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Trading Up Or Down In The NFL Draft Is A Crapshoot

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For the NFL Draft to be less than a month away, there’s still several unanswered questions that need to be answered. Will the Philadelphia Eagles trade up to get Marcus Mariota? Who will take a chance on Dorial Green-Beckham? Will the Dallas Cowboys trade up into the first round to take a running back?

These questions will be answered in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, lets discuss whether its a good idea to trade up or down in the draft.

If you just look at the past three drafts, you’ll see a plethora of teams getting rewarded for making draft trades, but you’ll also see teams that weren’t so fortunate.

One franchise that probably regrets a certain draft trade would be the Washington Redskins. Robert Griffin III looked promising during his rookie campaign, but since then he’s been nothing but a headache in DC. He hasn’t been able to stay on the field due to injuries and there’s even been reports of a divided locker room.

When Washington acquired RG3 in the 2012 draft, the Skins surrendered three first round picks and one second rounder to the St. Louis Rams.

Staying in 2012, the Indianapolis Colts made a very significant come up. Indy traded their fourth round pick to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a third round pick, which turned out to be a pretty good investment, in T.Y. Hilton.

Hilton has caught 214 passes for 3,289 yards to go along with 19 touchdowns in his young three-year career.

During that same draft, Chicago traded up to get a dynamic receiver of their own. Alshon Jeffery was selected by the Bears with the 45th overall pick in the second round, after trading their second and fifth round picks to the Rams.

Jeffery started off slow, only catching 24 passes during his rookie campaign. But the past two seasons have been a totally different story. The 25-year-old has hauled in nearly 200 catches to go along with 17 touchdowns.

While those two teams benefited, Jacksonville hasn’t been so fortunate to this point. The Jags traded their first and fourth round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. After trading up, Jacksonville decided to draft Justin Blackmon, who was an absolute beast in the college ranks.

Unfortunately, Blackmon has had difficulties just getting on the gridiron. The wide out has been suspended on separate occasions for violating the substance abuse policy. He only appeared in four games during the 2013 season and missed the entire 2014 campaign.

However, Blackmon appears to be heading in the right direction, according to Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell.

“It’s currently in the league’s hands and it’s in Justin’s hands, to be honest with you,” Caldwell said. “The reports I’ve gotten second-hand is that he’s doing the right things and engaging in the program and he’s really trying to make positive strides in his life. Our thoughts are with him.

“We’ll welcome him back if he does all the right things and hopefully the league shows some urgency in trying to focus on him and he shows some urgency in trying to do the right things. Right now, those reports are positive.”

If you look at the 2013 NFL Draft, you’ll see how Green Bay benefited from trading down in the second round and ended up with Eddie Lacy.

Lacy has rushed for over 1,100 yards each of his first two seasons to go along with 24 total touchdowns.

Even if you date back to last year’s draft, you can look at teams like Arizona and Buffalo, who landed two sensational rookie wide receivers in John Brown and Sammy Watkins respectively.

The Cardinals picked John Brown in the third round, which was a steal. Brown caught 48 passes for 696 yards and hauled in five touchdowns.

Watkins on the other hand was expected to do great things, which is why Buffalo traded up for the Clemson standout. Watkins snatched 65 catches for 982 yards with six touchdowns to boot.

As you can tell, its difficult to say whether or not trading up or down is the way to go. The best way to answer this is to do your due diligence and if you believe a prospect is your guy, do whatever it takes to get him.

At the same time, there may be a guy you really love, but you’re almost certain he’ll fall lower than he probably should, which means you should probably trade down so you won’t have to pay him as much.

Its all a game and whoever plays their cards the best usually comes out on top.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.