If you trade down in this year's draft, you probably don't want to trade down too far. There is elite talent in the 2018 draft class, but at somewhere between picks No. 8 and 12, the quality dips a bit.
That's one reason why the second half of the first round and much of the second round are so hard to project this year; prospects such as the top tight ends (South Dakota State's Dallas Goedert and Penn State's Mike Gesicki) and offensive tackles (Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey, Texas' Connor Williams and UCLA's Kolton Miller) have a relatively wide spread of possibilities.
At the same time, trading down and accumulating picks gives you a multitude of possibilities. The more arrows you have in the quiver, the better your chances of hitting the bullseye. Such a philosophy has helped the New England Patriots over the years.
The Browns have also tried this, as well -- although they had little success. In fact, as we look at trades in the top five picks over the last five years, the Browns stand as a glaring example of what can go wrong.
Team trading down:San Francisco
Team moving up:Chicago
Selection-order drop:1 (from 2 to 3)
Extra picks received to move down:No. 67 and No. 111 selections in 2017, third-round choice in 2018
Additional deals:San Francisco dealt the No. 67 pick to New Orleans for a second-round choice in 2018 and the 229th pick in 2017. The 49ers also traded the No. 111 pick to Seattle to move up three slots from No. 34 to 31.
- To Chicago:QB Mitchell Trubisky
- **To San Francisco: *DE Solomon Thomas (No. 3), S Josh Harvey-Clemons (No. 229), LB Reuben Foster (acquired at No. 31 after the 49ers used the 111th pick to move up), TBD (No. 59 pick from New Orleans in the 2018 NFL Draft), TBD (No. 70 pick from Chicago in the 2018 NFL Draft).
Advantage:Unknown at this time. The acquisition of the Saints' 2018 second-rounder helped make it more palatable for the 49ers to trade their own Round 2 pick to New England for QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Thomas recorded three sacks last year; more is expected. But the No. 67 pick the 49ers dealt to New Orleans became Pro Bowl RB Alvin Kamara. Meanwhile, the Bears picked a potential franchise quarterback. A year from now, we'll have a better read on Trubisky and Thomas.
Team trading down:Tennessee
Team moving up:L.A. Rams
Selection-order drop:14 (from 1 to 15)
Extra picks received to move down:Nos. 43 and 45 (Round 2) and No. 76 (Round 3) in 2016; first- and third-round picks in 2017.
Extra picks dealt:Tennessee surrendered its 113th and 177th picks in the 2016 draft.
Additional deals:Tennessee traded the No. 15 and 76 picks -- as well as a second-round pick in 2017 -- to Cleveland to move up to the No. 8 pick in 2016. The Rams sent the No. 113 pick to Chicago for the No. 117 and 206 selections in the 2016 draft.
- To the Rams:QB Jared Goff (No. 1), WR Pharoh Cooper (No. 117), TE Temarrick Hemingway (No. 177), WR Mike Thomas (No. 206).
- **To Tennessee: *OT Jack Conklin (No. 8), DT Austin Johnson (No. 43), RB Derrick Henry (No. 45), WR Corey Davis (No. 5, 2017), TE Jonnu Smith (No. 100, 2017).
Advantage:Rams. Goff and Cooper were Pro Bowlers last year, with Cooper earning an All-Pro nod as a kickoff returner. Henry, Davis and Smith are all expected to start in Tennessee, and Conklin was an All-Pro in 2016, so the Titans' haul has been helpful in pushing them to consecutive winning seasons. But the Rams got their franchise quarterback out of the deal.
Team trading down:Cleveland
Team moving up:Philadelphia
Selection-order drop:6 (from 2 to 8)
Extra picks received to move down:No. 77 (Round 3) and No. 100 (Round 4) in 2016; a first-round pick (No. 12) in 2017 and a second-round pick in 2018.
Extra picks dealt:Cleveland dealt a conditional fourth-round pick (No. 139) in 2017.
Additional deals:Philadelphia sent the 139th pick and a 2017 seventh-rounder to Minnesota to move up seven spots to No. 132. Cleveland sent the No. 8 pick to Tennessee for the Nos. 15 and 76 picks held by the Titans and a second-rounder in 2017 (No. 52). The Browns dealt the No. 77 pick to Carolina for the 93rd, 129th and 168th selections in the 2016 draft. They also traded the 100th pick to the Raiders for the 114th and 154th selections in 2016.
Then the Browns took the No. 12 pick in 2017 and dealt it to Houston for their first-round picks in 2017 (No. 25) and 2018 (No. 4).
- To Philadelphia:QB Carson Wentz (No. 2), RB Donnel Pumphrey (No. 132).
