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Buffalo Bills dream 2017 NFL Draft scenario

ESPN took a crack at it, but it isn’t quite dreamy enough.

Dan Graziano of ESPN posted a dream NFL draft scenario for all 32 NFL teams last week. In his eyes, the Bills’ dream scenario would be to have “their choice of ‘pass catchers’” fall to them at number ten overall. This grouping includes tight end O.J. Howard, as well as wide receivers Corey Davis (our staff’s first round selection in the SB Nation blog mock draft), Mike Williams, and John Ross. This certainly would be a great scenario for the Bills; however, this scenario doesn’t present itself as much of a stretch.

Looking at the teams picking within the first ten picks in the draft, it’s quite possible that all, or at least most, of those players listed above will be available. The only player thought to be a possible top-8 pick is O.J. Howard, who has been linked to Carolina, among others.

What fun is a dream scenario if the dream is actually entirely realistic? The Bills’ true dream scenario doesn’t involve picking anyone at number 10 at all, if you ask me. The real Bills dream scenario is one that has been discussed here ad nauseam: trade down to acquire more picks in this draft and beyond.

Who would be a useful trading partner to achieve those means? Assume that a team is most likely to trade with Buffalo to jump ahead of Cleveland in taking a quarterback in the first round (the smoke surrounding Buffalo and quarterbacks, in my opinion, is meant to drum up just this kind of interest). Who needs a quarterback, then, that would not want to wait for one?

Enter the Houston Texans.

The premise is simple. The Texans have had quarterback play ranging from above-average (2014 Ryan Fitzpatrick) to above-average until the playoffs hit (2015 Brian Hoyer) to “so bad we actually have to start Tom Savage(2016 Brock Osweiler), yet they have won 9 games each of the past 3 seasons, and have even won the division for 2 consecutive years. They even won a playoff game this season, albeit against an Oakland team playing without its Pro Bowl quarterback, Derek Carr.

Imagine what that team could do with an actual answer at the quarterback position? In a weak division where the team that seemingly should be the best (the Indianapolis Colts) can’t overcome its own defensive inadequacies while receiving top-notch quarterback play? Houston is exactly the kind of team Buffalo should be talking to about jumping Cleveland in this year’s draft.

Of course, Houston may look at the board in front of them and be content to sit back and wait for a quarterback to fall to them. If they have a “favorite,” however, Buffalo would be wise to exploit that want for Houston to select its guy rather than a guy.

And hey, this is my dream, right? So if I’m dreaming that Houston wants a particular quarterback, Houston wants a particular quarterback.

What would a compensation package look like to move up from Houston’s spot in the draft (25 overall) to Buffalo’s (10)? This is where things become a bit muddled. There have been five quarterbacks drafted since 2009 who were taken in the top-ten via trade-up from another team. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz (the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively) went first and second overall in 2016, Robert Griffin III went second overall to the Washington Redskins in 2012, Blaine Gabbert went tenth overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011, and Mark Sanchez went fifth overall to the New York Jets in 2009. The compensation packages needed to land each pick differed widely:

Past Trade Up Compensation Packages

TEAM TRADING DOWN PICKS RECEIVED TEAM TRADING UP PICK(S) RECEIVED
TEAM TRADING DOWN PICKS RECEIVED TEAM TRADING UP PICK(S) RECEIVED
Round (Overall) Round (Overall)
TENN (2016) 1st (15), 2nd (43) LAR (2016) 1st (1), 4th (113), 6th (177)
2nd (45), 3rd (76),
2017 1st (5), 2017 3rd (100)
CLE (2016) 1st (8), 3rd (77), PHI (2016) 1st (2), 4th (139)
4th (100), 2017 1st (12),
2017 2nd (52)
STL (2012) 1st (6), 2nd (39) WASH (2012) 1st (2)
2013 1st (22),
2014 1st (2)
WASH (2011) 1st (16), 2nd (49) JAX (2011) 1st (10)
CLE (2009) 1st (17), 2nd (52) NYJ (2009) 1st (5)
Trades for Top-Ten Quarterbacks, 2009-2016

The trade market varies year to year, and often it varies by the quality of prospect acquired via the trade-up; RGIII, for example, was a “can’t-miss” prospect at the time Washington traded three first-round picks to the Rams, whereas Blaine Gabbert was less of a sure thing.

Depending upon Houston’s view of whomever their top quarterback may be, it could influence their willingness to give the Bills a mega-deal; however, the starting point in discussions to move back 15 draft slots for Buffalo should be two number-ones. Using the draft value chart popularized by Jimmy Johnson during his days as a Dallas Cowboy, the number 10 pick is worth 1,300 points; Houston’s pick at number 25, meanwhile, is worth 720 points. A package from the Texans, then, could look something like this:

Bills Receive— 2017 1st (25), 2017 2nd (57), 2017 4th (131), 2018 1st

Texans Receive— 2017 1st (10)

At the positions where Buffalo has the most need, there would still be plenty of top-flight talents available at 25 overall. Kevin King, a cornerback from Washington, would be a possibility here, as would one of the top-three offensive tackles (Alabama’s Cam Robinson, Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk, and Utah’s Garrett Bolles). As for the possibility of one of the top-three ‘pass catchers’ falling this far, there is certainly a possibility. If not, the draft is loaded with talented prospects who could be had in the second round or later (Louisiana Tech’s Carlos Henderson, California’s Chad Hansen, East Carolina’s Zay Jones, and Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor all come to mind as players who fit).

With an additional pick in the second round, as well as the added fourth round pick, Buffalo would be better able to address their multiple areas of need immediately. By adding a second first round pick in 2018, the team would lay the groundwork for a better future.

If I’m not being dreamy enough, add this year’s third round pick (89) to Buffalo’s haul, and add the highest of Buffalo’s fifth round picks (139) to Houston’s. This gives Buffalo even more opportunity to add plenty of premium talent to the roster.

Of course, one of the draft’s truly elite prospects could fall to the Bills at 10 (Malik Hooker, please!), making it so Buffalo can’t pass up on a true game-changing talent at pick number 10. Maybe that’s your dream scenario, or maybe you’ve dreamed something entirely different.

The draft commences in reality on Thursday evening at 8 PM eastern.