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Writers Roundtable: Trade Down Or Stay Put?

Posted Mar 30, 2011

Redskins.com’s Larry Weisman, Matt Terl and Gary Fitzgerald debate a Redskins topic. This week: Should the Redskins trade down at No. 10 or stay put? And is nose tackle Phil Taylor an option?

Welcome to Redskins.com’s Writers Roundtable, in which Larry Weisman, Matt Terl and Gary Fitzgerald discuss and debate a Redskins question each week.

Question: Last week we talked about what the Redskins might do with the first overall pick in the draft. Now, what should they do with the actual choice, 10th overall? A quarterback? A receiver? Defensive help? Trade up? Trade down?

Larry: Considering what the Redskins’ needs are and where they are currently slotted, I don’t much like the 10th pick. The top quarterbacks, assuming you like any of them (and I know Matt doesn’t), will be gone. So will the better defensive linemen and none of them really project as nose tackles.

For me, the idea scenario would be for the Redskins to trade back and pick up more selections, especially considering the club has no choices in the third and fourth rounds. To do that, you need someone who wants to be in your spot and you need to be trading to a place where a player you like is available.

There’s just no one I am so enamored of with the 10th pick that I would seriously consider moving back.

Matt: This is somewhat unusual for me, but I agree with Larry. Trading back is the best possible option – but with whom, for what, and what are you looking to get? For me, I’d be trying to stay inside the top 20, and there are a couple of things you’re looking for in a trade partner: enough picks to be able to move up, and a need for a player who isn’t going to fall. Given those three conditions, I’d be trying my best to work a deal with the Patriots and the 17th pick, which they got from the Raiders for Richard Seymour.

It’s a match that hits all three requirements: 17 is (obviously) inside the top 20, the Patriots have plenty of ammunition (two first rounders, two second rounders, two third rounders, and one pick in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds), and they have a need at wide receiver. 

So if wide receiver Julio Jones or wide receiver A.J. Green is still on the board at No. 10, you might be looking at an optimal move-down situation. But for what? And what would you expect in return?

Gary: I would tend to agree that trading down from No. 10 would be appropriate for a Redskins team lacking third- and fourth-round picks. However, there is risk involved. The further down the draft board you go in the first round, the greater the chance for a bust.

Simply put, staying put at No. 10 gives the Redskins a better chance to acquire an impact player. And this Redskins team is in need of impact players on both sides of the ball.

Most of the top prospects that would fill a Redskins need -- quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, linebacker Von Miller, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, cornerback Patrick Peterson, wide receiver A.J. Green – will likely be gone by the time the Redskins pick at No. 10. But one could fall, especially if both quarterbacks go in the top nine.

And there should be a wealth of talent still available at No. 10, from linebacker-defensive end Robert Quinn, defensive end Cameron Jordan and wide receiver Julio Jones. And the Redskins could pick the first offensive tackle off the board for the second year in a row.

Also, don't forget that the Redskins could use their second-round pick – at No. 41 overall – to trade down and acquire more picks. As first- and second-tier prospects fall in the draft, there may actually be a better market for the Redskins’ second-round pick than the first-rounder.

Larry: There is value all over the board. Why not move back twice? If the Redskins could deal down into the 20s, they might be able to get the lone nose tackle with a first-round grade in Baylor’s Phil Taylor. Then they could accrue a number of choices.

I worry more about players being busts when they’re chosen in the top 10 than in the lower end of that round. I’d say there would also be some quality right tackles later in the first round and that would be an area the Redskins could address as well.

Matt: It’s worth noting that trading back doesn’t always solve all the world’s problems. Off the top of my head I can think of two fairly recent drafts where the Redskins traded back to acquire more picks, and neither of them can be called an unmitigated success.

In 2002, the team dropped down twice in the first round – from No. 18 to 21 and from No. 21 to 32 – along with some later-round deals. The final yield was 10 players, and the biggest contributor of the lot was probably Rock Cartwright – selected with a compensatory pick at 257 overall.

Then, in 2008, the Redskins dropped out of the first round altogether to accrue more picks in the second round. One of them became Devin Thomas, and we all know how that wound up; the other was Fred Davis, whose story remains largely unwritten. Meanwhile, as Gary suggests, sticking in the first and taking the safe pick – tackle Sam Baker was the guy who was drafted in that spot by Atlanta – probably would have yielded a better result.

In fact, Gary may have talked me all the way around on this thing. Trading back is totally overrated!

Gary: My powers of persuasion are unmatched.

I would add that trading back is fine if you're confident the player or players you target will be available when you pick later. My strategy would be to target specific players in a trade-down - perhaps players you may rate higher than other teams - and not go for the best player available.

Larry: You talked Matt into disagreeing with me? That’s like talking him into having lunch. Happens every day. His point, and yours, does resonate, though. No reason to trade back and then take stiffs.

It can work both ways. I remember in 2008 the New England Patriots trading down from No. 7 to 10 and picking up an extra third-round pick for doing so. With the 10th pick, they selected linebacker Jerod Mayo, who went on to become Defensive Rookie of the Year. The extra pick, however, went for another linebacker, Shawn Crable, who never really made it.

I don’t advocate falling in love with trades simply for the purpose of trading. This has to be targeted. I just think the Redskins need to maximize the draft and I’d rather see more picks. Difference-makers can be found everywhere in the first round.

Matt: That’s not exactly fair, Larry. I’ve skipped lunch once or twice. But here’s my question – and this is something I really wrestled with in my mock draft earlier this week, too – why not nose tackle Phil Taylor at No. 10?

I mean, if the team believes (as I do) that they need a nose tackle, and Taylor is (as Larry points out) the only nose tackle with a first-round grade ... well, he might not suit someone ELSE at 10, but it seems like you’re filling a prime need with the best player at that spot. Maybe it’s a few spots higher than he’s “projected”, but ... frankly, so what?

This kind of thinking has worked out in the past – Jacksonville taking Tyson Alualu at 10 last year; the Patriots taking Logan Mankins in the first round – so why not try it here?

Gary: With the way Phil Taylor is rising up the draft board – remember when he was thought to be a second-round target? – I think the Redskins would be wise to take him at No. 10. Sure, they might be able to grab Taylor by trading down, but they better be sure he’s still going to be available.

Team officials might be criticized for reaching – like the Jaguars were a year ago for the Alualu pick – but it’s critical that the Redskins get a starting-caliber nose tackle in this draft.

Larry: I like the idea of getting Taylor but I think he can be acquired later. The trade down would net an additional pick that the Redskins could truly use.

If the other pick also panned out, the Redskins could fix two areas of concern instead of just one.

Matt: The HYPOTHETICAL trade down, you mean. The one that might not be available, and might not leave you with Taylor on the board if it does.

Your argument has led me to the exact opposite conclusion you intended: I’m forsaking my previous mock draft AND my earlier suggestion of trading back and going all in with Taylor as the pick at 10.