It might be the most obvious thing ever, but it seems that we’ve been talking a lot of hypothetical game theory lately. The Browns are in a position of strength and if you were to believe the pundits around the sports world, they also seemingly don’t have enough to get a trade done with the Rams. We’ve heard rumors of the Redskins giving up their entire draft this year as well as multiple picks next year. We’ve heard that the Browns might need to trade three overall first rounders (two this year and one in 2013) in order to entice the Rams into giving them the #2. (Yes, I know some of you prefer to look at it like two first rounders and a swap of #4 and #2. Whatever.) How is it that the Browns could be in a bidding war and yet have a position of strength?
Let’s talk a bit about the Browns’ options. What is the worst thing that can happen if the Browns do nothing at all? Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Matt Kalil, Justin Blackmon, Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson, and Riley Reiff are all in contention for the top four. I would say that Reiff and Richardson are longshots for the top four, but they’re certainly going to be somewhere nearby on most draft boards. (Although Richardson is falling fast, it seems.) Point being that if the Browns do not make any kind of trade, they will get one of these guys. More important is what the Rams get.
I know many have been talking about this around Twitter for weeks, but the Rams are drafting second because they have a lot of needs. They need offensive line help for Sam Bradford. They could use a target in the receiving game. The Rams need cornerbacks. Steven Jackson isn’t getting any younger with his 2200 career attempts rushing the ball. If I had to guess though, the Rams much like every other NFL team, would love to have that left tackle. Matt Kalil is as much of a sure thing as anyone in this draft and maybe more. What does this mean for the Browns?
The Browns are the only team that the Rams can trade with and still even have a remote chance at landing Matt Kalil. Chances are that the Vikings will take him at #3, but there is also a good chance that the Vikings could take wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The bottom line is that the Rams are taking something of a risk if they trade down any farther than #4. The Rams would prefer to trade with the Browns, yet if they engage in speculation with other teams they can drive the price up.
They can only drive the price up if the Browns seem willing to pay though. I am quite happy to hear the Browns play it cool in public with regard to Griffin even if it leads to some uncomfortable talk about being “confused” as to what to do with such a dynamic player. Let’s all just think happy thoughts and assume the Browns are avoiding a crazy bidding war for the #2 pick.
The Browns can only lose if they engage in a bidding war as a result. If the Browns are interested in trading, they are competing with a group of people that don’t have as much bargaining power. Still, the Rams can use that desperation to inflate the market for the pick. If it turns into an auction situation the only winner is going to be the Rams as they take home massive amounts of picks. Actually, the other winner will be the team that doesn’t end up pulling off the deal as they won’t pay far too much for the right to draft second overall this year. Let’s hope the Browns win either by trading and not paying too much or just sitting this out and taking two solid players in the first round this year.