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Analysis of the first round trades

Posted by Chase Stuart on April 23, 2010

See Also: PFR Draft Tools

After one round of the 2010 draft, it's way, way, way too early to make any conclusions. Taylor Mays, Jimmy Clausen and Sergio Kindle haven't even been selected yet. No one knows how Tim Tebow will turn out. And whether or not that additional 4th round pick turns out to be Jared Allen or Ryne Robinson remains to be seen. But caution doesn't stop anyone else from analyzing the NFL draft, so why should it stop me? Let's take a look at the seven trades made tonight.

1) San Francisco moves up from #13 to #11, and gives up the 113th pick in the draft.

Historical: #13 and #113 for #11

For Denver, this was a no brainer; the Broncos' (as we later saw) draft board differed from that of most teams, and a trade down came with no risk; the players they wanted would be there later. According to the Jimmy Johnson pick value chart (JJ PVC), moving up from #13 to #11 is worth about 100 points, or the 100th pick in the draft. According to the PFR pick value chart (PFR PVC), trading up from #13 to #11 should only cost around a 7th round pick. The Broncos got a steal by risking nothing and picking up a free fourth rounder. For the 49ers, they probably paid market value (but in my view, overpaid); the bigger question is, 'why?' The 49ers traded up to take LT Anthony Davis from Rutgers, but it doesn't look like either Denver or Miami at #12 were targeting Davis. Miami was almost certainly going defense or wide receiver, and even if the Dolphins unexpectedly took Davis, Bryan Bulaga (Iowa) appeared to have been a more than suitable replacement. This is especially true for a team with Joe Staley on the left side, as some view Bulaga as only capable of playing on the right side. Great move by Denver, but a very questionable move by the 49ers, who paid a heavy price for the right to choose.

2) San Diego moves up from #28 by trading linebacker Tim Dobbins and the 40th pick to get to #12; they also get the #173 pick (6th round), and a 16 spot bump (from #126 to #110) in the 4th round.

Historical: #28, #40, and #126 for #12, #110, and #173

According to the JJ DVC, this move was a slight steal for the Chargers; according to the PFR DVC, this move was a slightly beneficial one for the Dolphins. For Miami, they passed on some good players but still drafted a talented man for their defense in Penn State DE Jared Odrick at #28; they also get a highly coveted top ten pick in round two. The Chargers love affair with Ryan Mathews was no secret, but they appeared to overpay for the right to select the Fresno State star. It's possible San Diego didn't like Jahvid Best, Toby Gerhart, Jonathon Dwyer or even Montario Hardesty, running backs whom San Diego could have selected later in the draft. It's worth noting that Rick Gosselin had Mathews going at #14 to the Seahawks in his mock draft, so maybe San Diego did need to trade up to #12 to grab him (especially with Spiller off the board). But the Chargers put all of their eggs in the Mathews basket by giving up their first two picks to get him; for my money, Miami got the better end of this deal.

3) The Eagles packaged #70 and #87, along with their 24th pick, to gain Denver's newly acquired #13 pick

Historical: #24, #70, and #87 for #13

Picks 11, 12 and 13 were traded in quick succession, making it the most action packed part of the draft. The Broncos, again recognizing that the players they most highly valued would be available later, were content to trade down. According to the JJ PVC, this trade was almost perfectly even; the PFR DVC says this was a huge steal for the Broncos, who gave up little (especially with their idiosyncratic views) to acquire two valuable mid-round picks. Putting aside the steep price Philadelphia paid, the surprise here was that Andy Reid didn't trade up to grab Texas defensive back Earl Thomas, as nearly everyone had predicted. Instead, Reid selected Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham, a Dr. Saturday favorite all year long. Graham had shot up draft boards over the last two months, a surge I whole-heartily endorsed. So it's possible that Graham, once projected as a second round pick, wouldn't have been around at #24, but Philadelphia paid an awfully big price to avoid having to find out. Graham has an incredible motor and a strong track record of production, but he's athletically limited and Philadelphia might regret giving up two third round picks in a very deep draft.

4) Denver traded the 24th pick and the 113th pick to New England to move up to #22

Historical: #24 and #113 for #22

The JJ DVC says Denver slightly overpaid; the PFR DVC says they significantly overpaid. With a bunch of picks in the draft (at least, as of this trade), the Broncos could afford to overpay to make a necessary move to get a guy they needed. But the Broncos jumped over the Packers -- a team with an embarrassment of riches at the WR position and a desperate need for Baluga -- to grab Demaryius Thomas. The big question is, 'why?' Were the Patriots really going to take Thomas over Dez Bryant? Does Josh McDaniels view Thomas as so much better than Bryant (an opinion that almost no one else holds) that he was willing to throw away a 4th round pick on the off chance that Thomas wouldn't drop to 24? For New England, this was a no-brainer move. Much like what Denver did dropping from #11 to #13, this was a risk-free way to pick up a late round pick. For the Broncos, this was an extremely quesitonable move, and that's ignoring Denver's highly controversial decision to make Thomas, and not Bryant, the #1 WR selected in this year's draft (last year, the Raiders made a highly controversial decision to make Darrius Heyward-Bey the #1 WR selected in the draft ahead of Michael Crabtree; such moves do not engender much confidence).

