NFL Draft: Thoughts On Trading Down


Apr 25, 2013; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with top prospects in attendance before the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

By my count there are nine reasonable directions the Chiefs fans have proposed for the first round: quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, pass rushing outside linebacker, cornerback, safety, and trading down. We’ll discuss what that means about the Chiefs in a later post, but trading down isn’t something we’ve discussed much here in blog post form.

Lyle Graversen went on a mini-Twitter rant last night about the math of trading down and this is what he found.

There are three things to take from this and one general principle.

1. Root For A Quarterback To Fall

There are only good things that can happen for the Chiefs if one of the quarterbacks were to fall to the Chiefs at 23. Either they are going to get a guy like Teddy Bridgewater in the last third of the draft that they’ll be able to select and develop behind Alex Smith or there will be a quarterback available for a team to trade up for to select.

Notice the teams in the best position to trade up with the Chiefs according to Graversen are all teams with needs at quarterback. Let’s say you’re Jacksonville and you’ve selected Jadeveon Clowney with the third overall pick and Bridgewater is sitting at 23. Why not trade your second and third round draft pick and end up with arguably two of the top five players in the draft? That’s worth it to Jacksonville, a team seeking core players, and it would cost them very little.

There are plenty of teams behind the Chiefs in the first round who could gamble on a quarterback in the first round. Cleveland has the 26th overall pick and may pass on quarterback with their top five pick; New Orleans may be looking for Drew Brees successor at 27; New England worked out Bridgewater in the pre-draft workouts and may be thinking about life after Tom Brady; and Denver has to be thinking about post-Peyton Manning life as well. Never mind the threat of Houston, St. Louis, Oakland or Tampa Bay, Minnesota, or Tennessee trading back into the first round to find a quarterback if they pass on one with their top 10 picks. This makes for eight teams who could be willing to trade with KC for the rights to a falling quarterback.

It seems as if the appropriate value for Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, and Bridgewater is somewhere closer to 23rd overall than number three overall. Working out a trade to get one of those picks to take a quarterback may make more sense for a quarterback needy team than using a top five pick on them.

2. Finding A Partner Isn’t Easy

It takes two to tango when it comes to trading down. There has to be a trade partner who is willing to offer appropriate value for the 23rd overall pick and sometimes that partner never materializes. A lot of this is out of the Chiefs hands.

Kansas City will be counting on another team being in love with a prospect and feeling threatened said prospect will not fall to them. There has to be an element of a perfect storm of there being a prospect who falls and a likelihood the prospect won’t be on the board for much longer. For instance, if Anthony Barr fell to 23 it would be tough to think he’d fall beyond pick 26 given the needs of the teams directly behind the Chiefs. But a prospect like Barr falling is tough to predict.

Sure, if the Chiefs really wanted to trade down they could find someone to take the pick but it doesn’t mean they’d get appropriate value back. I’m confident San Francisco would be willing to trade their first round pick and a seventh round pick for the Chiefs’ 23rd overall pick. KC would add a pick, but what value is their in dropping to 30th overall for a late seventh round pick?

More picks would be great, yes, but six picks will be just fine. The good thing about the draft being deep is there are plenty of high ceiling guys available throughout the draft. Aside from maybe right guard, the Chiefs do not have a starting position they absolutely must fill in the draft. John Dorsey is looking to add depth and future impact players in two weeks, not a quality starting nose tackle. There’s no reason to sell the pick for the sake of selling the pick.

3. Adding Picks May Be Easier On Day Two

Kansas City’s third round pick (87th overall) is with 155 points according to the trade chart. Based on the chart, the Chiefs could trade down with Minnesota (96th overall) and pick up a fifth and seventh round pick in addition to the Vikings’ third round pick. This would give KC eight picks in the draft and allow them to draft at their natural position in the first round at the cost of moving down only nine spots in the third round.

If the only goal is to try to add another pick or two then trading down in round three or four makes more sense and would be easier than trading down in the first round. Kansas City would be better off taking advantage of the depth of the class and adding third day picks that could produce high ceiling guys who will be extremely cheap against the cap of the next four years.