With the 2018 NFL Draft on the horizon, let’s take a quick look and analyze the 10 most probable first-round trades among teams that are likely to happen.
The trade is a strategy that has been commonplace in the NFL Draft for decades now and it’s always good for a quick dose of excitement when one does go down.
Some teams may be looking to give up some valuable assets to move up and select a player they may not have been able to get with their original selection. Others are tempted by the offers of the latter group and see the value more in accumulating a mass amount of assets rather than staying put and selecting at their current pick.
Quantity over quality, if you will.
In many ways, the 2018 NFL Draft is similar to Major League Baseball’s trade deadline. There are buyers and there are sellers with both sides taking opposite approaches to better their team in the short-run and in the long-run.
We’ve all witnessed the shock of a draft trade stunner, but sometimes these draft-day trades can be foreseen. Perhaps it’s a team that has tipped their hand a bit early or maybe it’s simply an obvious scenario that perfectly fits two teams needs. Whatever it may be, there have been a plethora of draft trades in recent years that could have been anticipated.
Let’s take a look and try to do just that for this year’s draft first starting with teams that could opt to trade up.
10. Buffalo Bills
The Bills have been a team whose desire to trade up has been known for quite some time now. This notion was all but guaranteed when the team decided to ship the talented, yet injury-riddled Cordy Glenn to the Bengals to move up nine slots from pick No. 21.
Now, the team sits with two first-round selections (12 and 22), two second-rounders, and two third-rounders for a grand total of six top-100 draft picks. With that kind of ammunition, they have more than enough draft capital to get a deal done.
The interest is certainly there as well. With the Bills quarterback depth chart consisting of just A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman at the moment, it’s a foregone conclusion that the team will draft a quarterback in this year’s class. To get one of the premier signal-callers, they will need to trade up.
A trade-up inside the top six seems likely at this point and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the team push hard for the second overall pick. New Bills General Manager Brandon Beane and Giants head-man Dave Gettleman have plenty of history dating back to their time together in Carolina which would make these two excellent trade partners.
At this point, it would be surprising if the Bills didn’t trade up to select a quarterback.
Next: 9. Denver Broncos
9. Denver Broncos
This move is based more on speculation than necessity, but the Broncos should still be considered a candidate to move up in this year’s draft. Despite the acquisition of new quarterback Case Keenum in free agency, Denver could still be looking for their QB of the future and they might just trade up to acquire that player if the timing is right.
It’s been reported that general manager John Elway loves Baker Mayfield and his obsession with strong-armed, project quarterbacks — *cough* Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch *cough* — could lead the former Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback to take a chance on Wyoming’s Josh Allen.
Would this be the smartest move? Probably not. But Elway isn’t necessarily known for making safe or even wise decisions. He’s more of an intuitions guy.
That said, don’t be surprised to see the Broncos move up a couple picks come draft day if they become enamored with one of the top quarterbacks.
Next: 8. Miami Dolphins
8. Miami Dolphins
Teams really are desperate for quarterbacks these days, and that’s exactly why the Dolphins could be a team moving up come April 26th.
Current starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill isn’t a bad option, but his skill set screams mediocre and his health is a major concern coming off ACL reconstruction surgery that forced him to miss all of last season.
Miami is another team that has been connected to Mayfield and the team could look to trade up for him if they think that the value is there for him to be a franchise quarterback and/or they don’t think that Tannehill could be that guy.
Don’t count on this one to go down, but it’s certainly worth throwing their name in the discussion because of the countless rumors that have swirled about a potential trade up.
Next: 7. Arizona Cardinals
7. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are another team in the market for a young quarterback after free agency netted them the “incredible” haul of Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. Free agency clearly isn’t always the best way to find quarterbacks.
With Bradford’s history of injuries and Glennon’s history of not being very good, it would be foolish of the Cardinals to head into next season without a rookie quarterback on the roster. Now they could sit back and hope that they could land a player like Lamar Jackson at 15 but if they’re really feeling ambitious, they could look to trade up to select one of the top quarterbacks in the class.
While trading up into the top three or even five picks might be a bit steep for the team, Arizona could try to pick up a quarterback that falls further than expected, maybe close to pick No. 10. Whether that’s a Josh Rosen or a Baker Mayfield, the Cardinals would be more than happy to trade up and select their quarterback of the future at the right price.
Next: 6. New England Patriots
6. New England Patriots
Could the Patriots actually package both of their first-round picks to move up and take a quarterback? I mean, theoretically they could, but it’s certainly not probable.
Speculation began to arise when New England shipped speedy wideout Brandin Cooks to the Rams as part of a deal that gave the Patriots another first-round pick. They now hold the 23rd and 31st picks in this year’s draft and some believe that they could try and trade up for Tom Brady’s eventual replacement.
But that doesn’t feel like a “Patriots move.”
