Every year, I produce a mock that heads all the way in the opposite direction. Instead of a draft with no picks traded, this is the mock in which each and every first-round pick gets swapped. No selection is left behind. The goal is to try to create a trade for each pick that makes sense for two (or more) parties given their respective histories and present needs. I’m not saying I would suggest any teams should actually execute these trades, but if there’s a team like the Dolphins with a track record of trading up and have a need at a key position, it makes sense to build a trade in which they do so.
One important note: Each trade is independent of all the other ones. The 32 trades take place in 32 different universes where a different set of players are still available. I’ve notated picks in the 2018 draft with their round and overall spot on the board, so 2-35 indicates the 35th overall pick, which is in the second round. I’ve also limited myself to only involving a given player in a swap once during this entire exercise, so for example, there’s only one trade featuring Odell Beckham Jr.
The trade values for these swaps were calculated using the Jimmy Johnson chart, which most teams in the league still use as the primary measure of a draft pick’s value. More analytically inclined teams are likely to use something closer to the Chase Stuart chart. For me, the Johnson chart measures perceived value, while the Stuart chart measures actual value.
Last year, this started with a ridiculous three-way trade that would have seen the Browns trade down from the top spot and acquire Jimmy Garoppolo from New England, with the Patriots getting Myles Garrett and Josh Gordon and the Saints nabbing Malcolm Butler. Honestly, it might have worked out better for the Browns and Patriots than the actual decisions they later made at quarterback. Let’s start this exercise by constructing a similarly insane proposal.
Browns get: QB Andrew Luck; 1-6; 2019 fourth-round pick
Colts get: 1-1; 1-4; 2-35; 2019 first-round pick
It’s very, very difficult to construct a trade for the first overall pick this year, given that the Browns desperately need a quarterback and have the top pick in a passer-heavy class. Any trade the Browns could make would need to solve their quarterback problem, and unlike last year with Garoppolo, there isn’t a potential franchise signal-caller floating around as a backup. You’re looking at quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota and Dak Prescott as possible trade targets, and those moves don’t make much sense for the teams on the other side.
The only exception that comes to mind is Indianapolis, where Luck missed all of last season with a shoulder injury that originally wasn’t expected to cost him any game time in 2017. Trade acquisition Jacoby Brissett played surprisingly well in Luck’s absence, and while Brissett wasn’t as good as the Stanford passer, he did enough to hold the fort for a fraction of Luck’s cost. The people who drafted Luck are out of the building, and while I suspect the current Colts regime thinks Luck is still their man, maybe the team can be blown away by an offer — especially if there’s a rookie quarterback it loves in this year’s draft.
So let’s get former Chiefs executives Chris Ballard and John Dorsey to team up on a truly earth-shattering swap. The Browns have to make a massive bet on a quarterback, so in lieu of one of the passers in this class, Cleveland moves all-in for the best passing prospect of this past generation (albeit without knowing whether he left his shoulder on the operating table). Obviously this trade would require Luck to take an exhaustive physical in Cleveland, but even that might not be enough to assure the Browns that Luck will be healthy enough for them to make this trade.
If Luck’s medicals — or the tape of him carrying the Colts earlier in his career — are enough to convince Dorsey, the Browns give up a haul. They would send the first overall pick to Indy, while moving down two slots from the fourth pick. The Colts also would get Houston’s second-round pick (No. 35) as well as Cleveland’s 2019 first-rounder, which would be more likely to fall toward the middle of the pack given the presence of Luck and Tyrod Taylor, who would still have a role as a bridge quarterback.
This deal gives the Colts a chance to hit the reset button under Ballard and stock up with three premium picks, including the first overall selection. If they guess right at quarterback, they suddenly have a franchise signal-caller making a fraction of Luck’s $25 million-per-year deal and a bunch of high draft picks to play around him. They also get to retain Brissett, who leaves them with some stability as they develop that new quarterback. If Brissett continues to play well, he would become a valuable trade asset entering the final year of his deal in 2019.
Cleveland might very well prefer to draft and develop a rookie quarterback, and the concerns about Luck’s shoulder might make it too difficult to justify dealing multiple first-round picks in the process. At the same time, though, Luck is a 28-year-old phenom who might be worth six wins per year on his own given what we’ve seen from the Colts with him out of the lineup. Is it safer to bet on Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen than it is to bet on Luck?
