NFL Draft season is in full swing. Despite the Bengals not making an official announcement, everyone knows that LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will be their first pick. That means all the attention has gone to the 33rd overall selection.
Some people are hoping that a linebacker like LSU’s Patrick Queen or Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray falls to them. Others are hoping for one of TCU’s defensive players, like cornerback Jeff Gladney or defensive tackle Ross Blacklock. There are also fans who want to pair Burrow with a young receiver like Baylor’s Denzel Mims or Burrow’s LSU teammate Justin Jefferson.
Then there are the fans who want to trade the pick. It makes sense. The Bengals have a lot of needs and limited draft capital, but is it worth it? What could the Bengals hope to get in exchange for the first selection of the second Round?
To answer that question I turned to the NFL trade valuation chart.
If you are not familiar with this chart or its history, you can get more information here, but here are the basics.
The chart is used by NFL teams in trade conversations to get each on the same page in terms of the value of a certain pick. Some teams have developed their own, but unlike many things in sports, they openly share it with other teams. After all, the point is to facilitate a trade and getting both parties on the same page in terms of how a pick is valued goes a long way.
So each pick is valued at a certain number.
In 2020, the Bengals own the first overall selection, which is worth 3000.
“That’s a car. 275 thou. Might wanna hang onto that one,”
— Lloyd Christmas, Dumb and Dumber
The Giants own the 255th, which is worth only 1. The Bengals second round pick (33) is worth 580.
What is important to understand is that the majority of trades are actually equitable. Teams are steadfast when it comes to this chart. They adhere to it.
It is true that a team could be highly motivated to go up and get a player and overpay, but that does not happen as often as you would think.
So let’s take look at some trade-back options that align with the trade value chart.
Can they turn one second round pick into two?
Could they trade pick 33 for two second round picks?
It is unlikely, but yes, it is possible.
Unless the Chicago Bears are extremely desperate to get up to 33 to take a quarterback (which is doubtful, because they would probably trade up to 32 and get the extra year of team control instead) they aren’t giving up 43 and 50 for 33. Those two picks are worth a combined 870, while pick 33 is worth 580.
Let’s start here: What is the last pick in Round 2 worth?
The Seattle Seahawks currently hold pick 64 and it is worth 270. That leaves the Bengals down 310. In an amazing coincidence, that is exactly the value of pick 59 which is owned by, you guessed it, the Seahawks.
Huzzah! The Bengals could trade pick 33 to the Seahawks for picks 59 and 64 and per the trade value chart and it would be an equitable deal.
The question of course becomes motivation. Why would the Seahawks do this? They already own pick 27 in the first round. If they value a prospect highly, they could just take him there.
Although this deal would be strangely perfect from a value standpoint, it seems unlikely to occur.
Could they trade down and pick up another Day 2 pick?
Yes, they could. The third round compensatory picks range in value from 112 to 82. That gives the Bengals a little room to work with, but even just before the comp picks start there is a pretty good option, the Denver Broncos.
Maybe John Elway wants to go up and get a young quarterback. The Broncos could trade up 13 slots from pick 46.
That pick is worth 440, while the 33rd selection is worth 580. The Broncos also have pick 95 in the third round. This adds 120 in value, leaving the Bengals short-changed by 20, but if the Broncos threw in pick 178 at the end of Round 5 (valued at 19) the trade would be roughly equitable. A 2021 fourth round pick could be an alternative to 178.
Of course, if the Bengals wanted a higher pick in Round 3, they would have to trade back a little farther.
Perhaps three first round picks just wasn’t enough for the Miami Dolphins and even though they already have pick 39, they feel they absolutely need pick 33.
It’s unlikely, but play along.
They could trade back to the Dolphins other second round pick (56) which is valued at 340 and pick up Miami’s third round pick (70), which is worth 240.
Hey, that equals exactly 580!
This draft is said to have a lot of great options on Day 2, particularly at wide receiver and cornerback. Each of the scenarios listed above would give the Bengals an additional top 100 pick, and hopefully they could turn that into three contributors. However, they would have to drop over 10 picks lower in Round 2 to do it.
Let’s not go crazy
Maybe this is too much for you.
That’s fair. What is great about pick 33 is that you have a good chance at getting a player you evaluated as a first round talent.
So if you go to bed Thursday night and Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas is still on the board, you may be thinking “Hot-diggity, that’s the pick! I can’t believe he is still on the board!” If that is the case, you seriously need to update exclamations, but that would absolutely be a great pick.
But just to play devil’s advocate, what if in addition to Thomas, LSU safety Grant Delpit and Wisconsin edge Zack Baun are there for the taking?
If you value all three similarly, you might want to trade down, but if you want to make sure you are getting one of them, you can’t trade back too many slots.
The Panthers own pick 38, valued at 520. Their 4th Round pick (113) is valued at 68. This would put the Bengals up eight points on the deal. They may have to throw in their seventh round pick, but Carolina could be willing to make the deal without it.
The Chargers own pick 37 (worth 530) and pick 112 in the fourth round (worth 70). The Bengals would have to throw in their sixth round pick (worth 18.2) to make it roughly equitable.
So moving down four or five slots in Round 2 could return an additional fourth round pick, but if they want to add another Day 2 pick, they’ll have to drop farther.