NFL Draft: Titans willing to deal No. 1 pick, so what can they expect to get?

The Tennessee  Tennessee Titans finished the 2014 season with a bad enough record to secure the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft. They used that pick to select former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota . While that pick worked out fairly well for them as Mariota had a good debut season, the rest of their roster was still of such poor a quality that the Titans managed to finish with the NFL's worst record in 2015. As such, they own the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft.

Likely because there are so many holes on that roster, recently hired general manager Jon Robinson stated on Monday that the Titans will listen to any and all offers for the No. 1 selection.

It's possible, and maybe even probable, that Robinson is just paying lip service to the idea of a trade. Almost every team that gets the No. 1 pick puts out a statement like this ahead of the draft. And why not? If a team bowls you over with an offer, you can just take it. If nobody does, you can stick in your spot and take whichever prospect you like best. 

But given that Robinson did put this out there, and that the Titans have holes all over their roster, now is as good a time as any to look back at the history of No. 1 pick trades and how much return the teams that dealt those picks away received for the right to the choice of any prospect in the draft.

We'll start with the most recent pick and work our way back, ending at the first time during my lifetime (i.e., since 1987) that the No. 1 pick was traded, because I had to pick a cut-off date and that seemed like a pretty good one to choose. We'll also include a note of how the trade worked on out the famous Draft Value Chart popularized by former Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins head coach Jimmy Johnson and still used in some form or another by many teams today.

  • San Diego Chargers trade:  No. 1 pick ( Eli Manning ) to New York Giants
  • Chargers receive: No. 4 pick ( Philip Rivers ), No. 65 pick (Nate Kaeding), No. 12 pick in 2005 (Shawne Merriman), No. 144 pick in 2005 (traded to St. Louis Rams )
  • Draft Value: Giants: (3,000); Chargers (1,800 + 265 + 1,200 + 34 = 3,299)

This one worked out fairly well for both teams. The Chargers got three long-time starters, including one of the best quarterbacks of the last decade, while the Giants got Manning and two Super Bowl victories. Would he have led the Chargers to those victories, or would Rivers have led the Giants to theirs? Who knows. Doesn't really matter. The trade was already done. The Chargers "won" the deal based on draft value (and Pro-Football-Reference's Approximate Value provided during the careers of the respective players on each team, as we explored last offseason), but the Giants surely feel as though they "won," too, given those Super Bowls.

Eli Manning wasn't super-pumped about getting drafted by the Chargers. (Getty Images)
Eli Manning wasn't super-pumped about getting drafted by the Chargers. (Getty Images)
  • Chargers trade: No. 1 pick (Mike Vick) to Atlanta Falcons
  • Chargers receive: Tim Dwight, No. 5 pick (LaDainian Tomlinson), No. 67 pick (Tay Cody), No. 48 pick in 2002 (Reche Caldwell)
  • Draft Value: Falcons (3,000); Chargers (1,700 + 255 + 420 = 2,375) + Tim Dwight

This one was a clear win for the Chargers, even if they didn't win it on the Draft Value Chart because they also received Dwight in the deal. Tomlinson went on to become one of the best running backs in NFL history while Vick was an uber-exciting but ultimately average to slightly above quarterback during his time in Atlanta.

  • New York Jets trade: No. 1 pick (Orlando Pace) to Rams
  • Jets receive: No. 6 pick (traded to Seattle Seahawks ), No. 67 pick (traded to Denver Broncos ), No. 102 pick (Terry Day), No. 207 pick (traded to Philadelphia Eagles )
  • Draft Value: Rams (3,000); Jets (1,600 + 255 + 92 + 8.6 = 1,995.6)

The Jets recouped more in Draft Value than this initial deal would lead you to believe, because they traded the No. 6 pick for No. 8 (James Farrior) and No. 104 (Leon Johnson), the No. 67 pick for No. 88 (Dedric Ward), No. 191 (Chuck Clements), and No. 229 (Jason Ferguson), and No. 207 for someone named Ronnie Dixon. That's still a total yield of 1,745 points, though and considering Orlando Pace went No. 1 and Walter Jones went No. 6, they definitely came away the losers here.

  • Carolina Panthers trade: No. 1 pick (Ki-Jana Carter) to Cincinnati Bengals  
  • Panthers receive: No. 5 pick (Kerry Collins) and No. 36 pick (Shawn King)
  • Draft Value: Bengals (3,000); Panthers (1,700 + 540 = 2,240)

The Panthers lost this one on the Draft Value Chart but won it by not having to employ Ki-Jana Carter.

  • New England Patriots trade: No. 1 pick (Russell Maryland) to Cowboys
  • Patriots receive: Ron Francis, David Howard, Eugene Lockhart, No. 11 pick (Pat Harlow), No. 41 pick (Jerome Henderson)
  • Draft Value: Cowboys (3,000); Patriots (1,250 + 490 = 1,740) + Ron Francis, David Howard, Eugene Lockhart

The Cowboys got a pretty clear win here in terms of both Draft Value and the player they drafted, as Maryland contributed to their winning three Super Bowls in the next five years after he was selected. The Pats won in the long term because just under a decade later, they hired Bill Belichick and started winning every single trade and a bunch of Super Bowls, too.

  • Falcons trade: No. 1 pick (Jeff George), No. 83 pick (Stacey Simmons), conditional 1991 draft pick (not exercised) to Indianapolis Colts
  • Falcons receive: for Andre Rison, Chris Hinton, No. 13 pick (Mike Pritchard), No. 121 pick (Reggie Redding)
  • Draft Value: Colts (3,000 + 175 = 3,175); Falcons (1,150 + 52 = 1,202) + Andre Rison + Chris Hinton

I guess nobody won this one. The Colts gave up on George within four years later and traded him to ... the Falcons, who needed a quarterback because they traded a guy named Brett Favre to the Green Bay Packers in 1992.

Basically what we're looking at here is the fact that only one of the teams to trade the No. 1 pick in the past 28 years has won the deal in terms of Draft Value (the 2004 Chargers) and even that was only because they managed to squeeze future picks out of the deal. Amazingly, they probably had the least amount of leverage of any team in the group, because everybody and their mother knew the Mannings didn't want Eli to play for San Diego.

Whether the team dealing the No. 1 pick "won" the trade in a larger sense is a bit more murky. San Diego definitely won the 2001 deal and the Panthers won 1995. The Rams definitely won 1997 and the Cowboys won 1991. Nobody won 1990 and both teams could reasonably feel as though they won 2004. It's a mixed bag.

More picks are usually better than one, but you have to get lucky and actually nail those picks to make it count. If Robinson feels particularly good about the top player on the board, he should probably just take that guy. But if he likes the depth and has more confidence in his ability to pluck multiple players throughout this draft and those in the future, trading down wouldn't be a bad strategy.

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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