In the NFL, GMs value draft picks extremely highly.
Moreso, probably, than they should.
This past offseason, Asante Samuel was traded for a 7th round pick. Now, Samuel has his limitations, and is not a particularly strong tackler, but he's one of the better corners in the league. Last season, only Darelle Revis had a better (lower) opposing quarterback passer rating when throwing at him. He's a starter in this league, and a pretty darn good one. He's worth more than a 7th rounder, which on average is a training camp cut or special teams player (if you're lucky).
Brandon Marshall, a Pro-Bowl wide receive, a number one WR in the league and a proven weapon, was traded out of Miami for two third round picks, one in 2012 and one in 2013. The move instantly made Chicago one of the most trendy darkhorse picks for the 2012 season. Marshall has off the field issues, and had a down season in Miami (but still had over 80 catches and 1000 yards), but is a dynamic receiver and one that every single team in the league would start today. He's worth more than two third round picks, which, on average, turn out to be a Philip Wheeler/Mike Doss type of player (Occasional starter, better depth player), and that's the high end of the third round. Marshall is worth far more than that.
Both of thos players are Pro-Bowlers, are starters, and would be snapped up by the vast majority of teams in this league if offered to them for a special teams player or two average rotational defenders.
However, they could only be moved for the price of a couple low picks.
Why? NFL GMs value draft picks far too highly.
Sure, you can find hidden talent far into the draft, but most of the time, you're going to get the average. And the average simply isn't that good.
Nevertheless, NFL GMs value those picks like none other. For this reason, the Colts' trade for Vontae Davis is both genius and questionable.
A. The Colts' trade is questionable because Ryan Grigson and Jim Irsay didn't get good market value for their second round pick, which will be high.
A high pick like that will be similar to a late first rounder, and on the NFL GMs way of valuing things, you should be able to get a very good, proven veteran for that kind of price. Again, considering what guys like Samuel and Marshall were traded for, the Colts overpaid. Based on what we've seen in the past, NFL GMs generally don't value young players with work ethic issues as highly as their prized 2nd round picks. Whether they should or not is irrelevant here, the point is that they don't, and Grigson should have been able to find better value for his pick.
B. The Colts trade is genius because Ryan Grigson and Jim Irsay got good on-the-field value for their second round pick.
The average high second round draft pick averages between four and five AV per season, based on my draft project last year. Davis so far in his career has an average of 5.67, including AVs of six and seven in the last two years. Davis is a first round talent with a lot of potential, and should be an instant starter, something that is not in any way guaranteed with a second round pick. Getting that kind of value on the field with your second round draft pick would be very good. The Colts didn't over value their pick, and valued on-field production, which bucks the trend in the NFL. If Davis fits in the defense (he should) and Pagano can reign him in a bit (not as likely, but possible), the Colts will be geniuses.
So, do I think Ryan Grigson "won" the trade? Yes and no.
The Colts need to be a better judge of the market, and what their assets are worth. Based on how past trades have happened, they didn't do that well on this trade, and they could have gotten more value for a second round pick.
But, I do think that for the Colts, using a second rounder on a player like Davis is worth it. The only issue is that if Davis plays well, and earns a big contract, he could leave Indianapolis after two years, giving the Colts a very short period of time to use him. This would decline his value severely. However, if Davis plays up to his potential, and legitimately earns that contract, I have no doubt Irsay, Grigson, and Pagano would be willing to give it to him, and retain him in Indy.
So, was it good negotiating to get Davis for a second rounder?
I don't think so.
But was it worth it?
Editor's Note: Check out CA reader squirrel's further breakdown of the AV numbers for a more in depth look at the value Davis needs to bring in order to be worth (in terms of on-the-field value) a second and sixth round pick. It's a very good explanation of the numbers, and a good read. - KR
I guess I just look at it as the Colts getting value for their situation. Most of the fans wanted a corner with our second and/or third round picks this season. Now, we turned up a proven starting corner with very good man to man skills for a future second round pick. I just see it as still getting the corner we wanted with our second round pick this season. The other thing to think about with the value of picks is the rising value of CBs. Thanks to the new passing friendly rules, QBs and the guys tasked with covering their targets are much mire valuable. The market value likely forced them to give up a second rounder, since the supply of available CBs was very small.
