Value within the NFL Draft

Teams really don’t trust one another when it comes to the value of draft picks, and many see it differently and others really don’t care, if they want the player they will make the call for a trade.  Each and every NFL club fights to create an uneven playing field to gain the competitive edge over the rest of the league.

Many years ago a Value Chart was created, some give former head coach Jimmy Johnson the credit for its creation, but Im told a form of the value chart has been around since Johnson was playing collegiate football for the Arkansas Razorbacks.  The reason for such a chart was to make sure that teams trading were getting equal compensation when making a decision to trade.

I was the College Director for the Carolina Panthers, it was the 2001 NFL draft and we received a call from the Pittsburgh Steelers about acquiring one of our picks in a trade.  I took the call, told them let me talk it over with then Head Coach John Fox and G.M. Marty Hurney.  We were shaking are heads trying to figure out if this is really what they were asking for in compensation, because when you looked at the chart it didn’t make any sense, it weighed heavy in our favor.  When I called them back, I said we are interested but let me confirm the numbers before we move further.  The individual on the other end said we don’t care about the chart and what the numbers say, we want to make the deal.  There is a reason the Steelers are one of the best organizations in the NFL, there consistent ability to build championship teams that have won numerous Super Bowls is because they don’t use the chart, its all about getting players that fit there scheme, regardless what the numbers.

While the Value Chart is not gospel, it is still used in many war rooms as a guide to make the dinosaurs in this business feel good with their moves up and down the draft board.  There is a difference in value between the number one overall pick and the 32nd pick in the first round, not to mention the 254 pick of the seventh round.  There have been many charts created over the last few years that compare player value based on position and production over several years on selection slotting, some time keeping it simple and not creating a quantitative analysis study of historical movement by each NFL clubs on trying to reach a logical reasoning for what the clubs really do in the war rooms each year when it comes to trades and the value of each pick.

The Value Chart is just a guide, it is hard to figure out career value on a player taken with the first pick that is valued at 3000 points to one that is taken in the top of the 2nd round valued at 680 points, keep in mind the bottom line no matter how you crunch the numbers of trade value over time, its not were the player is taken, its what they do once they get in the league.

The Value chart I used is listed below;

SLOT = Represents the actual number of picks for the complete draft.

Round = Aligns the draft order in which the teams will pick, these picks are numbered 1-254 picks.

Number Value = the number following the NFL Team acronym

Compensatory Picks = Arrows pointing at the number within the round; example 3rd round pick 95 through 96 are compensatory selections that the clubs are awarded for free agents lost the previous year.  This compensatory picks are marked with an arrow to remind me that these picks cannot be traded, league rule.  These picks can only start in the 3rd round and are awarded and filtered through the final 254 picks.

Chart Function

Trade scenario; STL (Rams) want to trade their 16th pick for the NYJ (Jets) 13th pick.  The value of the 13th pick = 1200 points; The Rams 16th pick is worth = 1000 points.  The value is in favor of the Jets by 200 point (1200 – 1000 = 200) difference.  The Jets would most likely ask for the Rams 3rd round pick 78th which is worth 160 points, and a deal would get done even though there is still 40 points of compensation they could still ask for which would be the Rams 149th pick in the 4th round valued at 30 points.

Final trade results;

Jets receive: Rams picks #16, #78, #149

Rams receive: Jets #13

If both clubs agree, they then call the league office Player Personnel department located on draft headquarters main stage in the Radio City Music Hall, once the league representative hears from both clubs they confirm the trade and it is announced on national television (NFL Network and ESPN).

At the bottom of the value chart is a quick reference guide for each round, displaying all seven rounds and the clubs that have multiple picks, no selections and all the compensatory picks that are circled.