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My Panthers trade down fever dream was realized through PFF’s draft simulator

How the benevolent dictator of Trade Down Island turned the No. 8 pick in 2021 into five first round picks in 2022.

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2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Faithful members of the Cat Scratch Reader community know around this time of year I start slipping into my alter ego as the benevolent dictator of a mythical football island paradise called Trade Down Island. CSR’s Jaxon recently wrote a piece about the trade down mindset of both new general manager Scott Fitterer and coach Matt Rhule, which is music to my ears. Because I’m a football nerd I’ve spent the last several days on a couple of different online draft simulators playing the role of Panthers general manager to see what I could get by trading back from the No. 8 spot, then trading again and again and again.

Well, friends, the Pro Football Focus draft simulator apparently loves to aggressively trade up because I was recently able to pull off a jaw-dropping trade down masterpiece. Before getting into the details I’m going to state two things up front: 1) There’s no way real-world general managers would be so willing to trade away next years’ first round picks, and 2) When it comes to the players I drafted in 2020, I basically just selected the highest ranked players at positions of need. Here’s my trade down fever dream:

Just to summarize, I turned the No. 8 pick plus several other Carolina picks in 2021 and 2022 into five additional first round picks next year. Here’s how it went down:

  • From No. 8 to No. 10 - The Dallas Cowboys gave me their 2022 first round pick to move up two spots while I gave them this year’s Nos. 180, 194, and 221.
  • From No. 10 to No. 17 - The Las Vegas Raiders gave up their 2022 first round pick to move up seven spots while I gave up 2022’s seventh round pick.
  • From No. 17 to No. 19 - The Washington Football Team surrendered their 2022 first round pick to move up two spots while I gave up next year’s fifth and sixth round selections.
  • From No. 19 to No. 22 - The Tennessee Titans sacrificed next year’s first rounder to move up three spots while I gave up this year’s No. 113 pick and next year’s third round pick.
  • From No. 22 to No. 24 - I didn’t get a first round pick here, but I did move down two spots while also picking up the Pittsburgh Steelers No. 87 pick in this year’s draft.
  • From No. 24 to No. 39 - The Detroit Lions handed over next year’s first round pick to move up 15 spots and jump from this year’s second round back into the first. I also traded away this year’s No. 153 and next year’s fourth round pick.
  • Oh, later in the draft I traded back from No. 72 to No. 79 in order to get the Arizona Cardinals No. 161 this year and next year’s third round pick.

When it’s all said and done, in 2022’s draft I ended up with six first round picks (the five above while still retaining Carolina’s own selection), Carolina’s original second round pick, and one third round pick (from the Cardinals). And several of those first rounders could be top-15 picks, too. The Lions could be terrible in 2022 and in any given year the Cowboys, the Football Team, and the Raiders could go 6-10. The Titans pick would probably be a late first rounder, but that’s where the Panthers found DJ Moore (No. 24) and Shaq Thompson (No. 25).

The Panthers wouldn’t have any picks left after the third round next year, but who cares when you have six in the first round.

In addition to the 2022 mother lode of first rounders, this year I still had two early second round picks where I double dipped at tackle with Alijah Vera-Tucker (No. 39) and Alex Leatherwood (No. 40), two third rounders with linebacker Monty Rice (No. 79) and guard Ben Cleveland (No. 87), and a fifth-round flier on cornerback Deommodore Lenoir.

Again, there’s no way in the world sane general managers would make most of these trades and the programmers at PFF really need to tighten up their trade algorithm, but it’s a fun exercise anyway. I’ve done this “trade down fever dream” a thousand times when playing Madden’s franchise mode and end up controlling half of the first round picks after a couple of years, and I’d love to see a real-world general manager try it some time. It’s the football equivalent of trading a paperclip for a house.

Your dictator is pleased.

Poll

Which trade is most unrealistic

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    From No. 8 to No. 10
    (60 votes)
  • 19%
    From No. 10 to No. 17
    (31 votes)
  • 22%
    From No. 17 to No. 19
    (35 votes)
  • 6%
    From No. 19 to No. 22
    (10 votes)
  • 14%
    From No. 24 to No. 39
    (23 votes)
159 votes total Vote Now