The NFL draft never fails to captivate a wide and hopeful audience due to its foretelling and insulated nature. There are no wins and losses in those three days, no season-ending injuries, blown calls by the officials or strategic missteps from head coaches.
Instead the draft features building suspense with each succeeding pick and dreamlike euphoria over which players will become future NFL stars for their respective teams.
Of course, the event is also not without some heartache, be it the fanbase's perception of taking the wrong player, a personnel man desperately packaging picks to move up for a single prospect, or the cheery monotony of Jon Gruden telling us how much he "really likes this guy" on just about everyone he analyzes.
One of my earliest memories of draft heartache is from 1995, as Jets fans looked on in dismay (1:20 mark) when tight end Kyle Brady was selected over Warren Sapp.
But draft-day trades remain one of the most entertaining aspects of the entire process. Who won? Who lost? Is the targeted player worth the haul? Did one personnel executive fleece another?
All of the lead-up to these exchanges creates and fuels trade speculation of varying relevance and fanfare.
Here are seven trades centered around the draft that are being discussed already or could be coming to a draftnik near you in the next seven weeks.
As always, I look forward to your comments below and you may follow me on Twitter at @JeffRoemer.
Griffin awaits his next turn to be at the podium.
The rumor: Browns trade up to select Robert Griffin III.
Why it makes sense: Robert Griffin III is being hailed as one of the best quarterback prospects in years with a high probability of reaching his ceiling. Cleveland is considered an organization without a franchise quarterback, a perception made all the more glaring in the AFC North with the presence of Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton.
The Rams do not value Griffin with this pick the same way a quarterback-needy franchise does because of its commitment to rising third-year signal-caller, and former No. 1 overall pick, Sam Bradford.
This trade with the Browns positions them to still target a would-be elite player fourth overall and also gain three additional selections between this year and next. Those extra picks can be used to address more talent and positional needs on the roster or contribute to a package to move back up in either draft to target a higher-market player.
Why it may not happen: St. Louis may rate University of Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil too highly as a prospect, and how he impacts its offense moving forward to move out of this spot. The Rams could choose instead to get their guy and let the Vikings deal with the RG3 circus in a constrained time window on draft day.
Cleveland could also decide that the bidding war for the rights to Griffin is not worth winning. The Browns have expressed reasonable confidence in Colt McCoy, plus free agency commences next week and there are several interesting quarterback options. Additionally, history tells us that there will likely be another viable starting quarterback available later in this draft class.
There also remains the distinct possibility that the Browns do make a serious play for RG3 but are outbid by another suitor.
Matt Williamson of ESPN.com and Scouts, Inc. told me this regarding a potential Browns-Griffin outcome:
"Obviously this makes a ton of sense for the Rams, who will auction this [pick] off to the best bidder. But in this case, they still stay in the top four to assure that they land Claiborne or Blackmon. As for [the] Browns, to me, they have to land RG3 in this draft—no matter what the cost. And you can’t overspend for a franchise QB, which is exactly what RG3 is."
My take: As attractive as Kalil is to anchor the Rams' offensive line as it aims to establish its offense alongside Bradford, its overall roster is weak enough to compel trading out of this slot in order to accumulate a winning trade package.
Cleveland has the picks and should be considered the favorite to win the bid based on its ammunition, but in the end will be outlasted by the next scenario in this slideshow.
Snyder could finally get his franchise QB in Griffin.
The rumor: Redskins trade up to select Robert Griffin III.
The trade: St. Louis Rams send the No. 2 pick in 2012 to the Washington Redskins in exchange for the Redskins' first pick (sixth overall), second-rounder (39), fourth-rounder (102), 2013 first-rounder and a veteran defensive player like Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, DeAngelo Hall or Josh Wilson.
Why it makes sense: The same value disparity exists for the Rams with Griffin at the second pick in this rumor as it did on the last slide in dealing with Cleveland. It is simply worth more to a team like Washington that is properly motivated to acquire it, and St. Louis stands to gain a lot in the exchange.
