Draft season has finally ended. For some of us it means getting a considerable part of our lives back. Maybe I’m not quite ready. I’m still soaking in the 2016 draft and what it has meant for my favorite team the Dallas Cowboys.
First I want to talk about a perspective on the draft that few consider: every team comes out of the draft with an improved team.
I say this because every team has holes, some or all of those holes “theoretically” get filled in the draft and what happens is you then compare your team as it is now to how your team was at the end of the previous season. Every fan comes out of the draft feeling better about their team and filled with hope. But you tend to forget that 31 other teams also improved by adding players to their team in the draft.
Since every team will come out of the draft with an improved team, the only true measure of draft success is how much a team improves itself comparatively speaking to every other team.
Teams picking ahead in the draft hold a slight edge. But draft success is about making your picks count throughout the rounds.
There’s no such thing as a sure thing and even high first round draft picks regularly bust.
It’s why the Cleveland Browns have been so great at being mediocre – they have absolutely blown their first round draft picks over the last decade.
The high bust rate of NFL draft picks in general means the more picks your team has the better.
As further proof the most widely used NFL draft chart statistically gives the team trading down a far higher hit rate than the team trading up.
And while the numbers are there for any NFL GM to see, they still often ignore them feeling they can beat the odds by trading to get their guy. In the end it’s the team trading down that usually winds up winning the deal.
In this year’s draft we had a trade that never happened that will help illustrate this example perfectly:
Jerry Jones wanted to trade up to get Paxton Lynch. He missed out on the deal and he’s already said he has regretted not giving more value to get the deal done. I’m guessing in a year or two he will be very happy he “missed out” on that trade. He needed to give his 2nd and 3rd round picks to make it happen. Those picks translated to Malik Collins and Jaylon Smith. Malik Collin has a chance to be a special player at the three technique position on the defense line. It’s arguably the most important position in Marinelli’s scheme so if the pick pays off it’s a huge hit. The Jaylon Smith pick is still very much up in the air. He’ll be out this year. If he comes back next year healthy, he’s expected to be an all pro type linebacker. It’s a big risk with chance for high reward. The most interesting part of the trade that never happened is it allowed them to pick Dak Prescott in the tail end of the 4th round. It’s a quarterback they spent more time with than other other during the draft evaluation process. So my look on the trade that never happened is you get those three players instead of getting Paxton Lynch. If two of our three players turn out to be hits this was a great trade for us never to make.
We also have to look at the pick of Ezekiel Elliot and realize we gave up a ton of value to get a running back. He’s going to be great. But he has to be. He’s already getting paid like one of the top running backs in the league and he’ll be running behind what is arguably the best offensive line in the league. The pick will be looked at as if we hit. But we could have arguably gotten a similarly talented running back in free agency and used the 4th pick in the draft to trade down. That would have been the direction I would have gone. Basically we could have gotten Lamar Miller for similar pay as Zeke PLUS we could have gained a ton of draft picks by trading down and who knows what those picks could have become.
I’m also a little confused why we took Jaylen Smith so high in the second round. I think we could have gotten him later in the draft and possibly traded that pick down to acquire more picks later.
The Jackson & Brown picks in the sixth look great. Rico Gathers in the sixth seems a little like picking Jaylon Smith at the top of the second: it’s a reach pick but if it pays off it could be huge
Those are my negative takes on the draft. We got great players but I think we could have maneuvered around a bit and improved more. It doesn’t seem our coach is not a fan of this and he’s been a big part of our draft success over the last 5- 6 years so I’m fine with his conservative stance on trades.
Overall I’m happy with the draft class. It could have in theory been improved with some trade down opportunities but at least we didn’t ruin anything with a dumb trade up. Now I get my life back till the season starts up again.