.14. 23.
For the Jets, that sounds like a mistake. The overpayment is almost exactly choice # 66 itself – if that choice had been withdrawn, this trade would have been “fair”. I’m not saying the Jets shouldn’t have signed an offensive lineman to protect Zach Wilson. On the contrary, I think they should have written more.
If we want to put this trade in player context, think of it this way: if you were the Jets, for the same price would you rather draft USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker or Oklahoma State Teven tackle? Jenkins and BYU tackle / guard Brady Christensen? GM Jets Joe Douglas chose the former, but history indicates that the latter is more likely to pay off. And that doesn’t even count the possibility that Darrisaw or Vera-Tucker slipped to 23rd.
At the time of the Jets’ selection, there was a 21% and 34% chance that these players would reach 23rd place respectively, according to ESPN’s Draft Day Predictor.
The exchange: Patriots receive choice 38; Bengals receive picks 46, 122 and 139
The value winner: Bengals
The capital gain: Third round pick
With just three picks before that trade, the Broncos called a fourth-round pick and recovered a sixth round to earn five spots. Here, the Patriots handed out two unsuccessful fourth-round players to move up eight spots and fend off Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore.
Bottom line: The Bengals made Bill Belichick pay here, increasing the value of their No. 38 top pick by around 60%. With the picks in place, Cincinnati picked offensive tackle Jackson Carman in the second round, then defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin and offensive tackle D’Ante Smith.
The exchange: Texans receive pick # 89; Panthers receive No. 109 and 158 picks, 2022 fourth-round pick
The value winner: Panthers
The capital gain: Late third round pick
It ranks fourth in earned value, but there is an argument that it was the best negotiated trade in the entire project because Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer defrauded Texans general manager. Nick Caserio here. The Panthers doubled the value of their No.89 pick, which was both an incredible deal in a vacuum and compared to other trades around him.
The difference between the expectations for the 89th pick and the 109th pick isn’t that big, but Caserio had two fourth-round players to close that gap and select Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins. That’s not a price to pay, especially not for a team with such a difficult roster like Houston’s.
Houston gave up more value in this deal than was lost in the seven deals before this deal and each deal after.
The exchange: The dolphins receive pickaxe n ° 42; Giants receive No. 50 pick and 2022 third round pick
The value winner: giants
The capital gain: Late third round pick
Trader Dave strikes again!
Fresh out of his day one success in the trading market, Gettleman decided to take another shot – towards great success. I don’t think you need an approximate value or a trade chart to see why it’s a winner: what’s bigger, the difference in value between picks # 42 and 50 or a whole third-round pick next year?
It’s a clear win for the Giants, especially as they managed to put a falling player in a position of need in rusher Azeez Ojulari at No.50.
BONUS: an interesting exchange
The exchange: Browns are given picks # 52 and 113; The Panthers receive picks # 59 and 89
The value winner: Panthers (barely)
The capital gain: Early seventh round pick
I’m including this here to demonstrate that trades for a non-quarterback can be worth it. In this case, the Browns paid a 5% premium – a small price in a vacuum and well below the typical market cost for rising trades – to select linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who most people thought. that he would go to the first round.
Even though the league valued Owusu-Koramoah less than outsiders originally thought (probably, at this point), given how far he fell, it seems like a good bet to make sure he worth the 5% tax Cleveland paid over Choice # 52..