With less than a week to go until the 2020 NFL Draft, rumors will be flying in. Take them all with a grain of salt. There will be trades on draft night — frankly on all three draft days — but they may take time to develop and they are likely to be near-impossible to predict. However, the process for completing draft trades has changed across the league and we wanted to make sure every fan is up to date on how any prospective trades will come to fruition.
The standard for draft-day trade analysis is the decades-old Jimmy Johnson chart, but Pats Pulpit writer Rich Hill came up with a new chart a few years back based on a method equal parts obvious and overlooked to that point: analyze actual NFL trades to figure out how draft picks should be valued in the modern NFL.
I got great use out of Hill’s charts when they first came out, but with the information contained in them a few years old, I’ve developed a new chart based on similar methodology, and I wanted to share it with you, dear reader, to help project possible trades in the upcoming draft. But first, a few notes.
1. Number one
The value of the top pick is going to vary considerably based on the incoming quarterback class. In years where there isn’t much excitement in the QBs, teams have to take less if they want to trade down. For example, the Jared Goff trade in 2016 would have been rejected by the Titans if you only evaluate it by the numbers below. The Jets paid more in the move to No. 3 in 2018 that netted them Sam Darnold than the Eagles paid to move up to No. 2 for Carson Wentz (forget about where those players are now; this is about the perceived value of each prospect class).
This year, we have Joe Burrow, who some consider the best QB prospect to come out in several years, maybe since Andrew Luck in 2012. That year, the Redskins traded up to No. 2 for Robert Griffin, paying 210 points more in value per the chart below than what it cost the Eagles to move up for Wentz, which is equivalent to around the 23rd overall pick. You could argue that if Tua Tagovailoa checks out health-wise, it would take a similar RG3-type package to get to No. 2 this year. So while you can use the chart below as a road map, you have to consider the quality of the prospects in question as well. This year, I would say you’d probably have to clear the standard value of the No. 1 pick by at least 10 percent to even get the Bengals to consider passing up the chance to take Burrow.
The value for non-QBs should remain mostly consistent across drafts.
2. Future picks
Different teams are going to value future picks differently, so it’s hard to create a standard value for them. I typically use the last pick of that round in the current year as my value (so a 2021 first-round pick would be worth the value of the No. 32 pick in 2020), but if you apply that to the Goff trade in 2016, where the Titans dropped from No. 1 to No. 15, it would barely clear what the Colts got from the Jets to move from No. 3 to No. 6 in 2018. Again, different QB classes make a difference, but it’s also possible a team values quantity more in a particular year, or that it hopes to land premium picks in future drafts that are expected to feature stronger classes.
3. Who needs it most?
Using another example, the Josh Allen trade from 2018 involved the Bills giving up about 503 points in value for the No. 7 pick, which is listed as being worth about 402 points. This clear overpay could be a result of multiple teams trying to move up for a quarterback, or with the team that traded down not really wanting to move down but at a certain point deciding that declining such an overpay would be foolish, or a combination of both.
Typically, you’ll want to treat the point value for a pick as a bar a team looking to trade up has to clear, but there are circumstances where a team is motivated to trade down and will take slightly less in order to do it. It’s all about analyzing the circumstances of a potential trade on a case-by-case basis.
4. The fifth-year option
Getting into the first round has a long-term value to a team that makes those late Round 1 picks worth more than they would be otherwise. That consideration is baked into the table; it’s why it costs about the value of the 152nd pick to go from No. 32 to No. 33, but only the approximate value of the 195th pick to go from No. 32 to No. 31. Even on top of the premium baked into the chart, feel free to charge slightly more if a team is crossing the Round 1 threshold, unless the team trading down is particularly motivated to do so.
2020 NFL Draft pick value chart
Popular 2020 trade scenarios
Dolphins move up to No. 1
In a typical year, the move from No. 5 to No. 1 would cost the Dolphins all three first-round picks this year (No. 5, 18, 26) plus No. 56 and a Day 3 pick, at least No. 185. In this particular draft, with Joe Burrow’s value well above the standard top quarterback available, I project the Bengals would hang up unless you offer at least 10 percent more. That offer would look something like all three first-round picks plus No. 39 and No. 70, and who knows if that would even be enough. As such, don’t expect the Bengals to trade this pick.
