It wouldn’t be NFL Draft season without Lions fans clamoring for the team to trade down in the first round to acquire more picks. That kind of scenario is hard to predict but I have been following the latest sentiments regarding this year’s quarterback prospects because they represent the Lions’ best chance at trading down.
Apr 26, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell introduces Trent Richardson (Alabama) as the number three overall pick to the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Apparently I’m not alone. MLive’s Justin Rogers broke down the situation and why a possible trade down might be realistic:
"Of course there is the expectation that a veteran, someone like Matt Cassel or Carson Palmer, gets cut next week. Still, there’s not a guy out there that will have quarterback-starved franchises likes Arizona, Buffalo and Cleveland knocking down the door.This all makes the quarterback prospects in the upcoming draft a little more appealing. Admittedly, it’s a weak crop coming out of college this year, but every year quarterback’s surge up the board. Ryan Tannehill is a prime example, going eighth overall to the Dolphins last season."
The analysis is strong but it stops short of explaining why a team looking to trade up for a quarterback would specifically pick the Lions as their partner. After all, while the Lions may be willing to trade down, it takes another team willing to make a deal with them for it to happen. All it takes is a quick look at the draft board to see why the Lions are in the perfect spot.
The Lions are followed in the first round by the Browns, Cardinals and Bills – three teams who could use a quarterback of the future (and present). Perhaps there is a team out there that has their eye on someone like Geno Smith and know they can’t risk waiting to see if he is around when they are on the clock. With three teams sitting behind the Lions that could use a quarterback, trading up withe Lions allows a team to snag their guy before the Browns, Cardinals and Bills get a chance.
Of course, even the threat of a team trading up to get ahead of those three teams could benefit the Lions. If Geno Smith, or another quarterback, becomes the apple of either of those teams’ eye, they could make a preemptive move to trade up to the Lions spot to avoid a scenario where another team has the chance to make such a move.
While not for a quarterback, that type of move happened just last year. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were locked in as the first two picks in last year’s draft with the Minnesota Vikings holding the third pick. It was widely known that they had their eye on Matt Kalil and that the Browns behind them were looking at Trent Richardson. With rumors swirling that other teams, like the Buccaneers, might be interested in trading with the Vikings to get a crack at Richardson ahead of the Browns, Cleveland traded up one spot to ensure Richardson would be available. The Vikings picked up picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh round picks.
Will the Lions trade down? Odds are the opportunity won’t be available, but at least there is a reasonable scenario that says they might.