Prior Cowboys Drafts And Jimmy Johnson’s NFL Draft Value Chart

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Nov 3, 2012; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Terrance Williams (2) warms up before the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears defeated the Jayhawks 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jones “lost” on the Frederick trade, but Johnson himself lost similarly on several trades he made during his five years in the Cowboys war room. In 1990 he traded pick 21 (800 points) and pick 81 (185 points) to Pittsburgh for pick 17 (950 points), receiving 96 percent value on the transaction. Johnson “lost” on the trade that made Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith a Cowboy.

He lost trading up and he lost trading down. In 1992 he traded pick 56 (340 points) to Detroit for pick 82 (180 points), pick 109 (76 points) and pick 250 (0.5 points), getting 75 percent value on the exchange. Sometimes the chart tells you not to do the deal, but you do it anyway because your board tells you differently. You trust your board, and you take the best deal you can find.

After Johnson left, Jones used the chart to rob Tampa Bay in 1995, sending pick 28 (660 points) to the Bucs for picks 41 (490 points) and 63 (276 points), receiving 116 percent value on the exchange. Jones “won” the trade that made Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks a Buccaneer. Jones won the chart, the Bucs won the board.

According to data gleaned from, Johnson’s five years in Dallas yielded 14 draft day trades that didn’t involve veteran players, so we can use his chart to analyze them. He “won” nine and “lost” five. The overall value he received for all 14 trades was 95.6 percent.

In the nine years that followed, between Johnson resigning and head coach Bill Parcells joining the organization, Jones also made 14 draft day trades that didn’t involve any veterans. He also won nine and lost five. The chart says his overall value received was 99.2 percent.

So Jones “out-charted” Johnson. Does anyone think Dallas drafts got better after Johnson left? No? Then give up this obsession with Johnson’s NFL draft value chart. The chart is just a guide. The real value of any pick is determined by the depth of the draft class and the quality of your draft board. The point of the draft is to identify and accumulate talent. Above all, that takes a solid draft board and the stones to trust it. The Cowboys got their board right last year. They’re a better team for it, regardless of what any chart says.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones Jimmy Johnson

  • SmartThinking

    Interesting analysis. You’re right about a draft choice being only as valuable as what a GM will pay for him. Every team has its own weaknesses that it drafts to fill each year. Each team also has its own value system for evaluating players. Big Jones’ value system has seemed skewed in the past and some boneheaded decisions regarding drafting players were made, again and again. Here’s hoping, in this critical year when every draft pick, regardless of where they fall, needs to be a year-one impact player, Big Jones can pull another rabbit out of his hat, like Frederick and Williams, and get three or four true competitors for this team.

  • Guy Smith

    Jone’s mistakes over the years far outweigh anything good he does, and That isnt much, lest we forget 3 straight 8-8 seasons, the worst defense in the league last year. And, speaking of last year I for one would have used that 2nd round pick on either a defensive lineman or an OTackle, instead of an overrated tight end.