Four Draft Day Trade Scenarios

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The Lions, with ten draft picks, are candidates to move either up or down the board come draft day. I’ve concocted four draft day trades that could work for both the Lions and their trade partners. Two of these trades involve Detroit moving up, whereas two of them involve moving down. Half of the trades have the Lions losing the trade, per the data model, while the other half they win. There was criteria for these trades, however.

The first is based on FiveThirtyEight contributor Chase Stuart’s “Draft Value Index”, a model which assesses the exponentially decreasing worth of draft picks. Stuart developed a calculator – which determines the winners and losers of teams exchanging picks – based on this model. There are two ways to determine this: 1) the value difference between what a team traded vs. what they received, and 2) the value quotient of what a team traded vs. what they received, expressed as a percentage. I chose to use the first because the difference will be the same for both parties, whereas percentages differ. In order to determine what was a ‘fair’ trade, I examined 51 trades that involved picks in the 2015 draft. Many of these involved players and/or future picks, and these were not considered because of the arbitrary nature of determining an individual player’s value, and the yet-undetermined value of a future pick. Deals from previous drafts that included 2015 picks were also not included. This left us with sixteen deals. I calculated the value differences of these trades, rounding to the nearest hundredth, and eliminated the highest figure (6.1) and the lowest figure (0.05) before averaging the differences of the remaining fourteen deals, the result of which is 1.96. For the purposes of this article, a trade is ‘fair’ if it falls within a +/- 1.96 DVRT (difference in value received and traded). Note: if the difference is negative, a team ‘loses’ the trade; if the percentage is less than 100, a team ‘loses’ the trade; if the difference is 0, or if the percentage is exactly 100, the trade is perfectly fair.

Secondly, the deals had to make a modicum of sense for both parties. If it’s obvious that one, or both, of the parties wouldn’t consider it, it doesn’t pass the acid test. Consider the following deal:

Titans receive: 2nd overall pick, 65th overall pick Browns receive: 1st overall pick, 140th overall pick

Per Stuart’s model, the Titans win the trade with a +0.5 DVRT, which falls within our range. This trade would pass the first criterion as being ‘fair.’ But, it doesn’t make sense. It’s widely-believed the Titans will take Laremy Tunsil with the first pick of the draft. It’s also obvious that the Browns are going to select a quarterback with the second pick. The Titans, who just drafted Marcus Mariota, are very unlikely to take a quarterback. Being that all the Browns’ options would be on the board after the Titans pick, there’s no reason for them to execute this trade.

Being that this is hypothetical in nature, a lot of these situations are predicated on certain assumptions (i.e. a player being available). Nothing about this article is intended to imply or assert that any of this will occur. It’s more or less about generating plausible outcomes given a set of circumstances.

With all of this understood, let’s begin.


Browns receive: 16th overall pick, 151st overall pick

Lions receive: 32nd overall pick, 65th overall pick

DVRT: Lions +0.9

Why it makes sense: The Browns, as stated earlier, figure to take a quarterback with the no. 2 selection. After they address that spot, receiver is their biggest position of need. In a weak draft class, all the best receivers will be snatched up by Round 2, and there’s a steep drop-off after that. Laquon Treadwell, the best receiver prospect in this draft, is projected by many pundits to still be at 16.

The Lions, on the other hand, might not have their preferred defensive tackle on the board by the time they pick. The players remaining at another position of need, offensive tackle, won’t be especially great in the middle of the round. It makes sense for them to trade down to 32nd, where there will still be plenty of quality DTs, and gain an early third in the process.


Bengals get: 16th overall pick, 111th overall pick, 151st overall pick

Lions get: 24th overall pick, 87th overall pick, 122nd overall pick

DVRT: Lions +0.4

Why it makes sense: the Bengals are another team that figure to be in the market for a receiver come draft day. Marvin Jones is now a Lion, and Mohamed Sanu joined Atlanta. The problem is, there are several teams ahead of them who could pick a receiver, the Lions being one of them. Quinn probably isn’t set on the idea of it, and there aren’t many teams from 16-24 poised to pick a DT, so this is a relatively safe move for the Lions. We turn a fourth-rounder into a third and a fifth-rounder into a fourth in exchange for moving down eight spots, and the Bengals get their pick of the litter at their biggest position of need this off-season.

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Buccaneers get: 16th overall pick, 111th overall pick, 202nd overall pick

Lions get: 9th overall pick

DVRT: Buccaneers +1.7

Why it makes sense: the Lions are actually trading up in this situation, and it’s because they want an offensive tackle of the future. The next tier of tackles (Conklin, Decker, Spriggs) may not be worth a mid-round pick. Here, the Lions give up a fourth and one of their many sixth-rounders to draft Ronnie Stanley to better protect Matt Stafford, rather than maybe reach on one of the other guys. Meanwhile, the Bucs, who are projected to take Shaq Lawson, won’t fall behind anyone who is poised to take the Clemson defensive end. They also pick up a an early fourth and a late sixth for their troubles.


Chiefs get: 46th overall pick, 111th overall pick, 191st overall pick

Lions get: 28th overall pick, 162nd overall pick, 249th overall pick

DVRT: Chiefs +0.35

Why it makes sense: the Chiefs’ biggest need is cornerback after the departure of veteran Sean Smith, but all the available prospects at this point would be a bit of a reach. Artie Burns and/or William Jackson III should still be available at 46, and the Chiefs can recoup draft picks in the middle rounds that they lost due to the Maclin tampering fiasco. The Lions, who would otherwise miss out on the next tier of tackles, can give up relatively little to move up into the first and grab somebody like Jason Spriggs or Le’Raven Clark. This kills two birds with one stone because it affords them the option to rotate Reiff over to the right side.

These are not the only trades that are possible – I came up with many more – but they were the ones that I thought best combined plausibility and fun. We here at DLP encourage you to give feedback and to create your own trades, using Stuart’s calculator and share your favorite scenarios with us. Happy trading!

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