In 1991, Cowboys charted new territory in draft
Dallas started it, now giving point value to draft picks part of trade
11:05 PM CDT on Thursday, April 22, 2004
BY TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News
IRVING – If the Cowboys make a trade in this weekend's NFL draft, you can thank The Chart.
The Chart, which has become NFL legend, accounts for a way of putting point values on picks 1 (3,000 points) through 255 (0.45). If a team wants to make a trade, then the points have to match up or come close.
Prior to the 1991 draft, the Cowboys wanted to figure out a way to value draft picks and how to trade them because they had so many picks. That's when Mike McCoy, a former minority owner of the team, went to work.
"He's one of the brightest minds I've been around," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.
For two days, McCoy analyzed trades from the previous four years and assigned a point value to each pick. And The Chart was born.
"The more I played with it, the more obvious it became that there was a real, definite trend," McCoy said. "You were able to plot on a graph that showed historically that trades valued draft picks in certain ways. And from that graph, I made up a chart that assigned a numerical value to every single draft pick from the first in the first round to the last in the last round."
The confluence of Jones' business mind with Jimmy Johnson's knowledge of the college talent at that time helped produce five Pro Bowl players for the Cowboys in the next four drafts and 15 starters. Like in the business world, Jones took chances that paid off.
"Some people just can't work without knowing what the results will be at the end of the week," Jones said. "Others do better when they don't know what the results will be."
Said McCoy, "He [Jones] traded every day for a living, and this is what he liked to do, and he was trying to figure out how to get an advantage."
The Cowboys' approach to the draft was to get as many picks as possible, which raised the likelihood of finding more successful players. In 1991, they had 17 picks and 10 made the opening day roster. They were able to overcome the misses (guard James Richards in the third round, quarterback Bill Musgrave in the fourth) with hits on Erik Williams (third round), Leon Lett (seventh round) and Larry Brown (12th round).
Once a guarded secret, The Chart became more widely known as people started to leave the Cowboys organization because of the Super Bowl successes in the 1990s. Dave Wannstedt and Norv Turner took The Chart with them to Chicago and Washington. Scouts went to other teams, taking The Chart with them.
Soon, just about everybody had a copy of it, but Jones figures the Cowboys had a five-year advantage on most teams. Through the years, The Chart has been tweaked, especially when the draft went from 12 rounds to eight in 1993 and then to seven rounds in 1994.
"I think it's made it a little easier to trade now because people weren't worried about getting out-traded," McCoy said.
The Chart is a guide only. Teams will sometimes overpay to get a player they covet. Jones admits to getting burned in 1996. That year the Cowboys had the 30th pick worth 620 points, according to the current value chart. The Cowboys gave up that choice and picked up Washington's second- (37th overall) and third-round (67th) picks, which totaled 785 points. But the Cowboys didn't get the player they wanted.
The Cowboys had their eye on two defensive ends – Texas' Tony Brackens and McNeese State's Kavika Pittman. The Cowboys coveted Brackens, but he was drafted by Jacksonville, leaving the Cowboys with Pittman at No. 37.
"We got a little too cute there," Jones said.
But Jones also points to the selection of cornerback Kevin Smith, who was taken 17th overall in 1992. The Cowboys originally had the 13th pick in the first round but traded down to No. 19 before moving back up to No. 17 to take Smith. Through the flurry of the trades with Atlanta and New England, the Cowboys picked up a second-round pick that turned into safety Darren Woodson.
Two years ago, the Cowboys were able to get the player they wanted (Roy Williams) after trading from the fifth spot to eighth with Kansas City, while picking up the Chiefs' third-rounder. They used that pick to take cornerback Derek Ross, who intercepted five passes as a rookie but was cut in 2003 after a fallout with Bill Parcells.
Getting the third-round pick "was gravy," Jones said.
As well known as The Chart has become, McCoy was asked by a team about it this year.
"It's taken on a life of its own," Jones said. "The Chart has been the standard that trades are made by."
Collins signs tender offer: Cowboys tackle Javiar Collins signed his restricted free-agent tender offer worth $628,000 on Thursday. The only remaining restricted free agent the Cowboys need to sign is running back Troy Hambrick.
HOW THE CHART WORKS
A look at how the point system works, using the Cowboys as an example.
Dallas has the 22nd pick in the first round, which is worth 780 points. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has said that he would not mind trading down to acquire more picks.
If Kansas City, owner of the 30th pick in the first round, wants to move up to the Cowboys' spot, then the Chiefs would have to come up with 780 points * or more * to make a deal. The Chiefs' 30th pick is worth 620 points. Somewhere, they would have to come up with another 160 points.
Kansas City could sweeten the pot by giving the Cowboys its third-rounder (93rd overall and worth 128 points) and a fifth-rounder (162nd overall and worth 27.6 points). The Cowboys come up 5 points short, but they would also gain two picks, giving them seven.
ADDING IT UP
A look at the point values of some draft positions:
First 10 picks of the 2004 draft
Last pick in draft
First pick in each round
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