OWINGS MILLS, Md. — I almost thought about just re-posting the column I wrote two years ago.
I DEFINITELY thought about writing nothing at all.
But after the Baltimore Ravens traded their first round pick in the NFL Draft to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the Vikes’ 2nd and 4th round picks Thursday night, I had a few thoughts cross my mind.
After making the trade, General Manager Ozzie Newsome described the decision as “good business” for the Ravens. He might very well be correct. According to the famous Jimmy Johnson trade chart, the Ravens’ 29th overall pick was worth 640 points. The two picks acquired by the Ravens (35th and 98th overall) are worth a combined 658 points. Based on the chart alone, the trade really does appear to be “good business.”
Let’s drag this out a little bit though. The combined value of having the 129th-160th picks in the Draft (or ROUGHLY the entire 5th round) is 1,093.5 points. The 14th pick in the first round of the draft is 1,100 points. The value is almost exactly the same.
So with that in mind-which would you rather have? Would you rather have the 14th pick in the NFL Draft or the entire 5th round in the NFL Draft?
Don’t think about this TOO much. I don’t think there’s really a correct answer here.
The point I’m trying to drive home is that the acquisition of an additional pick or the breakdown of picks based on a numerical chart does not guarantee a selection in the draft is necessarily “good business.”
The last time the Ravens traded out of the first round was in 2010, when the team famously dealt the 25th overall pick in the first round of the Draft to the Denver Broncos for the 43rd, 70th and 114th overall picks in the Draft. The team would go on to select LB Sergio Kindle with the 43rd pick, TE Ed Dickson with the 70th and TE Dennis Pitta with the 114th. While Kindle has been almost a complete non-factor in the two seasons since the deal (and it is hard to imagine him becoming much more than that), Dickson and Pitta have established themselves as capable contributors at the pro level.
The player selected in the 25th spot was now New York Jets QB (and Special Teamer?) Tim Tebow. At first blush, the deal appears to have been “good business” indeed for the Baltimore Ravens.
But if we step back even a bit more, it’s worth identifying some of the players selected between the 25th and 43rd spot in the 2010 Draft. The list includes New England Patriots Pro Bowl CB Devin McCourty and TE Rob Gronkowski, as well as players like New Orleans Saints CB Patrick Robinson (4 interceptions in 2011), Miami Dolphins DL Jared Odrick (6 sacks in 2011), Detroit Lions RB Jahvid Best (over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 6 combined TD’s in 2010 before an injury shortened 2011 campaign) and other promising young players.
The Ravens picked up Kindle, Dickson and Pitta but could have had Gronkowski.
This “which would you rather?” argument is nearly as compelling as the earlier one presented. In the spirit of full disclosure, the Ravens have said Gronkowski failed a physical before the 2010 Draft that took him off their board.
The 2010 deal could perhaps prove to ultimately be known as “good business” or it could ultimately be known as the year the Ravens missed on a chance to get one of the more dynamic players in the National Football League. Moreover, two of the players selected between the time the Ravens traded out of the 25th pick and ultimately selected with the 43rd pick in 2010 went on to help a Pats team eliminate the Ravens in the 2012 AFC Championship Game and prevent the Purple & Black from reaching their first Super Bowl in over a decade.
So while we’re quick to accept the idea that trading out of the first round with talented players still on the board like LB Courtney Upshaw, WR Stephen Hill, OL Peter Konz and OT Jonathan Martin was “good business” for the Ravens Thursday night, let’s tell the whole story and paint the entire picture. Trading out of the first round MIGHT have been good business for the Ravens.
It MIGHT be looked upon as the time the Ravens missed out on a future superstar like Vikings S Harrison Smith, San Francisco 49ers WR AJ Jenkins, New York Giants RB David Wilson or (perhaps) Indianapolis Colts LB Upshaw.
As the headline of this column suggested, the Baltimore Ravens may have pulled off “good business” by dealing out of the first round, but the more important need for the team is to acquire good players. If the Ravens acquire good players with the 35th and 98th picks this year, the deal will ultimately prove to truly be good business.
If the Ravens instead miss out on those picks, the deal will be known more as the year where a team looking to make the next step towards a Super Bowl title failed to acquire good players.
You’ll probably tell me I’m being negative. I’d like to think I’m just being realistic.