The Samuelson Slant: Trading Up Draft Strategy

This is a somber time to be a Bills fan with the passing of the team’s long-time owner Ralph Wilson. Although I didn’t know him personally, like most Bills fans, I have a great appreciation for all that he did to better the organization. He will be truly missed and never replaced. He loved the city of Buffalo and WNY in general and for that, we loved him back.

That all being said, I believe Mr. Wilson would have wanted us to keep our attention on the team and the future of the Bills. With that in mind, this week’s slant is covering a topic that took a back seat to the tragic loss of Mr. Wilson – the possibility of trading for the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

The story was first reported by Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report in his NFL Confidential section. Pompei linked the Bills as a possible trade partner for the Texans. This time of year it is hard to give any merit to rumors because you never know if a team is feigning interest in one player while secretly desiring another, or if an anonymous source is telling a reporter that they are pursuing trade options to increase the demand for the pick. Ultimately, it is impossible to tell if a rumor has any validity until it either comes true or doesn’t pan out.

However, as a fan, it is also impossible for me not to be excited at the prospect of getting the first pick in the draft. So in order to analyze the rumor without getting too far ahead of myself, I’ve put together a pros and cons list in regards to trading up in the draft.

Trading Up Draft Strategy Pros

Elite Talent

 (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Adding Jadeveon Clowney would give the Bills one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

While there are no sure things when it comes to draft picks, if you’re going to trade up, especially to the No. 1 overall pick, you have to be getting a truly elite talent. In this draft, I expect that would mean seeing Jadeveon Clowney in a Bills jersey in 2014.

Clowney is an extremely physical bull rusher at 6’5″ and 266 lbs. The defensive end runs a 4.53 40-yard dash, so he is also an excellent speed rusher. It should not be fair for someone as big and strong as he is to move as quickly and fluidly as he does. In my opinion, he is easily the best defensive prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft and one of the best defensive end prospects of all-time. At the very least, Clowney is the best DE prospect since Mario Williams in 2006. I mean just watch this hit, which coincidentally is one of my top-10 favorite plays in college football history.

Excite the #FAMbase

Let’s all be honest here. As a fan base, we can use all the excitement we can get. Bills fans are die-hard supporters of the team, because anyone on the bandwagon has surely jumped off during this playoff drought.

While the fan base is loyal, the team has had issues selling out the stadium later in the season. Inserting an attention grabbing first overall pick in Clowney do plenty for Buffalo. He would give the Bills the most dominant defensive line in the NFL, he’d sell jerseys and he’d likely increase ticket sales. While winning is the only viable way to sustain excitement and increase brand equity, making the bold move for Clowney would put the Bills in the spotlight and give them some much needed national media attention.

Trading Up Draft Strategy Cons

The Cost

For the Bills to move up from No. 9 to No. 1, they’d likely surrender two first round picks and a second or third round pick. That cost would be nowhere near the price the Redskins paid to get RGIII, but it’s also not something a team with multiple needs like the Bills can afford unless that one player is good enough to get the franchise into the playoffs and keep them there for years to come. The one player has to be better than the sum of the players drafted by the picks traded for him.

That is a lot of pressure to put on a single position and ultimately it is unfair because of all the other variables in the equation, but it is how the trade up will be forever quantified. Essentially that one player has to be the only thing holding you back from winning now.

Bust Potential

There is bust potential with every pick of every draft in every professional sport. It is simply unavoidable. Going No. 1 overall only amplifies the pressure to perform and hastens naysayers, who will begin labeling the pick a bust as soon as they can; especially if the pick is for a player who is being heralded as a once-in-a-generation talent. As mentioned in the cost, you’ve already added to the pressure by trading up and when it is the No. 1 spot, the magnification of that pressure is even greater.

As you know by now, I’m realistically-optimistic about the Buffalo Bills. I’d love to see the Bills get Clowney because I think he is as good as advertised and the Bills are that close to making the playoffs. However, I’m inclined to think this trade doesn’t happen because the value of the picks needed to trade for the first overall pick will be too great and building through the draft for the long-haul is too important to the franchise. One thing is for sure, this rumor is just one more reason to be excited for the 2014 NFL Draft.

About John Samuelson

+John Samuelson is not your typical Bills fan, raised in Generation Drought, he brings a realistically optimistic viewpoint to the #BillsMafia. Enjoy the "Samuelson Slant" - his personal spin on all things Buffalo Bills.

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