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Thoughts On The 2012 NFL Draft Value Chart

Feb 24, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III speaks at a press conference during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Feb 24, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III speaks at a press conference during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Before last year's draft, I wrote an article that dispelled two draft day myths: first-round trades are rare, and the draft value chart is increasingly irrelevant. The first myth arose seemingly from an ‘it doesn't seem like' mushy sense of what happens instead of simply looking at the number of first rounders that change hands. The second myth was tied to the craziness of the first round deals being handed to untried players.

And now we have a change in how first rounders are paid. Money is no longer the driving factor, as rookies are more or less slotted into much more modest pay ranges. The obvious question, then, is how the 2011 draft turned out in terms of first round trades. Were there more or fewer trades? Was there more action at the top of the draft or less? Did the draft value chart hold up as the guiding force as it has over the past decade?

The first round of the 2011 draft featured seven picks that were utilized by teams other than the original holders, or about 22 percent. That's lower than the 37 percent from the previous decade. Will the lower trade percentage be a feature of future drafts? I don't have the foggiest idea...

There were a pair of Top 10 trades, including the insane blockbuster Atlanta and Cleveland (Julio Jones) swap. The other was the Blaine Gabbert trade swung by Jacksonville and Washington. That a fair amount of action for the Top 10, and suggests that the rookie pay scale may indeed be changing things at the top of the draft, in that the cost of a bust is now limited to the value of the picks traded.

There were basically four trades that didn't involve players. Two of the four trades involved 2012 picks.

Year 2011 TD Picks TD Value TU Picks TU Value TD % Benefit
1 1876 5 1600 117.3%
1 1410 2 1300 108.5%
1 920 2 800 115.0%
1 1020 2 660 155.5%
Averages 1 5226 2.75 4360 120.0%

A couple of things stand out. First, the Jones trade - in terms of points - was actually a pretty reasonable deal for Atlanta. I had figured on a 20 percent surcharge for trades involving future first-round picks, and Atlanta came in under that line. Much of this is due to the fact that Atlanta is picking so late in the draft. Second, the Kansas City and Cleveland trade is a bit skewed by the fact that Cleveland had picks to burn and didn't mind overpaying to get the player (Phil Taylor) the team had likely been targeting all along. Third: man, New England fleeced New Orleans. Mark Ingram may be a good runner, but ouch.

My main takeaway is from the two (playerless) trades that didn't involve future draft picks - trades that we had already seen a premium of about 20 percent built in. Those two trades benefited the team trading down by 11 percent. This was significantly higher than the four percent (2001-2005) and one percent (2006-2010) we had seen previously. Is the 11 percent an outlier, or will it become the norm? If it is an outlier, then we can continue to look to the current draft value chart, but if it becomes the norm, then we may be looking at an adjustment to the draft value chart. Only time will tell.

For now, I will continue to base my wild trade speculations on the current draft value chart, though I believe that I may add in a five percent pad for trades that don't involve future draft picks. (For trades that involve future draft picks, I'll stick with the 20 percent advantage to the team trading down that we've seen for the past decade.) I should have a mock draft post involving a trade coming up soon...

[Sidebar: I've done little on Rumblings for quite a while. I'm basically working a full-time job and two part-time gigs as well, so my fun time is somewhat more limited than has been the case in the past. It remains unclear how much I'll be able to contribute to these pages in the future.]