Fans are almost universally against trading up, and with good reason. The NFL Draft is not an exact science and even the safest picks can often go awry. That’s why many fans, analysts and general managers adhere by the notion that simply giving your team the most opportunities to pick a good player is the best draft strategy to have.
By trading up, teams almost always give up a pick or two, limiting their chances to land a good player in the draft. However, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell proposed a trade up in the first round of this year’s draft that would not end up costing the Detroit Lions a pick. Obviously, the move up would mean the Lions have to forfeit some leverage in future rounds, but in terms of pure numbers of picks, the Lions would remain unchanged. Here’s a look at the proposed trade:
Lions get: Pick 1.12, 6.185 and 2018 second-round pick (from Eagles)
Browns get: Pick 1.21, 5.165 and 2018 first-round pick
In other words, the Lions would jump nine spots, at the expense of 20 spots in the fifth/sixth round and next year’s first-round pick would turn into the Eagles’ second-round pick.
Moving up nine spots in the first round is quite significant. According to the popular draft trade chart, that move is essentially worth an additional mid-to-late second-round pick. The Lions would be getting that without losing a pick, and it barely costs them anything in the 2017 draft. A move from pick 165 to pick 185 is essentially worth a late seventh-round pick.
Of course, the main issue is what it costs next year. Losing a first-round pick for a second-round pick alone is more costly than a move up in nine spots of the first round. But ultimately the Lions have to decide if they think a prospect this year is worth shelling out some of next year’s draft capital.
And that brings us to Barnwell’s suggestions. With the trade up, Barnwell believes the Lions should go after a high cornerback prospect like Kevin King. I don’t particularly agree with this selection for a few reasons. The 2017 cornerback class is a fairly deep this year, so I don’t think the Lions would be getting proper value with a trade up. Additionally, I’m not sure Kevin King is the right choice among this cornerback class. Though he has the physical size and athleticism that the Lions—and many other teams—are starting to value more, his tape doesn’t exactly jump out at you. Many don’t even consider King to be a top-five corner in this draft.
That doesn’t mean a trade up isn’t a scenario worth investigating. The Lions met with linebacker Reuben Foster over the weekend, and although his past is riddled with off-field issues and injuries, many still believe his talent supersedes it all. If Foster isn’t your guy, Haason Reddick is a three-down linebacker that is shooting up draft boards. The Lions desperately need a linebacker right now, and it’s looking more and more likely that Reddick won’t be waiting for Detroit at 21. A trade up that doesn’t cost them an additional pick has to be tempting, especially considering the depth in the draft at other positions of need, like pass rusher and the aforementioned cornerback.
In the end, this trade makes a lot of sense, but for it to be worth it, the Lions need to be convinced on a single prospect. There’s no doubt that, mathematically, this trade would favor the Browns. Even without the fifth/sixth round swap this year, Cleveland gains draft capital by just moving down nine spots and upgrading next year’s second-round pick to a first rounder. But draft picks are only as valuable as the players you use them on. If Detroit falls in love with a guy, this is a fairly low-cost way of getting him before pick 21.
Would you approve of this trade up scenario?
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