It is that time of the year again, when fans are already looking at mock drafts to see who their team will select on May 8th. Any dedicated fan has that one player that they know would make an immediate impact, if their team chose to select them with their first round pick. However, teams can find themselves missing out on that key player by only a pick or two because of another team trading up. I’m not saying that this will be like 2012 when there were 16 first round trades, an NFL record, but there is potential for some teams to move up or down to grab that potential starter. Here are 5 potential trades that I believe make the most sense for teams to make in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.
1) Houston Texans trade the 1st overall pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for the 3rd pick in the first round and 39th overall pick in round 2.
Bill O’Brien has already publicly stated he is looking to trade out of the 1st overall pick and I don’t blame him. That puts more pressure on his coaching staff and the player chosen. The Jaguars however, need a quarterback and need to sell tickets. The answer here then is obvious, Johnny Manziel. The Jaguars give up their 2nd round pick to move up two spots, but it will be worth it. There is talent on this team that tries hard week in and week out. “Johnny Football” will be a great fit for this team and the Texans can still get the quarterback that fits their coach with the 3rd pick. O’Brien likes the more prototypical quarterback so I see him liking Blake Bortles a little more than Teddy Bridgewater or Manziel. This is a great move for a rookie coach to get an extra pick and still get the quarterback he wants. If they do not trade down then they can either take the quarterback that they like more or take Jadeveon Clowney, who most predict will be an instant starter in the NFL.
Other possibilities: Cleveland, Oakland, or Minnesota.
2) St. Louis Rams trade the 2nd pick in round 1 to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for the 6th overall pick and 37th overall pick in round 2.
Les Snead is one of the best general managers in the NFL and will continue to prove it in this upcoming draft. The Rams could take Clowney or one of the top offensive tackles, but I think Snead will try to drop down a few places and still end up with an instant impact player, while adding a 2nd round pick. If they can’t find someone to trade with then I can see them taking Sammy Watkins from Clemson. They have Tavon Austin and if they add Watkins to the other side, there is no reason Sam Bradford shouldn’t succeed. They also have the 13th overall pick so if they can trade down, they can end up with 4 picks in the first 44. If all goes well in this draft and the Rams can add a few key pieces, I can see them shaking things up in the NFC West next year. The Falcons went from the NFC Championship game two years ago to an abysmal season plagued by injuries this season. After letting John Abraham walk to the Cardinals and Kroy Biermann tearing his Achilles, the Falcons realize they need help in their pass rush and why not trade up to get the top player in this year’s draft. Clowney is projected to be a star in the NFL and the Falcons will need his skills to get after the quarterbacks in the NFC South.
Other Possibilities: Oakland, Tampa Bay, or Minnesota
3) Baltimore Ravens trade the 17th pick in the 1st round and 48th overall pick in the 2nd round for the 9th overall pick from the Buffalo Bills
This is probably my biggest reach and least likely trade to happen. The Bills have holes at right tackle and linebacker that can be filled with this pick but I also think the draft is quite deep at these positions. The Ravens have a need for another receiver to go along with Torrey Smith and give Flacco another option to throw to. Sammy Watkins will be gone by now and Mike Evans is climbing up in some people’s big boards. I do not believe Mike Evans will be a number 1 receiver in the NFL but there are those analysts who believe he can be. There are other wide receiver needy teams between this 9th pick and when the Ravens would pick at 17, so if they feel like there will be a run on the position they would be smart to move up and grab the prospect they want. The Bills made a great move in last year’s draft by moving down and picking up an extra 2nd round pick, which turned out to be Kiko Alonso. If they do the same this year they may be able to pick up Eric Ebron from North Carolina later in the first round where his value makes more sense and solidify the offensive line in the second round. If they can’t find another team to trade with they will still have a few great prospects to choose from that can be influential from day 1.
Other Possibilities: Tampa Bay, Minnesota, or Detroit
4) Pittsburgh Steelers trade their 15th overall pick, 114th overall pick in the 4th round and their 7th round pick for the N.Y. Giants 12th overall pick and 6th round pick.
The Steelers have an aging secondary and a need for another play-making wide receiver. They could feel the pressure to move up here to grab either Polamalu’s replacement in Ha-Ha Dixon or maybe go with a corner like Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State. Mike Evans and Marquise Lee both might be available here and these are two guys who would match up well with Emmanuel Sanders, even though they have two different styles. The Giants need help on the offensive line and the top 3 tackles could be gone by this point. Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews are pretty much locked into the top 10 but if Tyler Lewan falls to this spot than N.Y. may not be able to pass up on him to help protect Eli Manning. There are quite a few pieces that have to fall into place for this trade to happen, but when has there ever been a draft where things went as planned.
5) Cleveland Browns trade the 26th pick in the 1st round and 71st overall in the 3rd round for the 17th overall pick from the Dallas Cowboys
The Browns have seven, yes seven, picks in the first four rounds. I will be looking for them to make a couple of moves during the draft. I would not be surprised if they traded up for the number 1 overall pick from the Texans to grab a quarterback like Johnny Manziel. If they are unable to move up then, I would look for them to be very active throughout the rest of the first round They have a decent defense but their offensive line could use a few upgrades and they need another playmaker besides Josh Gordon who is not a true number 1 in my eyes. The draft being as deep as it is this year, there could be a high value prospect that falls to this spot that the Browns should not pass up. The Cowboys on the other hand have all the talent in the world, they need depth. The best way to build quality depth is having multiple picks in the mid rounds of the draft, look at the 49ers. Not having as high of a draft pick will also save them some cap space, very little compared to where they move to, but they will need as much as they can get this off-season.
Bonus: Minnesota Vikings trade the 8th pick to NY Jets, Giants, or Detroit. Also look for the San Francisco 49ers to be active since they have been in the draft ever since Jim Harbaugh became the head coach.
Sports-Kings Down and Distance Contributor Kyle Pierce @kylepierce28