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Thread: Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons

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    Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons

    Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons
    January, 23, 2014
    By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com

    ST. LOUIS -- We're still months away from May's NFL draft, but that doesn't mean it's too early to start looking at the many possible permutations of how things could shake out.

    The St. Louis Rams aren't having an open auction for the No. 2 overall pick like they did in 2012, but general manager Les Snead has already indicated a willingness to move it. Without a pair of clear cut top quarterbacks, the market may not be in the hurry to make a move which could leave the Rams waiting until they're on the clock before making a deal. As the combine approaches along with pro days, prospects will become more valued and the market could crystallize.

    Free agency is also likely to have an impact on potential trade partners as teams fill needs in other avenues. For now, we'll take a look at a possible Rams trade partner each week for the next six weeks.

    To begin, we start with the most logical possibility: the Atlanta Falcons, who hold the No. 6 overall selection.

    Why Atlanta makes sense: The ties between the Rams and Falcons run deep. Snead, director of player personnel Taylor Morton and director of pro personnel Ran Carthon came up in the Atlanta organization and still maintain close relationships with Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and director of player personnel Lionel Vital, among others.

    Although it wasn't the trade that drew the most attention of the Rams' deals made in last year's draft, the Rams and Falcons managed to swing a deal sending the Rams' No. 22 pick and seventh-round choice to Atlanta for pick No. 30, a third-round pick and a sixth-round selection. Atlanta drafted cornerback Desmond Trufant and the Rams used No. 30 on linebacker Alec Ogletree in a deal that has worked out well for both teams so far.

    The relationships alone should make for some easy conversation between the sides but, of course, the Falcons have to be willing to move up to make something happen. According to ESPN Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure, that willingness appears to be there. Dimitroff told McClure that he will "always consider" making a move, whether it's up or down in the order.

    Dimitroff hasn't hesitated to put action behind those words. Beyond the move to get Trufant last year, he made the bold move up for receiver Julio Jones in 2011. That, of course, begs the question of whether there's a player the Falcons would want to move up for this year.

    Atlanta is set at quarterback, the one position that generally draws the most interest for a trade up. But the Falcons have big needs for pass rush and offensive line help. Fortunately for the Rams, those are two areas this draft looks to boast some elite talents.

    Headlining that group is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney is clearly the best pass-rusher in the draft and would be a logical fit in Atlanta's base 4-3 defense. Atlanta finished tied for last in the NFL in sacks in 2013 with 32.

    Clowney is nearly certain to be a top-five pick if not the No. 1 overall choice. At No. 6, the Falcons are almost certainly out of range to draft Clowney and would need to make a move up to get him. Should Houston opt for a quarterback, the Falcons and Rams could certainly have discussions for Clowney.

    Likewise, the early returns indicate a pair of top tackles -- Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Auburn's Greg Robinson -- who could go in the top five. If Atlanta opts to bolster its offensive line or if Clowney goes first, the Rams and Falcons could strike a deal to give Atlanta the chance to have their pick of the two stud tackles.

    Linebackers such as UCLA's Anthony Barr and Buffalo's Khalil Mack also figure to go high in the draft, though Atlanta likely wouldn't need to make a move to get either.

    For what it's worth, Dimitroff praised those prospects to McClure this week in Mobile.

    Why Atlanta doesn't make sense: There was probably no team in the NFL racked by injury more than the Falcons in 2013. Atlanta was a preseason Super Bowl favorite and fell to a disappointing 4-12 season. While the Falcons still have plenty of talent in place, the injuries exposed a lack of depth which kept Atlanta from at least reaching the level of mediocrity.

    Given that lack of depth, the Falcons might not be inclined to give up extra picks to make a move with the knowledge that they need to add more players to the roster. It might even spur Dimitroff to be more interested in a move down than a move up.

    While the Falcons hit it big with the addition of Jones the last time they moved up, they'd once again likely have to offer up a big package of picks to get to No. 2. It likely wouldn't be on the level of the deal the Rams made with Washington but would still cost a sizable amount of draft capital. There's also the question of whether teams will be more gun-shy about making a deal to move into that spot after seeing what happened with the Rams-Redskins trade.

