Thursday, 4 a.m.
The first thing you have realize about the NFL draft is this.
No one is happy where they are, thank you very much.
The teams at the top of the draft are willing to move back for more picks. The teams at the bottom of the draft would like higher impact players. No one wants to spend any value at all on quarterbacks. Running backs have faded from popularity. Wide receivers, too. A team that is picking fifth (Tennessee) is probably convinced there are only four elite players to be had. And so on.
That's why you can never count on anything. The only thing we can be relatively sure of is that the Bucs' Jason Licht probably won't trade up for another placekicker, right?
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Oh, it doesn't matter, really. The Dolphins traded up and ended up with Dion Jordan, who flopped. The Bucs traded next year's No. 1 to take Booker Reese, and he flopped. The Seahawks used a supplemental draft pick to take Brian Bosworth, and he flopped. In other words, failure will find a team that isn't smart enough.
Then again, it is possible to get yourself into a good position by moving. Remember 1995? The Bucs traded down and took Warren Sapp. Then they traded up and took Derrick Brooks. The two are now together in the Hall of Fame. On the other hand, they stayed put and drafted Keith McCants. They moved backward and took Dexter Jackson. And ouch.
The thing is, analysts love movement the way they love going for it on fourth-and-one. A team that moves down is savvy and wise in picking up extra choices. A team that moves up is bold in chasing the guy they want. A team that does both is working it, baby.
But how about this draft? Should the Bucs show interest in moving up? Down? Sideways?
First of all, realize this. The Bucs can only move so far. In the past few years, they were close enough to the top to consider the price of a move. Not this year. They can get a fine player, but stardom is a lot to ask of 19th.
According to the popular Trade Value Chart, the Bucs could only get to the 11th pick if they traded their No. 1 and No. 2 picks. Granted, they would have be convinced they would be getting a star. If they went to 16th, they'd have to give up their No. 1 and a No. 3. Again, you would really have to covet the player who is there.
So what do the Bucs need? Well, they need a safety. But both Jamal Adams of LSU and Malik Hooker of Ohio State are expected to go in the top 10. The Bucs might as well move slightly down for UConn's Obi Melifonwu.
Yes, they need a running back. We all know that. But most mocks think FSU's Dalvin Cook will slide; some even think that the Bucs won't want him if they stand pat and he's there. Some have him going as far back as the Chiefs at No. 27. The Bucs could ask for Kansas City's first, fourth and fifth.
When you remember that the Bucs double-dipped at defensive end and corner last year, you could even make a case that Tampa Bay takes another receiver. But the differences are thin between Mike Williams, Corey Davis and John Ross. Unless the team has a conviction enough to give up two draft picks for one of them, why not stand pat and take whoever is left?
Then there is tight end, and the intriguing David Njoku. I know, I know. O.J. Howard is supposed to be a better tight end prospect, but wouldn't it be better to take Njoku than give up an extra pick for Howard? Unless you have a conviction that Howard will be great, why?
Again, there just isn't much for the Bucs to trade up for. Most agree that the top 10 – in whatever order you want – will be Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas and Adams and Leonard Fournette and Marshan Lattimore and Malik Hooker and Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster and Howard and Derek Barnett. All will be too high for a team with the No. 19 overall pick to draft.
After that, there are the quarterbacks: Deshaun Watson and Mitch Trubisky and Pat Mahomes. No reason for the Bucs to take any of them with their No. 1. There are the receivers: The Desean Jackson signing seems to have sated that need.
Yes, the Bucs could trade down and try to pick up extra picks. But they don't want to run from the better players in the draft, either. I'd suggest that if, say, Cook and Christian McCaffrey were both there, and maybe Njoku and Melifonwu, the Bucs might want to move back a couple of slots and still take one of them.
The thing is, the player you pick at 19 isn't guaranteed to be a Pro Bowl. At that point, the Bucs would be fortunate to get a solid player. Cook, if he's there. Njoku. Melifornwu. Jabrill Peppers.
In other words, it may be a year to stay home and pick. Again, the experts like movement, and their draft grades reflect it. They think that every team is a queen on the chess board.
If I'm Jason Licht, I may trade my ham-and-cheese for Dirk Koetter's peanut butter-and-jelly. I may trade my Dr. Pepper for Joel Glazer's Sprite.
In the draft, I'm staying put.
I'm letting a talented player fall to me.