The 2014 NFL draft figures to be interesting, to say the least, as there is a great deal of depth, which will give every team an opportunity to get better. One thing that depth affords teams the opportunity to do is trade down if there are enticing offers on the table.
Based on how some teams are positioned in the draft, trading down may be the best-case scenario. There are pros and cons to trading down since it could mean passing up an elite player, but it could just as easily lead to securing multiple impact players over the course of the draft rather than just one.
Here are three teams that could potentially hit the jackpot if they ultimately decide to trade down in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
|2||St. Louis Rams (from WAS)|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|12||New York Giants|
|13||St. Louis Rams|
|16||Baltimore Ravens (pending coin flip w/ DAL)|
|17||Dallas Cowboys (pending coin flip w/ BAL)|
|18||New York Jets|
|21||Green Bay Packers|
|22||San Diego Chargers|
|24||Kansas City Chiefs|
|26||Cleveland Browns (from IND)|
|27||New Orleans Saints|
|28||New England Patriots|
|29||San Francisco 49ers|
NFL.com (subject to change based on playoff results)
St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams held the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, but rather than standing pat they decided to trade down. The Washington Redskins moved up to select quarterback Robert Griffin III, and the Rams came away with a king's ransom, as Washington gave up three first-round picks and a second-round selection.
Washington's 2014 pick happens to be No. 2 overall, so the Rams find themselves in a familiar position. And trading down may again be their best option.
Based on the way that the draft order has played out, it is very likely that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will be available at No. 2. St. Louis really doesn't need Clowney due to the presence of Robert Quinn, but plenty of teams would love to have him. With that in mind, the Rams can trade down, still fill a need and accrue additional picks.
According to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, this type of scenario should be ideal for Rams general manager Les Snead:
If recent history has taught us anything, it's that Les Snead will be shopping the No. 2 overall pick. #Rams very smart at draft movement.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 29, 2013
Per Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback, Snead admitted that trading out of the No. 2 spot is a definite possibility.
"There are going to be some teams that want to pick a quarterback," Snead said, "and that could increase the value of our pick. I have told people I'm not sure I know how to draft without multiple first-round picks, so I'm always going to be interested when it comes to making sure I can continue to do that."
If a team moves up to take a quarterback or perhaps Clowney, the Rams will still be in good shape. They have needs along the offensive line and at wide receiver specifically, and since there is depth at both of those positions, the Rams are in the catbird seat right now when it comes to dictating what will happen in the draft.
It is no secret that the Minnesota Vikings need a quarterback. The triumvirate of Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman simply didn't get it done this year, and the Vikes can't afford to waste running back Adrian Peterson's prime years any long. There is essentially nothing to speak of at quarterback in terms of free agency, so Minnesota will almost certainly have to address that hole in the draft, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
For QB-needy teams — Vikings, Texans, Jaguars, etc. — the draft is now really the only option. Also, Mark Sanchez/Michael Vick’s stock soar— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 2, 2014
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they could find themselves on the end of a run. The Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders all need a signal-caller, and they pick ahead of Minnesota. The Vikings could trade up ahead of some of those teams, but trading down makes even more sense. Minnesota has plenty of holes on the defensive side of the ball, and trading down would help in that regard while still allowing it to select the quarterback of the future.
There really isn't another team after the Vikings that needs a quarterback, so Minnesota can trade down without fear of its guy being stolen. Whether it's Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr or someone else, the Vikings will have an intriguing option at quarterback. There's simply no use standing pat at No. 8 if they intend to go in that direction.
Which team would benefit most from trading down in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft?
To call the 2013 season a disappointing one for the Detroit Lions would be a massive understatement. Detroit was seemingly in control of the NFC North, with both the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears missing their respective starting quarterbacks for large chunks of the season, but a late-season collapse eventually did the it in. The team will select No. 10, and while there could potentially be a player of interest available at that point, it wouldn't hurt to trade down.
The Lions have several needs, including help in the secondary and a complement to stud wide receiver Calvin Johnson. There are quite a few interesting options at cornerback, including local product Darqueze Dennard out of Michigan State. Also, the Lions could move down a few spots and nab Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
In a perfect world, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins would fall into the Lions' lap at No. 10, according to Pat Caputo of The Oakland Press:
Sammy Watkins = dream draft choice for Lions. Not sure he will be there 10th overall— Pat Caputo (@patcaputo98) January 4, 2014
Watkins is such a big-time talent, though, that expecting him to drop may be unrealistic. USC's Marqise Lee is a great wide receiver prospect for the middle of Round 1, however, and he could be another target should the Lions trade down. It's even possible that Detroit could spring for a pass-catching tight end like Jace Amaro or Eric Ebron in order to complement Brandon Pettigrew and give quarterback Matthew Stafford a safety valve.
The Lions have a lot of options, and trading down could be a great one.
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