Everyone loves the idea of trading down and acquiring more draft capital. Move down a few spots, acquire another early pick or two, then proceed to draft Hall of Famers. Simple, right?
In practice, trading down can be a complex affair. As the Detroit Lions learned in 2020, a trade down can only happen if there is enough interest. Despite many clamoring for the Lions to trade down from third overall, the Lions stood pat and selected cornerback Jeff Okudah. As Detroit looks down the barrel of another NFL draft, the same question arises: should they trade down?
Detroit currently possess the second pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and with it comes a multitude of options. Among the hottest names entering the draft are Aidan Hutchinson, Kyle Hamilton, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Malik Willis. Depending on the decision made by the Jacksonville Jaguars at first overall, the Lions will have a chance to draft one of those names.
However, the Lions are not the only party with interest. The quest for a star quarterback is never-ending, and Willis is shaping up to be a hot commodity in this year’s draft. With that type of attention, the second-overall pick may garner some attention from teams in dire need of a quarterback. There has been a quarterback carousel in the NFL, with the likes of Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Russell Wilson finding new homes. For a team that missed out on a sweepstakes, the draft may provide respite.
Coupled with the demand for a pass rusher or offensive tackle, the Lions could have many suitors. The New York Jets possess the fourth- and tenth-overall picks and should be in the market for an edge or defensive back. The New York Giants pick fifth and seventh, and offensive tackle should be a top target for them. The Carolina Panthers have the sixth pick, but they may have to move up to acquire the quarterback they desire. The Atlanta Falcons (eighth) and Seattle Seahawks (ninth) both require a quarterback after trading away their long-time starters, and they will look to jump Carolina. The Pittsburgh Steelers sit at 20th overall, but their apparent love of Willis could prompt a serious trade offer. Coupled with a few wild cards like the Washington Commanders (11th) and New Orleans Saints (18th), and bidding for that second-overall pick could get spicy.
Yet trading down does come with a cost. While the Lions would be compensated with additional picks, moving down from second overall could mean missing out on top-tier talent. The mid-first prospects are nothing to scoff at, but for a team truly lacking superstars, can the Lions afford to gamble on lesser prospects? How far should they be willing to slide?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
What is the furthest the Lions should trade down?
My answer: I think trading down to 11th overall—belonging to Washington—is the furthest I would be willing to drop. It is likely enough to happen, it is early enough to still have elite talent on the board, and it is far enough away to amass a decent return.
It’s hard to say what the market would be, but perhaps we can speculate based on history. When the Los Angeles Rams drafted Jared Goff first overall in 2016, they traded away the 15th-overall pick, two 2016 second-round picks, one 2016 third-round pick, and a 2017 first and third. In exchange, they received the first-overall pick, as well as a 2016 fourth and sixth.
The very next pick was also traded for a sizeable return. As part of their move for Carson Wentz, the Philadelphia Eagles acquired the second-overall pick and a conditional fourth in exchange for the eighth-overall pick, a third rounder, a fourth rounder, and their 2017 first and second selections.
Could a team trading up for a quarterback offer something similar? In particular, the trade up for Wentz could be a template for a potential trade with the Falcons. I would hope for more, but I think it could be a decent starting point. I would extend a similar opinion to trading down with Washington.
I think trading down with Pittsburgh is too far. Jeremy Reisman suggested, perhaps jokingly, that Pittsburgh should trade their entire 2022 draft class and their 2023 first- and second-round picks for Detroit’s second-overall pick. However, that still might not be enough. Dropping from 2 to 20 is significant, and I’m not sure Pittsburgh has the capital to make the move worth it. Would you accept three firsts—2022, 2023, and 2024—for the second pick? Such a trade is difficult to fathom, but it might be what’s required. Pittsburgh may love Willis, but do they love him that badly?
I think Washington’s 11th-overall pick is a good stopping point. The Lions would hopefully get a handful of Day 1 and 2 picks from that move, but it would still leave them in position to draft a top prospect. While second overall may be too rich for a wide receiver, 11th overall could be a perfect spot for one. If the Lions are to fall any further, they would need serious compensation.
What do you think? How far are you willing to fall in the 2022 NFL Draft?