Late last week, the Miami Dolphins traded the No. 3 overall pick they acquired from the Houston Texans in the Laremy Tunsil trade to the San Francisco 49ers, acquiring two more future first-round picks (2022 and 2023) in the process.
In sum, parting with Tunsil provided the Dolphins with four future first-round picks and one third-round pick. Miami subsequently flipped the No. 12 pick they received from San Francisco to the Philadelphia Eagles in an effort to move back up to No. 6, sending their 2022 first-round pick to the Eagles as a part of the deal.
The treatment of future draft picks for trade-calculation purposes may vary slightly from trade to trade, but the consensus league-wide is that you devalue the future pick by one round. If you were dealing with the New England Patriots or the Cleveland Browns over the past 20 years, perhaps you’d value the pick closer to No. 30 or No. 3, respectively. In general, by analyzing every pick-for-pick trade since 2011, treating the pick as though it fell in the middle of the following round resulted in many “even” or zero-sum trades for both parties, according to the Jimmy Johnson Value Chart. And while teams look at other trade value charts to better inform their decision-making, league sources have confirmed that the Jimmy Johnson chart still controls the marketplace.
Many question why NFL teams would place a time value on a draft pick, considering they’re fungible assets and it always helps to have draft picks no matter the year. The answer is really quite simple: general managers have no guarantee that they’ll still have their job the following year, much less multiple years down the line.
One additional note that is relevant with Miami acquiring San Francisco’s first-round pick in 2023: that pick would be devalued two rounds, so it should be treated as a mid-third round pick in 2021. Following the devaluation methodology and ignoring compensatory picks, here’s how future draft picks one year later are valued for draft pick chart purposes in each round.
|Round||2022 Pick Treated As||2023 Pick Treated As|
|1||No. 48||No. 80|
|2||No. 80||No. 112|
|3||No. 112||No. 144|
|4||No. 144||No. 176|
|5||No. 176||No. 208|
|6||No. 208||No. 240|
|7||No. 240||A freshly inflated football|
For our analysis, we’ll just focus on future first-round picks that have been traded since 2011 (the advent of the rookie wage scale). Here’s every trade, comparing the value of what the actual pick ended up with how it was valued in the trade calculation. We converted the value-chart differential back into the draft pick it reflects. For example:
Per Jimmy Johnson, pick No. 20 is worth 850 points. Pick No. 48 is worth 420 points. The difference of 430 (850 – 420) is equivalent to the No. 47 pick on the Jimmy Johnson chart.