There’s a lot of talk as to whether or not the Saints should trade out of the first round. Let’s have a look at recent draft history and see what it tells us about teams that trade out of the first round. I’ll rate this as “Gain”, “Even” or “Loss” in terms of value as it’s hard to say “Win” or “Lose” in situations like these that are still playing themselves out. We’ll start with 2017.
Seattle ships their first-round pick within division
Seahawks trade to 49ers:
First-round pick (31st overall) (Rueben Foster)
Second-round pick (34th)
Fourth-round pick (111th)
The Seahawks then traded that second-round pick to the Jags to move back one spot to 35th overall and also received another sixth-round pick (187th). They effectively turned their first-rounder into three players, DT Malik McDowell (35th), S Tedric Thompson (111th), and DB Michael Tyson (187th).
Malik McDowell was an intriguing prospect. The Michigan State product impressed as a 6’5” 295 pound DT with quickness and speed (4.85 40). However, he suffered an ATV accident that caused some severe facial injuries and a severe concussion. His career and future with Seattle is currently uncertain. He spent all of the 2017 season on the NFI (Non-Football Injury) list.
Tedric Thompson saw 4 games of action in 2017 as a reserve and recorded 2 tackles. While listed at safety for the team, he might be playing cornerback this coming year with the loss of Richard Sherman. That all goes out the window if the Seahawks intend to fill that slot with an early selection in this year’s draft. In college at Colorado, Thompson totaled 215 tackles, 157 solo, 13 INTs, and 26 passes defended in 46 games.
Michael Tyson, not the boxer and Broadway actor, is another defensive back, primarily Safety out of Cincinnati. He did not play in a game in 2017, but with ET3 and Kam Chancellor as your starters, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise for a rookie. In 39 games at Cincy, Tyson totaled 137 tackles, 72 solos, 7 INTs, and 11 passes defended.
The Seahawks could have struck gold in the selection of McDowell who was expected to go much higher in last year’s draft. But with his off-field injury, they ended up just stocking up on defensive depth in the secondary. Funny enough, the 34th pick they traded to Jacksonville ended up being used on Alabama OT Cam Robinson, who they actually could have used on that horrific offensive line. Robinson went on to being a key component to the Jacksonville playoff run.
Packers pass on their first-rounder
Packers trade to Browns:
First-round pick (29th) (David Njoku)
Second-round pick (33rd)
Fourth-round pick (108th)
The Packers used their newly acquired second-round pick to draft Washington cornerback Kevin King and their fourth-round pick to select Wisconsin OLB Vince Biegel.
Kevin King appeared in 9 games in 2017, starting in 5. He compiled 21 tackles, 15 solo, and 5 passes defended. While he was rated as the 115th of 121 cornerbacks by PFF with an overall score of 41.0, he is also listed as one of the website’s 10 players who can bounce back. PFF cites that the change in defensive coordinator in Green Bay should benefit the young defensive back as the team can expect to play more man coverage, which is the usual game plan for college corners. So while his rookie years wasn’t particularly productive, there are some expectations for him to bounce back in his second year. He showed a glimmer of his abilities through the first six weeks where PFF shows that he allowed only a 72.7 passer rating while being targeted 22 times. Hopefully for the Cheeseheads, he can replicate that quick start, but maintain it this time around.
Vince Biegel began the 2017 season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list and was activated on November 3rd. He then appeared in 9 games through the end of the season except week 13, playing 121 defensive snaps (~12%) and 138 special teams snaps (~33%). During that time, he gathered 16 tackles, 11 of which were solo. While Biegel shows some glimpse of ability as a pass rusher, he doesn’t seem to be the answer at the second level for the Packers as they are expected to look into a LB selection early in the 2018 draft.
On the board between the 29th pick were Linebackers T.J. Watt and Reuben Foster. Either of which would have been an excellent remedy for the Packers and their defensive struggles in 2017. However, Foster came with baggage and Kevin King still has time to prove himself. On the other hand, David Njoku was also on the board at the time of this trade. Considering the Packers just signed former Saint and Seahawk Jimmy Graham, Njoku might have been able to help give Brett Hundley another reliable target after the loss of Aaron Rodger to make up for Hundley’s lack of chemistry with WR Jordy Nelson.
These next two are pretty simple…
Vikings trade out of first for QB Sam Bradford
Vikings trade to Eagles:
First-round pick (14th) (Derek Barnett)
2018 fourth-round pick (130th)
Sam Bradford started the season pretty well for Minnesota but then ended up injured and then supplanted by Case Keenum who led the Vikings to an embarrassing playoff loss to the Eagles. A wonderful irony. Bradford has now signed with the Arizona Cardinals and will likely, again, but usurped by a younger, less glassy option.
Though both teams made it to post-season play, there were plenty of options on the board at pick 14 that would have helped to put the Vikings even further over the top with their loaded defense or potentially adding a big-time offensive weapon. Some options on the board could have been Marlon Humphrey, OJ Howard, Evan Engram, and Tre’Davious White. This could be my anti-Viking bias talking, though.
Patriots add WR Brandin Cooks, for a little while anyway
Patriots trade to Saints:
First-round pick (32nd) (Ryan Ramczyk)
Third-round pick (103rd) (Trey Hendrickson)
WR Brandin Cooks
Fourth-round pick (118th)
Brandin Cooks did basically as expected when traded to New Englands. The speedy deep-threat racked up 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also added 9 carries for 40 yards. He was a big part of the Patriots run this season despite the loss of WR Julian Edelman early before the season began. He was also a big part of the reason that the New England offense puttered for a moment in the Super Bowl when he was knocked out of the game with a concussion after a big hit from fellow former Saint safety Malcolm Jenkins. Despite all that, though Cooks was traded to the Los Angeles Rams less than a week ago.
With the fourth-round pick received from the Saints being forfeited by New England thanks to Deflate-gate, this one’s a no brainer. The Patriots picked up a great weapon in Cooks, yes, but only to trade him away a season later. With no player to show from that fourth-round pick, they essentially traded away a first and third for a player that the Saints didn’t seem to miss at all in 2017. Meanwhile, the Pats had a slew of late first and early sound-round talent to choose from at 32nd. Saints inevitable selection Ryan Ramczyk included. This year’s mock drafts often to point New England to offensive linemen when not trading up for a QB. A problem that wouldn’t exist with the 2016 addition of Ramczyk. Not to mention that the Pats might find themselves in the WR market in addition to the signing of Jordan Matthews after the loss of Danny Amendola. For the record, that third-round pick turned into the selection of Trey Hendrickson, another important element of the Saints thriving defense.
All-in-all, 2017 looks like evidence to say that trading down may not be the best option. I’m going to explore 2016 and 2015 in separate articles. Let us know what you think about the Saints trading down. Unless the players available at 27 are just all wrong, I tend to believe we should stay put unless we can just swap picks later into the first. I’d much rather see us package later picks in order to get back into the second round.