While the reason to follow the NFL draft is the players who are entering the National Football League, another very intriguing aspect of the draft is the trades that often occur while one of the teams is on the clock at Radio City Music Hall.
Of course, in order to make a trade, a team must have assets to offer the other team.
Every team has draft picks, which are always trade assets with a corresponding value, but the team with the most assets have compiled them through other trades.
These four teams have done the best job of stockpiling potential trade assets.
In the Bill Belichick era, the New England Patriots have mastered the art of draft trading.
Every year, the Patriots manage to strike deals with remarkable return value, usually by trading picks from the previous year’s surplus in exchange for even better picks in the next year’s draft.
The 2011 NFL draft was certainly no exception.
The Patriots traded their second first-round pick to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for their second-round pick that year—used to select running back Shane Vereen—in addition to the 2012 first-round pick.
Later in the draft, the Patriots traded low third- and fourth-round draft selections to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for their second-round selection this year. Now, the Patriots have built up their usual surplus, holding two first- and two second-round picks in the 2012 NFL draft.
Given their history, it can be assumed that the Patriots will trade at least one of those four picks. By the conclusion of the 2012 NFL draft, they will hold at least one additional pick in the first two rounds of the 2013 NFL draft.
That said, the Patriots have more than just draft picks when it comes to their tradeable assets.
The Patriots are also likely to trade Brian Hoyer, who is one of the NFL’s top backup quarterbacks, to a team who will give him a chance to compete for a starting job.
Hoyer is entering the final year of his contract with the Patriots. So, with Ryan Mallett ready to assume the backup quarterback role after one year with the team, the Patriots are expected to trade Hoyer, especially with the ever-present need for quality NFL quarterbacks.
Hoyer is widely regarded as one of the NFL’s best backup quarterbacks, and should be worth a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals made one of the most one-sided trades in NFL history when they dealt Carson Palmer—a quarterback who had basically been retired having refused to play again for the Bengals—to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a 2012 first-round selection and a conditional first- or second-round selection in 2013.
Because of that trade, the Cincinnati Bengals certainly have the assets to make another trade if they so desire. The Bengals hold two first-round picks in this year’s draft, and three picks within the first two rounds of the 2013 NFL draft.
This gives the Bengals the assets necessary to make a move up the draft board if they wish to do so, although they are probably best suited to using each of their picks to continue adding young talent.
The Cleveland Browns certainly built up their assets for both the 2011 and 2012 NFL draft when they struck a blockbuster deal to trade the sixth overall selection in the former draft in exchange for their first-, second-, and fourth-round selections in that draft, as well as their first- and fourth-round selections in the 2012 NFL draft.
The Browns now hold two first-round selections for the 2012 NFL draft, and the selection of their own is going to be between third and sixth overall.
The Browns showed last year that they know when a great deal makes it worth trading down. But this year, the Browns have the assets available to move up at various points in the draft if there is a prospect they are targeting.
Peyton Hillis is an additional trade asset that the Browns at running back.
Following a tremendous breakout season in Cleveland that got him on the cover of Madden 12, this season has been a disappointment.
That said, if Hillis can return from his injuries and back to the form he showed in 2010, he can be one of the NFL’s best running backs.
While his trade value has been cut significantly, it is believed that his time in Cleveland could come to an end after this season.
Hillis is a trade asset who should at least be worth a third- or fourth-round pick if the Browns decide to deal him.
Last offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles had the NFL’s most tradeable asset in quarterback Kevin Kolb, and took advantage by acquiring a 2012 second-round draft pick along with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
A season later, the Eagles rank among teams with the most tradeable assets again, in direct correlation with that trade.
Not only does having three draft picks in the first rounds give them the pieces to make a trade if they so desire, but Rodgers-Cromartie himself is also a potential asset.
In principle, having Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all in the same secondary should give the Eagles a dominant defensive backfield. Instead, it resulted in none of these players being comfortable in their positions.
With the trio under contract, it is likely that the Eagles could pursue a trade with either Samuel or Rodgers-Cromartie.
Any team in need of a cornerback would have reason to be interested in Samuel or Rodgers-Cromartie, both of whom are top NFL cornerback talents who can bolster a struggling secondary.
Trading either player would command at least one day-two selection, and with the Eagles already having an extra day-two selection, they have assets to work with.
The Eagles also have an additional fourth-round selection and two additional sixth-round selections.
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