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KANSAS CITY -- Myth of the Month: If a team near the top of the first round of the NFL Draft wants to trade down, it can get a ransom for the pick.
Reality of the Month: In the last two NFL Drafts, no team with a top-10 pick in the first round has traded down for said ransom. In fact, the last two drafts have yielded only one trade with a team in the top 10, but it wasn't a trade-down. It was the Raiders trading the seventh overall pick plus linebacker Napoleon Harris for Randy Moss in 2005; Minnesota chose wideout Troy Williamson with that pick. (Talk about a trade that hurt both teams.)
Is it just me, or does everyone at this time of year have the same knee-jerk thought: If you're Detroit sitting on the No. 2 pick, no matter what happens, you're going to be able to either pick a great prospect, or trade it for a bunch of high picks. But if form holds, we're not going to see many, or any, deals made in the first couple hours of the April 28 draft.
"It's too difficult,'' Chiefs president Carl Peterson said in his office the other day. "You've got a lot of teams that want to get rich by trading down, but nobody wants to trade up.''
Here's why teams are reluctant to make a trade at the top of the draft this year:
1. Making an error by trading up can hurt a team's salary-cap situation and future drafts more than ever. Say a team trades up to the third pick in the draft this year, nabs Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn and guarantees him $20 million -- which is about the amount of guaranteed money the No. 3 overall pick will get. And imagine if Quinn is awful. Contracts can be written with different cap impacts, but suffice it to say, the big guarantee is going to be a Ryan Leaf-type weight on your franchise if Quinn has to be cut after three years at the cost of a $10 million cap hit. Never mind losing the picks it took to get Quinn in the first place. It used to be, when the guarantees were one-third of what they are now, that teams wouldn't fear the cap hit so much. "The cash mistake is bad enough when you blow a high pick,'' Peterson said. "But the cap mistake is worse. And then missing out on the future picks just compounds it.'' Which brings us to ...
2. The fear of the mega-mistake. The last one -- unless Eli ManningPhilip Rivers was chosen fourth by the Giants, and then New York traded Rivers for Manning and threw in future first-, third- and fifth-round picks. The first- and third-rounders became Pro Bowlers Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding, while the fifth-rounder was dealt to Tampa Bay for temporary starting left tackle Roman Oben. shows significantly more than he's shown in three shaky seasons, and fast -- came in 2004. Manning was picked by San Diego at No. 1 overall and
The trade looks bad now, and all it does is scare off teams thinking of trading future high picks to move up a few spots. You don't think Cleveland GM Phil Savage (I think the odds are tall that he'd trade up anyway, from what he tells me) will be very hesitant to trade a second-rounder, or next year's first to move up for JaMarcus Russell? All that's at stake is his job.
3. Too many teams are slaves to the Draft Trade Chart. You may have heard of this chart. It was invented as a way to equalize the value for both sides of a trade in the NFL. I'll use the Giants' silliness as an example of the silliness of the chart. (And I'm not even saying the draft chart was used by Ernie Accorsi when he made this deal; he did not live his life by the chart.) The draft chart assigns a value to each pick in the seven-round draft. Some teams have different values for picks, but the value board does not vary widely.
On the chart I have, the first overall pick is worth 3,000 points; the fourth is worth 1,800. So by the chart, the Giants would have to make up 1,200 points to make the trade. They dealt the 65th pick in the 2004 draft (worth 265 points) and first- and fifth-rounders in 2005. How do you assign value to these picks? For most teams, it's simple. You assume they'll come smack dab in the middle of the round. In this case, the first-round pick in 2005 was worth 1,000, while the fifth-rounder was worth just 34 points. Add those points together, and the Giants actually traded 3,099 points of value for the 3,000 points the top pick was worth.
The only time a team should follow the chart, I think, is when there's such a no-doubt player that you think your team has but one choice, and that's to select Player X. Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson, for instance, in this draft.
On the other side, a team trading down shouldn't think it has to get perfect value in a trade to justify the deal. Case in point: In 1995, when Bill Polian was the Carolina GM, the Panthers had the first pick in the draft. Polian knew he wanted Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins, but he also knew Collins wasn't worth the No. 1 pick. By trading down, even if he didn't get fair "Draft Trade Chart'' value for the pick, he'd be making a smart decision. So he dealt the first pick to Cincinnati for the fifth and 36th overall picks and selected Collins at No. 5. First-pick value: 3,000 points. Combined value of numbers five and 36: 2,240 points.
But Polian knew he couldn't do better, and he also knew if he could get the same player with the fifth pick -- and get a high second-rounder in return, and pay them less, combined, then he would have had to pay the first overall pick -- why not do the deal? Turned out to be just OK for Carolina. Collins did lead the Panthers to the playoffs in his second year, but he and defensive end Shawn King, the second-rounder picked with the other pick from Cincinnati, didn't become the franchise players Polian had hoped for. The Bengals took running back Ki-Jana Carter with the No. 1 overall pick. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but you have to judge value based on what you see in front of you at the time -- not as a fixed system of unbending value based on the Draft Trade Chart.
"What's so interesting about the draft,'' said Peterson, "is that the risk-reward ratio is so much different between the top 10 and the picks you make as you go lower in the draft. You find out how hard it is to say good-bye to players in the top 10 of a draft. That's why you don't see the trades you used to see.''
I hate to say it, but I don't have anything to add. King pretty much says it all.------------------------------------------------------------------
So the schedule is out:
|Oct 7||@New England||1:00pm|
|Oct 28||@St. Louis||1:00pm|
|Dec 9||@N.Y. Jets||4:15pm|
|Dec 30||San Francisco||1:00pm|
>> Thats a bear of a beginning, Pittsburgh, Cincinnatti, and Baltimore at home only broken up by a trip to Oakland. Our standing in the AFC North should shape up VERY quickly. Crennel better be sure he gets the team up to speed quickly, because this season could be over before it begins if we go to 0-4 or 1-3.
>> Week 7 bye. Sounds good. It gives you time to look at what needs fixing from games 1-6, and still leaves 10 games in which to fix things.
>> We've had some pretty tough schedules the last few years, but at this point our 07 schedule looks like it might provide a little relief. Oakland, St. Louis, Miami, Houston, Arizona, NY Jets, Buffalo, and San Francisco can't become good in one year.
>> No primetime games on the schedule, although with flexible scheduling, that could change. I can't blame the league for not scheduling Browns games in primetime. Their games are exciting about half the time, and the rest of the time they are just pathetic. Even games we win can end up being bad games to watch (like at Oakland last year).