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A TDWII Observation: The Case For Trading Up – Myles Jack Edition


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As I’ve commented on before, I likely am in the minority as it relates to those armchair GM’s who do like the idea of trading up in the draft.  While most like to trade down to acquire more picks, for me, it’s more of a case of identifying a unique talent and figuring out how to get them.  Up until now, I was in favor of moving up for Sheldon Rankins.  With word that Myles Jack was visiting with the Falcons, the wheels start to turn and I wondered if I was thinking big enough.

Jack is one of the more unique talents to enter the NFL in quite some time.  As a freshman, he won both the Offensive and Defensive PAC-12 Freshman of the Year Awards.  His combination of football smarts and athleticism is truly special.  What he appears to profile as is an all-around force on defense that can be deployed in any number of ways; coverage LB, sideline-to-sideline run defender, pass rusher/blitzer.  The mere fact that the Chargers (drafting at #3) are taking a look at him at S at (6’1 245) says all you need to know about how immense and versatile a talent Jack is.
But there are some real factors that go into my preference of trading up vs trading down that make sense of that line of thinking…wanted to cover those a bit:

The Quality of the Top 10: If we look at the drafts since 2011 (and this is a pertinent date based on the rookie wage scale that was implemented beginning with this draft), we can say the following about the quality of the drafts first 10 picks; it has produced 36 Pro-Bowl Appearance and 14 first team AP All-Pro citations.  That’s 50 players producing this level of play.  9 players have attained 1st team AP All-Pro status at least once.  

Cam Newton
Von Miller
Julio Jones
Patrick Peterson
Khalil Mack
Luke Kuechly
Aldon Smith
Tyron Smith
Marcel Dareus

That’s an 18% hit rate.  To be fair, that figure is bolstered by the otherworldly Class of 2011.  Look at this list though and these guys are largely considered the best of the best at their respective positions.  The likelihood of more All-Pro recognition is an abject certainty.  But if you also consider that 18% number, amongst the 50 players who were drafted in the Top 10 in the last 5 years who have not yet attained first team All-Pro recognition:

Andrew Luck
Ziggy Ansah
AJ Green
Mike Evans
Jake Matthews
Anthony Barr

…this is where you have the best chance draft wise to secure elite talent.  

There are obvious risks and busts of course (Justin Gilbert, Morris Claiborne, Jake Locker)…but there is no part of the draft without risk or with 100% success rate.   

For comparisons sake, when you look at slots 11-25 in those drafts, it has produced 31 Pro-Bowl appearances and 7 first team AP All-Pro selections (JJ Watt drafted in the #11 slot has earned 4 of both).  Aaron Donald, David DeCastro and Zack Martin are the only other first-team AP All-Pro guys. It’s not that this range of pick can’t produce top tier talent…consider the following players drafted and their slot:

Ryan Kerrigan (16)
Marcus Peters (18)
Odell Beckham Jr. (12)
CJ Mosley (17)
Star Lotuleili (14)
Sheldon Richardson (13)
Kyle Long (20)
Eric Reid (18)
Dontari Poe (11)
Fletcher Cox (12)
Tyler Eifert (21)
David DeCastro (24)
Cameron Jordan (24)

But if the rate of return on First-Team AP All-Pro appearance in the Top 10 is 18%, the next 15 picks, that rate of return drops to 5.3%.  Or essentially 3.5 times greater.  That’s not an insignificant gap.

Economics: Prior to the 2011 CBA, we all knew that rookies particularly at the top of the draft were grossly overpaid.  Their contracts put them in the upper echelon in terms of ACV for all players at their respective positions.  As such, if they met expectations, only then could their contract be seen as ‘fair’.  In addition, if they did in fact meet expectations, when they hit free agency the contract they would be eligible for was going to be gargantuan.  An example of this is Ndamukong Suh.

If you look at Suh’s rookie year deal prior to the new CBA being put into effect, Suh averaged almost $13M/year in cash earnings.  Now he became one of the best, if not the best DT’s in the NFL.  But his contract paid him at a rate in which anything less than doing so would have overpaid him.

A year later JJ Watt was drafted.  Watt has only become the preeminent defensive player in the NFL.  But falling now under a rookie wage scale, Watt’s rookie year deal wound up paying him an average of only $2.7M/year prior to him signing his 6 year extension.

What’s occurred here are two things:

1)    Rookies at the top of the draft have gone from being grossly overpaid, to potentially being grossly underpaid as a percentage of the salary cap.  While Watt was the #11 pick in his draft vs Suh who was the #1 pick…it’s fair to say that even with Watt’s extension should be play out the duration and end his career in 2021 when his contract runs out, the Texans will have gotten Watt at an ACV of $10.7M.
2)    Watt’s extension was valued at $100M over 6 years.  Suh’s was $114M over the same time frame.  While Suh did seem determined to exit DET, what we know is that Watt has become the better player and his extension ACV was close to $2.5M less.

