1 Draft-Day Trade That Makes Sense for Each NFL Team
Trades are the most exciting aspect of sports outside of the games themselves. The prospect of seeing a player in a new environment or observing how a team values its assets keeps things fresh.
In the NFL, there is time to process normal trades. They typically happen during the offseason or early in the week if during the regular season. Fans, analysts and coaches alike can examine the move before anything comes of it. Draft-day trades do not offer the same structure.
These moves are chaotic. With just 10 minutes between each pick in the first round, there is an accelerated window to process a trade, debate its value and wonder about how a team will use its newly acquired asset(s). The flurry of excitement when a flashing "TRADE" chyron appears is why the draft is a thrill to watch in real time.
Coaching changes, quarterback controversies, complete roster overhauls, veteran salary dumps and win-now measures are but a handful of the reasons why a team might make a trade on draft day. This year's draft, which begins Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee, offers numerous such possibilities, but we've narrowed down one that makes sense for each team.
Arizona Cardinals: Trade Patrick Peterson
The Cardinals are not close to being contenders. With the quarterback situation embroiled in controversy and the rest of the roster in need of a rebuild, it is clear new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and his staff want and need to start from scratch.
They could look to exchange one of their valuable players for draft picks, and three-time All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson is their best chance to recoup a good haul.
Peterson, 28, will see his deal expire following the 2020 season, and the structure of his contract means that trading him would only incur just over $1 million in dead-cap penalties. That is a fine price to pay in exchange for draft capital.
Furthermore, the 2019 cornerback class is shaky after the first few players, namely LSU's Greedy Williams, Georgia's Deandre Baker and Washington's Byron Murphy. Teams may be willing to part with picks to get a cornerback they already know is good, while the Cardinals can get value out of a player who will need a new contract by the time they are even close to being competitive again.
This move would not be about any decline in Peterson's play. He is still a top-tier cornerback, as evidenced by his eighth consecutive Pro Bowl nomination in 2018. Rather, the Cardinals may embrace the long-term journey for their roster construction and look to get something for Peterson to help themselves prepare for the future.
Atlanta Falcons: Trade Up for Ed Oliver
Dan Quinn's approach to building a defense has been unique. Since he became the head coach in 2015, the Falcons have dedicated their defensive roster construction to speed, speed and more speed. They do not mind taking undersized players—linebackers Deion Jones (6'1", 227 lbs) and Vic Beasley Jr. (6'3", 246 lbs), for example—and trust themselves to figure out a player's fit if he is unique or lacking a clear position.
If any top-10 player in this draft class embodies the Falcons' defensive tendencies, it is Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Oliver was a 5-star recruit in 2016 and had offers from programs like Alabama and LSU, but he stayed at home to play for Houston. He started all three seasons, racking up 13.5 sacks and an overwhelming 53.0 tackles for loss.
At 6'2" and 287 pounds, Oliver is a bit undersized for a typical defensive tackle, but he has the athleticism to make up for it. He notched a 36-inch vertical jump and a 120-inch broad jump at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, earning him a profile comparable to that of Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
Oliver's explosive, aggressive playing style is a beautiful fit for Quinn's defense. Additionally, Quinn is one of the few coaches who may be willing to pair two undersized but explosive defensive tackles next to each other, as Oliver would slot in alongside Grady Jarrett (6'0", 305 lbs).
It is unlikely Oliver will fall to the Falcons' 14th overall pick. They will need to make a move up the board if they want him.
Baltimore Ravens: Trade Back from 22nd Overall
The Baltimore Ravens lucked out. The 2019 draft has a deep wide receiver class, and unless the Ravens rank one particular wideout well above the rest, the difference in talent at 22nd overall versus somewhere in the 40s or 50s is marginal. And this class offers a variety of starting-caliber receivers between the middle of the first round through the third round.
As of now, the Ravens do not hold a second-round pick. They have two third-rounders but are slotted at 85th and 102nd overall, meaning there are roughly 60 picks separating their first and second picks.
Considering Baltimore not only needs a wide receiver but also has to retool its defensive front seven, trading back from 22nd overall could solve a number of issues. The team would not lose much value in wide receiver talent if it dropped to somewhere in the 40s, and it could net extra picks to add depth on defense.
