The Philadelphia Eagles moved up in the first round for the second time this offseason, trading with the Cleveland Browns to get the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. This nearly confirms they’ll be taking whichever quarterback, Carson Wentz or Jared Goff, that the Rams do not take.
Was this trade worth it? In my opinion, not at all, but I’ve seen a lot of people make fair arguments as to how it could be worth it. To settle things, I looked at the wonderful NFL Draft Value Chart to see whether the Eagles overpaid in the trade.
Never heard of this draft value chart? In essence, it assigns a value in terms of points for each draft pick. This stays constant year to year and does not include values for compensatory picks. For example, the No. 1 pick has a value of 3,000 points, but the No. 32 pick, still in the first round, is only valued at 590 points. The last pick in the draft only has a value of two points.
I went through and looked at the values for each of the picks involved in the draft to see if it was worth it. Since some of the picks were in 2017 and 2018 where the actual pick numbers haven’t been determined, I took the average value of all of the picks in the round (not a perfect solution, but an example of one since it’s impossible to predict). Here’s what I came up with:
Eagles Give Up
2016 No. 8 overall (1,400 points)
2016 No. 77 overall (205 points)
2016 No. 100 overall (100 points)
2017 1st round pick (average value: 1,158 points)
2018 2nd round pick (average value: 416 points)
Total pick value: 3,279 points (approximately)
Browns Give Up
2016 No. 2 overall (2,600 points)
2017 4th round pick (average value: 71 points)
Total pick value: 2,671 points (approximately)
Just looking at the numbers directly, it’s clear the Eagles gave up more than should be mathematically necessary to get the No. 2 overall pick. For reference, the average first round pick value is closest to the No. 13 pick, the average second round pick value is closest to the No. 48 pick (16th pick in the round) and the average fourth round pick value is closest to the No. 112 pick (16th pick in the round). So by taking the averages, it’s assuming that the Eagles would likely be one of the better teams to miss the playoffs. However, if the Eagles were to be even worse than they were this past year, the value of those picks they traded will go up, making the deal appear even more lopsided.
The difference between the pick values for what the two teams gave up is 608 points, which is closest to equaling the No. 31 pick, still a first round selection. That’s a lot. For the trade to be in the Eagles favor, in terms of the draft value chart at least, the Eagles would need to earn at least the No. 32 pick in the 2017 draft (aka win the Super Bowl), which drops the value of the 2017 first round pick from 1,158 points (the value I used above) to 590 points. This would be the new comparison:
Eagles give up: 2,711 points
Browns give up: 2,671 points
In fact, this estimation would still have the Eagles giving up more points. It would require the Eagles to also be at least 21st in the draft order in 2018 (which yields a second round pick with a value of 370 points instead of the average value, which is 416 points). It seems very unlikely the Eagles would win the Super Bowl next year, much less even make the playoffs. So, it’s really hard to see a situation in which this trade is worth it.
Now that the trade is done, though, the picks the Eagles give up are a sunk cost. They can’t do anything about it because they’ll never get those picks back unless it’s in a separate trade, so doing really well or really poorly in 2017 or 2018 isn’t going to help the Eagles directly. And since the only other pick the Eagles got was the Browns’ 2017 fourth rounder, there’s essentially no way the math will go in the Eagles’ favor.
The only way this trade will be worth it is if Carson Wentz (or Jared Goff, but it’s looking like Wentz) becomes the Eagles’ franchise quarterback and does well. If that’s the result, almost no amount of picks will be too high of a cost to get “the guy.” However, I just don’t see Wentz or Goff as good enough prospects to be worth it. Plus, drafting a guy No. 2 overall and sitting him is a lot different than drafting a guy No. 13 overall (or lower) and sitting him. You don’t draft a guy No. 2 overall thinking he won’t become the franchise QB, so it also makes the signings of Sam Bradford (and especially Chase Daniel) a bit more questionable.
At this point, all we can do is wait and see.