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SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL.
FAB 1. Exploring A Bucs-Bills Trade
There have been several reports about Buffalo wanting to trade up into the Top 10 – possibly the Top 5 – to select a franchise quarterback this year. Denver, which has the fifth overall pick, and Tampa Bay, which picks seventh overall, seem to bethe most likely trade partners.
I don’t think the Bucs will trade down, especially with the Bills, who have two first-round picks – No. 21 and 22 overall – because moving down 14 spots means Tampa Bay will be passing up some premium players and taking a chance on some of the players that general manager Jason Licht might be targeting not being available at No. 21. Licht has done more trading up – notably for guard Ali Marpet in the second round in 2015, for kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round in 2016 and for linebacker Kendell Beckwith in the third round in 2017 – than he has trading down.
In fact, the only time Licht has traded down on the first two days of the draft came in 2016 when he slid down two spots from the ninth overall pick to the 11th overall selection to take cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. Licht picked up Chicago’s fourth-round pick and packaged it with Tampa Bay’s third-rounder in an ill-fated trade to get Aguayo.
But, let’s play a little fantasy football and suggest that Denver stays put at No. 5 and that Licht strikes a deal with Buffalo for the Bills’ two first-round picks, all while understanding a few things.
First, the Bucs have to think that North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb will be drafted third overall by Indianapolis, or at the very least, that he will be gone by the time Tampa Bay is on the clock with the seventh overall draft choice.
Second, there is also a decent chance that Denver might select Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson and that he wouldn’t be available to the Bucs, either.
Third, let’s also suppose that Tampa Bay suspects it doesn’t have a shot at Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, either, as he could very well go to Cleveland with the fourth overall pick.
The Bucs also might have Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick evaluated as a safety and not a cornerback, which I think is the case, and lowers his value outside of the top 10, and although Tampa Bay likes Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, let’s suggest that they view him as a mid-round pick, which I don’t know is true, and might receive better value trading down with Buffalo and getting an extra first-round pick.
All of these assumptions have to be made for Licht to pull the trigger on a trade, as I see it, and these assumptions have to be premeditated as Buffalo might not want to wait until draft day to make this trade. The Bills might be fine moving up to No. 7 in a quarterback-rich draft prior to April 28 because they know that Chubb, Nelson and Barkley – and possibly Fitzpatrick, too – are gone in the first six picks, and that will leave two or three of the top quarterbacks left for Buffalo to take.
The Bills, who are looking to move on from Tyrod Taylor, also know that one of more of the quarterback-needy teams ahead of the Bucs in the draft, including the Browns, the Giants, the Broncos and the Jets, will address the QB position in free agency with the likes of Kirk Cousins, A.J. McCarron, Case Keenum or Teddy Bridgewater.
There is no consensus in this year’s quarterback class as it is a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” crop that includes likely first-rounders in USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. Because there is a chance that all five of those signal callers could be taken in the first 20 picks and that Buffalo could be left out without trading up.
The NFL draft trade chart shows that the seventh overall pick is worth 1,500 points, while the 21st and 22nd picks represent 800 and 780 points, respectively.
There is a newer, updated draft trade chart that the league is using similar to the one that PatsPulpit.com has created. In this chart, the Bucs’ first-round pick is valued at 425.5 points and the Bills’ two first-rounders are worth 260.82 and 252.71 points. Added together, Buffalo’s picks total 513.53 points.
Either way, the Bucs should give up a later pick to the Bills to make up for the discrepancy, but if I’m Licht I drive a hard bargain. Forget the 80 or 90 points and don’t give up another draft pick, which likely would be in the fourth round.
It’s called leverage, and the Bucs have it and need to use it, in this scenario. If the Bills desperately want to move into the Top 10 to acquire a quarterback they need to pay a premium price, and that means giving up both first-rounders and the Bucs not giving up a mid- or late-round pick in return.
So, now that the parameters of this hypothetical trade are set, let’s take a look at what players the Bucs might be targeting in a trade-down scenario. As I’ve stated before several times on PewterReport.com, NFL teams have pools of players from different positions that they target in each round – not just a singular player.
With the Bucs’ primary team needs being defensive end, defensive tackle, guard, cornerback and running back, there are a lot of different directions Tampa Bay can go with the 21st and 22nd picks, especially considering that the team picks again early in the second round with the 38th overall pick. Based on some of the mock drafts I’ve seen, here are some players that could or should be available.
UTSA DE Marcus Davenport
Boston College DE Harold Landry
Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne
Virginia Tech DT Tim Settle
Florida DT Taven Bryan
Stanford DT Harrison Phillips
Washington State DE Hercules Mataafa
Oklahoma DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
G Isaiah Wynn
G Will Hernandez
Ohio State C Billy Price
Nevada G Austin Corbett
Florida State S Derwin James
Iowa CB Josh Jackson
Auburn CB Carlton Davis
UCF CB Mike Hughes
Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver
LSU CB Donte Jackson
Alabama S Ronnie Harrison
LSU RB Derrius Guice
Georgia RB Sony Michel
USC RB Ronald Jones II
San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny
Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson
Georgia RB Nick Chubb
That’s 25 prospects in what are deemed to be need positions, and some of those players won’t be there at No. 21, but a good deal of them well be. That’s because there aren’t any quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive tackles or linebackers in those groups, and other teams that draft from seventh to 20 and from 23 to 37 will draft from those positions. That means that a good amount of the players in that pool will not only be available in the first round, but also when Tampa Bay picks in the second round, too.
The Bucs could end up with a guard like Wynn, a defensive tackle like Settle and a running back like Michel, or a defensive end like Landry, a cornerback like Davis and a running back like Guice. Would that be as enticing as drafting a top-10 player like Nelson and a running back like Penny, or selecting a top-10 player like Vea and a cornerback like Oliver?
I think Tampa Bay is fine either way. Whether or not the possible trade between the Bucs and the Bills occurs, I think the talent in the pool listed above shows that there are enough players for Licht to move down if he wants to and still come away with three very good players of need in the top 40.