5) Dallas packaged #27 and #90 to grab #24 and #119 from the Patriots

Historical: #27 and #90 for #24 and #119

This is the sort of move I admire; the Cowboys clearly saw a player they loved (Dez Bryant) and they went out and got him. I admire a team that's aggressive and has the conviction to make the move to grab their guy and not sit as a bystander as the chips fall. The Cowboys had been targeting Bryant, a player I'm very impressed by, for months; they made no secret that they had fallen in love with the former Oklahoma State star. Many viewed him as a top ten prospect, and when he fell to the 20s, Dallas pounced on him. Both the JJ DVC and the PFR DVC view this trade as essentially even; New England clearly didn't want Bryant at the expense of defensive help, so for the Patriots, this was essentially a risk-free way to move up 30 spots later in the draft. For the Cowboys, they traded a 4th round pick for a 3rd round pick in order to draft a potential superstar at a position of need (once the Roy Williams experiment ends, Dallas will need a WR opposite Miles Austin). With Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, the Cowboys should have a very high scoring offense in 2010 -- and for many years after that.

6) Denver traded the 43rd, 70th and 114th picks to Baltimore for the #25 pick

Historical: #43, #70, and #114 for #25

According to the JJ DVC, Baltimore got the better end of this deal (766 to 720); according to the PFR DVC, Denver got fleeced. And, uh, that's before looking at whom the Broncos took with this pick. I can see the argument that Denver needed to move up from #43 to #25 to take Tim Tebow; even with Jimmy Clausen still on board, it's possible that some team (Cleveland, Buffalo, Jacksonville) would have traded up into the end of round 1 to draft the Tebow Child. But you'd have to really, really fall in love with Tebow in order to trade so much to make sure you got him. Now we know why the Broncos were willing to trade down so many times -- they were very excited for what most teams viewed as fool's gold. I won't be so brash as to predict Tebow's failure in the NFL; in fact, I think he'll probably be an average QB in the NFL in a few years. But he's a very risky pick and seems like an odd move for a team with a lot of holes at other positions. If you're interested in hearing an excellent analysis on why Tebow will struggle to make it in the pros, check out Matt Waldman's breakdown on this podcast; his Tebow segment begins at the 1 hour, 6 minute mark.

7) Detroit moved up from #34 to #30 by giving the Vikings their #100 and #214 picks, and got back Minnesota's #128 pick

Historical: #34, #100, and #214 for #30 and #128

If the Eagles can trade Donovan McNabb to the Redskins, I guess the Vikings and Lions can do a draft day deal. The JJ DVC has this as almost dead-even; you can tell that for all the lip service you hear about how "teams throw that stupid chart out the window come draft," well, come draft day, they use it. Not surprisingly, the PFR DVC says the Vikings got a slightly better side of this deal, but this trade was about as even as it gets.

Are the Vikings eying Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy? If so, this seemed like a pretty safe trade, as there was no way the Colts, Saints or Rams would take a QB in between the 30th and 34th picks. If they were indifferent about a few players -- which seems likely -- this was a pretty safe trade and an easy way to acquire more picks. As for Detroit, I love this trade. The Lions have now spent five first round picks the past four seasons on a tackle (Gosder Cherilus), a quarterback (Matthew Stafford), a running back (Jahvid Best), a WR (Calvin Johnson) and a TE (Brandon Pettigrew). If the Lions want to match the high-powered offenses of the other teams in their division and conference, they would need an electric running back. After grabbing the best player in this year's draft, Detroit also selected one of the most explosive (and another Dr. Saturday favorite) athletes. Best was an incredible all-around player at Cal, and even if he can't be an every down RB in the pros, he should provide a special brand of playmaking ability that few NFL running backs can match.

Questions a mile high

To recap, for the Broncos, they traded the 11th, 43rd and 114th picks in the draft and got back the 22nd, 25th and 87th picks. The JJ DVC says that was a net negative of 131 points; the PFR DVC says it was a slight positive of 1.5 points of AV. But after taking a step back from the numbers, I'm left with many more questions than answers about the Broncos regime. They got rid of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall and replaced them with Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas (and not Jimmy Clausen and Dez Bryant). In the Cutler deal, Denver also moved the #140 pick (which turned out to be Johnny Knox) in exchange for Kyle Orton, the 18th pick in '09 (Robert Ayers), a 2009 third round pick (which turned into Mike Wallace for the Steelers) and a 2010 first round pick (the 11th pick, which they used to move down and down to get Thomas). In between, they traded two '09 3rd round picks (Kraig Urbik and Mike Wallace) for Richard Quinn and Seth Olsen. And they traded their own 2010 first round pick to Seattle for Alphonso Smith. Then, in the Brandon Marshall trade, Denver got back the 43rd pick in '10 (used to move up to get Tim Tebow) and a 2011 second round pick. There's no doubt that Josh McDaniels has been aggressive and has done an impressive job of stockpiling picks to get the players he wants. The much bigger question, though, is whether the players he wants are any good. It's too early to grade the Broncos draft picks under McDaniels, and to be fair, Thomas and Tebow are two of the higher "upside" guys in the draft. But if I was a Broncos fan, I would have been a lot happier with the state of the franchise two years ago.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 23rd, 2010 at 12:01 am and is filed under NFL Draft. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.