Thursday, January 31, 2013

Will the Detroit Lions Trade Down in the 2013 NFL Draft?

While it's highly likely that the Lions stay put at the number five overall pick in the upcoming draft, it's still fun to look at the possibilities of them trading down to acquire some extra picks.

This year's crop of quarterbacks leave much to be desired as none are projected as top-10 picks and few are projected first round picks. As we have seen in the past though teams will "reach" for quarterbacks, especially when drafting early in the first round. This is frowned upon by fans and analysts alike, but the hard truth is a team's quarterback largely dictates how the team will fare as a whole.

While there may not be a Luck or RG3 this year, if a team sees a guy that will help them win they shouldn't get to hung up on where they are drafting him. Nearly every team drafting in the top 10 will be looking for a quarterback at some point in the draft and if they see someone they like enough they could pull the trigger in the first round.

As it pertains to the Lions the teams drafting sixth through ninth could be potential partners to trade back as they all will be looking for a quarterback and Detroit most certainly will not (at least not before the 6th or 7th round). This will also largely depend on Kansas City, Jacksonville, Oakland and Philadelphia not selecting quarterbacks, but there are some seriously talented players they would have to pass in order to reach for a QB (which would also benefit the Lions).

Let's take a look at Detroit's potential trade partners:

Picking 6th: The Cleveland Browns. 

What they would have to give up: 1st, 4th and possibly 7th round picks, Lions send their 1st.

Why they would want to trade up:

Brandon Weeden wasn't very good in 2012. He has potential and he improved as the year went on, but the new front office will want to bring in competition. The Browns actually have a pretty good team outside of the quarterback position with a solid defense and young talent at the skill positions. They could see a quarterback that puts their team in  contention and would want to make sure no one else trades up in front of them and snags him.

Picking 7th: The Arizona Cardinals

What they would have to give up: 1st and 3rd round picks, Lions send their 1st and 5th.

Why they would want to trade up:

The cardinals are legitimately a few pieces away from being perennial playoff contenders. Their biggest need is a QB, but they also need offensive line help. If they can get someone to even somewhat competently play the QB spot they will be competitive. Even if there isn't a QB they are interested in, if Joeckel comes off the board early they may want to trade up to snag Fisher.

Picking 8th: The Buffalo Bills

What they would have to give up: 1st, 3rd, and 4th round picks., Lions send their 1st.

Why they would want to trade up:

I think the Bills are the least likely trade partners in this scenario as their offensive is predicated on their run game so they could really afford to either stick with Fitzpatrick or wait until a later round to draft a QB. There will be enough talent left on the board at this spot that they can't really justify spending three picks on one player, but with a new staff anything's possible.

Picking 9th: The New York Jets

What they would have to give up: 1st, 2nd, and 4th round picks, Lions send their 1st and 3rd.

Why they would want to trade up: 

There's a new GM in town, but Rex is going to be desperate to keep his job and he isn't going to do that with Sanchez at the helm. They likely won't give up that much for a QB, but it may be worth it to them to only be losing a 2nd and 4th round pick in order to stabilize their team.

What could make things really interesting is if Revis gets added to the mix. I've seen the Lions' lack of cap space mentioned, but Revis's numbers are not too far off of what the Lions have been paying Chris Houston (though Revis's cap number of $9 million in 2013 is somewhat prohibitive). Maybe the Jets would take the Lions' first and third round picks for their first and Revis. We can dream right?

Obviously things can and probably will get much more complicated on draft day, but this at least a glimpse of the possibilities the Lions have of trading down in the 2013 NFL draft.

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