Trade Up, Trade Down, or Stay?
The week of the NFL Draft is finally here! The first round begins on Thursday, April 26th. There’s been a lot of speculation about who might trade their picks. The Giants, Browns, Bills, Broncos, and Patriots are just a few teams rumored to be looking to make a draft day trade. While teams might be tempted to make a trade in the draft, they may be better off staying put.
Trading a pick comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Trading up requires a team to give up picks now and in the future, which they could use to build their team. On the other hand, it could allow a team to get a player who can change their franchise. Trading down can get a team more picks, but they might not get a player who makes as big of an impact. Then there’s staying put. A team might choose to roll with what they’ve got and wait patiently. Sometimes it pays off if a player falls, but a team could jump up in front of them and select a player they wanted.
I’ve gone through the draft order and considered what each team needs and who they could be targeting. With those things in mind, I’ve indicated if I think each team should trade up, trade down, or stay with the pick (or picks) they have in the first round.
1. CLEVELAND BROWNS – STAY
For the Browns to get the quarterback they want in this draft, they have to stay at number one overall. It may be enticing for them to acquire more picks, but they’ve been acquiring picks for years now and it’s time to finally use them. They’ve had a productive offseason building the team, so their draft picks this year should be used to continue building now instead of later.
2. NEW YORK GIANTS – STAY
If the reports are correct, the Giants are in love with Saquon Barkley and he’s at the top of their draft board. Barkley would give the Giants a running game they have desperately needed for a long time. Trading out of this spot would put them at risk of not getting Barkley. They likely won’t trade with a team within the top 10. If they trade down that far, Barkley will be long gone by then.
3. NEW YORK JETS – STAY
The Jets traded up to number three to get a quarterback. There’s no reason for them to trade up or down now. Trading to number three indicates they like at least three quarterbacks in this draft because of the possibility of the Browns and Giants drafting one. If that’s true, they should wait and grab the quarterback they want at number three overall.
4. CLEVELAND BROWNS – STAY
This is a popular trade spot in the draft, but I think the Browns should keep this pick. They have a chance to get another top prospect to build their team. As mentioned with their first pick, they’ve been getting picks for years and it’s time to finally use them. Get one of the top talents in the draft like DE Bradley Chubb or DB Minkah Fitzpatrick. Don’t be tempted to continue trading because you can get more picks. More draft picks won’t help you win if you don’t use them.
5. DENVER BRONCOS – STAY
This is another popular trade spot in which I think the team should stay put. If Denver is going to get a long term quarterback, they’ll want to make sure they get the guy they want. Moving down to 12 or 15 or wherever, they likely won’t get the guy they want and possibly not a long term quarterback at all. If they don’t go quarterback, they can get one of the top talents in the draft instead of risking not being able to when the pick they trade for rolls around.
6. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – TRADE DOWN
The Colts have already traded down once in this draft, going from three to six. Trading down again would benefit this team because they need a lot of talent. Acquiring more draft picks, especially early round picks, would allow the Colts to build a better team around Andrew Luck.
7. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – STAY
I believe the Buccaneers should stay in this spot because they need help in the secondary and have the opportunity to get one of the best secondary players in the draft at this spot. Whether that player is Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward, or Derwin James, the player they could get here will have elite potential.
8. CHICAGO BEARS – STAY
A similar reason to why I think the Buccaneers should stay, the Bears have needs they need to fill. Those needs should be filled by the best player available. The Bears could go secondary, offensive line, or linebacker here. Whichever way they choose to go, the Bears can get an elite prospect with pick eight.
9. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – STAY
Despite having the number nine pick in the draft, the 49ers are looking pretty good going into next season. They finished the season strong last year after having a terrible start. By staying put at number nine, the 49ers can get one of the better players in the draft who can help them continue to build on last seasons late success.
10. OAKLAND RAIDERS – STAY
Oakland needs a lot of help on the defense and can get a player like Roquan Smith or Derwin James at pick 10. Because they need so much help on defense, they should go with the best defensive player on the board instead of trading back.
11. MIAMI DOLPHINS – STAY
I originally had the Dolphins as trade up, but then I changed them to stay because I believe someone they’re targeting will be available here. I believe Miami wants a quarterback, and although there’s going to be an early run on the quarterbacks, one should be on the board when they pick. I think Josh Rosen will fall, which is great for the Dolphins because they seem to like Rosen a lot.
12. BUFFALO BILLS – TRADE UP
We all know the Bills want a quarterback. Who that quarterback is remains to be fully known, but whoever it is, they’re probably going to have to trade up to get him. Having the 22nd pick in addition to pick 12 sets the Bills up nicely to be able to trade up, which I think they’ll be able to do on draft day.
13. WASHINGTON REDSKINS – STAY
Defensive line, corner, and offensive line are some of the Redskins top needs heading into the draft. Looking at mock drafts, the players projected to go before the Redskins pick mostly aren’t those positions. The top players at the Redskins positions of need will still be available when they’re on the clock.
