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2019 NFL Draft: Could Cincinnati Bengals trade up with Buffalo Bills?

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 Cincinnati Bengals hit the reset button on their franchise this offseason, jettisoning longtime head coach Marvin Lewis. With the change at the top, the Bengals could be on the lookout for an impact player in the 2019 NFL Draft. Could a trade up with the Buffalo Bills be in the cards?

Cincy could be looking at a bunch of players worth moving up for at inside linebacker or even quarterback. If a run on defensive linemen pushes some attractive options down the board, the Bengals may want to leapfrog to get one of their franchise cornerstones.

What would a Buffalo/Cincy trade look like?

Jimmy Johnson Trade Value

According to the old Jimmy Johnson draft-value chart, Buffalo’s pick is worth 1350 points. The Bengals’ pick, just two spots later, is worth 1250. The 100-point difference is equal to a low third-round selection, but the Bengals are at the top of the round. A fourth and a fifth evens them out and leaves Buffalo with more Day 3 capital to trade up with later on.

Buffalo gets 11, 111 (fourth), and 150 (fifth) overall = 1355 points
Bengals get 9 overall = 1350 points

Modern Trade Value

If you’re looking at newer draft charts, Buffalo wouldn’t get quite the same haul. SB Nation’s Rich Hill used a lot of data analysis to come up with this draft trade chart last year. In this scenario, Buffalo’s pick is worth 387 points while Cincinnati’s pick is 357. The 30-point difference is worth the equivalent of a high-fourth.

Buffalo gets 11, 111 (fourth), and 184 (sixth) = 390.5 points
Bengals get 9 overall = 387 points

Opportunity Cost

The opportunity cost in this case is actually the chance to still draft a top-11 player. If the Bills have three nearly identical grades on players when their number is called, they can move down two spots with no loss of value to them and snag some extra draft capital.

If the other trade options involve moving down to 15 or 17 or beyond, the grades on players would fall off significantly at some point despite the return of trade. With other teams on phone calls with Buffalo, Cincinnati might have to throw in another pick to sweeten the pot, but it won’t involve anything significant.

This is the exact scenario Joe Buscaglia laid out in his most recent mock this week, where the Bengals traded up for linebacker Devin White. Buffalo was still able to land the top offensive-tackle prospect on their board.

Buffalo gets 11, 111 overall (fourth round), and a 2020 third-round selection
Bengals get 9 overall.