Sean Pendergast

Will Anderson Trade Among Biggest Overpays in NFL Draft History

Julio Jones (above as a Titan in 2021) was the only first round trade more expensive in terms of draft capital than Will Anderson.
Photo by Jack Gorman
Julio Jones (above as a Titan in 2021) was the only first round trade more expensive in terms of draft capital than Will Anderson.
It's been almost two weeks since the trade that rocked the top of the NFL Draft, with the Houston Texans trading multiple picks, including their 2024 first round pick, for the right to move up nine spots from 12th overall to 3rd overall and select Alabama linebacker Will Anderson. It was a fun night for Texan fans to finally feel good about something.

Anderson is widely considered the best defensive player in this draft. That's the good news. The Texans gave up an exorbitant amount of draft capital to get him. That's the bad news. If the Twitter poll below is any indicator, Texan fans are way more focused on the good news than the bad news these days:
That's nearly 92 percent of the 2,000 or so Texan fans who voted in this poll who are saying they either don't care that the Texans may have overpaid for Anderson, or they choose not to care until after the 2023 season is over. I've made this analogy before, but I'll say it again — at this point, if you're a Texan fan or a Houston media member who chooses to obsess over what the Texans gave up, you're basically the person pointing out prices at an expensive steakhouse WHILE everyone at the table is eating their expensive steak. In other words, you're a drag.

That said, I want to cater to everybody, even you killjoys who want to obsess over a first round pick that may or may not be very high in next year's draft. So if you want to remain blissfully unaffected by how much the Texans gave up in the trade, I would jump off this post now. If you are still obsessing over draft picks, from here on out, this post is for you!

According to Seth Walder's chart below, the Will Anderson trade is the second biggest overpay by a team acquiring a high pick since 2004:
Well, that's not fun at all (which is why I am staunchly in the "don't care until next year" when it comes to the trade). For some context, though, here are the four non-Anderson trades that constitute the highest "draft pick trade" overpays since 2004:

JEFF OTAH, T, Carolina Panthers (19th selection in 2008)
In this deal with the Eagles, Carolina gave up a 2008 4th round pick and a 2009 1st round pick to move up 24 spots, from 43rd overall to 19th overall. Of the deals summarize din this post, this one worked out the worst for the player and team involved, as Otah suffered several knee injuries, and was out of the league in four years.  Philadelphia eventually used the 2009 1st round pick in this deal as part of a trade to acquire Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters.

JULIO JONES, WR, Atlanta Falcons (6th selection in 2011)
In this deal with the Browns, Atlanta gave up a 2011 2nd round pick, 2011 4th round pick, 2012 1st round pick, and a 2012 4th round pick to move up 21 spots in the first round. This was the most expensive overpay in the chart above, but I'm guessing Falcons fans feel it was a major success, as Jones went on to have a Hall of Fame level career in Atlanta.  The Browns used the major picks in this trade to select Phil Taylor (DT, Baylor), Greg Little (WR, North Carolina), and the big one, the 2022 1st round pick, to select QB Brandon Weeden. This deal is proof that the mere quantity of draft capital does not make a trade a success.

SAMMY WATKINS, WR, Buffalo Bills (4th selection in 2014)
In this deal with the Browns, Buffalo gave up a 2015 1st round pick and a 2015 4th round pick to move up five spots to 4th overall. Coming out of Clemson, Watkins was viewed as an even better prospect than his college teammate, DeAndre Hopkins. Watkins' never evolved into a superstar, but has hung around the league for nearly a decade and carved out a good living. The Browns, on the other hand, used Buffalo's 2014 1st round pick to select CB Justin Gilbert, who was out of the league in two years, and the 2015 1st round pick to select C Cameron Erving, a journeyman who was still in the league in 2022.

MARCUS DAVENPORT, DE, New Orleans Saints (14th overall selection in 2018)
In this deal with the Packers, New Orleans gave up a 2018 5th round pick and a 2019 1st round pick to move up 13 spots in the first round. Davenport never really gave the Saints first round impact, peaking with nine sacks in 2021, and a total of 21.5 sacks in 62 games. The 2019 first round pick eventually wound up in the Saints' hands and they used it to draft troubled Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker.

So to summarize, of the four deals in the same range of overpay as the Will Anderson deal, only one truly worked out. I guess the good news is that deal REALLY worked out well, AND involved a player who went to Alabama. Let's hope for some symmetry for the Texans.

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