League-wide, here is when draft pick trading occurred last year:
March 9 – March 30 – 4 trades
April 1 – April 13 – zero trades
April 14 – April 27 – 2 trades
April 28 – (Draft Day 1, Round 1) – 5 trades
April 29 – (Draft Day 2, Rounds 2-3) – 10 trades
April 30 – (Draft Day 3, Rounds 4-7) – 10 trades
I’ve previously detailed how active Ted Thompson has been in making trades during the three days of the draft. Based on his past record, we should expect Thompson to make one or two trades on the three draft days coming up.
Below I’ve organized the sequence of Thompson’s trading on a round-by-round basis, to get a better feeling for the GM’s tendencies. I’ve restricted the data to the first three rounds, as most of the round 4 through 7 trades concern handing over additional low-round picks when the team trades up.
Round 1 Trading
In 2009, Thompson traded up 15 spots to a round 1 (26th) pick, by giving up his round 2 (41st) pick (and also giving two round 3 picks), acquiring Clay Matthews.
In 2008, he traded down six spots from his round 1 (30th) pick to a round 2 (36th) pick (the rest of the deal was complicated), acquiring Jordy Nelson.
Round 2 Trading
In 2016, he traded up from the 57th to the 48th pick (also giving up round 4 and 7 picks), acquiring Jason Spriggs.
In 2013, he traded down in second round, from 55th selection to 61st (also giving up a round 3 pick, and getting a round 7 pick), acquiring Eddie Lacy.
In 2012, he traded up eight spots in round 2 (and giving up his round 4 pick), acquiring Jerel Worthy.
That same year, Thompson also acquired the Patriots’ round 2 pick (62nd) by giving up round 3, round 6, and two round 7 picks, acquiring Casey Hayward.
In 2006, he traded down from a round 2 (36th) pick for round 2 (53rd) pick and a round 3 (75th) pick, acquiring Greg Jennings and Jason Spitz.
In 2005, Thompson obtained a round 2 (51st) pick, by trading away Mike McKenzie, acquiring Nick Collins.
Round 3 Trading
In 2013, he traded down 21 spots by trading his round 3 (88th) pick for a round 4 (109th) pick (and also a round 7 pick), acquiring David Bakhtiari.
It comes as a bit of a surprise that Ted Thompson has been such an active trader on draft days. In the seven years from 2010 through 2016 alone, he’s consummated 10 round 1 through round 3 deals. Overall, he’s made 29 draft-day trades in his 12 years of presiding over the Packers’ draft.
Do NFL teams prefer trading up or down? Trick question – for every team that trades up, a corresponding team agrees to trade down. In the eight trades he’s made on draft day 1 or 2, Thompson has traded up four times (counting the Nick Collins deal as a trade-up) and down four times.
Most typically, teams trade up or down from around five to 10 spots, and in doing so they have their eyes on a particular player they think will be available when the pick they have acquired comes up. Very often when trading up, teams makes the trade right when their turn to pick comes up – so they are assured the player they desire is still available. Trading down is much more of a hit-or-miss proposition.
Even in the case of the trade by which Green Bay acquired David Bakhtiari – arguably the best of all the above deals – the Packers might have had Bakhtiari in mind the whole time, as the young tackle was not very high on most teams’ draft lists.
Thompson’s worst miscalculation was probably made in 2012, when he gave up a fourth-round selection in order to obtain the misnamed defensive lineman Jerel Worthy.
When a team trades down, it generally highly regards a particular player it believes the rest of the league has undervalued or overlooked. I believe this was the case with Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy, Greg Jennings, and Bakhtiari.
In most cases, trading up or down is aimed at acquiring a certain player. In some cases, however, teams trade down in part to pick up some additional lower-round choices.
In certain instances, teams might trade up in part because they have a surplus of lower-round choices.
Green Bay’s lowest number of draft picks during the Ted Thompson era has been seven, which occurred in 2016 and in 2010. The high water marks were in 2006 when they had 12 selections, and in 2007 when they had 11.
Thompson’s Plan for Jason Spriggs
In also giving up a fourth-round pick to move up nine spots to acquire Jason Spriggs last year, Thompson signaled his great desire to obtain the tackle out of Indiana. This is especially true given that Green Bay would appear to be set at tackle for the next few years… or, does it suggest that once again the Packers are contemplating dumping another offensive line player with a lucrative contract who is approaching 30 years old?
Tackle Bryan Bulaga is 28, has an average salary of $6.75 million and is slated to become a free agent in 2020. Josh Sitton was 29 when he was let go just prior to last season and T.J. Lang was 29 when the Packers left him unsigned and he signed with Detroit in March. I envision Spriggs to become Green Bay’s starting right tackle in 2018.