The Lass Word: Trade Up or Trade Down, Just Don't Stay at 29

29 slot has not been kind in recent years.

 To be sitting in the number 29 slot in the NFL draft is to be in no man’s land.  There are almost never 29 players in an NFL draft with a true first round grade.  You are drafting too low to get first round value, yet too high to reach for a second round talent. 

 

That’s why the Green Bay Packers should either trade up in the coming draft, or trade down, but should definitely not stay at 29.  Of the ten players drafted there in the past decade, only two have ever been selected for a Pro Bowl, and one of those was for special teams.  By contrast, four of the ten are not even in football anymore.  Here’s the rundown: 

 

2011--Bears take tackle Gabe Carimi (out of football) 

 

2012-- Vikings take S Harrison Smith (5 Pro Bowls, All Pro 2017) 

 

2013-- Vikings take WR Cordarelle Patterson (4 Pro Bowls,  4 times All Pro, all for special teams) 

 

2014-- Patriots take DT Dominique Easley (out of football) 

 

2015-- Colts take WR Phillip Dorsett (six years with four different teams.  Missed all of 2020 on injured reserve) 

 

2016-- Cardinals take DE Robert Nkemdiche (currently out of football)  

 

2017-- Browns take TE David Njoku (average player for four seasons) 

 

2018-- Jaguars take DT Taven Bryan (17 starts in 48 games) 

 

2019-- Seahawks take DE L.J. Collier (16 starts in 32 games) 

 

2020-- Titans take T Isaiah Wilson (played in one game, released for disciplinary reasons) 

 

Certainly there are no guarantees with trading up, but the chances of success do get better.   If the Packers are serious about immediately addressing weaknesses at tackle, defensive line or corner, this is their move.  Using Jimmy Johnson”s Draft Position Value Chart, we can make an educated guess what it would cost.  I’m not absolutely certain I have these point values figured accurately, but I’m close.  

 

It would be unrealistic to expect the Packers to trade up into the high top ten, as that would likely require multiple future first round picks.  The 49ers, for example, had to give up this year’s number one, and two more number ones plus a number three, to move up into the third slot. 

 

Moving up to positions 11 through 15 would probably cost this year’s number one and next year’s as well.  Recall in 2018 the Saints gave the Packers an extra number one to get into the number 14 slot.  Drafting in that area, Green Bay might well have a shot at highly touted tackles like Rashawn Slater, Christian Darrisaw, or Alijah Vera-Tucker. 

 

Trading into the 16 to 20 range would cost Green Bay’s 29th pick and probably a second and 3rd, or  a second and fourth round selection.  Here they may find first round-rated tackles such as Teven Jenkins and Samuel Cosmi still on the board, or possibly defensive lineman Kwity Paye. 

 

Climbing to spots 21 through 25 would require swapping in the first and something like third and fifth rounders thrown in.   In that zip code, odds are good the Packers might be able to tab a player like defensive back Greg Newsome II, or defensive lineman Jaelen Phillips.  

 

Again there are no guarantees any of these players will turn out to be substantially better than what might be left at 29, but history shows the odds are in your favor. 

 

Then again, Green Bay may be wiser to take the opposite strategy.  Trade down, accumulate more picks, which then improve the odds of hitting on somebody at a much cheaper price.  But it's more hit or miss.   In 2008  Ted Thompson traded out of the first round to acquire an extra second round pick and still wound up with Jordy Nelson.  Unfortunately, he squandered the extra second rounder on quarterback Brian Brohm.   In 2017 Thompson did it again and wound up with Kevin King and Josh Jones in round two.  We can debate the merits of King, but Jones was a flop and is no longer with the team.

 

One other disadvantage to trading down is the loss of the fifth year option on your first round pick.  Of course, the Packers could also conserve some of their picks and offer a current player as part of a deal to move up, but who would that player be?  Green Bay seldom does business that way.

 

Trading up or trading down, either way can work.  Just don’t stay at 29.  It’s usually not a good place to be. 

 

 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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Comments (37)

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stockholder's picture

April 08, 2021 at 04:17 pm

BPA! I'm not superstitious. Take what the draft gives you in the first rd. Just don't take whats been picked over! You'll get whats left over in the next round. And that is where I would trade up. The crap shoot begins after 29. This draft is to deep to give away the 1.2.or 3. I say get out of the pick @62.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 08, 2021 at 06:43 pm

Move up into the first round twice or get ready for another hard luck story about next year.