This deal obviously isn’t going to happen. The Colts just traded out of the third overall pick, suggesting that they don’t see a once-in-a-generation quarterback sitting there (although they might view things differently without Luck in the mix), and the Browns already traded for Taylor under the clear assumption that they’ll draft a quarterback. This is a reflection on how unlikely the offer would have to be for the Browns to move the first overall pick after years of trading down and failing on the field to be in place to make this selection.
Giants get: 1-12; 1-22; 2-56; 2019 second-round pick; DE Shaq Lawson
Bills get: 1-2
Another pair of former co-workers team up here. Bills general manager Brandon Beane recently worked under Giants GM Dave Gettleman during their time in Carolina, and in fact, if Beane hadn’t left last offseason to go to Buffalo, he likely would be in charge of football operations for the Panthers right now. Beane has been stockpiling picks to presumably go after a quarterback in the draft, but with the Jets moving up to No. 3 , his only way to get ahead of Gang Green is to make a deal with their crosstown rivals.
The decision to trade Jason Pierre-Paul was curious for the Giants, given that it seemingly opens a spot in the lineup for star edge-rusher Bradley Chubb at second overall. Gettleman has suggested that he believes Eli Manning can play at a competitive level for several more seasons, so while it’s unlikely the Giants will find themselves in a better spot to draft Manning’s replacement, they might be comfortable rolling with their 37-year-old starter and upgrading the team around him.
They can do that by drafting Chubb or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson at No. 2, but after years of disastrous drafts under Jerry Reese, the Giants have more than one hole to fill. If they want to roll with Eli, trading down would give them the ability to draft multiple offensive linemen with a shot of making an impact on this year’s roster. This deal also would let them take a flier on Lawson, a solid run defender who hasn’t been healthy or effective as an edge rusher after being drafted in the first round by Doug Whaley in 2016. Then they could make another move depending on what happens at the top of the draft. If they’re interested in Nelson or a quarterback like Baker Mayfield, maybe they use some of these picks to trade up with the Colts and move from 12 to six.
Buffalo has no shot of moving to the top spot, but this is the next best thing. Beane has to give up both of his first-round picks and a second-rounder this year and next, but the Bills would still have at least one pick in each round of this year’s draft. Buffalo can draft its quarterback of the future without having to entirely mortgage that future in the process.
Jets get: 1-2; 4-108; 2019 second-round pick; conditional 2019 fourth-round pick
Giants get: 1-3; 3-72; 2019 first-round pick
The Jets reportedly didn’t bother to call the Giants when they were trying to trade up into the top three, a move that seems criminally incurious from Mike Maccagnan. What was the worst thing that could have happened? Was Gettleman going to laugh him off the phone then brag to all the other general managers about what a dweeb Maccagnan was? If the Jets know that the Giants are taking a quarterback with the second pick, does their trade up solely to beat the Bills to the third-best passer in this class make a lot of sense?
I would suggest that the Jets call the Giants this time around, but the problem is that Maccagnan isn’t just negotiating to move up one spot, which wouldn’t cost all that much on the draft chart. He has to beat every other offer the Giants would get for this pick, which isn’t happening if the Bills put their mind to it, or hope that the Giants don’t get any offers and aren’t interested in drafting a quarterback ahead of the Jets at No. 2.
The JPP trade at least hints at a scenario in which the Giants are planning to draft Chubb, and if that’s the case, the Jets might have an in. After trading three second-round picks to the Colts, though, the Jets simply don’t have much to offer to convince the Giants they should move down one slot. The most notable draft asset they have left is their 2019 first-round pick, but that also would be too much to move up one slot in this scenario where the Giants either don’t have a blow-away offer on the table, or don’t want to move down and risk losing their shot at Chubb.
This deal would net the Chubb (or Nelson) at a cheaper salary for the Giants and create the opportunity for an enormous return if the Jets struggle mightily next season. They’ll move up one round in this year’s draft and be guaranteed to move up next season, although the Giants will throw in an additional fourth-round pick if they make the playoffs this season. This means that that Jets will have paid an extraordinary price to move up four spots in this year’s draft, giving up three second-round picks and turning a first-rounder into a second-round pick next year, but if it keeps the Bills from drafting their guy, Maccagnan might not care.
