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
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