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2014 NFL Draft: Buccaneers could trade up for Bridgewater

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could trade up for a quarterback this year, but they're not likely to actually do it.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

With the number one pick of the 2014 NFL draft, the Houston Texans...are "leaning towards" either Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel, according to Russ Lande of Sports on Earth. We're still three months removed from the draft, so everything said now should be taken with a lot of grains of salt, especially with a new coaching staff. But it's an interesting note, mostly because the entire internet draft community (and me) seems to think that Teddy Bridgewater is easily the best quarterback in the draft.

This happened a couple of years back, too. The draft community loved Russell Wilson. Meanwhile, reports kept coming out  how NFL-employed draft scouts couldn't stand him because he's short. Some of those limitations have shown up in the NFL, but I think it's safe to say that the internet draft community was proven right on that one. It also shows you that internet draft community opinion isn't often on the same page as NFL team evaluations.

Which opens up an interesting possibility for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: if the Texans pass on the quarterback they desire, they could trade up for the St. Louis Rams' second overall pick. The Rams are somehow still convinced Sam Bradford is going to be not-awful, which means they're willing to trade down. For the right price. And thus the Bucs could move up, if the quarterback they like is there, whether it be Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or even Derek Carr.

The Bucs have one problem if they want to trade up, though: they don't actually have the ammunition to do so. They're already short third- and sixth-round picks, leaving them with just five picks. Other trade-up candidates can offer the Texans significantly more, from a higher first-round pick (Jaguars, Browns, Raiders) to multiple first-round picks (the Browns, again). The trade for Robert Griffin III is the obvious comparison here:

The Bucs are unlikely to be able to outbid anyone for the first or second overall pick. Even if they can, they're faced with the winner's curse: if you win an auction, you probably overpaid. It's hard to overpay for a franchise quarterback in this league, but the fact that other teams were not willing to exceed your bid should tell you something about their evaluation of that quarterback.

Finally, big trades up don't fit the Bucs' new motto: finding value in free agency and building through the draft. The latter implies the structural use of draft picks to gather the core of your roster. Trading three first-round picks and a second-rounder (the price the Redskins gave up for Robert Griffin III) simply does not fit that strategy, even if a quarterback can mask a lot of flaws on the roster.

(note: this means the Bucs are not trading up for Clowney, or some other non-quarterback. Those positions are not worth it, and really don't fit the strategy)

Still, finding the right quarterback is so important that the Bucs would be foolish not to at least explore trading up. They're just unlikely to be able to pull it off.