This was a great piece. As you correcctly point out, most NFL GMs greatly value draft picks. In fact, to me at least, they value them MUCH more highly than any other sport. Perhaps this is purdent strategy and there is sound reasoning for this thinking. I don't know.
But regarding Davis, if this was the 2010 Colts I would feel a lot better about this move. I know Pagano has great confidence in himself as a communicator and he has had great success working with defensive backs. But the Colts are going to be terrible this year. Maybe I am reacting too much to the preseason, especially the Redskins game, but they can't block and I am fearful the defense is going to get torched.
It is one thing coming into a winning environment. But going from South Beach to Indy to play with a team that is not going to be very good in 2012, what is that going to do to Davis' attitude?
Totally agree that if we could get him to 2013, he wold be a vital piece. I just wonder if the Colts can get him through 2012.
I like the thinking here. I agree that draft picks are generally overvalued by GMs (which makes sense since they are the ones doing the drafting and it's human nature to assume that we can do better than the guys who came before us).
That being said, I think there's another missing element to this equation. The value of something is only equal to what we know someone is willing to pay for it. Sure, a 2nd round pick might have been too much if you are, say, the Dallas Cowboys, who now have 3 starting quality CBs on their roster. But when you're the Indianapolis Colts, and CB is a well known weakness of your team, of course the Dolphins understand that a guy like Vontae Davis is going to be worth more to us than he would be worth to the Dallas Cowboys. I guess my point is that the term "market value" is always relative. Sure it may seem crazy to us for a guy to spend $10,000 on a tea pot, but if that tea pot completes some collection that he's spent 25 years putting together, it may be worth that much to him. Vontae Davis is the tea pot in this scenario, just so we're clear.
@Colt_Following Good point, which is why I'm saying that in terms of value for the Colts, it will probably end up being worth it. In terms of "shopping" it wasn't exactly a good deal.
So, your argument would be like what people have said about Pete Carroll’s drafting – specifically, Carpenter and Irvin. They are good players and will contribute but Carroll didn’t maximize the value of that draft spot.
I understand your point now and I completely agree!
I posted this on the other Davis thread, but it's hard to criticize this considering how the Colts have drafted in the second round (or even late first) for the last five years. Davis is definitely better than all of them with the possible exceptions of Castonzo, Angerer and Fleener (But I'd take him over Addai, Jennings, Gonzalez, Ugoh, Pollack, Brown, Moala, Hughes and Ijalana.)
It's hard to say whether this is over market value or not. Do you remember the Dallas Roy Williams trade? That was a 1,3, and 6. More recently Carson Palmer was traded for a 1 and 2, and Julio Jones, an unproven rookie, was a 1.
@rogcohen I posted this in the other thread, but I think it's worth repeating:
You should never go into trades/drafts thinking, "gosh, this pick has very little value based on how we drafted in this position in previous years."
Also, Squirrel's point regarding different front offices is completely valid.
And yes, I agree with Kyle, that draft picks are overvalued throughout the league, but I do get the sense that some Colts fans are completely undervaluing how much 1st-3rd round picks mean to a team in the Colts position. They are not a Vontae Davis away from competing.
There is a chance that the player picked next year is better than Vontae Davis, adn there is a chance he is worse. Considering Davis's ability, it is probably around 50/50. Davis fills a position of need, and for a cost that is not too much given what one should reasonably expect from a 2nd round pick.
@dmstorm22 I agree with this:
"Overall, I doubt the trade goes down as a major coup or horrible mistake. It is likely it is just forgotten because Davis is decent enough to be worth something close to a 2nd round pick."
and have written/tweeted/said similar. It's an OK trade. It has the chance of being great. It has the chance of being bad. I think, for the most part, it just falls in the OK/decent category.
My only real issue, as I've said, is that it's a trade that I don't see the need for right now. Hopefully Davis works out here, hopefully he loves it here, hopefully he signs a new contract here, then all of my concerns are moot.
@GregC The money issue is true, but if Davis is 2nd round caliber performer, then the money won't be extravagant (CB is a prety reasonable position contract wise other than the top few).
Granted I'm no Dolphins fan, but until Hard Knocks, I had never heard too many questions about Davis's work ethic and character, plus it is hard to truly say if the Colts will stay away from bad character guys as much as the last regime generally did.
