A lot has changed since I jumped aboard the DO ANYTHING TO GET SAMMY WATKINS bandwagon. The Detroit Lions nabbed Golden Tate from free agency, they also filled just about every other pressing need with a free-agent body and Watkins has sprung up the big boards on many mock drafts.
It now seems obvious that the Lions will not be able to draft Watkins at No. 10 overall. So let's look at the top teams in the draft and see where the Lions would need to jump to in order to snag Watkins.
The Texans came out this week and let the world know that they plan on drafting a quarterback with one of their picks. That seemed painfully obvious already when they sent Matt Schaub to the Oakland Raiders. Though they grabbed Ryan Fitzpatrick from free agency, I doubt they're looking forward to sending him out as their starter. They could certainly use one of their later picks to grab a quarterback, but when you've got your pick of the litter, why pass that up? Teddy Bridgewater seems like the logical pick here. Chances of drafting Watkins: 5%.
The Rams are in a very interesting position here. In addition to the second overall pick, they also have pick No. 13. Wide receiver is a need for them, but they also just traded up and got Tavon Austin in last year's draft. Austin is a speedy, shifty receiver, just like Watkins. Just taking a quick look at our Rams sister site, Turf Show Times, you can see that drafting Watkins is a very polarizing topic.
If the Rams pass on Watkins, they will likely have a shot at one of the second-tier receivers at No. 13 overall. If they believe that they already have a Sammy Watkins on their roster with Austin, they may be able to grab a different type of receiver like Mike Evans or Marqise Lee.
Right now, the most likely scenario involves the Rams addressing their uncertain offensive tackle position. However, reports have surfaced that they are actively seeking to trade down. They could be a potential trade partner for the Lions, but trading all the way up to second overall may prove too costly. Chances of drafting Watkins (if still available): 25%.
While Jacksonville doesn't exactly have an arsenal of wide receivers on their team, they have much more pressing needs. They signed Chad Henne, but their long-term quarterback situation remains unaddressed. The Jaguars will likely have their shot at Bridgewater and/or Blake Bortles with the third overall pick, and that remains the most likely scenario. They also have a need at defensive end, despite signing Red Bryant to a four-year deal. Jadeveon Clowney is a possibility here as well.
Still, I wouldn't overlook Watkins as a small possibility here, either. The Jaguars have a lot of options, and if they aren't happy with the quarterback choices available to them, they could theoretically go with Henne for another year. The Jaguars are difficult to read here and are definitely the biggest wild card in the top five. Chances of drafting Watkins (if still available): 20%.
Although Cleveland has one of the best wide receivers in the game (Josh Gordon), they don't have much depth at the position beyond him (sound familiar?). However, they did go out and pluck Andrew Hawkins from free agency as their newly appointed slot receiver.
But Cleveland's quarterback situation is more dire than any team in the top five. Currently, Brian Hoyer sits atop their depth chart. And while the Browns could theoretically ride Hoyer for a year or two, they'd almost certainly prefer to grab a franchise quarterback with the fourth overall pick. The big question here is will they have a shot at their favorite quarterback of the bunch? If Houston and Jacksonville both go quarterback, I have a hard time believing that even the Browns will reach for the third best quarterback in the draft. That being said, they really, really need a quarterback.
If the Browns pass on a quarterback, it's hard to know where they'll turn. Watkins is definitely a possibility, but you never know what Browns general manger
Kevin Costner Ray Farmer is thinking. Chances of drafting Watkins (if still available): 15%.
Here is the biggest hurdle for the Lions. Despite trading for Matt Schaub, the Raiders have a need at quarterback as well, but with three teams ahead of them with the same need, I don't think the Raiders get the quarterback they're hoping for. I think it's very likely the Raiders will be looking to fill a different hole.
The Raiders did add wide receiver James Jones in free agency, but the rest of their receiver depth chart is woeful. At No. 5 overall, Watkins has a lot of value here.
However, after missing on Rodger Saffold, then settling with Donald Penn, the Raiders could still use some help at offensive tackle. Chances are they would still have a shot at either Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews or possibly both.
Still, Watkins is a tempting skill player for an offense that has finished in the top 10 in scoring just once in 11 years. Chances of drafting Watkins (if still available): 60%.
Between the Raiders and the Lions are a couple teams that probably don't want Watkins (Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings) and a couple that probably do (Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills). But if Watkins is still available with the sixth pick, other teams are going to start considering making a move for him. If the Lions want a shot at him, they'll probably have to jump and get him at No. 5 overall or earlier.
How much would a trade up cost?
If the Lions decide that Watkins is their man, what is it going to cost them? They could go the extremely safe route and try to trade up with the Rams at No. 2. So what would a move to No. 2 cost?
There are two different famous trade charts in existence. The first, developed by former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, gives the No. 2 pick a value of 2,600 points, while the No. 10 pick is worth half of that at 1,300. That would mean the Lions would have to give up around a first-round pick for next year or just about every other pick in this year's draft.
The other trade chart is one developed by Harvard and takes into account an advanced stat known as "Career Approximate Value." If you want an interesting read on how it was formulated, check it out here. According to this chart, the Lions would have to make up about 136 points, or the value of a low second-round pick. This is obviously a drastic difference from the other chart, which makes this very confusing.
Instead, let's look at some historical precedence to see where the truth lies. Last year, the Miami Dolphins swapped the 12th overall pick for the third overall pick at the cost of a second-rounder (42nd overall). This is very similar to the move the Lions would have to make with the Rams, and the Lions have the ammunition to do it, as their second-round pick is 45th overall. Basically, if the Lions want to grab Sammy Watkins at No. 2 overall, it'll cost them a first- and second-round pick (maybe a little more).
But if the Lions would rather wait and see how the board falls, they could wait until pick four or five to make their move. According to Jimmy Johnson's chart, a move to No. 4 would cost the Lions about a second-round pick and a fifth-rounder. According to the Harvard chart, that move would cost the Lions just a late fourth-round pick. Because the Lions now have two additional (non-tradable) fourth-round compensatory picks, their original fourth-rounder (111th overall) becomes much more nonessential.
But, again, let's look to history to see what it may actually cost the Lions. There isn't any recent history of a team at the bottom of the top 10 moving into the middle of the top 10, but there are a couple of scenarios that give us an idea of what it'd cost the Lions to do so. In 2009, the New York Jets and Browns swapped the fifth and 17th picks at the cost of a second-rounder (52nd overall). It would obviously cost the Lions considerably less than that to move up six fewer spots. In 2012, the Buccaneers traded from seven to five, costing them an additional fourth-round pick (101st overall). So it stands to reason, if the Lions want to trade to the fourth or fifth overall pick, it would likely cost them a first- and third-round pick.
Overall, while that is not a huge price to pay for a player like Watkins, the Lions did enough this offseason that they don't need to pull a desperate move like that. Had the Lions not acquired Tate, a first- and third-round pick would be a steal for Watkins. But as it stands, they have already committed a lot of money and resources to the offensive side of the ball. And while the front office may be screaming "WIN NOW" and one more weapon never hurts, I don't think a trade up is necessarily the right play here. The Lions have played free agency well enough that they don't need to pigeonhole themselves into one player or position. Wait and see how the draft plays out, then find a guy who can help your team.
...although I still find myself daydreaming of Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Sammy Watkins lined up all together in one glorious Honolulu Blue row.