As the draft-week intrigue starts to build and our final mock draft looms (version 7.0 hits the site Friday), predictions of what's about to unfold are everywhere. But as I survey the NFL landscape in late April, here are 10 moves I think make too much sense not to make. I'm not saying these all will happen, but I think they should:
Shockey has never fully bought into head coach
New York is never going to get New Orleans to give up both its second-round pick (No. 40 overall) and starting safety
At No. 40, New York could also choose to replace Shockey with a younger, healthier, cheaper version in Purdue tight end
With Sheppard not even taking part in Philly's offseason program, the Eagles don't have a ton of leverage in any potential deal. Everybody knows he's a goner, so Philadelphia can't exact maximum value. What the Eagles should be content to do is use Sheppard as the ammo they need to move up in the first round from their current No. 19 slot. The two obvious teams above Philly that need a cornerback are No. 8 Baltimore and No. 10 New Orleans.
The Ravens wouldn't go anywhere if Boston College quarterback
Same for No. 10 New Orleans. At No. 10, the Eagles could pick the draft's top-rated receiver,
The Raiders need defensive linemen and they're well-positioned in this year's draft to address that issue. At No. 4, they're 99.9 percent certain of getting one of the following: Ohio State defensive end/linebacker
Benson doesn't seem to do anything particularly well three years into his NFL career, and if I was calling the shots in Chicago, I'd cut my losses and move on. At least in the sense of bringing in front-line competition for the underachieving Benson, who appears to be a classic case of the high draft pick who got paid and lost motivation.
That's where Mendenhall, the University of Illinois star, comes in. He's a big, powerful and fast runner who has very little wear and tear on his body after starting just one season (as a junior) for the Illini. The already low-impact Bears offense suffered some losses this offseason, and playmakers are in painfully short supply on the unit coordinated by
The Vikings have offered their No. 17 pick in the first round, plus the higher of their two selections in the third round, No. 73 overall. The Bucs are interested in Allen as well, but Tampa Bay picks 20th overall in the first round, and that means Minnesota is in the driver's seat.
With the Vikings' two picks, the Chiefs would own five of the draft's top 73 choices, including two of the top 17. If they choose wisely and get some luck, the Chiefs could parlay that into a draft-weekend bounty and be on their way back. Kansas City should act now, when Allen's value is at its peak, rather than risk losing him in the long run, perhaps for a lot less.
Who will it be? The Ravens like all three of the passers who could potentially be the second quarterback chosen: Michigan's
As for the Ravens' trading partner, several teams in the 20s jump out as likely targets: No. 24 Tennessee, No. 25 Seattle, and No. 27 San Diego. The Titans probably have the most reason to stay where they are, but if they don't like their receiving options at 24, they could choose to move down and let Baltimore climb ahead of fellow quarterback-needy clubs such as Miami, Atlanta (if it doesn't choose Ryan in the first round) and Carolina.
But New Orleans needs help at defensive tackle and Ellis is seen as the obvious pick at No. 9 by Cincinnati. It'll take getting above the Bengals to land Ellis. While the Saints are rumored to have also explored the idea of getting up high enough to have a shot at LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, it's probably cost prohibitive. Ellis makes much more sense and comes with the added bonus of having been recruited to USC by new Saints defensive line coach
Doing it that way, the Falcons could almost certainly add an impact player on both sides of the ball at the top of their draft. Taking the quarterback at No. 3 means it's unlikely they'd be able to affect their defense as dramatically in Round 2 as Dorsey would in Round 1.
But New York isn't in the same position as Atlanta, and has to get better quarterback play if it has any hopes of closing the gap on the Patriots in the AFC East.