The Czabe is at DEFCON 2 over the Redskins trade-up for Robert Griffin III (for whom they gave up three 1st round picks and one 2nd rounder). Other smart football types agree that the Skins paid too much.
Did they really?
I’m not asking to be a smart-ass–I legitimately don’t understand the valuation of draft picks in the NFL. I’m sure there’s a complicated formula for what picks are worth, from a VORPish standpoint, but it must be really variable dependent on number and position.
For example, I suspect the value for picks isn’t a smooth curve beginning at #1 and trailing off evenly. Surely there must be points in the draft at which the value line changes trajectory, right? By the same token, value calculations have to be dependent upon the existing player positions. For instance, in hindsight it would have surely been worth trading (just to pick a number) four 1st round picks for Peyton Manning (or whoever you deem to be the best quarterback of the last 20 years). But it would, presumably, not be worth that price for the best player of his generation at any other position–even if you knew beforehand that you were getting the best corner or lineman or safety or back. (Or would it? Maybe knowing you were getting Lawrence Taylor would be worth four 1st rounders?)
And all of that is before you even factor in the uncertainty discount, which you have to account for with a drafted player. But even this gets complicated–because I assume that the yield rate differs, again, from position to position–so that the percentages of quarterbacks who don’t perform to expectations is different than the percentage of, say, line-backers. Or receivers.
I’d like to think that smart organizations spend some resources on trying to understand draft picks as value propositions in some numerical sense. But maybe not–maybe the entire system is just too complex to be modeled in any meaningful way.
If any of you have smart thoughts (or have read deeply on this)–I’m looking at you, L.B. and B.D.–I’m all ears.
Update: I suppose that this is a start, though I haven’t read it all the way through yet.