The Cleveland Browns have made a habit lately of trading down in the draft.
This year, if they trade, it might be up. That’s where the quarterback waits.
No matter the order, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are virtually guaranteed to go 1-2 when NFL teams pick in April. Most have Luck going to the Colts with the first pick — the smartest move for Indianapolis. The Rams pick second, which means St. Louis figures to be the recipients of a bidding war from teams that want Griffin.
That bidding war could include any team — there’s always a surprise — but Cleveland, Washington and Miami are quarterback-needy teams drafting in the top 10. The price will be enough to make a general manger double-clutch his Wheaties.
Think of such players as Eli Manning, Ryan Leaf (yes, Leaf), Mike Vick and Jeff George. All were drafted first or second, and acquired for a pickup truck full of draft picks.
Some teams use a chart that gives a point value to each draft slot, with the first overall pick traditionally worth 3,000 points and the second pick 2,600.
Cleveland’s fourth pick is worth 1,800 points, Washington’s sixth worth 1,600 and Miami’s ninth worth 1,350. Only the Browns have two first-round picks this year. They also have the 22nd selection, which they acquired from Atlanta a year ago on draft day. That pick is valued at 780 points.
Could the Browns get the second pick from St. Louis for those two picks?
Not likely. The value of their two picks is 20 points light. But more important, precedent shows it takes multiple picks or players to acquire quarterbacks on or near draft day, not two:
• 2004: San Diego sent Manning to the Giants for two first-round picks, one third and one fifth.
• 2001: San Diego sent the pick for Vick to Atlanta for first-, second- and third-round choices and wide receiver Tim Dwight. The Chargers then used the first-round pick to take running back LaDainian Tomlinson.
• 1998: San Diego traded with Arizona to move up one spot, from third to second, to take Leaf. The Chargers gave up two first-rounders, a second and two players (including Eric Metcalf).
• 1990: The Colts gave up first- and fifth-round picks, plus two Pro Bowl players (Andre Rison and tackle Chris Hinton) to move up to take Jeff George and get a fourth-round pick thrown in.
• 1985: The Browns gave up two ones, a three and a six to get the supplemental draft pick used to acquire Bernie Kosar.
Times change and demands change, but clearly the starting point for any deal would be three high picks, two of which are first-rounders.
Miami would have to start with first-round choices this year and next. The Miami Herald speculated a trade from nine to two would require three first-rounders.
Washington, too, would have to include next year’s No. 1 pick and perhaps this year’s second and next year’s third.
Cleveland might be able to avoid giving up both its first rounders this year — general manager Tom Heckert and president Mike Holmgren have gone on record saying they got extra picks to rebuild the team — but it would have to give next year’s No. 1.
That might be palatable to the Browns because they would be getting two first-round players this year. They also have an extra pick in the fourth round.
Much has to shake out. The Seahawks also need a quarterback, so they, Miami or Washington could sign a free-agent such as Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn. If Washington goes with a veteran, Cleveland’s bargaining position improves — because nobody else could guarantee the Rams a top-six player.
Trading up to take a quarterback does not always work, as the Chargers can attest.
It also costs a lot.
But it has great potential rewards. Just ask the Giants.