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stockholder's picture

April 08, 2021 at 07:07 pm

If CB is his Love. Bank on it. The second will be for a WR. So what fits? Newsome and Moore. No pick will start. Other then a DL.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 09, 2021 at 08:58 am

OT/LT will be the priority and maybe he targets Moehrig if they want Savage to play the slot. Bateman could be one of his guys. If Rodgers is taken out for the season because a backup is manning the OT spot, the whining will never stop.

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Oppy's picture

April 08, 2021 at 06:46 pm

The crap shoot is almost equal for every pick in the draft in terms of odds they won't work out in the NFL.

of the roughly 50% of players who aren't busts, generally speaking the higher draft picks have a better chance of becoming pro-bowlers.

..But every player regardless of draft position is roughly 50/50 to fail in the NFL.

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Turophile's picture

April 09, 2021 at 02:39 pm

This is simply not true. Different position groups have quite different chances of success.

Here is a link to a much more accurate assessment of drafting specific position groups through the rounds.
https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2015/2/20/8072877/what-the-statistics-tel...

A simple look at the likelihood of success of (for example) OLs and QBs will quickly show you the big differences. OLs in round one have a very high success rate (83%), while QBs are far lower and (lower than even the 63% shown, more like the mid to late 40s) because many QBs drafted in round one are pushed into starting for a year or two, then are replaced when they cannot develop. If OL's can't play they see the field less often, or not at all, skewing the comparison.

Bottom line, different position groups have significantly different chances of success through the rounds.

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Oppy's picture

April 09, 2021 at 04:09 pm

Position specific wasn't part of the equation. It is interesting data, It's also a very oddly incomplete data set- They tell us "on average" how many QBs, WRs, OL etc are taken in the 1st round, don't tell us anything about how many TE's are taken on average in the first round, and only indicate that as for RB's selected in the 1st round, it's the second-least popular round to take a RB in.

The biggest issue I find with it is how it defines "successful"- which is listed as playing more than half your career as a starter. So a player who starts for two seasons and gets benched and never gets a second contract in the NFL? That's a successful career by this data set.

If everyone in the league simply drafted the positions with the highest success rate in the first round, I think you'd find that suddenly those positions would no longer have as high of success rates in the first round.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

April 09, 2021 at 07:12 am

I completely agree with everything you said here, Stockholder!

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Turophile's picture

April 08, 2021 at 04:40 pm

No word on the major reasons for trading, tiers.

If the highest tier looks like it runs out just before the Packers pick at #29, then they might feel its worth it to trade up into the higher tier before it runs out. If there are many players in the same tier at #29, it might be worth it to trade back, get an extra pick and still get a player of similar value. Trading up and down obviously depends on getting both a willing partner and decent trade value, which is never certain.

The other big reason for trading up, is that a GM really covets a particular player and is willing to pay to make sure he gets him. In a purely logical world (which this isn't) a GM shouldn't 'fall in love with' a specific player. If he loves him more than the other players ranked in the tier he is in, he should put him in a higher tier where he likes that player equally with the others. In the real world every GM (and sometimes the owner) has guys they like more than others, and tries to draft them.

It can be a test of fortitude to wait for a player you covet to fall to you. Some GMs are good at holding firm (TT is a good example), others (see Mike Sherman) tend to pull the trigger and move up for 'their' guy.

As for the history of that specific pick (#29), I couldn't care less about that. The Packers will have several choices whatever they choose to do - it's up to them to make a good choice.

The 5th year option can be seen two ways. It can be a way for your team to lock up a draft pick for another year..............but it can also make that pick attractive to another team (outside of the first round) who wish to trade up a few picks for that extra year.

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Starrbrite's picture

April 08, 2021 at 11:41 pm

Ron Wolf said, “if you really like a player, go get him.”

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Turophile's picture

April 09, 2021 at 04:19 am

Hear what you are saying Starbrite..................but Wolf had a dreadful record for first round picks. He made up for that by being good after the first round.

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Starrbrite's picture

April 09, 2021 at 08:20 pm

True—but Wolf did bring us a SB after a 30 year drought. And, he wasn’t referring to pursuing “your” player per the the first round of the draft only...subsequent rounds as well...and including free agency.

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Big_Mel_75's picture

April 09, 2021 at 09:05 am

Yup that is what they did last year with Jordan Love....

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Mike Rossmeier's picture

April 08, 2021 at 04:49 pm

I thought in 2017 Thompson acquired the Rd. 2 pick that he used on Kevin King, and the 1st pick in the 4th Rd. that turned out to be Vince Biegel.

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BradHTX's picture

April 08, 2021 at 05:01 pm

You are correct, but I don’t think Ken was saying they acquired both King and Jones through the trade down. Those were just the two second round picks.