If the Patriots are to trade up, it seems more likely that the team will attempt to grab a premier talent that has fallen into the middle of the first round due to the oversaturation of quarterbacks early in the draft.
Whether that player is Minkah Fitzpatrick or someone like Roquan Smith, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Patriots look at their draft board, recognize the talent there, and go up and get their player. They should be considered a team that could potentially trade up if for no other reason but their draft capital in the early rounds.
Next: 5. New York Giants
5. New York Giants
Moving on to the teams that could potentially trade down, we start off with the team that holds the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, the New York Giants. The Giants control so much of the fate of this draft, probably more than any other team, including the Cleveland Browns who have two of the top-four picks.
There are so many options that the Giants could explore but one of the more intriguing options has to be trading down. While they might miss out on selecting one of the draft’s premier players, the amount of draft capital that they could amass would be immense. For instance, if they were to trade down with the Bills, they would easily snag anywhere from four-to-six top-100 picks and it might not even stop there.
While picking a QB of the future or a premium player like Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb is surely not a bad move, the temptation to acquire a ridiculous amount of top picks could be too much.
This is a roster that still has many holes to fill, especially along the offensive and defensive lines. Shoring up the trenches should be the team’s primary objective and a trade down would allow the team to do that and much more. It may not be the most flashy option, but it could prove most effective.
Next: 4. Cleveland Browns
4. Cleveland Browns
The Browns are another team that sits in a luxurious, envious position at the moment. They will undoubtedly select their hopeful quarterback of the future with their first pick (don’t listen to those Saquon Barkley-truthers) which leaves them in a great spot when they go back on the clock with the No. 4 selection.
There is a very good chance that they will be able to either select the first non-quarterback prospect of the draft, and whether that’s Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, or whoever, that’s a darn good pick. Or the team could opt to trade down with a team absolutely desperate to get one of the final premier quarterback prospects available at the time.
Whichever decision they make, it’ll be hard to argue it.
But if they choose to trade down with a team like the Bills or even the Broncos, the team would be continuing the Sashi Brown approach post-departure where you trade away top picks for future top picks, only to trade those picks away again. Eventually, it has to pay off, right?
Perhaps the payoff comes this year and the Browns select two future cornerstones of their franchise with their top two picks. Or maybe Browns fans will have to wait until next year.
Either way, Cleveland fans could take a page out of the Philadelphia 76ers playbook and just “Trust the Process.”
John Dorsey is here to save the day.
Next: 3. Indianapolis Colts
3. Indianapolis Colts
Although the Colts have already traded down three slots prior to draft day, this shouldn’t rule them out from pulling off a similar move once again.
This trade should be contingent on whether or not one or two of their preferred players are still available by the time they are on the clock. It has been widely speculated that Indianapolis has been heavily in favor of selecting edge rusher Bradley Chubb but there’s no guarantee he’s still on the board when they pick.
If not, there’s a small chance that Saquon Barkey could still be there and with their lack of experience in the backfield, the Penn State product could be a substantial upgrade over what they currently have. Quenton Nelson is also an option, one that is more reasonable as well, but would a potential Nelson selection be enough to sway the Colts away from trading down?
The Colts could look to trade down with a quarterback-needy team that is desperate for one of the final top QB’s still available. Indy already has four top-50 selections and six inside the top-100. Trading down would allow the team to accumulate even more draft capital to fill the many holes on the roster.
Next: 2. Seattle Seahawks
2. Seattle Seahawks
Moving outside of the top-15 we have the Seattle Seahawks who could be one of the more low-profile teams looking to trade down.
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We’re going to be seeing a new-look Seahawks team this upcoming season, especially on defense, and the team must look to retool their roster in the upcoming draft. Unfortunately for them, Seattle only has one pick before the fourth round.
With many holes and so few valuable picks to fill them, the Seahawks should be doing what they can to try and trade down and pick up more selections in the first three rounds. Their weaknesses in the secondary and along the offensive and defensive lines aren’t simply going to be fixed with a first-rounder, a fourth-rounder, and a bunch of fifths.
It’s going to take some strategic movement, but it seems probable that Seattle will attempt to do some sort of draft day trading come Thursday.
Next: 1. Philadelphia Eagles
1. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are in a very similar situation to the Seahawks in the sense that they too only have one selection in the third round or higher. Although unlike Seattle, Philadelphia’s roster is stacked with very few holes to fill.
That being said, Philly could still try and trade down to accumulate a few more picks simply because the value just might not be there for them at No. 32. Unless there’s a player they really like that’s fallen to the end of the first round, it would likely be in the team’s best interest to move down a little bit and increase their total draft capital.
If the player they select with their first-rounder wouldn’t start anyways, then it would make more sense to trade down and pick up two or three players of slightly less value that would fill the same role.
Next: 2018 NFL Mock Draft: Buffalo Bills select Josh Rosen
That’s the simple law of incentives demonstrated by a smart draft move, something team vice president Howie Roseman has become known for over the past few years.