Overall, I doubt the trade goes down as a major coup or horrible mistake. It is likely it is just forgotten because Davis is decent enough to be worth something close to a 2nd round pick.
@dmstorm22 I agree with this, however, a few points:
a) whomever we draft next year will be under contract for 4 years (and cheaper in those same years than Davis)
b) would likely have fewer character questions/concerns.
that's about it.
@rogcohen Those trades were widely criticized though. Trading on draft day to move up is the one concession, GMs routinely give up picks to move. It's a weird way to value players/picks.
@rogcohen Except that none of the people who did the drafting for the Colts over four of the last five years are still with the team. So far Grigson's first draft looks like a major coup. Even if you dismiss Luck, Fleener and Allen as no-brainers, every later pick has at least a decent shot to make the final roster and that's pretty boffo.
The irony here is that if Grigson is in fact some draft genius eclipsing even The Great Poliani then that pick was worth even more to Indy than it is to Miami.
@squirrel Good point. I guess I find myself 50-50 on this trade. A 2nd rounder, especially one in the top 10 of the second round, has significant value and very good players available. On the other hand, a good corner is very hard to find.
Kyle, I agree with you about the trades I mentioned. I guess my point is that this trade to me falls somewhere in between, which in effect means I agree with the premise of your article. I don't feel like we were fleeced with the talent we got back (like the trades I mentioned), but I'm also not sure we got value for a high second round pick. The one thing the Colts had in common with the trades I mentioned is that all those teams were desperate like the Colts, and in that regard, I think at least the Colts didn't do anything stupid. It's a risk, but not stupid.
Good analysis. Your main omission is the disregard for a player's cap hit and contract status in determining their trade value. The cap space saved by unloading an overpriced vet is every bit as valuable as the picks received in return, because it allows the team to sign several additional players in the short term. For instance, while on paper we would probably only get a mid round pick for Freeney this year, dumping his contract on that team would also free up space to sign free agents layer, so on the whole we'd be gaining more than just a single draft pick. It's my understanding that Davis is not particularly high-paid, so comparing what we got for him vs guys like Samuel isnt really apples to apples. The fact that Vontae has two years left on his contract also increases his value over a one-year rental player.
The issue of the contract status is a good point, the problem is this: Davis has two years on his deal, but the Colts aren't going to contend this year. 2013 is the best case scenario for contending. So, really, you're just renting Davis for a year of meaningful games before you have to pay him big money (IF he plays well enough to get it). Then, he can either leave, or take up a bunch of cap space.
Don't get me wrong, I think the trade will be worth it for the Colts, but there are issues with it.
@Kyle Rodriguez That's the issue for me. He might be worth more than whatever the Colts could get high in the second round next year, but, due to the rookie wage scale, that person would have an insignificant cap number for four years of hopefully competitive play versus potentially one for Davis.
Let me make an optimistic argument about Davis's disciplinary issues.
Coaches are often broken down into two camps: players' coaches and disciplinarians. One wins you over by being your pal, the other pushes you to be your best by being your enemy.
But certain players simply don't respond to one or the other type of coaching. I have a feeling that Davis was shipped out of Miami because he resented Joe Philbin's disciplinarian approach (as talented young men often do).
Now, Chuck Pagano has developed a reputation as the other sort of coach, the one who gets the most out of players by being on their side. His former players on the Ravens loved him for it, and he seems to have won over the locker room in Indy by being the guy who says "It's you and me against the world". I think Vontae is like his brother Vernon: guys with all the talent in the world who take disrespect as a personal insult and hold grudges.
A disciplinarian can get on the wrong side of such a player very easily and provoke them into acting out (showing up to practice drunk would be an extreme example, but Vernon was a public headcase in his first few years too). What Vernon needed was a coach like Harbaugh, who could connect with him on a personal level. We all saw the results in SF last year, and I think it's likely that Vontae will respond the same way as his brother to having a coach that's on his side.
