And no, I don't mean trading up...
I've seen quite a few mock drafts put up recently that suggest the Falcons should trade out of the first round to snag more picks and it got me thinking - what teams would entertain this option, and would it be worth it to the Falcons to consider such a trade? After a little toiling around, I think I've spotted some potential trade partners who might covet our spot at #30 and be willing to facilitate a "trade down" with the Falcons.
First, it's important to consider the composition of this year's draft class, because it is a critical factor in why the Falcons #30 spot holds more value than it normally would. While last year was a banner year for finding a franchise QB in the draft, 2013 is looking to be the polar opposite. Most of the QBs in this class are not considered to be on par with guys like Luck and RG3, or Wilson. That could weigh heavily in the Falcons favor, as teams at the top of the draft board may not want to use their high pick to snag a QB that would definitely be a reach in the top 10. Meanwhile, other critical positions - such as OLine and DLine - have a good bit of quality at the top, and players like Luke Joeckel and Bjoern Werner are going to be hard to pass by for a QB that may not be ready to start.
While these teams may not want to use their top 10 pick on a QB, many of the teams are also in big need of landing a good QB and will strongly consider taking guys like Mike Glennon or Matt Barkley early, just not with a top-10 pick. Teams like the Jaguars, Chiefs and Cardinals all have several needs - but also need a quality QB. Additionally, there is a log-jam of QB challenged teams at the top of the draft and not a lot of free agent QBs available to fill them - so several of these teams will HAVE to turn to the draft to find some help.
So how does this help the Falcons? That #30 pick would allow one of these QB challenged teams to jump in front of another QB challenged team to grab their favored QB prospect without running the risk of one of the other teams snagging him with their second rounder. Suddenly, that #30 pick offers the prospect of getting a great OL/DL prospect in the top 10, while also getting a QB prospect at roughly his accurate draft worth.
So, what teams fit this billing? Here are some potential candidates with their picks in the first and second rounds.
Kansas City Chiefs (#1, #34)
Many analysts believe the Chiefs will opt to draft Geno Smith with their first pick, but I'm not completely sold yet. Of all the QBs on the board, Smith is probably the most ready, but he is no Luck or RG3. He's going to need some time to adjust at the next level, and Andy Reid may not consider him his QB of the future. Meanwhile, the Chiefs could use some help on their offensive line, and a surefire LT like Joeckel is hard to pass up.
Also, with the Jaguars drafting in front of them in the second round, if they don't take a QB with the first pick or snag one in free agency, they may be very anxious to get in front of a QB depleted Jaguars team.
Jacksonville Jaguars (#2, #33)
It's looking more and more like the Gabbert experiment is over in Jacksonville, and with the new GM all but saying they will not go after Tebow, it's looking like they will be going back to the draft for help. However, this team is hurting on both sides of the ball - and their woeful pass rush may be an even bigger need. Guys like Lotulelei offer them far more value for their #2 pick.
That said, since they do pick first in the second round, they may not feel as anxious to trade, since they are at the front of the line for the value round.
Oakland Raiders (#3, N/A)
Carson Palmer isn't getting any younger, and anyone who is banking on Pryor to be ready in 2013 is blind and dumb. The Raiders will likely want to find someone to try and groom, but like the Jaguars, they are starved for help in their pass rush. An edge rusher like Werner may be too hard to pass on, especially since they can ride out the Palmer train for one more year if need be.
They're also in the precarious position of not having a second rounder, and this particular class of QBs is not very deep, so waiting until the third round would mean missing out on a better prospect. That also means they have less to trade with, which could eliminate them from contention.
Arizona Cardinals (#7, #38)
As with the other teams before them, the Cardinals are hurting at the QB position. Kolb is constantly injured and his only backups would barely serve as backup QBs in the SEC, much less in the NFL. Again, however, they have major needs elsewhere - starting with that horrible offensive line. Most people think the Cardinals will want to snag a great LT prospect like Eric Fisher, who can immediately contribute on day one.
Of all the teams here, this is the one I can see that might be the most interested in making a move. At #38, it's quite possible that two or three of the better QB prospects will be snatched up before they draft again in the second round. They might be strongly inclined to make a move to leapfrog the teams in front of them to get a better QB prospect.
Buffalo Bills (#8, #41)
The Bills are a team that look good on paper, but have underperformed. They have some holes to fill and it's looking like QB is one of them. However, if the Chiefs take a QB at #1 (presumably Smith), would the Bills be willing to use their pick on one of the other QBs of this draft? Someone like Barkely has positive leadership skills, but his lack of elite arm strength could be a big hamper in the winters in Buffalo. Would the Bills go with a less refined, but bigger armed Glennon, who really looks to be a reach as a top-10 prospect?
My suspicion is Buffalo may go BPA and try to use their second rounder to find a potential QB for the future. If so, at #41, they would also be looking at the potential for other teams to go on a QB run at the beginning of the second round, which would leave them in a poor position to fill a major need without over-reaching. The Bills look like another strong candidate for trading down.
New York Jets (#9, #39)
Almost everyone agrees that the Jets are nearly over the Sanchez experiment - however, his huge cap hit for the 2013 season all but prevents the Jets from looking for another QB in free agency. That leaves them with this draft to try and find someone to compete with Sanchez - and drafting someone in the latter rounds will not accomplish that goal. However, the same quandry faces the Jets as the other teams. Do you reach for a QB with your top 10 pick? I don't think they can, especially since they have some big defensive needs that will be easier to fill in this draft. More than likely, that first rounder should be used on pass rushing help.
And again, at #39, there are a few teams ahead of them that can make a run at the better QB prospects and leave the Jets in a position where they won't be getting the QB they want or worse, having to over-reach for what should be a third or fourth round QB prospect. Consider this team another strong candidate.
Given the unique situation of these teams, and the incredibly weak QB class entering this draft, I believe the Falcons are primed to trade down if they feel they can get some value. Based on some trade charts I've looked at, the Falcons could expect to get a 2nd, 4th and possibly 6th or 7th rounder in exchange for the #30 draft spot. That second round pick would likely be towards the top of the 2nd - with the Falcons only moving down 7 to 11 spots. It's quite likely that there will still be some very good prospects for defense, and the Falcons would then have at least 2 fourth rounders to go with a potential compensatory 4th round pick. This draft is unique in that there is some depth to certain positions - like Tight End and Running Back - where the Falcons can find some real value with an extra fourth round pick.
What do you think? Will Dimitroff make a move to trade down and stock pile some picks? Or will the front office play this draft vanilla, and leave these teams to fend for themselves?