Three years ago, I sharedbuilt around what teams had done in the previous five drafts. This year, with an increased chance the No. 1 overall pick gets moved for the first time since 2016, it felt time for an update.
You probably first heard about draft pick trade value charts in the 1990s with the infamous Jimmy Johnson trade chart. That was the basis for making draft-related trades for a long time, but as the valuation of draft picks has evolved and teams have realized the importance of building a championship roster around a quarterback on a rookie deal, or complementing a big quarterback contract with as much cost-controlled talent as possible, the game has changed.
The Johnson trade chart still does a serviceable job approximating the value of each pick after all these years, but I thought there was value in building a model around the trades that actually happen each year, and then update it after every draft. We do that internally here at CBS so the excellent NFL Draft team has the tools it needs to project trades, but 2023 is a special year for the discussion with the nature of the top of the draft, so I wanted to get this year's update in front of you so you can project your own trades.
But first, a few notes.
The value of No. 1
This year, I've made a change at No. 1, displaying it as a range of values rather than one single number. This should help capture the fact that each draft class is unique, and the value of the pick is largely defined by the best quarterback prospect in the class. Some years, Joe Burrow or Trevor Lawrence is available and a QB-needy team is drafting at No. 1, so the "value" of the pick really doesn't matter because it's not getting traded. But if the teams drafting in those spots already had a franchise QB to build around, it would surely be able to deal the pick for more than it could in a class where, say, Kenny Pickett is the top quarterback available.
So the previous iterations of the trade chart have started with the No. 1 pick valued at 1,000 points and descended from there, with a huge drop from No. 1 to No. 2. But in the case of last year, it shouldn't have taken more than the first pick of the second round (or a future first-rounder, which I value about the same) to make that move up from No. 2. In previous trade charts, you would've had to give up a package equivalent to around the 12th overall pick to make that move. So I've bumped the value of the No. 2 pick, put the No. 3 pick around where we had No. 2, and left No. 1 as TBD between 900 and 1,500 points based on the value of the top quarterback prospect. If it's Lawrence or Burrow, you should have to amass the value of the No. 2 pick twice to get that asset. If the draft looks similar to 2022, you should be able to make that move with No. 2, plus No. 33, which gives us the entire first round to work with when projecting the top prospect available.
So what does that look like for 2023? It depends on what you think of Bryce Young. It's possible he solidifies the No. 1 QB spot throughout draft season and increases the value of the pick, but I don't think we're at that point yet. He feels like the top of the first tier of QBs rather than in his own tier, and achieving the latter should push the asking price of the No. 1 pick up. Otherwise, you could get into a situation like the 2018 draft where teams are overpaying to get the second and third QBs off the board because they likely have those guys rated as the top QB at the position and feel like they're getting a discount if they're right. I've broken down scenarios for each potential trade partner in the top 10 below the draft pick chart.
(For the record, the Buffalo Bills would very happily overpay again by the value of the 64th pick for Josh Allen, per my chart. The Jets overpaying by the value of the 37th pick for Sam Darnold? Not so much. The Cardinals actually got a good deal to move up to No. 10 for Josh Rosen, which is about the only thing that went right for them in that situation.)
The value for non-QBs should remain mostly consistent across drafts.
Future pick value
Different teams are going to value future picks differently, so it's hard to create a standard value for them. Why is that? Some front offices know they're in it for the long haul, and while every general manager should be planning for the present and the future, the likelihood of seeing that future will vary from team to team. Eagles GM Howie Roseman knows when he strikes a deal for future picks that he'll almost certainly get the chance to make them and enjoy the fruits of his short-term sacrifice. Others trade future picks for a Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson, or just to move up in the draft, knowing the future isn't guaranteed.
I typically use the last pick of that round in the current year as my value (so a 2024 first-round pick would be worth the value of the No. 32 pick in most years), but if you apply that to the Goff trade in 2016, where the Titans dropped from No. 1 to No. 15, it would barely clear what the Eagles gave up to move up for No. 2 that same year. Again, different QB classes make a difference, but it's also possible a team values quantity more in a particular year, or that it hopes to land premium picks in future drafts that are expected to feature stronger classes.
Clearing the bar
When building a potential draft pick trade, think of the desired pick as a bar that needs to be cleared rather than a game of who can get the closest without going over. Many picks get traded in each draft, but many more don't. You'll still find situations where a team is willing to take less than the charted value of the pick, but that's likely going to depend on how motivated they are to move down, which could come down to how depleted their draft board became before they got on the clock.
