Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Case For Trading Every Pick in the First Round

With just a few days until the draft, the rumors are flying and the smokescreens are smoking. Over the last 5 years there have been an average of 6 trades in the first round of each draft. With all the rumors and information flying around, I decided to put together a case for each team to trade away their first round pick, either to move up or down on the draft board.

Clowney is going to go #1, whether it is to Houston or to someone else trading up (Atlanta). The biggest question is if Houston is willing to drop out of the top 5 in order to let Atlanta move up. What could happen is the Eli Manning scenario where Houston takes Clowney and then once they see who is still on the board at 6, they trade him to Atlanta (like San Diego did with Manning/Rivers).

Could this be the great draft coup of 2014? As the rumblings grew this past week that Cleveland was super-interested in Manziel, the Rams flew out Manziel and Evans for private workouts in St Louis. If anyone can be duped into trading up for someone who would've been available anyways, it's Cleveland (see: Trent Richardson). Depending on how bad someone wants a certain prospect (Robinson, Mack, Manziel), the Rams could get a nice return for this pick, which is their last pick from the RGIII trade.

There are lots of options here. The Jags need a QB. Gus Bradley may want a pass rusher. They don't seem sold on Justin Blackmon's future at WR. Ultimately, if someone (Atlanta) wants to move up for Mack, I could see Jacksonville trading down, as the QBs will still be there. The allure here is that Manziel is a guy that could put butts in the seats and Jacksonville has continually had problems with ticket sales. With the selection of Joeckel last year, Jacksonville doesn't really need a tackle so if Robinson is somehow still available, the Jags may be able to move with someone looking for an OT.

Can St Louis dupe them into trading up by throwing up the smoke screen that the Rams are interested in Manziel? Will Cleveland move up to get ahead of Jacksonville to get Manziel? Is Cleveland willing to wait until 26 (or the later 1st round) in the hopes that one of the big 3 QBs (or Carr) falls to them? I can't see Cleveland trading down here, but they certainly have the ammo (and stupidity) to move up.

Who knows what Oakland will do. On one hand, they have a ton of picks and they signed Matt Schaub, so they could stay put, land a safe OT to protect him and then grab a WR for him at the top of the 2nd round. On the other hand, Oakland has never been a safe haven for QBs, so QB is definitely in play. The Raiders could pull a big move to trade back with someone who wants a WR (like Watkins or Evans) and wants to get ahead of Tampa for one of the top 2 WRs.

I have a really hard time seeing the Falcons stay put at #6. Their 2 biggest needs are a pass rusher (Clowney/Mack) and an OT (Robinson/Matthews). Ultimately, I think they pull the trigger on a trade to move up and address one of those needs. Mack isn't going to make it out of the Top 5 so Atlanta will need to move up if they want a pass rusher. Matthews may fall to them here, but the Falcons have made a trade up in the first round in 4 of the last 7 years, so a trade up seems likely.

The Bucs don't have a lot of picks but have needs at WR and QB. With Vincent Jackson on the roster, they don't necessarily need a big WR like Mike Evans and could be enticed to trade back by someone who wants to move up for Evans or wants to get ahead of Minnesota or Buffalo. Don't count out the Bears or Giants trying to move up ahead of Minnesota to take Aaron Donald here.

The Vikings need a QB more than anything else, but will someone want to get ahead of Buffalo for Ebron or Matthews (if he falls this far?). In MockOne, Minnesota traded down to 19 with Miami and the Fins moved up to take Matthews ahead of Buffalo. This seems like a very realistic scenario as Miami needs all kinds of help on the O-line and a guy like Matthews would be an anchor. Best case scenario here? Minnesota trades down with Miami at 19 then one of the QBs falls and the Vikings trade back up to 15 with the Steelers so they can take a QB and the Steelers get a 3rd round pick back.

The Bills need help in a lot of places, particularly on the O-line, but I wouldn't put it past them to be willing to move down as well if someone wants to get ahead of Detroit for HaHa, Beckham, or a CB. I could see St Louis trading down from #2 but then trading back up from #13 to get back into the Top 10. Buffalo could probably be pretty easily enticed to move down a few spots so that St Louis could get ahead of Detroit for either HaHa, Beckham or Gilbert.

I actually don't think Detroit is very likely to move, but they're kind of a wild card. They need help in the secondary, but the Lions aren't always the smartest drafters and I wouldn't be shocked if they took Odell Beckham to pair with Megatron. In all likelihood, this is the first defensive back (whether corner or safety) off the board, unless someone trades up ahead of them. That said, if Beckham (and not a DB) is Detroit's target, they could move back a few spots if St Louis decides to move back up or if Dallas wants to make an aggressive move to get Anthony Barr before Tennessee makes a selection.

