In a draft (1) with a clear number one talent (Myles Garrett), (2) without a clear top five-talent quarterback crop, (3) without an obvious and insular next tier of prospects after Garrett, and (4) with a ton of quality depth, it’s been a given for some time that trading down from near the top of this draft was going to be an attractive avenue for a team like the Chicago Bears. Had they fallen in love with one of the quarterback prospects this year, it would have been unthinkable to vacate a hard-“earned” number three pick. But, by all reported accounts to date, the Bears have not fallen in love with any of Deshaun Watson or Mitchell Trubisky or Patrick Mahomes or Deshone Kizer (though they have reportedly visited with Kizer three times).
So, then, given the other items laid out at the top, a trade down makes plenty of sense for the Bears. Hence, this report from Peter King: “San Francisco (two), Chicago (three) and the Jets (six) are the ones I hear are most antsy to move back in a market with few teams wanting to move up.”
Even in the report itself, however, you can see the problem we’ve discussed before with trading down in this particular draft: all of those reasons the Bears would want to trade down are the same reasons you’re not going to find a robust collection of buyers just dying to give up multiple picks to move up to number three.
Which teams might be willing to give up a decent haul of picks (probably less than you’d usually see for a trade up, by the way)? It’s almost certainly going to have to be a team that, unlike the Bears, has fallen in love with one of the quarterback prospects, and doesn’t want to risk waiting until the middle or back-end of the first round. With the quarterback position becoming more and more disproportionately important every year in the NFL, it’s not at all impossible to believe there is a team out there that has identified their QB of the future in this draft.
Of course, one hurdle the Bears will face even in that scenario is that the team picking ahead of them, the 49ers, are also listed by King as a team eager to trade out of their spot. That means the 49ers could put a potential buyer’s feet to the fire if that buyer was also negotiating with the Bears (“Oh, so you want to move up to get Trubisky? Well if you trade up to number three, he might not be there for you at two … just sayin’ ….”).
Setting that hurdle aside, if a quarterback is going to trigger a trade, which teams could look to move up?
Well, working backwards from pick three, the Jets at number six quite clearly need a quarterback of the future (but they’re mentioned by King as a team looking to trade down), the Chargers at seven could start developing a Philip Rivers replacement (but would they trade up four spots to do it?), the Bills may still be looking at a long-term quarterback even after re-upping for now with Tyrod Taylor, the Saints at 11 (and 32) might start grooming a Drew Brees replacement, the Browns at 12 make a lot of sense if they take Garrett at one and don’t believe their guy is going to last until 12, the Cardinals at 13 need to start working on a long-term option, the Redskins at 17 won’t have Kirk Cousins forever (or maybe won’t even have him this year if they work out a trade for the franchise-tagged QB), the Texans at 25 could certainly take a quarterback, the Chiefs at 27 might not stick with Alex Smith for more than another year or two, the Steelers at 30 have Ben Roethlisberger coming back for at least one more year but he’s already started the retirement talk.
So, in short, there are options. But I’d say several of those are extreme stretches to be SO INTERESTED in this crop of quarterbacks that they’d give up a number of middle round and/or future picks to move up a handful of spots, especially when no one yet knows what the 49ers are going to do at number two.
It’s not a great situation to be a team looking to trade down from three. But then, I suppose if this were a draft where the number three spot looked like a fantastic place to be for a number of teams, the Bears would probably just want to keep it anyway.
And if they do wind up keeping the pick, it’s not as if they’ll be left empty-handed. There’s so much quality depth after Garrett that the Bears are going to get a very good player at three – they may even get their favorite player in the draft besides Garrett. That’s not a horrible outcome.
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