During the top half of Thursday night’s opening round, nobody really wants to draft anyone. The problem, of course, is that someone has to draft someone. That’s how drafts work. Players get drafted (#analysis).
But as I’ve written so often while assessing this draft and I’ll surely do it again and again throughout this week, with no premier prospect and anchor at the top (think Andrew Luck, or Robert Griffin III), we could see a whole lot of trade activity Thursday, and we could see it immediately.
Right now if we believe the words that David Caldwell says, the Jaguars won’t be involved in that flurry of asset moving. They’re quite content with their second overall pick, thanks.
After that, though, guys who talk to other guys who know things are saying that a lot of teams currently slated to be on the clock in the top 15 are looking to trade down. This particular guy right here is saying that up to five teams want to scramble back…
Teams that have made calls about moving back in draft include PHIL, DET, CLEV, BUFF, MIA. Doing what they should.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 23, 2013
This is a draft where, in terms of player value, there may not be much of a difference between, say, the seventh pick and the 21st pick. The divide just isn’t there, and if a general manager can address a need with a player who’s nearly equal to the one he’d draft in the top 10 while accumulating a pick or two to use later, the decision is easy.
Of course, executing said decision isn’t easy. Ever.
A trading partner is required, and given that whole bit about a lack of value up front, there’s little desire to move up. Consider just a year about when we had not only Luck and RG3, but also Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon, Matt Kalil, and Trent Richardson, all of whom were — at least at the time — considered to easily be at the top of their positions.
Now, for a team seeking a cornerback, is there really that much of a gap between Dee Milliner, who could be a top five pick, and Xavier Rhodes, who will likely be selected more towards the middle of the round and maybe 10 picks later? The separation is there, but it’s not nearly as vast as the divide between Claiborne and the rest last year.
The most likely trading partner at the back of the round is still the Falcons. They’re currently perched at No. 30, and although they may be that cornerback-needy team after they released Dunta Robinson and lost Brent Grimes in free agency, the far more valuable target for GM Tomas Dimitroff in a trade is Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert.
He leads the draft class at his position this year because he fits the mold of today’s elite tight end who’s built like a really large wide receiver, and he plays like one too. He’s capable of lining up in the slot and being a deep threat, while also grabbing tough balls up the middle. That led to his 1,840 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns over three collegiate seasons.
The Falcons will ride Tony Gonzalez for one more year, but then a largely vertical offense will most likely lose one of its primary targets when he finally retires. Will a prospect who’s Eifert’s equal be available a year from now? That’s a risk Dimiftroff may not be willing to take, and he’ll have to jump wayyyy up to get his target. Cleveland and Buffalo will be his preferred trade partners.
Of the teams listed by Schefter, only one (Miami) is picking outside of the top 10, and two have top five picks (Philadelphia and Detroit). That’s how unappealing the top 10 is this year, as unless you’re confident a specific name will be available, trading down and getting equal value is far more desirable.