Washington Redskins beat writer John Keim came up with one interesting scenario in the 2012 NFL draft (hat tip to reader aakks): a scout tells him a team could trade up to the number five spot in the draft to draft quarterback Ryan Tannehill and get ahead of the Washington Redskins in a bid to find a quarterback. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, of course, hold that number five draft pick, and they should not be adverse to picking up an extra couple of picks while moving back in the draft.
That has to do with the position they're in, a position my good friend and Seattle Seahawks fan and Field Gullswriter Thomas Beekers calls the "Aaron Curry spot". Aaron Curry was the fourth overall pick in a rather limited 2009 NFL Draft. The linebacker was considered the safest prospect in the draft, but he was hardly going to be a game changer and the Seahawks picked him mostly because, well, they had to select someone.
That's the situation the Bucs are in now, too: Trent Richardson is being mocked to the Bucs frequently - even in SB Nation's latest 2012 NFL Mock Draft - , but the fifth overall pick is very high for a running back, no matter how good he is. Cornerback Morris Claiborne and offensive tackle Matt Kalil could be available too, but it's quite likely that both will be off the board by the time the Bucs pick. That would leave them with Richardson or receiver Justin Blackmon, neither representing particularly good value at that point in the draft. A trade back would be very appealing to the team.
But trades require trading partners, and while a team could certainly trade up for Ryan Tannehill, that's hardly a slam-dunk. Tannehill worked in a pro-style system at Texas A&M under now Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, so he's NFL ready - but he's not in the class of surefire number one and two draft picks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Still, there are a few things working in the Bucs' favor: quarterbacks are always in demand, and Tannehill is clearly emerging as the third-best QB in the class. If a team is convinced that Tannehill could be a franchise quarterbac, they would certainly try to trade up to secure his services. In addition, the rookie salary cap has drastically reduced salaries, turning a highly-drafted quarterback into an economically sound investment rather than an albatross around a team's neck. This was obvious in last year's draft, when four teams selected a quarterback in the top 12 of the draft.
The fact that contracts are cheaper makes it more likely a team is willing to trade up into the top of the draft - and it raises the price the Bucs could come away with. With the Redskins having the sixth overall draft pick, teams will want to jump ahead of them to select Ryan Tannehill. The Miami Dolphins at #8 are the obvious candidates, especially so because Tannehill's college head coach is the coordiantor in Miami. The Buffalo Bills at #10, the Kansas City Chiefs at #11, the Seattle Seahawks at #12, the Arizona Cardinals at #13 and the San Francisco 49ers at #30 could also all be in play to trade up for Tannehill.
A comparable trade was made last year, when the Redskins pocketed an extra sixth rounder to move back from the tenth to the sixteenth overall pick. A much more drastic move up was made earlier in that draft, when the Falcons traded up from the 21st overall pick to select receiver Julio Jones with the sixth overall pick, giving up an extra first-, second-, third- and two fourth-rounders. Don't expect that kind of haul, but the Bucs could still pocket a decent number of picks if a market develops.
Of course, free agency will heavily affect this as well. With Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn both likely available, a few teams could quickly fill their needs, leaving the Bucs with few options as trading partners, forcing them to either accept a subpar deal or stand pat and select a player who doesn't represent great value with the fifth overall draft pick.
Tannehill seems to be rising up media-driven draft boards, and more and more analysts are projecting him to be a top ten pick. If that happens, the Bucs could stand to profit greatly - if they play their cards right.