Open for business: Five teams wield great power in draft

The NFL draft is supposed to be a talent equalizer with the weaker teams getting the picks of the litter and the stronger teams getting the later picks.

In theory, the draft should help create a more competitive landscape. In reality, it doesn’t always work out that way. Various factors give some teams more impact than other teams.

In the 75th NFL draft, which begins Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. ET, these five teams could wind up being power brokers:

Seattle Seahawks

Trent Baalke will run his first draft for the 49ers and will have plenty of picks to make.
Trent Baalke will run his first draft for the 49ers and will have plenty of picks to make.

Their leverage: They have two of the first 14 picks (Nos. 6 and 14). They could trade one of those for multiple picks and get more players.

Their options: Seattle must replace perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones, whose career is probably over, but it might not have to do it with the sixth pick. The tackle position is one of the strongest in this year’s draft—many scouts say there are four or five tackles worthy of being selected in Round 1—so the Seahawks still could get a good one at No. 14.

Their view: "I’m always open to trading down, I really am," first-year G.M. John Schneider, who will work in conjunction with first-year coach Pete Carroll, told reporters recently. "We took pride in that in Green Bay. We will continue to do that."

San Francisco 49ers

Their leverage: They have two of the first 17 picks (Nos. 13 and 17). Like the Seahawks, they could deal one of those picks and stock up with more players.

Their options: The 49ers already have suitors. There are teams interested in trading up to get one of San Francisco’s two first-round picks. Their acquisition of Miami wide receiver/returner Ted Ginn last Friday for a fifth-round pick indicates director of player personnel Trent Baalke, who will be directing a draft for the first time, isn’t shy about making a deal.

The view: "We’re gonna be aggressive when we need to be aggressive and we’re going to be patient when we need to be patient, if that clears things up for you," Baalke, the team’s defacto G.M. said during a pre-draft meeting with reporters. "We’re not gonna sit back and say, ‘OK, everyone else, go pick your players.’ We’re going to get the players we have targeted. I can promise you that."

St. Louis Rams

Their leverage: They have the No. 1 pick in each of the seven rounds. Only the first round will be held Thursday, so it will be like the start of a new draft when Round 2 kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. ET. By then, the Rams will have had plenty of time to entertain trade proposals.

Their options: Unless they get an offer they can’t refuse, the Rams are expected to select Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1-overall pick. But that doesn’t mean they won’t consider trading that pick or one of their other six "No. 1" picks.

Their view: "Of course. But that’s for everybody. Anybody that comes up here, we’re open for more picks," Rams G.M. Billy Devaney said. "Nobody’s going to say, ‘Hell no, we don’t want more picks. We’re staying where we are.’ "

New England Patriots

Their leverage: They have more draft picks (12) than any other team, including four of the first 53 overall.

Their options: The Patriots could use a pass rusher, but don’t be surprised if they trade down from the No. 22-overall pick. They traded down twice in the first round last year, which helped allow them to stockpile so many picks this year.

Their view: "We’ve already received calls relative to our (three) second-round picks, so teams are interested in those for one reason or another, and that isn’t surprising to me," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "There are teams that don’t have them, and there are other teams that are looking at the potential quality of players there."

Philadelphia Eagles

Their leverage: They have almost as many picks (11) as the Patriots, including the 37th-overall pick. Why is that significant? Seattle traded the 37th pick in the ’09 draft to Denver, acquiring the Broncos’ first-round pick this year in return.

Their options: As the longtime executive vice president of football operations, coach Andy Reid wields the power in Philly and is responsible for making all final decisions on personnel. He has made at least one trade in all but one of his previous 11 drafts.

Their view: "We think we have a lot of ammunition, and if the opportunity presents itself we’ll go there," new general manager Howie Roseman said about potential trades. "I don’t think we would have (any problem doing that)."

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

The NFL draft is supposed to be a talent equalizer with the weaker teams getting the picks of the litter and the stronger teams getting the later picks.

In theory, the draft should help create a more competitive landscape. In reality, it doesn’t always work out that way. Various factors give some teams more impact than other teams.

In the 75th NFL draft, which begins Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. ET, these five teams could wind up being power brokers:

Seattle Seahawks

Trent Baalke will run his first draft for the 49ers and will have plenty of picks to make.
Trent Baalke will run his first draft for the 49ers and will have plenty of picks to make.

Their leverage: They have two of the first 14 picks (Nos. 6 and 14). They could trade one of those for multiple picks and get more players.

Their options: Seattle must replace perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones, whose career is probably over, but it might not have to do it with the sixth pick. The tackle position is one of the strongest in this year’s draft—many scouts say there are four or five tackles worthy of being selected in Round 1—so the Seahawks still could get a good one at No. 14.

Their view: "I’m always open to trading down, I really am," first-year G.M. John Schneider, who will work in conjunction with first-year coach Pete Carroll, told reporters recently. "We took pride in that in Green Bay. We will continue to do that."

San Francisco 49ers

Their leverage: They have two of the first 17 picks (Nos. 13 and 17). Like the Seahawks, they could deal one of those picks and stock up with more players.

Their options: The 49ers already have suitors. There are teams interested in trading up to get one of San Francisco’s two first-round picks. Their acquisition of Miami wide receiver/returner Ted Ginn last Friday for a fifth-round pick indicates director of player personnel Trent Baalke, who will be directing a draft for the first time, isn’t shy about making a deal.

The view: "We’re gonna be aggressive when we need to be aggressive and we’re going to be patient when we need to be patient, if that clears things up for you," Baalke, the team’s defacto G.M. said during a pre-draft meeting with reporters. "We’re not gonna sit back and say, ‘OK, everyone else, go pick your players.’ We’re going to get the players we have targeted. I can promise you that."

St. Louis Rams

Their leverage: They have the No. 1 pick in each of the seven rounds. Only the first round will be held Thursday, so it will be like the start of a new draft when Round 2 kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. ET. By then, the Rams will have had plenty of time to entertain trade proposals.

Their options: Unless they get an offer they can’t refuse, the Rams are expected to select Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1-overall pick. But that doesn’t mean they won’t consider trading that pick or one of their other six "No. 1" picks.

Their view: "Of course. But that’s for everybody. Anybody that comes up here, we’re open for more picks," Rams G.M. Billy Devaney said. "Nobody’s going to say, ‘Hell no, we don’t want more picks. We’re staying where we are.’ "

New England Patriots

Their leverage: They have more draft picks (12) than any other team, including four of the first 53 overall.

Their options: The Patriots could use a pass rusher, but don’t be surprised if they trade down from the No. 22-overall pick. They traded down twice in the first round last year, which helped allow them to stockpile so many picks this year.

Their view: "We’ve already received calls relative to our (three) second-round picks, so teams are interested in those for one reason or another, and that isn’t surprising to me," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "There are teams that don’t have them, and there are other teams that are looking at the potential quality of players there."

Philadelphia Eagles

Their leverage: They have almost as many picks (11) as the Patriots, including the 37th-overall pick. Why is that significant? Seattle traded the 37th pick in the ’09 draft to Denver, acquiring the Broncos’ first-round pick this year in return.

Their options: As the longtime executive vice president of football operations, coach Andy Reid wields the power in Philly and is responsible for making all final decisions on personnel. He has made at least one trade in all but one of his previous 11 drafts.

Their view: "We think we have a lot of ammunition, and if the opportunity presents itself we’ll go there," new general manager Howie Roseman said about potential trades. "I don’t think we would have (any problem doing that)."

Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at ddillon@sportingnews.com.

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