Browns get: 1-23; 1-31; 2-63; 2019 first-round pick
Patriots get: 1-4
It’s tough to find a deal that makes sense for the Patriots at the top of the draft if you assume that they’re moving up to grab a quarterback. The Browns won’t deal the first overall pick. The Jets aren’t about to move out of the third slot after giving up three second-round picks to get there. The Broncos probably want a quarterback at fifth overall. And the Colts — let’s just say they’re probably not taking Bill Belichick’s calls right now.
The Pats probably don’t have the capital to move all the way up to No. 2 without sending a key young contributor like Trey Flowers or Shaq Mason to the Giants. The fourth pick is probably about as high as they can get, and even that would take a pretty hefty overpay given that the Browns aren’t exactly lacking picks and should have a choice between Saquon Barkley or Chubb here.
If we assume that the Patriots have the 28th pick next year and don’t discount for the Browns waiting a year, throwing in that 2019 first-round pick only gets Cleveland to about $1.28 on the dollar for this swap, which might not be enough. It also might not get the Pats to Rosen if he’s the quarterback they want, although it’s more plausible that Mayfield could be on the board at No. 4.
Broncos get: 1-8; 2-39; 2019 fourth-round pick
Bears get: 1-5; 3-71
What happens if the first three (or four) picks off the board are quarterbacks, and the Broncos don’t love the signal-callers who are there at No. 5? They’re left in a difficult predicament, given that there’s nobody else in this range who would be looking for a quarterback until the Dolphins at 11 or the Bills at 12. If Denver is interested in someone like Mayfield or Lamar Jackson, it might very well be able to trade down and still grab its guy a few spots later. If the Broncos don’t like the remaining quarterbacks at all, it’s probably better for John Elway & Co. to move down and get an extra pick in the process.
The Broncos also could be candidates to draft Nelson, but having signed Ron Leary before using a first-round pick on tackle Garett Bolles in 2017, they might find it a better use of resources to look elsewhere on their roster. The Bears are thinner along the offensive line after releasing Josh Sitton, and in their efforts to surround Mitchell Trubisky with everything a quarterback desires, the idea that they would draft Nelson in this range is hardly crazy. It’s difficult to believe Nelson would make it to them at No. 8, so they can move down 32 spots later in the draft from No. 39 to No. 71 and send a future fourth-round pick to move up and grab an immediate starter at guard.
Colts get: 1-11; 2019 first-round pick
Dolphins get: 1-6; 4-104
The Dolphins aren’t exactly a team to sit back and pray for talent to fall into their lap. They’ve expressed significant interest in Mayfield throughout the pre-draft process, and while Mayfield might be on the board for them at No. 11 given that the teams picking between the seventh and 10th picks aren’t in the market for quarterbacks, it’s entirely possible that a team like the Bills or Cardinals could trade up and beat them to the punch.
With that in mind, let’s get coach Adam Gase his signal-caller and move on from Ryan Tannehill, who could actually become a fallback plan for the Bills under this scenario. While it would be mighty tempting for the Colts to grab someone like Barkley or Chubb in this spot, an extra first-round pick from a dysfunctional franchise might be too tempting to pass up. Indy also sends Miami a fourth-rounder to replace the one the Dolphins sent away for Robert Quinn. (I know picks are independent and shouldn’t be treated this way, but this is how NFL front offices talk about their selections.)
Buccaneers get: 1-15; RB David Johnson
Cardinals get: 1-7
While the Cardinals’ cap situation will be better in 2018 after financial concerns forced them to lose Calais Campbell and Tyrann Mathieu in consecutive offseasons, Arizona finds itself with a difficult decision ahead next offseason. Johnson was one of the best running backs in football during the 2016 season, but was on the bench for most of his rookie campaign in 2015 and then suffered a season-ending wrist injury one game into 2017. The Northern Iowa product is entering the final year of his rookie deal, which can’t be extended by a fifth-year option because he was a third-round pick.
