Browns/Eagles Trade Leaves Rams with Top Draft Value but Fewest Picks in 2016 NFL Draft
By Chris Malumphy
Heading into the 2016 NFL Draft, the newly relocated Los Angeles Rams now have the first pick as the result of their blockbuster trade with the Tennessee Titans. But until the recent trade between the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles, the Rams only had the second most opportunity according to the commonly referenced draft value chart. Prior to the trade the Browns, with 10 picks including the second in the draft, had 3703.60 worth of draft value compared to the Rams 3,180.00. Following the Browns/Eagles trade, the Rams now have more 2016 draft value available to them than any other team despite having only five picks in the draft as much of the booty the Browns obtained in the trade is deferred until 2017 and 2018. The Browns, now with 12 picks this year, are now fifth in 2016 draft value opportunity behind the Rams, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans and the Eagles. And although the New England Patriots possess 11 picks in the draft, trailing only the Browns and the San Francisco 49ers who both have 12, the Pats' picks have the second least draft value surpassing only the Arizona Cardinals who have six selections.
While the Rams bet big to obtain the first pick to snag a franchise quarterback, the price was high and left them with only four other draft picks in 2016, none higher than near the middle of the 4th round. The Rams five picks tie them with the Atlanta Falcons for the fewest choices in the 2016 NFL Draft. With almost all of their draft value tied to that first pick, the failure of whichever quarterback they take (most likely Jared Goff but possibly Carson Wentz) would be more than disastrous.
The Browns, on the other hand, signed a viable quarterback in RG3 during free agency, and now have twelve picks overall including the eighth in the draft as well as five others in the top 100 picks. The Browns need all the help they can get however, after compiling a record tied for worst in the league with the Tennessee Titans, both at 3-13 (.188). And the Browns were arguably worse than the Titans in 2015 since they scored fewer points and allowed more. Moreover, the Browns cast aside some of their more talented starters when they lost center Alex Mack, tackle Mitchell Schwartz, wide receive Travis Benjamin and safety Tashaun Gipson to free agency. But the biggest impediment to the Browns benefitting from the draft value available to them in 2016 is that, well, they draft like the Browns, and the umpteenth new regime has not yet done anything to distinguish itself from any of those who came before them. In fact, rumor has it that they are considering trading down again from the eighth pick. But eventually the team will have to make a selection. Don't they? The fans and ownership in Cleveland are more than restless after more than two decades of football agony. Nevertheless, there is always sunshine, warm weather and hope in Cleveland.
Following the Rams according to the draft value chart are the San Diego Chargers (3,161.40), Tennessee Titans (3,084.80), Eagles (2,872.95) Dallas Cowboys (2,785.50) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2,620.80). The Chargers have quickly become a woeful team and we are now entering the downside of the careers for those quarterbacks drafted in 2004 of which Philip Rivers is one. In the eight years from 2004 to 2011, the Chargers scored over 400 points each season. They have not done so since dropping to a low of 320 in 2015. Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, both drafted in the same year as Rivers, have won two Super Bowls each. Rivers has yet to make it to the big game and at 34 and playing for a bad team it does not appear that he ever will despite putting together a fine career. The Chargers possess eight picks, including the third in the draft, but filling a hole at left tackle with Laremy Tunsil is unlikely to change the overall tide for a team that has so many needs and has a quarterback who is probably entering the downside of his career. The Chargers are a team that should trade down, but is there anyone left who wants to trade up so high.
The return to power of general manager Howie Roseman has made the Eagles the most active team this off-season. Most of Chip Kelly's acquisitions have been jettisoned. Gone are running back DeMarco Murray, linebacker Kiki Alonzo and cornerback Byron Maxwell. They paid big money for backup quarterback Chase Daniels. The team has traded twice to move from the 13th pick to the eighth and then the second. Now it comes down to making their likely selection of quarterback Carson Wentz work. Funny thing is, the Eagles were already in the top half of the league for scoring points in 2015, but only four teams allowed their opponents to score more. The Eagles will need to invest in their defense sometime soon.
At the tail end of the draft value totals, the Denver Broncos (1,217.55), Carolina Panthers (1,100.80), Kansas City Chiefs (1,081.95), New England Patriots (890.60) and Arizona Cardinals (876.40) will have to work hard to get much value out of the draft this year.
The San Francisco 49ers have the most draft picks with 12 but only the eighth most draft value which will put the pinch on Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke who are trying to find a quarterback and fix the lowest scoring offense in the NFL. The 49ers have a lot of picks that could be used to trade up, but their is not much value to work with when nine of those choices are in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
Perhaps no team is in better position than the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the jump from a second-tier franchise to a viable playoff and Super Bowl contender. Coming off a 5-11 season, the Jaguars have eight draft picks and the sixth highest draft board value. The Jaguars demonstrated a surprisingly explosive and youthful offense in 2015 led by Blake Bortles who threw 35 touchdown passes to one of the most exciting receiving units in the game: Allen Robinson (80 rec, 1,400 yds, 14 TDs), Allen Hurns (64, 1,031, 10) and Julius Thomas (46, 455, 5). Add the rushing of T.J. Yeldon (182 rushes, 740 yds, 2 TDs) and newly-signed free agent Chris Ivory (247, 1,070, 7 for the Jets) and the offense is a force to be reckoned with. To become a playoff contender, however, the Jaguars must improve a woeful defense that allowed 448 points, the second worst in the league, besting only the New Orleans Saints. The Jaguars began attacking the problem during free agency by signing defensive end Malik Jackson from the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, cornerback Prince Amukamara from the New York Giants and ball-hawking safety Tashaun Gipson from the Cleveland Browns. The Jags are also hoping that 2015 first round draft pick Dante Fowler, who was taken with the third choice a year ago, will be able to bounce back from the injury that cost him his entire first year and wreak havoc from the defensive end position. And just what if the Jaguars went after newly released cornerback Josh Norman--Norman can only dream of joining a team with both the money and such a bright future. The Jaguars also have the fifth pick in the draft, as well as a pick between spots five and seven in every other round, and an additional late pick in the sixth round from the Pittsburgh Steelers. If Jacksonville can capitalize on those picks, the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans might be left in the dust for years to come.