At this time of year, NFL draft madness is starting to get to everyone. Soon-to-be NFL players are picked apart and shuttled up and down draft boards for a variety of reasons, mock drafts pock the internet like pimples on toovs, and innumerable trade scenarios are discussed in order for team A to get the player their fans love, while team B gets a bevy of extra draft picks to utilize.
Outside of "who will my team pick in the draft," the most popular topic amongst NFL fans is "what could my team get to trade down in the first round." It's interesting in part because while we, as fans, want our teams to acquire the best possible talent available, we also want to see them straight-up bamboozle another team in a trade, giving our team more picks and a better chance of drafting the next superstar/starter/opposite of Dan Bazuin.
So realistically, what could the Bears get in a trade for the 20th overall pick in the NFL Draft? We'll highlight some of the keys to look for in a possible trading scenario with the Bears, and look at the recent history of some draft day trades. First off, let's take a look at two trades from the last two drafts, both of which involved the 21st pick.
2011 Draft Trade - The Chiefs trade 21st overall pick to the Browns for the 27th & 70th picks
2012 Draft Trade - Bengals trade 21st overall pick to Patriots for the 27th & 93rd picks
Interesting aside: The Chiefs actually picked Jonathan Baldwin with the 26th pick due to the Ravens getting "Angelo'd" and running out of time to make their pick. Regardless, both trades occurred after the rookie wage scale went from "make it rain" to reasonable professional athlete salaries. And both trades involved a team moving up in the first round and willing to sacrifice an additional top-100 pick to do so. The Browns took Phil Taylor, the Patriots took Chandler Jones.
Other than both trades involving the 21st overall pick, there were other similarities. Both teams trading up, the Patriots and Browns, had additional draft picks in the second round of their respective drafts. The Browns ended up selecting two players in each of the second, fourth, and fifth rounds, while the Patriots actually traded up twice to move up in the first round (selecting Jones and Donta Hightower) and still ended up with a second and third round selection.
Key #1: Look for a trading partner that drafts later in the first round that has additional picks in the first two rounds of the draft.
Looking at this year's draft order, there are a few teams that could be possible trade partners. The Vikings have the 23rd and 25th picks, in addition to the 52nd and 83rd picks. The 49ers have the 31st, 34th, 61st, 74th, and 93rd picks. Both have the ammunition to trade up if they choose, so both could be possibilities. Especially the 49ers, who roughly have 29 draft picks this year. Even the Ravens, selecting last in round one, could move up using the 62nd, 94th, 129th, or 130th picks.
Key #2: A trading partner that has an earlier first round pick, but has additional picks in the second and third rounds to trade with.
Teams above the Bears will surely be looking to trade down - at this point assume every team is looking for a Hershel Walker or Ricky Williams type trade scenario to fall into their laps - but trying to predict that is just too crazy. Instead, look at which teams have additional high round picks in subsequent rounds. The Dolphins have the 12th overall pick, but also the 42nd, 54th, 77th, and the Bears 82nd overall pick. That kind of haul presents a wealth of possibilities for Miami to try and move up into the mid to late first round or early second. Or the Bengals, who pick right after the Bears at 21, also have the 37th, 53rd, and 84th picks. If they fall in love with two players, they could make a move to secure both.
Key #3: Don't expect a Ricky Williams style haul
I know, I just crushed anyone's dreams of acquiring multiple high round picks from the 49ers, but seriously, these things rarely happen. And they never, repeat NEVER, happen in a scenario like some people have envisioned involving the 49ers. Well, once, kind of. Williams was selected fifth overall, and Ditka be damned, he traded his whole draft for Mr. Louisiana High. The rest of the modern high profile first round trades involve teams moving into the top-ten, not the top-twenty like the Bears are this year, and spread the traded picks over multiple years.
The bounty acquired by the Rams, in exchange for Robert Griffin la tercera, involved the second overall pick and the Redskins traded picks spread over three years. The Browns got five picks over two drafts for the sixth overall pick (Julio Jones). But trades involving teams trading up for a pick between 15-25 generally involve sending two picks to the team trading down, not three or more. Both trades referenced above involved the 21st overall pick traded for a later first round and third round pick. That's nice, but not a windfall.
Look at other trades from recent years listed below, and you'll see the trend. Teams won't give up a plethora of draft picks to move up unless they are getting what they believe is a top-ten talent (or Blaine Gabbert).
Year - Traded Away - Acquired
2012 - 6 – 14, 45
2012 – 25 – 31, 126
2011 – 10 – 16, 49
2010 – 11 – 13, 113
2010 - 12, 110, 173 – 28, 40, 126
2010 – 13 – 24, 70, 87
2010 – 22 – 24, 113
2010 – 25 – 43, 70, 114
Over the past three years, only one trade has involved a team trading down from a 15-25 pick and acquired more than one additional pick: the 2010 trade between the Ravens and Broncos. The Ravens received second, third, and fourth round picks from the Broncos for the 25th overall pick. The Broncos were flush with draft picks thanks to the Jay Cutler trade, and owned the Bears first and third round picks that year (and even traded back with the Bears' first round pick to acquire more picks for McHoodie).
You could use this trade to illustrate how the Bears could acquire, say, half of the 49ers second, third, and fourth round picks. But the 49ers have the 34th and 61st picks in the second, the Broncos used the 43rd pick. And the Broncos also traded 70 and 114, while the 49ers have the 74th, 93rd, 128th, and 131st picks. If the 49ers gave up the 34th pick, no way the Bears get higher than the 93rd and 131st picks to finish the draft. Would you be good with that? Having extra picks is nice, but that's a big drop for the Bears first pick in the draft.
Conclusion: There are three key elements to remember when you're banging on the "trade back" gong. Teams need to have additional picks at their disposal to move up in round one. And if they already used their first round pick, they need extra second, third, and/or fourth round picks to make it worth your while. Lastly, don't get crazy with your trade proposals. Jim Harbaugh will not have a soft spot for his old stomping grounds (or, where he used to get stomped) and give the Bears anything they want, and its rare that any team gives up more than two picks for a top 15-25 pick.
Hit up the comments section with your trade proposals and scenarios, and if they are completely outlandish, I hereby decree shenanigans upon said commentor! (editor's note: shenanigans must remain compliant with community guidelines, jackals). Tuesday, we'll take the best trade scenarios through a battery of draft trade charts, to see which ones present the best value, and how previous draft trades measured up to your best trade proposals.