Trades are always a big part of the NFL draft selection process. When a team identifies a player it really wants, trading up is often the only way to get him.
Conversely, there are always teams in the enviable position to trade down to acquire more draft picks. Value plays a huge role in the selection process, and not every team is presented with enough to make standing pat the best option.
This draft class stands out as one of the more puzzling in recent years. Tremendous depth defines it, but a lack of elite quarterbacks (and running backs to an extent) will likely force a lot of movement up and down the draft board. Trades will be plentiful.
Unfortunately, trades are extremely hard to predict. We don’t know what teams have their eyes focused on which particular players, and there is certainly a lot of conjecture involved with predicting trades, especially weeks prior to the draft.
We’ll give it a shot, though.
In this edition, we’ll break down a couple trades that could easily take place on Day 1 and explain how they could impact the entire first round.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
We probably won’t see the Chiefs making a trade here, and not because of a can’t-miss prospect. Luke Joeckel is an outstanding player, but he isn’t a player for whom teams will bombard Kansas City with trade offers.
The fact of the matter is this: there isn’t a player worth trading up for here. There isn’t an Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin available in this class, and it’s unlikely a team will want to give up enough to take the lead in the first round.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Jacksonville has a ton of holes to fill this offseason, and David Caldwell will probably take a "best-player available" approach in addressing some of those needs. There is no shortage of quality pass-rushers in this draft class.
Dion Jordan is the most likely of those pass-rushers, given his versatility, elite athleticism and tremendous upside. He’s the type of player Jacksonville needs to shore up an atrocious pass-rushing unit.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Reggie McKenzie has an uphill battle ahead of him. With plenty of positional needs and Oakland’s recent track record of poor draft picks, the new general manager will have to make sure he cashes in on the talent at the top of the draft.
Sharrif Floyd isn’t a flashy pick, but he has a ton of potential, especially as an interior pass-rusher in a 4-3 front. Defensive tackles are often safe selections, and McKenzie could do much worse with the third pick.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Eagles are switching to a 3-4 this year under defensive coordinator Billy Davis, and they need to add some pieces to make it a smooth transition.
Utah’s Star Lotulelei is one of the best 2-gap defensive linemen in this draft class. With a solid anchor, big frame and the strength to eat up double-teams at either nose tackle or defensive end, Lotulelei would be an instant upgrade and immediate starter in Philadelphia’s new defense.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Jeff Backus’ retirement puts the Lions in a tough spot. Martin Mayhew has to find a left tackle to fill Backus' shoes and keep Matthew Stafford in his.
Eric Fisher is one of the most talented and athletic offensive linemen in this draft class. Adept in both run- and pass-blocking, Fisher could stand in from day one and lock down the left side of Detroit’s offensive line for the foreseeable future.
*6. Miami Dolphins (From Cleveland): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
It’s entirely possible a trade goes down before this pick, but this is the first extremely likely scenario to arise. Miami desperately needs a left tackle, and Lane Johnson is the last of the top-tier blindside protectors still on the board.
Cleveland is in a position to acquire more picks in this draft after forfeiting its second-round selection to draft Josh Gordon in last year’s supplemental draft. Additionally, no player still on the board presents the necessary need/value mix to make staying at No. 6 the ideal option.
According to ESPN's Trade Value Chart, Miami could surrender picks No. 12 and No. 42 in exchange for No. 6 and Cleveland’s fourth-round selection (No. 104) to make this an even trade. The Browns would be giving up 1,686 value points in exchange for 1,680 value points.
Granted, a lot of conjecture is involved in projecting a trade like this, but all the components make sense. There may not be a more logical trade in the entire first round.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Arizona would love for Johnson to be available here, which is why teams with the left tackle on their radar might try to jump the Cardinals to select him. If they stand pat, Alabama’s Chance Warmack would be a good consolation prize.
Guards aren’t typically coveted in the top 10 picks, but Warmack is one of the most talented at the position in recent years. A mauler in the run game and serviceable pass-blocker from either guard position, Warmack gives the Cardinals a player around which they can build a stronger offensive line.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The top of this draft will also be a prime location for teams looking for a new signal-caller. If the price is right, don’t be surprised to see a team trade above Buffalo to take Geno Smith.
While he doesn’t have the elite talent of Luck or Griffin of a year ago, Smith has the athleticism and quality arm to be a good NFL quarterback. He’s the most polarizing prospect in this draft class, but there’s no denying the attention he will garner from teams in need of a quarterback.
