The biggest asset that the Broncos have this offseason is the #2 pick in the 2011 draft. So what is its value? Should we keep that slot and if so who should we pick with it? Should we trade it for either players or more slots? If we trade it, who is likely to want it? And what will we likely get for it? So many questions - so little time until spring training starts and my attention wanders over to baseball for a few months.
Using Draftek's draft trade chart - assigning a value to each pick of each NFL team - Denver has the most valuable potential draft of any NFL team. Our second pick alone has a value that is greater than the ENTIRE 2011 draft value of many NFL teams. The problem is that that value is highly concentrated in a very small number of picks (we have 4 in the "value rounds", most teams have 6+) - and very highly concentrated in that one #2 pick. The Eagles, for example, have 8 draft slots in those rounds. 8 players to pick to improve their team. They can make a lot of mistakes -- and still come out with a better draft than we do. As it stands now, every one of our picks has to be a hit -- and even if every one of them is a hit (which has never happened in NFL draft history); then next year we can expect to be --- average.
Top 5 picks are rarely traded. 2009 and 2003 were the last two times I think. In part probably because the teams that hold them demand too much in return (ie this trade chart that I linked to may overstate the value of those top picks). In part because teams that hold those picks really need a top-5 type pick at that position - best available player AND positional need.
Here's my list of top-5 caliber players this year. To make the list, a player has to be the top one or two at his position; with a large gap down to the next tier of players at that position (so teams feel compelled to select that player or even trade up to get them); playing a position of need for multiple teams with top-10 slots; and top-10 caliber to begin with.
QB - Luck; gap of roughly 12 slots to next QB
WR - Green; gap of roughly 5 slots to next WR
CB - Amakamura and Peterson; gap of roughly 15 slots to next CB
FS - Peterson; gap of roughly 45 slots to next FS
DT (for a 4-3 defense): Fairley and Dareus; gap of roughly 35 slots to next 4-3 DT
DE (for a 3-4 defense): Fairley and Dareus; gap of roughly 15 slots to next 3-4 DE
DE (for a 4-3 defense): Bowers and Jordan; gap of roughly 17 slots to next 4-3 DE
What this shows is how important it is to sign Champ. If we fail to do that - not only do we add yet another defensive need and upgrade it to critical; we also lose all possible trade value from that #2 pick. We will have to use that pick to select Amakamura, Peterson, Fairley, or Dareus and our entire 2011 draft will depend on being right about that. And we will also likely get worse next year before we (maybe) get better in future years. If we sign Champ, we can still draft ANY of those four players and improve the defense - or we can entertain trade offers that might improve the defense even more.
Note that Peterson, Fairley, and Dareus appear at two different positions. That versatility really boosts their value and their likely selection. Peterson atop both CB and FS rankings indicates that it is VERY possible for elite talent to be suited to both positions.
If Luck declares for the draft, CAR will decide who drafts him. And IMO, it will be either Carolina or Minnesota (can prob offer Harvin along with draft swaps) or an as-yet-unknown team that will get taken to the cleaners by proving how incompetent it is. If Luck doesn't declare, Carolina will likely draft Fairley or Dareus. They are a 4-3 def and CAR needs DL (along with WR) and those two are seriously valuable for a 4-3 team that needs a line. Fairley and Dareus are significantly more valuable to a 4-3 defense than to a 3-4 defense because there is such a large drop to the next tier.
If we sign Champ, our #2 pick has some trade value to:
Teams that really need a CB/FS and who want to jump ahead of CIN (in the #4 slot) or ARI (in the #5 slot) or SF (in the #7 slot) to ensure that they get either Amakamura or Peterson. These teams include SF (#7 slot), DET (#13 slot), STL (#14 slot), IND (#23? slot), PHI (#24? slot), or PIT (#30? slot). These are also teams that are going to be competing to sign Champ.
Or, if Luck stays in school and CAR drafts Fairley or Dareus; then 4-3 teams that want to jump ahead of BUF (in the #3 slot) to get the other. This is probably only CLE (#6 slot) or CHI (#27? slot)
I don't see a workable trade with IND PHI PIT CHI or STL. Those would involve solid starting players on their defense - or our teams are too different on defense - or they won't/can't pay the price.
With SF (our #2 for their #7, #76, and their 2012 2nd round pick)
With CLE (if Luck stays in school) (our #2 for their #6, #70, #134, and their 2012 3rd round pick)
None of these trades may be better than just using our #2 slot to pick someone. They do all give us 5 or 6 good picks this year instead of 4 - and starter-level players and/or extra future draft picks as well. None of the trades may even materialize. And I may be completely off-base with my analysis of the value of that #2 slot. The best case scenario - highest trade value for our #2 pick - is if Luck decides to stay in school - which is a bit odd.
But none of it matters if we fail to sign Champ.
What do you all think?