Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Capital Gains: Jason Licht Magnified Draft Assets

No team in the NFL did a better job of increasing the value of its picks from the moment the 2018 NFL Draft began to the end than GM Jason Licht and the Buccaneers

Despite trading their third-round pick to the New York Giants to acquire pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went into last week's NFL Draft with a decent amount of draft capital. That's largely because they had a pick high in the first round and another one high in the second round, and those are valuable assets. The Bucs seemed certain to get two highly-regarded players to fill key needs on the depth chart, and then they had five more picks to try to find additional help on Day Three.

Picks 7, 38, 102, 144, 180, 202, 255 – that's exactly what Jason Licht had in his possession when the Cleveland Browns went on the clock with the first pick, shortly after 8:00 p.m. ET Thursday night. Using the venerable Jimmy Johnson Draft Value Chart the Dallas Cowboys invented in the late '80s, those picks were worth a combined 2,176 points. That wasn't close to what the Browns began the night with (11 picks worth a combined 6435 points!) but it was the eighth-most of any team. The Bucs were in a good spot.

But Licht wasn't content to sit put with those assets. The Buccaneers knew that, sitting in the seventh slot in Round One, they could end up in a prime position to trade with a quarterback-needy team. They were ready to take advantage of an opportunity arose to increase their draft capital without seriously endangering their chance to get a targeted player. Eventually, the Buffalo Bills called and Licht's maneuvering around the board began.

Through a series of three trades worked out on Thursday and Friday night, Licht transformed the seven picks above into the following selections: 12, 38, 53, 63, 94, 117, 144, 202. That's only an increase of one in the total number of picks, but it's a jump of 418.6 points of value on the Jimmy Johnson chart. That was the biggest jump in combined pick value for any team from the moment the draft began.

Only the New Orleans Saints got close, adding 387.4 points of 2018 value while the draft was in motion, but they had to trade their 2019 first-round pick to get it done. It's hard to put a specific point value on a future pick, in part because we don't know where the Saints will be picking in Round One next year, but if they are in the 27th slot again that would be a pick worth 680 points. That would more than wipe out the value they added in 2018. Even if one chooses to devalue a future pick by one round for each year it is away, the loss of that first-rounder would still put a big dent in the Saints' overall value add.

The Saints are also the only team that increased their original 2018 pick value by a higher percentage than the Buccaneers while the draft was going on. The Saints started with a lot lower combined point value, 946.2, so their addition of 387.4 points was 40.9% of the original value (again, at the expense of a critical 2019 pick). The Buccaneers were next at 19.2%, followed by the Patriots (16.7%) and the Steelers (16.1%). Here's a look at how each team added or subtracted from their overall draft pick value from the moment the clock started ticking to the end. They are ranked by total points added.

(Note that the values end at "4000+; the Browns' lines would extend well beyond the chart's edge, to 6,435 at the tsart and 6338 at the end.)




Below are the raw numbers for each team, calculated by adding up the Jimmy Johnson chart value of their picks as the draft begin and what they actually had by the end of the weekend. It should be noted that the Johnson chart does not include any value for picks past 224, because it was devised before the creation of the compensatory pick selection. That's essentially irrelevant in this analysis; the 224th pick is only worth two points so even if you gave all the following picks that same value it wouldn't substantially change the numbers below.

Teams that also gained or lost picks in the 2019 draft via trades made during the 2018 draft are noted with an asterisk, with the specific details of those picks listed below the table.

2018 Draft Pick Capital Added/Lost During the Draft (Jimmy Johnson Chart Values):

**Team****Picks****JJ****Picks****JJ****Picks****JJ****Pct. +/-**

(* New Orleans lost a 2019 1st-round pick. Chicago lost a 2019 2nd-round pick. New England added 2019 second, third and seventh-round picks. Baltimore lost a 2019 2nd-round pick. Detroit lost a 2019 third-round pick. Philadelphia added 2019 second and seventh-round picks. Green Bay added a 2019 first-round pick.)

We've referred to the Jimmy Johnson chart to this point because, while it's numbers are pretty arbitrary and it tends to overvalue higher picks, there is plenty of evidence that most teams still use it when it comes down to making real trades. It's likely that many of these teams have devised their own chart regarding how they value draft picks, but it's not of much use in actual trade negotiations unless the other side is referencing the same values.

Still, efforts have been made to improve upon the Johnson chart, using empirical evidence of how much value each pick has actually returned through the years. The most well-known of these charts is probably the one devised by Chase Stuart for FootballPerspective.com in 2012. Whereas the Johnson chart gives the first-overall pick a value of 3,000 points and drops steeply from there, the Stuart chart gives a top value of 34.6 points and has smaller drops between picks (by sheer value if not always by percentage).

To be thorough, we ran the same analysis with the Stuart chart as we did with the one above. The results are similar, and even more positive for the Buccaneers. In this case, they still have the most points added but also the highest percentage of points added. Tampa Bay's top mark of plus-17.5 points is only approached by Baltimore, at 14.2. No other team even hits double digits.




And below are the raw numbers for each team. As with the Johnson chart, the Chase chart also stops valuing picks after #224, giving that one a value of just 0.1 points.

2018 Draft Pick Capital Added/Lost During the Draft (Stuart Chase Chart Values):

**Team****Picks****CS****Picks****CS****Picks****CS****Pct. +/-**

(* New Orleans lost a 2019 1st-round pick. Chicago lost a 2019 2nd-round pick. New England added 2019 second, third and seventh-round picks. Baltimore lost a 2019 2nd-round pick. Detroit lost a 2019 third-round pick. Philadelphia added 2019 second and seventh-round picks. Green Bay added a 2019 first-round pick.)

In terms of real assets added to the team last weekend, Jason Licht drafted a line-collapsing defensive tackle, a big-play running back, three defensive backs for an undermanned secondary, a versatile offensive lineman with starting potential, and one intriguing prospect each at wide receiver and linebacker. He did most of that shopping – five of the eight picks – during the first two days and three rounds, even though he was originally only scheduled to pick twice in that span. The in-draft multiplication of assets allowed the Buccaneers to address far more of their depth-chart needs than seemed possible at the start of the weekend.

It is obvious and unavoidable that none of this will matter unless the Buccaneers picked the right players, or at least did so with the majority of their selections. We won't know if that's the case or not for some time, perhaps multiple seasons. But Jason Licht gave himself a chance to improve his team at more spots than expected, and nobody in the league did a better job of that last weekend.

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