I covered several different draft strategies and prospects in the last few weeks, and I’ll do it many more times before April 25th. There is one strategy that I'm contemplating, however, that has been hardly covered on this site: Trading up. Calm down. At least do me the favor of reading the rest of the post instead of heading straight to the comment section to tell me how wrong I am.
The more I work it out in my mind, the more I’m faced with the likelihood that we’d have to be the receivers of some serious luck to get a defensive player worth taking at 15 instead of trading down. These prospects in my mind are Rey Maualuga, Malcolm Jenkins, Everette Brown and B.J. Raji. I honestly think that there is a strong chance that all four will be gone by the time our pick rolls around. So trade down, right? Not so fast.
The Washington Redskins have the 13th pick, just two picks before us. The burgundy and gold has a lot of needs, but they only have three total draft picks this year because Dan Snyder is a meddler, and a terrible one at that. Using a popular draft pick value calculation table commonly used by NFL front office personnel and coaches, we would probably have to give our 1st, 4th, and 6th round picks in exchange for their 1st. Even though Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak have shown a superior ability at drafting in the later rounds, anything after the 3rd round is somewhat of an educated guess, but the 'Skins would kill for the chance to take that guess.
Moving our pick from 15 to 13 doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it might be. Like I've said before, there is likely going to be at least 7 offensive players taken before our first selection at 15. Washington is not likely to take one of those 7, and New Orleans definitely will not, so it’s more accurate to say that there will likely be 7 offensive players selected in the first 12 picks. Think about that. There might be a big difference between the 8th overall rated defensive player and the 6th.
New Orleans is the other reason to consider this strategy. They are in the same boat that we are; they don’t really have any holes on offense big enough to justify drafting a player for that side of the ball, but they have enough on defense that they will probably select the best defensive player available. That means that the Saints are very likely to snake “our guy” right before we have the chance to grab him. That would suck.
The practice of moving up a couple of picks has been successful in recent drafts, especially in the first round. Jay Cutler, Santonio Holmes, Darrelle Revis, Joe Flacco, Shawne Merriman, Jammal Brown, Kellen Winslow, Shawn Andrews, and Steven Jackson were all picked by teams that traded up to get them in the last five years. What do all of those players have in common? They’ve all had Pro Bowl seasons (except for Holmes, but I figure a Super Bowl MVP performance is just as good). There are examples of picks that weren’t worth trading up for, but that list is much fewer in number than the one I just read off. Also, in the same time frame I used for my sample above, there have only been 12 Pro Bowlers selected in the 4th and 6th rounds.
Note: I know Joe Flacco will not be playing in the Pro Bowl this year, but he will be accompanying his unibrow ,who will be.
The only way this tactic even comes close to making sense though is if there is a player there who is worth making the sacrifice. He has to be a player that you believe will be a cornerstone of your defense for years to come, a rare talent that only comes along every few years, ala Troy Polamalu, who Pittsburgh traded up to get. I believe Raji won’t make it out of the top ten, and Brown isn’t nearly enough of a sure thing to forgo picking in the 4th and 6th round. Maualuga is almost worth it because I believe in DieHard Chris’s argument for moving DeMeco to the outside, but in the end I don’t think you can justify trading up for a player that is going to move one of the best ILB in the game to OLB no matter how awesome it would be.
So that leaves us with Jenkins. I can’t tell you how happy I would be to see this kid in Steel Blue next year. No, I don’t want another corner, I want a SAFETY. He has great instincts in coverage, runs a blistering 40 reported to be in the 4.3 range, and also has great open field tackling skills. He is listed at 204 lbs. which is light, but even if adding weight slows him down to the 4.4 range, is that terrible? Imagine having a 6’1” ball-hawk roaming the middle of our secondary. It gives me shivers. I know some of you are probably sick of me professing my love for this guy, but seriously this is ridiculous (that one didn’t have sound so here’s another one. Oh and if you were wondering what happens when I watch that those clips, wonder no more).
In closing, I know my man crush for Jenkins is ridiculous, but my lingering sexual confusion doesn’t mean I’m wrong. It wouldn’t be a terrible idea for Rick Smith to have the deal on the table, that way if by the time Washington went on the clock and if Jenkins was still there, we could pull the trigger. I think he’s worth a 4th and 6th round pick. Ok, thank you for being patient. Now tell me why I’m wrong.