Hot on the heels of the news that the Redskins traded away their future to acquire the second pick of the 2012 NFL draft comes speculation that there may be even more trades in the works this year. Dan Pompei of the National Football Post writes today that there may be a whole bunch of teams looking to trade down in this year's draft:
From the early returns, it appears that the concept of trading down is going to be in vogue this year. A number of front office men have expressed a desire to do so. Now that the Browns won't be moving up for Robert Griffin, they are a candidate to move down with the fourth pick. The Rams could even move down again from the sixth spot. And a number of teams that pick after the Rams have been sending out trade feelers to move down. Given the strengths and weaknesses of the draft, teams are thinking they rather would have multiple second, third and fourth round picks than one first rounder.
Personally, I like the idea the Cowboys of trading down, for the very reasons Pompei outlines above. It may be a little far-fetched, but if a guy like Trent Richardson would fall to #14, perhaps the Cowboys might be able to entertain some trade offers. They were open to trading out of the #9 spot last year, but didn't get any offers. Unfortunately, the same could easily happen again this year. Of course, there's nothing whatsoever wrong with staying put and taking the best player available, whoever that may turn out to be.
But in a market where many teams are looking to trade down, simple market dynamics suggest that the Cowboys may be better served by trading up.
In a market where supply outstrips demand, prices inevitably fall. Could the same happen to this year's draft picks? If the teams picking in the top ten are stumbling all over themselves to trade down and acquire extra picks, will they accept a lower price for trading down than teams historically have?
The draft value chart, as presently constructed, would suggest the following trade-up possibilities for the Cowboys:
- Cowboys trade their 14th and 82 picks (1,100 + 180 = 1,280 points) to Buffalo for their 10th pick (1,300 pts)
- Cowboys trade their 14th and 113th pick (1,100 + 68 = 1,168 pts) to Seattle for their 12th pick (1,200 pts)
Of course, that's assuming there's no discount for the top ten picks. And conversely, that there's no premium on extra draft picks. For the sake of argument, let's assume that this year will see a premium on extra draft picks, and let's assume that that premium would be the equivalent of one full round. So the trade value of a third round pick this year would be the equivalent of a second round pick on the draft value chart.
For the Cowboys, this hypothetical scenario would mean their third round pick (#82, 180 points) could now be worth the equivalent of their second round pick (#45, 450), and their fourth round pick (#113, 68 points) could be worth the 180 points of their third rounder. Here's how far the Cowboys could trade up in such a scenario:
- Cowboys trade their 14th and 82 picks (1,100 + 450 = 1,550 points) to St. Louis for their 6th pick (1,600 pts)
- Cowboys trade their 14th and 113th pick (1,100 + 180 = 1,168 pts) to Buffalo for their 10th pick (1,300 pts)
Under this hypothetical scenario, the Cowboys could be in play for the 6th pick that the Rams appear to be shopping, at least according to Pompei. And do you think it's any coincidence that just a few hours after the Pompei article appeared this morning, news leaks out of the Rams front office that the team is very interested in Trent Richardson? If you're not inclined to take everything you read at face value, you could easily think this looks like a team trying to protect the value of their pick.
The top two picks are set, with Luck going to the Colts and RGIII to the Redskins. After that, the consensus seems to be that Matt Kalil and Justin Blackmon could be the next two picks. It's not inconceivable that Morris Claiborne could be available as late as the sixth pick, thus making him available for the Cowboys in the scenario outlined above.
Also, other blue-chip prospects like Quinton Coples, Melvin Ingram, Riley Reiff or David DeCastro could suddenly be available for the Cowboys for a quite a discount.
In the NFL, you usually win games with the players you draft in the top two or three rounds. But you win championships with blue-chip players. The best place to find those blue chippers is in the top ten picks of a draft class. The Cowboys could sit pretty at #14 and hope that a blue-chip player falls to them. Or they could realize that hope is not a strategy and go after a true blue-chip prospect by trading up.
This year, market dynamics may make it easier (and cheaper!) than ever to trade up. The Cowboys could find themselves fielding multiple calls from teams wanting to trade out of the top ten. What would you be willing to give up to secure a true blue chipper? And who would that blue-chipper be?