The Giants should've jumped at the Cowboys' offer for No. 11 in 2021 without question if you just go by draft pick value, as that Dallas package was an overpay on the same level of the one the Bills made for Josh Allen three years prior. (You won't catch the Cowboys complaining about overpaying the value of the 64th pick to get Micah Parsons.) But that deal was only possible because the Eagles slipped ahead of the Giants to get DeVonta Smith at No. 10, and it's unlikely New York lets the opportunity to draft Smith go by even for an inflated package of picks
Applying that scenario to this year, the Jets could very well decide to go the draft route at QB if they don't land a Derek Carr or Aaron Rodgers, but their ability to go from No. 13 to say No. 5 for a C.J. Stroud or Will Levis is going to hinge on whether the Seahawks have the opportunity to draft their top target. In other words, simply putting together a package that should be enough to get a "yes" (No. 13, No. 75, 2024 first for No. 5) isn't the only thing that matters.
The fifth-year option
Getting into the first round has a long-term value to a team that makes those late Round 1 picks worth more than they would be otherwise. That consideration is baked into the table; it's why it costs about the value of the 152nd pick to go from No. 32 to No. 33, but only the approximate value of the 195th pick to go from No. 32 to No. 31. Even on top of the premium baked into the chart, feel free to charge slightly more if a team is crossing the Round 1 threshold, unless the team trading down is particularly motivated to do so.
NFL Draft pick value chart
Trading to No. 1
I'm going to roll through several trade candidates for the No. 1 pick and give a few scenarios involving the variable valuation of that top pick based on whether Bryce Young (or any other QB) establishes himself in his own tier at the position, and whether there's a competitive market to trade for the pick
"Low" offers will be a situation where Chicago is motivated to trade down but there isn't clear consensus on the top quarterback and there aren't multiple teams vying to land the pick. "Medium" offers indicate Chicago looking to move down but still having trouble finding multiple interested partners even with one quarterback separating himself a bit from the pack. "High" offers involve the Bears considering trading down but also thinking about trading Justin Fields, while there is clearly a consensus top quarterback and multiple teams hoping to get to No. 1 and land him.
Note that in all cases, I've attributed the value of a future pick to the round number times 32 (so treating a 2024 first like it's worth the 32nd pick in the current year), but it's possible the Bears would value those picks higher, especially for a team like Houston where that pick should be near the top of next year's draft. I've also only considered teams in the top 10, and the Bears might not even be motivated to move out of the top five. If a team like the Jets or Commanders wants the No. 1 pick, it's probably going to need to slingshot up to the top six first.
If the Bears are moving forward with Justin Fields and not taking a QB at No. 1, swapping with the Texans would be the easiest way to ensure they'll get the non-quarterback they want.
- Low (900+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 2 and either No. 33 or 2024 first
- Medium (1,000+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 2, either No. 33 or 2024 first, and either No. 66 or 2024 second
- High (1,200+): Acquire No. 1 and 65; trade No. 2, 12 and 2024 first
The Colts have cycled through veteran quarterbacks the last few years with little success, and now may be the right time to turn to the draft for their next signal-caller. It's also possible this is the lowest the Bears are looking to move to ensure they land a blue-chip prospect.
- Low (900+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 4, 36, 107 and 2024 first
- Medium (1,000+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 4, 36, 80, 2024 first and 2024 second
- High (1,200+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 4, 36, 2024 first, 2024 second, 2025 first and 2025 second
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders parted ways with longtime quarterback Derek Carr this offseason. His release put Jarrett Stidham on top of the depth chart at quarterback, though Josh McDaniels almost certainly isn't done making moves. The cost to get to No. 1 is likely too high, but targeting No. 3 is more realistic (No. 7, 71 and a 2024 first would be a fair offer).
- Low (900+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 7, 39, 2024 first and 2025 first
- Medium (1,000+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 7, 39, 175, 2024 first, 2024 second and 2025 first
- High (1,200+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 7, 39, 71, 205, 2024 first, 2024 second, 2024 third, 2025 first, 2025 second and 2025 third
The Falcons drafted Desmond Ridder in the third round last year, but he didn't show enough to ensure he's going to be the franchise quarterback moving forward. But the cost to move up to No. 1 is likely prohibitive, so if the Falcons do target a QB, expect them to make a smaller move up the board anywhere from No. 3 to 6.
- Low (900+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 8, 45, 76, 2024 first and 2025 first
- Medium (1,000+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 8, 45, 76, 2024 first, 2024 second and 2025 first
- High (1,200+): Cost prohibitive
The Panthers are rebooting the franchise with a new coach but may end up being the favorite to win the NFC South if they get the quarterback position sorted out.
- Low (900+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 9, 40, 62, 84, 115, 2024 first and 2024 second
- Medium (1,000+): Acquire No. 1; trade No. 9, 40, 62, 2024 first, 2024 second and 2025 first
- High (1,200+): Cost prohibitive