The value of trading down in the draft

daves

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The Athletic has a fascinating article today that will explode some heads by shattering the strongly held opinions of many here. Bottom line: typically a couple of "magic beans" is worth more than a single "sure thing".

The article, "NFL teams know the best way to draft, so why aren’t they doing it?", expounds on a paper, “Overconfidence vs. Market Efficiency in the National Football League,” published in 2005 by the National Bureau of Economic Research by Richard Thaler, an economics professor at the University of Chicago who would win a Nobel Prize in 2017, and Cade Massey, a business professor then at Duke University.

The Athletic's daily e-mail summarizes it nicely, but for the parts you can't believe, check the full article for details:
Wait, they’ve known how to draft all along?
For NFL talent evaluators, judging a player prospect is akin to choosing a romantic partner. Sure, there is on-field attraction, but what’s the personality like? The character? Do they fit in your life/with your team?

Front offices agonize over this. They lose jobs over this. And yet, according to reliable data, a lot of that agony and evaluation time is wasted. So why does everyone continue to draft the same way?

Alec Lewis wrote an intriguing piece today on the open secret known to executives across the league — year after year, results continue to show that picking “your guy” is unreliable folly. A few things that struck me:
  • The basis of this data is simple. It’s not about the quality of picks you have, but about the quantity, which goes against the old axiom all of our parents taught us. The more picks you have, the better chance you have to pick a difference maker, no matter the round.
  • The “best” drafting teams utilize this and often trade back for more. Think of the Ravens’ current regime, which has made a habit of valuing hordes more than superstars. The Patriots were great at this in their heyday, too.
  • This doesn’t always work out, though. Alec smartly cited former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who embraced the data-guided strategy during his tenure. Spielman made 37 draft-pick trades between 2011 and 2020. Results were mixed.
Incredibly, data shows the No. 1 overall pick is actually the least valuable pick in the first round. I can’t help but think about the Bears, who have utilized both sides of this strategy in the past two years.

Read the full story for more insights into the fallacy of draft strategies, which will fascinate you and make you want to ram your head into a wall.
 

Brian in Mesa

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Love this. Hopefully we bring in a lot of guys that fit with our program and can make an instant impact. The best college guys don't always translate to the best pro guys. I am all for trading down and getting more players rather than hoping the one top guy can elevate the team.
 

kerouac9

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I don't think the sample size for this is large enough to be reliable. 2005 was -- what? -- two CBAs ago?

I agree that falling in love with a prospect is a bad idea in every round, but there are diminishing returns pretty quickly. It depends on what the spots available on your roster are, and how quickly you're willing to turn over "failed" draft picks.
 

kerouac9

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Look at teams like the Rams, 9ers, and Ravens.

Those teams always like to stockpile lots of picks. The Rams had 14 picks last year and they hit big on like 5 of them. With that many picks you can take more risks on players.
Yes the famous stockpiling of draft picks by the Rams and 49ers. Extremely famous and well-known for how much they value draft picks.
 

Mulli

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I don't think the sample size for this is large enough to be reliable. 2005 was -- what? -- two CBAs ago?

I agree that falling in love with a prospect is a bad idea in every round, but there are diminishing returns pretty quickly. It depends on what the spots available on your roster are, and how quickly you're willing to turn over "failed" draft picks.
I don't think I ever appreciated how bad of a pick Antrel Rolle was.
 

kerouac9

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I don't think I ever appreciated how bad of a pick Antrel Rolle was.
I don't think that's the case. Antrel Rolle was a 3x Pro Bowler and twice named second-team All Pro. He played six years in the NFL after leaving here.

He had five INTs in 2007! Three returned for TDs!

His onboarding was a freaking mess (his mom negotiating with Denny Green through the media), and I'll never forget that he forgot he was going to be on punt return duty for one game, oiled up his forearms(???), and fumbled a punt in one game.

If you believe PFR's Average Value metric, he provided more value to the Cards than players drafted above him like Cedric Benson, Adam Jones, and Alex Smith. I don't have any hard feelings for Antron. Imagine going from peak Miami Hurricanes to the Arizona Cardinals.
 

Brian in Mesa

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I am not saying amass a bunch of more picks than we already have just to acquire players and hope some pan out, but I see much more value in getting Rome Odunze and some other players now or future picks than I do just selecting MHJ.