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dblbogey's picture

April 08, 2021 at 08:33 pm

Yep, he traded back, passed on TJ Watt. I'm a Ted Thompson fan, but he stayed 2-3 years too long.

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greengold's picture

April 08, 2021 at 05:00 pm

Too much talent to trade out or up. I’d just as soon they keep 29 and get their guy. Forget tiers. It’s all relative. For instance, keeping the pick puts them in the top half of what many might consider tier 2. Take those players you see fitting this team. Trading out could be a big miss of great tier 2 talent, fwiw.

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Coldworld's picture

April 08, 2021 at 05:33 pm

Never know how the draft will fall, relative to the Packers board particularly. Tiers are not necessarily closely connected to team evaluations.

If a player they really like gets past 25 consider jumping, If there is a BPA and need match at 29 take it. If not, trade down. In other words, play it by ear based upon what the teams before do and our board.

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blondy45's picture

April 08, 2021 at 05:56 pm

We need more bites at the apple so no trade up and lose 2-4th round picks later. Trade down in the first, only if a group of players remain and the trading partner is not screwing us. Later in mid rounds if a player stands out and is a reasonable get, I am OK with that. We need picks to challenge our current roster players. We have or will have many players we need to replace or upgrade both this year and next couple of years. By trading up, we are gaining maybe one starter, when we need to find more than one contributor soon. This veteran team does not need a super star to start at one position, they need developmental players that will play for four years.

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stockholder's picture

April 08, 2021 at 06:00 pm

The Vikings own the pick before the 135th. If Gute goes up it will be a 1 and that 135th.

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greengold's picture

April 08, 2021 at 06:17 pm

Guess I think great players can be had at 29 v. having to wait into the 50s or so to make your first pick. Can always move around later, where that extra R4 and R5 might carry more weight.

Personally, I’d prefer we don’t trade much, as this draft looks loaded with difference makers well into R5.

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jannes bjornson's picture

April 08, 2021 at 06:53 pm

It is strong through three rounds. The pandemic affected season will define a short window of guys to come in and contribute to a push for the Big Game; otherwise, they might as well trade Rodgers if they want to play the waiting game of draft and hatch.

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Leatherhead's picture

April 08, 2021 at 06:34 pm

There are always good players on the board at #29. Rob Gronkowski in 2010. Cameron Hayward, Derek Wolfe, Zack Ertz, Demarcus Lawrence........these guys are there, in every draft, taken early in the 2nd.

Gutekunst hasn't really given us any reason to believe he'll stay at #29, and his history suggests he likes to trade up, not down. I'm really hoping he fights that urge and trades down just a few spots...10 or less.....

Then, using the draft pick gained in trade to move up in the third. Moving up in the third is a fraction of moving up in the first, and if we work it out right we could end up with three picks between about 38 and 78.

But he'll probably move up.

.

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NJ-RICK's picture

April 08, 2021 at 06:41 pm

Since Packer MGT is not going to dabble in the free agent market I'm sure they have their eyes on many good college football players. My best guess is Gute will try and trade up in the draft and grab one of their favorite players. Draft and develop is the Packers philosophy in building a super bowl team. Needs - DL, OL, ILB, CB and a WR. Hopefully by June 1st the Packers will get better by letting go a few below average players. GO PACK GO..!!!!

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BJP's picture

April 08, 2021 at 06:54 pm

The value of Jimmy Johnson’s chart is relative to the quality of the players at the top of a particular draft and to the depth of that draft. Hopefully Gute takes that into consideration. If this year‘s draft is deeper then it benefits the Packers to trade down because the chart undervalues those second, third and fourth round picks. The Packers need to hit on several players in this draft.

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Oppy's picture

April 08, 2021 at 06:57 pm

Meh. I agree with the earlier poster who basically said he doesn't care about the "history" of 29th picks. I agree, completely meaningless.

There was a time not long ago where teams desperately wanted/needed to trade out of first round selections if they felt the player wasn't graded out as a "First round talent" (however you want to view that purely subjective metric), and that was because player salaries and signing bonuses for kids taken in the first round who have never played a single snap in the NFL were COMPLETELY out of control, and a team could end up financially strapped for years if they kid they selected was a bust.

Those days are long gone, and while the working class Scottish in me has a hard time talking about a difference of "only" a few million without wincing, rookie salaries are much more reeled in and structured than they were in years past, and the difference between a late first rounder and a late second rounder is only 2 or 3 million in signing bonus, which may be the only guaranteed money.