The Titans have some needs on offense but are also moving to a 3-4 under Whisenhunt/Horton so they really need some filler pieces in the front 7 on defense. Barr is a possibility but I could see them moving down a few spots with the idea they could still get Barr and add a few more picks later on as well. With the Giants picking at 12, someone (Chicago) may want to get ahead of New York to land Aaron Donald if he's still here.

Their biggest needs are on the lines. The Giants could sit tight and take the 3rd OT (Lewan, probably) if Donald is gone. The other possibility is they could move up to get Donald (or maybe Matthews) if they are afraid of one of the NFC North teams (Minnesota or Chicago) taking Donald in the Top 10.

The Rams are always a wild card. I wouldn't put it past them to move up from this pick into the Top 10 to grab someone. Could they draft Robinson and Watkins? Don't count that out. Or they could move up for help in the secondary, which they badly need. The worst case scenario here is that St Louis trades up with Buffalo and takes Gilbert and then Detroit takes Dennard.

The Bears need help on the D-line and at Corner. It seems unlikely that Aaron Donald will make it past the Giants at 12 and he is a player that could absolutely help the Bears right away. Minnesota and Detroit won't trade with Chicago being a division foes, but the Bears might be able to trade up to #7 (Tampa), #9 (Jacksonville) or #11 (Tennessee) to get ahead of the Giants for Donald. The other possibility is if they are enamored with a certain defensive back, they may need to get ahead of Detroit, who is the first team likely to take a DB.

In his press conference yesterday, Kevin Colbert made it sound like he'd be willing to move back a few picks if certain guys were still available. The ideal scenario would be that a QB is available and someone wants to move up to take him and we can get a 3rd round pick back. Also, if Barr is available, someone may want to get ahead of Dallas, who lost Ware and really needs a pass rusher.

You never know. Jerry Jones is known for making moves up the board and they really need a pass rusher. I could see them making a move up to try to get Barr. I think Clowney and Mack are out of reach for them. Dallas has made 6 first round trades in the last 7 years, so some kind of move is entirely in their ballpark, especially given their 11 picks in this draft.

The Ravens have a proclivity for trading down, so that would be entirely possible. The Ravens have made 5 trades in the last 6 years, 3 times trading down (twice trading out of the first round entirely). Baltimore needs help on the offensive line and in the secondary, so unless they find themselves in the middle of a run on corners that they simply can't ignore someone, they could trade down and still land an OT or FS.

The Jets have more picks than any other team in this draft, which means they have the ammunition to move up if they want to add a weapon for Geno/Vick (WR or TE possible) or add depth to their secondary with another corner.

The Dolphins badly need help along their offensive line. Could they be tempted into making a move up the board to get one of the top tackles if he falls out of the top 6? In MockOne, the Dolphins GMs traded up with Minnesota in a move that made a lot of sense for both teams. Miami got in front of Buffalo and was able to take Jake Matthews and Minnesota was still able to land Blake Bortles at #19. The Dolphins could also make a move up to get ahead of the Giants or Ravens to get an offensive tackle as those are the other likely landing spots. This could work out for the Steelers if Taylor Lewan is available and Miami wants to move up the board to take him at 15.

The Cardinals could be a dark horse team to take a quarterback in Round 1. Carson Palmer isn't going to last forever and while Arizona needs help at outside linebacker, they could move up a few positions into the mid-teens if one of the top quarterbacks (Bridgewater or Bortles) starts falling down the board. Bruce Arians loves quarterbacks with big arms and both Bridgewater and Bortles would fit the mold of an Arians QB.

The Packers have been known to be aggressive on draft day, but haven't made a first round trade since 2009. Green Bay has needs at safety and at inside linebacker, and they may want to get ahead of Baltimore to get the second safety off the board if they have their eyes on a particular prospect. The other side of the coin is that the Packers could get some phone calls from Cleveland looking to move up from 26 or from teams in the early 2nd round looking to move up for a quarterback.

The Eagles lost DeSean Jackson and could be interested in moving up the board for a wide receiver. They also could use help in the front seven as they continue to build their 3-4 defensive front. If Odell Beckham falls past 15, the Eagles may be willing to make a move up the board to grab him. As with Green Bay, The Eagles could be a trade up candidate, particularly if a team believes Kansas City is interested in taking a quarterback. Philadelphia has traded up in the first round in 3 of the last 5 drafts.

The Chiefs only have 6 picks in this draft and are without a second round pick, so they are a prime candidate for a team looking to move up to take a quarterback (especially getting ahead of Cleveland's 26th pick if the Browns pass on a QB early). The Chiefs need help in the secondary and at wide receiver, and if the run on corners is over at this point, the Chiefs could look to trade back and accumulate more picks while still being able to land a safety or wide receiver.

The Bengals are somewhat of a wild card in that they have 9 selections but 4 of those picks are in the last 2 rounds. The Bengals may need to trade up to get in on the run on corners, which could happen in the mid-to-late teens. Cincinnati also needs depth along both lines but once again could be a target for someone looking to move up to get ahead of Cleveland.

