The Eagles have painted themselves into a corner for the 2020 NFL Draft. They need a WR. Everyone knows they need a WR. Game this out and it looks pretty likely that they trade up to get one. If that wasn’t reason enough to do it, there is another team, with both the need for a WR and a history of trading their top pick.
The Minnesota Vikings, who pick at 22. Since Rick Spielman became the GM in 2012 he’s traded his top pick three times and seen a team trade up in front of him twice. The team could certainly use another WR after the Stefon Diggs trade, and that trade gave them the draft capital to move up. The Vikings have the 22nd and 25th picks, along with a 2nd, two 3rds, a 4th, a 5th, two 6ths and three 7ths. The pair of 3rds is the key here. Looking back at past drafts, moving up from 22 to the middle of the 1st would cost a 3rd. To move up just a few picks, should cost the Vikings about a 4th, with two 3rds and five selections in rounds 6 and 7, they could get creative with a multi-pick trade that gets them a better day three pick. They’ve got options, history, and incentive beyond just having a need at WR.
Three times Rick Spielman has made a draft day trade involving his top pick. In 2012 and 2014 he traded down one spot, and in 2017 he moved up seven spots in the 2nd round (which was his first pick of the draft due to the Sam Bradford trade) to take Dalvin Cook, who may have been taken by the Eagles if he was on the board. Sure, two of the three were trades down, but the point is he’s no stranger to moving around with his top pick. Nor is he unfamiliar with being jumped.
In 2013 the Vikings had nearly the same situation as 2020, they had the 23rd and 25th selections. Before they could pick at 23, the Falcons traded to 22 and took CB Desmond Trufant. At 25, the Vikings took CB Xavier Rhodes. That Rhodes wasn’t taken at 23 could suggest that Spielman preferred Rhodes over Trufant anyway, however at 23 the Vikings took Sharrif Floyd, who was widely expected to go much higher. The Colts at 24 were expected to take an edge defender, and did, if Spielman took Floyd to prevent the Colts from trading out of there to a team that wanted Floyd (at 28 the Broncos took a DT), he played it well.
Maybe that’s a little too much game theory. Let’s go to 2016, where the Vikings had, if you can believe it, the 22nd pick. At 20 and 21 Houston and Washington swapped picks and took WR Will Fuller and WR Josh Doctson, respectively. Minnesota then took WR Laquon Treadwell. Fuller has been solid, while Doctson, who played for the Vikings in 2019, has been a bust; Treadwell was even worse. He dressed but did not play in his first game, and didn’t catch a pass until the eighth game of the season, it was his only reception of the year.
So here you have a GM with a history of early draft day trades, who also needs a WR, who has been burned in the past by teams moving up and by doing so to get a WR, and has the draft capital to make any move he wants.
Yeah, Howie Roseman has plenty of reason to move up to prevent getting jumped.
Who might be the best partners for a trade? Here’s where it gets tough. The chances of a small move up seem slim. Picking directly ahead of the Eagles are three teams with little reason to trade back. (And directly behind the Eagles and Vikings are the Patriots. More on that later.)
At 20 are the Jaguars, who also have the 9th overall pick and a 2nd, a 3rd, three 4ths, two 5ths, two 6ths, and a 7th. Moving back one spot, which would gain them a 4th, won’t appeal to them. With seven selections in rounds 4-6, they might even be looking to move up themselves.
At 19 are the Raiders, who also pick at 12 and have three 3rd rounders. Adding a 4th likely won’t appeal to them either, last year they had three 1sts but no 3rds and didn’t trade back on any of them. They are also in the market for a WR.
At 18 are the Dolphins, who have 14 draft picks, three of which are 1st rounders. This is a team not only with no need to move down, but that has reason to move up as 14 rookies is a lot to ask of a team.
It is possible that any of those three teams move up, and then the new team at that position is open to moving back again. In 2018 the Ravens moved from 16 to 22, then from 22 to 25. But that rarely happens. And of course this cuts both ways for the Eagles and Vikings, if teams don’t have much reason to trade back to 21, they also don’t have it to trade back to 22. Let’s keep going.
At 17 are the Cowboys, which normally would be out of the question. Howie Roseman has never traded with the Cowboys, and the last time the Eagles traded with the Cowboys on draft day was 2010. The Eagles spun one pick into Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Mike Kafka, Clay Harbor, and Ricky Sapp. The Cowboys used the Eagles pick to take Sean Lee. Before that was the Kevin Kolb trade.
But if it comes down to trading with the Cowboys or letting the Vikings trade with them, the Eagles might need to disable video, the video chat equivalent of covering your eyes, and make the trade. Dallas has the usual seven selections, but with two 5ths and no 6th.
At 16 are the Falcons, who might do business. Thomas Dimitroff might be drafting for his job, which would normally be disincentive to trade back. However he only has six picks: one selection in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 7th rounds, and two 4ths. He’s a likely trade back candidate with the 2nd through 4th picks, but he should at least take calls on his 1st.
At 15 are the Broncos, who have 10 picks, three of which are 3rds. They’re in rebuilding mode, but they have a lot of picks and a triplet of ones they would be able to get to move back to 21. They could also looking at WR.
At 14 are the Buccaneers, who are in win now mode. Difficult to see them trading back to 21.
At 13 are the 49ers, who have two firsts but then nothing until the 5th round. They have made it clear they want to trade out of 13. The team to watch here might be the Patriots depending on how the QBs go. They have 12 picks: 23rd overall, three 3rds, two 4ths, a 5th, four 6ths and a 7th.
At 12 are the Raiders, who have no incentive to move back to 21 since they have 19, and need a WR.
At 11 are the Jets, who have 8 picks including two 3rds and are also in the market for a WR.
After that, you’re into the top 10, which will be a steep price.