The great and awful thing about pre-draft speculation is that almost literally, anything is possible. Today, let’s consider one specific scenario for the San Francisco 49ers: trading the No. 2 pick to a quarterback-hungry team.
Let’s start with a couple of assumptions. First, the smallest drop is the best. It will be hard to ever top the Mitchell Trubisky trade, where the Niners got two 3rd round picks and a 4th just to drop one position in the draft, so that Chicago could draft a guy SF didn’t want anyway. But that’s the goal.
Second, let’s assume that Arizona does not take a QB with the first pick. Yeah, I know that new Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said last October that he’d pick Kyler Murray first overall if he could. And now he can (if GM Steve Keim agrees.)
But when Kingsbury said that, he wasn’t coach of a team that drafted a QB with a top ten pick last year. The odds still favor the Cards taking Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Quinnen Williams, or Jonah Williams with the top pick.
But QBs are the ultimate premium position, and several teams desperately need one. And to our third assumption: there’s not much available on the free agent market. Joe Flacco, Teddy Bridgewater, and Nick Foles are likely to be free agents; ditto Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tyrod Taylor. The Jags have been known to make some dumb decisions (Blake Bortles, anyone?) but even they probably won’t try to rebuild around any of these flawed and aging veterans.
So: the Jacksonville Jaguars clearly need a quarterback, and so do the New York Giants, though it’s not clear that they realize it. (Teams might also be tempted to wait a year for Justin Herbert, or two years for Trevor Lawrence, in which case they will need to suck to get a high enough pick. But the Jags and Giants have suffered too long to wait for a potential pick down the road.)
With all due respect to Kyler Murray, who stands 5’11”, it’s very unlikely that the Giants would need to trade up for him. There is only one consensus top ten quarterback prospect this year, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. And that increases his value as trade bait, since the Jaguars can’t hope for an equally good QB to fall to them if New York takes Haskins.
They’ll have to move up in the draft, ahead of the Giants. If Arizona does pick Kyler Murray, even better; Jacksonville and New York may feel a panic to get the only good QB left.
So what would the Niners receive in exchange for trading down? Based on the draft pick value chart, the second overall pick is extremely valuable at 2,600 points. No. 6 is worth 1,600, and No. 7 is work 1,500, so a trade down would require an additional, 1,000-1,100 points of value.
What does that mean? Neither the Jaguars or Giants have multiple first or second round picks, and so this could potentially require a 2020 first round pick as well. A first round pick in the next year’s draft is discounted due to the uncertain nature of where it will stack up when that next draft arrives. One team is left wagering on what might come of things for the other team the following season.
Or you could ask for players. Would Jacksonville give up an edge rusher such as Calais Campbell, or (dare I dream) Yannick Ngakoue? Telvin Smith, Tashuan Gipson, Malik Jackson and Leonard Fournette are rumored to be on the trading block, too.
What about the Giants? Odell Beckham is the big tempting target, already rumored for a trade with the Niners. Other options include WR Sterling Shephard, TE Evan Engram, S Landon Collins or CB Janoris Jenkins. Maybe G Will Hernandez?
The big downside of such a deal is that the Niners almost certainly wouldn’t get one of the three dominant defensive linemen with pass rushing potential (Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, or Quinnen Williams) that they desperately need. To fill that edge role, if they don’t trade for Campbell or Ngakoue, they might sign a free agent such as Kansas City’s Dee Ford or Detroit’s Ezekiel Ansah. Or they could gamble on a lesser prospect such as Florida’s Jachai Polite or Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell.
There are a lot of possibilities, but the No. 2 pick is uniquely valuable. And if Arizona picks someone unexpected, the 49ers might be able to add several draft picks or players and still get a great player at No. 6 or No. 7 — or trade down again for even more picks.