Tag:first round
Posted on: March 21, 2011 12:08 pm

Trading places

The five or more trades made during the first round of the NFL Draft each year really ramp up the excitement and anticipation felt during the event. Given the talent available this year, there's no doubt that at least that many will be announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell from the Radio City Music Hall stage on April 28th.

How many trades occur may, in part, be determined by the optimism (or lack thereof) surrounding the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

If teams believe the matter will take a year or more to be settled in court, much like the 1987 work stoppage, they will have to assume the league will operate under 2010 rules for the upcoming season(s). That means no rookie wage scale and those initial contracts continuing to include large amounts of guaranteed money.

If, however, a rookie wage scale seems likely to be enacted before this year's draft class signs their deals, teams may be more willing to move up to get the player they want. Paying out $10-$20 million in signing and other guaranteed bonuses to a top-five selection is much more palatable than the $30-$50 million included in each high pick's contract last summer.

Either way, teams anxious to land their top-rated player will undoubtedly pull the trigger on a deal. Here are just six of many intriguing trade scenarios for the first round of this year's draft:

Dallas (#9) trades up for CB Patrick Peterson

Potential trade partners: Cincinnati (#4) or Cleveland (#6)
Possible price: Second-round (Cincinnati) or third-round (Cleveland) picks

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will find it difficult to stay in place if Peterson, the prototypical size/speed corner is still available after the top three selections. San Francisco seems a likely spot for Peterson to land if still available, so Jones will have to make a move to gain the type of star player he typically covets. The Bengals and Browns could easily move down and still pick up a fine pass rusher, defensive tackle Nick Fairley, one of the top two receivers, A.J Green and Julio Jones. Both teams could certainly use the extra picks to build roster depth.

St. Louis (#14) trades up for WR Julio Jones/A.J. Green

Potential trade partner: Dallas (#9)
Possible price: Third-round pick with a late-round sweetener

If the Cowboys aren't enamored with one of the top two cornerbacks (Prince Amukamara being the other), they could move down into the mid-first to pick up an offensive lineman or top five-technique defensive end like Cameron Jordan or J.J. Watt. The Rams are obviously in the market for a playmaking receiver to help last year's number one selection, QB Sam Bradford, get the vertical game in gear. They'll need to get ahead of Washington, Houston (#11), and Minnesota (#12) to ensure they can secure the services of Jones or A.J. Green, whoever is still on the board.

San Diego (#18) trades up for DEs Cameron Jordan or J.J. Watt

Potential trade partners: Tennessee (#8), Minnesota (#12), Detroit (#13)
Possible price: Early (Tennessee) or late (Minnesota/Detroit) second-round pick; may receive a late round pick in return

The Chargers have multiple free agents among their three-man rotation up front, and there's not a playmaker among them. With the extra second-round pick they received from the Jets in the (for CB Antonio Cromartie) and the extra third round pick brought in from Seattle (QB Charlie Whitehurst), General Manager A.J. Smith is in a position to move into the top ten if he so chooses. Jordan and Watt have value to 4-3 and 3-4 teams, so Smith may need to go up higher than expected to land his guy.

Philadelphia (#23) trades up for OT Tyron Smith/Gabe Carimi

Potential trade partners:  Jacksonville (#16) or Tampa Bay (#20)
Possible price: Third-round and fourth-round picks

Andy Reid is never shy about moving up to get the offensive or defensive lineman he wants. Though Reid has preferred larger line prospects in the past, Smith's growing frame, strength and athleticism may catch the eye of new Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd. Carimi could also be the type of no-nonsense and strong right tackle Mudd wants to work with going forward, and probably brings a cheaper price tag.

New York Jets (#30) trade up for OLB Jabaal Sheard

Potential trade partner: Philadelphia (#23) or Baltimore (#26)
Possible price: Third-round pick, possibly with a late-round sweetener

Sheard's stock is on the rise, and he would fit in some 4-3 schemes in addition to projecting to a strong, relentless 3-4 rush linebacker. If fellow 3-4 teams New England (#17) and San Diego (#18) don't snap him up, Rex Ryan and company would trade a third-round selection along with another late pick to make sure the Saints (#24), Falcons (#27) or Patriots (#28) don't put Sheard's name on their cards.

Washington (#41) trades up for QBs Jake Locker, Christian Ponder or Ryan Mallett

Potential trade partners: New Orleans (#24) or New England (#28)
Possible price: Future second-round pick and current fifth round pick

If Washington owner Daniel Snyder and head coach Mike Shanahan don't believe one of the second-tier quarterback prospects are worth selecting in the top ten, they may trade up to find a signal caller late in the first. A falling Locker would be a nice get for Shanahan, who could consider him a Jay Cutler-type prospect who he could mold into an NFL quarterback. The vertical arm strength of a Mallett or moxie/intelligence of Ponder could also entice the duo leading the Redskins to make a deal.

