The Bears are open to trading down from the No. 3 spot in the NFL draft Thursday, but they likely will struggle to find a partner.
Call it the Noah’s Ark Effect.
The tier below Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett, the presumptive top pick, features two safeties, LSU’s Jamal Adams and Ohio State’s Malik Hooker, and two 3-4-scheme defensive linemen, Alabama’s Jonathan Allen and Stanford’s Solomon Thomas.
“Why am I going to move up for Jamal Adams and give away a second- and a third-round pick if I can get Malik Hooker?” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said. “Why am I going to move up for Jonathan Allen or Solomon Thomas and give away a second- and third-round pick when I can get the other guy? There’s just too many players in a similar grade area for teams to be willing to give up stuff to go move up.”
The Bears’ trade hopes could be saved by the quarterback class, provided they don’t want to pick a passer at No. 3 themselves.
None of the top four quarterbacks — North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer — are considered a sure thing. Still, a team with a glaring need could fall in love with one. And teams aren’t likely to lump them together the way they do the top defensive players.
So if a team trades into the top five, it likely will be for a passer.
“Some people have Kizer at the top of their board, some have Trubisky, some have Watson, some have Mahomes,” Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo said. “I think you might actually start seeing more teams maneuvering to get their guy.”
Two teams did that last year, and one paid the price.
The Rams fired their coach after top overall pick Jared Goff flopped. They traded a first-round pick last year and this year, plus much more, to get him. The Eagles, though, helped themselves by making a similar deal for another quarterback, No. 2 pick Carson Wentz.
History hasn’t been kind to those who move up to the third spot. In the last 16 years, the third pick has been dealt twice with disastrous results. The Dolphins traded up to No. 3 to select defensive end Dion Jordan in 2013, and the Browns did the same to take running back Trent Richardson a year earlier. They are two of the worst top-five picks of the last 10 years.
The Bears should hope that, against all odds, someone else wants to make a similar bet this year.
“The more analytics and different things are incorporated into the decision-making with teams, most teams are itching to trade down,” Palazzolo said. “At some point, you’re going to run out of trade-up partners.”
The Bears should want to move down. Record depth at cornerback and tight end — two glaring needs — will drive general manager Ryan Pace to pursue extra Day 2 draft picks.
“At a certain point, from 10 to 50, you’re getting a similar player,” former Browns GM Phil Savage said.
That should keep other teams from aggressively moving up.
“That’s really where this draft stands apart from some of the years in the past: The second- and third-round picks really are gold this year just because there’s exceptional depth at a couple positions that are normally difficult to find,” CBS Sports analyst Rob Rang said.
“I think teams are going to be very loathe to give those picks up to move up the four, five spots it might take to get their first choice as a player. If they can get their consolation prize, so to speak, by holding pat, why not do that?”
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