Super Nomario said:
This is true - trading back absolutely increases the chances you will draft a bust. But the goal of the draft isn't to avoid busts, it's to maximize hits. If we take the Patriots' draft-day trade with the Vikings this year as an example, they gave up a 1st for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th. If we figure odds as something like (these are rough, but reasonably close to historical norms) - 80% success for the 1st-rounder, 50% for the 2nd, 35% for the 3rd, 15% for the 4th, 5% for the 7th - you will have a mathematical expectation of 0.8 of a useful player with the Vikings' end of that trade, and 1.05 of a useful player with the Pats' end of the deal. You come out ahead on the Pats' end from an expected value standpoint, but it's also clear that your chances of whiffing on that top pick are considerably higher. In the long run, a team that trades back will come out ahead, but in any given year the strategy can backfire.
I think this is a great way of looking at it. Think about playing the lottery. Would you rather have one ticket with an 80% chance of winning, or four separate tickets, with a 50% chance for one to win, a 35% chance for the second to win, a 15% chance for the third to win, and a 5% chance for the fourth to win? Well, you just showed the math that the likelihood of "winning" actually goes up when you take the four tickets over the one.
And you always have the bonus of potentially getting a second "winning" ticket thrown in as well, something you have NO chance of if you just have one ticket.
I ran some numbers a while back, looking at the draft during BB's tenure, up through the 2012 draft, I think. Over that time, the Patriots had the third worst average draft number (134.11), used the 2nd most picks (117), and drafted the most combined pro-bowl and all-pro seasons over that time span (56….SF and Bal were second with 44). Obviously Brady factors in huge there, but even without his 2 all-pro and 8 pro-bowl seasons in there, the Patriots *STILL* have drafted the most combined pro-bowl and all-pro seasons of any team in the league.
Again, that was through the 2012 draft, so we'll see how it goes from here, but long story short, the Patriots' strategy of trading down for more picks seems to be paying off, as they're turning one of the worst average draft positions into more picks and producing far more elite seasons than any team in football.
The continuing excellence of this organization is proof that, over the long haul, they're doing it right.