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Examining the trade market with 2020 NFL Draft trades

The NFL trade market was first systematically investigated in the 1990s with the introduction of the so-called Jimmy Johnson NFL draft trade value chart. But as of today, we know that this chart doesn’t reflect the actual value of a pick, as it was never intended to do that — it was just supposed to set a trade market for draft picks.

In recent years, we have seen trades that deviated from the market set by the Jimmy Johnson chart. So, this article will investigate 2020 draft-day trades to find out whether or not teams still use this chart. 

[Editor’s note: Click this link to see PFF’s 2020 NFL Draft grades for all 32 teams. And if you haven’t already, be sure to pick up a copy of PFF’s 2020 NFL Draft Guide by subscribing to PFF EDGE or ELITE.]

First off, this article is not a comprehensive analysis of what we think about the trades. It is supposed to compare the trades based on different draft charts:

The Vikings and Patriots are the most active teams

The New England Patriots were involved in five trades while the Minnesota Vikings traded four times. The title of the “best trading team” goes to the Vikings, though, as they gained value on all of their trades and combined for more trade surplus-value than any other team, leaving second place to the New York Jets and third place to the Cleveland Browns.

It’s particularly noteworthy that the Vikings were able to gain two non-negligible future draft picks — the Chicago Bears’ fourth-rounder and the Baltimore Ravens’ fifth-rounder. This is additional draft capital that can not only be used one year from now but also allows general manager Rick Spielman to potentially pull the trigger and trade for an undervalued veteran.

The Browns landed a similar coup, earning a 2021 third-round pick courtesy of the New Orleans Saints. Good things happen when trading with the Saints, as no team was willing to give up more draft capital. They made only one selection without moving up — first-round pick Cesar Ruiz.

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