The trade that sent Detroit Lions DT Cory Redding to Seattle for Pro Bowl OLB Julian Peterson on Saturday had bigger implications than addressing both teams’ immediate defensive needs.
The deal could alter the flow of the first round of April’s NFL draft, with the Lions holding the No. 1 overall pick and the Seahawks picking fourth overall. By acquiring Peterson, still one of the most versatile linebackers in the league, the Lions seemingly ruled out drafting Wake Forest OLB Aaron Curry. It’s no sure thing, since Curry is considered the top overall prospect in the draft and Detroit — historically winless in ’08 — certainly could use as much top-shelf talent as possible.
However, by adding Peterson, Detroit could address concerns along the offensive line — Baylor’s Jason Smith is the top prospect — or it could begin grooming a quarterback. USC’s Mark Sanchez and Georgia’s Matthew Stafford are considered the top prospects available, but the Lions could bypass the position in the first round and instead pursue Kansas State QB Josh Freeman. Freeman is gaining favor among NFL talent evaluators, and Detroit could select him in the second round or trade into the back end of the first round, where Freeman could end up coming off the board.
As for Seattle, acquiring Redding seemingly would discourage the pursuit of Boston College DT B.J. Raji, who would’ve been a reach at No. 4 but would have fit a team need with the free-agent loss of Rocky Bernard. Peterson’s departure could put Seattle in the running for Curry, but the Seahawks, according to a league source, appear to be leaning toward an offensive “playmaker.”
Although the Seahawks signed Bengals free-agent WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency, they could be looking at someone to stretch the field like Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree.
Then again, there are other wideouts available later in the draft, like Maryland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey, North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks and Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie. Seattle could end up being an ideal trade partner for a team like Philadelphia, which is supposedly looking to trade up to acquire one of the desired offensive tackles.
– Steve Wyche