- **To Cleveland: *WR Corey Coleman (No. 15), OT Shon Coleman (No. 76), QB Cody Kessler (No. 93), S Derrick Kindred (No. 129), WR Ricardo Louis (No. 114), WR Jordan Payton (No. 154), OT Spencer Drango (No. 168), S Jabrill Peppers (No. 25, 2017), QB DeShone Kizer (No. 52, 2017), TBD (No. 4, 2018).
Advantage:Eagles by 1,000 miles, but with an asterisk.
There is no doubt about Wentz's impact; if he had not torn his ACL last December, he stood a good chance of being the NFL's MVP. Another outstanding season from Wentz will push him into the league's elite tier of quarterbacks, a status he would be likely to maintain for many years. Pumphrey spent most of the 2017 season on injured reserve and could be on the roster bubble after the emergence of Corey Clement and the trade for Jay Ajayi.
Meanwhile, both of the quarterbacks selected by the Browns are no longer on their roster (further illustrating the rapid drop-off in success rate for QBs taken after the fifth pick). Corey Coleman had the dropped pass in Pittsburgh that sealed Cleveland's 0-16 finish last year. Shon Coleman started all 16 games last year and is projected to replace Joe Thomas at left tackle. Peppers is a starter. Louis is a backup.
And the Browns could have had Wentz or DeShaun Watson, who the Texans took with the 12th pick they acquired from Cleveland last April. Yikes.
The No. 4 pick next Thursday could change matters. It is unlikely to tip the scales toward Cleveland, but the pick could at least ensure that this series of deals is not the rout for the Eagles that it currently is.
Team trading down:Cleveland
Team moving up:Buffalo
Selection-order drop:5 (from 4 to 9)
Extra picks received to move down:Round 1 (No. 19) and Round 4 (No. 115) picks in 2015.
Extra picks dealt:None.
Additional deals:Cleveland used a fifth-round pick (No. 145) in 2014 to move back up one spot to No. 8.
- To Buffalo:WR Sammy Watkins (No. 4).
- **To Cleveland: *CB Justin Gilbert (No. 8), C Cameron Erving (No. 19, 2015), S Ibrahiem Campbell (No. 115, 2015).
Advantage:Bills. Although Watkins wasn't the game-changer the Bills expected, he did rack up 2,029 yards and 15 touchdowns on 125 receptions in his first two seasons before struggling in 2016, helping lead to a 2017 trade to the Rams. The Bills received cornerback E.J. Gaines -- who had a solid 2017 campaign before joining the Browns in free-agency -- and a second-round pick that will be the No. 56 overall selection, part of the Bills' cluster of four picks in the first 56 selections next week.
Gilbert played just two seasons in Cleveland before being dealt to the Steelers for a 2018 sixth-round pick; he was cut in 2017 and is out of football. Erving also played just two frustrating seasons in Cleveland; he was dealt to the Chiefs for a 2018 fifth-round pick. Erving has started just half (21 of 42) of the games in which he's played. Campbell was waived/injured by the Browns in 2017 and is now with Houston.
Team trading down:Oakland
Team moving up:Miami
Selection-order drop:9 (from 3 to 12)
Extra picks received to move down:A Round 2 pick (No. 42) in 2013.
Extra picks dealt:None.
- To Miami:Edge rusher Dion Jordan (No. 3).
- **To Oakland: *CB D.J. Hayden (No. 12), OT Menelik Watson (No. 42).
Advantage:Raiders. Watson and Hayden are no longer with the Raiders, and neither is a projected starter at this point in the year. Watson is behind Jared Veldheer at right tackle in Denver, while Hayden is a rotational cornerback in Jacksonville.
Still, the performances of Hayden and Watson in Oakland surpassed that of Jordan in Miami. He had just three sacks for the Dolphins and eventually served a 15-month suspension for a violation of the league's PED policy. He started just one game for Miami. Jordan has managed to latch on with the Seahawks, for whom he recorded four sacks last year, but for Miami, Jordan will rank as one of the franchise's biggest draft busts.
The final tally:
- TEAM TRADING DOWN: 1
- TEAM TRADING UP: 3
- TO BE DETERMINED:1
Some trades down have worked over the course of the years, and if you go back one more year to 2012, you'll find three top-five trades involving the Redskins, Browns and Jaguars. All three of them moved up. None of those gambits paid off over the long haul, as Washington ended up with QB Robert Griffin III, Cleveland got RB Trent Richardson and Jacksonville picked talented-but-troubled WR Justin Blackmon. But at least Griffin led Washington a division title.
The bag is mixed. But if you're not sold on a top-5 option and feel the bust potential is high, a trade makes sense.
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