Who Won or Lost Each NFL Draft Day Trade from Round 1?
Hours prior to the start of the 2021 NFL draft, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that 2022 draft picks are considered particularly valuable.
It makes sense considering the lack of certainty about a lot of players in this year's draft after a college football season that was in many ways derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Future draft picks are often key trading pieces on draft night. That combined with the aforementioned unease about the limited college football season and the diminished predraft process might explain why there were just three trades during Round 1 Thursday night.
Still, the three that did go down were biggies involving high-profile teams and intriguing prospects.
Let's break them down and assign winners.
Philadelphia Eagles Trade Up with Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles receive: No. 10 overall pick (Alabama WR DeVonta Smith)
Dallas Cowboys receive: No. 12 overall pick (Penn State LB Micah Parsons), third-round pick (84)
Although these NFC East rivals struck a deal just last year in the draft, they rarely make blockbuster trades with each other. This was by far the highest-profile trade they've ever made together.
It's hard to fault the Eagles for sacrificing a Day 2 pick in order to ensure they wouldn't be leapfrogged for the last remaining top-tier receiver in this draft class. However, Lee Sharpe of Pro Football Focus notes that the deal cost them value based on Jimmy Johnson's trade value chart as well as the one utilized by Over The Cap. That's also the case at Pro Football Reference.
Sometimes, that simply doesn't matter. And in this case, those strictly analytical assessments aren't taking into account the fact the New York Giants might have taken Smith 11th overall or Dallas might have found another trade partner interested in Smith.
But the extremely undersized Heisman Trophy winner is by no means a lock to succeed in the NFL. Recent drafts have contained an incredible amount of Day 2 value at that position and Philly used a first-round selection on a wide receiver (Jalen Reagor) just a year ago.
This would be a close call if they had convinced Dallas to take a fourth-rounder instead, but there's still a chance they could have landed Smith 12th overall. Additionally, it's not as though there were no alternatives anyway, including a potential trade back for Kadarius Toney or Rashod Bateman at the same position.
This was by no means an egregious error by Philadelphia, but Dallas still gets the edge. The top two cornerbacks were off the board for the Cowboys and they almost certainly would have taken Parsons 10th overall anyway.
In this case, they landed Parsons and collected an extra third-round pick from a rival.
Chicago Bears Trade Up with New York Giants
Chicago Bears receive: No. 11 overall pick (Ohio State QB Justin Fields)
New York Giants receive: No. 20 overall pick (Florida WR Kadarius Toney), fifth-round pick (164), 2022 first-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick
Trade-ups almost never look good when it comes to draft trade value, and that's again the case here for the Chicago Bears. Sharpe points out they fare much worse than the Eagles in their trade-up, and that's absolutely the case on the PFR chart.
Doesn't matter, because we're talking about a quarterback who was widely considered a potential No. 2 overall pick for much of the predraft process after a fantastic career at Ohio State. We're also talking about a Bears team that needed to do something dramatic at the most important position in the sport, and a Giants team that could have used a front-seven defender like Parsons or Jaelan Phillips in this spot but instead seemed determined to land a receiver despite seemingly missing out on Smith.
That said, this is pretty close to a win-win right now. The Day 3 picks aren't likely to amount to much, but Toney and a bonus first-round pick isn't a bad alternative to Parsons, Phillips, Rashawn Slater, Alijah Vera-Tucker or whoever else the Giants might have considered at No. 11.
But Toney at No. 20? That doesn't do a lot for me considering he easily could have slid into the second round alongside Elijah Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr. and Rondale Moore. And as I mentioned in the Eagles-Cowboys breakdown, the real value in receivers the past few years has come on Day 2.
(See: Tee Higgins, Chase Claypool, A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf, Deebo Samuel, Terry McLaurin, Michael Gallup, Courtland Sutton, DJ Chark, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Michael Thomas, Tyler Boyd.)
The trade also made the Bears a better team for 2021 purposes, which could hurt that 2022 draft pick. And we should consider that this is probably a make-or-break year for Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. If Jones doesn't come through in 2021 and Fields excels in Chicago, New York will likely regret passing on an opportunity to add such a talented quarterback outside of the top 10.
It's become easy to pile on the Bears in recent years, but this is a smart gamble. And for the G-Men, it's riskier than it might appear to be on the surface.
New York Jets Trade Up with Minnesota Vikings
New York Jets receive: No. 14 overall pick (USC G Alijah Vera-Tucker), fourth-round pick
Minnesota Vikings receive: No. 23 overall pick (Virginia Tech OT Christian Darrisaw), two third-round picks (66, 86)
I get that the Jets have a lot of draft capital still and that they were excited to add a quality player to protect their shiny new quarterback.
But you know who also would have fit that profile? Darrisaw, who a lot of analysts (including yours truly) had ranked above Vera-Tucker entering Round 1. In fact, when this trade was executed, I wondered if Gang Green was targeting Darrisaw and if the Vikings were going to regret passing on the lengthy, physically awesome Virginia Tech product.
Sure enough, Minnesota collected two new third-round picks at the expense of a fourth-rounder and still wound up with Darrisaw.
We might never know if the Vikes planned on taking him 14th overall anyway, but this is a hell of a coup regardless. Both players were ranked in the teens in the last big board from the B/R NFL Scouting Department, and a consensus big board from NFL Mock Draft Database actually had Darrisaw two spots ahead of AVT.
Vera-Tucker might be a better fit for the Jets and Darrisaw might be a better fit for the Vikings, but that doesn't change the fact New York gave up far more draft capital for a similarly ranked player.