CAPACCIO: What to do with the ninth overall pick?

Stay at No. 9? Trade up or down? Examining the scenarios and likelihood of each situation

Sal Capaccio
April 21, 2019 - 8:26 pm

Photo: Tom Pennington - Getty Images

Every team has three things they can do with their slotted pick in any given draft:

  1. Stay where they are
  2. Trade up
  3. Trade down

Here, I examine not only those three scenarios for the Bills in the year’s draft, but also the likelihood of each, by percentage chance out of a total of 100:


  • Stay at No. 9 - 50% chance

This is always the most likely scenario for any team, as most pick where they are slotted. However, I’m only going sightly over 50% chance the Bills stay here. They are in a prime position to grab one of this year’s blue-chip prospects, whether that’s on the defensive line, offensive line, or a tight end, and it may simply come down to how many quarterbacks get drafted before they are on the clock. The more signal-callers taken in the first eight picks, the more high-end talent will be available at other positions at No. 9. Then the question is, does general manager Brandon Beane shop that pick, knowing he can move down and still have a chance a little bit later to take one of those players who is falling? If so, how far can he go and still do that? Or does he strike right there for a player ranked high on his board that he might not be able to grab by moving out? I really believe the Bills would like to move down, but it takes two teams to make a deal, and the value has to be right. Beane won’t do a deal just to do it, which makes it less of a chance it could happen. Also, this year is about winning, about contending for a playoff spot. It's not about rebuilding anymore. That's clear by the additions they've made and the money they've spent. Staying at nine will give the Bills a player who can step on the field right away and help them immediately, as well as over the next five years. So, I say it's about 50/50 that we hear commissioner Roger Goodell read a card turned in by the Bills with a player's name on it at No. 9.


  • Trade down - 40% chance

Back at the Senior Bowl in January, Beane said, "this year, we’re in the top-10 and we don’t need to be.” He was basically referring to not having to get there to draft a quarterback as they did last year, but he might as well have been putting a "for sale" sign above the No. 9 pick saying that. I think it’s been the preferred option for the team since they knew they were drafting ninth. It’s also my personal preferred option. There are just too many good players that can still be taken later, especially at positions the Bills still need to address, mainly defensive end/edge rusher and defensive tackle. Even wide receiver, where the sweet spot is really in the second the fourth rounds. Trade back and get more picks to be able to increase your chances of getting not only one of them, but multiple players at those positions. Why is my percentage so high for actually trading down? Because there are teams behind the Bills who want quarterbacks. Quarterbacks are often the reason teams move up into the top-10. They’re usually in limited supply and because of that, get taken higher than they normally would, because those who want one don’t want to miss out. There are several teams behind the Bills who are rumored to be eyeing signal-callers this year. The Washington Redskins at 15 seem to be the most prime candidate, but they may move even higher than nine. If the New York Giants don’t pluck a quarterback at six, they may opt to move up from 17 to get one, instead. Jon Gruden is rumored to want a quarterback in this draft and his Oakland Raiders have three first round picks, including two behind the Bills, at 24 and 27. A move that far down might net Beane a first rounder next year, just as it did in 2017 when the Bills moved from 10 to 27, trading with the Kansas City Chiefs. Then there’s the Cincinnati Bengals and the Denver Broncos. Do either of them want a quarterback? Both? John Elway hasn’t gotten it right yet with his quarterback choices and just traded for Joe Flacco, but he may be a band-aid just until Elway drafts his replacement, which could happen this year. Even though Denver is only one spot behind the Bills at 10, they may see their guy still on the board and swap spots with the Bills imply to prevent someone else from doing the same. The Bengals are only two spots back at 11 and may have the same thoughts, as new head coach Zac Taylor might be looking for his own quarterback to eventually replace Andy Dalton.


  • Trade up - 10% chance

If you would have asked me to put these percentages out two months ago, trading up would have been close to zero. The Bills simply needed to add too many pieces to the roster, couldn’t afford to give up more picks, and were in a good spot at No. 9 to get a top player or trade down for extra selections. Here we are five weeks after free agency began looking at a roster that added 17 unrestricted free agents from other clubs, the top wide receiver from the Canadian Football League, re-signed defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, and still has 10 picks coming. I still don’t think they’ll move up, which is why it’s only at 10%, but I’m not going to totally discount it now, either. By adding the players he did, including six new offensive linemen, Beane put himself in a position to grab the best player on the board, which is what his draft philosophy is. What he also did was give himself an opportunity to move up if someone he really covets begins to fall. That move up probably couldn’t be any higher than No. 6 or maybe No. 5 without having to give up so much that he just can’t justify it, no matter the player. Like the Broncos or Bengals scenarios above, maybe he moves only one or two spots just to make sure someone else doesn’t jump them for that player he’s zeroing in on.

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