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The NFL Draft Order: How the First Picks Could Play Out

It’s a draft heavy on defense and light on top-notch quarterbacks. Now that the order for the top 20 is set, what does that mean for the trade market, and when might we see the first QB come off the board this spring?

The conclusion of the regular season means draft speculation moves to the next level, as the 20 teams that missed the playoffs are now officially in offseason mode. The draft order through the first 20 teams is set:

1. Arizona (3-13)
2. San Francisco (4-12)
3. N.Y. Jets (4-12)
4. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
5. Tampa Bay (5-11)
6. N.Y. Giants (5-11)
7. Jacksonville (5-11)
8. Detroit (6-10)
9. Buffalo (6-10)
10. Denver (6-10)
11. Cincinnati (6-10)
12. Green Bay (6-9-1)
13. Miami (7-9)
14. Atlanta (7-9)
15. Washington (7-9)
16. Carolina (7-9)
17. Cleveland (7-8-1)
18. Minnesota (8-7-1)
19. Tennessee (9-7)
20. Pittsburgh (9-6-1)

VRENTAS: Baker Mayfield, Tua Tagovailoa and the New Quarterback Mold

With the top pick, the Cardinals have an opportunity to strengthen their defense edge rusher Nick Bosa, who is widely viewed as the top overall prospect. They could trade the pick to quarterback-needy team, though the market for that pick could be depressed by a lack of high-end QBs in this class. Arizona has so many holes on its roster—specifically on the offensive line that protects Josh Rosen—that trading down would be preferred, but the reality of Bosa and Chandler Jones wreaking havoc together might be enough to convince the Cards to stay put.

Neither Arizona, San Francisco nor the Jets are in need of a quarterback. The Raiders could choose to move on from Derek Carr, but it seems unlikely considering Carr just threw for 4,000 yards for the first time in his career despite a rotating group of receivers and offensive linemen. He also seemed to develop a better relationship with Jon Gruden as the season progressed. But considering how Gruden has blown up much of the Raiders roster this season, Carr is surely not off-limits.

Before ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Tampa Bay intends to stick with Jameis Winston, the Bucs were counted among the QB-needy teams. They still might be—the Bucs plan to stick with Winston because he’s only 24 years old, will make $20 million next year, and they’ll have a new coach for him to work with in 2019—but Tampa could opt to bring in a long-term alternative.

The Giants and Jaguars both need quarterbacks, though the Giants could put it off, as Pat Shurmur said he “absolutely” thinks Eli Manning has good football left in him and he expects Manning to return in 2019. Manning is 37 and entering the final year of his contract, so the Giants might try using their first-round pick on a quarterback like Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, who has yet to declare for the draft, but who most scouts view as the top QB prospect. Jacksonville has to draft a franchise quarterback, the Bortles-Kessler-Bortles-Kessler rotation cannot go on any longer. And if the Giants and Jaguars are, say, both targeting Haskins, that could create a market for a pick at the top of the draft.

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