Earlier this month, I had lunch with my former business partner, Troy, and posted here about it. He thinks a lot about the draft and closely follows the process as well as the prospects. For that reason, when he took issue with one of my posts last week, I asked him to develop his opinion so I could publish it here. He makes some great points.
I’ll turn it over to Troy.
So much is made of the NFL Draft value points chart created more than a quarter century ago by former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson. It’s natural this time of year — especially with the recent blockbusters involving a bundle of picks for the No. 1 and 2 overall selections.
While a fun exercise in theory, my argument is that the chart is completely irrelevant for teams without a franchise QB for this simple reason: The league, more than ever, is comprised of “haves” and “have-nots.” Those with a clear-cut, long-term guy under center will be in the mix each year. And those without? Their only chance is that stars align for their team in a one-off season.
Therefore, instead of looking at a complex points chart, the have-nots should be doing whatever’s necessary to put themselves in position to get their long-term solution at QB because, long term, the bundle of draft picks (and “points”) you give up are irrelevant.
Looking back at its origin, the points system was useful for Johnson at the time. He was gift-wrapped Troy Aikman and soon acquired a boatload of picks from Minnesota in the Herschel Walker deal. So it made sense to use metrics to gain valuable assets to surround the future Hall of Fame QB and a pretty barren roster. I would even argue that the point system can be valuable today for teams such as Green Bay and Indianapolis that are trying to build talent around their franchise QB.
However, the major flaw in a rigid point system is that all the slotted picks are not created equal. For example, under the point chart, the No. 1 overall pick is worth 3,000 points, with No. 2 being 2,600, No. 3 at 2,200, and so on.
Look at recent history. In 2011 and 2012, the first picks were Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. In 2013-2014, they were Eric Fisher and Jadeveon Clowney. Anyone think those picks should be looked at equally, as they are by the points chart?
Fisher, Clowney and other non-QB top picks are nice prospects, but they are not winning you games week-in, week-out. QBs like Luck and Newton can single-handedly win games and keep their respective teams in the playoff mix every year for decade. How can you put a point total on that?
For example, if prior to the 2012 draft, Cleveland, which picked No. 3, would have offered Indianapolis five No. 1 draft picks to move up just two spots, advocates of the value points chart would have jumped all over the deal. Those who follow the chart would argue that five No. 1 draft choices would far outweigh getting that single pick.
However, since a true franchise QB was involved, I would argue that giving up those picks would still be a great bargain for the Browns. With Luck as its franchise QB, the Browns would have almost certainly made a couple of playoffs appearances—or at least been in the mix each of the past four years. It could then focus on building around its young signal-caller with a clear direction for the next decade.
And the Colts, taking what the Browns offered, could have then selected (as the Browns actually did with its next five No. 1 picks) Trent Richardson, Barkevious Mingo, Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel and Danny Shelton. Guess what? If that had happened, four years later the Colts would still have no idea what direction it was going and no chance to compete each of the last four seasons … much like the Browns today.
Moving forward to what we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard so many ‘NFL insiders’ say “the Rams gave up way too much” or “the Eagles could wreck their franchise for years if this trade doesn’t work out.” It’s all complete hogwash.
Just take a look at the most recent ‘blockbuster’ trade from 2012, involving the Rams and Redskins. Washington essentially gave up the Nos. 6 and 39 overall picks in 2012, No. 22 in 2013 and No. 2 overall pick in 2014.
People said the Redskins “mortgaged their future” on the prospects of Robert Griffin III. Well, obviously, he didn’t work out in Washington, as four years later he’s in Cleveland. Yet, since the trade, the Redskins have won the NFC East twice in the past four seasons—once with RGIII and once with Kurt Cousins— yet remain a have-not in the bigger picture in terms of being a real Super Bowl threat. The Redskins are essentially in the same boat they were before the trade.
On the flip side, we heard so much about how the Rams gouged the Redskins and setting themselves up as real contenders because of the haul of picks in the deal. Yet, after it was all said and done, the players they took with the Redskins’ picks were DT Michael Brockers, DC Janoris Jenkins, OH Isaiah Pead, OG Rokevious Watkins, IB Alec Ogletree, WO Stedman Bailey, OH Zac Stacy and OT Greg Robinson. And exactly how many wins have those guys contributed to over the past four years? Very few. The Rams basically remain in the same position they were before the blockbuster. A have-not. Both teams are still searching for that guy.
So, let’s bring the discussion back to last week’s deal between the Browns and Eagles. Who is the likely winner and loser?
To me, at least Philadelphia has the potential to be the big winner. Why? Because it put itself in a position to get a potential franchise QB and be a “have” franchise for a decade. Conversely, the Browns might very well build up quite a talented roster but it will remain a “have-not” without that special guy taking snaps.
Who knows if Jared Goff or Carson Wentz will be the man for his respective team? But I’ll always applaud a team that doesn’t have a franchise QB trying everything in its power to acquire one.
In a nutshell, I’m not saying acquiring a bunch of picks cannot be valuable assets. What I am saying is that in today’s NFL, when a potential franchise QB is involved, a ‘bunch of guys’ does not equal ‘The Guy.’