Matt Kalil (Greg Smith/USA Today)
For years, the draft value chart proved to be accurate. Last year, however, trades with the top five picks didn’t make sense by the old standards.
Is it time to throw out the Draft Value Chart? In some ways, it’s the NFL version of Loch Ness, Bigfoot and Michigan-based Elvis sightings melded into one big myth.
The coolest part of the DVC is that it turns NFL decision-makers into CIA agents or old-time New York City beat cops – “You didn’t see nothin’. Nothin’ happened. Move along, there’s nothin’ to see here.”
According to those who use it, the DVC is a myth. Try to lock down a G.M. or head coach as to whether they reference the DVC when they propose a trade and you’ll likely get an answer questioning its existence. For the record, here is our LINK to the “unofficial” official value of draft picks.
However, like the split backfield that lined up behind the quarterback as recently as the 1990s, is the DVC obsolete?
Maybe it’s just that this year there aren’t any quarterbacks that will get a team to go “all-in” like Washington did last year to get the Rams to happily jump out of the No. 2 spot – offering three first-round picks and a second-rounder, which blew the doors off of the Draft Value Chart. But, the whispered existence of the DVC may have to be altered given the significant change of landscape that the NFL has undergone over the last two years.
The No. 1 overall pick in the first round of the currently accepted DVC is given a value of 3,000 points. With each of the next three picks, the point value drops by 400 points with each pick. That means that if you were to move from No. 4 to No. 3, as Cleveland did last year, you owed the Vikings 400 points in compensation. That didn’t happen. The three picks the Vikings received – Nos. 118, 139 and 211 in the draft – had a DVC value of 102.5 points. That checked in well below the DVC window. It can be argued that the Vikings had an assurance as to who Cleveland was going to take and the three picks received were a gift that the Vikings got, along with the player they would have taken anyway had a trade not been proposed.
There were two trades made last year among the first three picks – Indianapolis wasn’t allowing Andrew Luck to go anywhere else. By the spirit of the old-school DVC, neither trade made sense. The Redskins gave up too much. Cleveland didn’t give up enough. What’s wrong with this picture? It’s not what the trade gave up, it’s that the NFL lockout of 2011 quietly created the DVC Version 2.0.
When the NFL and its players association agreed to a new long-term period of détente, they did so at the expense of college players. The ultimate explanation (the rarely accomplished “to make a long story short”), Sam Bradford’s rookie contract was more – both in total and guaranteed money – than those signed by Luck and Robert Griffin III combined.
Prior to the lockout, trading out of the top five was all but impossible. Mock drafts worldwide would make note that the team making the pick would love to trade down, but without mentioning the DVC by name it was all but impossible. More times than not, if you had the second or third overall pick, you were stuck with it because the compensation to trade out was too high and the DVC set the trade standard. It’s pre-2012 numbers that were spooky-close to adding up exactly that made the DVC the bible of the draft pick trade. They always closely lined up.
Last year’s draft was the first time the DVC came face to face with the “new reality” of the post-lockout NFL. Guess what? Both the second and third picks in the draft were traded – three years ago a near-impossibility – and neither kept pace with the old-time DVC.
There is a new chart being established through NFL boardrooms. As always, the plausible deniability remains in place: “What’s a Draft Value Chart?” But it seems clear from an outside assessment that the risk involved in selecting a player in the top five picks is no longer as steep as it was in the past. A lot of teams sighed in relief when Oakland took JaMarcus Russell – followed later by the Lions taking Calvin Johnson and the Vikings having Baby Jesus (a.k.a. Adrian Peterson) fall into their swaddling clothes at No. 7.
This year, the DVC Version 2.0 may be decipherable by M.I.T. types because they will now have two years of draft-weekend trades made to determine “logic points” at which a full delineation of the “revised numbers” can be determined.
With no offense intended toward the Class of 2013, a legitimate case can be made for six or seven players being viewed as the No. 1 draft pick. A player one analyst views as the No. 3 or 4 player on the board could be evaluated as a borderline top-10 prospect by another analyst. This is a strange year in terms of creating a pecking order.
Last year, in the Viking Update mock draft, when the Vikings were at No. 3 and Cleveland was at No. 4, from the first incarnation of our mock draft until the last had the Fab Four off the board before the rest of the league would fight over who was left – Luck, RG3, Matt Kalil and Trent Richardson. The teams that had the picks, made the picks. While the Griffin and Kalil trades both defied the DVC, they were made because, in the new NFL landscape perspective, they made sense.
This year, we may well find out if there is a “cloak and dagger” new version of the DVC. In some circles, it won’t exist, but we shouldn’t be stunned when Version 2.0 is quietly passed around and eventually exposed.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.