The NFL Draft Trade Value Chart

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Ray Burton
Ray writes mostly in-depth analytical pieces covering a range of sports from a more statistical perspective drawing his inspiration from the fanalytics movement. Ray is a fan of all sports, but mostly the NFL (Dolphins), Premier League (Man Utd), MLB (Mariners), NHL (Ducks), NBA (Heat) and NRL (Warriors) and motorsports. Usually to be found in front of the TV or in a stadium somewhere cheering on one of his teams. Never short of an opinion Ray is always ready to talk sports and is a co-founder of Lazy Fan Sports.

Over the next 13 days, the NFL will select its next crop of rookies that will look to take the game to its new heights. Some of these players will become household names, and be future Hall-of-Famers. Most will not. So how do the teams know the value of a draft pick? Come with us as we take you down the rabbit hole of the draft pick trade value chart.

A (Brief) History of the value chart

When Jimmy Johnson was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys in the late eighties he wanted a way to value each pick so that he could figure out what trades to do and where the value was. So his team researched the impact of each draft pick, and the probability of success and the Draft Pick Trade Value Chart was born. Several attempts over the years have tried to come up with a better system, but Johnson’s is still considered the best.

Each pick in the entire seven-round NFL draft is assigned a points value. The number one pick is worth 3000 points, the number two pick 2600 points, and the number three pick 2200 points. The idea being that to move up from the number three pick to number will cost you 800 points in draft capital. This equates to the 21st pick in the draft, or two/three second-rounders, or 4 third-rounders depending on the exact spots of those picks.

Trade Example

Using the chart helps NFL executives get what they believe is the right value in a trade. For example when the Jets traded with the colts to move from number 6 to number 3 last year, they gave up the 6th pick (1600 pts), the 37th pick (530 pts), the 49th pick (410 pts) and a second-rounder in 2019 (560 pts) to acquire the number 3 pick (2200 pts). So as we can see they traded 3100 pts of draft value to acquire 2200 pts.

Now that’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds. When they traded their second round pick in 2019, they didn’t know how high it would be. So that value of that pick was up in the air. Plus there is the obvious fact that you usually have to overpay to get something you really want, and the Colts were likely dealing with other offers at the time.

The 2019 Draft Trade Value Chart

NFL Draft Trade Value Chart © USA Today
NFL Draft Trade Value Chart © USA Today

So all you have to do to use the chart is follow these simple steps

  • Select the pick you would like to acquire and find it’s value
  • Look at the value of your own picks, and create a combination that comes to the same or greater value

For example, let’s say the Raiders want to move up from number 4 to number 1. They want to acquire a pick with a value of 3000 pts. So they would have to give up the number 4 pick (1800 pts), the number 27 pick (680 pts), and the number 35 pick (550 pts). That would put them at 3030 pts. Now whether that’s a trade worth doing is another matter.

Have fun working out how your team could trade up, or down, to fill their needs. And why not post your scenarios below so we can all see how it could happen.

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