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Draft Thoughts Part 2: The Trade

April 20, 2016

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(Talk about a wild pre-draft. I wrote this article last night and meant to publish it tomorrow to space out my article and profiles when news of the NEXT big trade came down. I re-read it and didn’t think anything was too dramatically changed so I’ve left it alone and am just going to publish it now).

I love this Titans-Rams trade for the 1st Overall Pick. There aren’t enough big trades like this as everyone seems to be too worried it won’t work in their favor and they’ll get fired. There certainly is that risk but every good GM should have a few players on his board that he covets and I wish more of them took a gamble and moved up for them. This trade was that as the Rams looked at their borderline elite D (best DL in football with the Aaron Donald/Robert Quinn duo?), rookie of the year running back Todd Gurley and their 9 nine straight years of a losing record and said maybe it’s time to go all in to fix the one weakness on the team: quarterback.

 

  • This trade has so many offshoots to it.

 

      • Cleveland-Everyone immediately said the Browns were taking a QB #2 that it almost seems like a forgone conclusion that the draft goes Wentz/Goff or Goff/Wentz but what if they didn’t? What if they had 1 QB far above the other and their #1 guy went? Do they still go QB because the Analytics guys studied and found taking a QB in the Top 5 is the highest ROI? Do they trade down. Do they take Tunsil or Ramsey? (This article was writen on 4/19 a day before the SECOND blockbuster trade at the top of the draft)

 

  • Cowboys Options

 

