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NFL Draft Preview: The downside of trading up

Pretend, for a minute, that you're Bill Belichick or Scott Pioli.

You have the 24th and 28th overall picks in Saturday's NFL Draft.

Do you trade either or both of them for a loftier perch, or stay put, taking the best players available when you're on the clock?

Before you decide, consider the recent history of first-round trades.

(Note: To be considered, a trade had to involve a team moving up five slots or more, and/or packaging multiple picks to get there.)

1999

Saints trade all their '99 picks, plus two in 2000, for Washington's 5th overall
Selection – RB Ricky Williams, Texas
Analysis The most foolish trade in NFL history, eclipsing even "The Trade" (Herschel Walker-to-Minnesota 10 years earlier). The Heisman Trophy winner's long list of personal problems led to his trade to Miami and eventual banishment from the NFL. After resurfacing in Canada, he's eyeing an NFL return.
Advantage: Skins, trading down

2001 (No first-round trades occurred in 2000)

Tampa Bay trades up from 21 to Buffalo's 14
Selection – OT Kenyatta Walker, Florida State
Analysis Overall, a good move for Tampa Bay. Walker's been consistent, if not spectacular, starting all but two of the 75 games he's played, including Tampa's '02 Super Bowl victory. Buffalo chose cornerback Nate Clements from Ohio State at 21. He may not have helped the Bills make the playoffs (let alone win a title), but certainly helped himself, when San Francisco lured him away with the richest contract ever for an NFL defender.
Advantage: Bucs, trading up

Giants trade their 30, plus late-round choices, for the Colts' 22
Selection – DB Will Allen, Syracuse
Analysis Allen proved an unexciting, but relatively durable player for New York before signing a free agent deal with Miami last season. The Colts grabbed playmaker Reggie Wayne, wide receiver from "The U," at the bottom of the round.
Advantage: Colts, trading down

2002

Green Bay trades their 28 and a second rounder for Seattle's 20Selection – WR Javon Walker, Florida State
Analysis Walker's four-year career in Green Bay ended on injured reserve. A Pro Bowler in 2004, he was traded last season to Denver, where he posted only his second 1,000-yard receiving season. Seattle took local product Jerramy Stevens, a tight end from Washington who's had off-field issues a-plenty since arriving in the NFL. He's now a free agent and likely won't return to the Seahawks.
Advantage: push

New England sends three picks to Washington for the Skins' 21st overall
Selection – TE Daniel Graham, Colorado
Analysis Inconsistency plagued Graham throughout his Patriot career. Never had more than 400 yards receiving in a season and was relied on more to block than catch in recent years. Signed with his hometown Denver Broncos this offseason. With New England's pick at 32, Washington grabbed Tulane QB Patrick Ramsey, who's also with Denver now (his third team) as a backup.
Advantage: push

2003

Jets trade two first-round picks (13 and 22) to Chicago for the 4th overallSelection – DT Dewayne Robertson, Kentucky
Analysis Robertson has played in nearly every game of his career, but only notches about three tackles each time. You can get that kind of production out of undrafted rookie free agents. Chicago didn't fare much better, taking DE Michael Haynes of Penn State (now with the Jets) and erratic QB Rex Grossman of Florida.
Advantage: push

Saints give up back-to-back picks (17 and 18) for Arizona's 6th overall
Selection – DE Johnathan Sullivan, Georgia
Analysis A terrible move by New Orleans. Sullivan never got his act together in the NFL, even when the Pats brought him in briefly last season. He's now out of football. The Cards took two decent players, Penn State wideout Bryant Johnson and Wake Forest linebacker Calvin Pace.
Advantage: Cardinals, trading down

Eagles move halfway up the board, from 30 to San Diego's 15
Selection – DE Jerome McDougle, Miami
Analysis Injuries have limited McDougle in the NFL, though '06 was his most productive year. It took him 14 games to make a grand total of 13 tackles. And that tied his career high for a season. Impressive. San Diego took Texas A&M corner Sammy Davis, now a journeyman on his third team (Tampa Bay).
Advantage: push

Pittsburgh climbs eleven spots to Kansas City's 16
Selection – SS Troy Polamalu, USC
Analysis He gets a lot of attention for his wild hairdo, but Polamalu is a Pro Bowl player, a leader on the Steelers defense, and, by all accounts, a solid citizen. Kansas City did OK, too. After some initial ribbing from then-head coach Dick Vermeil, running back Larry Johnson has posted consecutive 1,700-yard rushing seasons.
Advantage: push

Baltimore gives up a second-rounder and an '04 first for New England's 19th choice
Selection – QB Kyle Boller, Cal
Analysis After taking sack artist Terrell Suggs with their first first-round pick, the Ravens thought they also found their quarterback of the future. Maybe they did, but the future is now, and Boller can't hold onto the football or the starting job in Baltimore. With the Ravens' first round pick in '04, New England took potential Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork.
Advantage: Patriots, trading down

2004

Philly jumps from 28 up to 16, swapping picks with San Francisco
Selection – OT Shawn Andrews, Arkansas
Analysis An injury his rookie year limited Andrews to just one game. Since then, the massive tackle has started every game for the Eagles and become a Pro Bowler in the process. The Niners traded down again, this time with Carolina, eventually taking wide receiver Rashaun Woods of Oklahoma State, who's currently in NFL Europa.
Advantage: Eagles, trading up

Buffalo moves into the first round by giving Dallas its second-round pick
Selection – QB J.P. Losman, Tulane
Analysis The jury's still out on Losman, who has struggled to become a successful NFL quarterback, but is improving. Dallas, meantime, used the Bill's pick in round two to take running back Julius Jones of Notre Dame, who, though he splits carries with Marion Barber III, is a solid NFL back.
Advantage: Dallas, trading down

2005

Redskins give up three picks (including an '06 number one) for Denver's 25
Selection – QB Jason Campbell, Auburn
Analysis Campbell has seen limited action in two NFL seasons, but appears to be the quarterback of the present and future in Washington. His late-season surge in '06, after taking over for Mark Brunell, showed that Campbell can play at this level. Denver didn't do much with the picks it received.
Advantage: Skins, trading up

2006

Broncos trade up to 11, giving a first- and a third-rounder to St. Louis
Selection – QB Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt
Analysis Cutler succeeded Jake Plummer mid-way through the '06 season. He performed as well as a rookie can be expected to, but the Broncos missed the playoffs.
Advantage: Too early to tell

Steelers trade up from 32 to the Giants' 25
Selection – WR Santonio Holmes, Ohio State
Analysis Holmes played in every game, starting four and piling up over 800 receiving yards and two TDs. The Giants took Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who notched more than 50 tackles, four sacks, and two INTs.
Advantage: push

Bills give up second- and third-round picks for Chicago's 26th overall
Selection – DT John McCargo, N.C. State
Analysis A broken foot landed McCargo on injured reserve just one month into his NFL career. We'll have to wait and see what McCargo can do when healthy. The Bears got safety Danieal Manning in the second round. He ended up starting in the Chicago secondary.
Advantage: Too early to tell

So, with less than a 25 percent success rate, trading up may seem an unlikely option for Belichick and Pioli.

Then again, they've built a winner here in New England by doing the expected. Which makes Saturday interesting no matter what happens.

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