Arizona State receiver N'Keal Harry and Ole Miss' A.J. Brown, as well as TCU defensive lineman L.J. Collier, could be nice fits following a trade down.
Buffalo Bills: Trade Up for a Pass-Rusher
Josh Allen is the type of player who will benefit from the luxury of a great defense. He is an aggressive quarterback who operates more through generating big plays than chipping away on long, consistent drives.
Those type of signal-callers need to be able to lean on their defenses in the event their inconsistent playing styles fail them. Mitchell Trubisky, for example, benefited from an elite defense last year with the Chicago Bears.
As such, the Bills could move up to build upon their No. 2-ranked defense in 2018 by securing the pass-rusher of their choice. The team has the ninth overall selection, and top-tier pass-rushers such as Ohio State's Nick Bosa, Kentucky's Josh Allen and Mississippi State's Montez Sweat may be off the board by the time Buffalo is on the clock.
It is plausible that the Bills believe another player is worth the No. 9 pick, but defensive-minded head coach Sean McDermott may clamor to move up for "his" guy.
Securing a player at the position makes even more sense considering Jerry Hughes, the team's top pass-rusher, is entering the final year of his contract. The Bills may have plans to re-sign him, but grabbing a young pass-rusher now gives them the freedom to let him walk if need be.
Carolina Panthers: Trade Up for a Pass-Rusher
Not unlike the Bills, the Carolina Panthers are in a weird draft position. They could miss out on the top pass-rushers with the 16th overall pick, but selecting anyone from the second tier at that spot may be a reach.
The Panthers are heading into the draft with Bruce Irvin and Mario Addison as their starting defensive ends. Both are fine contributors, but there is no proven depth behind them. The position group is in a dire spot, and Carolina desperately needs to secure the best pass-rusher it can get. Mississippi State's Montez Sweat and Florida State's Brian Burns are not guaranteed to be available at No. 16.
Thankfully, the Panthers are equipped with an extra third-round pick they can use to move up a few spots.
Last year, all it took for the Cardinals to swap their 15th overall pick with the Raiders' No. 10 selection was an extra third-rounder and fifth-rounder. The Panthers would likely be looking to jump to about the same spot. Doing so at that price would be fair, especially if they plan to draft a position as valuable as defensive end.
Chicago Bears: Trade Danny Trevathan
Linebacker Danny Trevathan's contract expires following the 2019 season, and the Bears are not in a position to pay him. With other contract extensions such as Cody Whitehair's and Leonard Floyd's likely on the horizon, it is tough to imagine the team would prioritize an inside linebacker over an offensive lineman and a pass-rusher.
In turn, the Bears could look to package Trevathan in a deal. After LSU's Devin White and Michigan's Devin Bush, the linebacker class dramatically falls off. An established player like the 29-year-old Trevathan should have a decent market.
Furthermore, recouping picks to get cheap players is in the Bears' best interest. They have a number of other potential contracts extensions coming up, including for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and they need to fill out the roster with young talent via the rookie-contract wage scale.
Losing Trevathan would hurt in the short term, but it would be the right move to set up the team to stay competitive moving forward.
Cincinnati Bengals: Trade Up for Dwayne Haskins
The Andy Dalton era is on life support. With longtime head coach Marvin Lewis out and former Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor in his place, this is the time for a franchise to make a meaningful quarterback change.
Oklahoma's Kyler Murray will be out of reach. He may go first overall and will not fall far if he does not.
Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, however, may slip out of the top five and be in striking range for the Bengals. Some reports suggest Haskins may fall to the Bengals' 11th overall selection anyway, but it is not uncommon for teams to move up a few spots to make sure they get their guy.
After all, quarterback is the most important position in football. If Cincinnati believes Haskins could be its franchise signal-caller, there is no point in taking the risk of missing out on him.
Cleveland Browns: Package Duke Johnson and Picks to Get a Cornerback
Duke Johnson Jr. needs a change of scenery. Despite being a solid runner and an effective, versatile pass-catcher, the 25-year-old running back has struggled to find a stable role in Cleveland's backfield.
