A few weeks ago I was writing about Chip Kelly’s alleged desire to draft Jordan Matthews in the first round of the draft when I wished that I had a quick way to calculate whether the moves that the Eagles made had more expected value than just taking J-Matt in the first. So I decided to whip up a quick NFL Draft Pick calculator. The app below uses smoothed values for Games Started, PFR’s CARAV metric, and the historical Jimmy Johnson chart, to determine a winner/loser for theoretical trades. I left the teams blank and also didn’t actually attach teams to any of the picks because I thought that would make it more flexible.
To evaluate the Eagles decision on whether to take JMatt with pick 24, or to trade up from pick 54, we can just make the Eagles both Team A and Team B in the trade pick calculator. We put picks 24, 54, and 122 in the Team A box – that’s what they would have had if they’d taken Matthews at pick 24. Then we put picks 24 and 42 in the Team B box. That’s what they ended up getting because they gave up pick 122 to move from 54 to 42 when they did take JMatt. The trade is probably pretty close to being even. If you evaluate it by the Jimmy Johnson chart, it says that you’re better off taking the course of action that PHI took. If you evaluate the trade based on Average Games Started for the picks in question then it would have been slightly better to keep all three picks. But if you look at median games started, which essentially reduces the influence of players that have really long careers and increases the influence of players that have essentially no career, then it’s a wash. Pick 122 has a median expectation of about nine games started, which isn’t very much. Note that looking at the median hurts late round picks the most.
I realize that “reaching” for the player actually probably changes things in this instance but because we don’t know how often teams “reach” for players it’s tough to know how much it affects things.
It’s also true that different teams should have different strategies. Teams that are close to being championship caliber should value late picks less, while teams that have a lot of holes to fill can probably draft/develop more players because they have fewer incumbent starters.