Will 49ers’ trade to No. 3 limit other top-10 moves?

2008 NFL Draft
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Every year, more teams seemingly want to trade down than trade up. This year, a major trade up could make it harder for others to do the same.

Peter King’s Football Morning in America column raises the question of whether San Francisco’s major trade from No. 12 to No. 3 will have a chilling effect on other trades in the top 10.

“The 49ers ruined the market by trading two ones to move nine spots,” an unnamed General Manager told King.

In all, the 49ers gave up two first-round picks (2022 and 2023) and a third-round pick, along with the 12th overall pick, to get the third overall selection. But they did that to get a specific player (or one of two, apparently), not a specific slot. Other players or slots aren’t necessarily worth the same amount.

The Dolphins already chased their trade from No. 3 to No. 12 by springing back to No. 6, by giving up a 2022 first-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick. Miami also got a 2021 fifth-rounder from the Eagles. So the Dolphins basically gave up a first-round pick and a one-round, mid-round downgrade to move up six spots.

Does the 49ers’ big move make it harder for other top-10 movement? The last comparable pre-draft trade happened nine years ago, when Washington packaged the sixth overall pick, two future first-rounders, and a second-round pick to move up four spots, to No. 2 in 2012. That didn’t keep other draft-day, top-10 trades from happening.

First, the Vikings and Browns flip-flopped the No. 3 and No. 4 picks, with Minnesota adding only fourth-, fifth-, and seventh-round selections for falling back one spot, so that the Browns could take running back Trent Richardson. Second, the Jaguars moved up two spots that year with Tampa Bay, giving up only a fourth-round pick to climb to No. 5, so that Jacksonville could take receiver Justin Blackmon. Third, the Cowboys moved from No. 14 to No. 6 — eight spots in all — for only an extra second-round pick, so that Dallas could take cornerback Morris Claiborne.

Those trades didn’t seem to be influenced by the premium Washington paid to get quarterback Robert Griffin III. Thus, the premium San Francisco paid to get the first quarterback after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson arguably shouldn’t influence other movement lower in the top 10, in theory.

Far more relevant to the question of whether teams should give up other draft-weekend lottery tickets in order to move up is the fact that those moves up back in 2012 targeted Robert Griffin III, Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, and Morris Claiborne. Although it violates pre-draft media etiquette to point out that a large percentage of the players hopefully drafted and breathless hyped on Thursday night won’t pan out in the NFL, Griffin, Richardson, Blackmon, and Claiborne definitely didn’t pan out in the NFL, especially considering the investments in draft capital that were made to get them.

So maybe it’s better to stay put, and keep as many of your own lottery tickets as possible.