Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Should the Seahawks Trade UP (In Order to Trade Down) in the 2017 NFL Draft?

Recently, the question came up regarding the idea of the Seahawks trading UP, rather than down in this year's NFL draft. Such a move would be highly unusual for the Seahawks, who have either stayed put or (more frequently) traded DOWN in the first round since Pete Carroll and John Schneider assumed the reigns of the franchise in 2010. That trend could change this year, but possibly not for the reasons you might suspect.

The major issue in any trade scenario is obviously finding a trading partner that wants to do a deal. If say the Seahawks coveted a certain player-- perhaps CB Kevin King of UW-- they might want to move up from pick #26 to get him. In order to do so, they must find a trading partner who wants what the Seahawks have, the #26 pick and probably one of the Seahawks three late 3rd round picks (#90, #102 & #106).

If we look at a standardized Draft Trade Chart, those picks add up to 1,014 points, enough to get the Seahawks as high as the 15th or 16th pick in the 1st round.

However, looking at this draft, it really would not be worth making such a move simply because this draft is fairly even in terms of talent after the first 6-7 picks. In other words, they can get as good a player at #26 as they're likely to get at #15.

They can also get just as good a player at #40 as they can at #15, for that matter.

The Seahawks pattern is almost always to trade down to obtain more picks. This year, even though they have only two day 3 picks (a 6th and a 7th), there seems to be very little talent available in rounds 4 and 5 that are worth trading back for. A better strategy might be an even more dramatic one: Trade UP in the first round in order to trade back out into the early 2nd round.

Here's how it would work.

All drafts are invariably driven by the supply of available quarterback prospects. This year's class is pretty weak, with probably only Deshaun Watson and Mitch Trubisky justifying 1st round grades. That said, there are probably three other QBs, Patrick Mahomes, DeShone Kizer and Davis Webb who could slip into the back end of the 1st round. Quarterback hungry teams include the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and unfortunately for the Seahawks, the Houston Texans. The problem for the Seahawks in making a trade back into the 2nd round is that the Texans pick 25th, one spot in front of them. Any team willing to part with draft capital in order to snag one of the three back-end prospects is going to have to get in front of the Texans in order to pull it off. That leaves the Seahawks in a kind of no man's land, stuck taking the best available player at their current slot when they'd rather trade back and get an equivalent player and add picks.

One way to rectify this is to trade UP, rather than down, with the idea of then trading back out of the first round to a team wanting to leap frog the Texans and get, say, Mahomes.

The Seahawks #26 pick is worth roughly 700 points on a typical trade value chart. Their 3rd round picks at #90, #102 and #106 are worth 140, 92 and 82 respectively. Theoretically, packaging #26 and #106 would net the Seahawks 782 points, enough to get them as high as the #22 pick in the first round, the Miami Dolphins slot. The Dolphins have only seven picks, with a big gap between #97 in the 3rd round and #166 in the fifth. Dropping back 4 slots in the 1st round in order to add pick #106 might appeal to them.

So the first move is:

Dolphins get #26 and #106
Seahawks get #22

Now that the Seahawks are positioned ahead of the Texans, they need a QB hungry team to trade with. If the Browns take position players at #1 and #12 in the draft, they would still need to add a young QB to the mix to get the position settled for the future. The Seahawks might make a perfect trading partner.

The Browns would need to get to 780 points, and could offer a package of picks #33, the first pick in the 2nd round, and #65, the first pick in the 3rd round, and pick #175 in the 5th round, a round in which the Seahawks currently have no selection. This would add up to 866 points, so the Seahawks would have to throw in pick #102 in the 3rd round to balance the trade deficit (#22+#102=872). So the Browns would get the QB of their choice at #22, and a compensatory 3rd round pick #102. The Seahawks would get to move out of the 1st round and avoid a 1st round bonus, 5th year option and cap hit, and still get an equivalent player at #33. They would also move up 25 spots to the front end of the 3rd round and add a pick in the 5th round which they can use to target a specific player, trade up again or simply add depth.

So the 2nd move is:

Browns get #22 and #106
Seahawks get #33, #65 & #175

That leaves the Seahawks with picks #33, #58, #65, #90, #175, #210, and #226. the advantage of this scenario is that they get a higher pick in round 3, and avoid the 1st round cap charges.

As far as who I'd take with these picks, I think we're all in agreement that the Seahawks biggest needs are at CB, OL and DL. At #33, I'd snatch up Kevin King if he's still on the board, and if not I'd be looking at players like Washington's Budda Baker, Clemson's Cordrea Tankersley or USCs Adoree' Jackson. At #58, I'd come back with a DL like Michigan's Chris Wormley or Alabama's Dalvin Tomlinson. Colorado's tall corner Ahkello Witherspoon might be a consideration here too, because a player like Wormley, Tomlinson or Clemson's Carlos Watkins might still be available at #65. At #65, barring these scenarios, I'd be looking at a big tough OL like Utah's Issac Asiata. You could also package your 3rd day picks, which the Seahawks have not had much success with lately, and move up as high as pick #152 in the 5th round.

So, if you held a gun to my head, here's the way I'd go assuming King is gone at #33.

#33 - Budda Baker, S/Nickel - Washington
#58 - Ahkello Witherspoon - CB - Colorado
#65 - Issac Asiata - OG - Utah
#90 - Carlos Watkins - DT - Clemson
#175 - Best TE available
#210 - Best LB/Edge available
#226 - Best WR/Gunner available

I'm not saying this scenario will happen. I'm just saying that something like it makes more sense than you might think. If you see the Seahawks trade up on Day 1, I'd be surprised if they don't already have a deal in place to move back down again afterwards.

The Browns of course, or another team like them, could also just make a deal with the Dolphins directly. But, keep in mind that the Dolphins may not have the picks the Browns want in return, or the Dolphins may not want to go all the way back to the 2nd round.

We'll see what happens.

-Mike Bara

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