There are many reasons Asante Samuel went for so cheap. One bg factor would be his age. You don't pay prime value for an aged Player also he is in a contract yr so falcons can only guarantee him for 1 yr. Samuel is 31. Miami got Marshall for 2 second round picks back when Marshall was 26 2 yrs later and they only get 2 3rd round picks for moving him to Chicago. Vontae Davis is a different story. He was a first round pick 2 yrs ago with 2 yrs left on his contract and He is only 24 not to mention he was a first round draft pick less than 2 yrs ago. Based on Davis age and skillset even with off field issues if the colts had picked him up in the 2nd it would have been a great pick. Samuel was a bargain at 7th pick but he could only be a rental and if he plays well expect him to seek a higher contract next yr from highest bidder. In the end was the price steep. I would say no because dolphins would be foolish to trade a young high potential player which they had paid a 1st round pick for in 2009 for anything cheaper than a 2nd. If the colts wanted cheaper they could have targeted other corners. 2nd was the fair market value for that player and colts should be happy they got him instead of having to worry if thy will draft another bust like Hughes or Thomas or brown or d number of busts drafted in late manning era
@mr_yannex Again, I'm not arguing Davis' on-field value is not worth a second rounder. But claiming that a 2nd rounder was fair market value for a guy who wasn't even going to start for MIA is just false in the current NFL market. The Colts originally offered a sixth round pick. They ended up paying a second rounder and a sixth. That's a desperate price.
@Kyle Rodriguez Well colts were desperate it's not like vontae was on the block. If you pay 1st round for a player you don't turn around and trade them for less value after 3 good seasons. Anything lower than a 2nd would have been bad for dolphins. Talks of him not starting are silly. He came to camp out of shape which is bad but when in shape he is by far the phins best corner and based on his level of play is the best corner the colts now have. Colts want to win now if colts make playoffs this pick is in their favor. If vontae plays well this pick is in their favor. The goal would be off course to lock vontae up with a long term contract which colts definitely can do due to large cap space. If they do then that's great. Basically paid 2nd round pick for franchise corner which is Davis potential. The fact that Davis is young coupled to the fact that he was a 1st round pick and is also by far the best corner from that draft class so in my opinion it's a good value trade. Now if colts suck or he gets hurt and thus doesn't justify a big contract then it was a poor deal. However I am sure big contract potential should be enough to motivate him to play much better like it does to most athletes.
@Kyle Rodriguez @Kyle Well I can agree with that. Draft picks in general are over valued. Colts have probably drafted the worst since Super Bowl 06 than any other team. The notable players colts have drafted since then as I can remember are powers collie angerer and MAYBE Conner. That's 5 drafts out of 30 players only 3.5. It's a new gm so hopefully wnt be as many misses but looking back at past draft history colts have been atrocious. Considering how little work the colts do in fa. Releasing Lilja who went on to have pro bowl season keeping Pollak who as we know is an ultra bum. So many mistakes made no free agency moves colts constantly regressed with poor draft choices and 0 free agency moves. Pollian is such an idiot I'm glad he is gone
@mr_yannex @Kyle @Kyle Hey, I absolutely think that the on-field-value is better. I think the way GMs value their picks is way too high. BUT, if you look at market based on how they value them, the Colts paid too much. If you look at value of Davis vs. value of average 2nd rounder, Colts will likely "win" the trade.
@Kyle Rodriguez @Kyle Patient in looking? Finding a player with Davis skill at 2nd round would be possible you could even get such a player in later rounds. But it is a lottery system. No guarantee of nfl success until u have nfl success. Especially considering the colts draft record since let's say 07 or 08 I would say all the colts top picks have been misses so I am happy they traded this pick for a proven player instead of drafting another bust. 3rd round pick from 2010 draft after Davis that we traded to the eagles Is now we released so colts can claim him back off waivers Smh. Donald brown Fili moala Hughes when was the last time the colts hit on a pick? I'm thinking collie and powers only smh
@mr_yannex @Kyle "Anything lower than a 2nd would have been bad for dolphins." You're missing the point. Again, I think Davis is worth a 2nd rounder for his on-field-value. But, NFL GMs value draft picks differently in this NFL.
It's like spending $30 on a lemonade stand. Sure, you can probably get more that back if you put the time and effort into it, but it's pretty likely that you could have found the lemonade stand for cheaper than $30 if you were patient in looking. The Colts were desperate, so they gave the Dolphins basically whatever they wanted.
This looks like the reader blog I just posted but with fewer numbers. :D
Oops for me. Nice work, Kyle.