2018 rookie Nick Chubb clearly surpassed him as the team's primary runner. The Browns also added Kareem Hunt this offseason after the Kansas City Chiefs released him following the release of a video that showed him shoving and kicking a woman. Hunt will be eligible to play after serving his eight-game suspension.
There will be no room for Johnson to get touches.
At the same time, Cleveland does not have a first-round pick and could use more starting-quality talent at cornerback. In this draft class, there are few starting-caliber corners outside of LSU's Greedy Williams, Georgia's Deandre Baker and Washington's Byron Murphy.
It is not outside the realm of possibility that Cleveland believes it can win right now and wants to move up for one of the top cornerbacks. Throwing in Johnson could be the cherry on top that gets the deal done, especially for teams who could use help at running back such as the Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles and Chiefs.
Dallas Cowboys: Trade Up for a Pass-Rusher
Though cornerstone defensive end Demarcus Lawrence just inked a long-term deal with the Dallas Cowboys, he needs help on the opposite end. Veteran Robert Quinn is a nice addition for now, but he turns 29 in May and is approaching the last few years of his career. Furthermore, 2017 first-round pick Taco Charlton has not lived up to expectations with just four sacks over two seasons.
The 2019 draft features a deep pass-rusher class, but owner/general manager Jerry Jones may not be satisfied with his options at No. 58 overall, Dallas' first pick this year.
The Cowboys only have six selections in this class, so trading into the first round for one of the better pass-rushers may dry up the team's resources in 2019. But it is possible that Dallas is in win-now mode.
Quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back Ezekiel Elliott all need new contracts soon. It is not far-fetched to think Jones could sacrifice long-term stability for a championship shot before those contracts soak up all of the team's cap space.
Denver Broncos: Trade into the 1st Round for Dalton Risner
All signs indicate that general manager John Elway will draft Missouri's Drew Lock with the 10th overall pick. Lock is tall (6'4"), strong-armed and a little bit reckless. This would not be the first time Elway has fallen for a quarterback like that. He even traded a fourth-round pick for former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco this offseason.
Whether Flacco is the starter or Lock supplants him, the Denver Broncos will need a solid offensive line. They started to rebuild the line by signing right tackle Ja'Wuan James in free agency. They can still make improvements, though, and the right guard spot in particular is a huge question mark after the departure of Billy Turner this offseason.
The Broncos could pair their shiny rookie quarterback with one of the most well-rounded linemen in this class, Kansas State's Dalton Risner. Risner has experience at center and right tackle, and many project him as a guard at the next level. He is theoretically a five-position player.
Hoping Risner falls to the Broncos' second-round pick at 41st overall is risky business, though. It is more than likely he will be off the board by then. The Broncos could jump at the opportunity to trade up for one of the best, most polished offensive linemen in the class and give their line a cornerstone to build around.
Detroit Lions: Trade Up for Josh Allen
If the Detroit Lions trade up from eighth overall to secure outside linebacker Josh Allen, it would be one of the bolder possibilities for this draft, but it should not be out of the question.
Head coach Matt Patricia tried to install a multiple-front, "amoeba" defense last year, but the team did not have the pieces for it. Though signing former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers, who played under Patricia in New England, is a start, the team still needs to fill out the defensive front.
The Lions have Romeo Okwara and Da'Shawn Hand as the No. 2 and No. 3 pass-rushers, which is not necessarily a weak group, but those two should not stop the team from investing in that position. Patricia could use another versatile piece.
Allen fits the bill. He is a pass-rusher but can also play a stand-up linebacker role and flow in coverage seamlessly. Be it working to the flat or carrying a tight end up the seams, Allen has the athleticism and savvy to be a plus coverage defender. That type of versatility could be terrifying under Patricia's unique defensive mind.
The New York Jets, who hold the third overall pick, are the most likely trade partners. Moving up to No. 3 would put the Lions in front of the Raiders, Giants and Jaguars, all of whom could use another pass-rusher.
Green Bay Packers: Package Picks Nos. 30 and 44 for a Tight End
The Green Bay Packers have two first-round picks at 12th and 30th overall but may end up in a pickle if they want to draft one of the top tight ends. At No. 12, they may be looking for someone to bolster their front seven or a wide receiver. However, in the gap between that selection and their next pick, the draft's top two tight ends—Iowa's T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant—may go off the board.
Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis are the Packers' top tight ends right now. Graham is a shell of his former self and is particularly ineffective as a blocker, while Lewis can only be a blocker and provides little to nothing as a pass-catcher. Graham tied a career low with two touchdowns last season; Lewis caught just three passes.
On top of needing a talent upgrade, the Packers brought in a new offensive-minded head coach in Matt LaFleur. He is a prodigy of Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, both of whom prioritize athletic tight ends who can feast in space. The San Francisco 49ers' George Kittle and the Los Angeles Rams' Gerald Everett fill that role to varying degrees of success for Shanahan and McVay, respectively.
Hockenson or Fant could be that for the Packers. With quarterback Aaron Rodgers, 35, entering the back end of his career and a young head coach looking to shape the offense into his vision, it would not be surprising to see Green Bay move up to secure a pass-catching threat to open up the middle of the field.
Houston Texans: Trade Up for Jawaan Taylor
Offensive line is a premium in football. It is a conduit for everything an offense does, and a good line is especially valuable for a young quarterback. The Texans apparently missed the memo and have one of the NFL's worst O-lines protecting franchise signal-caller Deshaun Watson, who was sacked a league-high 62 times in 2018.
It is the Texans' duty to protect Watson. He has proved at every turn that he is and will be the future in Houston, yet the team is heading into its third offseason with a disaster in front of him.
Thankfully, the Texans have the ammo to move up from 23rd overall and secure a top offensive lineman, preferably a tackle. They hold two second-round picks at Nos. 54 and 55. If they value Watson the way they should, they should use one of those selections to help themselves secure Florida right tackle Jawaan Taylor.
The 6'5", 312-pound Taylor is a strong, violent right tackle who thrives in both phases of the game. He can be an upgrade in pass protection right away as well as add some extra force in the running game. He is the exact type of lineman head coach Bill O'Brien should be looking for.
Indianapolis Colts: Trade Up for Deandre Baker or Byron Murphy
The Indianapolis Colts have too many resources for their own good. As of now, they have $59.5 million in cap space and nine 2019 draft picks, including two second-rounders and two fourth-rounders. There is no reason to hoard that many selections to get players on cheap contracts when they have that much cap space available. This Colts team can win now and should look to do so.
Cornerback is arguably their most pressing need. Pierre Desir is a solid starter on the outside, and Kenny Moore is an effective, versatile nickel cornerback. But the spot opposite Desir needs a new face. 2017 second-round pick Quincy Wilson has not panned out, and nobody beyond Wilson on the depth chart should be competing to be a starter.
The Colts should use their abundance of draft picks to trade up to grab a player they need right now. Georgia's Deandre Baker and Washington's Byron Murphy are the best fits for defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus' two-high safety zone defense. Both are smooth zone cornerbacks who can step in to start across from Desir right away.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Move Up for Another 1st-Round Selection
The seventh overall pick is a prime draft slot for the Jacksonville Jaguars to get a top player at any position. Tight end, right tackle and pass-rusher are more than likely their priorities. They will be satisfied with whatever they get at one of those positions. But they seem to think they can win now, and they may be looking to get another first-round pick to stock up on talent quickly.
With the 38th overall pick (just outside the first round) and an extra third-round selection, the Jaguars have the capital to make a play for another first-round pick somewhere in the 20s. Moving up could secure them one of the remaining Iowa tight ends in T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant or one of the desirable trench players on their board, depending on whom they choose seventh overall.
If the Jaguars were to come away with a duo like Hockenson and Oklahoma right tackle Cody Ford, for example, they would be in a much better position to compete on offense than they are right now.
Kansas City Chiefs: Trade Back from 29th Overall
Sitting at 29th overall, the Chiefs have a desirable pick for teams who may be looking to trade into the first round. Franchises are often willing to trade up in the late 20s through early 30s in order to secure players they did not believe would fall into that range or guarantee the fifth-year contract option that only first-round picks get.
Moving back a handful of spots does not do much to damage the value the Chiefs can get at positions of need. The team could use a defensive end or a wide receiver, and both positions feature deep classes with plenty of talent to be had at the top or middle of the second round.