14. GREEN BAY PACKERS – STAY
A similar situation to the Redskins, the Packers will have some of the top players available at their positions of need when their pick comes around. They could grab one of the top receivers, a top corner, or one of the top offensive lineman. Really any position that isn’t quarterback or linebacker will have a top player available based on what I’ve seen in mocks.
15. ARIZONA CARDINALS – TRADE UP
Having Sam Bradford will be good for the offense, if he can stay healthy. That’s the problem. Sam Bradford will most likely get hurt and miss time this season. He hasn’t played 16 games in four years and has a fifth year of his career where he missed time. It’d be smart of the Cardinals to target a long term quarterback option in this draft, but I don’t think they’ll be able to get one this far back.
16. BALTIMORE RAVENS – STAY
Unless the Ravens sign Dez Bryant before the draft, they’re most likely going to draft a receiver. Even if they do sign Dez, a receiver might still be in their plans. The top receivers aren’t going to be off the board at this pick, so the Ravens can stay put and probably get a guy they like.
17. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS – STAY
Some of the Chargers top needs will still be on the board when they pick. Staying put and selecting who they like at one of their position needs is what I believe they should do. Unless they’re targeting a quarterback to groom behind Rivers, there’s really no reason to trade up.
18. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – TRADE DOWN
If the Seahawks stay put and make their pick in the first round, they won’t pick again until the fourth round. With so many needs, Seattle should trade back in the first round and pick up an additional pick in either the second of third rounds.
19. DALLAS COWBOYS – TRADE DOWN
Jerry Jones will be tempted to trade up in the draft because it’s in his house and he wants to excite Cowboys fans everywhere, but that’s not the smart choice. Dallas has pressing needs at receiver, guard, defensive tackle, and linebacker. If they trade down a few spots they can still get a talented player to fill a need and get an additional pick or two to help them fill their other needs. Trading down may not excite people, but winning does. Get more talent Jerry.
20. DETROIT LIONS – STAY
I don’t think the Lions are targeting a player who’ll be gone at this point in the draft. They can stay put and still get a very talented player. Depending on who’s there when they pick, they could trade down, but for now I think staying is the best option.
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS – STAY
Cincinnati already traded down once in the first round, so I don’t think they should move again. They should make sure they get who they want, which trading down may not allow them to do. Already moving down from 12 to 21 indicates they’re not targeting a guy in the early first round, so I’ll rule out trading up.
22. BUFFALO BILLS – TRADE UP
This pick for the Bills will likely be packaged with pick 12 if the Bills move up earlier in the draft. I believe they will, so trading up with this pick was an easy choice.
23. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – STAY
Many reports have said the Patriots are targeting Josh Rosen or another quarterback in the first round. I don’t think a top quarterback will be on the board here, so they’d have to trade up to get one. Looking at what the Patriots have done in the past, drafting a first round quarterback isn’t like them. I think they’re more likely to go after a guy like Mason Rudolph in round 2 or Kyle Lauletta later on.
24. CAROLINA PANTHERS – TRADE UP
Carolina is likely targeting a receiver. The problem is, they pick behind teams like the Packers, Ravens, and Cowboys, who could all draft a receiver in the first round. If the Panthers want to make sure they get their guy, trading up might be what they have to do.
25. TENNESSEE TITANS – STAY
I don’t see a reason for the Titans to trade up. They can stay put and still get a talented player who fills one of their needs. There will be plenty of players for the Titans to choose from who can help them.
26. ATLANTA FALCONS – STAY
Defensive tackle is the position being consistently mocked to the Falcons. There should still be a top defensive tackle prospect on the board when the Falcons pick if they stay put. Unless they want to get the top defensive tackle, the Falcons should stay.
27. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – STAY
Tight End is a frequently mocked position to the Saints at pick 27. If the Saints do select a tight end in the first round, they’re going to have their pick of who. I don’t see a tight end going off the board before this pick.
28. PITTSBURGH STEELERS – STAY
Much like many teams picking late in the first round, the Steelers won’t be able to get a top guy at a position of need, but they can still get a very good player. A guy like Rashaan Evans or Derrius Guice might be on the board when the Steelers make their pick.
29. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – STAY
The players available to the Jaguars here might not be the top guys at their position, but very good players at linebacker, offensive tackle, receiver, and corner will still be on the board for the Jaguars to choose from.
30. MINNESOTA VIKINGS – TRADE UP
Minnesota needs to protect Kirk Cousins the best they can. There will likely be offensive tackle and guard prospects on the board here, but I think they should trade up to ensure they get their choice. They have a big investment in Cousins. If this was me, I’d do whatever I had to do to protect that investment.
31. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – TRADE DOWN
With their second pick in the first round, it might be smart for the Patriots to trade down. If there’s a team selecting early in the second round, the Patriots can move down a few spots and still have plenty of quality players on the board. They can also pick up an additional pick to help them fill some holes.
32. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – TRADE DOWN
Same situation as the Patriots. If a team want to get back into the first round to select a player, the Eagles can move down to the early second round and pick up an additional pick. There will still be a lot of players who can help the defending champs when they pick in the top of the second.