It is the evening of April 25th, the opening night of the selection festivities. The time is around 9:30 Central and in sports bars around the city, everyone is debating their prediction for the first round. Could it be WR DeAndre Hopkins from Clemson, ILB Alec Ogletree from Georgia or Alabama DT Jesse Williams?
Roger Goodell steps up to the mike at Radio City Music Hall. All conversations are muffled as the anticipation peaks. The commissioner then announces, “The Houston Texans have traded the 27th pick to the Miami Dolphins.”
Crowds all over town rise to their feet and let out a collective “Whaaaat (expletive deleted)?” If this were a Frankenstein movie, the director would cue the villagers to reach for their torches and pitchforks, then proceed to storm the castle.
What possible method could there be to this madness? The offense needs more weapons, the linebacker corps was decimated last year, and the defense needs a monstrous nose tackle to replace Shaun Cody. Why isn’t the team going for the best player possible to fill of those holes?
There are two factors at work here: quantity and quantity. The first quantity is getting the most players possible in a draft that has a bell-curve. The top of the draft has a shortage of “can’t-miss” players, and the late rounds are always “hit-or-miss.”
The drop-off through the first round is steep, meaning the talent differential if choosing at 27, 37 or even 57 is not that great. The largest portion of the curve is stocked with a multitude of promising apprentices.
GM Rick Smith of the Texans has traded down in almost every draft since he came on board in 2006. His greatest triumph is the acquisition of All-Pro LT Duane Brown in 2008 with the 26th choice. Smith swapped out of the 18th position with Baltimore and added selections in the third- and sixth-round. For the 2013 draft, Smith will find a similar trade partner in the Dolphins.
This exchange would send the Texans’ first- and fourth-round picks to Miami for the No. 54 pick in the second and a third-rounder at No. 77. Houston could then make selections at 54 and 57 in the second, and would have three turns at acquiring some very capable players with picks at the 77, 89, and 95 spots in the third.
Why would the Dolphins want to deal when GM Jeff Ireland of the Dolphins has added a slew of talent via free agency? They picked up Brent Grimes to bolster their supply of cornerbacks, but the former Atlanta Falcon is coming off a torn Achilles tendon. Desmond Trufant from Washington or Johnthan Banks from Mississippi State would be valuable insurance late in the first round.
The other quantity is cap space. In 2012, Kevin Zeitler went to the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 27 and has a cap hit over his first two years of $3.1 million. Detroit’s Ryan Broyles (No. 54) and Denver's Brock Osweiler (No. 57) have a combined two-year hit of just under $3 million.
If Houston can negotiate this swap, that’s two players for the price of one. The next step is they have to get the correct personnel to make all this bartering worthwhile.