The NFL draft is a little over a month away. Far too early to gage any real knowledge of what teams want to dance and what teams want to sit it out. In terms of trading that is. For every team sitting in the top 10 and some beyond there is reason to believe that they will and reason to believe that they won’t. So, here is a closer look at some of those teams that may or may not be looking at jumping up or down come draft day.
The Falcons are rebuilding just like the Miami Dolphins. They are trying to accumulate draft picks to rebuild a franchise that on the surface is still scarred from watching their premier QB, Michael Vick, leave for Leavenworth, their head coach bail ala Nick Saban for the college ranks…while the season was still going on, and having to trade their best cover corner because frankly he demanded it. So with all this going on, what might the Falcons do come draft day?
Why they may trade up to 1: The skinny of it is simple. Matt Ryan. There is no other name associated with a trade up of two slots for the Falcons than Matt Ryan. Their need and desire for a new face to the franchise starts and ends with the QB. Ryan had a very solid and impressive pro-day workout. He is the type of QB that the cheerleader brings home to meet mom and dad…when compared to Vick…he could be a Saint.
The Falcons also do not have a QB on their roster now that will be their franchise. DJ Shockley is coming off an injury and is very unproven. Chris Redman has career backup or 3rd team written all over him. That leaves recently resigned Joey Harrington. The future of the Falcons is dependent on them finding a franchise QB and this year is the ideal year for them to do that. The 09 class looks weak and Harrington is not even a short term solution. With no free agents on the market who could be better, the Falcons will draft a QB.
Why they will not move up to number 1: As much as the Falcons will study Matt Ryan, they still have other needs. By accumulating an extra 2nd and 6th rounder the Falcons, should they choose, could easily jump back into round 1 where they could draft Brian Brohm or Joe Flacco. They are not tied to one name. If the Dolphins pass on Ryan…the Falcons get him clean. If the Dolphins take Ryan, the Falcons will get their shot at one of the Longs, Chris or Jake, Darren McFadden, and Vernon Gholston. By filling a need on their defensive line with a blue chip prospect, the Falcons can turn their attentions to the best QB available. Even Chad Henne may still be around in round 2.
The Falcons needs are such that moving up is almost counterproductive to what they want to accomplish.
What they will likely do: The Falcons are likely to sit on the 3 spot and then decide if they want to trade out of that spot and gain more picks. My guess is they do not trade up to the one spot, they trade down from number 3 and rebuild their team through the draft. Matt Ryan would be a nice catch, but even if he is there, if the offer is right…they will skip him and take Flacco later.
St. Louis Rams:
The Rams are an intriguing team as they have been relatively quiet for the better part of the off-season. Both in free agent signings and rumored interest in draft prospects. As a team they have a serious issue with their run stopping defense. On the offense, they have a soon to be vacant hole on the line. Their offense is not the Mike Martz “Greatest show on turf” that it used to be. Instead, it is a balance of run and pass with one setting up the other. The line is something that can not be overlooked.
Why the may move up to 1: Jake Long. Their desire to shore up the offensive line is great. There is no guarantee that they will not have to reach for an Olineman in round 2 as many prospects could be off the table and the Rams are in a position that they will not be trading back into round 1 to grab one should he fall. By moving up they tag the best Oline prospect in the draft. The defensive line is not shallow but not deep either, however, there is a very good chance that one may fall into their laps at pick 33.
Another reason the Rams may move up is the price. Compensation is lower moving up one spot, and the overall financial commitment to number 1 compared to number 2 is not all that different anymore. 30 mill guarantee for number 1, 25 mill guarantee to number 2.
Why the Rams will not move up: Need. The Rams have too many needs and both of their major ones, the oline and Dline, can both be filled at number 2. Chris Long, Vernon Gholston, and Jake Long. 2 of those 3 will be there allowing the Rams to pick who they truly want without compromising their draft plans. The Rams will not likely look to move down as they will risk not filling one of those holes. Unless they get a very good offer, they will stay put.
What they likely will do: Stay put. It makes little sense for the Rams to move either way. Unless they find a deal moving down 1 or 2 slots, the Rams will be content to sit at 2 and draft either Chris Long or Jake Long.
I will keep the Raiders brief. Some have wondered aloud about the Raiders moving up to draft Chris Long or Darren McFadden. There is no reason for them to move up as they can get Gholston at number 4 or Ellis or Dorsey or perhaps even McFadden. They could trade down should they get something they like. With the salaries they are paying out this year, it may not be a bad idea. With the salaries they are paying out this year, they will not be moving up. Lets not forget, they had the number 1 overall pick last year, and they will not be wanting to pay anything close to that on a rookie anytime soon.
Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs are the anomaly of this years draft. Especially teams at the top. The Chiefs have a few needs and although the Dline is not a glaring need, it could still benefit from having a blue chip prospect. The real dilemma for the Chiefs is the offense. Herm Edwards destroyed the Jets offense in NY and it appears that he has pretty much done that again in KC. With RB not a need, it would still not be surprising to see Carl Peterson draft McFadden in round 1 if he were there, but their needs are better filled first than a luxury.
