The 2017 NFL Draft provided plenty of drama and tense moments. It also produced a large amount of Monday-morning-quarterbacks, or in this case, Monday-morning-general managers.
Come to think of it, we shouldn’t be surprised by second-guessing in this modern, fantasy football driven period of NFL fandom where everybody thinks they’re a personnel genius because they’ve done numerous fantasy football drafts. So in keeping with recent draft traditions, the criticisms came hard and fast this past weekend.
The prime target was Chicago Bears General Manager, Ryan Pace.
The football world’s criticism of Pace centered in on his move to trade up from the third pick to the second pick that was held by San Francisco. Pace drafted University of North Carolina quarterback, Mitch Trubisky. Many analysts had Trubisky listed as the top quarterback prospect heading into the draft. The ire drawn by Pace wasn’t as much specifically directed at Trubisky‘s capabilities as it was towards what the Bears were perceived to have given up to draft him.
To move up to the second pick the Bears gave up their 2017 third and fourth round picks, as well as their 2018 third round pick. Analysts and fans alike ridiculed Pace for “giving up too much to move up one spot.” Well, let’s actually take a look at what the Bears “gave up” to move up one spot; and then let’s also take a look at what the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs “gave up” to move up in the first round to select their quarterbacks.
To do this we’re going to use what each NFL team uses in calculating these draft day trades. In his MMQB column today, Peter King referenced a method that NFL teams use to determine whether or not to execute draft-day trades, and he applied that to the Bears’ trade with the 49ers. As mentioned above, we’re going to take that one step further by using that data to compare the Bears’ move to the moves made by the Chiefs and the Texans.
On draft day there is a chart created by former Dallas Cowboys head coach, Jimmy Johnson. Each team uses the chart to calculate the value of trades they’re offered in order to maintain some balance amidst the chaos that draft day brings. In essence, it exists to make sure there’s a quick way to double-check the trades to make sure they’re fair. The chart assigns a point value to each pick in the draft.
So for instance, the second pick in the draft this year was worth 2600 points, and the third pick was worth 2200 points. So, quick math will tell you that the Bears needed to present a trade that was worth 400 points in order to move up to the second pick. When you use the chart, the picks they offered added up to approximately 517 points, taking into account an estimation of what their 2018 third round pick would be worth. So, you could say the Bears “overpaid” by 117 points.
However, context is needed to know what these points mean.
As mentioned earlier, the Texans and the Chiefs also moved up in the draft to secure the quarterbacks they wanted. Let’s take a look at the points chart with their moves.
First, the Chiefs moved up seventeen spots from pick No. 27 to pick No. 10. So they had to make a trade that was worth 620 points, which was a higher amount of points than the Bears needed. The Chiefs ended up giving up their 2017 third round pick and their 2018 first round pick. That added up, after estimating the value of their 2018 first round pick, to 816 points. So they “overpaid” by 196 points, which was also more than the Bears overpaid.
Next, the Texans moved up 13 spots from pick No. 25 to pick No. 12. So they had to make a trade that was worth 480 points, also more than Chicago’s 400 points. Well, the Texans ended up giving their 2018 first round pick away for this trade. After estimating what that was worth, approximately 720 points, they ended up “overpaying” by 240 points, which was more than the Bears overpaid.
Surely, this type of draft-day action for quarterbacks can’t be unique to this year’s draft. In fact, just last year, the Los Angeles Rams traded up to make Jared Goff the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft.
Let’s apply our trade chart math to their move and see what we get.
The Rams had to trade up from pick No. 15 to pick No. 1 to get Goff. So they had to propose a trade worth 1,950 points, which is far more than the Bears gave up to get Trubisky. When all was said and done, the Rams ended up trading picks worth 2,186 points. That’s a whole lot more value than the Bears had to give up (517 points) to make their move.
So, where does that leave us? Well, when you look at what the Texans and Chiefs “gave up” to get their quarterbacks, it makes the Bears’ actions look a lot less crazy. Only time will tell how these quarterbacks develop and ultimately produce or not produce, but until they start racking up statistics on the field that we can analyze, the trade chart points are the only statistics we have to go off of.