Polian's take on Falcons trading up

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
1:50
PM ET
There has been plenty of discussion over the past few days about the possibility of the Atlanta Falcons trading up to the No. 1 overall pick in order to select top prospect Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina.

Well-respected writer Peter King probably nailed it best in The MMQB when he said there's about a 40 percent chance the Falcons will make the move to secure the coveted pass-rushers. I only see it happening if the Houston Texans, owners of the first selection, are willing to give the Falcons one steal of a deal. From the Falcons' perspective, it would be insane to give up a bunch of picks when the Texans already get a top-six pick in return. It's not like they're moving up from the bottom of the first round.

Whatever the case, we asked longtime NFL executive and ESPN analyst Bill Polian what he would surrender for the No. 1 pick, if he happened to be in the Falcons' situation.

``Well, it would take obviously a swap of first-round picks, and then it's probably going take two other picks,'' Polian said. ``Those two other picks are negotiable, depending upon ... you're moving five spots. You're moving for a premium player. There's probably another No. 1 involved. And then after that, the sweetener remains to be seen. Or, they could throw in a number of extra picks, which would [offset] the No. 1. It just depends on how the club that is trading views what it is they're getting.''

It's interesting how talk of the Falcons trading up has gathered more attention considering how Monday is the three-year anniversary of the team's last blockbuster deal. On this day in 2011, general manager Thomas Dimitroff surrendered five draft picks -- two first-rounders, a second-rounder and two fourth-round picks -- to the Cleveland Browns in order to move up from No. 27 to No. 6 in the first round and select game-changing receiver Julio Jones.

Those five picks ended up being the following players, though not all by the Browns: receiver Jonathan Baldwin (drafted by Chiefs following trade with Browns), receiver Greg Little (still with Browns), fullback Owen Marecic (free agent), QB Brandon Weeden (released by Browns, picked up by Cowboys); and receiver Jarius Wright (drafted by Vikings following trade with Browns). Baldwin and Weeden were the first-round picks, Little the second, and Marecic and Wright the fourths.

Some folks still second-guess the Falcons' decision to surrender those five picks, considering how lack of depth was an obvious issue during last season's 4-12 implosion. It didn't help matters when Jones went down with a season-ending foot injury just five games into the year.

Polian doesn't agree with anyone who questions the trade for Jones.

``Difference-makers win championships. You have to have difference-makers,'' Polian said. ``What would you rather have, a difference-maker or three backups? People who criticize it want you to get difference-makers and also have depth and also stay within the salary cap and also pay the quarterback. That's Fantasyland.''

In terms of Clowney being a difference-maker worth trading up for, Polian said there's little disputing the defensive end's talent.

``There's absolutely no question about that, talent-wise,'' Polian said. ``But you never know how a player is going to play when he comes into the National Football League. There are no sure things. But as far as a difference-maker, you know, talent-wise, yeah absolutely. No question about it.''

The Falcons seem destined to target one of five players if they keep the sixth pick or trade up: Clowney, outside linebacker Khalil Mack, and offensive tackles Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, and Taylor Lewan.

``I have always quoted Tony Dungy, with whom I agree completely, that if you're in the top 10, you probably would like to get a guy that scores touchdowns, throws touchdowns, catches touchdowns, sacks the quarterback or turns the ball over,'' Polian said. ``That's ideal. Other than that, if one of those people aren't there in the opinion of the drafting club, then you take the best player, whoever that may be.''

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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