Griffin appeals to Dan Snyder and the rest of the Redskins' organization because he would theoretically end the quarterback carousel that has gone on there for the last generation. He would potentially be its first offensive star since Clinton Portis and, along with an emerging defense, lead the team back to consistent playoff relevance for the first time since the late 1980s/early 1990s.
Why it may not happen: Again, the Rams may conclude internally that it should not part with the pick, despite the promised bounty of compensation, at the expense of Matt Kalil.
Washington may remove itself from the RG3 rumors altogether if it signs Peyton Manning, or Matt Flynn even, to be this regime's starter moving forward. And given his strong opinions in the past on quarterbacks, it is also plausible that head coach Mike Shanahan will take a liking to another QB in this class and convince the organization to sit tight at six, get this other prospect and not surrender the windfall outlined in this rumor.
All of this would also be moot if another team beats the Redskins to the draw and puts together a more attractive package for the rights to the second selection.
My take: I think the probability of the Redskins' 2013 first-rounder being more valuable than Cleveland's secondary offer this year (the 22nd pick it gained from Atlanta in the Julio Jones deal) and the inclusion of a veteran defender at a position of need (defensive tackle or cornerback) will sway this in Washington's favor.
It is an awful lot to give up in exchange for one player. But if that one player ends up being the franchise cornerstone and an elite playmaker at the quarterback position, it can be understood why the Redskins are this carried away.
After punishing "Tigers" in his last game, he may be one in the NFL.
The rumor: Bengals trade up to select Trent Richardson.
Why it makes sense: If the Browns have not shipped this pick to the St. Louis Rams in the winning bid for Robert Griffin III, it may see more value in targeting two players it really likes later in the round rather than a single elite player at four.
There will be a number of attractive offensive skill players percolating on the board between slots 17 and 22. Recall that in this situation, Cleveland still has the 22nd pick to itself also. This trio would give its personnel men a chance to take some very good players at different positions, impacting several places on the depth chart and upgrading the roster in a hurry.
Also, being armed with three first-round selections would put the Browns in a very mobile position going in either direction. It could either package two or all three of the picks to move back up if someone else it covets began to slide, or trade out of one of those three bunched slots in order to pick up multiple day-two choices.
The Bengals use their extra pick gained from the Carson Palmer trade to Oakland and go all-in on Trent Richardson to complete the offensive trifecta it began a year ago with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. Taking Green fourth overall in 2011 shows that this Cincinnati regime is not shy about drafting skill players very high if they grade them to be elite.
Why it may not happen: If the Browns keep this pick because it did not, for any reason, trade it to the Rams, they could be extremely content to take their highest player on the board, who may coincidentally be Trent Richardson himself.
Despite a perceived need at the running back position in analytical circles, the Bengals could smartly realize there are much more prudent ways to go about addressing it. Beyond any free agency possibilities (they have been linked to Michael Bush), there will be ample talent for a likely feature back at picks 17 and 21. The talented but perhaps incomplete Bernard Scott is also still under contract.
Teams in the same division also balk at trading with each other in most cases.
Matt Williamson chimed in on this possible exchange:
"Richardson is exactly what Cincy needs, and the Browns have shown that they are very fond of trading down to avoid quality in favor of quantity. But is this enough to get up that far? Perhaps, as the Browns are in a bit of no-man’s land at No. 4, which is further reason why they MUST get to No. 2."
My take: This deal would not surprise me given all of the reasons that have been laid out, including Williamson's points. Analytically, I suppose I am hoping that the Bengals see the wisdom in addressing the running back position differently.
I do like this rumor for Cleveland, however. Being the owners of the 17th, 21st and 22nd picks in the first round would put the Browns in a position to really help themselves.
Barron may take flight with the Jets.
Why it makes sense: If Arizona likes a few of the offensive linemen on the board, they risk very little based on the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles holding the 14th and 15th slots. By dropping those three few spots in the order, it results in a 44-pick advancement on the back end with the swap of third- and fourth-rounders.
