Here we are, hours away from the 2011 NFL Draft. As the draft has grown closer, I have become more and more certain that the best move for the Kansas City Chiefs is to trade back from pick 21 into the top half of the 2nd round. In order to do this, of course, they will need to find a trade partner.
The first thing that needs to happen in this process is for a team to want to trade up for a player. A common thread that runs through all the teams I’m about to talk about is their need for a quarterback. For this draft, the quarterback class will set the tone for the entire draft. More than 10 teams could have QB as a need for their team. That means about a third of the league could be looking for a QB. If it appears to any of the teams hoping to get their QB in the second round that the QBs may not last that long, then teams will be looking to trade up to make sure they get their guy.
Of course, you need to have the appropriate ammunition in draft picks in order to move up. Using the Trade Value chart, we see that the 21st pick is worth 800 points. This means that the picks they get in trade should roughly equal that amount. There are some teams that don’t appear to be good draft partners because they don’t have the draft picks to make the trade. Examples of these teams are the Washington Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings.
The first team that’s a possible trade partner is the Cincinnati Bengals. When the Bengals pick in the first round, WR A.J. Green will most likely still be sitting there. He will be tough to pass up which means they may still be looking for a QB in the 2nd round. To move up to 21, to make sure they get their guy, the Bengals have to give the Chiefs picks 35 and 66 which are 2nd and 3rd rounders. That ends up being 810 points and a little in the Chiefs favor, but sometimes that’s the way it works.
Another possible partner is the Arizona Cardinals. If the Carolina Panthers go QB and the Bengals do as well, then Arizona will almost certainly not go QB. Arizona does need a QB because they need to make WR Larry Fitzgerald happy when he hits free agency if they want to keep him next year. That could mean moving up to get a QB. Arizona would need to give up picks 38, 69, and possibly 103. If the Cardinals gave up 103, then the Chiefs would need to give them pick 118 in return. That total ends up being 795 points and acceptable to the Chiefs.
Next possibility is the Tennessee Titans. QB Vince Young is gone and the Titans need a new playcaller. It could be too big a reach to go QB at 8, so they could still be looking for one later. Giving up picks 39, 77, and 109 equals 791 and would be acceptable to the Chiefs. The question is whether the Titans would give up 3 picks for a QB. That really depends on the Titans. They did gain an extra 4th rounder in compensatory picks and so could feel okay giving up a 4th rounder because they still kind of have one.
The last possible partner is the San Francisco 49ers. At pick 7, the 49ers could end up getting the best player in the draft in CB Patrick Peterson. If he’s there, I’m not sure the 49ers cold pass him up. Providing the 49ers don’t go QB at 7, they will want to make sure they get their guy. Although, it should be noted that new head coach John Harbaugh could be looking for a stop gap at QB in the hopes that he can get QB Andrew Luck next year. If the 49ers want to move up to 21 then they have to give up quite a bit. If they give up picks 45, 76, and 108 that is only 738 points. Perhaps that is enough for the Chiefs, but they also may inquire about getting one other pick somewhere in a later round. I do believe it is unlikely that the Chiefs get more than 3 picks for their pick at 21, though.
I think trading back for the Chiefs is not just important because they gain picks, but also because the top of the 2nd and 3rd rounds are looking to be sweet spots to fill needs that the Chiefs have. Where picking certain players at 21 is a bit of a reach, picking them at the top of the 2nd is value. To give an example of what could happen if we trade back, I’ll use the rules and the Drafttek Big Board that we’ve been using for previous mock drafts. And I’ll use Arizona as my trade partner. Then my rounds 2-4 picks could look like this:
38) WR Leonard Hankerson
55) OLB Akeem Ayers (or NT Phil Taylor for those who have a yen for him)
69) G/C Rodney Hudson
86) NT Jerrell Powe
103) RB Daniel Thomas
With those picks the Chiefs meet needs at WR, SOLB, C, NT, and find a big back to tandem with RB Jamaal Charles. Oh, and the Chiefs still have 4 picks left. The only needs left are secondary ones at OT and QB. That seems like a pretty good draft to me.
In the end it comes down to the fact that the Chiefs are well served by trading back. They gain a pick and move to an area in the draft that seems to better suit their needs. Whether the Chiefs make the trade or not, we’ll have to wait and see. But here’s to hoping the Chiefs don’t pick a player Thursday.