Dolphins move up to No. 2
What a trade to No. 2 looks like depends on two things: Tua Tagovailoa’s health not raising a major issue with teams, and multiple teams having interest in trading up for him. On the low end, a trade up three spots to No. 2 in a standard year would require both of the Dolphins’ second-round picks (No. 39 and No. 56). But if health isn’t an issue and multiple teams are in the mix, the Dolphins would likely have to clear the Darnold bar to get a deal done, which would feature No. 5, 26 and 39. In this scenario, they may be able to get back a Day 3 pick as well.
Chargers move up to No. 2
The Chargers historically don’t do a lot of trading, but it’s worth examining how they match up with the teams at No. 2 and No. 3 in case their front office believes Tagovailoa is worth making a move to land. In a standard year, moving up four spots to No. 2 would cost No. 71 and No. 151 as well as the team’s 2021 first-round pick. If there’s a bidding war against the Dolphins, topping the Miami offer above would require No. 6, 37 and 71 as well as the 2021 first-round pick.
Dolphins move up to No. 3
In a typical year, this move up would cost No. 5, 56 and 173. Using No. 39 instead of 56 would constitute an overpay and the Dolphins could then ask for something back (No. 109 would make sense). However, employing the same caveats for a healthy Tua and competition to move up, the high end of this scenario features getting No. 3 for No. 5, 18 and 70 or for No. 5, 26 and 56.
Chargers move up to No. 3
For the Chargers to move up three spots in a standard year, they’d give up something like No. 6 and 37 to get No. 3 and some Day 3 capital to balance the deal (No. 149 and 166 looks like the closest package). But remember, this exact move cost the Jets three second-round picks (No. 37, 49 and a future second) in a strong QB class. For the Chargers to make a trade of similar value, it would cost No. 6, 37 and 151 as well as their 2021 first-round pick.
Jaguars move up to No. 3
Let’s throw the Jaguars in the mix as well as a potential QB-needy team. In a standard year, they could offer No. 9 and 20 and get back No. 109 in the deal as well. If they didn’t want to move No. 20, it would likely take a package of No. 9, 116, 165 and their 2021 first-round pick. In a scenario where there’s a lot of competition to move up, the Jaguars would likely have to pay No. 9, 20 and their 2021 first-round pick to reach a similar value to the offers above for No. 3.
Raiders move up to No. 3
If the Raiders are looking to make a splash move to start the Vegas chapter of the franchise with a marquee franchise quarterback, they have the ammunition to enter the fray. In a standard year, it would take the No. 12 and 19 picks to get to No. 3. In order to compete with the offers above, they’d be looking at a package of those two picks and their 2021 first-round pick along with one of their third-rounders this year or possibly their 2021 second-rounder if the bidding is intense.
Patriots move up to No. 3
This one seems too costly to happen, but let’s throw it in here and see what it would take. In a standard year, moving up 20 spots to No. 3 would cost No. 23, 87, 98 and 100 as well as New England’s first- and second-round picks in 2021. In a competitive market, in order to beat the offers above it would likely also take the team’s first- and second-round picks in 2022, plus the Lions valuing those picks the same as the ones for 2021 rather than devaluing them even more for being two years away instead of one. So we can more than likely cross this scenario off … or can we? I recently laid out the blueprint for swinging a deal without surrendering as much draft capital, and.
Patriots move up for another QB
If the Patriots did want to move up, how far could they jump to take a quarterback? No. 23 plus No. 87 should get them to No. 18. Add No. 98 to the mix and you can get to No. 15 instead. Use all three third-round picks (No. 87, 98, 100) and you’re right around No. 12. With San Francisco looming as a potential trade down team at No. 13 with no picks in Rounds 2-4, this seems like a realistic scenario should a QB the Patriots want make it to that spot.
Saints move up for a QB
The Saints only have five picks in this draft, and combining all of them into a package would get them to No. 16. Including their first-round pick in 2021 in an offer could get them as high as No. 6 (No. 24, 88, 130 and the 2021 first would give the Chargers positive value in a trade down).