Arizona could be looking at Riley Reiff, Jonathan Martin, Cordy Glenn (Georgia) or even Mike Adams (Ohio State) along the offensive line. It is also relevant to consider that after dropping to 16, if the Cardinals did somehow lose out on its blocking target, a 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebacker is another need, and there would be several quality ones from which to choose there.
The Jets have had problems on the back-end at safety for several years. Despite a quietly ongoing pre-draft process, due to recovery from hernia surgery, Barron is comfortably positioned as the top safety in the class and projects well in both coverage and run support in his part of the field. Check out the plays he makes on the ball on a sideline pass (:14), a middle blitz (:45) and filling the alley in run support (:55).
Even though it is only a three-slot move for the Jets, it will be necessary to ensure itself a shot at Barron due to the Cowboys and Eagles lurking just ahead of them in the order. Both of the NFC East teams have defensive secondary issues and could be targeting the Alabama senior.
Why it may not happen: When the 13th pick gets to the Cardinals, they may not feel that they have the flexibility to move down for one of several reasons. One: None of the pass-rushers in the middle of the first round grade to their liking that high. Two: They have one offensive lineman rated much better than several others in this range and do not want to risk the drop. Three: The second point rings louder if that player is David DeCastro, arguably an elite prospect and the top guard in the class, who would make sense to Dallas at 14, one pick later.
Because Barron has had such a quiet pre-draft process, though there are still seven weeks until the first round on April 26, the Jets may calculate that Barron will fall to them just fine at 16 and that it is not worth the third/fourth exchange to move up.
My take: Beyond any potentially lingering concerns or draft-stock damage from the hernia surgery recovery, the Jets' patience may also be wise because Barron, though No. 1 on his positional board, is not considered a future NFL elite.
If I am making the decision for the Jets, I pull the trigger and move up to get him because he should be solidly above average at the least and addresses a major need for this defense.
Rumor has it "Luck to Fleener" may still be the call.
The trade: New England Patriots give pick 31 (its second first-rounder in 2012) to move back three spots to the Indianapolis Colts' early second-rounder (34), also adding the Colts' fifth-round choice (128).
Why it makes sense: Much will be made about getting Andrew Luck some weapons and that his already-developed rapport with Fleener cinches the fit, both of which are defensible contentions. But the driving motivation here is that Fleener is the best pass-catching tight end in the class, a legitimate downfield threat, and it may not be a close call for this distinction.
For the price of a fifth-round pick, Indianapolis can move ahead of the New York Giants, who at pick 32 are being perpetually linked to all of the top three tight ends, whichever they have rated the highest. This is due to losing the top two guys on their depth chart, Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, to ACL tears during the Super Bowl.
For the Patriots, does this not seem like an irresistible move for Captain Bill (Belichick), who is constantly shuffling his deck and moving picks around the draft every year? This transaction actually looks so obvious on paper that it may produce the jinx of not actually occurring.
After taking the pass-rusher or cornerback it most values with the 27th pick in the first round, the one it ripped off from the New Orleans Saints to move up and draft Mark Ingram a year ago, the Pats can slide the three picks and still feel great about who it will be staring at come pick 34, especially given the depth at corner in that range.
Why it may not happen: The Colts' roster is a mess and it may conclude that giving up its fifth-round pick is not worth the three-slot rise, particularly if it feels comfortable that neither the Giants or St. Louis Rams (first second-round pick at 33) value Fleener in the same way.
Likewise, if the Patriots gambled a little bit at 27, thinking another high target of theirs would still be there at 31, Bill may not want to mess around with the pick.
My take: The Colts will want to make this move and should make a phone call to the Patriots. But if the interest is not reciprocated, Indianapolis will likely move on to San Francisco (30) or Baltimore (29), each of whom may be open to moving down those few spots.
I think the Patriots take a quality player at 27 who ideally intersects value on its board and is very prepared to play ball at 31 when the Colts come calling.
Turner knows he has very little leash left in 2012.
Why it makes sense: The Seahawks have a number of needs that it can address at 18, but none that are so dire as to match up value and fit with the 12th pick. It can move down six spots and still likely get a player it values highly (the fourth quarterback, wide receiver or a front-seven defensive player), while also moving up 57 spots with another pick.