The Chiefs could also use any extra picks they get in a trade to accumulate cheap contracts and bolster their depth on defense.
The defense, particularly the secondary, is in need of a total rebuild after KC ranked 31st in total defense and passing defense in 2018. Loading up on picks and taking as many chances as possible on Day 2 would be a good start to reconstructing the defense for new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Los Angeles Chargers: Trade Out of 28th Overall
The Los Angeles Chargers are in a similar position as the Chiefs. They hold the 28th pick, one selection before their AFC West rivals from Kansas City, and they can also afford to trade back. The defensive line and pass-rusher are two of the team's most pressing needs, and both positions provide excellent options in the second round.
In fact, it would not be outlandish for the Chargers to move back from 28th overall, acquire an extra Day 2 pick for a total of three and spend them all along the defensive front. They could use another starting-quality interior defensive lineman as well as depth at the position. The versatile and explosive stylings of Notre Dame's Jerry Tillery, for example, would be a good fit next to Brandon Mebane in coordinator Gus Bradley's defense.
As for the edge defenders, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram make a great one-two punch, but adding another pass-rusher to the stable would be a welcome addition.
Los Angeles Rams: Trade Out of 31st Overall
The Rams are coming up on the challenge of balancing short-term success and long-term stability. A measly $4 million in cap space is available to Los Angeles right now, with potential extensions for quarterback Jared Goff, cornerback Marcus Peters, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and linebacker Cory Littleton on the way next offseason.
The likely departure of veterans left tackle Andrew Whitworth and cornerback Aqib Talib following 2019 would free up almost $25 million in annual cap, but Goff’s new deal alone will likely cancel that out. Cost-cutting measures must be taken, even if the Rams do not intend on extending all five of the aforementioned players.
Swapping their No. 31 overall pick for one in the middle of each of the second- and third-rounds would eat up roughly the same amount of cap, somewhere around $10 million over four years. While the money technically looks the same, splitting that $10 million over four years between two players instead of one is effective cost measurement because they would not need to sign another veteran.
If the Rams intend on sustaining their current success, they need to find ways to maximize their cap space in this way. Getting good, cheap players through successful drafting in the middle rounds goes a long way in maintaining a team’s success.
Los Angeles has already proven they can draft well in the middle, too. Tight end Gerald Everett, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, safety John Johnson and wide receiver Josh Reynolds were taken one after another by the team in 2017 between the second and fourth rounds. They also found center Brian Allen and defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, both of whom contributed down the stretch during last season's playoff run.
Many of these players were Senior Bowl standouts, which has been a trend through Sean McVay's Los Angeles coaching tenure and should continue in the middle rounds of 2019.
Miami Dolphins: Acquire as Many Picks as Possible in Exchange for the 13th Pick
There is no denying that Fish Tank, a nickname given to the Dolphins' tanking efforts by ESPN's Mina Kimes, is in full effect. They hired a rookie head coach in Brian Flores, traded away starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill for peanuts and allowed defensive end Cameron Wake to sign elsewhere in free agency.
While the team would never outwardly say they are tanking, Miami has no intention to win games in 2019.
As such, the Dolphins are better off acquiring more picks and taking more shots, as opposed to staying at 13th overall to take one "better" shot.
13th overall is prime real estate for teams in the 20s and 30s to jump ahead of a few teams for pass-rushers. The Falcons (14th overall), Panthers (16th overall), Giants (17th overall) and Titans (19th overall) should all be in the market. If a team like the Raiders (27th overall) or the Patriots (32nd overall), for example, desperately want a pass-rusher who will not fall to their pick, the Dolphins make for a fitting trade partner.
Minnesota Vikings: Trade Trae Waynes
Cornerback Trae Waynes' departure is inevitable. After next season, he will be a free agent and it is unlikely the Vikings will re-sign him. The team is loaded at cornerback and do not need to pay top dollar to keep one on the roster.
In that case, it would be best for the Vikings to trade the 26-year-old Waynes on draft night. They can get returns for him right now as opposed to waiting on a compensatory pick next year, which will likely be less valuable than what they can net for him in a trade.
