Let me start off by saying that I have been adamantly opposed to trading up in this draft all along. I’ve rationalized this entire time that we have way too many needs to sacrifice a third round pick to move up a few spots in the first round. I’m not sure if I’m just like a kid getting close to Christmas that is causing me to lose all sense of logical thinking, but I’ve definitely warmed up to the idea of trading up in the draft this year. Allow me to explain…
First of all, I’m not talking about trading up for Julio Jones. I’m thinking “go big or go home”. I’m talking about trading up for AJ Green. Don’t get me wrong, if Julio happened to fall to the Rams, I’d jump on it. But just so we’re all on the same page: AJ Green will not “happen to fall” to us. I must admit that I have quite a few reservations about Jones. He had all the measurables at the combine but I worry about his ability to get separation at the next level and his occasional case of the droppsies that he struggles with. He’s not as high of an NFL prospect as Michael Crabtree was and while Crabtree has been serviceable, he hasn’t necessarily been a game-changer (yes, I do realize that a lot of that has to do with the fact that he has Alex Smith throwing the ball to him). Jones could end up being something special. But then again, he could also end up being a decent #2 option. And I think that most of us here agree that the last thing we need is another #2 wide receiver.
AJ Green has been born and bred to be an NFL superstar wide receiver for years in the mold of Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. He has that uncanny ability to catch everything around him even when double-teamed. He can single-handedly take a game over. And while Jones will probably be serviceable, Green should be spectacular – that true #1 wideout that we’ve been looking for since letting Tory Holt walk.
Now before you say that we have too many needs to get rid of potential-starter draft picks, lets remember that we’re not gonna fix this entire ship in one draft. I think the line of thinking here has been rightfully that our needs are at DT, DE, OLB, FS, RB, OG and #1 WR (notice I didn’t say any WR but a true #1). That’s 7 positions that we need and we would be incredibly naïve to think that just because we drafted an OG in the 7th round that we’ve solved the interior line problems. We’ve been typically getting 2 or maybe 3 starters out of each draft followed by depth players, rotational players, practice squad players and players that are now playing for other teams. Van put up a very good article on this just a few days ago. I'd link to it here if I could figure out how. So to think that just because we’re giving up a third round pick means that we’re also giving up a starter or someone that’s filled a position of need isn’t necessarily accurate. It’s definitely possible to lose out on some third round some gems like Bradley Fletcher Bradley and OJ Atogwe. But it’s more likely that we’re simply missing out on such hall of famers as John Greco, Jonathan Wade, Claude Wrotten, Jon Alston and Dominique Byrd. I realize that thankfully Billy D is no Jay Ziggy but it’s just showing that the third round is no sure thing.
Now I guess the next most logical question is “Is this possible?”. I think it’s worth a shot if (and a big IF) Green happens to slip past the Bengals at #4. Arizona will absolutely not trade back with us to help us get AJ knowing they’d have to go up against him twice a year. But with Fitz already on their roster and with their number of holes, they’re probably not taking a WR in the first round either. Then we get to the Browns. Just 2 years ago, they traded back from a top 5 pick all the way down to #21 in order to pick up some extra draft picks. This is a team that’s already shown a propensity to trade down and has numerous holes themselves to fill. Trading back 8 spots in order to pick up an extra 3rd round pick definitely isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Hell, we could even throw in a 7th rounder as a sweetener.
So in this scenario, yeah we lose out on a 3rd round pick but we gain a true #1 receiver and seem to set the position for years to come. In order to ease the pain of losing the pick, we could even try to trade back in the second round to nab an additional 4th rounder.
Can you imagine our starting receiving corp being AJ Green and Mark Clayton on the outside with Danny Amendola or Donnie Avery running up the slot? Combine the depth and potential of DX and Brandon Gibson, we should be set. And for all of you Mardy Gilyard fans out there (yep, both of you!), remember he’s still practice squad eligible. So once one of starters inevitably blows out a knee, we still have even more of a pool to dig from…
Let me know what you guys think!