Stockpiling for the future without a CBA

Let’s assume for a second that the CBA negotiations don’t go very well and there is no agreement prior to draft day. On draft day there will have been no free agency and/or trades to acquire players. Draft day trades will only be allowed if the trades only involve picks. Never in the modern era of football (or any era of football, to the best of my knowledge) has there been a draft in which it provides owners and general managers their only opportunity to fill team needs in the foreseeable future.

The process by which teams rank players, select players and attempt to get the most value out of their picks is likely to go unchanged, but the lack of a CBA could still make its mark in the 2011 NFL Draft. Namely, this year’s draft picks could become more valuable as they provide the only means for a team to fill their needs.

So they become more valuable, so what?

During a regular draft, with free agency prior to the draft and trades for veterans always available, the rule of thumb is that the current year’s picks are worth about a round more than a future year’s picks. An example of this was when the Jaguars traded a 2010 2nd round pick to acquire a 2009 3rd round pick to select Derek Cox. The future pick was deemed less valuable by about a round, making the trade fair.

If the 2011 draft picks are deemed to be even more valuable than that, a team could feasibly trade a 2011 3rd round pick for more than the 2nd round pick of years past. I don’t think the market value would allow for a 1st round pick to be involved in the trade, but a 2nd round pick might not be enough.

The Patriots have been the model franchise over the last decade when it comes to building a team through the draft and they have done so through these types of trades. They acquired the 33rd overall selection in this year’s draft by giving the Panthers their 3rd round pick in 2010. The Patriots were the team on the other side of the Jaguars’ Derek Cox trade.

Now thanks to their draft philosophy, they have six picks in the first three rounds of this year’s draft with three selections in the top 33 picks.

If ever there was a year to try to be like the Patriots and stockpile picks, this is the year to do so. The value of selections in the 2011 Draft are going to be higher than any year before and possibly any year in the near future. The Jaguars have a lot of needs that they could address in this draft, but perhaps some foresight could allow them to take advantage of teams that have a few more.