In drafts there are always a flurry of deals made, especially in recent history since they made it more even finance-wise to trade up into the Top 5 or 10 to get yourself a stud. It has become such a largely consistent trend, that even mock drafts regularly predict trades. But I've got some thoughts on what teams may be wanting to trade this year to go up or down.
When these teams are on the clock, you'll need to be fully aware they'll take all the time they can, whether they trade out or make a selection of the best player available.
Down: Tennessee Titans
This team is in that #2 position, one coveted by a ton of organizations. It's a great place to trade up for your franchise quarterback. Just ask the St. Louis Rams. The trade happened many weeks before, but the Washington Redskins gave up so many draft picks for one guy who they believed to be their future, Robert Griffin III.
If Winston slips to #2, I see no doubt in my mind that the Titans take him. If the unexpected doesn't happen, teams will look to trade up ahead of the Redskins and the Jets to grab Mariota, and teams will pay a fortune to do so if they believe Mariota is their franchise's cornerstone.
I wouldn't even rule out if a team is in love with one of these receivers, trying to trade up ahead of Jacksonville or Oakland.
Up: San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are one of the teams who may want to trade up for Marcus Mariota, but they can also be a team on the hunt for Todd Gurley.
All of his medicals checked out so Gurley's knee is okay, and the Chargers have three heads in the backfield with Branden Oliver, Danny Woodhead, and Donald Brown; but they need that guy to set the Chargers' backfield apart. Perhaps getting Gurley could allow him to have limited carries in San Diego with that backfield.
San Diego has quite a bit to offer if they indeed plan on cutting ties with Philip Rivers. Giving up Rivers for a shot at Mariota (or Gurley) would save them the cap space to re-sign Eric Weddle, and Rivers would be worth it to the Titans, Redskins, or Jets, allowing the Chargers to retain either their 2nd round pick this year, or their 1st rounder next year.
They can grab a quarterback like Bryce Petty in the 2nd round, or try getting a good draft pick next season to get a QB.
Down: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have dominated the mainstream media with the possibility of them trading their star running back Adrian Peterson. If they don't go through with that long stretch, they could be a real candidate to trade down.
If you remember, they traded up to 32 and back into the first round in a deal with the Seahawks last year to get Teddy Bridgewater. If the top pass rushers are off the board and they don't need Gurley or Gordon, they can trade down to accumulate picks to help in numerous areas on this team.
There's going to be teams who want to get ahead of Cleveland at #12 to get DeVante Parker from Louisville. It's expected to see Amari Cooper and Kevin White off the board in the first ten picks, but the team who trades up for a guy like DeVante Parker, I believe won't regret it.
Up: Pittsburgh Steelers
If you were aware, the stellar Steeler defense that once was, is no more.
So many of the great defensive players that brought them their NFL record-setting sixth Super Bowl, is no longer sporting the yellow and black (or the bumblebee unis) on the field. Between the pass rush and the secondary, the Steelers organization could draft a great defensive player this year.
The AFC North is about who can play the better ball against the opposing offense, and Pittsburgh's about to lose that identity. They have Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and after the first month of the season, Le'Veon Bell, but they'll need a defense if they want to see a repeat as division champs. You could see them trade up for a pass rusher to get after Manziel, Dalton, and Flacco, or they could take a defensive back.
If the Steelers trade up, they're going all out.
They'll go for Trae Waynes of Michigan State or nobody at all. Though they could have success with drafting Peters, if they can't get into the Top 10. Plus, if they're confident that Landon Collins can fill some of the hole Polamalu's retirement dug, they can trade ahead of the in-state Eagles and draft the safety from Alabama, the most prized safety this draft.
Down: New York Giants
Not many look at the Giants as a team to trade down, and I'm not sure why. They have holes to fill on the interior and on the offensive line, but you can't rule out the team trading down to get an extra pick or two to help both of the lines, or even something in the secondary.
The Giants defense was actually scary before injuries deflated their season, and their offense was and still is scary with Eli, Odell, Larry Donnell, and Andre Williams headed into his sophomore year in the NFL in the backfield -- not to mention Victor Cruz returning from a devastating injury.
You may want to look at the Giants as a team to make a smart front office move; to trade down and fill an extra hole to get them into serious contention for the division crown.
Up: Detroit Lions
Hear me out here. The Lions have one of the better offensive passing attacks with Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Golden Tate. They also had a formidable defense last season. However, they lost Ndamukong Suh to the Dolphins in one of the most lucrative deals we've seen for a defensive player in the history of the game.
But, Suh didn't matter much to their win-loss totals, and they were smart to not overspend to keep Suh. But on the other hand, they lost Nick Fairley inside.
They've spent a lot of years on the defensive line with the drafting of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, and Ezekiel Ansah, but they've now lost two of those and it's in the interior. They made a trade with the Ravens to get Haloti Ngata to fill some of the void but he's 31 years old. Also, despite how consistent Ngata has been, there's something the Ravens know to trade Ngata. Haloti hasn't played a full season since 2011 and his numbers are dropping. Over 10 sacks in 2010 and 2011, only 8.5 since.
