The top of the 2016 NFL Draft might not be done with the shake ups, even before any picks are made. The Tennessee Titans traded the No. 1 overall selection to the Los Angeles Rams two weeks before the pick will be made and now a week out, the No. 2 pick might be the next to get moved.
After the Rams trade it became clear a quarterback will be selected with the first pick, something that was not going to happen with the Titans holding that selection. While we can assume a quarterback will be taken, which quarterback the Rams will take is still unknown. Either way that will leave just one of the “top” quarterbacks on the board for when the clock starts ticking for the second overall pick. On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast he believes the Browns — the current holder of the No. 2 pick — were never going to take a quarterback second overall. What that leaves is another possible trading spot for a team that wants whichever quarterback the Rams don’t take. Of course the lack of clarity on who the Rams favor may make trading the No. 2 pick difficult before the No. 1 pick is made. Some teams may be ecstatic to move up for Carson Wentz, others might be more in love with Jared Goff.
So far there’s been three teams linked to the second pick — the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets. Each have a need for a quarterback — Philadelphia’s is a widely reported interested, even after re-signing Sam Bradford and bringing in Chase Daniel — but all teams would need to take a bit of a jump to move up to No. 2.
This brings into question how much the Browns value that pick. For years teams have given value to draft picks by following the mostly arbitrary numbers for the Jimmy Johnson chart. While most teams have modernized the values of the chart, the original still comes close enough to how many trades are started. Take what the Titans received from the Rams for the first overall pick. Tennessee received a massive haul that was an easy win on the more modern Approximate Value chart from Chase Stuart at Football Perspective, before the two 2017 picks were even accounted for. But with the Jimmy Johnson value, those two future picks were needed to even the compensation for the Titans.
Due to an analytics-friendly front office, the Browns might consider taking less than the average team to move out of the No. 2 spot while basing any trades off more modern charts like the Stuart’s AV model instead of the Jimmy Johnson chart which wildly overvalues top picks. But with so many teams still basing trades off something closely resembling the original Johnson chart, why wouldn’t the Browns use those values as their asking price, knowing that return would be much more than needed yet still what other teams may view as a fair price.
With this in mind, we can go through a few trade scenarios with the teams that have been rumored to trade up and find the balance in compensation between the AV and Jimmy Johnson models.
San Francisco 49ers
Cleveland trades No. 2, No. 141 (Total AV: 33.3). San Francisco trades No. 7, No. 37 (Total AV: 33.8)
Cleveland trades No. 2 (2600). San Francisco trades No. 7, No. 37 (2030)
Missing: 570 points. Pick Equivalent: 34th overall pick (560)
The 49ers arguably have the easiest path to the No. 2 pick. Of the three rumored teams, the the Niners have the highest current pick, No. 7, and also have a high second-round pick, something the other two teams don’t have either. The inclusion of the the 37th overall pick bumps up San Francisco’s AV enough that Cleveland would have to throw in a fifth-round pick to even out the value.
But by the Jimmy Johnson chart, the first- and second-round picks from the 49ers are not enough for even the second overall pick alone. There’s a missing value of 570 points, which is roughly equivalent to the 34th overall pick in a draft (560) points, which would likely need to be a 2017 second-rounder.
Cleveland trades No. 2 (Total AV: 30.2). Philadelphia trades No. 8, No. 77, No. 153 (Total AV: 30.9)
Cleveland trades No. 2 (2600). Philadelphia trades No. 8, No. 77, No. 153 (1639.5)
Missing: 964.5 points. Pick Equivalent: 17th overall (950 points)
Thanks to the Nick Foles for Sam Bradford trade, the Eagles don’t have a second-round pick in this year’s draft. That obviously makes it harder for Philadelphia to use high picks in this trade. To make matters worse, Jeff Fisher has stated the Rams would not have been able to move up to No. 1 would it have not been for the extra second-round pick they received in the trade with Philadelphia.
Because of that lack of a second-round pick, the Eagles would have to give up nearly their whole 2016 draft — first-, third- and fifth-round picks to match the value of No. 2 overall. However the Jimmy Johnson chart leaves them well short of equal value with those three picks. That leaves the Eagles with a gap equivalent to the No. 17 overall pick — likely a 2017 first-rounder.
What the Eagles also have is a player who could be offered in the trade, in this case defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Philadelphia has been adamant the team has no plans to trade Cox, but the two sides have not agreed on a new contract since the first spat of agreement rumors were floated early in the offseason. While Cox profiles like the type of player the Browns moved away from this offseason, his price tag might be worth the move in this case. Cleveland will have a significant amount of cap space and Cox will not turn 26 years old until December, making him young enough to be a core player for the rebuilding team who won’t out-age the rebuild.
New York Jets
Cleveland trades No. 2 (Total AV: 30.2). New York trades No. 20, No. 51, No. 118 (Total AV: 29.3)
Cleveland trades No. 2 (2600). New York trades No. 20, No. 51, No. 118 (1298)
Missing: 1301 points. Pick Equivalent: 10th overall (1300 points)
By virtue of being the farthest back in the draft, it will take the most for the Jets to move up into the second slot. The Jets have the 20th pick in the first round and moving up would take a bigger jump than the one the Rams took from No. 15 to No. 1. Using the AV chart, the Jets would only need to give up close to what the Titans received in 2016 picks from the Rams — the first-, second- and fourth-round picks from the Jets. But the Jimmy Johnson chart leaves that return well under the perceived pick value, a gap equivalent of the 10th overall pick. That could potentially be two 2017 picks, likely a first- and third-round pick like the Rams also gave up.
The Jets, like the Eagles, do have a defensive lineman on the trading block, but Muhammad Wilkerson makes less sense for the current Browns team. Wilkerson is still young, he’ll turn 27 in October, but along with being a year older than Cox, he’s also a year further into his contract. Cox is currently on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, which currently costs $7.8 million on the cap. Wilkerson, without a new deal, will play 2016 on the franchise tag, which costs $15.7 million on the cap. Cox will nearly be half the price in 2016 and the franchise tag hit would be less next season should a long-term deal not be in place by that time.
It’s possible one of these teams does move up to grab the pick, as they appear to be the three most desperate for a quarterback early in the draft. There could also be a Mystery Team, because there always tends to be in these kinds of scenarios — and we heard very little about the Rams making their move to the front of the line before the trade was announced.
If a trade gets made it will be interesting to see how the Browns go about placing the price on the No. 2 pick. The analytic values would suggest they’d be ok taking less, but being a step ahead would indicate they could use that to their advantage and instead ask for more.