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner likely understand this will be their last hurrah if the club underachieves again in the win/loss department. This kind of urgency facilitates the surrender of a mid-second-round pick in order to move ahead of the competition to grab either the offensive lineman or outside linebacker highest on its board at that point.
The three blockers that could be in play at 12 are Riley Reiff (Iowa), Jonathan Martin (Stanford) and David DeCastro (Stanford). Three perimeter defenders that could appeal to them here are Courtney Upshaw (Alabama), Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) or Nick Perry (USC).
Why it may not happen: Seattle could have a player squarely in its sights that will fit perfectly for them at 12. What if they like Ryan Tannehill as the third quarterback and previous maneuvers in free agency and the draft precipitate his fall to them? Even if Tannehill is gone, the Seahawks may opt not to tempt fate if there is, in fact, another quarterback that they really like.
Depending on what transpires in free agency with its linebacking corps, Luke Kuechly may also be a player of interest to Seattle. While he is likely to be there at 12, he is probably gone by 18.
Despite the understanding that San Diego's current football operations infrastructure is at stake, its brain trust may exercise prudence in holding onto the 49th pick. It is not uncommon for a rookie out of that slot to make an impact, and the Chargers may see the board fall to its advantage in terms of talent at its two biggest positions of need.
My take: San Diego is going to make the move up. And if Seattle is unwilling to dance, or there is another player that compels the Chargers to climb even further up the board, a deeper mortgaging of its draft future may be in order.
Konz may slide back, but right to the Ravens.
Why this makes sense: Baltimore is very likely considering Wisconsin center Peter Konz with its first pick. Although taking him directly at 29 would not be an overdraft, and likely not criticized analytically within the industry, his value is obviously better at 35 and the Ravens gain an extra pick in the process.
Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome loves to wheel and deal in the first round, as fellow Bleacher Report draftnik Sigmund Bloom details in this recent piece, which only adds fuel to the fire of this being potentially on tap.
After presumably nabbing Matt Kalil with the third overall pick in the first round, following the Luck and Griffin hoopla, Minnesota targets a player that is starting to gain favor as a late first-rounder while also addressing a drastic need at corner in Georgia's Brandon Boykin.
I am as high as anyone in the community on Boykin, and higher than most, as the undersized physical dynamo is currently rated the No. 3 cornerback on my board. He is one of those rare players that is actually a pleasure to watch, even from an analytical standpoint, and will be a quick fan-favorite wherever he ends up.
Watch him snuff out this wide receiver screen for a safety (:17), return a punt to the house in electrifying fashion (1:16) and catch a touchdown out of the backfield (4:18), all in the 2012 Outback Bowl versus Michigan State University. Fittingly, he was named the Paul Hornung Award winner this year as the nation's most versatile player.
Why it may not happen: If Konz is the player that Newsome most covets and is seen as vital to the team's 2012 success, six picks may be too many spins of the wheel to risk losing him. This gamble is magnified because some organizations also have Konz rated highly as a guard, and his projectable dual function pushes his market up further.
Even if Boykin is well-liked in Minnesota's war room, returning to a previous theme, there is expected to be a lot of cornerback value in this area of the draft. Staying put at 35 and simply selecting the top guy on its board may suit the Vikings more than giving up a fourth-rounder just to be sure.
I went back to Matt Williamson about this possibility and he replied:
"Cornerbacks are certainly worth more than interior offensive linemen, but to me Konz is the superior prospect of these two. Could this still play out? Sure, but this one seems rather unlikely."
My take: Williamson is probably right with his assessment of the unlikelihood of this little pairing working out. There are a lot of flimsy variables on both sides—such as the Ravens sitting on Konz for six spots and the Vikings feeling compelled to move up that far or at all to get Boykin—that it is a long shot.
Boykin's projectable versatility and tenacious playmaking style is appealing enough, though, that a team trading up to get him in this range will be easily understood and defended.