In both the 2019 and 2020 NFL drafts, there were two trades in the top 14 picks. In this year’s draft, there have already been two trades involving top-14 picks – and it’s likely there will be more.
The intrigue will start with the fourth pick by the Atlanta Falcons; another team could look to move up to that spot to select a quarterback. Once the top QBs are off the board, there are several more trade possibilities, particularly in the second half of the first round.
One thing to watch: This year’s draft is so different, with more uncertainty among prospects because of the shortened college season and scouting process, that teams could be more likely to trade away this year’s choices for picks in next year’s draft. That has been true with a few trades already.
Expect this draft to include plenty of trades. Here are several potential deals that would make sense:
– Broncos trade up to No. 4 (Falcons) for a QB. I still believe the Falcons will stay put to take Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell or Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, but they will listen to offers. The Denver Broncos, who have the ninth pick, could try to trade up to get a quarterback, most likely Justin Fields or Trey Lance. The Broncos want a quarterback to compete with Drew Lock, and their veteran options are dwindling – even more so now that Alex Smith has retired.
The price to move from No. 9 to No. 4 would be high, likely costing the Broncos a third-round pick this season and their first-rounder next year.
– Patriots trade up to No. 7 (Lions) or No. 9 (Broncos) for a QB. New England needs a long-term answer at quarterback and could look to be aggressive in moving up if one or more of the top prospects makes it to the seventh pick. The Lions could pick up second- and fourth-round picks this year in addition to a second-rounder next year (and perhaps give back a fifth this year) while still nabbing a really good player, such as linebacker Micah Parsons or wide receiver Devonta Smith, with the Patriots’ 15th pick. The rebuilding Lions are likely to be one of the teams looking to add picks in the 2022 draft; they already have the Rams’ 2022 first-rounder from the Matthew Stafford trade.
If the Broncos find a veteran option at quarterback – perhaps Carolina’s Teddy Bridgewater – or decide they don’t like the QB options available to them in the draft, they could be open to moving back six spots. The Patriots’ second-round pick could be enough to get the job done, with Denver sending back a late-round pick to New England. The Broncos could get a good offensive lineman or the second- or third-best cornerback at No. 15.
– Eagles trade up to No. 9 overall (Broncos) for a cornerback. Philadelphia, which moved back from sixth to 12th for a 2022 first-rounder from Miami in a trade a few weeks ago, might be willing to move back into the top 10. The Eagles’ objective probably would be to jump the division rival Dallas Cowboys and land the top cornerback in the draft, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II.
– Washington trades up to No. 8 (Panthers) for a QB. The Washington Football Team will be calling around for a chance at one of the five first-round quarterbacks, but they have a problem: Their division rivals own the 10th (Cowboys), 11th (Giants) and 12th (Eagles) picks, meaning their trade-up options are limited.
But one option exists: the Panthers, Ron Rivera’s former team. Now that Carolina has traded for Sam Darnold, it probably isn’t looking to draft a QB and might be willing to move back to Washington’s 19th pick. To get a deal done, it might require Washington giving up both of its 2021 third-round picks and next year’s first-rounder.
If Washington can’t move up for a quarterback, it could consider moving up a few spots for Parsons or an offensive tackle.
– Bears trade up to No. 11 (Giants) for a QB. Of all the teams that need a quarterback, Chicago, which has the 20th pick, has the furthest to go. One option, if any of the five first-round QBs gets past the top 10, is the Giants, who might be willing to move back and select an edge rusher or offensive lineman at No. 20. The teams could get it done if the Bears give up their second- and fifth-round picks this year.
– Browns trade up to No. 18 (Dolphins) for a linebacker. The Dolphins are sitting pretty with the sixth pick, which they could use to select LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. They also have the 18th pick and could consider Alabama running back Najee Harris at that spot, but they could also look to move back and pick up some mid-round picks while still getting Harris, Clemson running back Travis Etienne or an edge rusher such as Miami’s Jaelan Phillips or Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari with the 26th pick. The deal would involve the Browns sending third- and sixth-rounders from this year’s draft and Miami sending back a 2022 fifth-rounder.
– Packers trade up to No. 21 (Colts) for a wide receiver. Colts General Manager Chris Ballard is always willing to trade down to get value, and this is the perfect year to do it. They need a left tackle to replace Anthony Castonzo, but the Colts could move down a few spots to the 29th pick and still draft Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield or Texas’s Samuel Cosmi, or to select an edge rusher.
The Packers might be willing to give up their two fourth-round choices to move up in the first round and finally draft a wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers. Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, who could be targeted by several teams drafting in the 20s, would be a great option.
– Colts trade a second-round pick for Ravens tackle Orlando Brown Jr. If Indianapolis doesn’t draft a tackle and instead takes an edge rusher in the first round, it could trade for Brown, who has told the Ravens he wants to play left tackle – a job that in Baltimore belongs to Ronnie Stanley. Brown could be worth a second-round choice, which the Ravens could use to draft his replacement.
– Chiefs trade up to No. 25 (Jaguars) for an offensive tackle. The Chiefs have rebuilt the interior of their offensive line, but they desperately need a tackle. They could stay put at No. 31 and draft one, but if they get nervous based on how the board is breaking down, they could move up six spots for fourth-round picks this year and next. Jacksonville, meanwhile, might be okay with moving down and still landing TCU’s Trevon Moehrig, the top safety in the draft.
– Bills trade up to No. 28 (Saints) for an edge rusher. Buffalo is looking for a defensive end, and if Phillips makes it to New Orleans’s pick at No. 28, the Bills could be willing to part with a fourth-round pick to get their guy.
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