The closer draft day gets, the less I like the position we are in this draft. The team's needs are glaring and I'm not quite sure we have the picks to fill them. The recent news on Talib makes the need for drafting a corner in the 1st round seem a bit more apparent. Meanwhile, the loss of Lofton hasn't helped the holes at LB. A complement to Blount is still an issue, but it might very well be taking a seat behind defense.
If LB is to be addressed in the second round then the team is most likely looking at a Mychal Kendricks from Cal or a Bobby Wagner from Utah State. While Kendricks had an impressive combine running a 4.47, he isn't that linebacker who is going to make a statement in the running game. In his tape against USC, Kendricks gets swallowed left and right. He never gets to use his speed and on the occasion the he does explode- he explodes into nothing. I feel Mason Foster, who also came out of the Pac-12, had better tape coming out of college. I have been slowly convinced that linebacker is a bigger and bigger need, and I don't see Kendricks filling it. When unblocked, Kendricks shows the ability to flow and tackle that you expect from an NFL linebacker. The only hope Kendricks has to be a solid player on our team is if the defensive line keeps him untouched so he can use his speed to his advantage.This is something that a player like Brian Urlacher enjoys on a regular basis. However, that defense is a very disciplined and experienced group that we wont be able to replicate on a consistent level.
This leads me to the hypothesis, can the Bucs get both a 1st round corner and a 1st round LB without having to sacrifice filling the hole at RB?
There is a summary at the end of the scenarios for those that aren't into reading and following a long stream of numbers.
Finding teams that like to trade up are very difficult to find. Especially when they want your 5th overall pick for dirt cheap. However, in these two hypothetical scenarios it is assumed that finding a trade partner is as easy as missing a tackle in 2011.
Scenario #1. The Bucs really want Kuechly.
The question was recently posted about what pick could the Bucs trade back to and ensure that Kuechly is still available. The most likely answer is before Seattle at 12. In the best case scenario the Bucs would trade back to 10 with Buffalo or 11 with Kansas City. In the situation where Kalil falls to us, Buffalo is in major need of a LT and could likely be our potential suitors. In a similar aspect, if Richardson or Claiborne is at #5 then Kansas City may have "some" vested interested.
In the 2009 draft, Cleavland had pick #5 (sound familiar?). They traded back with the Jets for pick #17 and a second round pick. This may seem like that #5 pick was cheap. In last years draft, Atlanta traded up from #27 to #6 for 5 picks including two 1st round picks and a 2nd. This year Washington traded up 4 spots from #6 to #2 for three 1st round picks and a single 2nd. There is a massive ambiguity between the value of these high draft picks in the last 2 years. Can we expect to get the same value as the Atlanta pick if we trade back? Probably not, but I do expect us to get more than Cleavland did with the Jets.
Lets take the more likely scenario with Buffalo. A franchise LT is a very rare thing to come by. Kalil's value is going to attract a team like Buffalo beyond just a 2nd round pick. Because of the sporadic value of trades recently, it is hard to really know what picks will be traded. However, I would guess it would be either this years 1st, next years 1st, and a later round pick, or this years 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. The key is to not get caught up in exactly what picks we get. It is to realize that we can move back and gain additional value so that we can trade back up later. We are going to assume the Bucs get this years 1st, 2nd, and 3rd from Buffalo. The Bucs then move on to select Kuechly at 10.
From here the team will have the need at LB filled. They will also have two 2nd round picks and two 3rd round picks. This is an interesting position. The Bucs could sit pretty and select BPA on RB, CB, RT, and TE for the next 2 rounds and walk away happy. However, we really want that first round CB that is going to take this defense to new places. So naturally we scrap the idea of waiting; it's too boring.
Assuming that none of the four 1st round grade corners in the draft are "their man", the FO will wait for the right time to pounce. The most logical place in the draft I believe is between 25-27. One of the four corners are very likely to be available at this time. The Broncos with their new QB might invite the possibility of trading back for extra picks to fill all the remaining holes on the team before Peyton takes over. The Texans might be in a position to where BPA doesn't meet needs of WR, OL, and Safety. However, the Patriots are the most likely team willing to trade back. They have done it every year and I don't see why it would stop.
The team would need to move up from pick #35 to #27. In the 2009 draft, New England traded its #23 pick and 5th round pick to Green Bay for their 2nd (#41) and two 3rd round picks. This is very similar to the Bucs situation. However, we are trading up only 8 spots into the first instead of 18. With the recent inflation in the value of draft picks, the Bucs will likely have to give up about the same. It is possible that we trade less, but the Bucs are desperate and we may have to trade more than usual. Trading away our 2nd and two 3rds,the team now has a starting LB, CB, and Buffalo's 2nd round pick to get a RB.
Scenario #2: The Bucs want a better CB and Schiano's "love affair" Dont'a Hightower.
Like the first scenario, the Bucs are looking to trade out of the #5 pick. However, the team is looking to trade back farther into the 1st round. Chicago is a possible suitor for our pick if either Kalil or Blackmon is available. The team is consistently getting to the playoffs and recently acquired Brandon Marshall. However, they are still lacking weapons at wide receiver and have not addressed their atrocious offensive line. It is plausible that they will want to pull an Atlanta and trade for that 1 player that will get them their Superbowl run.
The Bears currently hold pick #19. This is a perfect position to take a very talented CB. Once again, this trade can be compared to both the 2011 Atlanta trade and the 2009 Jets trade with Cleavland. While it wont be valued as drastically as the Atlanta trade, it will once again be worth more than the Jets trade. Instead, I would expect this years 1st, 2nd, and next years 1st. The Bucs would then get a CB at 19.
Don'ta Hightower is possibly going to be selected as early as #24 to Pittsburgh. However, it isn't likely that the Steelers go LB due to their needs at OL and DL. The likely trading range is only 3 to 4 picks earlier than the New England trade in scenario 1. However, this time the Bucs have more value picks from trading back with Chicago. For the sake of securing Hightower, the Bucs will trade with Pittsburgh at #24.
In the 2010 draft, Baltimore traded the #25 pick to Denver for a 2nd (#43), 3rd, and 4th round picks. The Bucs are going to be moving from the #35 pick to #24. The spread is only 11 picks instead of 18. Because of this, the value of the trade would most likely be our 2nd, 3rd, and 5th. Doing this trade will leave the team with a starting CB, LB, and a 2nd round pick for RB. As a cherry on top, the Bucs have an extra first round pick in the following year.
To summarize, the Bucs could be suited to trade back in the 1st for a play-maker and then trade up later in the 1st for another. The value of early picks is sky rocketing in the last few years. I have tried to prove through recent draft day trades that it is fully possible given the right trade partners. The team could go the route of Kuechly and a later 1st round corner or an earlier corner and Hightower. However, this entire fanpost has been a bunch of what-ifs. It is not to serve as an example of what the Bucs should or will do, but what they can do. The biggest fault in the scenarios is the ability to trade out of the #5 pick. I tried to provide reasoning for why different teams may have certain interest in players that can be available, but the fact remains that even given reasoning that many FO's can't agree on trade terms in the flurry that is draft day.