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First-round trades in the NFL draft are more popular than ever. Here’s who could be looking to deal on Thursday. 

By Jonathan Jones
April 23, 2019

If your favorite mock draft this spring doesn’t have a handful of first-round trades, throw it away. It’s garbage.

There have been at least five first-round draft-day trades in each of the past three years; in 2018 there were seven. As NFL decision-makers evolve and realize that trades can be mutually beneficial and not everyone has to lose, we’ve only gotten more fireworks in the first round. Get ready, Nashville.

I have three favorites to trade down in this year’s draft and one swashbuckling team ready to shoot (back) up the draft and make another splash.

TRADE DOWN

New York Jets: In order to move to No. 3 and guarantee themselves Sam Darnold last year, the Jets had to give the Colts their No. 6 overall pick in 2018 along with two second-rounders that year and this year’s second-round pick. Basically, they gave up three second-rounders to move up three spots. The Jets need to make that up, seeing as after the third selection on Thursday they don’t pick again until 68th, on Friday. It’d be hard to turn down a guy like Quinnen Williams at No. 3, but a team may be willing to give more than they should to get in front of a wild card like Oakland or a quarterback-needy Giants team.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Speaking of the Giants, the Bucs have the No. 5 pick, one ahead of New York. GM Jason Licht has been amenable to trading down in recent years, trading his higher pick to Chicago in 2016 and to Buffalo in 2018. I see the hole at middle linebacker just like you do, and Devin White could be sitting there waiting to go to the 813. But what team in need of a quarterback may be willing to jump up ahead of the Giants? Or, would Dave Gettleman be willing to trade up à la Ryan Pace from two years ago and secure his QB, just as the Bears did for Mitch Trubisky? That’s doubtful, but the No. 5 pick will be valuable no matter what.

Detroit Lions: No one likes desperate, and the Lions have made it clear to just about anyone who will listen that they wish to not make the eighth selection on Thursday. Their desperation hurts their leverage, and ultimately I think they won’t get the sort of compensation the eighth overall pick should command.

Miami Dolphins: Their 13th pick sits near the middle of the draft, and there’s no telling at this point how the draft is going to fall. If you believe, like me and many others, that Miami is going to tank this season, why not parlay this selection into future picks? It’s difficult to invite rookies onto a team that won’t win much in 2019. Trade down in the first round, acquire a first-rounder next year, and maybe even trade down again later in the draft to get more. Cleveland amassed picks for years leading up to 2018. Oakland did the same this past season, which leaves the Raiders with three picks in the top 27 this year. If this is truly a #FishTank, and the QB of the future isn’t there at 13, stack up for next year when you plan to truly compete.

TRADE UP

Oakland Raiders: Having three first-round picks sounds great in theory, but it also means you need to 1) hit on all three, 2) have first-round grades on them and 3) eventually pay them all. Oakland picks at 4, 24 and 27. It’s possible the Raiders—and many other teams—don’t have 27 players in this draft with first-round grades. Imagining them staying at 4, they will then have more than enough ammo (according to Jimmy Johnson’s trade value chart) to get back into the top 10 if they wish with picks 24 and 27. If you’re Mike Mayock and you’ve identified your next two franchise pillars (hopefully on defense) in this draft in the top 10 or 12, trade up and go get the second one.

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HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Conor Orr welcomes us to the NFL draft week … Albert Breer leads off the MMQB with what he’s hearing and his first-round mock draft … Jenny Vrentas on the secret market in intel in the run-up to the draft ... Caleb Friedman catches you up on 10 things you need to know heading into the draft … and more.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Gary Gramling gives the people their favorite mock draft … Conor Orr with the story of Dr. Z’s greatest mock draft ever … Tim Rohan on the most loaded draft class in history … and more.


PRESS COVERAGE

1. The Athletic’s Sheil Kapida spent time with NFL Network draft analyst and friend of The MMQB Daniel Jeremiah and came away with this piece.

2. Cowboys center Travis Frederick hopes to be cleared for contact for training camp after missing last season with a rare auto-immune disease, writes Clarence Hill. 

3. Dan Pompei takes a look at Montez Sweat, a first-round talent who could fall Thursday due to a heart condition.  

4. Jim Trotter digs into the culture in Pittsburgh and what it may take for things to go back to the way they were in Steelers Land.

5. On the topic of trading up or down, Saints GM Mickey Loomis acknowledged trading back into the first round will be tough, writes Josh Katzenstein.


THE KICKER

With two days left before the draft, we are entering Peak Smokescreen Season. This is probably the most untruthful time of the year for NFL folks.

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com

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