9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Jets have several position needs, including wide receiver, tight end and outside linebacker. Given the value this pick presents, it makes a lot of sense.
Georgia’s Jarvis Jones is the best all-around outside linebacker in this draft. He isn’t particularly fast, but he’s a tremendous speed-rusher and is adept against both the run and the pass. A terrific fit in an open 3-4 front, Jones could have a bright future in New York.
10. Tennessee Titans: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
If Dee Milliner falls past Philadelphia and Cleveland does in fact trade out of the top 10, there’s a chance he makes it to Tennessee at No. 10.
The Titans could certainly use a quality cornerback to bolster a secondary that finished No. 26 against the pass in 2012.
11. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Chargers are desperate for quality offensive linemen. With the top three offensive tackles already off the board, they may choose to add the best available lineman in Jonathan Cooper.
Cooper has the versatility to play any of the three interior offensive line positions and give San Diego an immense talent who can defend the A-gap and keep Philip Rivers on his feet.
*12. Cleveland Browns (From Miami): Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
After trading No. 6 to the Dolphins in this scenario, the Browns can take advantage of added value here at No. 12. Pass-rushers are no longer a dire need, but Cleveland could still use another to pair with Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard.
Ezekiel Ansah has a lot of room to develop, but this will be a good situation for him. The BYU product won’t have to be an immediate full-time pass-rusher in the Browns’ 3-4 front, giving him time to better learn the game and reach his tremendous potential.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
This is one of the best scenarios Tampa Bay could hope to face. The Buccaneers finished dead last against the pass last season, and adding a top-tier cornerback to bolster that unit will be a primary focus in the draft.
14. Carolina Panthers: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Tavon Austin’s stock has been skyrocketing in the last few months, and it seems he may not make it out of the top 15 picks. An elite athlete and electric offensive playmaker, the West Virginia product would be an excellent complement to Steve Smith, and he would give Cam Newton another quality weapon in the passing game.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
New Orleans needs to find more pass-rushers this offseason. With Rob Ryan assuming the defensive coordinator role in 2013, fast, attacking outside linebackers will be a necessity.
Barkevious Mingo is among the best athletes available this year. He’s still raw and will have to transition to outside linebacker (after playing defensive end at LSU), but his speed, quickness and instincts will allow for a smooth adjustment period.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Sam Bradford hasn’t had much with which to work since the Rams selected him with the first pick in the 2010 draft. If he is to succeed at the NFL level, he’ll need some quality targets.
Cordarrelle Patterson needs to hone his route-running skills and general football IQ, but he has tremendous potential as an NFL receiver. With terrific size and top-end straight-line speed, Patterson can be a game-changer at the next level.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Steelers haven’t lost many starters on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, but they are without a considerable amount of depth at several key positions.
Ryan Mundy and Will Allen left in free agency, leaving little depth behind the injury-prone Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro would add plenty of depth, and he has the potential to be a top-tier starter in the near future.
18. Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Cowboys will be focusing on their defensive front seven and offensive line in this draft. While there are several quality defensive ends and linebackers still available, they can’t afford to pass on D.J. Fluker.
Dallas fielded one of the worst offensive lines in the league last season. Getting a player who can line up at either guard or right tackle will go a long way toward shoring it up this year.
19. New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Defensive end is a popular projection here, but New York also needs to get tougher on the interior of its defensive line. Value and need line up here in the form of Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson, who would be a great fit next to Jason Pierre-Paul in New York’s four-man front.
*20. San Francisco 49ers (From Chicago): Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Trade No. 2 in the first round isn’t as predictable as the first, but there’s some logic behind the reasoning.
With 14 picks in this draft, San Francisco has the ammunition to move up and down the draft board for the players it has targeted in this draft. There’s a very good chance Jonathan Cyprien is on that list, and he probably won’t get past Cincinnati and St. Louis at No. 21 and No. 22.
Conversely, the Bears could stand to add another selection or two and still get a player they want later in the round. The NFL draft is sometimes a numbers game, and Chicago could be the beneficiary of some added opportunities.
In keeping with the Trade Value Chart, Chicago could give up No. 20 and No. 153 (a total of 880.2 points) for No. 31 and No. 61. (892 points) to make the trade work, and it would benefit both teams.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
The Bengals would probably like for Fluker to still be on the board here, but Menelik Watson isn’t a bad alternative. Predominantly a right tackle at Florida State, Watson would fill a void at left tackle should Andre Smith not re-sign with the team this offseason.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington): Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
The Rams already got their receiver, meaning a defensive pick here is a good possibility. With a talented linebacker like Arthur Browns still on the board, St. Louis can get tremendous value here.