      • Jalen Ramsey is available at #4. To me this scenario is pretty straight forward. The Cowboys biggest weakness is their secondary. Ramsey is an elite CB/S prospect who is everyone’s pick as the #1 DB. He “falls” to you at #4 Overall. You pick him. You don’t think about it and you are happy with your choice as it is a great meeting of need and value.
      • Wentz/Goff/Ramsey is the first three picks. If this happens the Cowboys will officially be on the clock with a tough choice to make. If Ramsey is available it’s an easy selection but if the draft pans out this way the Cowboys have four options:
        • 1st: Laremy Tunsil-Some think they won’t select Tunsil but I’m starting to not be so sure. In the past 5 drafts no team in the NFL has invested more 1st Round Picks in the offensive line than the Cowboys. Everyone knows this but they haven’t stopped there as they re-signed Doug Free to a $5 mil a year deal, actively sought out La’el Collins after last year’s draft, drafted an OT in the 3rd round in that same draft and signed OT Charles Brown and C Joe Looney this offseason. The Cowboys have consistently the past 4 years put the picks and resources into making themselves the best OL in the league and now with the best OT to come along in maybe the past 9 years (Joe Thomas was the 2007 NFL Draft and is regarded by me as the best OT prospect of the past 15 years.) they will blink and not add him to their roster? I don’t know. I could see Jerry talked into crafting one of the greatest offensive line in NFL History.
        • 2nd: Laremy Tunsil as trade bait-I haven’t finished the positions so my board isn’t complete but right now Tunsil is the #1 Overall Player in the 2016 NFL Draft and is highly likely to stay there. I think the kid is a stud who might just make the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The Cowboys already have their Pro Bowl LT in Tyron Smith (fun fact Smith will only be 3 years older than Tunsil when the regular season begins! Smith is still a young pup) and have a defense with lots of holes in it so they are fine with trading down. The teams just behind them make a lot of sense as trading partners if Tunsil falls:
          • #5 Jaguars-Not really an option as they have former Top 5 pick Luke Joeckel and signed a free agent to compete with him (Kelvin Beachum).
          • #6 Ravens-You don’t think Ozzie Newsome is begging for Tunsil to drop in his lap? He has had a revolving door at LT since Jonathan Ogden retired. He knows what an elite LT can do and would consider giving up a 2nd rounder for the opportunity at another one.
          • #7 49ers-While many don’t think this makes sense I think the 49ers are probably the #1 trade candidate at #4 for Tunsil. Joe Staley is a very good LT but he’s 31. 3 years ago the Eagles under Chip Kelly moved up in the draft to select a LT (Lane Johnson) despite having a Pro Bowl 31 year old left tackle named Jason Peters. Anyone see some resemblances? Kelly’s offense relies on speed, tempo and horizontally using the field. It works best when he has two athletic, mobile tackles to move around and block. Tunsil would make sense in 2016 and even more with each passing year as Staley declines and switches to RT with Laremy taking the coveted blindside spot.
          • #8 Eagles-I don’t see them moving up for Tunsil. If he dropped they’d probably take him but LT isn’t a big enough need to move up for.
          • #9 Bucs-Donovan Smith is a solid starter at LT and last year’s 2nd round pick but with RT being Demar Dotson and Gosder Cherilus it’d make sense for Smith to move to RT and Tunsil to become the LT. This is even more about getting your franchise QB last year, in Jameis Winston, and protecting him long term by adding a young LT to be his teammate for the next decade. There is a lot of logic to that and for only a 2nd rounder in 2016 and 2017 it’d be an option.
          • #10-14-No very “wow” like options that make it worth the cost of moving up so high.
          • #15 Titans-Now some will say this won’t be happening but I have to tell you this option seems very possible to me. I’ve never heard a GM talk more about moving up after he traded back in my entire life. He seemed to insinuate in every interview that they had their #1 guy targeted and are still in the hunt for him. Maybe that is just talk as for a second the GM of the Tennessee Titans actually mattered and of course he got excited and cocky in front of reporters but I think they could move up from #15 to #4 if they gave up all of their picks gained in the Rams trade minus the 2017 1st Rounder. The Titans move up to #4, take Tunsil and say we got the guy we wanted all along and maneuvered our way into a free 1st rounder next year in the process. That is a bad ass move and would get that GM a lot of breathing room in the future. The Cowboys? Well they get to have a mid 1st rounder where they could get a less talented but still very good defensive player like cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves or Mackenzie Alexander and then get to enjoy having four 2nd rounders and four 3rd rounders over the next two years. That infusion of talent would be a welcome relief to a defense that has a lot of holes in it. Tunsil and Elliott won’t do that and Bosa will only help one hole so this trade does make some sense for a team with a lot of talent and soon to be big salaries on offense (5 Pro Bowlers as recently as 2014, 2 All Pro OL still on cheap, rookie contracts).
        • 3rd: The Cowboys have a clear preference on the #1 pass rusher in this class. Joey Bosa has consistently been linked to the Cowboys since the beginning as the Cowboys need another pass rusher to join the past two year’s second rounders in DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory and Bosa has been a Top 5-10 pick on draft boards the past two seasons. Yet as his college career is coming to a close Bosa is losing momentum as many think he lacks the athleticism to be a great pass rusher. DeForest Buckner and Shaq Lawson are the others in the mix as the #1 pass rusher on team’s boards. If Dallas has them all bunched together or all well below a Top 5 value then this scenario isn’t an option but if they view one far above the rest they might not risk trading down and will just stay put at #4 and take their best pass rusher. It’s kind of boring honestly (analogy of hitting a solid double instead of going for the home run) but it’s an option.
        • 4th: They fall in love with Ezekiel Elliott. I think Elliott is a little rich for #4 but he isn’t that far off in terms of pure value. He’s only a little less talented than Todd Gurley and is far less injury prone so I could see some GMs give him a higher final grade than Gurley. Add in the fact that the Cowboys have the best OL in the league and an aging, injury prone QB and it makes a lot of sense. Of course it makes even more sense at #6 or #7 which is why I think Elliott would be a serious option for the Cowboys but only if they traded back.
      • Eagles/49ers/Bears/Saints-This trade makes it almost guaranteed that the first two picks are QBs so these teams that were seeking QB help are now out of luck.
      • NFC West-This division was already the best in football and their worst team might have just traded up for a franchise QB. If Goff/Wentz plays even okay as a rookie (+80 QB Rating) I suspect the Rams win 10 games and make the playoffs. If that is the case then the NFC West likely will have 3 teams in the playoffs and the NFC wildcard no longer will be an option for teams in other divisions. Win your division or you stay home could be the new mantra in the NFC for the next 2-3 years as the Seahawks and Cardinals are just too stacked right now for me to think that a Rams addition to the playoff pool would bump them out.
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