By JAMES FEDEWA
With the NFL Draft approaching in less than three weeks, draft enthusiasts, draftniks and super-fans are guessing what their team necessities are and who they should draft. The unpredictability of the NFL Draft is probably the most intriguing aspect of the annual draft craze, with new team additions and improvements that keep us all guessing “who’s going where and in what round.” Draft Value adds to the craze too, as potential first round picks, which slid and were drafted in the second, or third…
Some NFL Teams draft out of “need” and some draft “Best Player Available” (BPA), or a little of both. Based on the San Diego Chargers current roster and salary cap situation & limitations, Chargers fans can pretty much guess correctly what San Diego will do with their first pick (#11 overall). They will draft out of NEED as San Diego has a glaring need at left tackle, which is the most likely choice with their first pick. Three left tackles are considered the top tier bunch: Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M), Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) and Lane Johnson (Oklahoma). San Diego needs one of them and one should be available with San Diego’s #11 overall pick.
However, the NFL Draft is extremely unpredictable. If all three top rated left tackle prospects are all drafted before San Diego’s pick, what position will San Diego draft in the first round? It is rare to see 3 offensive linemen to go in the top ten, but it could happen.
Offensive Guards Chance Warmack (Alabama) and Johnathan Cooper (North Carolina) are just as highly rated as the top three left tackle prospects, but guard is not an immediate need for San Diego, like left tackle is, nor is a guard a sexy pick at #11. First round guards are rare, as you can find quality guards in later rounds of the draft, but Warmack and Cooper are very special and are two of the highest rated guards coming out of college, ever. Any first rounder drafted to San Diego’s offensive line would help San Diego immensely, so any o-lineman should be the choice.
Again, the NFL Draft is very unpredictable. Many scenarios can happen with the first ten picks, before San Diego’s #11 selection. If no players that San Diego want with their pick, then the Chargers can trade-down. They could also trade up to secure one of the left tackles, but that could cost San Diego additional draft picks to give away in trade. San Diego can also stand pat and take what they can get, regardless of the position (which what they will probably do).
But since we are talking about unpredictability here, why don’t we talk about “TRADE DOWN” scenarios? If GM Tom Telesco wants to get more draft picks, or doesn’t like what he sees at #11, who could San Diego trade down with?
The first part of the 2013 NFL Draft is controlled by four teams, since these teams have multiple/extra draft picks in the first two rounds: 49ers, Vikings, Bengals & Rams
The San Francisco 49ers have 15 draft picks (including one in the first round and two in the second round). They have the most control of this draft, as they do not need 15 rookies on their 2013 team. So they have the ability to trade up (or down) and target the players they want. There’s no hiding that they do like Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia, but the 49ers first round pick is at #31 and Austin is projected to go well before that. Based on the “Jimmy Johnson Draft Pick Trade Value Chart” (a point value system, based on each NFL draft pick position), most trades should equal close to each other’s total. For example, if San Diego picks at #11 that draft pick is worth 1250 points, and whichever team would like to trade that draft pick, for their draft picks, the additional draft picks should sum should total 1250. So, if San Francisco wanted to trade up for San Diego’s first round draft pick (#11 overall), it would cost San Francisco three draft picks (#31, #34 & #96, based on the total points each draft pick is valued).
The Minnesota Vikings have a need at wide receiver too, and have also been enamored with Tevon Austin to replace recently traded Percy Harvin. If Minnesota wanted to trade up for San Diego’s first round draft pick (#11), it would cost them: #23, #25 & #101.
The Cincinnati Bengals also have a need for a playmaker wide receiver (as well as a right tackle). If Cincinnati wanted to trade up for San Diego’s first round draft pick, and swap second round draft picks (SD’s #11 & 45), it would cost them: #21, #37 & #54 (-10 points in SD’s favor). That’s two picks for three picks…
The St. Louis Ram also have a need for a wide receiver, and have been linked to Tevon Austin as well. If St. Louis wanted to trade up for San Diego’s first round draft picks (#11), it would cost them: #16, #80 & #112 (-10 in SD’s favor)
Acquiring additional draft picks in the NFL Draft is an art form. Good trade (downs) look like magic (on paper). The St. Louis Rams did a great job trading down in last years draft (same with the Chargers in 2004). But annual draft results cannot be measured for several years.
General Managers know their teams holes and can often target the guys they want, a round earlier than projected in drafts. Trading down can backfire, and trading out of the top half of the first round has even more odds against you (see Chargers 2003 draft trade down – S.Davis/T.Keil vs. T.Polamalu = moving down 14 spots for two draft picks). As much as any GM would like to move back 10 spots, and get an additional draft pick (within the top 64) picks seems great, but the odds are not in their favor. The number #11 draft pick is a prize and should not be gambled with. But big bets have big rewards…
If San Diego cannot land a top tier first round offensive lineman like (Joeckel, Fisher, Lane Johnson, Warmack or Cooper) then San Diego can go a numerous amount of directions. And we won’t find out until Thursday night, April 25th.