The Chargers haven't made a first round trade since 2010 when they made a big move up the board to take Ryan Matthews. With the standard 7 picks this year, San Diego could package some in order to move up to improve their defense or if they're not enamored with anyone on the board, slide down a few spots and still land a CB or defensive lineman.

The Browns have two first round picks thanks to trading away Trent Richardson to Indianapolis. The Browns could be involved in multiple first round maneuverings and if they pass on a Quarterback early, could make a move up to get a QB from this pick. The Browns have plenty of holes to fill, particularly on the offensive line and on defense and could be a factor in the run on corners if they make a move up for one.

The Saints have needs along the offensive line, at wide receiver and at linebacker but they may not need to stay here in order to address those needs. There is plenty of talent to be had in the second round and the Saints could certainly be a candidate for a team in the early second looking to trade up to get a quarterback before Houston makes their selection at the top of the second round (assuming Houston takes Clowney #1 overall).

The Panthers don't have a ton of picks in this draft and have glaring needs at OT and WR. While it seems unlikely that they would trade up as there is plenty of second-round talent available at WR, a team from the early 2nd could make a trade with them to take a QB in the late first round.

If there is any certainty in the first round of the draft, it's that Bill Belichick will make a trade. The Patriots have made at least one 1st round trade in each of the last 7 years and have made 10 total 1st round trades in that time. In eight of those ten trades, the Patriots traded down, moving out of the first round entirely 4 times. There might not be any rhyme or reason to it, but New England is always a mover on draft day.

The 49ers aren't picking until the 30th spot but they have 11 selections (including 2 second and 3 third round picks) that gives them plenty of ammunition to move up in the draft. There has been no secret that the 49ers are interested in a wide receiver and they might very well package some picks together to move up into the top 10 (don't count out a move to #5 with Oakland or #7 with Tampa to get Watkins or Evans). Both moves are entirely possible, but even if they don't pan out, I have a hard time seeing San Francisco sit on all of their picks. With such a young roster, the 49ers don't have room to add 11 rookies to the team, so they will likely try to ship some of their picks away in a package to move up.

The Broncos have only made trades in 3 of the last 7 first rounds, but they have been movers and shakers when they have been traders, making 7 total trades in those 3 years. The Broncos just have their 7 regular picks this year, but if they feel like they are "a player away" (which is entirely possible given they were the AFC Champions last year) they could make a move up the board. The other option would be trading down if someone at the top of the 2nd round is looking to get in front of Houston to take a quarterback.

Seattle has only traded twice in the last 6 years and both times they were trades down. The Seahawks do have some needs as they were hit fairly hard by free agency (particularly along the defensive line). Their position right in front of Houston (once again, provided the Texans take Clowney #1) puts them in an ideal bidding spot for teams that might be looking to grab Derek Carr before Houston gets a shot at him.

Just to mess with your heads, here's a totally unrealistic Mock Draft I threw together where all 32 picks get traded.

(from HOU)
J. Clowney (DE-South Carolina)
(from StL)
J. Manziel (QB-Texas A&M)
(from JAX)
K. Mack (DE-Buffalo)
(from CLE)
G. Robinson (OT-Auburn)
(from OAK)
S. Watkins (WR-Clemson)
(from ATL)
B. Bortles (QB-UCF)
(from TB)
M. Evans (WR-Texas A&M)
(from MIN)
J. Matthews (OT-Texas A&M)
(from BUF)
J. Gilbert (CB-Oklahoma St)
(from DET)
A. Barr (DE-UCLA)
(from TEN)
A. Donald (DT-Pitt)
(from NYG)
H. Clinton-Dix (S-Alabama)
(from STL)
E. Ebron (TE-North Carolina)
(from CHI)
D. Dennard (CB-Michigan St)
(from PIT)
T. Bridgewater (QB-Louisville)
(from DAL via DET)
T. Lewan (OT-Michigan)
(from BAL)
O. Beckham (WR-LSU)
(from NYJ)
CJ Mosley (ILB-Alabama)
(from MIA via MIN)
K. Fuller (CB-Virginia Tech)
(from ARI)
J. Verrett (CB-TCU)
(from GB)
M. Lee (WR-USC)

(from PHI)
J. Ward (S-Northern Illinois)
(from KC)
B. Roby (CB-Ohio St)
(from CIN)
D. Ford (DE/OLB-Auburn)
(from SD)
K. Ealy (DE-Missouri)
(from CLE)
B. Cooks (WR-Oregon St)
(from NO)
D. Carr (QB-Fresno St)
(from CAR)
R. Shazier (LB-Ohio St)
(from NE)
R. Hageman (DT-Minnesota)
(from SF)
A. Robinson (WR-Penn St)
(from DEN)
Z. Martin (OT-Notre Dame)
(from SEA)
X. Su'a Filo (OG-UCLA)

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