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Draft Dose: Evaluating the draft chart

Posted March 16, 2011 @ 9:34 a.m. ET
By Andrew Struckmeyer

Ever since Jimmy Johnson's "draft chart" became public knowledge, fans at home have looked to play GM from their couch, and evaluate their club's trades during draft weekend. The chart gives point values for every pick in the seven rounds of the draft, so that when trades are made, there is an idea of what each pick is worth. Obviously there are mitigating factors when the player a GM covets is available at a certain pick, but for the most part this chart can accurately guide trade parameters. In the 16th installment of the Draft Dose series, we take a look back at some major Draft Day trades, and put the chart to the test to see if the team that gets more draft-day value really comes out on top in the long run.

2008 Saints-Patriots trade

Saints get: Sedrick Ellis (1, 7) and Carl Nicks (5, 164); Draft chart points: 1,525.8

Patriots get: Jerod Mayo (1, 10) and Shawn Crable (3, 78); Draft chart points: 1,500

The draft chart says the Saints gained a slight edge in this deal. Tossing out Crable, who has been ineffective in the NFL, the deal comes down to Ellis and Nicks against Mayo. While the Saints did get two productive starters in Ellis and Nicks, Mayo has quickly developed into an elite player in the league. After capturing the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in '08, Mayo made his first Pro Bowl in 2010, and was also named a first-team All-Pro. For getting that one star player, we are going to disagree with the draft chart and give the edge to the Patriots, but it's a close call.

2007 Jets-Panthers trade

Jets get: Darrelle Revis (1, 14) and Korey Hall (6, 191); Draft chart points: 1,115

Panthers get: Jon Beason (1, 25), Ryan Kalil (2, 59) and Tim Shaw (5, 164); Draft chart points: 1,055.8

This deal has a lot of star power, in that Revis, Beason and Kalil all have made Pro Bowls. Beason, a three-time Pro Bowler, was a first-team All-Pro selection in '08, and has posted three seasons with more than 100 tackles. Kalil has been to the Pro Bowl in '09 and '10, and has been a rock at center for the Panthers. However, Revis also has been to three Pro Bowls, and twice was named first-team All-Pro. He has 14 career interceptions, and is mentioned in the same class with Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders in terms of shutdown corners. Given how hard it is to find a true stopper who can take away your opponent's best receiver, we are going to agree with the draft chart and give the edge to the Jets in this one.

2004 Chargers-Giants trade

Chargers get: Philip Rivers (1, 4) and Nate Kaeding (3, 65) in ’04; Shawne Merriman (1, 12) and Jerome Collins (5, 144) in ’05; Draft chart points: 3,895.2

Giants get: Eli Manning (1, 1); Draft chart points: 3,000

The draft chart indicates that this was a lopsided deal for the Chargers. While we aren't going to call the deal lopsided, it does look like the Chargers got the better of this exchange. Merriman made three Pro Bowls for the Chargers and was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in '05. Kaeding has been the Chargers' placekicker for the past seven years, making the Pro Bowl twice over that span. After studying and watching Drew Brees for a couple of seasons, Rivers has steadily improved and has thrown for more than 4,000 yards in each of the past three seasons. He has made three Pro Bowls and only playoff success stands in the way of his inclusion in the top tier of quarterbacks in the NFL. Manning has that playoff success, having led the Giants to an improbable Super Bowl XLII victory over the Patriots. That eased the criticism on Manning for a while, but the quarterback has come under fire for his issues with costly interceptions. We are going to agree with the draft value chart and give the Chargers the better end of this deal, even though Manning helped the Giants earn a Super Bowl ring.

2003 Steelers-Chiefs trade

Steelers get: Troy Polamalu (1, 16); Draft chart points: 1,000

Chiefs get: Larry Johnson (1, 27), Julian Battle (3, 92) and Brooks Bollinger (6, 200); Draft chart points: 824.4

This trade stacks up as a close battle, with the Steelers given the slight edge by the draft chart. Battle and Bollinger were backups, so the trade really comes down to Polamalu and Johnson. For a couple of seasons, Johnson was a premier back in the league, rushing for more than 1,700 yards in '05 and '06. He scored 37 touchdowns in those two seasons alone. However, his production severely dipped since that time. Polamalu, on the other hand, just earned his first Defensive Player of the Year award in ’10. He continues to be a dynamic force in the defensive secondary for the Steelers, and has been elected to six Pro Bowls, and three All-Pro teams. We are giving the edge to the Steelers in this one.

2001 Falcons-Chargers trade

Falcons get: Michael Vick (1, 1); Draft chart points: 3,000

Chargers get: WR-RS Tim Dwight (veteran), LaDainian Tomlinson (1, 5) and Tay Cody (3, 67) in ’01 and Reche Caldwell (2, 48) in ’02; Draft chart points: 2,380

This one is a little harder to evaluate, since the Falcons threw Tim Dwight into the deal, and that doesn't fit into the draft chart's neat mathematics. However, given that Dwight had value of a mid-round pick, the Falcons still would have come out ahead in this deal, according to the draft chart. Dwight, Cody and Caldwell were little more than journeymen, so the deal again comes down to two players: Vick and Tomlinson. Vick was obviously spectacular in his first few seasons in the league, but his dogfighting troubles set his career back and forced the Falcons to release him. He has resurrected his career with the Eagles, but he never gave the Falcons the total return on their investment. Tomlinson, on the other hand, has made his mark as one of the best running backs of all-time. Tomlinson has made five Pro Bowls, was named first-team All-Pro three times and currently sits in sixth place on the career rushing yards list. We are going to go against the draft chart and give the edge to the Chargers.

*For future picks, we took the average value of a pick in that round. We ignored any time-discounting factors.

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