The 2016 NFL Draft is still three months away, but things are already heating up as a bidding war could emerge for the first overall selection.
That revelation came on Monday, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Jon Robinson, the new G.M. of the Tennessee Titans, has put the number one pick up for sale ahead of the draft.
“We will look at any and all offers that come this way,” Robinson told Schefter.
The last time the number one overall pick was traded before the selection was made (in 2004 the San Diego Chargers traded Eli Manning to the New York Giants after selecting him first overall) was in 2001, when the Chargers sent the top selection to the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons ultimately used the pick on Michael Vick, while the Chargers got LaDainian Tomlinson at the number five slot and then used the second round pick they received in the deal to take Drew Brees in the 2002 draft.
For a better idea of what the Titans could potentially get for the pick, the St. Louis Rams sent the second overall pick in 2012 to the Washington Redskins, netting themselves three first round picks, and a second round pick in the 2012 draft.
That trade enabled Washington to secure a franchise quarterback (or so they thought at the time) in Robert Griffin III, but even though a guy like Jared Goff may not excite teams enough to pay a big price to move up, there is still the potential that a bidding war could start up. Players like Joey Bosa, Laremy Tunsil, and Ronnie Stanley all could compete with Goff to be selected first overall, and plenty of teams have serious needs at the offensive line and pass rushing positions that those players could fill.
While the Bears have 10 draft picks and serious aspirations of being a contending team next year, it would seem difficult to fathom them coming up with a package that could entice the Titans to trade down. The Bears are picking 11th when the draft begins in Chicago later this year, and that would likely mean at least two more first round picks would have to go to Tennessee, in addition to a smattering of later round picks.
In addition to the high cost involved for a team like the Bears, there’s the matter of whether or not any of the projected top picks fit their biggest needs. Yes, they need another pass rusher, so a player like Joey Bosa could be a good fit, and yes they need help at the tackle position, so Tunsil or Stanley could fit, but they could also get a guy with the 11th pick that could make an immediate impact (think Reggie Ragland or Vernon Hargreaves III).
Ryan Pace has shown an ability to nab talent in later slots in his first draft with the Bears, and it’s entirely possible that he can do the same thing again this time around. The number one pick going to the Bears in a draft hosted in Chicago would be a massive story and could really help the Bears get an elite player, but with their long list of needs and weaknesses, they need to focus on retaining picks, not shrinking their pool of potential selections.