A look at first overall picks throughout the years.
Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers possessed the first pick in the NFL Draft and used it to grab that most valuable of NFL assets, the potential franchise quarterback. This year, the Los Angeles Rams have the top selection, but they've chosen to squeeze value out of that pick in a completely different way.
](http://www.buccaneers.com/news/article-smith/Four-Times-the-1-Pick-Was-Traded/1c49d123-982c-4b1c-a5fe-1057a5393a50) On Thursday, the Titans agreed to a blockbuster trade, sending the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, along with fourth (#113 overall) and sixth (#190) overall to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for pick #15, two second-rounders (#43 and #45), a third-rounder (#76) and the Rams' first and third-round picks in 2017.
Obviously, that's an extremely bold move by the recently-relocated Rams, reminiscent of some other trades involving the #1 pick that I examined a year ago. For the Titans and General Manager Jon Robinson, formerly the Buccaneers' director of player personnel, it's a golden opportunity to strengthen his roster around the quarterback they took second overall in 2015, Marcus Mariota. The Titans now own six of the first 76 picks in this year's draft.
It will take a few seasons to fully determine whether this trade works out for the Rams, the Titans, neither or both. The more important question (from our point of view) is: How does it affect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers right now?
See every first-round Draft pick ever selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers are slated to pick ninth in the first round, putting them right near the middle of the territory covered by Thursday's first-round swap. It's a virtual certainty that the trade will change how the first eight selections would have fallen out in front of Tampa Bay's choice. That doesn't necessarily mean it will have a significant effect on who's available for the Bucs at #9.
The obvious, and almost certainly true, speculation is that the Rams have moved up in the draft in order to take one of the most coveted quarterbacks. Last year, the then-St. Louis Rams ranked last in the NFL in net passing yards, touchdown passes and passer rating while splitting time under center between Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Sean Mannion. Jeff Fisher's Rams have hovered between 6-10 and 7-9 in each of his four seasons at the helm; it's reasonable for the new L.A. club to believe that it's a new quarterback that will get them over the hump. Even the Rams' own website, in the article linked above, states that the team "presumably, executed the trade to target a quarterback at No. 1."
In addition, the last two times the #1 overall pick was traded, the targeted player was a quarterback. That was the case with the Giants-Chargers swap in 2004 that sent Eli Manning to New York and Philip Rivers to San Diego, but that deal actually took place after both selections were made. The more analogous situation most recently occurred in 2001, when the Falcons traded up to #1 (again, with San Diego) to target quarterback Michael Vick.
On the surface of it, that's good news for the Buccaneers and any team that's picking in the top 10 but doesn't need a new quarterback. However, the impact could be minimal for those who are nearer the end of those opening 10 selections. In essence, the Rams' move may just end up shuffling the order of the same eight players to come off the board.
Whether you believe that to be the case depends on which mock drafts you believe, the ones that have both North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz and Cal passer Jared Goff going in the top eight or the ones that have just one of those two players drafted that early.
For instance, there are eight expert mock drafts on NFL.com. Prior to the Rams-Titans trade, Charles Davis, Charley Casserly, Bucky Brooks, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chad Reuter all believed both Wentz and Goff would be gone among the first eight picks. Lance Zierlein, Daniel Jeremiah and Ike Taylor disagreed, and they also did not agree on which of those two QBs would fall out of the top 10.
All eight of those mock drafters gave a quarterback to the Cleveland Browns at the second overall pick, and it's obviously the Browns who are most affected by Thursday's trade, outside of the Rams and the Titans of course. That the Browns are widely believed to be targeting a quarterback is further evidence that the Rams moved up to attack that same position. No team had ever come from as far down as #15 to get the first overall selection before, but the Rams clearly believed it wasn't enough to acquire a pick in the 3-5 range.
A look at the best prospects entering the 2016 NFL Draft, according to Scout Inc.
Other teams in the top 10 that are speculated to be interested in drafting a quarterback include Dallas at #4, San Francisco at #7 and Philadelphia at #8. If so, and if Wentz and Goff are considered a cut above the rest of this year's QB class, then it is the Cowboys and 49ers that are most hurt by Thursday's trade. However, if there is a third quarterback worthy of a top 10 pick – Memphis' Paxton Lynch is usually mentioned next in the mocks – then the Buccaneers could end up as winners in the Rams-Titans deal.
Thursday's big move could increase the number of quarterbacks drafted among the first eight picks from two to three. Obviously, that would decrease the number of non-QBs taken before Tampa Bay from six to five, and every little bit helps when you're talking about the small pool of prospects considered to be the elite of the elite. The Titans were believed to be leaning towards Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil if they stayed at #1; now Tunsil will likely fall into the 3-5 range, giving pause to a team like San Diego that could use help on both the offensive and defensive lines. If Tunsil goes to a team that also had interest in a pass-rusher such as Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner, then that just pushes those coveted defenders closer to the Bucs at #9. The same could be true of such highly-regarded defensive backs as Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves.
Here's another possibility to consider, and keep in mind that it is purely speculation on my part, not a reflection of any knowledge of what Robinson or Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht are thinking: What if the Titans didn't really want to drop all the way to pick #15 but simply couldn't pass up the Rams' offer? Well, if Robinson really wants to be in the top 10 instead, he's got plenty of draft capital to move in order to get back up there. And if Robinson is looking for top-10 trade partners, wouldn't it make sense for him to place a call to his old boss in Tampa. I do not know if Licht and the Buccaneers are interested in moving down, but it seems obvious Licht would at least listen if Robinson called.
The Rams sent a shock wave through the top 10 of the draft on Thursday, the biggest such wave since the Redskins sent a bouquet of first-round picks to the same Rams four years ago to move up for quarterback Robert Griffin III. Now it's the Rams moving up for their own franchise passer, and, if there's enough interest among top-10 teams in the other available quarterbacks, that could be very good news for the Buccaneers.