A better way to value draft picks
An interesting insight I observed was that the Jimmy Johnson draft pick value chart places a premium on top draft picks. The first overall pick receives a value of 3000 points and generates an average AV of 43 over the first four years of their career.
In comparison, the draft pick value chart assigned a value of 10 points for pick number 203. From 2011 to 2016, the six picks from this slot averaged an AV of seven for the first four years of their career.
While you would expect the number one overall pick to outperform the 203rd choice, the draft pick value chart placed a value 300 times greater for the first pick over the 203rd pick but the real value delivered was only six times greater. So something seemed not quite right to me.
"“If I had a pick in the top 10, and I wasn’t drafting a quarterback, I’d want to trade down every year. There is value in multiple high picks versus one pick in the top 10.”"
So I set out to determine if there is a better way to value draft picks. I charted the first four years AV for each draft pick from 2011 to 2016. I then ran a sixth-order polynomial regression to smooth the noise to predict the value for each pick.
Then, I determined if this new chart has merit. I looked at the 2012 trade where Dallas sent the 14th and the 45th picks to the Rams for the sixth overall selection. Using the Jimmy Johnson trade chart, the Cowboys acquired 1600 points and surrendered 1550 points (1100 for the 14th and 450 for the 45th).
Let’s put aside the fact that corner Morris Claiborne did not work out as hoped and review how the average 6th, 11th, and 45th picks have performed over the first four years of their career. According to my chart, the sixth pick has an AV of 31.01 and the 14th and 45th picks have AVs of 25.77 and 16.07.
So the Cowboys got good value with the Jimmy Johnson chart with a 50 point net benefit but were fleeced when looking at the expected performance of the picks.
By the way, the Cowboys would have selected Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner with the 45th selection who happens to have the 10th highest difference between actual AV and expected AV from this period. The Rams selected Michael Brockers and traded the 45th pick to move up a few slots to pick Janoris Jenkins.