The NFL lockout sharpens our focus on the 2011 draft by postponing indefinitely free agency and trades involving players.
Teams interested in wheeling and dealing have few options during a lockout. They can still trade draft choices, which got me thinking about what NFC West teams could get in return for their first-round selections.
Specifically, what could the Arizona Cardinals expect to receive in return for the fifth overall choice? The trade-value chart can help, and I was happy to stumble across this handy calculator for analyzing trades during the draft.
History provides another guide. What has the fifth choice returned previously? Two resources became starting points for finding out.
AdamJT13, known around here for his wizardry in projecting compensatory choices, put together a list showing trades involving only draft picks (not players and picks). Another site, this one maintained by Frank Marousek, logs trades by year and identifies the players teams drafted with those choices. Both sites were helpful.
Let's count this as the first in a series of items revisiting NFL trades involving the first-round draft choices NFC West teams hold this year. I'll begin with the fifth overall choice because it's the highest one an NFC West team holds. The division's other first-round choices carried more instructive recent histories, I thought.
The pick: Fifth overall
Held by: Arizona Cardinals
Most recent trade involving only picks: 1999. This one won't help establish value for the fifth pick. Mike Ditka and the New Orleans Saints traded their entire 1999 draft, plus first- and third-round choices in 2000, to the Washington Redskins for the fifth choice. The Saints selected running back Ricky Williams. That type of trade isn't happening again, most likely. For reference, though, the Saints parted with the 12th, 71st, 107th, 144th, 179th and 218th picks in the 1999 draft, plus those early picks in 2000.
Previous trade: 1994. The Los Angeles Rams sent the fifth overall choice to Indianapolis for the seventh and 83rd choices. The trade-value chart says this was close to an even swap. It values the fifth choices at 1,700 points. The seventh and 83rd choices add up to 1,695 points. In this case, the Colts drafted Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts with the fifth pick. The Rams sent the seventh choice to the San Francisco 49ers in a separate deal. The 49ers used the choice wisely, selecting Bryant Young.
Note: The New York Jets acquired the fifth overall choice from the Cleveland Browns in 2009, selecting quarterback Mark Sanchez. That deal included multiple veteran players. I've excluded deals involving players in part because the lockout prevents teams from trading players. Also, it's tougher to determine values for players than it is for draft choices.