2012 NFL Draft: Is this the Year the Detroit Lions Trade Down?


Listen to any sports talk radio show discussing the Lions’ draft plans and trading down will come up eventually. It’s a great idea in theory; trade down a few spots and pick up another valuable draft pick in the process. The problem is that it is more difficult to pull off in reality – especially when the Lions were routinely picking in the top five when those draft picks commanded big money.

The 2012 draft class appears to be relatively deep but lacking in sure-fire can’t miss prospects that teams want to see in the top ten. That could lead to a lack of trade activity near the top of the draft as Greg Gabriel points out in a recent National Football Post article:

"What will happen over the next two weeks is many clubs will make calls to the clubs behind them in the drafting order and let them know that if the player they are targeting isn’t there when it’s their turn to pick they may be willing to move down. It’s just usual procedure, but in order to make a trade, you have to have a partner and that’s the hard part. What is more than likely is the trades we see will happen after the 15th pick when the cost to move up isn’t as great."

Here is where you say, “hey, the Lions hold a pick after number 15, could they trade down”? Glad you asked.

The NFL draft contains a million moving parts and it is hard to predict what scenarios will be in play when the tenth pick goes on the clock, much less the 23rd pick. However, I see a couple potential scenarios that could lead to a trade down if the Lions so desire.

In order to trade down, the Lions will need to find a trade partner that is motivated to move up. That generally happens when a team wants to jump ahead of other teams to ensure they get the guy they want. There aren’t any teams following the Lions that figure to draft a quarterback in the first round so the Lions likely won’t be able to make a deal with a team trading up for a guy like Brandon Weeden so the motivation to jump up has to be for someone else. So, what might a team need to trade up with the Lions to get? The Lions pick is followed by a number of teams that run 3-4 defenses. The Colts hold the second pick in the second round and are making a transition to a 3-4 defense. With an offensive player in Andrew Luck poised to be the team’s first pick, the Colts almost have to go defense with their second pick and might have to jump up the board or risk an losing an impact player 3-4 player to one of the many teams that follow the Lions. It is also possible that one of the 3-4 teams following the Lions want to trade up with the Lions to get themselves ahead of the pack. That would be the best scenario as the Lions would only have to fall back a few spots instead of out of the first round entirely.

The other trade down scenario involves the St. Louis Rams. Their trade with the Washington Redskins netted them a glut of draft picks both now and in the future. They hold four of the top 65 picks in this year’s draft including the first and seventh picks of the second round. It’s possible the Rams cash in some of their “quantity” for “quality” and move back into the first round. The Lions could be a trade partner if the Rams want to move up for a wide receiver or defensive lineman that is falling unexpectedly on draft day.

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