Trade Up, Trade Down or Stand Pat?


The NFL Draft is all about maneuvering. Some teams look to trade up to ensure they get the player they want before someone else selects him. Some teams look to trade down because they feel they can get the player they want at a lower spot and/or acquire additional picks and/or players. (Since the lockout was in effect this year, players could not be traded.) Some teams stay where they are, feeling either that the player they want will be available to them or they have several options they feel comfortable with, assuming at least one of those options will still be viable when they select.

Based on the Seahawks’ actions/inactions during the past two drafts, Seattle GM John Schneider is someone who prefers to stand pat. Before this year’s draft, the Seahawks repeatedly stated publicly that their intention was to trade down from #25. However, when they had the opportunity to do so, the team failed to make a deal. I don’t have any problem with the team if James Carpenter was their guy and they felt he wouldn’t be available to them had they traded down. Just don’t say you’re going to do something and then not do it.

The decision to stand pat is a risky one. You take a gamble that no one else will trade up in front of you and take the player you want. Draft picks are a precious commodity to a team with as little depth as the Seahawks, so the reticence to trade two or more picks for one is understandable. Yet sometimes getting the player you want is worth the expense.

In the 2010 NFL Draft, the Seahawks had the 14th choice and everyone knew who the Seahawks were going to select – Texas S Earl Thomas. Thomas was the perfect choice – a good value for the pick who would fill a desperate need for the team. Suddenly, the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to #13. It was presumed they did so to take Thomas before the Seahawks could. They surprised everyone by taking Michigan DE Brandon Graham. The Seahawks had fallback options such as Idaho G Mike Iupati, but they were extremely fortunate to get the player they wanted in Thomas.

The Seahawks were not so fortunate this year. The team stood pat at #57 in the second round and watched as the players they wanted went off the board. With no acceptable fallback options this time, Seattle traded #57 to Detroit for #75 in the third round and basically picked up an extra fourth rounder (#107).

Ex-GM Tim Ruskell put the Seahawks in the position they are today through poor drafting and other ill conceived personnel decisions. One thing I did like about Ruskell was that he was willing to trade up in the draft. Whether doing so was the wisest thing is debatable (see Deon Butler), I liked the aggressiveness in making sure they got the player they wanted. Schneider has shown an aversion to trading up, which will in the future make teams more comfortable in moving in front of the Seahawks, knowing they will not respond in kind.

The philosophy of standing pat or wanting to trade down is successful only if the draft choices retained or acquired are put to good use. In most cases, these choices are toward the latter end of the draft (fourth round or later). If the Seahawks draft well in these rounds, this philosophy is justified, and vice versa. We won’t fully know for a year or two whether the current front office took the proper course of action. Right now, it’s not looking that great.

This is probably my last post on this blog. I would have loved to remain, but an agreement to do so could not be reached. I hope you enjoyed reading my articles; I had a blast writing them. For those of you concerned that I won’t publicly state I am wrong if I am proven so, I guarantee I will return to this blog (if it is still in existence) and eat as much crow as I have to. Thanks for reading, and goodbye (at least for a while).