We're finally here. The 2015 NFL Draft is Thursday night We have scouted and parsed prospects, dissected team needs, and run so many mock drafts our eyes are bleeding. But hovering around the perifery of all that is the notion of a draft day trade.
Draft day trades are tricky things to really pull off well. For a trade to be successful, a player worth trading up for has to be there, there have to be at least two teams who want that player, and the team looking to trade up needs to make the trade worth the first team's time.
So while a trade is a nice thing to think about, executing one on draft day is -- much -- easier said than done.
But let's talk about them anyway.
The 2015 draft has a remarkably flat talent curve. Depending on who you talk to and what their criteria are, there are somewhere between three and seven truly "elite" talents in this draft -- players who would likely be top-10 picks in nine out of 10 drafts. They are: Leonard Williams, Amari Cooper, Dante Fowler Jr, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Shane Ray, and Randy Gregory.
Off-field concerns have likely knocked Ray and Gregory out of the top 10, but the talent is certainly there.
After those three to seven players, teams vary on how many first-round talents there are in the draft. Some have as few as 14 "first-round" players before getting into their second-round grades.
This puts the Giants in an interesting position. With so few "elite" players in the draft, it seems unlikely that one would fall out of the top 10, and even "first-round" graded players a valuable commodity. On one hand, being at ninth overall means the Giants have a chance at picking one of the highest impact players in the draft. i\It also means that theirs is one of the last picks that teams picking later could legitimately be interested in trading up for.
So what are some potential trade scenarios?
The first one we can look at has some grounding in reality. There are whispers that the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns have had initial conversations on trading places. In this scenario, we'll assume one of the "Big 3" receivers (Amari Cooper, DeVante Parker, and Kevin White) fell to the ninth pick in the draft. The Browns, who currently lack a true starting caliber wide receiver, are likely looking to move up and secure one. What, then, could the deal work out to be?
1a. Ideally the Giants would likely want to receive the 12th pick. Along with that, the Browns would likely package their third-round pick (78th overall).
1b. The Browns also have the 19th overall selection. To equalize the value, the Browns would likely have to package their second-round pick (43rd overall).
1c. There are also reports that the Browns do not believe that they will be able to retain safety Tashaun Gipson after his second-round restricted free agent tender runs out. If the Browns do not believe they can retain Gipson, they could offer him as part of a deal to the safety-needy Giants. Though Gipson is signed to a second-round tender, he is coming off of a knee injury and would need to be signed to a long-term deal.
A writer for the Miami Herald recently wrote that DeVante Parker failing to fall to the Dolphins at 14th overall would be a "nightmare scenario" for a team looking to build around a young quarterback who could be set for a breakout year. If the Dolphins, who have been remarkably active this offseason, want to move up to ninth overall to select one of the top receivers, it would likely take their second-round pick (47th overall) in addition to the 14th overall pick. Miami doesn't currently have a third-round pick in the 2015 draft.
For this one I'm going to borrow from Bill Barnwell's Grantland piece on potential trades for each of the 32 teams. This is what he proposes for the Giants:
Giants send: Jason Pierre-Paul, 2016-6 (conditional)
Colts send: 2015-1-29, Donald Thomas, Bjoern Werner
OK, so this is cheating. It's a trade that doesn't involve the ninth pick at all, but that's not a surprise. Giants general manager Jerry Reese probably isn't going to budge from this spot; he hasn't traded a first- or second-round pick during his tenure as GM, a run that has included just three draft-day trades. The Giants are probably locked in at No. 9, and for Eli Manning's sake, let's hope they're locked in on Scherff.
Instead, here, they make a move for an additional draft pick. The organization franchised Jason Pierre-Paul this offseason after failing to come to terms with their star defensive end on a long-term contract, and while they can do that again next year, JPP's salary would rise from $14.8 million to $17.8 million. It's not a very appealing outcome. If Reese doesn't think he'll be able to lock up Pierre-Paul, he's better off trading JPP now, as the South Florida product is coming off a 12.5-sack season and looked to be at his healthiest since that fateful 2011 season.
Reese could find a willing trade partner in the Colts, who could still use another edge rusher despite signing Trent Cole this offseason. Robert Mathis could be out until November after tearing his Achilles last year, and if Grigson is really all in to try to win a title in 2015, he can surely justify using the 29th pick on a impact edge rusher like JPP. The Colts would send back their own failed first-round pass-rusher in Bjoern Werner, who exhibited little as Mathis's replacement last season, and some cap ballast in Donald Thomas, who could compete for snaps at guard.
I certainly have my own thoughts about this trade, but I'm more interested in seeing what the Big Blue View community thinks about it.
If Jerry Reese agrees with our own Ed Valentine, and wants to maximize the impact of the 2015 draft, the scarcity of truly elite players could force the Giants to move in the other direction. The Giants have met with Amari Cooper twice (as well as his quarterback in Alabama), have reportedly contacted Leonard Williams and Dante Fowler Jr. about their draft day contact information, and Kevin White has been training with Odell Beckham. If the Giants want to maximize the impact that a difference maker could have, their best option might be to move up. The argument here is that quality is greater than quantity and a single great player would have a bigger impact for the Giants than a couple lesser players.
The Giants rarely maneuver around the draft. Jerry Reese generally winds up staying put and playing his draft board. Personally, I don't think this has much to do with a reluctance to move so much as a desire to maximize the value at each pick. The Giants are adamant that they explore all avenues with each pick, and listen when the phone rings. But Reese isn't going to pass on value just to take more players, or move for the sake of movement.
All that being said, with the scarcity of elite players, the flat talent curve from mid-first through third rounds, and the Giants' draft slot, this could be a year where we finally see the Giants make a trade.