Apply this same logic to Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald.  Julio’s extension (signed in 2015) was for a relatively reasonable $14M/year.  When Fitzgerald signed his in 2011, it was for $15M/year.  Calvin Johnson signed an extension in 2012 that was close to $19M in ACV. 

Consider also that the NFL Salary Cap in 2015 was $23M more than in 2011 & 2012 and you can see that the economics at the top of the draft favor the clubs much more than the player now, a complete 180 degree reversal from prior to the new CBA.   Let’s also look at Julio and Larry Fitzgerald in terms of career earnings:

Fitzgerald has played for 12 seasons.  Spotrac has his career earnings listed at $129.296M or $10.75M/season.  Assuming Julio plays out his entire current contract…his earnings over 10 seasons would be $97.635M, a little over $1M less/year than Fitzgerald. But when Fitzgerald entered the NFL in 2004…the salary cap was only $80.6M.  In fact, let’s look at the NFL salary caps since 2004:

2004: $80.6M
2005: $85.5M
2006: $102M
2007: $109M
2008: $116M
2009: $123M
2010: Uncapped
2011: $120M
2012: $120.6M
2013: $123M
2014: $133M
2015: $143.28M
2016: $155.27M

What we can take away from this, is that despite Julio actually making LESS per season than Fitz over his career, the salary cap was generally 20-25% higher during Jones career than Fitzgerald’s career at similar stages (Fitz’s 3rd season 2006 compared to Julio’s 3rd season 2013).  And this matters because under the new CBA, teams no longer find themselves in salary cap **** necessitating them having to potentially let an All-Pro caliber talent hit the market.  For the most part, the players of that legendary 2011 draft class, didn’t come close to sniffing the open market.  Luke Kuechly, Carolina’s All-Pro LB drafted in 2012…didn’t come close.  Teams can rather easily lock up their top tier talent.  It simply won’t hit the market anymore.

So How Does This Apply to the Falcons and Myles Jack in 2016?

The Deal I’d Propose would be as follows: Falcons trade #17, #51 & 2017 1st Round Selection to Jaguars.  Jaguars trade #5, #103 Selections

Most will despise giving up the 2nd rounder.  But I give you this…the last 10 picks made in the #51 slot:

Nate Orchard; Browns - DE
Ego Ferguson; Bears - DT
David Amerson; Redskins - DB
Jerel Worthy; Packers - DT
Da'Quan Bowers; Buccaneers - DE
Toby Gerhart; Vikings - RB
Andy Levitre; Bills - G
Malcolm Kelly; Redskins – WR
Steve Smith; Giants – WR
Ryan Cook; Vikings – C 

Now I recognize that there is a certain randomness to this sampling.  But it does shed some light and is relevant in revealing to a certain extent what exactly the type/level of player you are getting in this spot in the draft.  You will find talent in this area of the draft without a doubt, but your chances for never hearing from said player are fairly good too, better than good actually.
How valuable is that #51 pick? Much more valuable than #103?  Here are the last 10 picks at #103…

Bryce Petty; Jets – QB
Devonta Freeman; Falcons – RB
Alex Okafor; Cardinals – DE
Frank Alexander; Panthers – DE
Sam Acho; Cardinals – LB
Perry Riley; Redskins – LB
Dorell Scott; Rams – DT
William Hayes; Titans – DE
Isaiah Stanback; Cowboys – QB
Brad Smith; Jets - WR

When you look at #51 v #103...I don't see that much difference when looking at a 10 year sampling.  Again, this is not meant to solely represent the value of those picks...In Round 2, you are going to have access to better talent than in Round 4, but it still has to convert to the NFL.  The success gap is much tighter than you would think.

Giving up the 1st rounder in 2017…that’s the big pinch.  But I think there is a legitimate thought process that puts that pick in the 20’s.  With the improvements the Falcons have made on offense personnel wise, plus better familiarity with Shanahan’s system, they could have one of the better offenses in the NFL.  Coupled with talent upgrades on defense that would include Jack (if we could swing this deal), a potentially healthy Weatherspoon, Shelby and Beasley rounding into form as an impact player in Year 2 (not to mention Grady Jarrett), the Falcons actually could be positioned as a surprise team in 2016.