If Arizona doesn’t want to give Johnson the $10 million per year he might seek as the best back not named Le’Veon Bell in free agency, here’s the Cardinals’ chance to trade up and get their quarterback of the future. Sam Bradford is a short-term solution, and if someone like Josh Allen falls past the top six picks, Arizona will remember the lesson it learned from last year’s draft and avoid staying put for the passer it wants. The Arizona depth chart at halfback would immediately look bare, but it’s way easier to imagine the Cardinals finding a replacement running back later in this draft than it is for them to find a franchise quarterback at pick 15.
Meanwhile, the Bucs manage to find their franchise running back and retain a pick in the top half of the draft, which they can use to aid the league’s worst defense by DVOA. By the Johnson chart, this trade values the (unrelated) Johnson as being worth the 45th pick in the draft. When you consider that Garoppolo was dealt during the final year of his contract for a second-round pick, it’s a reasonable return for Arizona if it doesn’t want to invest in Johnson long term.
Bears get: 1-4; 4-114
Browns get: 1-8; 2-39
If quarterbacks come off the board 1-2-3, the Browns will be sitting pretty with the fourth overall pick. They also might be in a situation where it would be better to trade down in lieu of taking Barkley or Chubb, given that Cleveland’s biggest need after drafting a quarterback is probably in the secondary.
Meanwhile, the Bears are still lacking that great edge rusher to pair with Akiem Hicks, who has matured into an upper-echelon interior disruptor. Leonard Floyd could end up as that guy, but the 2016 first-rounder has missed 10 games over his first two seasons and saw his sack total drop from 7 to 4.5 last year. Chicago did get 18 knockdowns from Sam Acho and signed former 49ers prospect Aaron Lynch, but as the Eagles showed, you can never have too many pass-rushers.
With that in mind, the Bears can trade up here and grab Chubb, who profiles best as a 4-3 defensive end but shouldn’t be out of sorts as a 3-4 outside linebacker who will spend 70 percent of his time as a defensive lineman in sub packages. The Browns would then have picks 33, 35 and 39, setting them up for a possible move back into the first round for what would be their third first-round selection.
49ers get: 1-7; 5-144
Buccaneers get: 1-9; 3-70
After their offseason shopping spree, the 49ers have most of the pieces they would want for Garoppolo. Their biggest concern could be at guard, where the Niners have to hope that the offensive line play coalesces around new center Weston Richburg. Former first-round pick Joshua Garnett wasn’t great as a rookie in 2016 and missed the entire 2017 season, while the other guard spot has been turned over to a series of busted first-rounders (Jonathan Cooper, Laken Tomlinson) and former Broncos standout Zane Beadles, who hasn’t shown much since leaving Denver in 2014.
The Niners could stay put and take one of this draft’s defensive backs at No. 9, but if they want to grab Nelson, my suspicion is that they’ll need to move up ahead of the Bears at No. 8. If Chubb and Barkley are off the board by the time the Tampa Bay drafts at No. 7, the Bucs are better off trading down, letting the 49ers grab Nelson and drafting a defensive back of their own while picking up a third-rounder to replace the selection they sent to the Giants for JPP.
Raiders get: 1-12; 2-56
Bills get: 1-10; DE Jihad Ward
If the Dolphins don’t trade up for a passer, and one is still lurking at 10, the Bills should be on the phone trying to move ahead of Miami. Even if the Dolphins don’t actually plan on drafting a quarterback, Beane has amassed too many picks and left his playoff team too threadbare at quarterback to come away from this offseason without anybody better than AJ McCarron under center.
The 56th pick is a bit of an overpay on the Johnson chart to move from 12 to 10, but the Raiders know that the Bills will be desperate to get a quarterback while they still have a chance. Some of the cost will be offset by including Ward, who has been a disappointment since coming off the board with the 44th pick of the 2016 draft and was a healthy scratch at times last year in Oakland. He’ll be rotation depth at defensive end for the Bills.
Dolphins get: 1-27; TE Josh Hill; 2019 first-round pick
Saints get: 1-11; 7-229
Let’s get one more trade up for a quarterback in here before the Bills pick at 12. Just as no one saw the Chiefs coming up from the bottom of the first round to trade for a quarterback until they moved up to draft Mahomes last year, the Saints are quietly looking around at this year’s crop of quarterbacks to see whether there’s somebody who can fill Drew Brees‘ shoes in the near future. The most similar quarterback in this class to Brees is Mayfield, and indeed, Sean Payton set up a private workout with Mayfield before the draft.
