2013 NFL Draft Predictions: Teams Best Positioned to Trade Down
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Trades are one aspect that amplifies the intensity surrounding the NFL draft.
We see it occur during the draft every year, so expect some interesting maneuvers when late April rolls around.
The 2013 NFL draft class is also extremely riveting because it's slammed with an abundance of talent along the offensive and defensive lines. By contrast, we don't have any incredibly elite quarterbacks, running backs or receivers likely to get selected inside the top 10.
Well, believe it or not, but this fits football at its core.
The game is won and lost at the line of scrimmage. So, whoever controls that gains a distinct advantage. As a result, the combination of top prospects and the draft order makes trading down an appealing path for the following franchises.
Kansas City Chiefs
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The Kansas City Chiefs have done some interesting things this offseason.
Regarding specific team needs, K.C. got its quarterback in Alex Smith per Jay Glazer of FOX Sports:
49ers have completed a trade with the Chiefs for Alex Smith, tho can't be official til March 12. Chiefs really made a commitment to Smith— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) February 27, 2013
In addition, the Chiefs hit offensive lineman Branden Albert with the franchise tag, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
Mesh everything together and holding onto the No. 1 overall selection isn't exactly necessary.
Without question would Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel be an impressive addition to the offensive line. Now featuring a reliable quarterback, a proven head coach and retaining a solid lineman and trading back is an appealing option.
Given that the draft class is overloaded with talent in the trenches, K.C. moving down simply allows it to stock up extra picks and address more needs.
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Needing a quarterback, the Buffalo Bills are in an unfortunate position this draft season.
Although the team could reach for Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson or Matt Barkley at No. 8 overall, each are a risk that high in the draft.
Now the Bills can definitely spruce up the front seven with a hybrid defensive end/linebacker in Dion Jordan, Damontre Moore or Ezekiel Ansah. The defense has to get better against the run and Mario Williams can use a trusty sidekick to apply quarterback pressure.
Trading down is another option, though, because this creates more picks to address the aforementioned needs, but minus greater risk factors. The defensive line is stacked this draft, so waiting until Round 2 to select a prospect isn't a bad thing.
Moving back simply lets Buffalo land the quarterback of its choice at the same time—plus the luxury of another selection or two depending on how far the Bills would trade down.
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Although it would be surprising to see the Carolina Panthers move back, Ron Rivera's team is in decent position to do so.
Holding the No. 14 overall spot, Carolina can go a few ways.
Whether it's upgrading the defensive line or secondary, controlling the line of scrimmage better or fielding stronger coverage is needed. That said, with so much prospective talent up front this year, Carolina is in a conundrum as the defensive backs don't run as deep by comparison.
Well, the NFC South is an offensively-dominated division and presenting a tougher defense then becomes a competitive advantage. The Panthers already field reliable playmakers in Charles Johnson, Luke Kuechly, Josh Norman and Charles Godfrey, but talent is still needed across the board.
Electing to trade down gives Carolina the opportunity to still land one of the draft's better defensive lineman, but also a capable cornerback/safety. The Cats aren't far from becoming NFC playoff contenders and this strategic move would immediately propel Carolina into the mix.
St. Louis Rams
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Owners of two first-round selections give plenty reason why the St. Louis Rams are positioned well to trade down.
Just from a draft strategy perspective are two Round 1 picks a significant advantage.
Factor in St. Louis finishing 4-1-1 in the NFC West last season, as well as making some noise when in the postseason picture and 2013 has increased expectations. Obviously living up to those expectations will be the next challenge.
So, to make life easier for the Rams next fall, opting to move down from either pick is a novel approach.
Since the offensive line is loaded with top-heavy talent and the NFC West is defensively tough, improving up front must happen with one of the selections. Trading down with the other then provides St. Louis the luxury of abundance in Round 2 and/or 3.
There, enhancing the receiving corps or getting a running back would suffice for Sam Bradford. This is especially true since Steven Jackson decided to hit the market, per Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last month:
Rams running back Steven Jackson will void the final year of his contract March 12, league sources told the Post-Dispatch on Monday. That means Jackson, the Rams’ career rushing leader, will test the free-agent market.
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Sitting in the No. 20 spot, the Chicago Bears potentially face one intriguing situation.
With teams such as the Eagles, Cardinals, Chargers and Rams needing offensive line, a top prospect at that position may not be available for Chicago when it goes on the clock.
Thereafter, the Bears could slightly stretch for Alabama's D.J. Fluker because he is a reliable run-blocker. And with a two-back tandem in Matt Forte and Michael Bush, Chicago presents the talent to establish the run and set up play action effectively.
Fluker is not an outstanding for pass protection, though—at least by comparison to Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson. On the bright side, slamming on the ground will allow Fluker to improve as a pass-blocker since defenses won't constantly blitz versus Chicago's rushing attack.
The option of trading down, however, is a feasible route.
Chicago can stockpile on extra selections and address the offensive line and tight end position accordingly. At No. 20, drafting Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert or Stanford's Zach Ertz is definitely a solid decision.
But the need for a strong pass protecting lineman is much greater. And any teams interested in Eifert or Ertz, well, Chicago can use its own need for a tight end as trade bait.