We're in the final merciful hours before the start of the 2014 NFL Draft, and it's still not clear what the Houston Texans intend to do with the No. 1 overall pick. The team reportedly knows who they want to take with the pick if they use it -- Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney being the two most rumored names -- but reports Wednesday indicated that Houston still wants to trade down.
First, Jason La Canfora reported that the Texans were dropping their asking price to entice the Atlanta Falcons up from No. 6 overall. Then, Pro Football talk suggested that the Buffalo Bills were "burning up the phone lines" to get to No. 1 or No. 2 from No. 9. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions have also been mentioned among teams that desperately want to trade up.
So now that we have a tidy list of teams who may want to make a deal with the Texans, let's evaluate.
Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff and owner Arthur Blank/Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
From The Falcoholic:
We know, at this point, that the Falcons are actively negotiating for the top pick in the draft in hopes of getting Jadeveon Clowney. We don't know if the Texans are actually locked in on Clowney at #1, but there's reason to suspect they are not, judging by the swirling reports out there. If Houston wants out of the first, it makes a tremendous amount of sense that their price will drop the closer we get to the start of the first round. If Atlanta budges even slightly—say they throw in a fourth rounder to whatever their current offer is—Houston may jump. Hell, they may jump if Atlanta doesn't alter the offer.
The Texans don't need Clowney, and if they move down to No. 6 they may still be able to get a franchise quarterback. Dropping down any lower jeopardizes their chances at the signal-caller they want, so on a surface level the Falcons seem like the most likely trade partner. If La Canfora's report is true, they may be the only serious partner, as well, giving Atlanta some much-needed leverage.
The Texans can always decide to skip trade talks and go about their way with Clowney or Manziel in tow, so the Falcons can't be obstinate if they are truly desperate for Clowney. There is a game of REALLY high stakes chicken playing out right now.
Trade likelihood: 5/10
Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley/Photo credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA Today Sports
From Buffalo Rumblings:
Florio also conveys that it's "believed" that the Bills are targeting either South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or Auburn tackle Greg Robinson in their trade-up attempts. It's important to emphasize that this part of the report is speculation; league observers may think that the Bills are targeting those players (and they very well may be), but it is exceedingly unlikely that the Bills are telling potential trade partners who they're targeting.
The Bills' biggest team need is arguably at offensive tackle, so an aggressive move for Greg Robinson makes sense. Naturally, the team may also be drooling at the prospect of pairing Clowney on the other side of the defensive line from Mario Williams. The problem for the Bills is that they can only offer up the No. 9 overall pick. If the Texans can't also get one of their preferred quarterbacks, trading down may not be worth the effort unless the Bills are willing to give up an exorbitant number of complementary selections.
Trade likelihood: 2/10
Head coach Lovie Smith/Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
From Bucs Nation:
The Bucs find themselves just on the outside looking when it comes to the top players in the draft. The elite tackles, pass rushers and wide receiver are unlikely to fall to them at number seven, and even Johnny Manziel is generally projected to go ahead of them at the second overall pick. If they don't want to 'settle' for Mike Evans and find a trade down less than attractive (or difficult to pull off), a trade up to get the kind of elite target they couldn't get.
The Buccaneers, picking at No. 7, would seem to have the ability to drive up the Texans' price and lay waste to the Falcons' plans if they decide they want the No. 1 overall pick. However, getting Manziel or Clowney would essentially be vanity moves, with team's biggest needs -- like wide receiver -- still addressable at their current position.
The Bucs don't have much in the way of bargaining chips, either, with no fourth-round pick. If anything, the team may be considering a move down the draft board.
Trade likelihood: 2/10
Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell/Photo credit: Duane Burleson
From Pride of Detroit:
With the Lions showing so much interest in Sammy Watkins, Khalil Mack and Jadeveon Clowney in the lead-up to the draft, the possibility of a trade into the top five has been part of the conversation for some time now. There's been speculation that the Lions could try to jump all the way up to the second overall pick, but Ian Rapoport reports that the focus is on the third overall pick.
The Lions seem eager to trade into the top five, but more likely they would shoot for a spot just outside the top two, where they could snag Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack. They certainly won't be taking a run at a quarterback, and getting Clowney may be much too much to hope for coming all the way up from the No. 10 overall pick.
No, the Lions almost certainly won't be taking the Texans' spot at No. 1, but they should be another fun team to watch for a potential blockbuster move in the early-going on Thursday.