If you interview possible picks and get a good feel for who the players are it really helps too. Nothing like seeing these teams, ours included, pick someone and then they are stunned when the player turns out to be a bad locker room guy, not into practicing, or is a real diva. Choose wisely.
 

Mainstreet

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Look at teams like the Rams, 9ers, and Ravens.

Those teams always like to stockpile lots of picks. The Rams had 14 picks last year and they hit big on like 5 of them. With that many picks you can take more risks on players.

I think it takes a systematic approach to the draft to be the most effective, in other words, a strategy.
 

Stout

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I am not saying amass a bunch of more picks than we already have just to acquire players and hope some pan out, but I see much more value in getting Rome Odunze and some other players now or future picks than I do just selecting MHJ.

If you interview possible picks and get a good feel for who the players are it really helps too. Nothing like seeing these teams, ours included, pick someone and then they are stunned when the player turns out to be a bad locker room guy, not into practicing, or is a real diva. Choose wisely.
That's a big assumption. Chances are we can get some other players or future picks and not be able to get one of the big 3 WRs. People on this board have been talking about trading down and trading back up like it's a given and no big deal. There is zero guarantee that happens.
 

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The Athletic has a fascinating article today that will explode some heads by shattering the strongly held opinions of many here. Bottom line: typically a couple of "magic beans" is worth more than a single "sure thing".

The article, "NFL teams know the best way to draft, so why aren’t they doing it?", expounds on a paper, “Overconfidence vs. Market Efficiency in the National Football League,” published in 2005 by the National Bureau of Economic Research by Richard Thaler, an economics professor at the University of Chicago who would win a Nobel Prize in 2017, and Cade Massey, a business professor then at Duke University.

The Athletic's daily e-mail summarizes it nicely, but for the parts you can't believe, check the full article for details:

Actually, New England was not particularly good at maximizing returns from multiple picks but was largely saved by the GOAT at QB and an exceptional HC who was a pathetic GM.
 

Brian in Mesa

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That's a big assumption. Chances are we can get some other players or future picks and not be able to get one of the big 3 WRs. People on this board have been talking about trading down and trading back up like it's a given and no big deal. There is zero guarantee that happens.
Very true. Just because it worked one year is no guarantee it will work again either.
 

Stout

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From our perspective, but I’m 100% sure that Monti has a better idea of the range of potential reality than anyone here.
Absolutely. I would assume, if he trades down, he already has a lock on a top receiver with a guaranteed trade up that still nets us a lot of magic beans. I will attempt to keep from going nuclear on draft night if we trade down, to see if that happens.
 

Mulli

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Absolutely. I would assume, if he trades down, he already has a lock on a top receiver with a guaranteed trade up that still nets us a lot of magic beans. I will attempt to keep from going nuclear on draft night if we trade down, to see if that happens.
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Shane

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That's a big assumption. Chances are we can get some other players or future picks and not be able to get one of the big 3 WRs. People on this board have been talking about trading down and trading back up like it's a given and no big deal. There is zero guarantee that happens.
But as has been said many times if you already have a plan and trades already in place to accomplish it? Then that is null and void. If that’s the case most have said it is NBD…. If they don’t then stick and pick.
 

Totally_Red

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Absolutely. I would assume, if he trades down, he already has a lock on a top receiver with a guaranteed trade up that still nets us a lot of magic beans. I will attempt to keep from going nuclear on draft night if we trade down, to see if that happens.
Yup! I really really want MHJ but a big haul and one of the others is 1B.
 

CT CARDSFAN

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I would like to trade down with the Vikings for 11, 23, 2025 1st to build the defense with the 3 1st round picks and signing CB Steven Nelson. With pick 35 take WR Troy Franklin and with the 66th pick take WR Rome Wilson to complete the WR room.
Pick 11: Turner or Verse
Pick 23: Byron Murphy
Pick 27: Copper DeJohn as a safety
Pick 35: Troy Franklin WR
Pick 66: Rome Wilson WR
Pick 71: Cooper Beebe OG
Pick 90: Theo Johnson TE
Pick 104: Kyree Jackson CB/S
Pick 138: Gabe Hall DE
Pick 162: Caelen Carson CB
Pick 187: Isaiah Davis RB
Pick 226: Josh Proctor S
 

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