Since taking over as Buffalo Bills’ General Manager in 2013, Doug Whaley hasn’t been shy about working the phones to execute trades, whether for players or draft picks. With the 2016 NFL Draft approaching, it isn’t far-fetched to think that Whaley’s phone will be on and ready to deal. In the three seasons as GM, Whaley has made 13 trades, acquiring players such as Sammy Watkins, Jerry Hughes and LeSean McCoy among others.
The Bills currently hold the No. 19 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, but in a deep class with a roster that needs it’s depth bolstered, trading down or for players could be an intriguing option for the team. Let’s take a look at some potential trade partners and the compensation that would likely be required to pull the trigger.
Minnesota Vikings, Pick No. 23
The Minnesota Vikings whiffed on their selection of wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in the 2013 NFL Draft and despite the strong rookie performance of Stefon Diggs last year, they desperately need to find a weapon for their young quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.
The Washington Redskins and Houston Texans both pick ahead of the Vikings and could be in the market for a wide receiver, so trading up to the Buffalo Bills’ slot at No. 19 could ensure that Minnesota secures their target.
According to the trade value chart, Buffalo’s No. 19 overall pick is worth 875 points, while Minnesota’s No. 23 overall pick is worth 760. The Vikings could swing a deal that would send their first-rounder along with their No. 121 overall pick in the fourth round (60 points) and their No. 160 overall pick in the fifth round (32.5 points) along with a future seventh rounder in exchange for Buffalo’s first-round pick. Another option would be to replace the fifth and seventh round picks with veteran defensive tackle, Kenrick Ellis, a 28-year old rotational nose tackle that’s previously played under Rex Ryan. He’s a backup and was signed to a one-year, veteran minimum deal this offseason.
Green Bay Packers, Pick No. 27
The Green Bay Packers need to find an inside linebacker so that they can move Clay Matthews back to his natural role as an edge rusher in their 3-4 defense. With the top inside ‘backers such as Darron Lee or Reggie Ragland likely being selected long before the Packers will be on the clock at No. 27, it’s likely that they’ll look to move up.
The No. 27 overall pick is worth 680 points on the draft value chart, meaning that the Packers would need to throw in their No. 88 overall pick in the third round (150 points), their No. 125 overall pick in the fourth round (52 points) and possibly a seventh or a future pick to equal the 875 points that Buffalo’s No. 19 overall pick is valued at.
Another scenario for the Packers to consider would be sending Datone Jones, a 6’4” 285 pound former first-round pick in the last year of his contract along with their first and fourth round picks. Jones hasn’t been able to see consistent playing time, recording just 52 tackles and eight sacks in his career as a 3-4 defensive end. Jones has talent and a change of scenery could be just what he needs in a contract year.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Pick No. 25
The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the most dominant offenses in the National Football League and a strong front seven. However, their secondary is one of the worst in the league and the team is in dire need of cornerback help. The Washington Redskins need help opposite Bashaud Breeland, the New York Jets need help opposite Darrelle Revis and while the Houston Texans used their 2015 first-round pick on Kevin Johnson, they could use cornerback help also. All three teams will be making their selections before the Steelers, who hold the No. 25 overall pick.
If they’re set on finding a defensive back that can start from day one, they’ll need to move up a few spots in order to select a player such as Mackensie Alexander, Eli Apple, William Jackson III or even a safety like Vonn Bell, Karl Joseph or Su’a Cravens.
By sending their No. 25 overall pick (720 points) and their third-rounder, No. 89 overall (145 points) they’d be able to move up to No. 19 overall and add a playmaker to their secondary.
Arizona Cardinals, Pick No. 29
After trading away their second-round pick along with former first-round guard Jonathan Cooper to the New England Patriots for Chandler Jones, the Cardinals could look to make another move to keep their franchise that nearly made the Super Bowl last season going in the right direction.
Quarterback Carson Palmer is 36-years old, so finding an eventual replacement for him is crucial. The Jets, Redskins and even the Kansas City Chiefs—who all pick before the Cardinals are on the block with pick No. 29—could all use a quarterback as well. With Jared Goff and Carson Wentz likely off the board in the top 10 picks, Arizona could make a bold move by trading up to secure Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, a passer that’s ideal for Bruce Arians’ vertical passing attack.
The No. 29 overall pick is worth 640 points, so the Cardinals could send that, along with pick No. 167 in the fourth-round (48 points) as well as 24-year old safety Tony Jefferson, who hasn’t signed his restricted free agent tender yet. Jefferson is a talented and versatile safety that’s racked up 157 tackles, three sacks, six pass deflections, two interceptions and four forced fumbles in the last two years.
Jefferson would provide an upgrade to the Bills’ safety group and would have the chance to prove himself in a contract year with a low cap number of $1.67 million.
Seattle Seahawks, Pick No. 26
The Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line was terrible last season and to make matters worse, their starting left tackle departed via free agency. Protecting Russell Wilson and ensuring that the team’s dominant rushing attack can continue to thrive is now paramount for the Seahawks to maintain their status as the team to beat in the NFC West.
It’s a weak group of offensive tackles in this year’s draft class, so if the Seahawks want to make a statement, they’ll need to move up and get in front of teams like Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Houston who all have issues on their offensive lines.
A player like Taylor Decker or Jason Spriggs would be ideal fits at left tackle or Seattle, while Jack Conklin is a plug-and-play starter on the right side. By sending their first-rounder, pick No. 26 (700 points), No. 90 overall in the third round (140 points) and No. 124 in the fourth (54 points), Seattle could ensure that they snag a quality offensive lineman, while Buffalo moves back seven spots and acquires valuable mid-round picks.