If they don't trade up for a defensive linemen, they can go offensive linemen in the first and possibly get Lake Tomlinson from Duke on Day 2. The Lions must live by the mantra that you win or lose games in the trenches.
Down: Dallas Cowboys
I felt I would end on this, considering that BlueStarTimes.com is originally a Dallas Cowboys blog, even if I write articles on some other NFL happenings.
This is a very easy decision to make.
If the Cowboys aren't high enough on a guy they're willing to take at pick #27, I suggest they find someone willing to trade up in the first round, or perhaps a team wanting to trade back into the second round to revive hope within their fan base.
The Cowboys could use two second rounders, spending one on a running back and another on a defender. I think it's a very real possibility.
Many fans won't be too fond of sitting for hours on Thursday night just for the Cowboys to leave with no new Cowboys, but believe me when I say that Stephen Jones will be looking at the bigger picture. If you're not sold, what would you rather have? Draft Day 1 excitement with a bust? Or two second rounders who provide that jump to a sixth Super Bowl? If you're a true Cowboys fan, you'll have no problem with the latter.
So I just gave you some teams who may be looking to trade up or down next week. Watch for these trades to go down and don't be disappointed if they don't. The draft is unpredictable, yet holds very likely events.
If you believe I left out a team who could trade up or down, tell us in the comments down below.
Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Iowa State Cyclones WR Hakeem Butler
The 2019 NFL Draft is light on a lot of the offensive skill position players at the top of the draft. There are a couple of wide receivers that are making noise in the first round, but I'm surprised to see that Iowa State Cyclones Wide Receiver Hakeem Butler isn't one of them.
Is he a perfect NFL prospect coming out of the Big 12? No. But this year, there isn't a perfect NFL wide receiver prospect, in my opinion.
Hakeem Butler measured in at 6-5, 225 with 35 1/4 inch wingspan, and 10 3/4 inch hands. He's a big receiver and generally, the type of wide receiver that the NFL looks for when they're attempting to build their receiver corp.
Here are his measurements, courtesy of Mockdraftable.com.
And here is his Spider Graph, if you're into that sort of thing.
As you can see, Butler moves the needle on the spider graph in the strength and athletic testing. He didn't run the short shuttle or the 3-cone drill at the NFL combine, which isn't surprising as those would be lesser traits to his game.
For his size, Butler runs an excellent 40-yard dash at 4.48 seconds. That puts him at the same time as Carolina Panthers Running Back Christian McCaffrey. Former Dallas Cowboys great, Dez Bryant ran a 4.52. The 40-yard dash helps measure straight line speed and it's helpful, it just isn't the be all-end all. Sure, you'd like a receiver to be faster, but Butler's size-speed combination makes up for being a touch slower than the guys running in the 4.3's.
In order to get a handle on Hakeem Butler, I watched his games against Iowa, Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, Baylor, and Washington State. Believe me, watching the Iowa State offense was no small task. Quarterback much?
Here's what I saw from Hakeem Butler.
- Is able to create separation on a variety of routes and against press coverage. Ran posts, slants, ins, outs, curls (both in and out breaking), double moves off of slants (sluggo and hitch and go), and nine or go routes.
- Moves well for size, could use some more quickness.
- Hakeem Butler is at his best when thrown back-shoulder fade routes. He's an excellent ball tracker and shows great anticipation for the ball being thrown under the route for him to come back to the ball.
- Quarterback play at Iowa State was an issue. I counted three, maybe four different quarterbacks that he had to work with throughout the 2018 season. Though Butler was able to bail them out at times, he and the rest of the Cyclones receiving corp dealt with poor ball placement.
- Butler is a physical blocker at the point of attack and away from the ball. He uses route feints to set up the defender so he can get square on them and uses good technique to secure his man and plays till the whistle.
- Was lined up all over the field in the games watched including the slot, the middle receiver in bunch formations, and in tight sets as a single receiver to one side.
- Is very physical against press coverage and fights to get free throughout the route.
- The two games he struggled the most were against TCU and Iowa where they used more zone coverage than Iowa State's other opponents. Those teams kept him bracketed, which left him little room to work in the zone and forced him into more contested catch situations.
- He had bad drops in both the Iowa and TCU games, but also came up with excellent catches.
- Butler is very physical after the catch and uses his size and agility to break tackles and create yards after the catch. Against the Sooners, he broke three or four tackles after the catch to take one the distance for the touchdown.
I like Hakeem Butler as a pro prospect. He has some nuanced route running to him and is more than just a jump-ball specialist, red zone threat. He has the skills to be a lead receiver for a team in the NFL and could even be used as a big-slot receiver much like the New Orleans Saints use Michael Thomas. Despite some drops, I think he has really good hands and with his size and physicality would be an excellent addition for the Dallas Cowboys.
I'd be surprised if he was available for the Cowboys at pick 58 of the second round, but if for some reason he was there, I wouldn't hesitate to select him. You can use him on the outside and move Amari Cooper to the slot or put Butler in the slot and use Cooper on the outside. His ability to run routes from all over the formation is an asset that a smart team will take advantage of.
