The value of trading down

Washington Redskins General Manager Scot McCloughan addressed the media on Monday afternoon in the lead up to the commencement of the NFL Draft on Thursday evening.  As McCloughan hasn’t held many press conferences in his time with the Redskins, it was a great opportunity to gauge what the highly respected personnel evaluator was thinking with regards to the draft.

McCloughan is an intelligent and well-spoken GM, and one of the key messages he relayed to the media at his press conference was his desire to increase the quantity of draft picks that the Redskins can utilize;

Trading down from the fifth overall pick had long been discussed as an option for the Redskins, but it is interesting to hear talk of the possibility come directly from the General Manager.

In these final days before the draft, there has and will continue to be a flurry of news regarding which prospects each team likes, as well as potential trades.  Just today, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport went so far as to claim that the Browns and Redskins have already had talks;

With all of this in mind, it is worthwhile taking a look back at what teams who have traded out of the top 5 have netted in return since the introduction of the new collective bargaining agreement.  I am not going to include the famous Washington/St Louis ‘RGIII’ trade, as surely all Redskins fans are well aware of the details of that trade.  That said, there have been several other trades out of the top 5 that providing interesting insight into the value of a top 5 pick.


Last year the Buffalo Bills completed a draft with the Cleveland Browns to move up from 9th to 4th, targeting Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins.  The cost of trading up was the 2014 9th overall pick, as well as a 2015 1st and 4th round pick.


The Miami Dolphins traded up from 12th to 3rd overall in 2013 in a deal with the Oakland Raiders.  Miami selected Defensive End Dion Jordan with the 3rd pick, and surprisingly didn’t have to pay a huge price despite moving up 9 spots.  The cost of trading up was pick 12 and pick 42, Miami’s second round pick. In all of these examples, this is most likely the lowest price a team had to pay to trade up into the top 5.


As mentioned above, we aren’t going to discuss the Washington and St Louis trade that netted the Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III.  But that wasn’t the only trade involving a top 5 pick that took place that year.

The Cleveland Browns traded up from 4th to 3rd to select Running Back Trent Richardson.  With hindsight we know that his blew up in the Brown’s face, but at the time Richardson was considered a can’t miss prospect, and the Browns were terrified that another team was going to try and trade up to 3rd overall to steal him from them.  The cost of trading up just one spot from 4th to 3rd saw Cleveland sending their fourth, fifth and seventh round selections to Minnesota


Whilst there was no trade involving a top 5 pick this year, Cleveland traded the 6th pick to Atlanta so the Falcons could draft Wide Receiver Julio Jones.  As Atlanta was trading up to 6th from 27th, the price was understandably high, and the Browns netted a tidy sum from this trade.  The cost of trading up from 27th to 6th was Atlanta’s 2011 1st, 2nd, and 4th round picks, and Atlanta’s 2012 1st and 4th round picks.


If the Redskins do end up trading down from 5th overall, recent history suggests that Scot McCloughan’s desire to walk away from this draft with 10 draft picks in hand may come true.



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