Oct 19, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Mike Evans (13) scores a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers during the first half at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans: Any Logical Fits to Trade Down from No. 11 to Teens?

Rewind to the 2013 NFL Draft. The Tennessee Titans paid a heavy price when they sacrificed a 2014 third-rounder to move up six spaces to draft Justin Hunter, a player whom management hopes will evolve into one-half of a lethal wide-out duo with 2012 first-rounder Kendall Wright. Many locals were excited about the opportunity of a Tennessee Volunteers player to remain in-state and breakout as a potential star. It was like a credit-card transaction: Buy now. Pay later.

It’s time to pay up. Hunter appears to have a promising future. His resume includes a game-winning touchdown reception against a San Diego Chargers team whose offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, now serves as the Titans’ head coach. A rookie season with some good moments only minimally lessens the desire for wanting that third-rounder back in a 2014 draft class that has been labeled as one of the deepest in recent memory.

One way the Titans could retrieve a mid-round selection would involve bartering their No. 11 pick for the combination of a lower first-rounder joined with another mid-rounder. This requires two interested parties: a Titans team that wants to add to their total picks and another team who’s worried that a prospect won’t reach them at their initial draft position. That party who wants to move up may feel certain enough about a targeted prospect’s potential that they’re willing to surrender a mid-round pick who’d likely have more faults.

A team’s trade-up flexibility increases based on their amount of draft picks. More draft picks give them room to wheel-and-deal however they’d like. Here are the amount of draft picks for each team drafting from 12-20. Bold numbers indicate a non-tradable compensatory draft choice.

No. 12: New York Giants 7 (12-43-74-113-152-174-187)
No. 13: St. Louis Rams 12 (2-13-44-75-110-153-188-214-226-241-249-250)
No. 14: Chicago Bears 7 (14-51-82-117-156-183-191)
No. 15: Pittsburgh Steelers 9 (15-46-97-118-157-173-192-215-230)
No. 16: Dallas Cowboys 11 (16-47-78-119-158-229-231-238-248-251-254)
No. 17: Baltimore Ravens 9 (17-48-79-99-134-138-175-194-234)
No. 18: New York Jets 12 (18-49-80-104-115-137-154-195-209-210-213-233)
No. 19: Miami Dolphins 6 (19-50-81-116-155-190)
No. 20: Arizona Cardinals 6 (20-52-84-120-160-196)

The Bears, Cowboys, Dolphins and Cardinals appear like long-shot candidates to attempt a draft-day move up. While the Cowboys have 11 picks, six of them are seventh-rounders. They don’t own a sixth-round pick. Eliminate the Giants because there’s no logic for them to move up one spot to No. 11.

This leaves the following four teams:

No. 13: St. Louis Rams 12 (2-13-44-75-110-153-188-214-226-241-249-250)
No. 15: Pittsburgh Steelers 9 (15-46-97-118-157-173-192-215-230)
No. 17: Baltimore Ravens 9 (17-48-79-99-134-138-175-194-234)
No. 18: New York Jets 12 (18-49-80-104-115-137-154-195-209-210-213-233)

What makes this group interesting is that all four of them have similar needs. Each team has a major need at wide receiver. The Rams, Steelers and Jets need an immediate No. 2 WR option. The Ravens need a WR who can develop behind almost-35-year-old Steve Smith. The Rams could eliminate this need if they use their No. 2 pick on Sammy Watkins. The Steelers and Jets have major needs at cornerback. The Rams could use another cornerback. All four teams could use a safety, either Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor.

Those are just a few teams who have the flexibility to trade up. The Giants (No. 12) could use a wide receiver. The Bears (No. 14) are desperate for a safety or younger cornerback. The Cowboys (No. 16) are desperate for a safety. Any team outside the top 20 with an abundance of draft picks could trade into the top 20 and secure a WR, CB or S…

Many teams drafting in the No. 12-18 range have similar needs. At No. 11, the Titans could benefit from this. Let’s use the Jets as a best-case example of a team with trade-up flexibility who may target a specific wide receiver or defensive back. Mike Evans, Justin Gilbert or anyone who’s their No. 1-rated cornerback prospect drops out of the top 10. At No. 18, the Jets have 12 picks to avoid having to witness a rush of their highest-rated prospects get taken before their draft selection.

Packaging No. 18 (900 points) and No. 80 (190 points) for No. 11 (1,250 points) would give them a reasonable deal that places them ahead of the pack to get their primary draft target.They’d get a top-10 caliber prospect and still have 10 picks left. If New York doesn’t want to surrender their only third-rounder (very likely even with them getting a 160-point advantage), they have the flexibility of three fourth-rounders and four sixth-rounders. No. 18 (900 points), No. 104 (86 points) and No. 195 (13.4 points) for No. 11 (1,250 points) is a win for both sides.

Or maybe the Jets are eying a complete unknown at No. 18. Regardless, there’s a good chance that one of those No. 12-17 teams will fall in love with someone. They’ll want to guarantee that whoever that player is doesn’t get plucked away before their pick.

The Titans are holding the bait above everybody. They can move anywhere inside the top 20, acquire an additional third- or fourth-rounder, and easily find a player who can provide immediate assistance. Rest assured that the Titans can find quality talent all throughout the teens or even 20s. Finding an extra pick would help with increasing depth. And if they can’t find a willing trade partner? Use that No. 11 pick on a ‘game-changer’. Look to wheel-and-deal the second-round pick later in the draft.

No. 11 may not have any can’t-miss prospects. It does put the Titans in a position where they have a lot of good options. If Webster plays his cards right, he could add an immediate contributor and get mid-round choices to use on quality depth.

 

SOURCES
Pro Sports Transactions
NFL Trade Value Chart

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft NFL

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