The 10 Most Plausible NFL Draft-Day Trades
Projecting who teams will select in a mock draft is hard. Predicting which teams may trade up or down in the draft is even harder.
However, based on rumors in the media, past draft tendencies, team needs and draft-pick ammunition, it’s possible to give some scenarios where a potential trade works for both teams.
In an effort to speculate which trades make sense and are feasible on draft day, I’ve combined the top 10 draft-day trade possibilities as of now. As you’d expect, quarterbacks are the common theme, but perennial playoff contenders could look to crash the top-10 party in an effort to capitalize on one of the most talented early first rounds in recent memory.
Atlanta Falcons Trade with the Houston Texans for Jadeveon Clowney
Atlanta trades its first- and second-round picks for Houston’s first overall pick
The Houston Texans may still be considering a quarterback or Jadeveon Clowney, but as Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report reported, they appear to be looking for a trade partner for the first overall pick. Clowney has been the recipient of much criticism over the past eight months, but his elite talent level is clear, and his upside is impossible to ignore.
The Falcons still have a clear void at defensive end, and with many of their other holes plugged up in free agency, they may consider dealing both of their top picks for the best defensive player in the draft.
Buffalo Bills Trade with the St. Louis Rams for Sammy Watkins
Buffalo trades its first- and second-round picks for St. Louis’s second overall pick
Buffalo has invested in receivers in recent drafts, including Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin just last year. However, head coach Doug Marrone knows that his career is basically tied to EJ Manuel now, so giving him as many weapons as possible is a must.
Adding Watkins can allow the team to move on from Stevie Johnson, a receiver who hasn’t quite fit into Marrone’s system. Watkins is viewed as the best receiver prospect since A.J. Green and could instantly give Manuel the tools to have NFL success.
New York Giants Trade with the Oakland Raiders for Top Talent
New York trades its first-, third- and fourth-round pick for Oakland’s fifth overall pick
The Giants could go any number of ways on draft day, as they could use receiver, tight end, offensive tackle, defensive tackle and linebacker help in the first round. At No. 12 overall, they’ll likely have plenty of options, including prospects like Odell Beckham, Taylor Lewan, Aaron Donald and C.J. Mosley.
But for the price of two mid-round picks, they could move up to fifth overall (to a Raiders team that would love to acquire more early-round picks) and get a top-tier talent like Greg Robinson, Khalil Mack or potentially Mike Evans. The Giants need a lot of help, but general manager Jerry Reese shouldn’t pass on the opportunity to secure a rare talent in this year’s top five.
Baltimore Ravens Trade with the Minnesota Vikings for Taylor Lewan
Baltimore trades its first-, third- and fifth-round picks for Minnesota’s eighth overall pick
Similar to the Giants, the Ravens could see the opportunity to secure a top-end talent in the draft thanks to teams in the top 10 looking to add more picks to be utilized for a deep draft. In the case of the Ravens, adding one of the top offensive tackles would be ideal, especially if Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews are picked in the top six selections. The Ravens desperately need right tackle help, and Taylor Lewan can turn their offensive line from a weakness into a strength.
For the Vikings, if they can’t land Mike Evans or Khalil Mack, I’d expect them to strongly look at trading down. They likely will consider drafting a quarterback with their first-round pick if they can’t get a top talent, and there aren’t any quarterback-needy teams between Nos. 8 and 17 overall.
New Orleans Saints Trade with the Chicago Bears for Anthony Barr
New Orleans trades its first- and second-round picks for Chicago’s 14th overall pick
Victor Butler. Junior Galette. Parys Haralson. Those are the three featured pass-rushers for the Saints as of now for the 2014 season. It’s clear they need help early and often in the draft in that area. They could sit at No. 27 overall and hope a rusher like Jeremiah Attaochu or Dee Ford slips, but they could also potentially move up to the mid-first round and secure a top-10 talent in Anthony Barr. You could imagine how excited Rob Ryan would be to get that type of talent under his belt.
As for the Bears, they want to address their defense early and often in this draft, and while they’d love a top cornerback or linebacker, the value of acquiring another second-rounder may be too tempting. The Bears could drop down 13 spots and still get a cornerback like Jason Verrett or a linebacker like Ryan Shazier at pick No. 27.
