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You Too Can Be a Draft Trade Expert

We’re likely to see the Green Bay Packers make one or more draft choice trades during the draft that will take place from April 27 through 29. These are complicated deals, but I think we can simplify the process enough that fans can have a much better idea of which team is getting the better deal out of such trades.

Let’s take a Green Bay deal made in 2016 as our example. In a fairly typical draft-day trade, the Packers gave up their round 2 pick (57th overall) to the Indianapolis Colts. In return, the Colts gave the Packers their round 2 pick, the 48th overall pick. To balance out the Packers’ moving nine places up the selection list, Green Bay also gave the Colts its round 4 pick, number 125 overall, and its round 7 pick, number 248 overall.

How do great minds like Ted Thompson work out deals like this? They have a cheat sheet.

NBC Sports has published the Draft Trade Chart here. I’m not sure who came up with this or when, but I believe that most NFL teams regularly consult it or their own version, when they consider trading draft picks.

The above chart, however, fails to take into account the compensatory picks that are added to the ends of round 3 through 7. Therefore, there’s a better chart: the Drafttek.com Interactive Trade Chart. This one adds in the 29 compensatory draft picks that will be included in the 2017 draft.

I can’t find the 2016 Drafttek chart online, but I’m sure the compensatory picks awarded that year are quite similar to those of 2017. With that in mind, the 2017 chart values the Packers’ as getting 420 points in the above 2016 example. The Colts’ three picks are valued at 330, 47, and 1 point, respectively. On this basis, the Packers came up with 420 points versus the Colts’ 378 points. Call this the Jason Spriggs deal.

So maybe the Packers got the better of this deal. It’s also possible that some money also traded hands, or that there were other provisions in addition to the draft trading that I’m unaware of. It could also be that some teams have devised their own charts and don’t rely on the standard one. I’m sure that some general managers are inclined to pursue the highest picks they can get, while other GMs favor having more, rather than higher, draft picks. Quantity versus quality.

I thought the values in the Spriggs’ deal would be closer, so I decided to take a look at Ted Thompson’s two biggest draft day deals.

In 2008, Thompson traded his 30th, 113th, and 162nd overall picks to the Jets, getting in return their 36th and 102nd picks. Based on the 2017 Drafttek chart, the Jets got 714 points, and the Packers 632 points in what we’ll call the Jordy Nelson deal.

In 2009, the Packers acquired the 26th and 162nd overall picks, but gave up the 41st, 73rd, and 83rd picks (a round 2 and two round 3’s). Green Bay’s picks total 726 points (700 and 26), whereas the Patriots’ picks total 890 (490, 225, and 175). This was the Clay Matthews deal.

Hey, I didn’t invent the chart. It looks like various intangibles come into play in making these deals, some of which seem to be every bit as important as the perceived value of the picks being bandied back and forth.

I would theorize that in most trades the team initiating the trade talk is the more motivated of the two trading partners, and the team being propositioned knows it has the advantage. In such cases, I would assume the initiating team will usually have to give up a little more – and at times a lot more – than the team being approached.

The enormous point value difference in the Matthews’ deal, 164 – equivalent to a middle third-round choice – strongly suggests that Ted Thompson should never be allowed to negotiate a deal with Bill Belichick. That’s simply a mismatch!

Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”



  1. MJ April 21, 2017

    You are not taking Ted’s secret weapon into account. He bores the heck out of other GMs, who will render extra picks to get off the phone sooner.

  2. Howard April 21, 2017

    That original chart was invented by Jimmy Johnson in the early 90s. The Cowboys built a championship team by using that chart to trade picks after they took advantage of the Vikings with the Walker trade.