The NFL Draft begins Thursday night, and make no mistake, there are plenty of storylines to follow. How do the top four quarterbacks shake out? Is the size of Josh Allen's hands really going to be the reason Cleveland drafts him with the first overall pick? Where does Saquon Barkley end up? What exactly will the Houston Texans' front office be doing on Thursday night, since they have no first round pick? (I am going to go with a sweet karaoke night somewhere in Midtown!)
One of the underrated storylines each year is what I call the "closing out" of previous draft business. Stay with me for a second — we know that there have been trades consummated over the last few months, even the last couple years, where teams will be using selections this week that they acquired in trades. At the time they acquired these picks, those teams felt pretty good, probably bragging "Look at all of this draft equity we now have!"
Here's the thing, though — eventually you have to USE those picks, and oftentimes, the picks feel a lot less sexy once a player's name is attached to it, and years later, it's a pretty safe bet, just given the mere attrition and failure rate of NFL players, that there will be misery attached to a draft selection that a team once loved (before they actually had to, y'know, DRAFT SOMEONE).
To bring it back home, on draft night in 2017, the Browns probably felt GREAT about nabbing an extra first round pick from the Texans to let them move up and pick Deshaun Watson. The Browns were the smartest guys in the world! However, eventually, they have to use the two picks they got, the Texans' first round pick last season (which they used on Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers) and the fourth overall pick this season. So unless they are picking Jesus Christ himself to come play QB for them, that trade, once names are attached to those picks, is going to look absurdly lopsided, given that Watson appears to be a top five QB.
So, for fun, let's identify a few picks coming up Thursday and Friday that you should keep an eye on, and potentially fill in the final puzzle piece of notable past trades. (NOTE: The picks identified below could get traded AGAIN, which could scuttle some of this post. Nevertheless, the point remains, trading for a ton of draft picks should come with a warning label.)
4th OVERALL PICK - The Deshaun Watson Trade
* 2017 1st round (12th overall): DESHAUN WATSON, QB
* 2017 1st round (25th overall): JABRILL PEPPERS, S
* 2018 1st round (4th overall): _______________
COMMENT: The funny thing about this trade is that, not only did the Browns pass up on Watson, but they acquired this pick in the Carson Wentz trade, so Peppers and whomever they take fourth overall are also on the list of players, theoretically, acquired for Wentz. More on that below.
22nd OVERALL PICK - The Patrick Mahomes Trade
KANSAS CIITY ACQUIRED:
* 2017 1st round (10th overall): PATRICK MAHOMES, QB
* 2017 1st round (27th overall): TRE'DAVIOUS WHITE, CB
* 2017 3rd round (91st overall): JOHN JOHNSON, S
* 2018 1st round (22nd overall): _________________
COMMENT: The funny thing about this is that Buffalo is now trying to maneuver to get one of the top quarterbacks, when they could have just stayed at tenth overall last year, and drafted Patrick Mahomes. White did wind up being a pretty good player for Buffalo, but the only way they win this trade is if they maneuver to get a top quarterback, AND that quarterback winds up being a competent signal caller who can win in the NFL (or at least better than Pat Mahomes).
35th OVERALL PICK - The Dump Brock Osweiler Trade
* 2017 4th round (142nd overall): CARLOS WATKINS, DT
* $10 million in salary cap space by dumping Osweiler's 2017 guaranteed salary
* QB BROCK OSWEILER
* 2017 6th round (188th overall): ELIJAH McGUIRE, RB
* 2018 2nd round (35th overall): ___________________
COMMENT: The Texans season could not have worked out any better for Cleveland, who own the Texans' first two picks in the draft, and yet, I'm still virtually certain that they will screw this up.
43rd OVERALL PICK - The Jimmy Garoppolo Trade
SAN FRANCSICO ACQUIRED:
* QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO
NEW ENGLAND ACQUIRED:
* 2018 2nd round (43rd overall): __________________
COMMENT: Unless somehow the Patriots come away with a Pro Bowl player who helps them win a Super Bowl, this trade will forever be a gigantic blight on Bill Belichick's otherwise stellar resume. If they use this pick and, say, the 23rd pick (acquired from LA for Brandin Cooks) and move up and get a future starting QB in this year's first round, that's one way to salvage the situation, though.
78th OVERALL PICK - The Alex Smith Trade
* QB ALEX SMITH
KANSAS CITY ACQUIRED:
* CB KENDALL FULLER
* 2018 3rd round (78th overall): ___________________
COMMENT: The least sexy of all the QB trades, but it will be interesting to see how Kansas City ends up using this pick, given their needs on defense.
The Alvin Kamara Trade
NEW ORLEANS ACQUIRED:
* 2017 3rd round (67th overall): ALVIN KAMARA, RB
SAN FRANCISCO ACQUIRED:
* 2017 7th round (229th): ADRIAN COLBERT, CB
* 2018 2nd round (56th overall): ______________________
COMMENT: The Saints don't get enough for not only drafting Kamara, but creatively moving up to GO GET Kamara. Fantastic job by their front office.
The Carson Wentz Trade
Ok, here we go. This whole sequence of events is classic Sashi Brown front office stuff. In 2016, here was the deal that the Browns and Eagles consummated that led to the Eagles' drafting Carson Wentz (and eventually winning a Super Bowl):
* 2016 1st round (8th overall)
* 2016 3rd round (77th overall)
* 2016 4th round (100th overall)
* 2017 1st round (12th overall)
* 2018 2nd round (64th overall): ________________
* 2016 1st round (2nd overall)
* 2017 4th round (139th overall)
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Of the five picks that the Browns acquired, the second rounder they have for Friday night is the only pick that they didn't go on to trade again. (They still might trade that pick!) The bevy of selections the Browns acquired led to an even bigger bevy of picks that has, thus far, yielded the following players:
Corey Coleman, WR
Shon Coleman, OT
DeShone Kizer, QB
Cody Kessler, QB
Derrick Kindred, S
Spencer Drango, OT
Ricardo Louis, WR
Jordan Peyton, WR
Jabrill Peppers, S
Wow, that list would make me kill myself, if I were a Browns fan (as if Browns fans haven't had enough reasons to seek assisted suicide in their lives). Along the way, two of the picks they traded for and then traded out of turned into Jack Conklin (Pro Bowl tackle for the Titans) and Deshaun Watson (football savior in Houston). If somehow this all turns into the Browns' taking Josh Allen with the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, they may as well just fold the franchise.
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