2013 NFL Draft: Most Likely Trade Scenarios
Predicting trades in the NFL draft is a little like predicting which numbers will win tomorrow night’s lottery. It’s extremely difficult to do. Any team can feel the need to position itself better to select the next great superstar.
That could be trading away three first-round picks as the Washington Redskins did last year. Or it could be moving up or down one spot as the Minnesota Vikings did last year to select Matt Kalil. Teams like the St. Louis Rams or Vikings—each of which has two first-round picks—are viable candidates to trade up or down to position themselves better.
Players that are seen as the best at their position are candidates for a team to trade up or down. That means Geno Smith or Kenny Vaccaro could be the result of a trade. Then again, any player that may go in the first round may be the result of a trade.
Miami Dolphins Trade Up for Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher
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The Miami Dolphins offensive line took a hit this offseason when four-time Pro Bowler Jake Long left in free agency. The Dolphins didn’t put up too much of an effort to re-sign Long, as his play has diminished the last two seasons. He’s also struggled with injuries, twice ending on injured reserve.
But that’s not to say the Dolphins won’t need to replace Long’s production since he was drafted. Last year’s rookie Jonathan Martin will likely move to the blind side to replace Long, but that leaves a hole at right tackle.
There are three elite offensive tackles in the draft in Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson. The likely scenario is that the Kansas City Chiefs select Joeckel first overall, Fisher goes to the Philadelphia Eagles at four or Detroit Lions at five, and Johnson is grabbed by the Arizona Cardinals (pick seven) or San Diego Chargers (11).
It’s doubtful any of the three fall to the Dolphins’ spot at pick 12, which could prompt GM Jeff Ireland to trade up. If Joeckel falls to the Eagles’ spot at pick four, look for Ireland to leapfrog the Eagles and select the Texas A&M product.
Otherwise, a trade to move the Dolphins up four or five spots remains very plausible. The team added a speedy wide receiver (Mike Wallace) in the offseason and needs another bookend offensive tackle to maximize Ryan Tannehill’s potential as quarterback.
New York Jets or Buffalo Bills Trade Up for Geno Smith
Geno Smith NFL Player Comparison
No one really knows where Geno Smith could go in the first round. Six of the first nine teams selecting could pick him, with the Cleveland Browns as a sleeper seventh.
If Smith falls past the Philadelphia Eagles, it could be a bidding war between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets for his services. The Bills added Kevin Kolb in the offseason, but the meager two-year deal they gave him suggests they don’t believe he is the long-term answer.
The Jets are entering year five of the Mark Sanchez era, and they’ve seen his skills regress since a promising start to his career. Smith has enough potential that he could warrant the Bills or Jets trading up to select him.
There could be enough interest that the Bills and/or Jets move past even the Eagles to be in position to select Smith, the overall consensus as the best quarterback in the draft.
Philadelphia Eagles Trade Down in Round 1 for Lane Johnson
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Lane Johnson is Chip Kelly’s kind of offensive lineman. He is a former college quarterback and tight end with the athleticism to play anywhere on the line. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any offensive tackle at the NFL Scouting Combine, and he possesses the versatility Kelly will love.
Johnson is accepted as the third-best offensive tackle in the draft, behind Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher. Kelly would probably rather have Joeckel simply because Joeckel has a proven track record of success that warrants the first overall selection.
But should Fisher and Johnson both be available at pick four, Kelly may look for trade partners to move down in the draft. This could be the back end of the Buffalo Bills or New York Jets trade to acquire Geno Smith, as Kelly then positions himself to select Johnson eighth or ninth.
Johnson could begin at right tackle and replace two-year bust Danny Watkins. He could play right tackle and move Todd Herremans inside, which would give Johnson the responsibility of protecting Michael Vick’s blind side from day one. Or the Philadelphia Eagles could move Jason Peters to Vick’s blind side and insert Johnson at left guard. The options are endless, and Kelly will love Johnson on his Eagles.
Philadelphia Eagles Trade Up to Bottom Round 1 for EJ Manuel
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There’s a good chance Chip Kelly is active in trades on draft day. If he doesn’t trade down for Lane Johnson, he may feel enticed to trade up from pick No. 35 to select Florida State’s EJ Manuel.
Manuel has the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, and he’s fast enough that he could successfully run Kelly’s offense. Waiting until Round 2 allows teams like the Houston Texans (pick 26) or Jacksonville Jaguars (pick 33) the opportunity to select Manuel.
