About this time of year, roughly a month to six weeks out from the draft, a murmur starts to grow among fans.
"The Giants should trade down..."
The closer we get to the end of April, the louder the calls will get, until for some it's the only sensible course of action. Trading down would be great. Ed's written about it several times in the weekly Mailbag, and I'd love to see it happen as well. Getting more bites of the pie is always a good thing -- I prefer apple myself.
However, it's one thing to say that you want to trade down, it's quite another to actually pull it off. There are a few things that have to happen for a trade down to be successful.
- You need a desirable player on the board. No team in the league is going to part with valuable draft capital just because we want the Giants to trade down. There has to be a push -- at least two other teams' needs -- and a "pull" -- a significantly talented player that fills those needs -- in order for a trade to happen.
- (Really more a corollary to "1") that player needs to be somebody the Giants can afford to pass on. I'm sure plenty of teams would trade up for Myles Jack or Jalen Ramsey, but the Giants need players like that, too.
- The Giants and their trade partner agreeing on trade compensation.
With those in mind, what are the Giants' options?
In my (humble) opinion, the only players who the Giants could afford to pass on, who would also draw interest from other teams are Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State), Jared Goff (QB, Cal), and Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State).
Let's start with some potential suitors and scenarios for Elliott.
The Giants certainly could use another offensive weapon to complement Odell Beckham Jr., however the Chicago Bears, Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, and Indianapolis Colts could need a back with Elliott's talents.
To me, the most likely scenarios are for the Raiders -- who could be gearing up to make a run at a vulnerable Denver Broncos team -- to want to add a weapon for Derek Carr, or for the Colts -- who have been looking for a running back for years now -- to ensure they get the best for Andrew Luck.
Of those, it seems that a Colts' franchise desperate to protect and better support Luck might be more likely to want to jump the Raiders than the Raiders are likely to jump the Dolphins. A trade from 10th to 18th would likely net the Giants two additional picks. In 2013 the Falcons traded up with the Rams, from 30th overall to 22nd overall, to draft Desmond Trufant. That trade cost them a third and sixth round pick (they also received a seventhth round pick).
Happening 12 picks earlier, I would guess that the Giants would get the Colts' second (48th overall) and fourth round (116th overall) picks in compensation.
Now let's look at a potential scenario if one of the top quarterbacks happens to fall to the Giants.
Looking at the draft, the bulk of the quarterback needy, or potentially needy, teams are drafting before the Giants at 10th overall. The Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and Philadelphia Eagles could all potentially take quarterbacks.
However, the Browns remain interested in Robert Griffin III, the Cowboys and Eagles have starting quarterbacks in place. So it could happen that Jared Goff or Carson Wentz could be there at 10th overall.
Below the Giants, the Los Angeles Rams -- still getting used to that one again -- New York Jets, and Denver Broncos could have glaring holes at quarterback. Of the three, I would look to the Broncos as a potential trade partner. They lost both of their starting quarterbacks, and have been left with Mark Sanchez as their likely starter for 2016. John Elway has been very aggressive when it comes to assembling his team, and they have traded up in each of the last two drafts. Despite the manner in which they won the Super Bowl, Elway knows as well as anyone the importance of having a quality starting quarterback. Despite losing pieces from their championship defense, the Broncos remain in "Win Now" mode, and Elway could again be aggressive and rebuild an offense that was carried by the defense through the playoffs.
Trading from 31st overall all the way up to 10th overall would be nothing short of a blockbuster deal, and I can't find a recent precedent to suggest a compensation for a trade like that.
Ed suggests that the Broncos would have to give up their first and third round picks this year, and first round pick in 2017. Meanwhile, Invictus thinks the Broncos' second-round pick in 2016 and second-round pick in 2017 would get the deal done.
Personally, I think Jerry Reese would ask for something like the Broncos first, second, and fourth round picks this year, and either first and third or second and fourth round picks in 2017. Regardless, the prospects of trading down 20 picks shouldn't pose a significant deterrent this year.
This, of course, is nothing but a thought exercise. There haven't been any trade rumors we've heard, and for any trade to materialize, the draft would have to break exactly right.
And therein lies the rub.
For the Giants to trade down, they need both bait and a partner to be there, and they likely can't be too far away. The rookie wage scale has made draft picks increasingly valuable, and teams decreasingly likely to part with them.
Something like trading with the Raiders or Colts for Ezekiel Elliott is possible, and would certainly help the Giants with their reloading effort. Hitting a home run trade like trading down with the Broncos is significantly more difficult. There are a number of moving parts that need to break just right, but the gulf between picks might just be too large.
Trading down is a great strategy in a vacuum, especially this year. While there are relatively few "Blue Chip" players in this draft and not as many sure-fire first rounders as usual. However, the pool of "second round" talents is extensive, and there won't be much difference between players drafted in the end of the first round and the beginning of the third. But ultimately, it might just be nice to think about but impossible to make work in the real world.
But that doesn't mean we can't think about it and hope.