Seven teams likely to move down in the 2017 NFL Draft

Vincent Frank
Written by Vincent Frank

NFL draft day trades have become more prevalent in recent years. It’s not that teams don’t value picks at the same clip as before. Instead, squads simply have not been afraid to give up capital in order to target a specific player.

On the other hand, some rebuilding teams have found it a sound strategy to acquire as many top-round picks as possible as their foundation for roster building.

Last year saw 12 of the 31 selections made in the first round used by teams that did not originally hold that pick. This number was six the previous year and nine back in 2014. Needless to say, it’s surely trending in the direction of more trades taking place during the opening round of the draft.

Here’s a look at seven teams that are most likely to move down in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia next month.

San Francisco 49ers

Mar 4, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson throws a pass during the 2017 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Even after signing more than a dozen free agents and seven potential starters, San Francisco remains one of the most talent-stricken teams in the NFL. It’s a massive task for first-year general manager John Lynch. Build up a last-place roster that was just a few short years ago one of the best in the league.

Flush with the second overall pick in the upcoming draft, San Francisco likely won’t be using that selection on a quarterback. Lynch himself has noted that a rookie quarterback isn’t necessarily a good fit for new head coach Kyle Shanahan and his system (more on that here).

Lynch has also indicated that the team is open to trading the second overall pick.

With needs at defensive end, linebacker, cornerback and safety on the defensive side of the ball, it seems reasonable to believe that the 49ers will look to stockpile picks. Add in the vast amount of needs this team has at the skill positions, and that’s magnified even further.

While there is no clear-cut No. 1 quarterback in this class, we’re willing to bet at least two players at that position will go in the top 10. If that’s the case, some other quarterback-needy teams will likely call San Francisco up to see what its asking price might be.

With Cleveland likely slated to take Texas A&M EDGE rusher Myles Garrett No. 1 overall, the second spot becomes sexy for teams in need of a franchise signal caller. It’s our bet that a trade is pretty much imminent here. It just depends on when that might happen.

Chicago Bears

Chicago may have signed both Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez this month, but neither figures to be the team’s long-term solution at quarterback. With Jay Cutler having already penned his goodbye to fans in the Windy City, he’s also gone. That leaves the Bears with the third overall pick to potentially add a franchise quarterback.

Then again, there’s a group of four likely first-round picks at quarterback. If you add in what teams reportedly told CAL’s Davis Webb last week, that list could jump to five. If this is the case, Chicago could potentially add a pick or two while still selecting a quarterback later in the first round.

It definitely wouldn’t be a surprise to see a team in need of help in the secondary jump both Tennessee and the Los Angeles Chargers for the top-ranked player there.

That could come in the form of the New Orleans Saints moving up for consensus top corner Marshon Lattimore should they fail to work out a trade for Malcolm Butler. In need of safety help, the Buffalo Bills might be willing to move up from 10 in order to select either Malik Hooker or Jamal Adams.

Tennessee Titans 

NFL Draft, Corey Davis

Even after putting up their first winning season since 2011, Tennessee is flush with the fifth and 18th overall picks in next month’s draft. That top-five selection comes via the Los Angeles Rams, who moved up to No. 1 overall with the Titans last year to select Jared Goff.

We’ve seen this story repeated over and over again. Teams attempting to get as much capital as possible in blockbuster draft trades. It happened with the then St. Louis Rams when they traded with Washington for the Skins to be able to select Robert Griffin III No. 2 overall back in 2012. St. Louis would go on to make a couple more trades in order to maximize its return in said deal.

The same can be said for San Francisco when it acquired two second-round picks from the Kansas City Chiefs for Alex Smith following the 2012 campaign.

Look for the Titans to follow this blueprint as they continue to build one of the best young rosters in the NFL. With needs at wide receiver and cornerback, Tennessee is sitting pretty here. Those are the two deepest positions in the entire draft.

