There is a generally accepted NFL Draft Pick Value Chart that most NFL front offices use to gauge value of picks for trade purposes. It is a point system where the first pick is worth 3,000 points and Mr. Irrelevant is worth two points. The idea being that if you wanted to trade the 25th pick in the draft with a value of 720 points for the 6th pick of the draft worth 1600 points, you would have to make up somewhere in the neighborhood of 880 points.
If you have the 25th pick in the first round, chances are you have the 57th pick in the second round which carries a value of 330 points. In essence, when you add up your first and second picks (720 + 330 = 1050) you are still drastically short of the 1600 you need to get into the sixth spot. In other years, a team could make up ground like that by trading a veteran player. Without that option this year, teams will have to mortgage the future and trade future picks.
It is 100% worth it to mortgage the future for this year’s draft.
I am going to let you in on a little secret. The NFL Draft Value Chart is out of date.
The value chart has been used for years. It was even (probably) used as the Browns traded out of the 5th spot in 2009 when the Jets drafted Mark Sanchez. You’ll remember Sanchez as the guy who got a gaudy five year $50 million deal with $28 million in guarantees. The pick that the Jets traded for was worth 1700 points according to the chart. That means they had to trade enough assets to the Browns to make up 1700 points. The Jets traded the Browns the #17, #52, Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam and Bret Ratliff. The two picks were worth 1,330 points alone even before the players were added. That is how much the pick was worth even though the Jets were going to have to pony up an extraordinarily large contract to Mark Sanchez. But what if they didn’t have to pay him that much money?
Assuming that whatever conditions the NFL returns to in 2011 include a set rookie salary wage scale, then how much is a pick really worth? Significantly more points. So, if the Browns’ pick this year at #6 has been worth 1600 points in the past, what is it worth today?
In 2010 the Seattle Seahawks selected Russell Okung 6th in the draft and ended up giving him a 6-year $58 million contract with about $30 million guaranteed. Presumably under whatever new deal the NFL strikes, the 6th pick in the draft will not get anywhere near that amount of money. Additionally, because it will be set in stone, the rookie will be guaranteed to be in camp and practicing on time. Given those two huge risks will be contractually mitigated, what premium is placed on the top-end picks in the NFL draft now?
Nobody really knows for sure. One thing I do know though is that I would be looking to take advantage of the arbitrage and get into this year’s draft at all-time low prices. If you were ever going to mortgage the future to get into the first round, you should do it this year. The Browns have been rumored (however much you believe it) to be trying to trade with the Vikings for the 12th pick in this year’s draft. Under the current scale that pick is worth 1200 points. Under next year’s system once the value chart has seemingly been updated, that pick would be worth significantly more.
If you were shopping in the store and you could buy bread for $1 a loaf, wouldn’t you buy an extra loaf if you knew in a week it was going to be significantly more money?