If you like a kid as an early-to-mid 2nd round pick- more than you like another handful of early-to-mid 2nd round picks- might as well stay at 29 and take him there. The difference in $$$ isn't that significant.

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greengold's picture

April 08, 2021 at 08:52 pm

Oppy, you totally get it. PLUS, team gets a very valuable 5th year option on 1st Round picks. Get your player who is a perfect fit for what you want to do. ATL could trade us #36, 108 and 148 for #29. Early R4 and R5 might be worthwhile... Ron & Ted always liked an early Day 3 pick.

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PhantomII's picture

April 08, 2021 at 09:20 pm

Picks this late in the draft are basically top of 2nd round and they should be viewed as exactly that. I would not mind Gute moving up a few picks for DL Barmore or CB Newsome or WR Bateman. I don't think you can go wrong with any of those three. If staying at #29 then CB Samuel if the others named are gone. I would appreciate Gute more if he'd also try and use 2022 1st RD pick in this draft and pick up more high end talent for our super bowl run since we can't afford FA help. I'm not real high on OT players, but I know there is a good crop of them this year. I do feel as good as our OL has been, they had a tough time w/ 9'ers and Bucs defense and I thought they were man handled a bit more than the norm. Getting what ML wants for his OL to function at peak performance is a must. I think we could be okay either way, but would be thin until Bak gets back 100%.
Pick #29, 2022 #1 draft pick at top of 2nd RD and move back up in 2nd RD with #3 or 4 picks would be nice to get 3 upper draft needs filled and the guy you want at the same time. That's what I would do to get us to 3rd straight NFCC game and over the hump. Vets would be the best chance of that though. 3rd time is the charm. Let us hope.

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croatpackfan's picture

April 09, 2021 at 03:00 am

Packers have not pick in the 4th round? Odd...

How they will be able to "Trading into the 16 to 20 range would cost Green Bay’s 29th pick and probably a second and 3rd, or a second and fourth round selection." (by Ken!)

By Jimmy Johnson”s Draft Position Value Chart

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marpag1's picture

April 09, 2021 at 04:50 am

This is dumb.

It reminds me of the tired and lame opening to many an NFL broadcast.... "Hello and welcome to snowy Soldier Field where the visiting Green Bay Packers have not won since 1968 when starting a backup quarterback for a Monday Night game on an evening when the temperature is below 25 degrees and the snow is flying and both teams have a shot to win the division!"

A classic misuse of meaningless "non-stats."

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MarkinMadison's picture

April 09, 2021 at 07:42 am

This year, of all years, is not the year for this article. In any year, you never know how the draft board is going to fall. This year, with many players sitting out 2020 or playing only partial seasons, common sense tells you that there will be more variability in judgement about players than ever. I'm not saying move up. I'm not saying move down. I'm not saying stay put. I'm saying that this year, more than ever, you really have to watch how the board unfolds to make this kind of a judgement.

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PatrickGB's picture

April 09, 2021 at 09:11 am

How the board unfolds is a Beautiful Mystery.

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Rudedawg67's picture

April 09, 2021 at 10:12 am

Don’t know the answer and don’t care. Just pick a player that can help the team this year. Who knows what they’ll do since last year they traded up to get Jordan Love when they could’ve traded down and probably still got him. What I do know is that the Vikings and the Steelers always seem to get the players I think the Packers should have drafted. TJ Watt, Ryan Shazier, Chase Claypool, Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook to name a few. They suck. But we did get Aaron Jones in 2017 so they Cook thing doesn’t bother me as much
Go Pack and ace this draft.

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Nate-1980's picture

April 10, 2021 at 02:51 pm

I totally agree with this, every year it seems like the Steelers get who I want the packers to select ha..:)

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ckoski's picture

April 09, 2021 at 11:03 am

A handful of guys drafted between 30 and 40 in the last five years: Michael Pittman, Jr., Deebo Samuel, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Lamar Jackson, Nick Chubb, Darius Leonard, TJ Watt, Ryan Ramczyk, Curtis Samuel, Xavien Howard. Of course, if we stretch beyond pick 40, we could make a ridiculous list. Who was drafted at 29 is not nearly as important as who could have been, or who could be this year.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

April 09, 2021 at 02:53 pm

"Of the ten players drafted there in the past decade, only two have ever been selected for a Pro Bowl, and one of those was for special teams."

If you understand probability that means that pick 29 is due for a success.

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BuckyBadger's picture

April 11, 2021 at 01:29 am

Moving up to the 16th to 20th might cost them a 1st for next year which I wouldn't want. This draft plateaus fast so I would almost prefer moving back and taking more picks.

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