Ted Thompson Vs. The NFL Trade Chart: Who’s More Obfuscated?

“I’m convinced the articles I’ve seen like this are written by guys who have no actually gone through the trade value charts.  The Packers are going to be in a tough spot trying to trade up and will have to really overpay in number of selections to do it.”  

- Jeremy, April 14th, 2012 12:27; in reference to the Packers trading picks to move back up into the 1st.


Challenge accepted!

  1. Would you believe me that overall, Ted Thompson isn’t very good at trading draft picks?
  2. Would you believe that Ted Thompson has been suckered in by other teams that have called and accepted less than he originally had?
  3. Would you believe that the single biggest mistake Ted Thompson has made on draft day was trading up for Clay Matthews III?

You’d think I was full of it, but its all true.

In reality, the trade value chart has become a staple of NFL draft fandom.  Some people swear by it while other people think its stupid to put a number on talent or potential.   But should we trust the chart and perhaps more importantly, does the chart make any sense in the modern era of football?

But first off a brief overview of the trade value chart.  The chart was purportedly invented by Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson (or an assistant under Johnson) in the 1990’s and was supposedly one of the reasons why the Cowboys were such a dominant team during the period.  During the NFL draft (which was a lot less sophisticated back in the 90’s) many teams didn’t actually know if a trade was good value or not; can you say (without looking) if the 38th pick is worth the 45th and 87th pick?  Even if you could work it out in your head, could you do it in the 15 minutes you had on the clock?  What the trade value chart allowed the Cowboys to do was roughly assess the value of a trade and see it was a good deal in a very short period of time.