    The Rams may also have some hesitation about moving out of the top five altogether. They moved to No. 6 in the original trade with Washington but did so knowing that they could still land a player they like later. It's too early to say how many players the Rams view in such high regard, but if moving out of the top five would take them out of the running for Clowney, Matthews and Robinson, it's possible they might hesitate to deal with Atlanta.
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    Re: Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons

    The Rams may also have some hesitation about moving out of the top five altogether. They moved to No. 6 in the original trade with Washington but did so knowing that they could still land a player they like later. It's too early to say how many players the Rams view in such high regard, but if moving out of the top five would take them out of the running for Clowney, Matthews and Robinson, it's possible they might hesitate to deal with Atlanta.
    One of those times where hesitation is good.

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    Re: Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons

    Atlanta needs toughness and physical dimension that they really haven't shown in the pass two seasons...its just their division they got to concern themselves with, its also the heavy weights that make up the NFC. I don't doubt they are serious contenders for their division, but looking at the Saints this pass season and how they stacked up against the "physical" teams they encountered, I don't see where just moving up to number 2 would do them much good--it would have to be a pressing need at a skill position that likely would trigger a deal. Even if it happened, its not much of a move backward for the Rams.

    I do believe if the Rams deal, it'll be another RGIII deal--someone looking for that special QB. Even with the new collective bargaining with rookie players' salary, I don't think too many teams would trade up just to get a LB or CB knowing down the road there is a huge payday in the offering unless they think that player is a true difference maker. Sadly a lot of those teams in the hunt for "their" QB are all well positioned in the draft to go after him...with maybe the Rams getting out of it a simple trade and perhaps a couple extra 4th round picks

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    Re: Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons

    I remember that when we traded down to #6 last time, we missed out on the player we wanted, Justin Blackmon, and then moved down further to pick up Brockers.

    We got the best end of the deal there, through luck really, because if the Jags had not traded in front of us to take Blackmon, we would be sitting hear with a suspended, troubled WR and a hole in the middle of our defensive line.

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    Re: Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons

    Obviously, things worked out , but who knows how Blackmon would've done here? Maybe under Fisher's guidance, he would have toed the line and been a productive player and citizen. Jacksonville isn't exactly the most stable situation in terms of leadership or anything else.

    The draft is a tremendous crapshoot. Nearly every single one of these 1st and 2nd round picks are consensus selections by every owner in the league. We see "mock drafts" from dozens of prognosticators and all of them have most of the same players listed, albeit in different slots based on need. I've said it before: if the Rams love a guy at a position of need, then take him at #2. If not, look to obtain another couple of early picks through a trade down.
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    Re: Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons

    Atlanta needs help on both the OL and DL and would love to have Clowney, but I don't see them making a move up in the draft by trading away picks. They need some upgrades and depth right now and you don't get that by drafting the #2 pick and having to scrounge later.

    ATL lost both Clabo and Dahl to FA in the last two years and while neither is "great," the OL has not been near as good since then as they haven't find good replacements and Ryan is on his back a lot more.

    Don't see a trade with the Falcons happening.

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    Re: Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons

    Even though the article has the Falcons as the most logical. The lack of depth that is pointed out has me thinking the Falcons will not trade up. The other factor is how bad do Snead/Fisher want Clowney, Mathews or Robinson?

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    Re: Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons

    If we had the #1 pick, then I would say that trade with Atlanta is a slam dunk. However since Houston has it and there is no assurance that they won't take Clowney or trade the pick to someone else, we are left in purgatory until Houston's intentions are clear and that may not be until we are on the clock. That is why I'm not so sure we'll be making a deal with Atlanta. A team needing a QB that is not looking for simply 1 guy is likely our best trade partner. Given that scenario we could come away from this deal with more picks than we all expect, since the other team will have to compensate us quite heavily. Lots of intrigue!

    Go Rams!

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    Re: Vetting potential trade partners: Falcons

    Quote Originally Posted by mde8352gorams View Post
    If we had the #1 pick, then I would say that trade with Atlanta is a slam dunk. However since Houston has it and there is no assurance that they won't take Clowney or trade the pick to someone else, we are left in purgatory until Houston's intentions are clear and that may not be until we are on the clock. That is why I'm not so sure we'll be making a deal with Atlanta. A team needing a QB that is not looking for simply 1 guy is likely our best trade partner. Given that scenario we could come away from this deal with more picks than we all expect, since the other team will have to compensate us quite heavily. Lots of intrigue!

    Go Rams!

    Agreed.

    I they are willing to trade for Clowney, it probably makes more sense to trade up to #1, so they can't be jumped.

    Really good analysis by Nick (as usual), but I think the big thing is Houston has said that they are willing to trade, which makes an Atlanta trade with us pretty untenable. Even if the Texans are sure to go QB, they could trade out and Clowney is still not available.

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