All this time Lions fans have been hoping that the Rams draft a quarterback with the No. 1 pick, allowing Detroit to have its choice of the top defensive tackles -- Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. There has always been the thought of a possible trade if a quarterback's stock rises from now until the draft and entices a team to jump up to the No. 2 pick. Because that is so uncertain, though, I think fans would much rather see St. Louis draft a quarterback so Detroit is guaranteed to have the opportunity to pick between Suh and McCoy.
Based on what FOXSports.com's John Czarnecki said in an article about rumors from the NFL Combine, however, perhaps a trade is more likely than originally thought. The one caveat is that trading down could be dependent on St. Louis not drafting a quarterback, giving other teams the chance to move up and select Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen. Here is what Czarnecki had to say about the rumor:
The Lions, who pick second in the first round, have their fingers crossed that the Rams don’t pick a quarterback so they can trade down with either Cleveland or Buffalo, who apparently are in the quarterback market. The thought process is that new Browns czar Mike Holmgren won’t want to lose his favorite quarterback to Washington and new coach Mike Shanahan. The Redskins are perched at No. 4, three spots ahead of the Browns. The Lions really don’t want to spend $33 million in bonus money on a defensive tackle.
Let's break down this rumor based on a few things that would have to happen to make it possible.
1. The Rams would have to pass on a quarterback.
Although there have been reports that St. Louis is set on drafting Sam Bradford, Czarnecki's first rumor in the above-linked article is actually about how the Rams would pick Gerald McCoy if the draft was today because Steve Spagnuolo favors him. Obviously a lot could change from now to the draft in April, but it is definitely possible that St. Louis could opt for a defensive tackle, whether it is McCoy or Suh. I think McCoy going first overall would be the best possible scenario for the Lions because it gives them a shot at drafting Suh or trading down. Needless to say, all leverage would be in the Lions' court.
2. Detroit would have to be willing to pass on Suh or whoever to move down.
Regardless of what the Lions are offered as far as a trade goes (I will get to that in a second), nothing will happen if Detroit is dead set on drafting Ndamukong Suh (or some other player; I'm just using Suh for this example). I mean, there's always the possibility of an offer coming along that is just too good to turn down no matter how much the Lions may want to add Suh to the roster. But if Jim Schwartz and Martin Mayhew view Suh as having the ability to immediately turn around the defense and improve the team in a big way, then it may be tough to trade down and pass on somebody like Suh.
3. Detroit would have to be offered a good enough deal to actually move down.
The last part of this is pretty simple. There won't be a trade unless the Lions are offered something that is so enticing that they have no problem with moving down. Based on this rumor, which explicitly mentions the Browns and Bills, that means that a deal would have to be worth moving all the way from the second overall pick down to either the seventh or ninth. That would require a pretty nice package of picks and perhaps even some players as well considering neither team has more than one first-round selection (neither has more than one second-round pick, either). The key to a trade that involves moving more than just a couple spots is that the Lions receive enough in return to make it worthwhile and that they don't move too far down where they miss out on somebody that will have an immediate impact. I suppose as long as you draft by the best player available mantra that any player should have an immediate impact, but some of the top players in the draft appear to be on a level of their own.
If the Lions were to trade down, I think it's a given that the ideal partner would be the Seahawks. Seattle has the No. 6 and No. 14 picks, which would be just about the perfect compensation for the second overall pick based on a typical trade value chart. Not only that, but a trade with Seattle would only move the Lions down four spots, giving them a possible shot at a player who has been talked about being picked at No. 2 (like an Eric Berry or Russell Okung). The best part of this deal is that the Lions would go back on the clock with the 14th pick, giving the team a chance to add another high-level talent in the first round.
For me, I would be in favor of trading down as long as the Lions don't go down too far and get a good package of picks/players back in return. It would be a little tough to swallow moving down to seventh or ninth without the possibility of coming out of the trade with two first-rounders (in this draft, at least), but if the Browns or Bills throw pick after pick at the Lions to make a deal happen, then it would probably be worth pulling the trigger.