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 prosportstransactions.com, 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.