Trading back from the 16th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft makes a great deal of sense for the Baltimore Ravens. The current crop of draft prospects includes precious few truly elite players, but boasts excellent depth with possible Day 1 starters available all the way through the end of the third round. Furthermore, the Ravens depth chart contains several pressing positional needs after the first wave of free agency; namely multiple offensive lineman, wide receiver, pass rusher and secondary depth.
Unfortunately, receiving fair compensation in exchange for the 16th pick may prove difficult. The other teams are equally aware of the strengths and weaknesses in this draft class. And lately, front offices have been reluctant to part with early round selections.
NFL teams have consummated eleven trades involving non top-five overall first round picks over the last three years:
- Minnesota received a first (#9) and fifth rounder (#145). Cleveland selected CB Justin Gilbert with the 8th overall pick.
- Arizona received a first round pick (#27) and third round pick (#91). New Orleans selected WR Brandin Cooks with the 20th pick in the first round.
- Philadelphia received a first (#26) and third round pick (#83). Cleveland selected QB Johnny Manziel with the 22nd pick.
- Seattle received a second (#40) and fourth round pick (#108). Minnesota selected QB Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd overall pick.
- Detroit received a first round pick (#28), a fifth rounder (#143) and 2016 fifth round selection. Denver chose OLB Shane Ray with the 23rd overall pick.
- San Francisco received a first round pick (#17), fourth rounder (#117) and 2016 fifth round pick. San Diego chose RB Melvin Gordon at 15th overall.
- Cleveland receives a first (#15), third (#76) and 2017 second round pick. Tennessee received a sixth round pick (#176) and selected OT Jack Conklin with the 8th pick.
- Tampa Bay received a first round (#11) and fourth rounder (#106). Chicago selected OLB Leonard Floyd with the 9th overall pick.
- Washington received a first (#22) and 2017 sixth rounder. Houston chose WR Will Fuller with the 21st pick.
- Kansas City received second (#37), fourth (#105) and sixth round picks (#178). San Francisco received a seventh rounder (#249) and chose OL Joshua Garnett with the 28th overall selection.
- Seattle received a first (#31) and third round pick (#94). Denver selected QB Paxton Lynch with the 26th overall pick.
According to this draft pick value trade chart, the teams who traded up reaped the better end of the exchange in eight of the eleven deals. Also worth noting, nine of the eleven prospects deemed worthy of trading up for play premium positions. Specifically three quarterbacks, two wideouts, two pass rushers, one offensive tackle and one corner compared to one running back and one guard.
Going back to the Ravens options in the 2017 draft, the optimal scenario may be to catch a falling top-ten talent if someone slides to the 16th slot. To generate sufficient value that would make a trade down truly worthwhile, Ravens fans should hope another team is willing to pay up for the opportunity to add quarterbacks Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky, DeShone Kizer or speedy receiver John Ross. Maybe another team will fall in love with running back Dalvin Cook, tight end O.J. Howard or safety Jabrill Peppers if they feel they are perfect fits for their scheme, but a blockbuster trade for a prospect who plays a devalued position is less likely.
It would be unwise for the Ravens to pass on an opportunity to select a coveted number one receiver, outside linebacker, defensive back or offensive lineman because they are desperate for reinforcements at these spots too. Several consecutive years of accumulating extra draft picks have produced a Ravens roster that is long on quality depth at most position groups but short on top end difference makers.
Yet another option to ponder is trading up a couple spots in the first round if the draft board breaks favorably. In 2006, the Ravens traded up one spot, to #12, in order to acquire Haloti Ngata. A sixth round choice was all it took to snare the big defensive lineman who anchored the Ravens front for nine seasons and made five consecutive Pro Bowls while playing for Baltimore.
Trading down in the first round of the 2017 draft seems ideal in theory. Unfortunately, finding a team that is willing to part with a Day 2 pick is easier said than done. Unless the stars align, the Ravens may be forced to sit tight and select the best player available with their first round pick.
Should the Ravens trade down in the first round if an extra fourth rounder is the best offer available?
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