NFL teams with the most draft capital have unlimited abilities on draft night – trade up, trade down, acquire veteran players with their plethora of picks. We look at the teams with the most draft capital at the 2023 NFL Draft.
What is draft capital?
Simply explained, it’s a combination of the number of picks available and where they fall in the NFL Draft.
Each team starts with one pick for each of the seven rounds, but via trades and free agency compensation these picks shuffle around. It’s why there are such large discrepancies in draft capital by the time the event arrives.
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What is the NFL Draft Capital Trade Value Chart?
Legendary coach Jimmy Johnson is credited with developing the first draft trade value chart. Johnson’s chart assigns a point value to each pick in the draft. If you’re a GM looking to trade up with picks, ideally you want to acquire more points than you send out.
In short, the highest picks have the most value, with each pick declining in value. This chart shows the drop points, with the overall draft pick number on the left and the corresponding value in points on the right:
|DRAFT PICK OVERALL
|32 (first pick of the second round)
|64 (first pick of the third round)
What does this mean for the Draft Capital?
The takeaways are simple:
- Having the first pick is a huge advantage, and the values start to decline quickly thereafter. The seventh pick is only half as valuable as pick No. 1.
- The key to accumulating high draft capital is to have at least one high pick (let’s say top-7) and a handful of extra late-round picks. It’s the method our #1 team in draft capital for 2023 used (hang tight, we’re getting there.)
- It’s not all about just having the most draft picks. If it was, the San Francisco 49ers, with 11 draft picks, would appear on our list of teams with the most draft capital. But here’s a spoiler: since their very first pick is No. 99 overall and worth only 104 points, they don’t!
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Who does appear on our list of teams with the most draft capital? Check it out:
5. Indianapolis Colts (2,714 draft trade value points)
Sometimes the best strategy is just to stand pat, and that’s what the Colts have done for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Indianapolis owns one pick in each of the first four rounds, highlighted by the fourth selection overall. Come Round 5, though, Indianapolis will go to the podium three different times thanks to picks acquired via trades of RB Zach Moss (Buffalo) and CB Stephon Gilmore (DAL).
It’s enough to put the Colts in fifth place for most draft capital. In the first round, they look like a good fit for Florida QB Anthony Richardson, as Indy has struggled to solve the QB position since Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement four years ago.
4. Arizona Cardinals (3,265 draft trade value points)
Here’s the dirty little not-so secret of this chart – the best way to accumulate a high number of trade value points is to have a really high pick in the first round.
And the easiest way to do that? Have a terrible season the year leading up to the draft. The Cardinals fit that bill after finishing 4-13 and firing head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Again, they have their own picks in rounds 1-4, plus compensatory picks in rounds 3 and 5, and a pair of picks in round 6. They have round 7 off – for now.
The Cardinals are interesting because with so many quarterback-desperate teams this year and several first-round-worthy QBs available, they’re set with Kyler Murray on a long-term deal. So Arizona could trade back and set themselves up for another high-leverage draft in 2024.
If they don’t? University of Alabama pass rusher extraordinaire Will Anderson seems to be a logical call at pick No. 3.
3. Detroit Lions (3,513 draft trade value points)
Here’s where the chart gets interesting.
The Lions finished with a winning record last season. They got as close to the playoffs as possible without actually making it.
They were, by most measures, a decent team in 2022.
Yet they’ve got a high draft pick (No. 6) and the third-most draft capital. How?
The Lions were fortunate to see the L.A. Rams struggle last year and earn the No. 6 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft – a pick they owe to Detroit for the Matthew Stafford trade in the winter of 2021.
(L.A. would probably do it again regardless. After all, Stafford did lead them to a win in Super Bowl 56.)
Add this to Detroit’s own first-round pick at No. 18, and that’s 2,700 points of first-round value right there. Hypothetically, if the Lions packaged these two picks with one of their second rounders (they’ve got two of those also, thanks to trading TE T.J. Hockenson) it would be enough value to move up to the very first pick of the draft!
Instead, we think they’ll stand pat at No. 6 and hope for either Georgia DT Jalen Carter to fall to them or scoop up a pass rusher like Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson to team with Aidan Hutchinson.
2. Carolina Panthers (3,777 draft trade value points)
Ah, the beauty of having the No. 1 overall pick.
If Carolina didn’t pick again after No. 1, they still would’ve finished fourth on this list. That’s how valuable that top spot is.
But they do, with picks in the second and third round and a pair of picks in round four.
Carolina gave up plenty to acquire this number-one pick from the Chicago Bears, so we don’t think they’ll be in the trade market on draft night. They only have eyes for quarterbacks, and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud seems the likeliest option as 2023’s top overall pick.
1. Houston Texans (5,016 draft trade value points)
Everybody’s always gunning for number one, but not too many teams would want to be the Houston Texans the past several seasons.
But this is where digging out from the DeShaun Watson debacle begins to pay dividends for the Texans. Their poor 2022 performance earned them the No. 2 overall pick, and the pick from Cleveland acquired in the trade for QB Watson falls at No. 12.
That’s 3,800 points of draft trade value right there. Those two picks alone would make the Texans No. 1 on our list!
But Houston isn’t done there – far from it. They’ve got an extra third rounder from that Watson trade, an extra fifth rounder from dealing WR Brandin Cooks to the Cowboys, and five picks between Rounds 6-7.
Texans’ GM Nick Caserio will be busy early and often on draft weekend, but there’s little chance he tries to get cute with that second pick. It’s likely to be whichever QB Carolina doesn’t select at No. 1 – either Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud or Alabama’s Bryce Young.
So there you have it – a crash course on draft trade pick value and the teams best suited to improve themselves in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The famed Jimmy Johnson chart is available online if you want to follow along and come up with some mock trades for your favorite team on draft night.