We all know who won the Julio deal by now…but when you look at it strictly from a ‘picks’ standpoint…to move up to #6, the Falcons didn’t give up a pick better than #22.  In some ways, the Falcons bet on themselves with regard to that 2012 draft pick and in actuality, they probably underperformed that year and yet the draft pick damage was very much contained.

In the pre-draft process, we all believe that we can ‘FIX’ the Falcons with the picks we have.  That the 4th round guy we ‘scouted’ is going to solve a positional problem.  But opportunities to secure IMPACT talent don’t come around that often.  And this might be a great opportunity for the Falcons to make a big move and acquire a player they can truly build a defense around.

Something to think about...
 

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Very good and well thought out analysis. I actually agree he would be worth trading up for. You made a good argument to do so, especially highlighting the recent picks made at where we sit in the second. But I am totally against giving up the first next year. Also, Jacksonville is slotted to pick Jack and I think we'd have to move IN FRONT of them. The draft is just a tough guessing game

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I really enjoyed reading that, and before somebody say that trade isn't possible, I saw the Dolphins move from 13 to 3 simply swapping 1sts and giving up a 3rd so 17 to 5 can't be that overwhelming, like Julio's was. 

I couldn't even imagine having Myles Jack in the middle of this defense, probably would be as entertaining as Stephen curry on a bball court. Plays being made everywhere

i saw Beasley fall to 8, Leonard Williams fall to six. Stranger things have happened

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7 minutes ago, FalconKick said:

Very good and well thought out analysis. I actually agree he would be worth trading up for. You made a good argument to do so, especially highlighting the recent picks made at where we sit in the second. But I am totally against giving up the first next year. Also, Jacksonville is slotted to pick Jack and I think we'd have to move IN FRONT of them. The draft is just a tough guessing game

I think that's a viable point about JAX.  They may simply be in love with him.  DAL might also make sense.  They clearly have front office security and as a team seen as needing DE, could they be tempted by more premium picks in 2016/2017?

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2 minutes ago, TheDirtyWordII said:

I think that's a viable point about JAX.  They may simply be in love with him.  DAL might also make sense.  They clearly have front office security and as a team seen  as needing DE, could they be tempted by more premium picks in 2016/2017?

Absolutely. Every team has their price. Picks are the most valuable form of currency so it's always possible. In your scenario, I think both Jax and Dal would trade for our 1st next year. The question is at which trade up spot is the 2017 first not necessary. If he slips to around ten, then I can see making a move. But before that doesn't seem possible without losing next years premium picks

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No, just no.

The experts say this is one of the deepest drafts in years- If the Falcons stay put, they should get solid starters at 3, maybe 4 positions. Trade back , they could get 4-5 starters.

This years first and second are almost worth the fifth pick by themselves- either this years second or next years first, but not both. Way too expensive for an 18% success rate-and that success rate is skewed by the 11 draft.  You've played with stats enough to know what an outlier is and how they are frequently discarded when doing calculations. The bust rate is probably about the same 18%.

Didn't 2 of the top ten picks from last year not play due to injuries?

 

Way too much risk and tooo much cost to be worth it.

 

 

 

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31 minutes ago, falconidae said:

No, just no.

The experts say this is one of the deepest drafts in years- If the Falcons stay put, they should get solid starters at 3, maybe 4 positions. Trade back , they could get 4-5 starters.

This years first and second are almost worth the fifth pick by themselves- either this years second or next years first, but not both. Way too expensive for an 18% success rate-and that success rate is skewed by the 11 draft.  You've played with stats enough to know what an outlier is and how they are frequently discarded when doing calculations. The bust rate is probably about the same 18%.

Didn't 2 of the top ten picks from last year not play due to injuries?

 

Way too much risk and tooo much cost to be worth it.

 

 

 

The only difference in the 2016 I propose is a move down from #50 to #103...If you are saying that we could get 3-4 starters out of the draft, my scenario doesn't change that. Falcons would have picks #5, #81, #103 and #115 (as opposed to #17, #50, #81 and #115).

I think most ignore history with regard to success/failure later in the draft.  You mention the 2011 draft skewing the numbers...but that was also a draft that we took advantage of this very same strategy and look how that turned out.  It's in deep drafts like this where teams up at the top will be tempted to trade down to get into Round 2 (and thus have 2 2nd's).  Falcons can't trade down from #17 and get anything better than a 3rd in return in 2016.  Is that such a great return?

 

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TDWIII,

This Falcons roster is still very poor from #11-53.

This Falcons team is not the proverbial "one player away" - we weren't in 2011 either but there was at least a case to be made then.

This Falcons team needs more picks now - not less.

Myles Jack is not the sure thing that Julio Jones was.