This year is especially opportune to trade Waynes because of how weak the cornerback class is. Waynes is a proven cornerback with impressive flashes. Being a known quantity should be more appealing than many of the cornerbacks in this class, especially after the first two or three.
It would be foolish of Minnesota to pass on trading Waynes for draft picks if the opportunity presents itself.
New England Patriots: Package Day 2 Picks for Another First-Round Pick
Trading up in the first round is not something the Patriots tend to do. Instead, they usually opt for the opposite approach by trading back and collecting picks. This year, however, poses a unique opportunity for the Patriots to go all-in for Tom Brady's last remaining year on his contract.
The Patriots have five combined picks in the second- and third-rounds in addition to their first-round pick at No. 32 overall. They could stay put at 32nd and still have more than enough capital to trade for someone else’s first-round pick in the 20s.
With needs to address at wide receiver, tight end and across the defensive line, it makes sense for the Patriots to double dip on first-round talent. Even more than typical New England rosters, this one desperately needs star power outside of Brady.
Players like Iowa State wide receiver Hakeem Butler, Iowa tight end Noah Fant and Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence could all be targets the Patriots move up for.
New Orleans Saints: Trade 2020 Assets for a 2019 First-Round Pick
The Saints have two options in front of them: Go all-in on 2019 for Drew Brees' potential final season, or start looking toward a post-Brees future at the expense of their roster strength in 2019. Knowing their tendency to backload contracts and push off Brees' major cap hits, the former option feels plausible.
As of right now, New Orleans' only pick in the first four rounds is its second-rounder at 52nd overall. That selection can be expected to contribute reasonably as a rookie, but the five players they select from rounds 5 through 7 should not be expected to contribute in 2019. In fact, a few of them are unlikely to even make the final 53-man roster.
The Saints could trade their future for a first-round pick this year if they feel that can put them over the edge into Super Bowl contention. Wide receiver, tight end and defensive end could all use an injection of first-round talent, and this is an opportune class for those positions.
Arizona State wide receiver N'Keal Harry, Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. and Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell are players they may be able to find at the end of the first round.
New York Giants: Trade Up from the 17th Pick for Star Talent
The Giants should not move up from the 17th overall pick. Not only do they already hold the sixth overall pick to get an elite prospect, but their roster is not close to being competitive. Burning resources for a roster that is not ready would be dangerous.
That being said, general manager Dave Gettleman seems to believe the roster is prepared to compete and refutes the idea that the team is in a "tear-down" state. It would not be surprising to see him double down with a trade.
The best target in a trade-up would be a pass-rusher. The Giants have a gaping hole at defensive end right now, currently sporting Kareem Martin and Avery Moss as their two potential starters. Moving up a few spots to take Florida State’s Brian Burns or Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat could be on their minds.
Shoring up their offensive line with a right tackle, either Florida's Jawaan Taylor or Oklahoma's Cody Ford, would also make sense.
New York Jets: Trade Out of 3rd Overall for a King's Ransom
This class features three players who are strong candidates to be drafted with the first three picks in Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa and Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. While the Jets could use either of the two defensive linemen, they could also net a king’s ransom from a different team that wants whichever of Bosa or Williams falls to 3rd overall.
Not only do the Jets have more issues than one top-five pick could solve, they also need to prioritize flexible edge players. Bosa is a fantastic prospect and would be a great addition, but if their pursuit of Anthony Barr as a pass-rusher was any indication, the Jets want versatile players on the edge.
Moving back a few picks may still allow New York to take a pass-rusher like Kentucky's Josh Allen while snagging a few extra picks, potentially another in the first round. It may even be the case that they want Houston's Ed Oliver following a trade down instead of taking Williams at 3rd overall.
Either way, given the Jets' needs and options, they are positioned to move down a handful of spots and still get what they need out of this draft.
Oakland Raiders: Package Top-40 Picks to Move Up in the First Round
The Raiders offense is ready to compete for an AFC title. They have a competent quarterback, a talented wide receiver corps led by All-Pro Antonio Brown, and a rock-solid offensive line. It will not be an elite unit, but it will be more than capable of propelling Oakland to a .500-plus record.
