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How does the NFL draft trade value calculator work?
Photo: Dallas Morning News

How does the NFL draft trade value calculator work?

In the late 1980s, Jimmy Johnson, head coach of the then-struggling Dallas Cowboys, concluded that trades involving draft picks, with no set currency value for each selection, were complicated at best and almost impossible at worst. Johnson, alongside team exec Mike McCoy, who came from a non-football background and was well known for having an analytical mind - got to work on a system that was the first step on the way to turning draft-day dealing from an art... to a science.

Mike McCoy, instructed by Johnson, got to work. After extensive research that involved plowing through the complete history of every trade made involving NFL draft picks, they created a definitive way to value each pick, making trades easy to objectify. The system, now known as the NFL draft trade chart, assigned a points value to every pick in the NFL draft and, in so, created a currency to facilitate smooth trading.

In the following years, Johnson had massive success building the Cowboys with trades involving draft picks, and this ultimately lead to the Dallas Cowboy Dynasty of the 1990s. It wasn’t long before every team in the NFL was using McCoy's system, and although it has been updated and amended, it is still used by NFL coaches and executives today.

So how does the NFL Draft trade value chart work?

McCoy assigned each pick in the full seven rounds of the NFL draft a points value. Starting with number one, which was assigned 3000 points, the number two pick 2600 points with the final pick of the first round worth 590 points. Picks in later rounds are given a significantly lower value - for instance, in the middle of the fourth round, they average 70 points, and at the tail end of the seventh round, this value falls to a paltry two points.

The main aim of the chart was to enable NFL executives to objectively evaluate trades and, more importantly, how to get the upper hand over any potential trading partner.

So how do you use the NFL value chart?

Choose the pick you would expect to need to select the chosen draft prospect and find its value in the chart below. Then select any of your picks that the summation of would either equal or exceed the value of the pick you need.

For instance, if you think the 49ers desperately need a new quarterback but drafting at #12, think all the top QB prospects will be gone - you will have to trade up to do so. Pick #12 is valued at 1200 pts, and you think you the mobile Justin Fields will be a great fit in Shanahan’s Offense and are being told he’ll fall past the Falcons at #4.

This enables you to offer the Bengals, picking at #5 (value 1700 pts) your first pick - but you’ll need to make up the difference by throwing in your second-round pick (#43 overall – value 470pts) and your fifth-rounder (#139 overall - value 36pts). For a grand total of 1706 pts!

Jimmy Johnson-Mike McCoy - NFL Draft Pick Value Chart

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7
PK VALUE PK VALUE PK VALUE PK VALUE PK VALUE PK VALUE PK VALUE
1 3000 33 580 65 265 96 116 128 44 160 26.2 191 13.8
2 2600 34 560 66 260 97 112 129 43 161 25.8 192 13.4
3 2200 35 550 67 255 98 108 130 42 162 25.4 193 13
4 1800 36 540 68 250 99 104 131 41 163 25 194 12.6
5 1700 37 530 69 245 100 100 132 40 164 24.6 195 12.2
6 1600 38 520 70 240 101 96 133 39.5 165 24.2 196 11.8
7 1500 3 510 71 235 102 92 134 39 166 23.8 197 11.4
8 1400 40 500 72 230 103 88 135 38.5 167 23.4 198 11
9 1350 41 490 73 225 104 86 136 38 168 23 199 10.6
10 1300 42 480 74 220 105 84 137 37.5 169 22.6 200 10.2
11 1250 43 470 75 215 106 82 138 37 170 22.2 201 9.8
12 1200 44 460 76 210 107 80 139 36.5 171 21.8 202 9.4
13 1150 45 450 77 205 108 78 140 36 172 21.4 203 9
14 1100 46 440 78 200 109 76 141 35.5 173 21 204 8.6
15 1050 47 430 79 195 110 74 142 35 174 20.6 205 8.2
16 1000 48 420 80 190 111 72 143 34.5 175 20.2 206 7.8
17 950 49 410 81 185 112 70 144 34 176 19.8 207 7.4
18 900 50 400 82 180 113 68 145 33.5 177 19.4 208 7
19 875 51 390 83 175 114 66 146 33 178 19 209 6.6
20 850 52 380 84 170 115 64 147 31.4 179 18.6 210 6.2
21 800 53 370 85 165 116 62 148 31 180 18.2 211 5.8
22 780 54 360 86 160 117 60 149 30.6 181 17.8 212 5.4
23 760 55 350 87 155 118 58 150 30.2 182 17.4 213 5
24 740 56 340 88 150 119 56 151 29.8 183 17 214 4.6
25 720 57 330 89 145 120 54 152 29.4 184 16.6 215 4.2
26 700 58 320 90 140 121 52 153 29 185 16.2 216 3.8
27 680 59 310 91 136 122 50 154 28.6 186 15.8 217 3.4
28 660 60 300 92 132 123 49 155 28.2 187 15.4 218 3
29 640 61 292 93 128 124 48 156 27.8 188 15 219 2.6
30 620 62 284 94 124 125 47 157 27.4 189 14.6 220 2.3
31 600 63 276 95 120 126 46 158 27 190 14.2 221 2
32 590 64 270     127 45 159 26.6     222 1.7