Falcons have a very tough schedule this year and we are coming off 8-8.  When giving up next year's 1st round pick - there is probably about a 30% chance that you could be giving away a top 10 pick - if injuries and/or poor play happens for Falcons in 2016.

If you want a transcendant talent and feel like gambling, why not just take Jaylon Smith at #50(2nd round) ?and hope like heck he makes a full recovery and is the same special - and likely superior - talent than Myles Jack.

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5 minutes ago, HaRdH3ad said:

I still think the best thing to do is trade back & pick up another 2nd or 3rd

I agree.   If Shaq Lawson is not there at #17, I would trade back.  If I could accumulate an extra pick (or preferably two), I might be inclined to gamble and grab Jaylon Smith.   When is his medical re-check again?  Ok, just looked it up - medical re-check is April 14th - next Thursday.

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1 minute ago, quotemokc said:

I wouldnt give up next years first, maybe this and next years second plus next years 4th or 5th

I am on record as not being in favor of this deal - your revised proposal though - does not get you from #17 to #5.   just doesn't.

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15 minutes ago, g-dawg said:

I agree.   If Shaq Lawson is not there at #17, I would trade back.  If I could accumulate an extra pick (or preferably two), I might be inclined to gamble and grab Jaylon Smith.   When is his medical re-check again?  Ok, just looked it up - medical re-check is April 14th - next Thursday.

Yeah that's exactly my thought, who is you next pass rusher after Lawson? I didn't like Dodd at 1st but the more I watch him, he seem very good with his hands and can really capture and edge

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32 minutes ago, TheDirtyWordII said:

The only difference in the 2016 I propose is a move down from #50 to #103...If you are saying that we could get 3-4 starters out of the draft, my scenario doesn't change that. Falcons would have picks #5, #81, #103 and #115 (as opposed to #17, #50, #81 and #115).

I think most ignore history with regard to success/failure later in the draft.  You mention the 2011 draft skewing the numbers...but that was also a draft that we took advantage of this very same strategy and look how that turned out.  It's in deep drafts like this where teams up at the top will be tempted to trade down to get into Round 2 (and thus have 2 2nd's).  Falcons can't trade down from #17 and get anything better than a 3rd in return in 2016.  Is that such a great return?

 

You're ignoring the 17 first round pick in your equation. And, yes having 3 of the top hundred picks as opposed to 2 is huge, in this draft.

 

Didn't say anything about moving down, but, yeah, grabbing another top 100 player in this draft is worth it. Much less risky than spending 2 ones and a two on one player.

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5 minutes ago, falconidae said:

You're ignoring the 17 first round pick in your equation. And, yes having 3 of the top hundred picks as opposed to 2 is huge, in this draft.

 

Didn't say anything about moving down, but, yeah, grabbing another top 100 player in this draft is worth it. Much less risky than spending 2 ones and a two on one player.

Not to dispute what your saying but just because we have a top 100 pick doesn't mean we will surely draft a top 100 player

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Good write up, but I think a key gap in the analysis is looking solely at All-Pro.

Yes, the top 10 is way more likely to generate All Pro type players.  But the mid first round generates a lot of valuable players, Trufant type players.

So, the question becomes, would you rather have one All Pro, or two top 10 at their position type players and one good starter?

Looking at the actual overall value of players in these ranges seems more useful (APR or whatever).  I'd wager that a good DT and good OLB and OG would be more valuable to this team than a great OLB.  Plus, there's always less risk in three players than one.

If you make a grab like that and you miss (top 10 player doesn't work out, gets an injury, etc.) you're set back for years.  So the upside had better be worth the risk of hamstringing your team for a half decade.

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12 minutes ago, takeitdown said:

Good write up, but I think a key gap in the analysis is looking solely at All-Pro.

Yes, the top 10 is way more likely to generate All Pro type players.  But the mid first round generates a lot of valuable players, Trufant type players.

So, the question becomes, would you rather have one All Pro, or two top 10 at their position type players and one good starter?

Looking at the actual overall value of players in these ranges seems more useful (APR or whatever).  I'd wager that a good DT and good OLB and OG would be more valuable to this team than a great OLB.  Plus, there's always less risk in three players than one.

If you make a grab like that and you miss (top 10 player doesn't work out, gets an injury, etc.) you're set back for years.  So the upside had better be worth the risk of hamstringing your team for a half decade.

good counter point - which I happen to agree.

I understand the "hey let's trade up and get a star player" mentality.  Truth is, so many teams find stars in later rounds - Tom Brady(6th),  Geno Atkins(4th), Josh Norman(4th), Richard Sherman (5th), Navarro Bowman(3rd), Michael Bennett(6th) - just to name a handful.   While there is a certain amount of luck involved in drafting a ProBowler later in the draft - the Falcons have been more the exeception to the rule in being unable to find one - now Devonta Freeman broke the trend last year(4th round) but he does not yet have the feel of a perennial pro-bowler just yet and RBs tend to have shorter careers.

