The sports media is reporting what Jaguars fans have heard for years now – that the Jaguars are looking to trade down and acquire more picks during the draft. However, this year, more so than ever, it would be hugely advantageous to do so – especially given the depth of this draft and the number of players the Jaguars are looking to acquire. But the shallow-ness at the top of the draft and the depth in the middle of the draft are the exact same reasons why most teams wouldn’t want to trade up. Are there any that will want to?
Prospects worth trading up for: Geno Smith, Eric Fisher
These are the only players teams would give up extra picks to trade up for, in my opinion – the top talents at the most valuable positions in football. The combination of Eric Fisher’s talent and the number of lineman-needy teams at the top of the draft makes Eric Fisher the most likely trade-up prospect. Although Lane Johnson will still be available after Fisher is gone, there seems to be a consensus that Fisher is a clear cut first tier LT prospect, while Johnson may be a tier below him. Further, there is perceived to be a huge drop off after Johnson in the LT class, and this only makes a trade up somewhere early in the first round more likely. If teams think Geno Smith can be “the guy”, he easily becomes the most likely trade-up candidate… (but that’s a big if). There are a number of teams picking around the Jaguars that may be looking for a quarterback early (Oak, Phi, Cle, Ari), and this should only bring hope to Jaguars fans looking to trade down. While there are other players worth the number two selection that teams may fall in love with (Dion Jordan, Sharrif Floyd, etc.), these are the only two players that I think could realistically merit a trade-up.
Teams with the ammunition to move up to #2: Oakland, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Arizona, Buffalo, New York Jets, Miami, St. Louis
The list seems longer than it should because I’ve included the teams that sit directly behind the Jaguars in this draft, but to compensate I didn’t include teams that may have the ammunition to move up to #2 but don’t have positional needs that require a move all the way up to 2 (e.g. Minnesota, San Francisco). It’s a longshot that Oakland moves up one spot unless there’s enough talk of another team moving up to steal their player, a la the Minnesota-Cleveland trade last year. Oakland is set at LT for now, so the most likely scenario in which that would happen is if they were looking to draft Geno Smith (I know they just traded for Matt Flynn, but it was a 5th rounder for a guy who is certainly not guaranteed to be their quarterback of the future). On the flip side, Oakland has a history of drafting workout warriors, so if this were an Oakland of a few years ago, Dion Jordan, Barkevious Mingo, or Ezekial Ansah might’ve been in play for a trade-up too. Philadelphia is more intriguing because they could be in play for Fisher and Smith. If they hear talks of Cleveland, Arizona, Buffalo, or New York trying to trade up for Smith or Oakland targeting Fisher, they could trade up to#2 to get their guy.
While St. Louis has two first round picks, they honestly don’t have needs that are worth being filled by trading up to #2 in the draft now that they’ve signed Jake Long. On the other hand, Miami holds #12 overall and two second rounders and has a huge hole at left tackle now that Jake Long is gone. If Miami didn’t have a franchise quarterback, it might not matter as much, but the Dolphins just drafted Ryan Tannehill, and for him to have a chance at succeeding, they have to keep him upright. Fortunately for the Dolphins, this draft has three starting worthy left tackles – but unfortunately for them, they might all be gone by pick 12. In addition to the LT-needy teams in the top ten, Miami sits right behind San Diego, who is desperately in need of a LT prospect as well. In order to get a LT in round 1, Miami will likely have to trade up, but if they feel lukewarm about Lane Johnson, Eric Fisher could be their target. Is a LT worth what it would cost Miami to move up? Even if you don’t use the outdated trade value chart, it will likely be too cost-prohibitive for Dolphins to move up from #12 to #2. Giving up a first rounder and two second rounders is likely far too much for a LT – and that still leaves them over 500 points short (an early 2nd round pick) based on the trade value chart.
All in all, the Jaguars trade-down chances don’t look great. If Caldwell truly wants to move down to acquire more picks, they have to hope that one of the teams pick soon after them falls in love with a player and is paranoid about losing him, a la Cleveland with Trent Richardson. If not (and most likely not), look for Geno Smith or Dion Jordan to be in a Jaguars uniform come draft day!
– Zain Gowani