The New England Patriots are not only the reigning world champions, they are also tied for the league-lead in draft picks at the moment: only the New York Giants, who finished the 2018 season with a 5-11 record, also hold 12 selections as things stand right now. With the added capital, New England has once again positioned itself well to move around the board to target areas of need and add talent to a roster coming off a Super Bowl win.
But how do the Patriots’ picks hold up when it comes to value and not sheer volume? To find out, let’s take a look at the draft value chart created by colleague Rich Hill last year. And as can be seen, New England currently owns picks worth a combined 527.53 points:
What stands out right away is that the value of picks is significantly lower than last year’s capital: in 2018, New England held four fewer selections but had a total value of 705.02 heading into the draft for an average of 88.13 per pick — compared to 43.96 this year. The main reason for this difference is the additional first-rounder the Patriots owned as the result of the trade that sent wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams.
When looking at this year in a vacuum and comparing the team’s numbers to the rest of the league, we can see that the Patriots are coming in as the team with the 19th most valuable capital:
2019 NFL draft values
A few thoughts on the table and the values of the 32 teams’ draft capital:
New England owns more value than all but one 2018 playoff team: With the exception of the Indianapolis Colts and their 584.11 value points, the Patriots are ahead of all the other teams in last year’s postseason tournament. When looking at the rest of the AFC, the Houston Texans (514.49) come closest to the reigning world champions, with the Kansas City Chiefs (431.14), Baltimore Ravens (404.77) and Los Angeles Chargers (373.77) farther behind.
The AFC East is divided in two parts: The Buffalo Bills (678.90) and New York Jets (668.55) are both in the top-10 when it comes to draft selection value at the moment, which positions them well to surround their first-round quarterback investments from a year ago with additional talent. The Miami Dolphins (556.00) and the Patriots, meanwhile, are in the bottom-half when it comes to combined value — something that could hit the rebuilding Dolphins particularly hard.
Chicago’s combined draft is worth a late second-round pick...: After trading away both their first-round and their second-round selection last year, the Bears are left with only five total picks — not the fewest in the league but clearly the worst value of the league’s 32 teams: Chicago isn’t scheduled to pick before the late third round, which puts the team’s combined value at around the same worth as the 63rd overall selection.
...while New England’s is worth the third overall selection: For comparison, the reigning world champions’ league-high 12 picks are worth the equivalent of the third overall selection. Don’t count on the Patriots trading their entire draft stock to move up the board, but they are still well-positioned to manipulate the board to their liking if opportunities present themselves.
Cleveland is in a different spot than the last two years: In 2018, the Browns held a league-high 1,970.24 value points and used it to get a franchise-caliber quarterback (Baker Mayfield) and a standout defensive back (Denzel Ward). One year before that, the club was tops in the league with 1,779.78 points and invested, among others, in standout defensive edge Myles Garrett. This year, thanks in part due to the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, Cleveland owns a comparatively modest 236.84 points — only the 29th most in the NFL.
San Francisco has the highest average per-pick value: While the 49ers’ 1,000.33 value points rank them “only” fourth league-wide, their per-pick value is the best in the league: on average, San Francisco’s six selections are worth 166.72 points. The main reason for that is, of course, the team holding the second overall selection in the draft.
The top four teams are well-positioned for a rebuild: The teams holding the most value in the draft are typically those with the worst records from a year ago, and 2019 is no exception: the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders, and the aforementioned Giants and 49ers were all bad last year but are now in prime position to rebuild their teams — something that should benefit the Cardinals, Raiders and 49ers in particular considering that they all have starting quarterbacks in place... at least in theory.