Hopefully with the 8 GMs we have (ok FIVE), we can start mining some gold nuggets - I don't expect it every year, but one out of every 3-4 years, we need to unearth some gold.

Of course you don't even have that opportunity if you consistently give up draft picks to move up.   I am not bashing the Julio trade - I was at first against it immediately - after I let it sink in was in favor - and then have never looked back and have no regrets.

However, now it is time to gather picks and make wise selections - mine the draft in later rounds for undervalued players or those that have loads of talent but maybe had some off-field indescretion that you believe to be behind them.

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Good thread, and the OP's analysis is is very good and well argued. I don't agree wth OP's conclusion, but liked the post for those reasons.

i am not convinced that the benefit of trading up (even if you find an all-pro) justify the huge cost involved, unless it is for a QB. To win in the NFL  you need a team with depth, and you can't build that depth when you trade away multiple high picks. You cannot trade away a bunch of high picks and expect to make up for it by finding a few gems late in the draft, because there simply aren't enough really good players available in the mid and late rounds to make that feasible or realistic.

Just look at the Julio trade. It worked out about as well as it is possible to in terms of the quality of the player that we obtained. The problem is, it left us without enough picks to rebuild the OL and find good quality replacement for Abe, Turner, Gonzo. Even with Julio becoming an elite player, the team declined because we didn't have the resources left to fill our other needs.

That's before you even consider the risk of putting all your resources in 1 player, who may get injured or simply not work out etc.

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Nice post. I think the only thing that would make sense for us is if Jack falls to the 7-9 range. I'd offer #17 + #50 + 2017 3rd. Which is a fair deal. Jack to me is an elite prospect. One of the highest rated guys in the last couple of years. He could play MLB, WLB, SS all at a very high level.  His coverage ability is absolutely amazing for a LB. Our issues with TEs would be a thing in the past with him on our team. I personally don't like the talent avaliable at 17 aside from Floyd who I doubt will be there. So a trade up is something I'll consider as long as we don't trade our next year's 1st.

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1 hour ago, g-dawg said:

TDWIII,

This Falcons roster is still very poor from #11-53.

This Falcons team is not the proverbial "one player away" - we weren't in 2011 either but there was at least a case to be made then.

This Falcons team needs more picks now - not less.

Myles Jack is not the sure thing that Julio Jones was.

Falcons have a very tough schedule this year and we are coming off 8-8.  When giving up next year's 1st round pick - there is probably about a 30% chance that you could be giving away a top 10 pick - if injuries and/or poor play happens for Falcons in 2016.

If you want a transcendant talent and feel like gambling, why not just take Jaylon Smith at #50(2nd round) ?and hope like heck he makes a full recovery and is the same special - and likely superior - talent than Myles Jack.

I think there are a lot of folks who are battle-scarred from the last 3 years when addressing the overall talent on the roster.  As such, I think expectations for whatever reason for 2016 seem low as a general rule...which is a bit surprising to me.  

Jaylon Smith obviously is in limbo...his medical rechecks obviously mean a great deal to his draft fate.  I can't help but think though that there is no middle ground on him.  A good recheck may mean a vault back up to the latter stages of Round 1...a bad one and we're talking Day 3.  I would also say that Smith/Jack if we're comparing healthy versions of themselves is a similar debate to Julio/AJ from 5 years ago.  And not everyone was sold on Julio as a sure thing back in 2011.

I absolutely understand that in this trade up scenario, there is risk involved. But more picks isn't the only solution to filling talent gap problems.  

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One pick will not help the Falcons moving forward. They have way too many needs at this time. Stay put or move back to pick up more picks. If TD can't get it right in the latter rounds then lets make this his last year here and move on from him. It is just fools gold selling out for one pick when the one player will not make the team better across the board.

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TDWII,

I appreciate your analysis and opinion, even respect it....however:

Myles Jack left his college football team after having a season ending injury...he stay and serve as a sideline leader to his classmates, teammates, or friends....While talented, most don't realize he wasn't even selected as one of the TWO defense team captains for UCLA this past year...an obvious year in which he was going to be the best player on that side of the ball...Contrast that with Jaylon Smith, who was voted team captain for ND on a roster that also has now the Student Government President of all the student body at ND...

 

I hate the idea of getting rid of a 1st rounder next year in a more talent rich draft class...No thanks to trading up for Jack...he is not a leader...and the Falcons are way more than one player away...

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