Cowboys Draft Target: Central Florida DT Trysten Hill
NAME: Trysten Hill
POSITION: Defensive Tackle
SCHOOL: Central Florida
JERSEY: No. 9
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
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Uploaded by Micah Wade on 2019-02-22.
The first thing that jumps off the tape when studying Trysten Hill is his first step quickness at the snap of the ball and his burst to get upfield. He is scheme diverse, but projects better as a 4-3 defensive tackle. Can play the one-technique or the three-technique in a 4-3 defense, but is at his best as a one-gapper.
Hill plays with a nonstop motor and high energy down after down. Doesn't take any plays off. Shows the ability to fight off blocks. Always working his hands and feet to free himself. Is equally disruptive harassing the quarterback as a gap penetrator and in the running game playing sideline to sideline.
Shows good agility and flexibility to bend and finish tackles behind line of scrimmage and in the open field. Can anchor down against double teams, but needs to improve his overall play strength. Uses a twitchy arm over and spin counter move to penetrate the gap as both a pass rusher and run defender.
There are questions about Trysten Hill's maturity, work ethic, and coach ability. He found himself in the doghouse last year at Central Florida and only started one game. Was he demoted because of the new coaching staff or are the character concerns about him factual? This is something teams will have to dive deeper into.
Needs to do a better job of playing under control. Will run himself out of gaps at times, which causes him to lose his gap responsibility. Can get washed out of the play by down blocks. Needs to develop a better feel and response to keep that from happening.
Can anchor down against double teams, but needs to add functional strength in order to become more consistent. Drops his head at times on his initial punch. Needs to develop a more diverse pass rushing repertoire. Relies too much on arm over and spin move.
Trysten Hill is a versatile defensive tackle capable playing the one-technique or the three-technique in the Dallas Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme. Due to his first step quickness and high motor, he is likely better suited to play the three-technique. He has starting potential, but would likely be a rotational piece on the DL as a rookie behind Maliek Collins. His ability to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage and sidelined the sideline would be a welcomed addition along the Cowboys defensive front. He projects as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick, and that's exactly where the Dallas Cowboys would likely have to target him to acquire his services.
Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.
NAME: Stanley Morgan Jr.
POSITION: Wide Receiver
CONFERENCE: Big Ten
JERSEY: No. 8
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
"Where I come from ... I had to block for Leonard Fournette, I played on the same team as Tyrann Mathieu," Morgan said. "It's just guys like that around me that made me want to work harder, just to keep going and give it my all. It's something that I was born with."
Stanley Morgan Jr. was a consistent and productive wide receiver during his time at Nebraska. He projects as a "Z" receiver in the NFL, but is probably better suited to play in the slot because of his skill set. Might be the best route runner in the entire 2019 WR draft class.
There's no questioning his toughness and competitiveness. His passion for the game shows up on tape. Unafraid to carry his routes across the middle of field. Possess good separation ability due to his precise route running and his ability to change directions on a dime. Has an understanding of how to temper his routes as well and has a way of lulling defensive backs to sleep and catching them off guard.
Has soft natural hands and shows good technique at the catch point. Shows the ability to make contested catches. Large catch radius. Excellent catch focus and body control. Shows the ability to climb the ladder and high point passes. Unfazed with DBs draped on him and shows good spatial awareness along the sideline. Has a little wiggle to be a threat after the catch, but doesn't have homerun ability.
Stanley Morgan Jr. could be labeled as "just a guy" as a wide receiver prospect. There is nothing really special about his game and he has just average speed and athleticism. Despite his productivity and consistency at Nebraska, he may have already reached his peak.
Morgan may be nothing more than a slot receiver in the NFL. He doesn't possess the necessary speed to be a threat down the field and doesn't show a lot of burst out of his breaks. Average speed will limit his big-play ability as well. Struggles to beat press coverage, which could cause cornerbacks to sit on underneath routes.
Doesn't offer anything on special teams. Had a handful of opportunities at Nebraska as a kick and punt returner with very little success. Doesn't show a lot of functional strength on film. Lack of strength and power limits his blocking ability in the passing game. Arrested for marijuana possession in May 2017.
Although Stanley Morgan Jr. has the ability to play the "Z" position with the Dallas Cowboys, they would likely move him into the slot full-time as Cole Beasley's replacement now that he's officially moved on to the Buffalo Bills. He may not have the same kind of change of direction skills as Beasley, but Morgan's precise route running ability immediately makes him a threat in the Cowboys aerial attack as a rookie.
Morgan unfortunately doesn't offer much, if anything, on special teams. He returned a few kickoffs and punts during his time at Nebraska, but had marginal success. He will probably never be more than a WR3 and might have already reached his peak as a prospect, but he is the type of WR who can have a long career in the NFL. As a potential mid-round draft pick he is an intriguing slot option for the Cowboys, but probably won't help fans forget about No. 11 anytime soon.
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