Vikings fans, you may not want to hear this, but team who might have had the best first round of the NFL draft on Thursday was none other than the Packers.
The Packers and new general manager Brian Gutekunst were among the busiest teams working the trade market, looking to add to an already league-high haul of 12 picks, which included at least two picks from the fourth round onward. Thanks to two trades, the Packers ended up securing even more valuable draft capital while still selecting a player that fit a need: Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander.
The first trade involved the Packers trading down from their No. 14 pick. New Orleans, which has shown an aggressiveness to move up the draft in recent years, was willing to fork over a lot to move up from No. 27. The Packers gained the 27th pick, a fifth-round pick this season (No. 147 overall) and New Orleans’ first-round pick next season.
It’s tough to assign exact value to that 2019 first-rounder New Orleans gave up. The general rule is a second-round pick this year is worth a first-rounder next year, and New Orleans paid that price.
According to the Jimmy Johnson trade chart, which teams have used for decades to gauge the value of draft pick trades, the Packers “won” that deal. Even if you assume the Saints win the Super Bowl next season and end up with the No. 32 pick, the Packers still got 1,303 points of value for giving up 1,100 points. (For reference, the No. 1 pick is worth 3,000 points. No. 10 is worth 1,300 and No. 20 850). If the Saints finish anywhere else from Nos. 1-31, the value of that pick could go up exponentially.
If you use the analytics-based Chase Stuart chart, the Packers also made out great. Stuart’s chart is based on the expected contribution of every draft slot in the first five years of a player’s career using a unique statistic called Approximate Value, which is a catchall metric used to compare players of different positions, similar to wins above replacement (WAR) in baseball. According to Stuart’s draft calculator on footballperspective.com, even if you assume that Saints first-rounder is No. 32 next season, the Packers got 1.62 times the value of the No. 14 pick in the deal.
But the Packers weren’t done. They then struck a deal with the Seahawks to move back up, surrendering a third-round pick (No. 76) and a sixth-round pick (No. 186) to move from 27th to 18th in Round 1. Seattle got better value in that trade, but not as much as the Packers did on the first trade. Seattle got 1.35 times the value of the No. 18 pick according to the Stuart chart and got 907 Johnson points in exchange for 900.
At the end of the trade flurry, Green Bay flipped the 14th, 76th and 186th pick for Nos. 18, 147 and a first-round pick next season — and drafted the talented Alexander.
On the Johnson chart (again assuming the Saints first-rounder in 2019 is the lowest pick it could be at No. 32), the Packers traded 1,327 points of value for 1,522.6. On the Stuart chart, they recouped 1.2 times the value of the No. 14 pick in moving back — and those values can only go up depending on where the Saints finish next season. They did this all while selecting a player they appeared to be targeting the entire time.
Chris Hine is the lead writer for North Score, the Star Tribune’s sports analytics beat. startribune.com/northscore E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org