The NFL offseason is in full swing and every team is focused on improving through the draft. It is important for each franchise to put themselves in the best possible position to succeed during the NFL draft, and that could mean trading away their selection.
At the top of this year's draft, the teams that currently hold the first four selections are all looking to move out of their respective positions. At this point, whether movement is an absolute fact or simply a smokescreen from the teams are unknown.
However, each of these teams could benefit from trading their Round 1 selections. Let's take a closer look at what these teams are looking to do and speculate on their potential trade partners.
The Texans currently hold the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 NFL draft. Many pundits seem to think that the team should stand pat and take their choice of quarterback. After all, Matt Schaub faltered during the 2013-14 season and Case Keenum proved he is not the franchise's signal-caller of the future.
Could the Texans actually trade the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft? http://t.co/6oaYXipOzE— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) January 4, 2014
According to a report from Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com, Texans owner Bob McNair is open to trading out of the pick. Said McNair, "Maybe we'll trade down and still get a quarterback that can do the job and get an outstanding defensive player. It's an exciting time. Everything's a moving target. Lot of different pieces."
General manager Rick Smith weighed in as well:
I don't think you take a particular position just because you need a particular position at any point in the draft, especially the first pick. So we'll rank it, we'll value it, and we'll make good choices if the opportunity presents itself to move back because it is a very valuable pick, and we'll entertain those as well.
This could be a great move for the Texans. They could trade down a few spots, select an elite defensive player and grab a quarterback in Round 2. They could still get a starting-caliber quarterback early in the second round, as Jimmy Garoppolo would be a very enticing selection there.
One team that could possibly look to trade into this position are the Atlanta Falcons. They are in desperate need of a pass-rusher and could use the No. 1 overall pick to select Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina.
St. Louis Rams
This is not a surprise. There has been speculation of the Rams trading out of this pick for quite some time now. However, according to a report from Peter King on Monday Morning Quarterback, Rams general manager Les Snead explained his team's position:
There are going to be some teams that want to pick a quarterback. And that could increase the value of our pick. I have told people I’m not sure I know how to draft without multiple first-round picks, so I’m always going to be interested when it comes to making sure I can continue to do that.
Depending on what happens with the first-overall pick in the draft, the Rams hold a huge bargaining chip here with many elite players ripe for the picking. Whether Clowney or Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater remain available here, St. Louis could be looking at a fantastic deal from a needy team.
As mentioned earlier, the Falcons could look to trade up for Clowney. The Browns could also look to trade up to this pick in search of a quarterback. Other teams could move up if they are in need of an elite offensive tackle such as Jake Matthews of Texas A&M.
Chances are that if the Rams are truly looking to trade out of this selection, they will find a partner for the deal.
The Jaguars are in a similar situation to the Texans. They have a very high pick in the draft; however, they have many holes to fill. They could certainly stay in this position if Clowney or Bridgewater remain available, but that isn't a certainty.
According to John Oehser of Jaguars.com, general manager David Caldwell spoke of the possibility to trade down:
We would not discourage that at all. I think it's a possibility, but it's so early in the process. There are going to be guys who are going to be weeded out. Some may have injury issues. Some may have other issues. Everyone thinks they're going to be a top-10 pick and now they're not even going to be in the conversation. Then there will be guys that rise, (players) who have a great week at the combine.
So, it appears that Caldwell and the Jaguars are waiting to see how things play out from here. However, the possibility of trading out of the No. 3 pick is a big possibility. This could benefit the team, as they do have many needs on both sides of the ball.
Sure, they could stay in this position and select a quarterback or elite defender, but the possibility of accruing more picks to bolster a rather thin roster could be very intriguing at the right price.
The Jaguars find themselves with a good amount of leverage here. The Browns pick right behind them and are looking for a quarterback. Being that the Jaguars are in the same market, they could trade back just one spot to No. 4 overall.
In 2012, the Browns made a similar deal, trading up to the Minnesota Vikings' No. 3 pick in exchange for their No. 4 selection, as well as their fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round selections.
Yes, at this point, it is clear that the Browns are looking to trade out of their No. 4 spot in this year's draft. The new Browns regime seems intent to get their guy at the quarterback position. This team has not had a legitimate signal-caller for quite some time and head coach Mike Pettine will look to change that.
In a report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, he was told by sources that Cleveland was looking to move up in the draft—possibly to land Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel:
They do have game-breaking receiver Josh Gordon, they are willing to trade up to land Johnny Manziel in the draft if need be, sources said, and have an owner, Jimmy Haslam, who is committed to spending their abundant cap space to try to win quickly.
Now that is seems that the Browns are not likely to trade for Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, this move makes sense:
Well, the Browns are in luck. All three of the teams that pick ahead of them in this year's draft could be looking to trade down. With multiple potential trading partners in place, this situation could work out nicely for Cleveland.
Which team is most likely to make a draft-day deal?
They will get the opportunity to play the field here and come away with the best possible deal. The possibility of the Browns trading all the way up to the top spot seems unlikely; however, what happens with the top pick could force the Browns' hand to move quickly.
If Cleveland truly does want to land Manziel, look for them to strike a deal with either the Rams at No. 2 overall or the Jaguars at No. 3 overall to do so.