The Buffalo Bills were super active during the first two days of the 2017 NFL Draft, making a trade before each of their first three picks.
How did they fare in those trades?
Now, we can properly quantify that.
Rich Hill of Pats Pulpit tracked every trade involving only draft picks since 2012, the first full year after the current CBA was agreed upon to formulate a new draft value trade chart, one that’s applicable today with the salary cap and the rookie wage scale.
“Based on these pick-for-pick trades, I’ve created the following draft value chart to show how teams actually value draft picks.”
Let’s take a look how the Bills did “value-wise” on their three draft-day trades:
Trade No. 1
Kansas City’s 2017 Round 1 pick (No. 27 overall), 2017 Round 3 pick (No. 91 overall), 2018 Round 1 pick (TBD)
Points: 444.07* (worst-case scenario for Bills, Chiefs pick at No. 32 overall)
Buffalo’s 2017 Round 1 pick (No. 10 overall)
Bills net points: +74.88, which is equivalent to the No. 67 overall pick
Trade No. 2
Los Angeles’ 2017 Round 2 pick (No. 37 overall), 2017 Round 5 pick (No. 149 overall)
Buffalo’s 2017 Round 2 pick (No. 44 overall), 2017 Round 3 pick (No. 91)
Bills net points: -4.76, which is equivalent to the No. 191 overall pick
Trade No. 3
Atlanta’s 2017 Round 2 pick (No. 63 overall)
Buffalo’s Round 5 pick (No. 149 overall), Round 5 pick (No. 156 overall)
Bills net points: -3.2, which is equivalent to between the No. 210 and No. 211 overall picks
Overall Bills net points: +66.92
For the record, I don’t like trade ups. Too inherently risky. History has shown, when it comes to draft picks, quantity is better than “supposed” quality, especially considering the prevalence of injuries in the NFL.
This Vox article that was published — for the Bills, ironically -- right before the 2014 draft does a much better job than I could ever do explaining the perils of trading up and how it “ignores basic economic principles.” It’s like diversifying your investments instead of throwing most — or all — of your savings into one stock.
Trading down is almost always the more prudent decision on draft day.
However, — there’s always a “however” isn’t there? — if you’re going to trade up, do it with another team’s picks, even though that kinda/sorta defeats the benefit of trading back to get those extra selections in the first place.
In their third trade — the move up to draft Dion Dawkins — Buffalo moved its original Round 3 and Round 5 picks, and the extra Round 5 pick it received in the trade up to pick Zay Jones. Not terrible.
The Bills second trade — to get Jones -- included their original Round 2 choice and the Round 3 pick they got in the trade back with the Chiefs in Round 1. Good work by Buffalo.
In trading up, the least I can ask of a team is to not get hosed on the draft value chart. Even in the move to select Jones, Buffalo’s net loss was just 4.76 points, which was the top of Round 6 in the 2017 draft.
For Dawkins, the net loss of 3.2 is a late Round 6 pick. Basically nothing.
All in all, the Bills clearly made out like bandits on the new draft value trade chart. That 2018 Round 1 pick is enormous. I mean, if the Chiefs have the same pick in 2018 that they did in 2017 — No. 27 overall — Buffalo’s net gain jumps to 106.49, which is equivalent to the No. 53 overall pick, slightly past the middle of Round 2.