The Seahawks have traded down or out of the first round in each of the last six years:
(*not 100% accurate descriptions of the trades but basic breakdowns)
2012 – Seattle traded down from 12 to 15
2013 – Seattle traded its first round pick for Percy Harvin
2014 – Seattle traded down from 32 to 40, then from 40 to 45
2015 – Seattle traded its first round pick for Jimmy Graham
2016 – Seattle traded down from 26 to 32
2017 – Seattle traded down from 26 to 31, then from 31 to 34, then from 34 to 35
The move down trades helped the Seahawks add two thirds, two fourths, a sixth, two sevenths, and a move up from a fifth to a fourth. There is no doubt in my mind that with Seattle lacking second and third round picks in 2018 that they will trade down from their current position at 18, and potentially will do so one or two more times again after that.
What could they expect to get in return? I think even better than looking at the “trade value chart” we should look at some recent comparable deals:
- 2015: Chargers move up from 17 to 15 (Melvin Gordon) by giving the 49ers fourth and fifth round picks. It was a move up of only two spots and San Francisco added two day three picks. By moving down in small chunks, the Seahawks might not get back a day two pick, but it would give them more options of trading down a second time because the 17th overall pick is much more valuable than, say, the 25th overall pick.
- 2014: Saints move up from 27 to 20 (Brandin Cooks) by giving the Cardinals a third round pick (91st overall). This is a bigger jump down for Arizona than what San Francisco did, so they added a third rounder; but it was essentially near the bottom end of the third round. So keep that in mind.
- 2013: 49ers move up from 31 to 18 (Eric Reid) by giving the Cowboys a third round pick (74th overall). A significant fall down the board for Dallas, but they used the 31st overall pick on Travis Frederick and had a decent add by getting Terrance Williams with their new third rounder.
As far as trading up — which I think there is almost no chance of — a move like that becomes increasingly difficult for a team that not only lacks second and third round picks in 2018 (comp picks notwithstanding) but also relinquished its second rounder in 2019 for Duane Brown. I don’t think there are many circumstances in which Seattle trades up even when they do have all their picks (because of the fact that the Seahawks never do that, that it is proven to be a bad strategy on most occasions, and that Seattle has much bigger needs than trying to make some sort of “splash” at a fringe top-10 prospect) but since they don’t, I’d say we can forget about it.
The cost of teams trading up from the middle of the first round in recent years has been multiple first round picks (Bills sent number 9, a fourth, and a future first to move up five spots for Sammy Watkins in 2013), or an immediate second (Rams move up for Tavon Austin in 2013, Jaguars move up for Blaine Gabbert in 2010).
(Also, did you notice the names Austin, Gabbert, and Watkins in “trade up” deals?)
If the Seahawks want to move down in the draft this year, and I imagine that they do (unless they opt to once again move it for a player, which is possible, but I think would depend on if the acquisition was a budding star with multiple years left on a rookie deal) then I think they can expect to add either a mid-to-late third round pick or two early day three picks during the initial trade. Seattle may opt to make a moderate trade down (example: 18 to 20) to acquire additional day three picks, then move again (example: 20 to 27) to do that again, or to add a third round pick. This gives them additional rookies to add to the roster in 2018 — something that has seemed to be important to Pete Carroll and John Schneider in the last eight years — and some wiggle room if they want to trade back into the third round if a player who they are very high on falls on day two.
This is not an ideal draft position for the Seahawks to be in right now, but it is the position they are in regardless.