Yesterday the statistics (and I) told you the value for running backs begins with the second round. To most stats geeks, if you’ve seen one running back you’ve seen ‘em all.
Today I bring you a lesson in player value. We often talk about points charts when evaluating draft pick trades. Let’s look at it from the perspective of expected career approximate value over average (eCAVOA).
With that in mind let’s look at the Robert Griffin III trade as explained by the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective:
From an expected value perspective, the Redskins definitively lost this trade (to put it mildly). The second overall pick carries an expected Career Approximate Value Over Average (eCAVOA) of 435.4. The 6th and 38th overall picks have a combined eCAVOA of 525.1. If the Redskins had given up just these picks, they would have lost 89.7 eCAVOA, which is the equivalent of the 114th overall pick (the middle of the 4th round).
If this price had been the extent of the trade, it would have been defensible. A 525.1 eCAVOA translates to a CAV of 78.7, essentially equaling Matt Hasselbeck’s CAV. So RGIII would have only had to equal Hasselbeck for this trade to be equal.
However, the Redskins gave much more: their next two first round draft picks. The average expected value of a first round pick is 276.8 eCAVOA, which brings the total eCAVOA the Redskins gave up to 1078.7. The Rams only gave up 435.4 eCAVOA, giving them a net gain of 643.3 eCAVOA, equivalent to the first and 57th overall draft picks.
That brings us to GM lesson number 2: don’t trade high draft picks for less value. Seems like a no-brainer right? Wrong. History is littered with teams trading picks based on the points chart and getting screwed. It’s a variant of the commonly used term, “a reach.” Want a good example? Look no further than Tony Ugoh.
Ugoh has a weighted career average value of 16. What did the Colts give up to draft him in terms of eCAVOA? The cumulative eCAVOA of those picks was the equivalent of the 9th overall pick. What could you have gotten with a lottery pick like that? Ryan Clady.
GM boot camp lesson #2: learn to value your trades appropriately in order to never overpay for draft day trades.