How much draft value did Browns and Titans gain from trading down?
The teams initially holding the first two picks in the 2016 NFL draft were more active than any other team during Day 1.
The Titans began the draft at No. 1 overall, but agreed to trade down to No. 15 with the Rams after snagging their franchise QB in 2015. Tennessee clearly wanted to add protection for Marcus Mariota, agreeing on a subsequent deal to move up to No. 8 overall to draft offensive tackle Jack Conklin.
The Browns and their new front office, meanwhile, continued their slide down the board by negotiating that trade with the Titans. Cleveland loaded up on draft picks, and still nabbed the best WR in the draft in Baylor’s Corey Coleman.
Which of these two teams ended up with the better haul? Let’s take a look, starting with a comparison of the compensation each team received for the 15th-overall pick.
For the No. 1-overall pick the Titans received:
2016: No. 15 (Round 1), No. 43 (Round 2), No. 45 (Round 2), No. 76 (Round 3)
2017: First-round pick, third-round pick
For the No. 2-overall pick and a 2017 fourth-round pick the Browns received:
2016: No. 15 (Round 1), No. 76 (Round 3), No. 77 (Round 3), No. 100 (Round 4)
2018: Second-round pick
Value of the No. 15-overall pick
On the face of it, the Titans got a slightly better haul for No. 1 than the Browns did for No. 2. Roughly, the 2017 picks cancel each other out. Both teams received future firsts, while the Browns got a second instead of a third. However, they gave up a fourth in exchange, making the 2017 compensation pretty much even.
The question, therefore, is whether two seconds and a third this year are more valuable than two thirds, a fourth and a 2018 second-round pick.
|Titans compensation||Browns compensation|
|No. 15 overallNo. 43 overall (Round 2)No. 45 overall (Round 2)
No. 76 overall (Round 3)
|No. 15 overallNo. 76 overall (Round 3)No. 77 overall (Round 3)
No. 100 overall (Round 4)
No. 2018 second-round pick
Considering the picks the Titans received were significantly higher than those the Browns were given, it seems plausible to suggest that their haul is superior. Cleveland received a higher quantity, but they won’t be able to use that resource until two years down the line.
According to the admittedly slightly outdated trade value chart, the Titans received 1,130 points for the 2016 picks they received. The Browns, meanwhile, received just 515 points. The difference between those point tallies is equivalent to the No. 30 pick in Round 1. Obviously the No. 1-overall pick is more valuable than the second, but the perception that there were two franchise quarterbacks in this class reduces that distinction to some extent. The trade compensation alone does not determine success or failure, however.
Titans’ draft haul
Obviously both teams did not pick in the 15th spot. The Titans may have received a better haul for that position in the draft, but they ultimately made a deal with Cleveland, picking Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin at No. 8 overall. In exchange they gave up a third-round pick (No. 76) and the 2017 second-rounder. It’s a modest return for moving up seven spots into the top 10, but one wonders whether the Titans should have been desperate for tackle help in the first place.
LT Taylor Lewan was the Titans’ only effective lineman returning from the unit that saw meaningful action last season. Free-agent addition Ben Jones is an average to below-average center. The Titans still lack a competent starter at guard, even if the tackle position has been addressed. Conklin will likely slot straight in at right tackle, but his inexperience on the right side makes him a strange fit in Tennessee. It’s not always easy to transition from the left to the opposite tackle spot. One wonders whether the Titans may have been better off waiting for the best player available player at No. 15 and used the Day-2 picks they gave up on interior lineman.
After Ronnie Stanley went to Baltimore at No. 6 and Laremy Tunsil’s stock looked to be in a freefal, Tennessee may have concluded that Conklin was the last starting tackle remaining on the board. Both guard spots are in particular need of help, however, and the Titans have neglected a defense with aging edge rushers and concerns in the secondary. Hypothetically, the Titans could have drafted Clemson edge rusher Shaq Lawson, Indiana offensive tackle Jason Spriggs and NC State guard/tackle Joe Thuney instead of Conklin and Clemson edge rusher Kevin Dodd, their eventual second-round pick. In general, is it wise to invest extra resources in plugging a single hole on a struggling front? The Conklin selection ultimately received a B- in our pick grades.
Browns’ draft haul
Cleveland, meanwhile, took Corey Coleman in the middle of the first round. The draft’s most explosive playmaker, Coleman was ninth on our draft board and ranked as the third-best pick in Round 1. The Browns have a load of holes, and saw their long-term strategy pay dividends on Thursday night.
Hue Jackson has a lot of work to do but, assuming Cleveland find a quarterback as effective as Carson Wentz in the draft over the next two years, they will look back on this draft as the beginning of their turnaround. Perhaps Robert Griffin III will respond to play at a level closer to his fantastic 2012 rookie season under the former Bengals offensive coordinator, or maybe Jackson will elevate the play of QB Cody Kessler. That is far from guaranteed. It is also far from guaranteed Cleveland will find themselves in position to take one of the top signal-callers in future years.
Realistically, however, a quarterback was unlikely to succeed given the current talent level of the Browns, especially one as inexperienced as Wentz. Cleveland added one of the best offensive players in the draft at a position of impact, while hoarding resources in the process. Short of finding a long-term solution at the most important position in football, Cleveland’s new front office could not have done a better job.