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ScottyRo 04-21-2003 03:04 PM

MMQB features Haslet

by Peter King

There's something I've always wanted to know about NFL Draft Day, and Saints head coach Jim Haslett recently educated me about it: How do teams figure out fair value for trades?

This is a particularly interesting question for Haslett’s team this year, because New Orleans is trying to move up from its two mid-first-round spots (the Saints are scheduled to pick 17th and 18th, the second selection coming from Miami, courtesy of the Ricky Williams trade) and into a position where it could take one of two stud cornerbacks -- Kansas State's Terence Newman or Washington State's Marcus Trufant. Haslett explained how the Saints assign value to picks in the first round, and other rounds, by pulling a single photocopied sheet from a file folder hand-labeled "Draft" out of his black leather bag.

"Everybody has to be happy if you make a trade with first-round picks," Haslett said. "And so you do your fact-finding before the draft, calling around to see if you would be able to match up with teams above you or below you. This is how you see if both teams are getting equal value."

He pointed to the sheet, which had a point system for picks. I remembered seeing something similar when I covered the Cowboys’ draft war room last year, but I didn't really pay it much attention. This year I'm paying close attention, because I think there's going to be a lot of movement in the first round. Teams assign point values to each pick in the draft -- in descending value from No. 1 to No. 262. Basically, if you want to trade picks and move up, you add up the value of picks that you have and compare that total to the point value assigned to the pick you want. Let me lay out what each selection is worth in the New Orleans' system; other teams obviously look at this differently. Then I'll discuss what the values mean.

Value for Draft Picks
No. Team Points
1. Cincinnati 3,000
2. Detroit 2,600
3. Houston 2,400
4. Chicago 2,200
5. Dallas 1,900
6. Arizona 1,600
7. Minnesota 1,500
8. Jacksonville 1,400
9. Carolina 1,300
10. Baltimore 1,300
11. Seattle 1,250
12. St. Louis 1,200
13. N.Y. Jets 1,200
14. New England 1,100
15. San Diego 1,000
16. Kansas City 1,000
17. New Orleans 900
18. New Orleans 900
19. New England 850
20. Denver 800
21. Cleveland 800
22. N.Y. Jets 800
23. Buffalo 750
24. Indianapolis 750
25. N.Y. Giants 750
26. San Francisco 720
27. Pittsburgh 720
28. Tennessee 720
29. Green Bay 710
30. Philadelphia 710
31. Oakland 710
32. Oakland 700

The above list seems pretty arbitrary on the surface, but it's a value ranking system that has been crafted over the years by studying what teams have bartered to move up and down in the draft. The points-per-pick system obviously doesn't stop at No. 32 -- each pick in the seven-round draft has a numeric value -- but we’re using New Orleans' first-round rundown as a quick example.

So let's look at a few possibilities, using the numbers that the Saints have assigned, for intriguing first-round selection scenarios.

1. Cincinnati at No. 1. The combination of teams a) having no desire to trade up, which would mean shelling out a $15 million bonus to sign the top pick and b) the absence of a "lock" superstar in this draft means the Bengals will have to just sit and use the pick.

2. Dallas at No. 5. I could see Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones brokering a deal here, because the Cowboys have so many holes and there's not one player they feel they must have. Maybe, if the Kentucky defensive tackle is still available, they’ll take Dewayne Robertson. But I could see Dallas sitting tight and selecting tackle Jordan Gross of Utah, or moving down a spot (or five) to stockpile extra picks.

3. Baltimore at No. 10. The Ravens like Kyle Boller, the Cal quarterback, but won't take him this high. They could use the top-10 value and, unless they fear Rams head coach Mike Martz pulling the upset special and drafting Boller at No. 12, move down several spots, still get Boller, plus a third-rounder.

4. New Orleans at Nos. 17 and 18. That's 1,800 points of value, in their book. If Dallas is sitting there at No. 5 (with 1,900 points of value for the pick) with Newman still on the board, the Saints have to go get him. This would be an excellent deal for both teams, with the Saints possibly throwing in a fifth-round pick (worth approximately 100 points) to even it out. "If we could get one of those corners," Haslett told me, "we'd do a lot."

5. New England at No. 19. The Patriots may want University of Miami running back Willis McGahee, but probably not this high. They could move down six or eight spots and build up even more ammo to make deals in both this draft and in 2004 -- while still landing McGahee, if he's truly who they desire.

So, if you peer into war rooms during coverage of the draft Saturday and you see GMs puzzling over some addition problems, you'll know what they're doing.

An interesting bit of info about trading and the draft. I only posted the portion relative to the main topic.


[Edited on 21/4/2003 by ScottyRo]

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