One barrier to this move is Washington's lack of third or fourth round pick this year due to previous trades for OT Jammal Brown and QB Donovan McNabb. Any teams accepting future picks from organizations like Washington desperate to make a move would have to assume there will be a 2012 draft, or at least make the trade conditional so they would receive their trade partner's second-round pick in the next draft, no matter when it may occur.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analust Chad Reuter

Posted on: March 18, 2011 1:04 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 1:16 pm

April Insanity

March Madness has overtaken America this week, as people all over the country follow the NCAA Basketball Tournament to see if their favorite team (or completed office pool bracket) is still alive.

One could consider the NFL Draft as a "reverse bracket", where the best players (at least the team selecting them hopes that's the case) are found immediately, and then teams choose from groups of players of similar value throughout the remainder the draft.

Instead of waiting two-plus weeks for the NCAA tourney to discover its champion, NFL draft fans get see right away which players are most likely to fill out future Pro Bowl rosters and hold up fingerprint-smudged Lombardi Trophies.
And rather than seeing the generally less-competitive match-ups occurring early in "The Dance", NFL general managers choose between dozens of "small-school" or "bubble" major program prospects available in the sixth or seventh rounds at the end of draft weekend.

But anyone watching Thursday's games saw 13th-seeded Morehead State beating the fourth-seeded, and in-state foe, Louisville Cardinals now knows the feeling scouts get when their sixth round quarterback (Tom Brady, Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck) turns out to be more than a camp arm or career clipboard-holder.

If this year's draft were set up in a bracket format, it may look something like this:

"Franchise Final"


QBs Blaine Gabbert/Cam Newton

Some may believe other players are involved here, but the new Panthers coaching staff was not around when Jimmy Clausen was selected in the second round last year. Look for them to pick one of the top two quarterbacks this year to be "their guy" to lead their franchise, and possibly ship Clausen after the 2011 season (see Philadelphia QB Kevin Kolb).

"Sort-Out Semi-Finals"

2. Denver / 3. Buffalo / 4. Cincinnati / 5. Arizona

DE Da'Quan Bowers, DT Marcell Dareus, WR A.J. Green, OLB Von Miller, CB Patrick Peterson, QBs Blaine Gabbert/Newton

If Bowers' knee injury wasn't an issue, John Fox would likely jump on the Clemson defensive end as the strong-side pass rusher he covets. But Dareus' strength and versatility will certainly interest the Broncos and Bills, and Miller's pass rush ability and underrated coverage skills could land him on any of the four teams listed above.

Denver's quarterback situation is far from settled despite taking Tim Tebow (again, not this administration's pick), and the other three teams could look to the quarterback not selected by Carolina as their signal caller of the future. Buffalo coach Chan Gailey likes to work with young quarterbacks, Cincinnati's long-time starter Carson Palmer may retire rather than returning, and while Arizona seems most likely to sign a veteran like Marc Bulger, Ken Whisenhunt could take a chance on a talented young passer.

"Quasi-Quarterfinals" (nine teams included to capture likely picks in this round)

6. Cleveland / 7. San Francisco / 8. Tennessee / 9. Dallas / 10. Washington / 11. Houston / 12. Minnesota / 13. Detroit / 14. St. Louis

DT Nick Fairley, WR Julio Jones, QB Jake Locker, DE/OLB Robert Quinn, OT Tyron Smith, OT Nate Solder

Amazingly, the need for quarterbacks and defensive talent available in this talent could push ultra-talented Dareus, Green, and/or Peterson into this group (Bowers' surgically-repaired knee could also make him available here). Certainly the Browns and 49ers would jump at the chance to select any of those "sliders", who all have Pro Bowl ability.

Fairley was once thought to be picked in the semi-final round, but seems most likely to be picked during this stanza because of "one-year wonder" concerns (another reason Bowers may wind up here, as well). Quinn's brain tumor and year-long suspension give Houston and St. Louis a chance to secure his services despite his length and production as a sophomore in 2009.

The need for Dallas, Minnesota and Detroit to protect their quarterbacks could allow Smith and Solder to join this group. Locker's potential, even if it hasn't shown itself on tape as of yet, also make him a possible top 12 pick, or at least could allow Washington and Minnesota to trade down into the next round to get him at a slightly cheaper price.

After the top 14 selections, the draft will be as wide-open as the NCAA basketball tournament. As many as 25 players could work themselves into the "Round of 18"-- otherwise known as the rest of the first round.

Unexpected (or at least less-expected) picks will occur at the top of the draft, with running back Mark Ingram, defensive ends Cameron Jordan, Aldon Smith, and J.J. Watt, and others certainly capable of crashing the quarterfinal round like "mid-majors" George Mason or Butler in recent NCAA tournaments. Trades between teams in the various tiers will also "mess up" mock drafts, just like upsets make pool brackets obsolete.

But in the end, the most talented college basketball squads make their way to the top of the bracket because it takes talent and coaching to win five or six games over a three week period.
Expect the vast majority of the best players from this year's NFL draft class to be snapped up in a similar manner early on the night of Thursday, April 28th.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com