San Francisco 49ers Trade with the St. Louis Rams for Top Receiver or Cornerback
San Francisco trades its first-, second- and fourth0round picks for St. Louis’s 13th overall pick
Armed with five top-100 picks, the 49ers seem like a prime contender to make moves up the draft board early and often on draft day. Without many needs to address, the 49ers can target one of the draft’s best receivers or cornerbacks in the middle of the first round. Options like Odell Beckham Jr. or Marqise Lee at receiver and Kyle Fuller or Justin Gilbert at cornerback both could be options for San Francisco.
As for the Rams, they’ve never been shy about moving down, and adding another second-rounder could give general manager Les Snead even more tools to work with on Day 2. The Rams need to address the offense as much as possible, so if they can add a playmaker like Sammy Watkins with the second overall pick, they could certainly look to add more offensive line help in the second round and beyond.
Cleveland Browns Trade with the Dallas Cowboys for Derek Carr/Johnny Manziel
Cleveland trades its first- (26th overall) and third-round (71st overall) picks for Dallas’s 16th overall pick
If the Browns opt to pass on a quarterback with the fourth overall pick, all eyes will be on whether they secure their newest “franchise quarterback” in the first round. The Cardinals at pick No. 20 could consider a quarterback, and once the 20s hit, teams moving up from the second round begins to be in the discussion. If the Browns are serious about drafting a quarterback, they should package their 26th overall pick (via trade from the Colts earlier this year) and one of the third-rounders to get the passer they covet.
The Cowboys would love if Aaron Donald is available, but if not, addressing safety, defensive line or offensive line may constitute as a reach. Moving down just 10 spots can give the Cowboys more options later in the draft to help their defense along with putting their projected options in line with their draft grades.
Houston Texans Trade with the New England Patriots for Derek Carr/Blake Bortles
Houston trades its second- and fifth-round picks for New England’s 29th overall pick
If and when the quarterbacks begin to slip on draft day, rumors will percolate about teams considering trading up for the second round to secure one of the draft’s best passers. For the Texans, if they pass on a quarterback at first overall, trading back into the first makes sense for three reasons.
For one, there could be a battle for Blake Bortles or Derek Carr if either slip to the late 20s, so if Houston feels they fit, it shouldn’t expect them to fall out of the first day. Two, it doesn't have a ton of needs across the board, so it can afford to be a bit aggressive to find its quarterback. And three, first-round picks get five-year contracts, while second-round picks get a year less. So if the Texans are hoping to develop their quarterback this year, they can get an extra year of a cheap contract on a player they are aiming to develop anyways.
And as for the Patriots, they are routinely looking to move down. While they could target a blocker, defensive back or tight end at the 29th overall pick, there won’t be a big talent drop-off between picks 29 and 33. In exchange for giving Bill Belichick’s old offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien the quarterback he covets, Belichick gets an extra fifth-rounder.
Jacksonville Jaguars Trade with the Seattle Seahawks for Top Quarterback
Jacksonville trades its second- and fifth-round picks for Seattle’s 32nd overall pick
Similar to the Texans, the Jaguars may consider moving up into the first round to secure the quarterback they covet. Like Bill O’Brien and the Patriots having a connection, the Jaguars might find a trading partner in Gus Bradley’s old team, the Seahawks. Jacksonville can get its quarterback (ahead of the Texans barring Houston trading up into the first as well) and have him secured for five years by moving up.
As for the Seahawks, they move down just seven spots, add an extra fifth-round pick and likely continue to stockpile talent. General manager John Schneider has had some success in the fifth round of the draft, too. That’s where he found Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.
New York Jets Trade with the Cleveland Browns in Round 2 for a Top Cornerback
New York trades its second- and fourth-round pick for Cleveland’s 35th overall pick.
The only trade on this list that doesn’t include the first round, the Jets are very likely to be desperate for a top cornerback if they can’t find one at pick No. 18 in the first round.
After letting Antonio Cromartie walk, the Jets are relying on Dee Milliner to be the featured cornerback, with little starter-quality talent after him. There’s generally a run on cornerbacks in the early second round, so getting in that area (and hoping one of the top prospects slip to that point) is worth giving up an early Day 3 pick.
As for the Browns, they have plenty of picks in this draft already. But as long as they address the quarterback position in the first round, they don’t need to be picking high in the second round. By moving down a couple of spots, they can continue to stockpile draft picks as general Ray Farmer starts to build the team in his mold.