As soon as it looked as if Jay Cutler was legitimately going to be traded, I started singing the doom-and-gloom song about why the Texans wouldn’t be getting any takers for a trade down. My rationale was that with Cutler available and Josh Freeman becoming a more viable option, there were likely too many QBs for teams to get antsy and trade up for one. The fact that Denver only wants a veteran QB doesn’t help either because it discounts the thought that even though they are providing a QB for the talent pool, they are now in the market for drafting a QB themselves.
Things change though, and they did so yesterday. At The University of Georgia Pro Day, QB Matthew Stafford looked lights out by all accounts, leading many to wonder where he will now be selected. Since draft speculation season began, the trendy line to take amongst analysts is that drafting a QB too early will kill your franchise. It doesn’t matter what analysts think, though; it only matters what Detroit General Manager Martin Mayhew and Head Coach Jim Schwartz think. After Stafford threw 47 out of 50 passes on the money in windy conditions yesterday, you have to assume they’re at least considering him with the first overall pick. So how does this help the Texans if they desire to trade down? I’m glad you asked.
While Detroit needs help on defense, I believe they’re building for the future. By trading for Julian Peterson and by all accounts keeping the expensive contract in place that he had with Seattle, you can assume that they won’t be drafting Aaron Curry because it would mean at least a quarter of the team's salary would be tied up in the LB corps alone. So, that leaves their options at QB and OT. Jason Smith is likely their guy if the decide to go OT, and after his performance yesterday there shouldn’t be a doubt in anyone’s mind that Stafford is the top QB in the draft class.
There are four viable players to be had at each position: Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman and Jay Cutler at QB and Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe, Andre Smith and Michael Oher at OT. As I said earlier though, Denver will only purportedly make a trade if they get a veteran QB in return, which Detroit doesn’t have, so scratch Cutler off the list. That leaves us with 3 QBs and 4 OTs. Also, the difference between the first and third QB on the board is much bigger than the difference between the first and fourth OT, or at least that is so in this year’s Draft.
Here’s what it comes down to though--if you think Stafford is going to be a franchise QB, you have to take him. There’s no way to know for sure, but you have to make up your mind and act accordingly. I personally think that Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco harmed Stafford’s chances. Everyone continually brings their names into discussions regarding taking Stafford early, which you think would work in his favor, but it doesn’t. Since someone determined that you stand a 50/50 chance of drafting a franchise QB in the first round, there’s almost an unspoken understanding that since lightning struck twice last year, there’s no chance it can happen again this year. I’ve got news for you though. If you’re basing your decision of whether to draft a QB or not on the law of probability, than you need to find a new profession.
For the purpose of our discussion, let’s assume that Detroit decides to take Stafford. They’d likely follow the blueprint of success that Atlanta adopted just a year ago with Matt Ryan: Take your QB early and your OT late in the first round. The good thing is that Detroit wouldn’t even have to trade into the first round like Atlanta did last year because Jerry Jones is a circus master. The problem is that there won’t be a surefire LT left on the board by 20. There is a possibility that there will be such a surefire LT available at 15 though.
St. Louis wanted Jake Long last year, but they got DE Chris Long instead. This year they’ll get their OT. Monroe and Andre Smith will both be gone by the tenth pick, and maybe even earlier. The last one left will probably be Michael Oher, and where he will be drafted is up for debate. No one really has the answer; some believe he could go in the top 10 as well, while there is a growing belief that he will not be drafted by the time the Texans are on the clock. I personally believe that he will probably be on the board at 13, but there is no one who ever knows what Washington will do. They should draft Oher, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Dan Snyder will try to make a splash with Michael Johnson in order to replace the recently cut Jason Taylor.
So if Oher is there at 15, why should Detroit trade up to get him? First of all, Oher is markedly better than William Beatty, Phil Loadholt and Eben Britton, who are the OTs Detroit would have to choose from if Oher was gone before they picked at 20. Although neither San Diego nor Chicago is currently targeting OTs, both have enough of a need that they probably couldn’t pass on Oher. Also, don’t forget about the Texans themselves. As many have noted on BRB and other Texans blogs, Oher is enough of a talent that it’s not beyond belief that Kubiak and Smith would pull the trigger if they didn’t get any takers for a trade.
This is the second post I’ve written concerning a Draft Day trade with Detroit. I just think it makes too much sense. Whether it’s a QB or an OT, there just seems to be players that Detroit would like at 15, and there seem to be more players we like that will be drafted somewhere between 20 and 46. If Detroit and Houston did do a deal, Detroit wouldn’t even have to lose any picks. They would simply give up the 20th and 33rd overall picks for the Texans’ 15th and 46th overall selections. This would allow the Texans to still get Clay Matthews and turn around and get someone like Sean Smith in the beginning of the second round. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I think it’s a rare situation in which both teams benefit from a trade and it seems plausible. What say you BRB? Do you think this could happen?