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Daniel Jeremiah's Russell Wilson-Eagles trade scenario: Perfect example of overrating "1st round picks"
Not all first round picks are even close to equal
There are number one picks.
There are top-five picks.
There are top-10 picks.
There are top-16 picks.
There are top-22 picks.
There are late first round picks.
There are first round picks.
Only one of the above seven statements encapsulates all other six. But nobody would argue that there isn’t a massive difference between the first overall pick and pick 32. Though true “number one picks” have often left their franchises disappointed, you can’t ignore what history tells us about prospects selected at the top of the draft and those who walk the line between day one and day two:
Game-changing franchise players on one end, countless disappointments on the other.
The final four picks in the 2020 first round were Isaiah Wilson (cut), Noah Igbinoghene (potentially cut in 2022), Jeff Gladney (cut), and Clyde Edwards-Helaire (oft injured, fringe starter).
The final six picks in the 2019 first round were Johnathan Abram (cut), Jerry Tillery (on his way out), LJ Collier (on his way out), Deandre Baker (cut), Kaleb McGary (fine pick), and N’Keal Harry (on his way out).
The final four picks of the 2018 first round were Taven Bryan (bad), Mike Hughes (cut), Sony Michel (traded), and Lamar Jackson (following MVP season, walking fine line of deserving extension or not).
There are always exceptions and not just of the Tom Brady variety. You don’t have to wait until the sixth round. T.J. Watt was the 30th overall pick in 2017, three spots after Tre’Davious White and two spots ahead of Ryan Ramczyk. But these are exceptions; notice I didn’t mention 2017 classmates Taco Charlton, David Njoku, Reuben Foster, Kevin King, and Malik McDowell.
If nothing else, I hope we’ve established that saying, “Trade PLAYER X for 3 FIRST ROUND PICKS” is a statement that lacks MAJOR context. Namely, what kind of first round picks?
Top-3 picks? Or picks 28, 29, and 32?
How big of a difference is there between pick number three and pick 28? Enough of a difference that the San Francisco 49ers traded pick 12 and two future first round picks (at this point, turning out to be no higher than 25th in 2022) for the rights to pick three in 2021 NFL Draft.
We know that all first round picks are different, but we choose to ignore this because it gets in the way of sensationalism.
Seaside Joe is an NFL journal that only cares about realism.
On Tuesday, Daniel Jeremiah, a former Eagles scout, posted a poll on Twitter: What if the Eagles offered all three first round picks (15, 16, and 19) and a 2023 second rounder for Russell Wilson? Who says no, Seahawks or Eagles or nobody?
I voted “Seahawks”
I was surprised to be in the minority.
Though I understand that Seattle may never do better in a Russell Wilson trade than an offer like this one, it doesn’t mean that it is a good deal. It doesn’t mean that the Seahawks would have to take it just because they heard the words “three first round picks”.
That’s where rationality and reason go to die: with the wants of fans who know little more than quantity (3) and quality (“first round” pick).
Point to me in the draft anywhere that I’m expected to believe that a player picked 15th, 16th, 19th, or 60th will have near the impact of one Russell Wilson. You can keep pointing. You can keep cherry picking phenomenal mid-first round picks (Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Justin Jefferson, Derwin James, Jaire Alexander, etc.). I’ll keep remembering that the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns are horrible franchises that never do anything in the playoffs.
And they do pick in the top-10.
The Dolphins have so far squandered three first round picks in 2020 (Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Igbinoghene) and I’m yet to be sold on their rebuilding efforts.
The Raiders made two mid-first round picks in 2020 (Henry Ruggs III, Damon Arnette) and both were released in 2021. The Raiders also picked Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, and Abram in the first round in 2019.
The 49ers had two first round picks last year (Javon Kinlaw, Brandon Aiyuk) and they’re hardly the reason for San Francisco’s current place in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Giants have made six five round picks in the last four years: Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence, Baker, Andrew Thomas, and Kadarius Toney. Worst all-around franchise in the NFL.
The Falcons made five mid-first round picks from 2016-2019 and they include Keanu Neal, Takkarist McKinley, Calvin Ridley, Chris Lindstrom, and McGary; even having made good picks recently with Kyle Pitts and A.J. Terrell, where does Atlanta stand among teams today? Not anywhere near the top and failed first round picks have something to do with that.
The idea that the Seahawks—or any team for that matter—would trade Wilson for three first round picks (15, 16, 19) and then magically come away with three high-end starters is way more absurd than you will ever be sold by mainstream NFL media. It does not happen. In fact, it would be surprising if all three of those picks become starters, period. And if the Eagles do hold onto all three picks and make selections in those spots, it will be worth monitoring their progress and if they’re expected to do any better than what the Raiders wasted from 2019-2020 after trading Khalil Mack; a player who all by himself has more value than those five Las Vegas picks combined.
The Browns made an astounding 13 first round picks from 2012-2018 and just four of them remain on the team: QB Baker Mayfield (1st, potentially on his way out), CB Denzel Ward (4th), Myles Garrett (1st), and David Njoku (29th pending free agent). Sort of like the Bengal with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, we see that success here could only happen in the top-five of the NFL Draft.
Not always the case for these Cleveland picks: Trent Richardson (3rd), Brandon Weeden (22nd), Bark Mingo (6th), Justin Gilbert (8th), Johnny Manziel (22nd), Danny Shelton (12th), Cam Erving (19th), Corey Coleman (15th), Jabrill Peppers (25th, traded for OBJ and that helped nobody).
Some Seattle fans will argue “But Pete Carroll and John Schneider wouldn’t waste a first round pick like those teams,” which is a statement that I’ve never heard uttered before once in my life, and I’ve read many thousands of comments from Seahawks fans over the last 12 years as a writer. It’s been 10 years since Seattle picked in the top-15—they traded down, missed on Fletcher Cox, and picked Bruce Irvin over Melvin Ingram and Chandler Jones.
Picking 18th in 2018, the Seahawks missed their chance to draft Derwin James by a hair, traded down so the Packers could get Jaire Alexander at 18, missed on Leighton Vander Esch, Frank Ragnow, D.J. Moore, and Calvin Ridley, then selected Rashaad Penny over Nick Chubb.
The reason that Pete and John do trade down so often, in my opinion, is because there’s so much guesswork and randomness the further you slide out of the top-10. The closer you pick to the number one pick, the higher you are in the draft, the easier it is to separate an elite prospect from “good” prospect because elite prospects almost exclusively land in the top-10, if not top-5.
The 2021 NFL Draft was a rare exception in that names like Micah Parsons and Rashawn Slater were available at 12 and 13—both would’ve made sense in the top-five—and I’m here from the future to tell you that the 2022 NFL Draft is not as rich. Even if it was, there’s a difference between picking 13th and picking 15th. If the Seahawks were desperate for a player who was going to go number 10 overall, their original selection, they’d have to sacrifice one first round pick, as well as at least a second round pick.
Getting more first round picks may just lead to trading more first round picks, as we saw with the Dolphins in 2021 when they traded down from 3 to 12, then up to 6 from 12.
If the Eagles want Russell Wilson that badly, then here’s a tip from me: You need to start talking to teams in the top-5. Find out what you can do to trade up from 15, 16, and 19 into the top-5, then talk to Schneider and see how much closer you are to landing a franchise quarterback who requires virtually no guesswork as compared to mid-first round picks.
It should not be Seattle’s job to find out how to land premium prospects in exchange for a premium quarterback. By definition—true definition—you will not find premium prospects in the middle of the first round.
No, thank you.