However, the defense is a disaster. They recorded a league-low 13 sacks last season, less than half of the next-worst Giants and Patriots, who each posted 30 sacks. Football Outsiders also ranked the Raiders as the third-worst defense in the league, per DVOA, including a league-worst DVOA rating for pass defense.
Though the Raiders made additions like cornerback Nevin Lawson, linebacker Brandon Marshall and safety Lamarcus Joyner in free agency, the handful of veteran acquisitions will not take the defense as far as it needs to go.
In turn, the Raiders should look to move up from 27th overall, their second pick in the first round, and make sure they get as much star power as possible. The offense is ready to compete right now, so trying to buoy the defense with a couple of top-tier rookies could be enough to make it presentable.
Moving up into the late teens for players such as Florida State defensive end Brian Burns or Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins should be on the table for head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock.
Philadelphia Eagles: Trade Up from 25th Overall
Quarterback Carson Wentz's contract extension is on the horizon. Franchise quarterbacks tend to earn deals that eat up around 11 to 14 percent of the cap. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's recent contract extension, for example, will take up 13.78 percent of the team's cap in 2019.
That type of constraint can make team building a bit harder, which is why teams like the Rams have gone all-in during their quarterback's rookie contract window. The Eagles have not yet indulged in that approach, but they could this year.
Rather than sit at 25th overall and hold onto both of their second-round selections, Philadelphia could move up a handful of spots for a "luxury" pick. They do not necessarily need to move up to ensure they fill a position of need, but they could bolster a strong spot on the roster, such as defensive tackle or end.
Loading up along the defensive line has been the Eagles' strategy for years. With defensive end Michael Bennett departing this offseason, it would not be surprising to see them do all they can to fill his absence and continue adding depth. Clemson's Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence and Michigan's Rashan Gary are all options that should be available in the mid-teens, but may not be at 25th overall.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Trade Up for a Cornerback
The Steelers hold 10 draft picks right now, but signing all 10 would put the team at the edge, or over, the cap limit. It does not make sense for the Steelers to hold onto all 10 picks, even if six of them are relatively affordable Day 3 selections.
One of their extra picks is in the third round. With one of those, and another pick if necessary, Pittsburgh should look to move up in the first round to quell their need for another starting cornerback. After finishing 17th in Football Outsiders' pass defense DVOA and 21st in ESPN's passer rating, they could use a makeover in the secondary.
If the Steelers plan to continue their recent switch to a more man-coverage centric approach, LSU's Greedy Williams should be the apple of their eye. He is an aggressive, lanky press-man cornerback who, at 6'2", can stack up with the slew of talented receivers in the AFC North.
Georgia's Deandre Baker and Washington's Byron Murphy would also be solid options. All three players may be gone by Pittsburgh's 20th overall pick and it's a stepp drop-off after those three in this cornerback class. The Steelers may need to burn a few of their extra picks to make sure they can get a top corner.
San Francisco 49ers: Trade Up to 1st Overall
There is no certainty that the Cardinals plan on taking Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the first pick. New head coach Kliff Kingsbury does seem to have an affinity for Murray, but it is rare for sitting general managers to so suddenly move on from their own first-round quarterbacks. The Cardinals drafted Josh Rosen 10th overall just last year.
If the Cardinals do not take Murray, Ohio State's Nick Bosa is a strong possibility for them considering their need for an outside pass-rusher. Chandler Jones is a consistent double-digit sack producer, but newly acquired Terrell Suggs is 36 years old and the depth beyond him is bleak. Adding Bosa not only gives them a viable third pass-rusher now, but prepares them for a post-Suggs future.
Likewise, the 49ers should value Bosa as the best answer to solve their pass-rushing woes on the outside. San Francisco finished just 22nd in the league with 37 sacks in 2018, with almost one-third of those sacks coming from DeForest Buckner on the interior.
Though unlikely, there is a world in which the 49ers, who value Bosa well above the rest of the top options, fear the Cardinals are bluffing about Murray. In that case, San Francisco could be willing to part with a handful of picks to secure Bosa, who can be a cornerstone defensive piece for the next decade.
