The 2017 NFL Draft was one for the ages; with numerous big trades and surprise picks, it will be remembered very fondly. However, there is a dark lining to this silver cloud: some teams did not manage their assets wisely and made below average deals that resulted in them losing out on better draft positions. Other teams did not make deals at all.
There were a total of six first round trades in the 2017 draft, which is tied for the second most all time. One top ten pick was traded up from twelfth to number two, one top ten pick was traded down from eighth to tenth as well as one late first rounder traded up from 27th to 16th. In each of these cases, the team trading up drafted a player who was projected to go higher than where he ended up. We decided not to count two trades down (Jets’ Sheldon Richardson for Seahawks’ Jermaine Kearse and Vikings’ Cordarrelle Patterson for Patriots’ first rounder), as one was clearly forced on the Jets due to cap purposes and the former was a lateral move at best.
The goal of this article is to investigate which of these teams actually got the most value for their pick, not merely if they “won” or “lost” the trade. The picks are broken down in terms of draft capital using Chase Stuart’s method, which assigns each pick a value based on the average career approximate value of players selected at that pick .
While Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys were big winners of the 1991 NFL Draft, their trade down with Atlanta didn’t result in the same level of draft capital. The Falcons moved up to take Brett Favre with the second overall pick (31.8 AV), giving up a fourth and a sixth round pick to move up one spot. More importantly, this trade was not as even as it seems – the Falcons only had four picks in that draft to begin with and they gave two of them away for a player who never played a down for them.
In our opinion, the worst trade of the 2017 NFL Draft was between Kansas City and Buffalo. The Chiefs moved up from 27th to 10th while giving away a third rounder (96.2) and their first rounder in 2018 (currently 58). We don’t think it’s likely that the Chiefs will end up with anything close to this high of a pick next year, which means they could walk away without getting anything for the 2018 pick they gave away. An argument can also be made that the third rounder turned into their starting left guard, but one who is on a cheap contract .
Not to be outdone, Buffalo moved up from tenth to seventh by giving away a future first (currently 12). Their rationale was that draft slots are “overvalued” and that they are still “playing chess”, but the reality is that they moved down two spots for an extra third rounder. It’s also worth noting that, had Buffalo stayed put at ten, there was a better than average chance that McCarron would have been available to them
While not every team traded out of the first round, we thought it would still be interesting to look at how much they gave up. The Rams and the Ravens each dealt their first rounders for players who will likely end up as quality starters, but there is a chance that neither will start this year. To make matters worse, both teams should have been able to get more value by staying put and either moving down (Rams) or signing one of the quality free agents like Tony Jefferson who were available.
The trade chart below is colored by the net value each team gave away during draft weekend, with negative values meaning that they gave up more than they received. The Rams, Raiders and Packers are all clustered together at the bottom, which means they all gave up huge amounts of value to move up in the draft. Here is how it looks with their net trade added in: