The more I take stock of the 2017 draft, the more I come to terms with the idea that the Seattle Seahawks are probably just going to trade back again anyway. While I also accept the notion that for the first time in the Pete Carroll era the Seahawks might actually trade up in the first round (thanks to the ability to trade comp picks and that the draft may fall in a certain perfect way), I just think a move down may be inevitable.
It could just come down to the quarterbacks.
While speculation continues to be rampant, I am starting to suspect that no QB will go in the top 10. In my latest mock draft (yet to be posted), I have Deshaun Watson going 12 to the Cleveland Browns as the top quarterback off the board. I think Mitchell Trubisky is viewed as a solid but unspectacular quarterback, so for me that places him more in the “Joe Flacco range” of 15-25. Past that, Deshone Kizer and Pat Mahomes seem to fit in the area of Teddy Bridgewater/Derek Carr/Andy Dalton/Colin Kaepernick, meaning right on the lip between the first and second round.
However, if the cards falls right, taking one those quarterbacks with the 26th overall pick might be right in the sweet spot for some teams.
Let’s say that my gut is right and Watson is the first off the board, while Trubisky falls out of the top 16; where could he go?
Washington at 17 is a dark horse. I think the Denver Broncos at 20 are an interesting option that has to be considered. Would the New York Giants be looking at the next generation to follow Eli Manning? And then there’s the Houston Texans at 25, but I’m going to say something that might surprise some people: I don’t think the Texans will be in the market for a QB at 25. Houston still needs to find a starter for next season. I don’t believe that you can reasonably draft a QB at 25 and expect him to be your starter as a rookie. That’s a spot where you draft someone to develop and I think the Texans will probably still sign Tony Romo and look to find their developmental QB later in the draft. Of course they could draft a QB at 25, it would still make a lot of logical sense, I just don’t think that it’s a foregone conclusion; if they love someone like Trubisky, then they won’t wait and hope for him to fall to 25, they’ll trade up.
Now let’s say Seattle is on the clock, even with Trubisky off the board, there’s a good opportunity for them to trade down with Mahomes and Kizer still available.
The Kansas City Chiefs pick at 27 and many speculate they need to come away with a QB from this draft. The Chiefs may want to prevent a team from trading up ahead of them to select a QB by trading up with the Seahawks themselves. There is a previous working relationship between John Schneider and Kansas City GM John Dorsey thanks to their days in Green Bay.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are at 30 and retirement rumors have not yet been entirely dashed by Ben Roethlisberger. Either way, the Steelers must make arrangements at some point for life after Roethlisberger.
The Cleveland Browns are back on the clock at pick 33 and if they didn’t select a QB at number one (they won’t) or number 12 (they might but not close to a lock) then there’s a good chance they want to make their strike with their third pick. The Browns may love to hear that Trubisky or Mahomes is available by 26, at which point they could move up and secure one of those guys; consider that they have almost more picks than they can handle and Cleveland could offer pick 33 and pick 108 in order to move up to 26. The Seahawks would probably like to add a fourth rounder since they are without a fourth or fifth round pick this year. The Browns wouldn’t mind so much because they have the Tennessee Titans second rounder and plenty of picks on day three.
The San Francisco 49ers have pick 34 and I don’t suspect they’ll be taking a QB in the first round, but it would be interesting to see if Seattle actually gives the 49ers a chance to move up in the draft to potentially select their franchise quarterback. I don’t see that happening.
The Chicago Bears at pick 36 took their chances with Mike Glennon but did they really close the door on a potential franchise QB in the draft this year?
Finally, the New York Jets would be on the clock at pick 39, so what would it cost for them to move up to 26? They don’t have a fourth round pick, so it may cost a fifth rounder+ or New York’s comp pick at the end of round three. Would the Jets give up pick 39 and pick 107 in order to get to pick 26? Would the Seahawks be okay with losing out on the best prospect at 26, in a really deep first round, in order to add the last pick of the third round and potentially miss out on a great prospect? I think Seattle’s lack of picks in rounds four and five, plus the idea that most of the prospects in rounds two and three are very close together in terms of talent, means that the Seahawks might just be gearing up to deal.
Of course, it’s not just the QBs that teams could want to trade for if certain players were still available at 26; Christian McCaffrey, Corey Davis, Mike Williams, Ryan Ramczyk, Cam Robinson, David Njoku, Dalvin Cook, Jabrill Peppers, T.J. Watt strike me as names that could fall here. If the board is stacked, as it appears certain to be, it may not matter at all to Seattle which player they are “missing out on” if they move down because they’re still likely to be satisfied with someone they could get 6-10 picks later.
So I might especially keep an eye on the Packers at 29 (Schneider has never made a trade deal with his former organization, but maybe this is the year), the Falcons at 31 (same for Atlanta, though perhaps Dan Quinn will make it happen), the Saints at 32 (previous deals), the Browns at 33 (too many picks), and the Bears at 36 (Schneider and Ryan Pace made a deal last year that moved the Seahawks up to take Jarran Reed). Though that doesn’t preclude pretty much any team potentially calling Seattle and trying to strike a deal because I think the board plays in the Seahawks favor here and their lack of day three picks is probably annoying the hell out of them.
Unless Garett Bolles falls out of the top 18 (at which point a trade up is sensible) or a cornerback they really love is there, I ultimately see Seattle moving down. Not really that much of a surprise though, it would be the sixth year in a row in which the Seahawks did not hold onto their original first round pick.