Palm Beach, Fla. — It was about this time of the year last offseason that a major trade was made involving a top-five pick in the NFL Draft.
In late March, the San Francisco 49ers sent the Miami Dolphins four choices, including three first-rounders, to move up nine spots in that year’s draft, from No. 12 to No. 3. It was similar to a move made three years prior, when the New York Jets sent the Indianapolis Colts three second-rounders to move up from No. 6 to No. 3.
So it’s not surprising to learn Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes has fielded some calls about the No. 2 pick the team holds in this year’s event.
“Yeah, we’ve had dialogue with a couple of teams,” Holmes said Tuesday. “I wouldn’t say it’s been a lot, but it has been a couple teams we’ve had some dialogue with.”
The obvious difference between this year and the two where the pre-draft blockbusters were consummated was the driving force behind those deals. In each instance, the team moving up had eyes on a quarterback prospect. In 2022, most analysts believe it’s a weak quarterback class, which would suppress the market, and potential compensation, for Detroit’s choice.
“We have our value of guys, including the quarterback position, but that doesn’t mean the other 31 teams have the same exact value,” Holmes said. “It just depends on how they value those quarterbacks in this year’s class. … It’s hard for me to say anything, because I don’t know how those other 31 teams are valuing these guys.”
Regardless, based on last season when the Lions selected No. 7, Holmes only expects interest to rev up as the draft approaches. And he’s all ears, acknowledging he doesn’t have to wait and see what Jacksonville does with the No. 1 pick to pull the trigger if an offer is good enough.
“I think definitely we could pull that trade off, if the other team is willing, before the draft,” Holmes said. “I would say right now it’s still relatively early for those discussions, but I would expect for it to heat up, especially with the pick that we have this year. Because it definitely heated up, even with us at seven last year. So I expect to have more dialogue.”
Without an obvious quarterback to draw interest, it would seem the Lions’ best bet would be a team selecting in the few slots after them falling in love with a particular offensive tackle.
North Carolina State’s Ickey Ekwonu and Alabama’s Evan Neal are considered by most observers as the two best tackles in this class, with the Houston Texans (No. 3), Jets (No. 4), New York Giants (No. 5) and Carolina Panthers (No. 6) all believed to be in the market for an upgrade at the position.