- Last year both the No. 1 and No. 2 picks changed hands in pre-draft deals. Can we expect more trades this year? Here's a look at how Round 1 would change if five different teams tried to move up.
On April 13 of last year, when it was obvious the Titans were trying to unload the No. 1 pick, our mock suggested this deal:
Rams get: No. 1, take Jared Goff
Titans get: Nos. 15, 43 and 45, plus a 2017 first and third, take Jack Conklin
One day later, the Rams and Titans completed a trade—the Rams sending picks 15, 43, 45 and 76, plus 2017 first- and third-rounders to Tennessee for 1, 113 and 177. Los Angeles took Goff; Tennessee took Conklin.
I make no promises that any of this year’s proposed mock trades will come to fruition, but … well, we had to try. There are five trades included in this mock (on top of the four involving first-round picks that already have gone down), and all five involve a team moving up to land a skill-position player.
The reason behind it: The way this draft class stands, it will be more logical to sit and wait on defenders than it is to hope the right quarterback, running back or wide receiver falls into your lap. There is depth at RB and WR, to be sure, but also undeniable Round 1 talents at those positions. If a GM glimpses the opportunity to pounce on one, he will.
All we can assume for now, though, is that there will be movement during the draft’s opening round on April 27. Will that movement include any of the trades offered up in this week’s mock?
There are a dozen or so players I’d consider in Tier 1 of this draft class and, like, 60 in Tier 2. It’s a very deep group, especially on defense. So, if the Browns were to break off a curveball and go QB here, they could do so knowing they’d be able to load up on potential impact defenders with picks 12, 33, 65 and 108. They still should, and probably will, take Garrett. But ...
The Bears improved at safety by signing veteran free agent Quintin Demps, but neither he nor any of the incumbent options (Adrian Amos, Deon Bush, Harold Jones-Quartey) are pieces around which to build a defense. Adams can be just that.
Blockbuster No. 1. The worry for the Browns in taking Garrett is that they might miss out on the quarterback they want. Rather than cross their fingers and wait for pick 12, they go on the offensive. For their part, the Jaguars would pick up the first selection on Day 2, move into Round 5 from Round 6 and still be within that aforementioned top tier of talent at the No. 12 spot. Here’s my full scouting report on Trubisky.
The Eagles have hosted both Fournette and Dalvin Cook on official visits in recent days. If they want the former LSU star as a focal point of their offense next season, they’ll have to go get him. This would drop the Titans nine spots in Round 1, but it would add a second-rounder (which they currently don’t have). Three picks in the top 43 would make for a nice weekend in Tennessee.
This is close to the ideal scenario for the Chargers: two QBs and a running back in the top six; Hooker, Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster and every wide receiver still available. Hooker is a game-changing presence against the pass, landing in a league that’s airing it out more than ever.
Two things about Howard to Carolina: 1) Pairing him with Greg Olsen would make for a lethal combination; 2) His blocking would help set up the ground game and protect Cam Newton. Howard does come with bust potential relative to expectation, but he also has All-Pro upside.
The Bengals’ recent addition of LB Kevin Minter does not rule out the possibility that they draft a linebacker, but it does make it harder to see them spending a top-10 pick on one. The pass rush is a more pressing issue now.
Buffalo lost Stephon Gilmore to New England and, as of March 22, still needs a replacement for him atop the depth chart. Lattimore comes with a history of hamstring injuries, but he is a physically assertive cornerback ready-made for NFL success.
Talent isn’t everything, and there is genuine concern about Foster’s persona, but the fact remains that he is clearly one of the top prospects in this class. The Saints have a fearsome front four backed by a mediocre linebacking corps (including 2015 first-rounder Stephone Anthony). Foster could clean up on the second level.
If the top receivers—Williams, Corey Davis and John Ross—start getting pushed down the board, the Ravens have to consider making a move for one. Joe Flacco cannot live on the speed of Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace alone. He needs a true No. 1 option, and Williams can become one.
In our last mock, Davis was the Titans’ pick at No. 5. Because of the ankle injury Davis is dealing with, which kept him out of the combine and Western Michigan’s pro day, he may still be there for the taking in the middle of Round 1.
