With the 2014 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, talk is heating up about certain teams that want to move up or down in the first round, some mentioning quarterbacks like Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater as potential targets, and others talking up pass rushers like Khalil Mack and Jadaveon Clowney. Teams like the St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, and Atlanta Falcons are garnering most of the attention when it comes to trade talk, but don’t be surprised if you see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers move down from the seventh overall selection in the first round.
As a result of the Darrelle Revis trade, Tampa Bay doesn’t hold a fourth-round pick this year, and their sixth-round pick was also surrendered to the Bears for offensive lineman Gabe Carimi. The Buccaneers are down to just five picks in the 2014 draft, a class which features an incredible amount of depth all the way into the later rounds. Tampa Bay could be missing out on one of the deepest draft classes in recent years.
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht made his wish for more draft picks known to the public at the NFL owners meetings earlier in March.
“The staff has done a great job getting everything prepared and we still have another month to watch tape and finalize everything,” said Licht. “We just wish we had more picks.”
Recent history shows that the Buccaneers are in a good spot to move down. The last three drafts have featured a draft day trade involving the sixth or eighth overall selections, and the teams moving down in those trades were handsomely compensated. Here are some trades that involved a selection between six and eight.
ATLANTA/CLEVELAND TRADE – 2011Falcons received: First round (No. 6)Browns received: First round (No. 27), 2012 First round selection, Second round (No. 59), Fourth round (No. 124), 2012 Fourth round pick
The Atlanta Falcons made a huge splash in 2011 when they traded up for superstar receiver Julio Jones, but that came at a hefty price for general manager Thomas Dimitroff. Unfortunately, Cleveland ended up using those selections on nose tackle Phil Taylor, quarterback Brandon Weeden, wide receiver Greg Little, and fullback Owen Marecic.
DALLAS/ST. LOUIS TRADE – 2012Cowboys received: First round (No. 6)Rams received: First round (No. 14), Second round (No. 45)
In 2012, owner Jerry Jones and the Cowboys front office traded up eight spots to acquire former LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. St. Louis ended up landing defensive tackle Michael Brockers and running back Isaiah Pead with the picks they received in the deal.
ST. LOUIS/BUFFALO TRADE – 2013Rams received: First round (No. 8), Third round (No. 71)Bills received: First round (No. 16), Second round (No. 46), Third round (No. 78), Seventh round (No. 222)
Last year, the Buffalo Bills opted to trade down eight spots, leading to their choice of former Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel. They also scooped up linebacker Kiko Alonso, who had a phenomenal rookie season for the Bills. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and tight end Chris Gragg also joined Buffalo as a result of the trade.
A plethora of teams could be looking to move up in the 2014 draft in order to acquire a top talent, potentially targeting players like North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans, and Texas A&M offensive lineman Jake Matthews. Here are some teams that could potentially trade up in the 2014 NFL Draft.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS This would be a huge move down for the Buccaneers, as the 49ers currently hold the 30th selection in the first round, but the move could make sense for the 49ers, a team that has an astounding amount of selections in the 2014 draft. San Francisco general manager managed to accumulate 11 picks for the draft in May. They currently hold the 56th and 61st picks in the second round in addition to three third-round selections (77, 94, 100).
The 49ers roster is stacked with talent already, and it’s going to be very hard for some of their late-round picks to make their roster. It would make a lot of sense for San Francisco to trade up and use some of their extra picks to acquire a top talent near the top of the draft. Perhaps a big receiver like Texas A&M’s Mike Evans or a top cornerback like Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard would prompt them to move up into the top 10.
NEW YORK JETSThe tight end position is one of massive need for the New York Jets. The team re-signed Jeff Cumberland earlier in the offseason, but he’s nothing more than a backup on most other teams. North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron likely won’t be available when the Jets select at 18. Trading with the Buccaneers would mean New York could leapfrog tight end needy teams like the Bills, Lions, and Giants. Offensive line is another area of concern for the Jets, meaning they could also target a versatile tackle like Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews.
CLEVELAND BROWNS Quarterback is a massive need for general manager Ray Farmer and the Cleveland Browns. They could choose to take a signal caller with their fourth overall selection, but the Browns could also opt for a playmaking wide receiver like Sammy Watkins to add to their offense.
Following their massive in-season trade involving running back Trent Richardson, Cleveland picked up the Indianapolis Colts first round selection (26th overall). An option for the Browns could be using their extra first round pick to trade up and select a falling quarterback like Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater or Fresno State’s Derek Carr. Holding 10 draft selections, the Browns have a lot of flexibility heading into the draft in May.
The 2014 NFL Draft features one of the deepest talent pools in recent memory. The talent near the end of the first round is not far off from the talent in the middle of round one, making 2014 an excellent year for Tampa Bay to move down. Here are some players that the Buccaneers could target if they do end up moving down into the middle of the first round:
PITTSBURGH DT AARON DONALDThe Buccaneers could easily stick and pick Donald with their seventh overall selection, but the team might believe that moving down and hoping he falls to them could be a better option. Donald has top 10 talent but his size (6-1, 285) will hurt his draft stock, likely making him a mid-first-round pick. Donald put on a show at the Senior Bowl, dominating every offensive lineman he faced in one-on-one drills. His tape backs up his excellent Senior Bowl performance and he has the game to become a great defensive tackle in the mold of Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins.
FLORIDA STATE DT TIMMY JERNIGAN Donald isn’t the only talented defensive tackle projected to go in the middle of the first round. Jernigan is an excellent prospect that could intrigue the Buccaneers if they moves down in the first round. Jernigan uses his hands well to keep offensive lineman away from his frame and his strength allows him to push the pocket as a pass rusher and penetrate against the run. He’s a young player that is still developing his game, but his excellent potential will likely warrant a mid first-round selection. Jernigan would have no problem fitting into the Buccaneers defense as a one-technique nose tackle, making him a potential target if Tampa Bay chooses to trade down.
FRESNO STATE QB DEREK CARRIf Tampa Bay can find a trade partner in the middle of the first round, a target they could consider is Fresno State’s Derek Carr. Moving down into the teens to select Carr would allow them to add a top quarterback while adding extra picks, similar to what the Buffalo Bills did last season with E.J. Manuel. Showcasing a great arm, accuracy, touch, and intangibles, Carr has all of the tools to become a great NFL quarterback. He will need to work on his pocket presence and footwork, but those flaws are likely not enough to keep him out of the first round. Carr was the best quarterback in Mobile, Ala. at the Senior Bowl, outshining all of the other senior quarterbacks in attendance. The Fresno State product also has connections with new Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford and would be a nice fit in the new Tampa Bay offense.
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