I tried to take a stab at revising Jimmy Johnson's famed draft trade chart. It is now almost universally acknowledged as outdated. I had some basic changes that I wanted to implement and thought that I could whip out a new, streamlined version pretty quick. It's just not that simple.
When it was first drawn up it was a secret weapon, though its exact origins are vague. Gil Brandt gave this history lesson on the chart.
The origins of the chart are vague. Gil Brandt, a former longtime executive with the Cowboys, said Dallas and Kansas City were among several teams that used an early version in the late 1980s. He said former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson modified it in the 1990s, ultimately coming up with a model that's closer to what clubs rely on today.
This chart was used to give Johnson's staff immediate relative values for every draft position on the board and allowed them to make rapid trade decisions while the selection clock ticked down on draft day.
This valuable tool migrated into other draft rooms as Cowboy assistant coaches accepted positions with other teams. Over time, the chart has been adopted by many teams and is still used when trades are done on draft day.
The original chart was constructed before the early first round draft choices were commanding king's ransoms as signing bonuses. We know that an early first round pick should be an immediate impact player for a team, but if that player does not live up to potential their huge salary is a burden on the team's ability to sign other players. The early first round picks do provide more potential but also more risk. These players are supposed to make immediate contributions to their teams and due to that that high potential a high draft pick value should still be assigned. The difficult part is trying to calculate what negative value should come from the players astronomical salary?
Another change I wanted my revised chart to reflect is to have groups of picks with the same values. The discussion for weeks prior to the draft is - Who will be the first pick? Right now there may be five different players who are all considered legitimate number one selections, doesn't this mean the team selecting fifth gets the same value player as the team selecting first overall? Since the fifth selected player was considered a worthy first overall selection I would say that the top five picks in the draft all have the same draft trade value. I carried this thought on through the draft - thinking, "What is the difference between the first pick in the fourth-round and the fifth pick in the fourth-round? Nothing." My new chart would reflect this.
Also, we have read that all teams prepare their individual draft boards and all have around twenty or so players they determine as worthy of being selected in the first round. Beyond that these teams don't feel they will be getting true first round value. My new draft chart would reflect a significant drop off after the twentieth selection of the first round.
Some of my own research shows that much of the talent is found within the top three rounds and my draft value trade chart would be front loaded to show this.
Finally, the current chart is like the income tax code, it's too complex and needs simplification. I would like to simplify it.
ProFootballTalk.com claims that some teams are already using a revised draft chart similar to the one that PFT designed.
There have been quite a few attempts, by a number of different people, at revising the chart. Here's another version and another.
I tried to come up with my own revolutionary new model that would meet the criteria I outlined above. I spent hours on it and nothing I could put together added up. It's like a Rubik's Cube - when I fine tuned one round I messed up another. It's harder than it looks.
What changes would you make to the chart?