In the sense that every draft pick is an unknown, every player’s value is directly tied to their draft slot until they step onto the field for the first time as professional players. Draft picks will turn into players, and the value they have needs to be maximized when trading.
Failure to get fair value can negatively impact a team over time.
Should the Oakland Raiders have gotten more for the third overall pick? Did the Raiders maximize the value of their resource? Those are the questions that you have to ask, considering the Raiders moved down nine spots in the first round and only received one second-round pick in return.
There are several ways to evaluate a draft trade, and no one way is superior to another. The draft is a market, and values rise and fall each year. The perceived quality of the draft usually determines if the market is up or down in any given year.
The market was very clearly down in 2013, with a lack of elite talent at the top of the draft. There wasn’t a top quarterback, a star wide receiver or even consensus top pass-rusher. If there had been an elite player available, it would have been unlikely that the Raiders were willing to move down at all. Star players can be franchise-altering, and the Raiders probably wish that kind of player was available.
Considering the market was down, it’s tough to expect the Raiders to get full value for the third pick. Despite what you may read online, teams probably only had about 15 players with first-round grades and most of them were bunched together. There was a reason so many offensive linemen went off the board and with high picks in the first round.
According to the old Jimmy Johnson trade chart, the Raiders received just 76.4 percent of the value for the No. 3 pick. Based on that trade chart, the third pick is worth 2,200 points, and the 12th and 42nd picks are worth a combined 1,680 points. The 520-point differential is approximately equal to a pick at the top of the second round.
If you go based on this old trade chart, the Raiders didn’t get nearly enough value for the pick. Since most of the league still uses this trade chart, you would think the Raiders would have been able to get more for the rights to the pick.
The Raiders certainly wanted to trade down, and that was no secret. In fact, just about every team wanted to move down, and a lack of teams wanted to trade up if you believe all the pre-draft reports. This is simple supply-and-demand economics; there was ample supply of teams wanting to move down and very little demand, and that drove down prices.
Reggie McKenzie did the smart thing and took what was probably his only offer to move down. The Raiders had ample time to shop the pick before the draft, so you know that McKenzie probably called every team to see if they wanted to trade up. When both the top tackles went off the board with the first two picks, most of McKenzie’s options may have dried up.
The Raiders needed to recoup the second-round pick they traded for Carson Palmer more than they needed the value difference between the No. 3 pick and the No. 12 pick (assuming there is a difference in this class). If the Raiders were already set on taking D.J. Hayden, they basically received a second-round pick for free.
There are other ways to assess the value of a draft trade, which isn’t based on a trade-value chart developed 30 years ago before free agency and the rookie wage scale. Chase Stuart of footballperspective.com developed a value chart based on pro-football-reference.com’s approximate value, or AV, statistic through the first five years of a player’s career (the length of time a drafting team has that player under control).
Using Stuart’s calculator, the Raiders actually received 107.2 percent of the value for the third pick. The expected output of the players they received is 29.6 AV, while the third overall pick has an expected AV of 27.6. This calculator was also developed based on historical data, and this was a very thin draft at the top, so there’s quite a bit of upside for the Raiders. The Raiders “won” the trade using this calculator, although it was pretty equal.
There’s another chart that was created by the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective based on pro-football-reference.com’s career approximate value, or CAV, statistic. This chart does not limit the value of a pick to just the five years a player is under control by the drafting team (assuming teams can always retain the players they want to keep).
Using’s the Harvard trade chart, the Raiders traded 401.3 points for 450.1 points. The difference is approximately equal to Tommy Kelly’s CAV of 49, who has been a solid NFL starter for the last eight years. The Raiders need starters more than they needed the difference in value between the No. 3 pick and the No. 12 pick, so it appears here that the Raiders “won” the trade.
If the Raiders were going to take Hayden with the third pick, they should feel good about this trade, and history is on their side. The Raiders picked up a second-round pick that they should be able to turn into a solid starter, and they still got the guy they wanted in the first round.
There's another thing worth mentioning that adds value to the Raiders moving outside of the top 10 picks in the draft. If Hayden turns into a star player, he'll be considerably cheaper to retain in his fifth year than he would have been if drafted with the third pick.
The NFL's collective bargaining agreement has a clause that requires a player drafted in the first 10 picks to be tended a one-year contract in the fifth year of his deal equal to the top 10 salaries at his position. For players chosen outside of the top 10, teams can offer a fifth year at an average of the third- through 25th-highest salaries. Basically, any insane contract like the one given to Darrelle Revis wouldn't factor into the fifth-year of Hayden's deal.
At the end of the day, it’s about the players who are drafted and not about the perceived value of a draft slot. A lot of great players aren’t drafted at the top of the draft, and a lot of bad players are drafted at the top. The Raider Nation need not be reminded of all the premium picks the Raiders have wasted over the years.
If Hayden and the player the Raiders select at No. 42 become good NFL players, or one of them becomes a star, no one will remember the draft-day trade and how little the Raiders received in return for the No. 3 pick. If we assume that players bust half of the time in the first two rounds, the Raiders also just cut the odds in half that they will come out of this draft without a quality player.
McKenzie did the right thing for the future of the team, and for that he should be applauded. McKenzie clearly doesn’t care about perception and is just making the moves he needs to make to get the Raiders back to respectability.
Thursday was a good step, but he’s still got a lot of work ahead of him.
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