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SB Nation Writers’ Mock Draft 2018: why the Buffalo Bills didn’t trade with the Cleveland Browns

The Bills traded up to 2 instead of 4. Here’s why.

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The SB Nation Mock Draft began on Friday with the Cleveland Browns selecting USC quarterback Sam Darnold. It was at that point that we would have moved, trading up with the New York Giants to take UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen for the Buffalo Bills. (Remember, no trades are allowed in the official SB Nation mock, so we are working in hypothetical mock drafts. It’s like the movie Inception.) Many folks wondered why we paid the premium to get to the second overall pick. Here’s why.

Before the mock began, we had discussions with both the Browns and Giants blogs to see what it would cost to trade up. We knew a quarterback was coming off the board at picks one and three and wanted to get ahead of the Denver Broncos at pick number 5. We came in with a fair offer to the Browns and they rejected it:

  • Bills get pick number 4
  • Browns get picks 12 + 22

This represents a slight overpayment in every draft trade value chart we could find but we were willing to do it. The Browns, on the other hand, weren’t.

“We had a lot of comments pour in on it, but the overall vibe is that while we would be interested, the compensation is not enough,” said Chris Pokorny from Dawgs By Nature. “The feeling is that Buffalo would need to provide something in addition to No. 12 and No. 22.”

While the Browns have gone 1-31 over the last two seasons, the reality is that they have a lot of holes to fill but they felt getting the superstar at fourth overall was more important than adding a solid player at 12 and falling down the board to 22.

“The Browns are very familiar with the concept of trading down, but having No. 1 and No. 4 overall, and then No. 33 and No. 35 overall, they are not in dire need to acquire additional assets,” said Pokorny. “Therefore, it would really have to be worth it for the team to pass up on a blue-chip prospect at No. 4 overall. Draft chart values might say that No. 12 and No. 22 are worth it in draft points, but again, this is a case where if Buffalo has a player they are dead set on, they will need to overpay.”

Noting that overpayment as borderline “absurd,” Pokorny didn’t hesitate to ask for a lot more than two first round picks:

“If Buffalo wants the deal to happen, we’re going to drive a really hard bargain: both No. 53 and No. 65, or next year’s first-round pick thrown into the pot.”

The Buffalo Rumblings draft team consisting of me, Dan Lavoie, and Andrew Griffin talked it over and agreed internally that we would make the deal in order to likely secure one of our top three quarterbacks; Sam Dranold, Josh Rosen, or Baker Mayfield. Then we contacted the Giants.

We offered them the same deal the Browns asked for: picks 12, 22, 53, and 65. When Ed Valentine of Big Blue View responded saying he would take the deal if we threw in a 2019 second round pick, it was easy for us to make the decision to trade up to number two.

So, we could trade 12+22+53+65 for the fourth pick and a guarantee at the third or fourth quarterback on our board (based on if the Giants picked a QB) or we could add one future asset and trade to the second pick and guarantee one of our top two quarterbacks. Knowing we only had three quarterbacks in our top tier helped us make the call to get into the top two.

Buffalo will still have a nearly complete compliment of 2018 picks, with selections in every round except the seventh. General manager Brandon Beane has been aggressive in making his moves and this represents a balance of the present and future and allows them to address all the major holes on their roster with solid players.

The official SB Nation mock continues this week with our official picks at number 12 and 22 still to come. We still thought this exercise in conjunction with the writers’ mock would be good to have.

Cleveland ended up taking Saquon Barkley at number 4.