NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft: Grades for every Day 1 trade

2TAC030 Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy (1) carries the ball after a reception during an NCAA college football game against TCU, Saturday Nov. 11, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. (Matt Patterson via AP)

• The Vikings surrender significant value: Considering all of Minnesota's draft trades, the team lost the equivalent of a mid-first-round pick.

• The Chiefs made the best trade-up of the night: Kansas City gets a B- grade for making an almost even trade with the Bills to acquire wide receiver Xavier Worthy.

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We have already graded the picks from a turbulent first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, and now we turn our attention to the trades.

Minnesota Vikings trade up to No. 10 to select QB J.J. McCarthy

The Vikings moved up one spot in a deal with the New York Jets to select Michigan's McCarthy. There are precedents from recent years, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded with the San Francisco 49ers to move from No. 14 to No. 13 for Tristan Wirfs in 2020 and the Philadelphia Eagles moved up from No. 10 to No. 9 to select Jalen Carter just last year, dealing with the Chicago Bears.

The Buccaneers and Eagles had to give up fourth-round picks, and both got some change back. The Vikings traded away a fourth-round pick straight up and also moved down another 50 spots on Day 3, which is the first negative of that trade.

The potential justification for such a move is that the Denver Broncos or Las Vegas Raiders possibly tried to trade with the Jets, too, so the Vikings paid up. So, I won’t crucify Minnesota here — at least not for this trade.

However, if we play a little bit of detective, one could argue that the Vikings were seeing ghosts. This is certainly dependent on reports being accurate, but the Seahawks, Saints and Raiders were said to have been aiming for Michael Penix Jr. in the top 10, per James Palmer. Apparently, the teams sitting in front of the Falcons weren’t open for business, which is a little bit head-scratching in the case of the Tennessee Titans.

We also have first-hand evidence that the Broncos liked Bo Nix a lot, and while it’s not totally obvious that they favored him over McCarthy, a report from The Athletic's Dianna Russini that the Bears were generally open to trading down from No. 9. If a team wanted to jump the Vikings, the Bears were the obvious spot to do so, since they probably wouldn’t have given the division-rival Vikings the chance to match.

But this is all speculation based on reports we can’t confirm, so we are not too harsh on the Vikings here.

From the Jets’ perspective, there is not much to say other than to praise them. The Vikings were concerned about getting sniped, and the Jets wisely took advantage of it. As we already discussed, they were getting an even better return than the Bears and 49ers got in similar situations in recent years.

  • Grade for the Vikings: C+
  • Grade for the Jets: A

Minnesota Vikings trade up to No. 17 to select EDGE Dallas Turner

First of all, let us analyze this trade without considering the trade that got the Vikings the No. 23 pick.

This was by far the most expensive trade-up on Day 1. I get the idea here: Due to the unprecedented run on offensive players, Dallas Turner fell a bit further than expected, so the Vikings thought they got a steal and made this move.

Notably, steals don’t really exist in the grand scheme of things. There is some signal in other teams passing on Turner. All things considered, the trade is simply too expensive. Yes, edge rusher is a premium position, so there is the opportunity for surplus value, but the expected surplus value of the future third-rounder alone mitigates that.

It gets even more interesting when we consider the Vikings' draft strategy as a whole. Here is an analysis of this trade combined with the trade they already agreed to with the Houston Texans earlier in the offseason. Note that the Vikings' win total for 2024 is currently at 6.5, so it’s a reasonable assumption that the future picks have a median outcome of No. 12.

Overall, the Vikings lost the equivalent of a mid-first-round pick. That’s more expensive than the trade the Saints made for Marcus Davenport in 2018.

The idea behind obtaining No. 23 might have been getting the optionality to make a move for Drake Maye at No. 3. This could have been justifiable, but in the end, the Patriots sprinted to the podium with Maye’s name on the card. It looks like the Vikings misread the Patriots and made an unprecedented pre-draft trade that ultimately led to nothing but another bad decision in the first round. It’s not a good look overall.

  • Grade for the Vikings: D-
  • Grade for the Jaguars: A

Detroit Lions trade up to No. 24 to select CB Terrion Arnold

This trade will be almost universally praised in the media, but the Lions paid a valuable early third-rounder to move up only five spots because they felt the pressure to fill a need while being overconfident in their evaluation. They also didn’t select a player at a premium position.

In terms of surplus value, the No. 24 pick is $3 million-$5 million better than the 29th pick, but the early third-rounder is worth roughly $15 million of surplus value over four years.

The Dallas Cowboys made the better move here.

  • Grade for the Lions: D
  • Grade for the Cowboys: A

Kansas City Chiefs trade up to No. 28 to select WR Xavier Worthy

This was by far the best trade-up on Day 1. By making it an even trade in terms of how many picks changed hands, the trade is almost even.

It’s still interesting that the Chiefs seem to be extremely confident in their evaluation of a deep wide receiver class where evaluations were all over the place after the blue-chip prospects that went off the board in the top 10.

That’s why I also don’t hate this from the Bills' perspective. The irrational take is that they gifted a wide receiver to an arch-nemesis that has beaten them in the playoffs in three of the past four years. It’s a deep receiver class, so the Chiefs could have drafted a wide receiver, anyway, if they wanted. And Kansas City's bets at wide receiver haven't necessarily paid off in recent history.

Given how the Bills offseason went, moving down a bit and adding another Day 2 pick makes a lot of sense and is consistent with prior decisions. They don’t get an A here, because they didn’t manage to take advantage of their trade partner. That’s also a shout-out to Chiefs general manager Brett Veach, of course.

  • Grade for the Chiefs: B-
  • Grade for the Bills: B+

Carolina Panthers trade up to No. 32 to select WR Xavier Legette

I’m not sure what the Panthers were thinking here. They are probably overestimating the value of the fifth-year option, which is now fully guaranteed. Thus, they lost a lot of value. If Xavier Legette is good enough to justify picking up the option, the option is much more expensive than it was before the new CBA, and he probably also has enough leverage to ask for an extension before that option would even kick in. Yes, the option would create some leverage for the Panthers in extension talks, but that’s a hypothetical scenario that isn't relevant until many years from now.

The Panthers' move from No. 33 to No. 32 cost them 59 draft slots, and they'll now pay the same player a higher salary. As the following chart from Jason Fitzgerald shows, the rookie wage scale comes with the most significant gap at the end of the first round.

From the Bills’ perspective, this was a free move-up on Day 3. Additionally, they are on the clock for 20 hours now, being able to sort out their options. The Panthers gave up a luxury.

  • Grade for the Panthers: D
  • Grade for the Bills: A
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