2014 NFL Draft: 5 Prospects Worth Trading Up For and the Teams That Could Target Them
5 Players Worthy of a Trade Up and Their Likely Destinations
Trades up the draft board are what make the yearly selection festivities known as the NFL Draft so enjoyable for the fans at home. There are 32 separate entities all coveting the same prizes with none of those teams aware of what the others desire. That can make for some serious theatre, and the drama is usually well worth the watch for the fans at home.
But what about the teams actually making the franchise-altering deals to trade up and forfeit future assets for what they hope is that one giant missing piece of the puzzle? How do they figure into this equation?
Oftentimes trades wind up looking silly in hindsight – a la the Robert Griffin III deal the St. Louis Rams are still reaping the benefits of via the Washington Redskins. There are a select few times, however, where the team jumping up the board winds up loving its decision – think Atlanta Falcons and Julio Jones from a few years back.
Those are just a couple of modern-day examples of teams moving up for a targeted player to try and change their franchise for the better, but what type of similar scenarios can we expect this year? Will another team pull off a climb to grab that playmaker it’s been craving or will someone move up for an impact defender to try and turn a weakness into a strength?
Just a forewarning: Johnny Manziel is not on this list because quarterbacks are almost always too costly to justify. If someone climbs up into the top-five for Johnny Football they could easily wind up with a great football player, but he won’t be worth the price paid to get him.
Now with that out of the way, here are 10 players worth trading up for in the 2014 NFL Draft and the teams who may be interested in making the climb up the draft order.
5. Jadeveon Clowney - DE
This one really goes without saying that if any team moves up for Jadeveon Clowney they are getting an absolute goliath of a football player. Teams like the Atlanta Falcons or the Oakland Raiders really make sense as fits for Clowney, but they may have to jump ahead of the Jacksonville Jaguars to get him. A team always looking to trade down is the St. Louis Rams so their No. 2 slot courtesy of the Washington Redskins could be a hot commodity for a club looking to land Clowney. Rest assured that any deal for this freakish pass rusher will be well worth the price to move up and snag him.
4. Khalil Mack - DE
This is more of a hunch than anything, but Khalil Mack reminds me more and more of a Dion Jordan-type player. The Miami Dolphins fell in love with Jordan enough last year to move up the draft to nab him, and some team like the Philadelphia Eagles would really benefit from adding a player who fits into their new 3-4 scheme as an edge rusher. It might take jumping ahead of Mack’s hometown Buffalo Bills at No. 9 overall to grab him, and that would make the Minnesota Vikings a prime candidate to move down and maybe land their QB of the future a bit later in round one.
3. Cyrus Kouandjio - OT
There’s going to be a run on offensive tackles again this year at some point, but deciding just when that might be could be the difference between landing one of the elites and being left brokenhearted. Cyrus Kouandjio is widely considered the fifth-best tackle in this class with a sizable drop-off from him to the next best prospect in either Morgan Moses (if you consider him a tackle rather than a guard) and Antonio Richardson. The run on tackles is likely to be a bit later than last year’s lineman extravaganza in the top 10, but somewhere in the 15-20 range could be the last call for one of the best tackles in this class. A team desperate for O-line help like the Miami Dolphins may be forced to move up a few slots in order to secure a player they really want.
2. Calvin Pryor/Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - S
Rangy, playmaking safeties are all the rage in the league these days, and beyond Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor it isn’t a very deep pool. If a team like the Philadelphia Eagles really wants to take the next step and become an elite squad then targeting one of these two guys is mandatory in round one. The St. Louis Rams could be looking for a safety at No.13 overall and the Pittsburgh Steelers may also target an eventual Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark replacement at No. 15. Moving up ahead of one of those spots might be essential to landing whichever player a particular team covets the most.
1. Sammy Watkins - WR
The granddaddy of all trade up scenarios will feature arguably the best offensive playmaker in this year’s class with Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins. Some projections have him going as early as No. 2 to the St. Louis Rams while others see Watkins getting all the way to No. 9 overall with the Buffalo Bills. If those aforementioned Bills truly want to see what their quarterback E.J. Manuel can do next season, moving ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 7 and even the Oakland Raiders at No. 5 is likely a must to secure Watkins’ services. Climbing up would make a lot of sense for a multidimensional weapon like Watkins, and then the Bills wouldn’t be so reliant on a suspect running game to get the job done offensively.