In this mock draft trade frenzy, I considered moving Indianapolis up the board for Allen. But the desperation that may exist for teams at the skill positions likely won’t be there on defense—there is too much talent on D to be had later. Reddick has had a magnificent pre-draft build-up, and he’s the type of athletic chip Indianapolis needs at inside linebacker.
One of the remaining playmakers on offense would be mighty tempting here, but Washington still has holes to fill on defense. Cunningham would help there, as he’d give them a three-down defender at inside linebacker.
Sidney Jones tore his Achilles during Washington’s Pro Day, then Fabian Moreau reportedly suffered a pectoral injury at UCLA’s workout Tuesday. So, this year’s loaded cornerback class has taken a couple of hits. Tennessee is in much better shape at the position now that Logan Ryan’s on board, but that signing should not keep the Titans from adding more talent. Wilson and Jason McCourty could pair outside, allowing Ryan to man the slot as he did during his best New England days last season.
Cook may be the draft’s toughest riddle right now. He is a brilliant talent, but struggled at the combine and carries both off-field and injury red flags. He could go top 10; he could slide to Day 2. Let’s split the difference and reunite him with Jameis Winston. The Buccaneers would have their Doug Martin replacement.
The Broncos certainly could nab a defensive prospect here. Between Ross, Christian McCaffrey and TE David Njoku, they would be better served making sure they have enough weapons on offense. Ross immediately would provide Denver a home-run threat from the slot and on special teams.
Finally, the first lineman off the board. With Laremy Tunsil’s planned move out to tackle, the Dolphins are lacking starters at guard and depth at OT. Lamp may be viewed more as an interior option in the long-term, but his ability to swing into either spot gets him the nod.
It could come down to Njoku or an offensive tackle here (although don’t sleep on an edge rusher like Taco Charlton to give the Giants more options on defense). New York’s need may be greater along the O-line, but the possibilities of Njoku creating mismatches in the passing attack might tickle the Giants’ fancy.
While the jury remains out on Peppers’s ultimate draft value, his combine performance and unique versatility still point toward a Round 1 landing spot. This is a good one. The Raiders would be able to mix and match like few other teams can if they partnered Peppers and 2016 first-rounder Karl Joseph.
For the moment, we’re still operating under the assumption that Tony Romo somehow, some way, winds up in Houston. If not, this spot becomes a definite QB match. (Even with Romo, the Texans could justify it.) No matter the signal-caller in charge for 2017, though, the Texans need to settle their tackle situation. Bolles or Ryan Ramczyk would be plug-and-play candidates within Bill O’Brien’s scheme. Here’s my full scouting report on Bolles.
White has just enough size to be able to hold his own against bigger NFL receivers, but it’s his assertiveness when the ball is in the air—from the slot or outside—that will appeal to teams in Round 1. DeShawn Shead’s playoff ACL tear and Jeremy Lane’s up-and-down 2016 make this position one Seattle could address.
Charlton is a player Detroit no doubt would consider at 21, meaning he’s a great option at 27. He isn’t as polished a player as the ongoing hype around him might have one believe, but he does have the upside to justify that buzz. This is a value-meets-need pairing. Here’s my full scouting report on Charlton.
The previous 49ers regime executed a similar trade at last year’s draft, sending picks 37, 105 and 178 to Kansas City for Nos. 28 and 249. The pick there: G Joshua Garnett.
Between McKinley, Charles Harris, Derek Rivers, a potentially falling Tim Williams and others, there should be pass-rushing talent to go around late in Round 1. That’s great news for the Steelers, who have to find a little more pop, even if James Harrison plays into his 50s. McKinley’s unrelenting motor would make him a fan favorite in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps the questions about McDowell’s drive keep him on the board into Day 2. Talent-wise, McDowell belongs in the conversation much higher than that. Atlanta has the personnel in place, including new addition Dontari Poe, to limit the pressure on McDowell to dominate early. Dan Quinn could pick his spots with the gifted, if enigmatic, prospect.
(Pick via Patriots) The Saints should not go out of their way to lock themselves into a pass rusher-cornerback combo with their two first-round picks. Those are clearly positions where they will be focusing, though, and they definitely have CB choices here: Humphrey, Kevin King, Gareon Conley, Teez Tabor, etc. Humphrey checks off a ton of boxes.