If Kelly doesn’t get Geno Smith in Round 1 (or views him as too risky a pick), he may feel obligated to trade up to the bottom of the first round and select Manuel.
San Francisco 49ers Trade Up for Whichever Player They Want
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The San Francisco 49ers are in tremendous position on NFL draft day. They own five selections in the first three rounds, including two in the top 34 picks, thanks to the Alex Smith trade.
Jim Harbaugh’s roster is stacked, but the team could use some upgrades. A young nose tackle, cornerback and safety should be at the top of Harbaugh’s wish list. The Niners are in the ideal position to maneuver throughout the draft as they please.
Trading up to acquire corners Desmond Trufant or Xavier Rhodes could be an option, as could moving up for a prime defensive tackle like Star Lotulelei or Sheldon Richardson. And then there's West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin, who has to be intriguing for Harbaugh.
Dallas Cowboys Trade Up for One of the Guards
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The Dallas Cowboys have a miserable offensive line. Now that they’ve hitched their long-term success to Tony Romo, it makes sense to improve his protection. Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings aren’t long-term answers at guard, but this year’s draft includes two of the finest guard prospects in years.
Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper are both NFL-ready and could make an instant impact from the interior offensive line. Guards historically don’t go in the top 15, which makes the Arizona Cardinals (seven), Tennessee Titans (10) and San Diego Chargers (11) doubtful to select either player.
The St. Louis Rams at pick 16 desperately need one of the guards, which could prompt the Cowboys to trade up a couple of spots and select Warmack or Cooper.
St. Louis Rams Trade Up for Tavon Austin
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Tavon Austin’s draft stock has risen more than any collegiate prospect recently. The undersized West Virginia receiver has the speed to wow NFL teams, and he’s viewed as a player who can make an impact a la Percy Harvin.
Consider the St. Louis Rams to be prime candidates to trade up and select Austin. The Rams have two first-round picks (thanks to the Robert Griffin III trade), meaning the Rams could afford to move up a handful of spots and select Austin. There’s talk that Austin may go as high as eighth overall to the Buffalo Bills, which means the Rams may have to jump from 16 to eight or nine to select Austin.
But he would fill a huge position of need for the Rams, as slot receiver Danny Amendola departed for the New England Patriots in the offseason. Austin is faster and more explosive than Amendola and would coexist well with young receivers Brian Quick and Chris Givens.
Sam Bradford hasn’t had a playmaker like Austin in his NFL career, and this should help the Rams start to see the results from Bradford they’ve been waiting for.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Trade for Darrelle Revis
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The Darrelle Revis trade talks have quieted, but expect a draft-day deal to still get worked out. Revis is coming off a serious injury, but he’s still a shutdown corner who can completely shut down one side of the football field.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers whiffed on last year’s free-agent acquisition Eric Wright, and 16-year Ronde Barber has been moved to safety. Revis is a special player and worth giving up a first-round draft pick (and more) to acquire; that is, assuming the Buccaneers are able to work out a long-term deal for Revis. He will make life much more difficult for Julio Jones and Roddy White twice a year.
And the New York Jets may be able to take the Buccaneers’ 13th overall pick and work out a way to move up for Geno Smith.
New England Patriots Trade out of the 1st Round
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Bill Belichick always seems to be moving somewhere in the draft. Considering the depth of this year’s draft class, it seems logical that the New England Patriots look to move down and acquire more draft picks.
That would allow the Patriots to improve some of the team’s more pressing needs like wide receiver, cornerback, pass-rusher and defensive tackle.
Look for the Patriots to target second- and third-round picks to obtain players like Markus Wheaton, Darius Slay, Damontre Moore and Brandon Williams.
A Team Panics and Trades into 1st Round for Matt Barkley
Matt Barkley NFL Player Comparison
This year’s quarterback class may be the worst since 2000, when only Chad Pennington went in the first round (and not until pick 18).
Geno Smith is very likely to go in the top 10 picks, and EJ Manuel’s physique could entice a team (Philadelphia Eagles?) to trade into the bottom of the first round to select him. The next tier of quarterbacks includes players like Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson, Tyler Bray and Zac Dysert.
A year ago, Barkley was regarded as the likely first overall pick in 2013, but a mediocre senior season dropped his stock. His arm strength has been questioned and the success rate of USC quarterbacks recently leaves something to be desired.
But teams like the Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars could all be waiting for select him in the second round. That may lead a GM to trade 10 to 12 spots up to make sure his team lands Barkley as his franchise quarterback.