Short of Lattimore falling on their laps at five, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Titans move down the board some come draft day. This could still enable the team to potentially pick up wide receiver Corey Davis and cornerback Marlon Humphrey while adding more picks later in the draft. It just makes too much sense.

Cleveland Browns

As we have seen from this interesting front office since it took hold last year, the Browns have not been afraid to go away from the grain. It’s led to the team compiling a stock of draft picks that is the envy of the league. That was only magnified just recently when Cleveland picked up a 2018 second-round pick from Houston in order to take on Brock Osweiler and his salary (more on that here).

All said, Cleveland boasts two picks in each of the first two rounds this season, including the first and 12th overall picks. It also has three picks in the second round next year. That’s a whole heck of a lot of capital.

While we’re expecting the Browns to stand pat and pick up Myles Garrett No. 1 overall next month, there’s surely a scenario where the team could move the second of its first-round picks. It would likely be to trade down in the first round as a way to acquire an additional Day 2 pick (preferably a second rounder).

Teams such as the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints may see a quarterback to their liking, only to call Cleveland up about a potential trade. This would enable one of these squads to have a future franchise quarterback behind its current Hall of Fame-caliber signal caller.

Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia did good to acquire a first-round pick in the Sam Bradford trade this past summer. Remember, it had been without after sending multiple picks to the aforementioned Browns in order to move up for Carson Wentz in the 2016 NFL Draft.

With that said, it surely wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Eagles swap this pick (14th overall) in order to gain more momentum in terms of its roster-building mentality. Flush with a young quarterback and two veteran receivers to help him along, the Eagles may deem running back their top priority.

If that’s the case, Howie Roseman and Co. will definitely be interested in seeing how the top 10 or so plays out at running back. There’s a scenario in play here that both Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook go in that range. There’s also a chance each will fall out of the top 10.

At that point, Philadelphia could hedge its bets that one of the two might be available if the team were to trade down a few spots. With cornerback also a likely need here, a trade-down scenario makes just as much sense. As we mentioned above, it’s an incredibly deep class at that position.

Dallas Cowboys

After losing both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in free agency, it’s readily apparent that the defending NFC East champs need help at cornerback. And no, adding veteran Nolan Carroll to the mix doesn’t change this.

Also of utmost importance for the Cowboys, they’re definitely going to need to find more pass-rush help. The team’s leading sack getter from last season was Benson Mayowa with six. That’s not going to get it done moving forward.

The good news here for Dallas is that both cornerback and defensive end is stacked in next month’s draft. The team could conceivably move out of the first round and add multiple players at need positions on Day 2. Picking 28th overall, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a team like Cleveland or San Francisco call for a move up in order to nab their quarterback of the future.

It’s a scenario we saw play out with Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota Vikings back in 2014. This is to say a quarterback-needy team going in another direction with its first pick, only to see one of its top quarterback prospects fall to the end of the first round.

For the Cowboys, this would open up a whole lot of possibilities. Pure conjecture here, but a combination of Sidney Jones and Takkarist McKinley in Round 2 while adding another selection could do wonders for Dallas.

New Orleans Saints

Now with two first-round picks after trading Brandin Cooks to New England, the Saints are in a prime position to beef up their weak defense. Surely the team could stand to use both first-round picks on that side of the ball.

Then again, it could also look to acquire more capital from the Cooks trade by moving out of the first round. Picking 32nd overall, New Orleans will surely get calls. That’s only magnified if a top-end quarterback is available.

Remember, the last pick in the first round has been traded in two of the past three drafts. It’s a valuable pick, as teams targeting a specific player don’t want to see Day 2 come with said player still on the board.

In addition to help on defense, the Saints could stand to find depth at running back and wide receiver. They might also be in the market for a young quarterback, as evidenced by the team’s reported interest in Johnny Manziel.

About the author

Vincent Frank

Vincent Frank

Editor-at-large, Sportsnaut.

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” Rumi