The Falcons are locked in with the 8th overall pick in April’s NFL draft, and there is plenty of time to speculate on potential prospects being “the guy” for Atlanta. There are a number of players in the cards for the Falcons’ first-round pick — Kyle Hamilton, Ahmad Gardner, Derek Stingley, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Charles Cross, David Ojabo, Ikem Okwonu, and others.
There are other potential outcomes for the Falcons in the first round, though. We saw Terry Fontenot trade back in his first draft during the second round to acquire an additional fifth-round pick. There’s a scenario where a team offers Fontenot a package to trade down in the first round of this year’s draft. This begs the question, “What are the pros and cons of trading down?”
We will start with the benefits of the Falcons sliding back from their 8th pick. First and foremost, the obvious is the Falcons’ need for upgrades at nearly every position on the roster. Trading back would likely net Atlanta multiple picks, who would ideally turn into contributors on rookie deals.
Using Jimmy Johnson’s valuation model, Atlanta’s first-round pick is worth 1400. Teams immediately following the Falcons in draft order wouldn’t have to give up that much, but a team in the 16-23 pick range would have to give up considerable capital — low first-round, high second-round picks. Trading back in the first round would enable the Falcons to bolster their foundation, but it isn’t all upside.
There are obviously negatives to moving back in the draft. The top ten prospects of any draft class are typically more certain to pan out than the later prospects taken. If the board fell that way, the Falcons trading down would immediately take them out of contention for an elite player. Obviously, Terry Fontenot wouldn’t make a trade until he knows who will be on the board when they’re on the clock. Still, trading down decreases the chances of selecting a Pro Bowl-caliber prospect, regardless of the draft class.
With that being said, the elite prospects in this class will likely be gone before the Falcons’ selection. If that is the case, it will behoove Fontenot to acquire more draft capital to fill the plethora of holes on the roster. The difference between the prospects that’ll be available between the 8th and 15th-ish picks is insignificant in my early evaluations of this class. Still, the board could shake out much differently as the Combine and teams’ Pro Days conclude, so we won’t know the best course of action until draft night.