Yesterday, we explained how the NFL’s mythical/realistic Draft Value Chart (DVC) could be undergoing change given that the second and third picks of the 2012 draft – the first time in which investing in blue-chip rookies wasn’t a financially crippling proposition – were both freely trade. In previous years, teams had a difficult trading up to the top picks because they would be crippled by having to give up a bounty of draft picks and pay that pick’s salary as if he was a proven, star veteran player.
Unfortunately, the only way to quantify the ongoing evolution of the DVC is to use math – and to throw in a little history lesson. We feel your pain.
The DVC is skewed toward the top. At a time when the investment in the top five picks was exponentially different than picks 21-25, it was understandable. The unwitting victims of a labor dispute, the top picks in the draft have suddenly become a buyer’s market. They are now much more affordable, making teams willing to trade up to get someone they think could be a star in the future.
To put it in human terms, Andrew Luck was worth 3,000 points. By DVC rationale, that translates into more than 357 Audie Coles – Cole had a DVC value of 8.4 – a seventh-round draft pick of the Vikings last year.
As our crack staff donned their off-white lab coats, the parameters of the scientific study were foggy. We had to invoke math.
While those in Eden Prairie on opening night of the 2012 draft were straining their shoulders back-slapping each other after the trade with Cleveland, the post-7/11 (July 2011, when the NFL lockout ended) tragedy for NFL rookies hit. It hit hard. Before 7/11, if Cleveland wanted to show up at Trent Richardson’s door with flowers and candy, it came with a price – 400 points on the DVC guest ledger.
The evolution of the DVC is ongoing. With the premise that the “old numbers” were askew to begin with, we had to get a well-witcher out with his pronged stick to see how deeply the DVC has been betrayed. As a control-group test, the first pick in the second round was used as the litmus test. The Seattle Seahawks traded the 43rd pick to the New York Jets for three picks (Nos. 47, 154, and 232). As has so often happened when the DVC is viewed as draft gospel, the numbers hit the seeds. The 43rd pick in the draft was worth 470 mythical DVC points. The three picks acquired were worth 472 points. I hate to bring this up, but that is a difference of .004 percent. That is tantamount to amount of rat droppings allowed in hot dogs. As it currently stands, the DVC virus has been contained to the first round.
As further study would show, the line in the sand has been dragged out in the vicinity of the middle of the first round. Cross that line and the value is there.
Here’s where the science/math guys get involved. We’ll make it quick.
The difference in the Vikings-Browns trade, according to the DVC manual, was 297.5 points – a whopping total considering that the difference translates into a late-second round pick. Naysayers can jump up and claim that the Vikings got the guy (Matt Kalil) that they would have taken anyway and got a value for a franchise with candy and flowers in hand. But there should have been a limo – 297.5 points deserves a limo.
It would be easy to dismiss that the axis of the deviation from the DVC hasn’t reached the second round yet. But if the top half of the first round, where the big fish swim, is any indication, it’s unofficially confirmed. The Numerators are, in the first half of the first round, kicking the butts of the Denominators.
Three other trades came after the Vikings and the Browns had their trade dance. In each case, the team reaching upward gave up less than the DVC commanded.
Tampa Bay and Jacksonville got into the act at pick No. 5. The Jaguars moved up to the fifth pick (with 1,700 DVC points), while the Bucs got the seventh pick (1,500 points and the 101st pick (96) in return. According the old DVC, the Jaguars saved 104 points by moving up two spots.
When Dallas moved into the No. 6 pick, the return was similar, showing a clear advantage to moving up by the old chart’s valuation. Dallas traded for the No. 6 pick from St. Louis, worth 1,600 points, and gave up the 14th pick (1,100) and the 45th (450). Under the old DVC rules, the Cowboys should have sweetened the deal with a fourth round pick worth about 50 points. They didn’t.
The final pick traded in the top half of the first round saw the Eagles and Seattle cut a deal. Philadelphia got the 12th pick (1,200 points) and gave up the 15th (1,050), the 114th (66) and the 172nd (23.6). The trade left a disparity of 61.4 points, which should have been enough to throw in an additional fourth-round pick, yet it didn’t.
While one year does not a trend make, it seems pretty clear that the blue-chip draft numbers, while still carrying a hefty price tag, aren’t as daunting to trade for as they used to be. Four teams cut deals for picks in the top 12 and, according to the DVC, none of them gave up a commensurate amount of compensation – at least by old chart. It would appear that the numbers at the top are being lowered and there is some early empirical evidence to support that conclusion.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.