Seattle Seahawks: Trade Frank Clark
Defensive end Frank Clark is still on the trade block, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Last month, the NFL Network reported that Clark, 25, would not sign a franchise tag or report for training camp without a contract extension. To this point, the team has only offered him the tag, which he has refused to sign.
In order to be traded, Clark would need to sign the franchise tag tender or a contract extension, but that could be arranged prior to draft day in preparation for a move.
Trading a star defensive end is not ideal, but the Seahawks should make the most of a sticky situation. A proven pass-rusher of Clark's caliber is worth at least a first-round pick. Though he is not quite on Khalil Mack's level, who Oakland traded to the Bears for two first-round picks and a swap of some mid-round picks. It would not be unreasonable for Clark to also pull a first-round pick and some change.
Recouping picks would be valuable for a Seahawks team with only four, as well. They are without second-round, sixth-round and seventh-round picks in this class. Netting a couple extra picks, especially in a class loaded with pass-rushers, could help stabilize the roster and cap situation—especially in the wake of quarterback Russell Wilson’s mega-contract.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trade Gerald McCoy
It will be difficult for the Buccaneers to find a way to sign their draft class without getting 31-year-old defensive tackle Gerald McCoy's contract off the books. The former All-Pro is due $13 million in 2019. Trading (or cutting) him would not incur any dead cap penalties, so Tampa Bay's cap space would gain the full $13 million. Considering they only have $1 million available right now, that added flexibility would be a major relief.
Shipping off McCoy has nothing to do with his level of play, either. He is still a disruptive force from the interior who could start for any team around the league without question. He recorded an impressive 19 sacks over the past three seasons, fifth-most among interior defenders during that span.
McCoy's value may even increase this year given the gap between Alabama's Quinnen Williams, Houston's Ed Oliver and the rest of the defensive tackle class. Any team that misses out on either of those prospects should be eyeing McCoy to fill the same void.
Acquiring assets in exchange for McCoy should be beneficial for the Bucs' new coaching staff, too. They want to shape the roster with their own vision in mind. Having a couple extra draft picks and an additional $13 million in cap space would give them a head start.
Tennessee Titans: Trade Up for a Defensive Lineman
A creative, defensive-minded head coach like Mike Vrabel can only mask so much. Talent wins out at a certain point in football, especially on defense. The trenches, in particular, are often a battle of talent over tactics. Unless the Titans make a move in the draft, their defense is going to lose the battle in the trenches far more often than not.
As of now, the Titans' top three pass-rushers are an aging, 37-year-old Cameron Wake, a talented but unproven Harold Landry and a lackluster DaQuan Jones. There is no standout threat. Even last season, with Vrabel's arrival, Tennessee's defense achieved just a league-average 39 sacks.
The interior defensive line, conversely, has a depth problem. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey is a cornerstone piece, but the rest of the rotation is uninspiring. A stable of Matt Dickerson, Austin Johnson and Darius Kilgo will not cut it in a tight AFC South.
The Titans need an injection of talent somewhere along the defensive line, be it interior or on the edge.
Sitting at 19th overall, Tennessee is entrenched behind a handful of teams who also need pass-rushers, including the Dolphins, Falcons, Panthers and Giants. If they do not jump any of those teams, it is highly unlikely that a pass-rusher they value will still be available.
The likes of Florida State's Brian Burns, Clemson's Christian Wilkins and Mississippi State's Montez Sweat should all be on the Titans' radar as reasons to trade up.
Washington Redskins: Jump Ahead of Denver for Drew Lock
Owner Dan Snyder is a sucker for flashy roster moves. Whether it is throwing a blank check at defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth or mortgaging the franchise to trade up for quarterback Robert Griffin III, nothing is too frivolous for Snyder. Moving up in this draft to select a polarizing quarterback in Missouri's Drew Lock would be on brand.
The Redskins have an extra third-round pick in their back pocket this year and could use that as a key asset in moving up from 15th overall to jump Denver at 10th. Denver is likely the biggest threat to take Lock in front of Washington, so they need to get ahead of them to secure him.
Lock would be entering a solid situation in Washington, too. He needs a year on the bench to soak in the system and work on his quick-game footwork. With Case Keenum, a plenty competent starter, already on the roster, Lock would get the breathing room he will need as a rookie.