The 2012 draft was the first one under the new CBA w/ rookie salaries determined by a formula for top picks. And what a different draft it was. A great exhibit for the future of drafting and talent acquisition in the NFL. I'd like to share some observations, sketch out a few implications and invite discussion. We saw 9 trade-ups in the 1st round w/ 5 picks changing hands among the top 12. Bill Belichick who rarely trades up moved up twice to pick players who will be starring on NE's defense for years to come. Clearly, times are changing. With top rookies drafted no longer receiving large guaranteed bonuses/packages upfront that could exceed the pay of proven stars on the team, there is much less inhibition for teams to move up to grab the "apple of their eye". With financial costs essentially based on slot, teams get cost certainty and avoid the problem of "holdouts" staged by aggressive agents. Even the 5th year pay is set by formula -- so teams know they have a player for 5 years. So, the real cost is the additional draft choices the team must cough up to move up and get "their franchise" player. Having additional draft choices in your arsenal prior to the draft is essential for moving up on Day 1 (unless you are willing to use future high round choices of course). Given the importance of draft choices as currency for trade ups, teams will be even more reluctant to fork over lower round draft picks for spare parts. BB himself casually forked over two picks to Cincinnati for Ochocinco (including a 2013 pick), a 2013 5th round pick for Haynesworth, 5th round picks to Phili for Tracy White and another to Kansas City for a safety who was a ST. All these players were going to be cut by their respective teams. NE traded for them because of need. In the future, BB may be more reluctant to do so. One consequence of this past is that NE enters the 2013 draft w/ just 5 picks -- making the kind of moves BB made this year unlikely. Conversely, teams will have more incentives to trade their "surplus" talent for draft picks, the currency for future move ups. BB traded Seymour for a 1st round pick two years out. But that is rare exception that may need to become more the norm. Last year, BB cut Merriweather (a former 1st round pick, and lost in waivers (without compensation) several drafted rookies. Teams that learn how to get other teams to pony up for their talent instead of cutting them will be big winners. Of course, this is easier said than done as BB found last year. I should add one observation unique to the Pats this year. This involves BB's ability to trade back w/ the skill and fluidity we know he has. This year, in the second round BB found no trade partners for # 48. Tavon Wilson, an under-the-radar player, would have been there later, even much later. Reading various reports by reiss, Jeff Howe, Tom Curran, Bedard and others, it was clear BB could not find a partner. He traded # 62 later to Green Bay for less than full value. Of course, as BB himself said "chart value is theoretical -- you need a willing partner at the right time". What this dynamic suggests is that teams are somewhat wary of trading up w/ BB because of past steep prices (like future picks). This year, in round 4, the 49ers were able to pick up two 2013 earlier round picks from the Colts and the Panthers. Despite all that, BB did a terrific job trading down again w/ the Packers to get 3 picks in the 6 & 7 rounds which turned into Dennard, Ebner and Ebert. In summary, the NFL draft post-CBA will be different, exciting and less predictable. Strong teams no longer have a financial reason not to trade up in the 1st round. All they need are additional draft choices to entice the teams at top of the draft. Given the importance of draft choices as future currency, the teams that can harvest the best values for their "surplus" talent by trading them instead of cutting them will be in a stronger position.