Why the Chiefs could move up to 1: Two names have been linked to the Chiefs with the tied words “love affair”. Jake Long and Matt Ryan. It is intriguing that on Tuesday both Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson watched Ryan perform at his pro-day. While most teams sent scouts, the Chiefs sent the bulldogs. The Chiefs know that if they truly want one of those two mentioned, they will need to jump ahead of Atlanta for Ryan and St. Louis for Jake Long. With the Rams likely content to stay put, the only leap is from 5 to 1. Realistically.
Why the Chiefs won’t move to 1: Price. Carl Peterson is a shrewd negotiator who does not like to look like a fool. His hardball approach would likely take longer than the 30 some days left from now until draft day. CP also does not like to trade draft picks if he can avoid it and the cost of a 5-1 move may be too much for him to truly risk the teams future, or his own. Assuming that the draft were to play out with both Longs, Ryan, and Gholston off the board, the Chiefs would take a strong look at McFadden and he could likely be the pick. They could also go with Ellis or Dorsey. If it is Oline they truly want, Ryan Clady may be the shot in the dark that CP rolls the dice on.
What they likely will do: The Chiefs will talk to Miami about moving up to number 1 in the days prior to the draft. They will have at least 2 of the top 4 teams on the phones during the draft trying to work out a trade, and then they will be trying to move in the opposite direction if their attempts to move up fails. The term “fails” is not so much missing the opportunity as much as it is not willing to give up the compensation to make the jump. Which for the Chiefs will not reflect a bad thing unless they draft poorly.
If McFadden is on the board, Dallas may be calling. KC is a hard team to predict. With their biggest needs being Oline and QB, the prospects in the top 5 will likely be gone. If the Falcons pass on Ryan however, KC will be jumping up and down.
Another team who will likely be linked to rumors involving moving up. However, we should easily put those rumors to bed before they get started. The Ravens will not trade up for a quarterback. Still relatively high on Brian Brohm, the Ravens will land a QB at their spot without so much as a blink of an eye. Matt Ryan could possibly fall giving the Birds their choice of the two. If your hoping for a trade with Baltimore, I wouldn’t hold your breath for too long.
The Panthers are a sleeper here in terms of what they could do and what they will do. With a desperate need at QB and RB the Panthers are in a precarious position that they can stand pat and take a RB, presumably Rashard Mendenhall, or take a QB should one fall into their laps.
Why they wont move up: There really is no reason to say why they will. Unless they fall in love with Darren McFadden, the Panthers will get a very good prospect at RB in Mendenhall or Felix Jones. All the talk of a move to number 1 is nothing more than fan-based generated rumor for the sake of speculation. The Panthers have no need to move up and to do so would be on the desperate side of nothing. If the pick is not a RB, look for Ryan Clady or Jeff Otah to be taken instead. The Panthers have a lot of options from their slot.
If there is a team that is linked to rumors, the Cowboys would have to have a bronze nameplate next to the word in the dictionary. The Cowboys would do themselves well by staying put at 22 and 28 drafting a cover corner and a wide receiver. Yet for all the talk of what they really need, the reality is that they also are rather in dire straights with the RB situation. Marion Barber is tendered for a 1 and a 3 in compensation but in reality he is the only RB on the roster and although he is very good, he is not a game changer and Jerry Jones found out first hand by the Giants that a game changer was the difference in the playoffs. Enter the Darren McFadden quagmire.
Why the Cowboys will move up to 1: Darren McFadden. Jerry Jones loves the kid and although he denies any interest in moving up, his actions thus far indicate the opposite and of course Jerry Jones does what Jerry Jones wants. Much rumored from day one of the off-season, the Dolphins have been the trade partner most associated with “Americas’ Team”.
In the Dolphins the ‘Boyz have a trade partner where compensation may be less than say moving down to the 3 slot. Believe it or not, the relationship of Bill Parcells and company with Jerry Jones could bring a simple under value trade that benefits both teams. For example: Where the Falcons would likely ask for both 1’s of Dallas, the Dolphins may be more inclined to ask for one of those picks and a pick next year allowing Dallas to still address the corner or WR slot in round 1 this year.
Why the Cowboys will not move up to 1: There really is no clear answer. Mostly it would be the fact that they could play hardball with the Falcons, Raiders, or Chiefs, or simply be content to draft corner and WR and address RB in round 2. This is a deep RB draft in terms of prospects and the Cowboys could easily address the position later. In round 1, it appeared that Felix Jones would be their number 22 slot target, but with surgery moving Jonathan Stewart down the boards, Jones will likely be taken before 22 leaving the Cowboys looking elsewhere.
What they will likely do: Jones will have to commit himself to one of two options. Trade up for the RB he loves and covets or resign himself to the fact that he will have to address the “WOW” factor he has promised until round 2 and draft corner and WR in round 1. Jones will make the calls, he probably already has. He knows what he is willing to pay and what he wants to pay. I still think that Jones ends up with McFadden. I just think he finds another partner to get him. Atlanta may value Flacco and Ryan at the same level and if that is the case, Flacco at 22 is a solid move for Atlanta. I think Dallas takes McFadden at number 3.