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Should the Denver Broncos trade up for Christian McCaffrey?

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If they do, John Elway should use the Approximate Value draft trade chart and throw the Jimmy Johnson chart in the garbage. Or just stand pat and hope for the best.

An interesting question cropped up on Twitter on Friday, when Eric Goodman used the Jimmy Johnson draft value chart to ask whether it was worth it for the Denver Broncos to move up in the 2017 NFL Draft to select Christian McCaffrey.

I’ve never been a fan of the JJ trade value chart. There are so many first round busts that I’d probably want to trade my first round pick every year if I were a general manager for a team.

What is draft trade value?

Football Perspective had a great post on the differences between the old school line of thought and the approximate value in draft day trades and came to the conclusion that Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value trade chart was much more accurate than the traditional Jimmy Johnson trade value chart most people still reference today.

NFL Draft trade value chart

The curves between the two are quite different, giving much less value to first round picks while adding a bit of value to middle round picks. Here is what it looks like from a point value standpoint.

Jimmy Johnson vs. Approximate Value

Pick JJ Value AV Value
Pick JJ Value AV Value
1 3000 34.6
2 2600 30.2
3 2200 27.6
4 1800 25.8
5 1700 24.3
6 1600 23.2
7 1500 22.2
8 1400 21.4
9 1350 20.6
10 1300 19.9
11 1250 19.3
12 1200 18.8
13 1150 18.3
14 1100 17.8
15 1050 17.4
16 1000 16.9
17 950 16.6
18 900 16.2
19 875 15.8
20 850 15.5
21 800 15.2
22 780 14.9
23 760 14.6
24 740 14.4
25 720 14.1
26 700 13.9
27 680 13.6
28 660 13.4
29 640 13.2
30 620 12.9
31 600 12.7
32 590 12.5
33 580 12.3
34 560 12.1
35 550 12
36 540 11.8
37 530 11.6
38 520 11.4
39 510 11.3
40 500 11.1
41 490 11
42 480 10.8
43 470 10.6
44 460 10.5
45 450 10.4
46 440 10.2
47 430 10.1
48 420 9.9
49 410 9.8
50 400 9.7
51 390 9.6
52 380 9.4
53 370 9.3
54 360 9.2
55 350 9.1
56 340 9
57 330 8.9
58 320 8.7
59 310 8.6
60 300 8.5
61 292 8.4
62 284 8.3
63 276 8.2
64 270 8.1
65 265 8
66 260 7.9
67 255 7.8
68 250 7.7
69 245 7.6
70 240 7.5
71 235 7.5
72 230 7.4
73 225 7.3
74 220 7.2
75 215 7.1
76 210 7
77 205 6.9
78 200 6.9
79 195 6.8
80 190 6.7
81 185 6.6
82 180 6.5
83 175 6.5
84 170 6.4
85 165 6.3
86 160 6.2
87 155 6.2
88 150 6.1
89 145 6
90 140 5.9
91 136 5.9
92 132 5.8
93 128 5.7
94 124 5.7
95 120 5.6
96 116 5.5
97 112 5.5
98 108 5.4
99 104 5.3
100 100 5.3
101 96 5.2
102 92 5.1
103 88 5.1
104 86 5
105 84 5
106 82 4.9
107 80 4.8
108 78 4.8
109 76 4.7
110 74 4.7
111 72 4.6
112 70 4.6
113 68 4.5
114 66 4.4
115 64 4.4
116 62 4.3
117 60 4.3
118 58 4.2
119 56 4.2
120 54 4.1
121 52 4.1
122 50 4
123 49 4
124 48 3.9
125 47 3.9
126 46 3.8
127 45 3.8
128 44 3.7
129 43 3.7
130 42 3.6
131 41 3.6
132 40 3.5
133 39.5 3.5
134 39 3.4
135 38.5 3.4
136 38 3.3
137 37.5 3.3
138 37 3.2
139 36.5 3.2
140 36 3.1
141 35.5 3.1
142 35 3
143 34.5 3
144 34 3
145 33.5 2.9
146 33 2.9
147 32.6 2.8
148 32.2 2.8
149 31.8 2.7
150 31.4 2.7
151 31 2.7
152 31.8 2.6
153 31.2 2.6
154 30.8 2.5
155 30.4 2.5
156 30 2.4
157 29.6 2.4
158 29.2 2.4
159 28.8 2.3
160 28.4 2.3
161 28 2.2
162 27.6 2.2
163 27.2 2.2
164 26.8 2.1
165 26.4 2.1
166 26 2
167 25.6 2
168 25.2 2
169 24.8 1.9
170 24.4 1.9
171 24 1.9
172 23.6 1.8
173 23.2 1.8
174 22.8 1.7
175 22.4 1.7
176 22 1.7
177 21.6 1.6
178 21.2 1.6
179 20.8 1.6
180 20.4 1.5
181 20 1.5
182 19.6 1.5
183 19.2 1.4
184 18.8 1.4
185 18.4 1.4
186 18 1.3
187 17.6 1.3
188 17.2 1.3
189 16.8 1.2
190 16.4 1.2
191 16 1.2
192 15.6 1.1
193 15.2 1.1
194 14.8 1.1
195 14.4 1
196 14 1
197 13.6 1
198 13.2 0.9
199 12.8 0.9
200 12.4 0.9
201 12 0.8
202 11.6 0.8
203 11.2 0.8
204 10.8 0.7
205 10.4 0.7
206 10 0.7
207 9.6 0.6
208 9.2 0.6
209 8.8 0.6
210 8.4 0.6
211 8 0.5
212 7.6 0.5
213 7.2 0.5
214 6.8 0.4
215 6.4 0.4
216 6 0.4
217 5.6 0.3
218 5.2 0.3
219 4.8 0.3
220 4.4 0.3
221 4 0.2
222 3.6 0.2
223 3.3 0.2
224 3 0.1

In 2016, the Seattle Seahawks stuck to the Jimmy Johnson chart with the Broncos, getting Denver’s 31st and 94th pick in return for the 26th pick.

JJ points: Seattle 700. Denver 724.

AV points: Seattle 14.1. Denver 18.6.

In this context, John Elway vastly overpaid to trade up for Paxton Lynch. However, he clearly stuck to the Jimmy Johnson chart very closely in his trade offer.

What would a trade up look like?

Getting back to trading up to get McCaffrey. There are four teams really looking to draft him this year, with one being the Broncos. Two of which, pick just ahead of the Broncos in the Philadelphia Eagles at 14th and the Indianapolis Colts at 15th. That means Denver would need to move up to 13th as Goodman said in his tweet.

Depending on the draft value chart used (most likely the JJ chart), the cost would be steep for Denver. Using the picks the Broncos have right now, here is what it would cost to move from 20th to 13th using either chart.

Using the JJ system: Arizona #13 (1200 pts). Denver #20 and #51 (1265 pts).

Using the AV system: Arizona #13 (18.8). Denver #20 and #127 (19.3).

I would totally give up a first and fourth to get McCaffrey, but there is no way in hell I’d give up a first and second for him. And in all likelihood, the Cardinals will stick with the chart that gives them the most value making the cost much too high for the Broncos.

So should the Broncos do it?

No. Goodman was right. Trading up for McCaffrey would prove too costly.

Elway will need to roll the dice and hope both the Colts and Eagles have players higher on their draft boards at the time of their selection.

If McCaffrey ends up coming off the board by the time Denver is on the clock, then there will still be plenty of elite talent at other positions of need.