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How high can the Buffalo Bills trade up with their 2018 NFL Draft picks?

The Bills have five top-100 picks. What can that get them?

The Buffalo Bills have five picks in the top 100 of this year’s NFL Draft, a new offensive coordinator hired from the best college football team in the nation, and a desire for a franchise quarterback. What can their picks net them? Here’s a look at Buffalo’s options.

First round, 21 overall

This is the original Buffalo first round selection. Both the Kansas City Chiefs and Bills lost in the wild card round, and Buffalo’s weaker record is the tiebreaker for draft position among all the teams at that slot.

First round, 22 overall

The Chiefs have the second-worst record of the wild card losers, so in the end the “who will win” drama between Buffalo and Kansas City ends in a virtual tie, with one pick of separation.

Second round, 53 overall

This is Buffalo’s original second round selection. Because Buffalo doesn’t share a record with any wild card losers, they won’t see their pick rotate up or down during each successive round.

Second round, 56 overall

The Bills receive this pick as some of the return for trading Sammy Watkins to the L.A. Rams. The Rams were also a wild card loser, and they have a shared record with the Carolina Panthers. In round two, they pick 24th.

Third round, #95* overall

The Bills traded away their own third round pick for Kelvin Benjamin, but they still have one pick coming from Philadelphia as a return from the Ronald Darby - Jordan Matthews trade. This pick could be anywhere from 93rd to 96th overall, depending on how far each of the remaining teams in the playoffs end up.

In addition to those five picks, the Bills have their own fourth and fifth round selections, and a fifth round selection from Jacksonville as compensation for Marcell Dareus. They gave up their sixth and seventh round picks in various off-season trades.

What sort of return could the Bills net if they were so inclined to reach for a franchise QB? To answer that question, we can refer to the draft trade value chart. This is an inexact science, given that the chart was developed over twenty years ago, but it’s a good point of reference for starting discussions. The general rule of thumb for teams trading up: Offer the value of the pick you want to acquire, plus a 5-10 percent tax. Future picks are generally discounted in value by one round; a 2019 first round pick would be worth as much as a 2018 second round selection.

According to the chart, Buffalo’s two first round picks add up to to 1580 points of value. Right away, that puts them in position to trade up to 7th overall (1500 points). The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, picking 7th overall, definitely don’t need a quarterback, but they do need some talent infusions, and they might be interested in trading back.

What if the Bills are worried about missing out by the time the first five picks have passed? One target they should have in mind is Dave Gettleman. The New York Giants general manager broke into the league as a scout with Buffalo, and the former Carolina Panthers GM has a longtime working relationship with both Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott. Given how much the Bills have already put personal connections to work when hiring and signing in the first year of this regime, it might actually be more surprising if there wasn’t a deal between these two teams at some point in the offseason.

The second overall pick owned by the Giants is worth a hefty 2600 points of trade value. As reference, when the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to second overall in 2016, they sent the eighth overall pick, a third and fourth round pick, a 2017 first round pick, and a 2018 second round pick, and received number 2 overall and a 2017 fourth round pick in return.

When the Rams traded down so Washington could select Robert Griffin III, they received the sixth overall pick, a second round pick, and two future first round picks. This is a major value, and if Buffalo feels locked in on a player like Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold, they need to offer a king’s ransom.

The two first round picks would start Buffalo with 1580 points of value. Throwing in the 53rd overall pick would get them to 1950 points (worth about 4th overall). Even if they add in the 56th overall pick, you’ve reached 2290 points (around 3rd overall), and the team is wondering if it’s worth missing out on three extra players just for one quarterback. Buffalo’s third round pick isn’t valuable enough to finish the deal. The team may need to offer a future first or second round pick, or possibly a deal-sweetener like Cordy Glenn, in order to complete the trade. (And the Giants do need offensive line help.)

The Bills are lucky to have a large haul of early picks in one of the richest quarterback classes in recent memory. Nearly every underclassman of note entered this year’s draft. That being said, quarterback is a position where teams don’t just start at number 1 on the list and work down - they have a preferred guy, and they want to get him or else. Buffalo has to make a choice in April - save some picks to fill up the roster, or package them together for a player they truly believe to be a difference-maker.