NFL Draft 2009: How Does the Julian Peterson Trade Affect the Top Five?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IMarch 15, 2009

First, the news: on Saturday, the Seattle Seahawks traded linebacker Julian Peterson to the Detroit Lions for defensive tackle Corey Redding.

Now, the reality: this deal makes an enormous impact on the top few picks. Let's discuss this deal's impact on a few teams.

No. 1: Detroit Lions

By acquiring Peterson to play next to Ernie Sims, the Lions actually have two solid linebackers to anchor a new-look defense. Redding will be replaced by free agent acquisition Grady Jackson, and Philip Buchanon adds depth to the secondary. The Lions have made significant moves this off season to bolster their defense, and this might be the crowning move.

The majority of on-looking fans have assumed that the Detoit Lions were going to use the top pick in the draft on former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. However, because of his incredible talent and overwhelming showing at the combine, Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry's name had at least maintained position in the discussion. Curry is likely to remain on the board past the top spot now.

Unless the Lions are banking on Mark Sanchez with the 20th pick, it now appears the Lions have sold out on the new face of their franchise being Stafford.

No. 2: St. Louis Rams

There are a few wild cards in play with the Rams. They released the two rocks of their offense for the past decade-Torry Holt and Orlando Pace-this off season and, sitting at the second pick in the draft, they could address both of these positions. Holt was just released on Friday, so the options now become wide open for the Rams.

The logical pick here would be Baylor tackle Jason Smith, who has become the top tackle prospect in the draft. He would step in and replace former No. 1 pick Pace at left tackle.

However, the first wild card here would be receiver Michael Crabtree. With Holt gone and an offense that's been built over the past decade on the ability to move the ball vertically, Crabtree might be just as logical as Smith.

The second wild card at this pick is the Rams need for depth and talent almost everywhere on their roster. If there's a team that has a man-crush on Curry, or Crabtree, the Rams might be open to moving the second pick, especially in a draft that has a handful of top tackles and receivers.

No. 3: Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs might be the big winners from the Peterson trade. They released long-time fan favorite Donnie Edwards this winter, and replaced him in with former Patriot Mike Vrabel. But the Chiefs have holes all over their roster, and need to fill them.

The Chiefs, of course, acquired Vrabel and quarterback Matt Cassell from the Patriots in exchange for their pick at the top of the second round. So they have just one pick in the first two rounds... for now.

If we address the third pick under the assumption that the Lions are taking Stafford and the Rams address the tackle position with Jason Smith, the Chiefs now sit on a gold mine at the third spot in the draft. Why?

Kansas City has made a number of moves, like the release of Edwards, to lower their salary cap total this winter. However, in bringing on Cassell and his franchise tag, they're not paying their quarterback (with his one season of experience since high school) a king's ransom.

Enter the possibility that a team, maybe the Eagles, has that man crush on Crabtree. The Chiefs could trade with the Eagles and have two picks in the first round with which to address their issues, while the Eagles land the playmaker to make McNabb happy.

But let's not just put the weight of this pick on just Philadelphia. There will, undoubtedly, be suitors to trade up for the stud linebacker as well, and that's where the value of this pick has increased the most in the past 24 hours. With the Seahawks moving Peterson, the likelihood that Curry goes fourth has climbed substantially, meaning any team wanting Curry will have to trade up into the top three to get him.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs have the ability to either pick someone around which they could fortify their franchise around, whether it's Curry, Crabtree or a tackle to protect their new quarterback.

In all, the Chiefs could have more options than they know what to do with surround the third pick in the draft.

No. 4: Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks have now placed their 2009 season into the questionable category. They moved their most productive linebacker to Detroit, and brought in a defensive tackle to keep people off Lofa Totupu.

The first question from the trade is: why would they move a productive linebacker for a tackle less than two weeks after signing free agent defensive tackle Colin Cole?

The second question from the trade is: if someone leapfrogs them, of if the Chiefs select Curry, what do the Seahawks do at four?

If, again for the sake of discussion we assume, the Lions take Stafford, the Rams take Jason Smith, and Curry goes third, the Seahawks have issues. They've acquired two big defensive tackles now, meaning BJ Raji isn't on their radar. If Curry's gone, they're not on the market for the next-best linebacker; at four, taking Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing or James Laurinaitis is a stretch.

So we fall back to the name Crabtree. But the Seahawks just paid TJ Houshmandzadeh big money to play receiver, and they're still paying Deion Branch a nice penny as well. So Crabtree might not make financial sense for Seattle.

Logic, again under the premise that Curry is gone, would probably take Seattle to the offensive line. Eugene Monroe and Andre Smith will certainly still be available, and the Seahawks are in the third year of an exodus off of their o-line. Steve Hutchinson left for Minnesota before, and now Porkchop Womack has left for Cleveland.

No. 5: Cleveland Browns

They lost safety Sean Jones to the Eagles. Malcolm Jenkins?

As we've discussed, they brought in Shaun Rogers at defensive tackle last year, so Raji isn't likely.

But the Browns might be dealing with wild cards they hadn't planned on now. They have a new coach, a brewing quarterback controversy, and now they have depth issues at receiver.

Last year was a major step backwards for Braylon Edwards, who was thought to have established himself as a premier receiver in 2007. This winter they've traded tight end Kellen Winslow Jr, released Joe Jurevicious and on Saturday learned that Donte Stallworth had killed a man in an auto accident in Florida.

So while Jenkins, an offensive lineman to compliment Joe Thomas, or perhaps the first defensive end (probably Brian Orakpo) might have made sense, the Browns might now be in a position of need at receiver and may look at Crabtree as a legitimate option.

From there...

After the top five picks, it might start to get messy. If we assume the Top Five are Stafford, Jason Smith, Curry, Eugene Monroe and Crabtree, the trades could become fast and furious. The wealth of offensive tackle and defensive end in this year's class might lead to a power play in picks six through ten.

Orakpo, Raji, Jenkins, Sanchez and others could see their future impacted significantly both in dollars and destinations on draft day.


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