The recent history of trade-downs from the No. 3 NFL Draft pick

Apr 8, 2023, 7:14 AM

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws during practice at the NFL football team's training ca...

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold throws during practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Florham Park, N.J., Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

What if the Arizona Cardinals do decide to trade down from the No. 3 pick?

Well, the route has definitely been taken before. In fact, it’s happened three times since 2010.

Trading down in the draft is a possible scenario for a rebuilding Cardinals team that may see value in stacking up on draft picks for the future.

Here is what happened in 2012, 2013 and 2018 for the teams that took this path while holding the No. 3 pick.

2012 – Minnesota Vikings to Cleveland Browns

No. 3 pick

RB Trent Richardson

Trade package

4th overall pick (OT Matt Kalil)

118th overall pick (WR Jarius Wright)

139th overall pick (S Robert Blanton)

211th overall pick*

– Traded to Tennessee Titans for 176th overall pick (sixth-round) in 2013, which was then traded to the Arizona Cardinals for cornerback A.J. Jefferson and 213th overall pick (LB Michael Mauti).

What happened?

The Browns selected Alabama running back Trent Richardson with the No. 3 pick, who lasted a brief three seasons in the NFL. After a rookie season with 1,317 total yards and 12 TDs, he would tally 11 touchdowns and seven fumbles in the following two. He played his last NFL game on Dec. 28, 2014.

Kalil made the Pro Bowl in 2012 and played six seasons in the NFL before his career ended due to injuries. Wright played eight seasons in the NFL as a fill-in WR for the Vikings and Panthers, and Blanton was the tackles leader for the Vikings in 2014 before fading out of the league in 2017.

Finally, Jefferson had a one-year stint with Minnesota that ended in 2013 while Mauti spent two years with the Vikings on special teams before being cut in 2015.

2013 – Oakland Raiders to Miami Dolphins

No. 3 Pick

DE Dion Jordan

Trade Package

12th overall pick (CB D.J. Hayden)

42nd overall pick (OT Menelik Watson)

What happened?

Jordan battled through illegal substance violations — and a reportedly diluted drug test — during his career. He was suspended for the first four games in 2014 and for the entire 2015 season. He was cut in 2017 after not playing at all in 2016 either. After six active NFL seasons, he fell out of the league in 2021 and finished his career with 13.5 sacks and 108 combined tackles.

Hayden had a respectable nine-year career in the NFL, spending one season as a starter for the Raiders in 2015 and the rest of his time as a backup CB on a few rosters (Raiders, Lions and Jaguars).

Watson started three games in his rookie season, but his career slowed down after he tore his Achilles in 2015. He would finish out his career with the Broncos before getting released after a pectoral injury in 2018.

2018 – Indianapolis Colts to New York Jets

No. 3 Pick

QB Sam Darnold

Trade Package

6th overall pick (OG Quenton Nelson)

37th overall pick (OG Braden Smith)

49th overall pick*

– Traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for the 52nd (DE Kemoko Turay) and 169th overall pick (RB Jordan Wilkins).

2019 34th overall pick (CB Rock Ya-Sin)

What happened?

Darnold has been a starting quarterback in the NFL when healthy but has been disappointing compared to his high draft stock and expectations. Darnold hasn’t topped 20 TDs in any season and has thrown double-digit interceptions in four of his five years. Outside of going 7-6 in 2019, he hasn’t had more than four wins in any season.

Nelson has proven himself to be one of the better offensive linemen in the league, with five Pro Bowl appearances and three First-team All-Pro selections already. He only allowed four sacks from 2018 to 2021.

Smith has been a serviceable starting right tackle for the Colts since taking the job during the 2018 season. Turay broke his ankle in 2019, missed the rest of the season, and never really bounced back.

Wilkins couldn’t move his way up the depth chart and was released by the Colts in 2021, then again in 2023. Lastly, Ya-Sin made the Pro Football Focus All-Rookie Team but has since teetered on the lower end of the depth chart with the Colts and Raiders.


In recent history, trades out of the No. 3 slot have been productive with several Pro Bowl players being selected later in the first round. If they decide to trade down, getting a pick between four and 10, along with three additional picks seems like the floor for an ask.

Either way there is risk, but if the Cardinals decide to stick with the No. 3 pick, drafting a highly skilled defensive player (like Will Anderson Jr.) seems to fit the trend. Even then, holding onto the pick is no guarantee when considering recent drafts.

Here are the No. 3 picks from every NFL Draft since 2010:

2010: DT Gerald McCoy (6x Pro Bowler, First-team All-Pro 2013)

2011: DT Marcell Dareus (2x Pro Bowler, First-team All-Pro 2014)

2012: RB Trent Richardson

2013: DE Dion Jordan

2014: QB Blake Bortles

2015: DE Dante Fowler

2016: OLB Joey Bosa (4x Pro Bowler, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year)

2017: DT Solomon Thomas

2018: QB Sam Darnold

2019: DT Quinnen Williams (2022 Pro Bowler, First-team All-Pro)

2020: CB Jeff Okudah

2021: QB Trey Lance

2022: CB Derek Stingley Jr.

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The recent history of trade-downs from the No. 3 NFL Draft pick