James Laurinaitis has the middle linebacker position locked up, but Brown's size, speed and versatility make him an ideal candidate to move to the strong-side linebacker position in St. Louis’ 4-3 front. The pair would make a tremendous linebacker duo.
23. Minnesota Vikings: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Adding Greg Jennings in free agency was a huge boost after trading Percy Harvin, but the Vikings still need another quality receiving option. Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins would be a great complement as a possession receiver with additional upside.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Desmond Trufant may not fall this far, but trades at the top of the round shook things up. If a team in the top 15 doesn’t select him, the Washington product may slip into the mid-20s.
Indianapolis could certainly use a quality cornerback to play opposite Darius Butler, especially after the disappointing effort of Vontae Davis in 2012. Need and value line up with this pick, and general manager Ryan Grigson will make it count.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle): Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
With Minnesota’s biggest need addressed, linebacker becomes a very real possibility with its second pick of the round. The Vikings need to get younger and more athletic at the position, and Alec Ogletree is a prime candidate to make that happen.
26. Green Bay Packers: Matt Elam, S, Florida
This is a hard selection to predict, despite several defensive needs for the Packers. Ted Thompson could easily go defensive end, safety or linebacker with this pick, but many of the top players at those positions are already off the board.
That said, Florida’s Matt Elam could be a strong possibility. A tremendous hitter with enough speed and range to lock down the deep half of Green Bay’s secondary, Elam would give the Packers plenty of value to justify this pick.
27. Houston Texans: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Much skepticism has surrounded Keenan Allen this offseason, but it isn’t all justified. The California product isn’t the fastest receiver in this draft class, but he has the route-running skills and solid hands to be an excellent possession receiver in the NFL. Houston could certainly use a quality option to pair with Andre Johnson.
28. Denver Broncos: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
There may not be a first-round prospect in this draft with more a ambiguous draft stock. He has the pass-rushing ability and all-around talent to be a good NFL defensive end, but his upside is limited.
Still, Denver needs to replace Elvis Dumervil’s production, and Werner would be a good option. A pure 4-3 defensive end with a nose for opposing quarterbacks, the Florida State product would fill one of Denver’s few positional needs going forward.
29. New England Patriots: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
New England still needs to work on bolstering its secondary, but the top safeties and corners are already off the board. If Trufant or Elam isn’t available, look for the Patriots to turn their focus to the passing game.
The Patriots’ interest in Pittsburgh’s Emmanuel Sanders suggests they aren’t done adding targets for Tom Brady. Justin Hunter can be the speedy outside receiver they have been missing in recent years, and, with his selection at the end of the first round, he would come at a cheap price.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
Atlanta made a lot of surprising moves this offseason, including releasing standout defensive end John Abraham. Osi Umenyiora can fill his position, but the Falcons still need a strong pass-rusher to line up opposite him.
Florida State’s Tank Carradine is one of the top pass-rushing 4-3 defensive ends in this class. An ACL tear last season damaged his draft stock, but it’s unlikely he falls out of the first round.
*31. Chicago Bears (From San Francisco): Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
Manti Te’o is a polarizing prospect, but his draft-stock demise has been greatly exaggerated. The Notre Dame inside linebacker will likely find a home in the first round.
Considering Chicago’s needs at middle linebacker (with the departure of Brian Urlacher), this pick would be a good solution. Kevin Minter could also be an option if Chicago does in fact focus on the middle linebacker position.
An added benefit of trading down with San Francisco is the value sure to be present at the end of the first round. Pass-catchers like Tyler Eifert and Robert Woods could easily be in play should Chicago choose to trade down to the bottom of the first round.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Linebacker and safety are more pressing needs, but Ozzie Newsome loves to take advantage of value in the early rounds of the draft. Alabama’s Jesse Williams will be a valuable commodity in the latter half of the first round.
Williams played in a 3-4 front under Nick Saban at Alabama, and he has experience at both nose tackle and defensive end. Baltimore could certainly use an upgrade at defensive tackle, and the added depth wouldn’t hurt, either.
The linebacker and safety positions are extremely deep this year's draft. The Ravens may not address their biggest needs in the first round, but plenty of options will be available on Day 2.
Best Players Still Available: Damontre Moore (DE, Texas A&M), Datone Jones (DE, UCLA), Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama), Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame), Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina), Robert Woods (WR, USC), Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State), Johnthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State), Kevin Minter (ILB, LSU), Matt Barkley (QB, USC)