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How much more valuable is pick #1 as bears race to the bottom?

How much more valuable is pick #1 as bears race to the bottom?

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NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had the coin: a 1921 silver dollar.

Steelers’ Dan Rooney told Bears manager Ed McCaskey to say it on the air.

McCaskey chose heads.

When the coin blew up in a New Orleans hotel ballroom a few days before Super Bowl IV, the stakes were high for the Steelers and Bears. Both had finished 1-13 in 1969, forcing the NFL to determine which team had the right to draw first in 1970.

Art Rooney, founder of the Steelers and Dan’s father, believed in making his opponent call the coin toss. At dinner later, he told McCaskey that his appeal heads were a “sucker game.”

The reason: the coin landed on the tablecloth, bounced off and formed a number.

The Steelers got first pick and selected Louisiana Tech quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who would go on to win four Super Bowls and enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Bears, who spent the next 50-plus years looking for a quarterback, traded the No. 2 to the Packers for linebacker LeRoy Caffey, running back Elijah Pitts and offensive lineman Bob Hylund. The Bears would ax Pitts that year; The other two each played one season for them.

Fifty-three years later, the bears have the next best opportunity to be the first to draw. They need to lose to the Vikings at Soldier Field on Sunday and equal the Texans’ 2-13-1 win in Indianapolis.

The Bears would pick second if they and the Texans lost. If the Bears win, they can’t do less than the fourth draft.

In 1970 there was a huge difference between the first pick and the second pick. The bears have felt the waves for half a century.

But how much more valuable is #1 this time than #2?

Who is better?

Historically, it’s a toss-up. Since the draft was shortened to 12 rounds in 1977, six #1 draft picks have made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So six players drafted second.

Eight of the players picked first in the last 10 drafts — not counting 2022 — advanced to the Pro Bowl. Together they made 19 Pro Bowls. Six players who have picked the No. 2 pick overall in the last 10 drafts made the Pro Bowl, going a total of nine times.

However, extrapolated further, 15 of the last 20 No. 1 overall winners reached the Pro Bowl for a total of 37 appearances. Eleven of the 20 No. 2 overall winners made it to the Pro Bowl but made it a combined 38 times.

Look under middle

The top draft pick is worth more when there’s a quarterback to choose from. Whether one is really worthy or teams convince themselves is another question.

Quarterbacks have been at the top of the draft 16 times since 2000, including six of the last eight years. But a quarterback has only finished second five times in that span.

The Lesson: Most years, the only way to ensure a team gets the quarterback it wants is to finish first overall.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young could take first place overall this year. That would be good news for the bears if they end up with the first choice. Assuming they’re convinced Justin Fields is their answer to quarterback, they could auction the No. 1 spot to the most quarterback-hungry team.

This choice would be much more tempting for the acquiring team than #2.

More options

The true value of Draft #1 is options.

Moving the No. 1 is usually rare, as a team with an established quarterback isn’t often the league’s worst squad in modern times. But teams that have had a quarterback in the past have landed a booty in return.

In 2016, the Titans traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Rams, along with picks in Rounds 4 and 6, picks of Nos. 15, 43, 45 and 76 in 2016 and Nos. 5 and 100 in 2016 2017. The Rams drafted Jared Goff.

In 2004, the Chargers drafted Eli Manning outright and — because he said he refuses to play for them — minutes later traded him to the Giants for the No. 4 overall, a third-rounder in 2004 and first- and third-rounders in the year 2005.

The Jimmy Johnson Diagram

Jimmy Johnson’s trade value chart was developed by the former Cowboys coach about 30 years ago. The chart has become an easy shorthand for teams to share trade ideas, although no club follows it closely.

How much more valuable is #1 than #2?

The chart assigns 3,000 points to the first overall pick, 2,600 to the second, 2,200 to the third, and 1,800 to the fourth. To move up from #2 to #1 using the chart, a team would also have to swap #18 in Round 2.

However, tell that to a team desperate to draft a quarterback. The price for the #1 overall pick skyrockets when a passer is at stake.

The Texans would be happy to create a first overall draft. But Bears general manager Ryan Poles would likely start strategizing about how best to use the election — and whether to trade it.

Both themes are more interesting than anything they bring to the field this season.

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