I'm thinking of writing a play about the time leading up to the draft. I'll call it "Waiting for Goodell", of course.
The Dallas Cowboys currently hold the fourteenth selection in the NFL Draft. This is an awkward place in 2012. The general view of the current draft class is that there are perhaps six to ten truly elite, so-called "blue chip" players. Then there is a group of another ten or a dozen players that are all seen as roughly equal, but not all that close to the top. In essence, there is a "gap" in the draft, where the players available are not worth the draft picks, but in another year would be taken later based on their talent.
This has led to multiple cries from the BTB cognoscenti for the Cowboys to trade down. It is certainly appealing. A pick down near the twenty spot would match up better with the talent that would likely be available at that point. And Dallas could acculmulate some more draft picks, perhaps managing to get an extra third or even a second pick by packaging what they had into another trade down the road. All in all, it seems a great idea.
One problem: Everybody else seems to have the same idea, according to a report by Rob Rang on CBSSports.com. Especially, it seems, those in the top ten positions this year. Even though Dallas may well want to trade down, there just may be no available trading partner this year, because they are able go high enough to try and snag one of those blue-chippers. The Cowboys may just be left holding pick 14 and trying to make the best of a bad situation.
How bad is it? Well, as you are aware by now, St. Louis has already traded away the number two pick. And it looks like they could have company - a lot of it. As Rang reports:
In fact, one NFL executive told me to anticipate plenty of fireworks as "half of the teams in the top 10 are trying to trade out."
More details after the jump.
"There are times we have been in (the war room) and we've done deals on the clock," (Vikings GM) Rick Spielman said. "It's an unknown, but you're prepared for both ways. We'll be ready and we'll have a good idea of what we think the value of that third pick is."
If you read the full article, be prepared for a disorienting case of deja vu, because the arguments are the exact same ones made here for the Cowboys to trade down. The only difference is that they are looking at prospects at the top of the draft, rather than the group we have mostly been discussing for Dallas, which are players that will likely be in the ten to twenty or twenty-five range.
Now the Minnesota position is not a rock solid one to move out of the third spot, just a possibility. However, saying that they are open to doing a trade "on the clock" is basically a solicitation for bids. Any such deal is going to be pre-arranged long in advance, and the team may even have a primary trade set up, with a backup plan or plans in place if the best partner gets cold feet on April 26th. Nobody is going to make a snap decision on the rights to players like Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson.
GM Tom Heckert guaranteed the Browns won't trade up but told the Plain Dealer he will consider trading down in the draft "only a few spots." He added that Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon and LSU CB Morris Claiborne are on his short list to be considered at No. 4 overall.
There seems to be a trend here. And Rang confirms that.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 5) and the Miami Dolphins (No. 8) appear to be especially likely to consider trading down due to the number of holes on their current roster as well as the fact that each club is now operating under a new head coach.
Likewise, the Buffalo Bills, owners of the 10th overall pick have a clear need at offensive tackle but many feel that anyone other than USC left tackle Matt Kalil would be a reach at this spot. Kalil is widely expected to be Minnesota's choice at No. 3... assuming the Vikings remain there, that is.
If you have been counting, you realize that five of the teams who now hold draft spots 3 through 10 are at least interested in a move down. And there is a chance for some trigger effect here. Miami and Cleveland both are thought ot be very interested in Ryan Tannehill, rated by almost everyone as the third best quarterback in the draft. The burning question is: Just how valuable is he? The Browns don't seem to think he is worth the fourth pick, but stranger things have happened. With Miami sitting at 8, it seems unlikely that he will fall beyond that. So the Browns may bite the bullet if they have a serious lack of faith in Colt McCoy - and if Tannehill goes off the board that early, suddenly trading down looks a lot more attractive for Miami.
With multiple top ten picks available for teams looking to trade up, the question becomes whether anyone has a desire or reason to trade up to Dallas' fourteenth pick? They would, after all, be basically giving up extra picks in order to be stuck with the same issues that Dallas faces: A bunch of choices that would all be a bit of a reach.
For teams wanting to move up, it is essentially a buyers' market. The teams moving up this year are more likely to come out ahead than teams moving down. I would not be surprised if the only way Dallas could get someone to move up into 14 would be to offer a discount - and I don't think I need to tell you what I think of that idea.
So I think Dallas' chances of trading down are pretty slim. The draft prospects this year just don't offer the value in the middle of the first round for the pick to be very sought after. Perhaps it might instead be time to try to move up, But again, the position argues against it. Moving up far enough to get a real blue-chipper is likely out of the Dallas price range even if there are any discounts to be had. The word stuck comes to mind. And that's not the only one.
And if you mostly feel confused by it all, join the club.