If the Detroit Lions are going to trade the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft, general manager Bob Quinn expects to know well before the team is on the clock Thursday night.
For the past week, Quinn and his staff have been talking to the league's other 31 teams, gauging their thinking heading into the draft. For teams picking near Detroit, the general manager is making sure to speak directly to his counterparts.
"I think the world we're living in, with this being virtual...if I'm going to do something, I think we'll have a pretty good idea Thursday afternoon of kind of where we stand," Quinn said. "I don't think I'm going to be making a huge decision on trading the No. 3 overall pick while I'm on the clock, while I'm virtually talking to our head coach and our other personnel."
When asked if he was weighing any offers currently on the table, Quinn declined comment. But he did acknowledge he's making it clear to other teams what it will take to move out of the No. 3 hole.
"(Opposing general managers) understand what we’re doing and I understand where they’re coming from," Quinn said. "You can’t tell them obviously who you’re drafting and who you like, but you’ve got to be truthful and just tell them, ‘Hey, this is what it would take if you guys want to come get this pick.’
"You have that conversation. It’s not a five-minute phone call. It’s a lot of back and forth. It’s like, ‘All right, let me call you back next week. Let me call you back Thursday and we’ll talk more.’ So, this is ever-evolving when you try to trade a pick."
At the combine, Quinn spoke about tiers of talent in the draft. At that point in the evaluation, the GM mentioned there were maybe six or seven players in the top tier.
With that in mind, Quinn was asked if there was a scenario where he'd be willing to trade back far enough where he would potentially miss out on one of those prospects.
"I could see a scenario, yes, but ideally, no," he said. "When you're trading back, you're going to trade back after 10 or 11, you've got to know the ramifications of that. You're going to get a different level of player. That has to be factored in with the compensation you're going to get back and if you feel good about losing out on one of those guys that you like higher."
When fans and media speculate about trades, one of the common resources is a draft value chart. Devised by former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson in the early 1990s, it assigns a point value to each pick.
Quinn noted Johnson's chart is outdated, especially with the rookie wage scale the NFL implemented a decade ago. The Lions lean on an internal scale, and when it comes to potentially trading back into a second tier of talent, Quinn said he'd need to be overwhelmed by the compensation coming back.
"Obviously, when you're talking about value, you're talking about tiers in the draft. If you drop your tier one to your tier two, you're getting a different level of player," Quinn said. "The draft value chart might get thrown out the window. If you're going to do that, you better get a huge return. You better win that trade on the value chart double."
The priority for the Lions is finding a player who can contribute, preferably immediately, and likely without the benefit of an offseason program. Although Quinn wouldn't rule out drafting any position at No. 3, including a quarterback, the desire to get instant impact would suggest that position is off the table.
When looking at trade possibilities, the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers, currently slated to select fifth and sixth, respectively, remain the most logical partners. A hypothetical deal would likely involve one of those teams coming up to get a quarterback, namely Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa.
"Like I said at the beginning, you can’t just say, ‘Hey, I’m going to trade,'" Quinn said. "You need a trade partner. You need somebody that wants to come up. Those conversations are happening and we’ll see where they’ll turn out next week.”
Concerns about Tagovailoa's health and durability has been one of the top stories leading up to the draft. Recovering from a dislocated hip, he's declared himself healthy, while conducting a pro day run by former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer. But other reports have suggested Tagovailoa is completely off multiple teams' draft boards.
Quinn offered little additional perspective.
"We’re actually having our medical meeting this afternoon, so I don’t have our final medical grades yet," Quinn said. "Our doctors and trainers have been compiling that over the last month or so after the combine. I’ve gotten updates along the way, so I don’t have any comment about where we really stand. I’m not going to give out our medical grade on him or any other player.
"The little video I’ve seen of him moving around looks pretty good. That’s obviously the stuff you guys have seen online, but we’ve got some other stuff via email that’s been sent out to all the teams. So, from a computer view, looks like he’s moving pretty good, but we’ll get the final doctor report later today."