Mayfield obviously wouldn’t be playing until 2019 at the earliest, but the Saints would be preparing for life after Brees in advance of their Hall of Fame passer retiring or losing significant effectiveness. The Dolphins could use the extra first-round pick, and they’ll pick up a starting tight end in the process by acquiring Hill, who is entering the final year of his deal in New Orleans.
What happens if the Bills don’t find a way to trade up and subsequently miss out on the quarterbacks they wanted to take before they’re on the clock at 12? There has to be a fallback plan, right? Unless they plan on signing Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick, the most plausible trade candidate is Foles. The Eagles haven’t been desperate to trade the Super Bowl MVP given the state of Carson Wentz‘s knee, but this would represent a significant return, with the pick swap equivalent to the 31st pick of a typical draft. The Eagles would get McCarron as a low-cost backup; they would be on the hook for only $900,000 in 2018 and a non-guaranteed $3.1 million next year. A trade up would give Philly a shot at some of the draft’s top cornerbacks, or a possible replacement left tackle for Jason Peters.
The Reed extension hasn’t exactly worked out for Washington. Injuries have kept the Florida product from matching his 2015 totals (952 yards and 11 touchdowns) over the following two seasons combined (897 yards and eight touchdowns). Nobody is questioning Reed’s talent, but with Vernon Davis under contract, Washington might very well consider whatever it gets from Reed going forward as a bonus.
Jay Gruden could be interested in trading up to draft one of the top secondary prospects, who might fall to the bottom of the top 10 if things shake out right. Swapping out Reed for Celek, who had a pair of 60-yard, one-touchdown games with Garoppolo in the fold, would free up cap space and bring a more reliable player to the roster. The 49ers have plenty of cap room, and while George Kittle exhibited promise as a rookie, Kyle Shanahan should have no trouble finding snaps for two tight ends in his offense. Reed would be a high-upside lottery ticket for the Niners.
Packers get: 1-7
Buccaneers get: 1-14; 3-76; 4-101; 2019 third-round pick
The Packers have repeatedly tried to address their mess at cornerback, but lost Casey Hayward in free agency and Sam Shields to concussions. It’s telling that they re-signed 35-year-old Tramon Williams, who the team let leave to play younger players on the outside after the 2014 season. Davon House, who remains a free agent after an unconvincing 2017 return to Green Bay, might be next.
The Packers probably need to move into the top 10 to have a shot at Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward, but there are a few roadblocks along the way. The 49ers need cornerback help themselves, although they might prefer larger corners than the 5-foot-11 Ward. The Bears probably don’t want to help their archrivals by trading down. Green Bay could trade up to 10 and hope that the 49ers don’t take Ward, but to ensure the Packers get their man, they would probably need to move up to No. 7. With a third-rounder and the top pick in the fourth round, assuming the quarterbacks are off the board by 7, the Packers should have enough in 2018 assets to get the Bucs on the line.
Cardinals get: 1-8; 2019 fourth-round pick
Bears get: DE Robert Nkemdiche; 1-15, 2-47; 2019 second-round pick
If there’s still a quarterback lurking at No. 8, though, the Cardinals won’t want to run the risk of coming away from the draft without their signal-caller of the future, as was the case when they failed to move up and get Mahomes last season. The 49ers and Raiders probably aren’t drafting quarterbacks at Nos. 9 and 10, but the Cardinals will have to beat teams like the Dolphins from trading up to grab a QB like Jackson or Mayfield.
Here, the Bears get a pair of second-rounders to move back seven spots, where they should still be able to get help for their secondary. They also take a flier on Nkemdiche, who was absolutely dominant for stretches in college but never seemed to work his way out of Bruce Arians’ doghouse in Arizona, and might not end up as a great fit for Steve Wilks’ defense if they spend more time in a 4-3.
Ravens get: 1-26; 2-58
Falcons get: 1-16; 6-190
Here’s where the draft can breathe. It would be shocking if four quarterbacks weren’t off the board by 16. That would be great news for the Ravens, who (at least presumably) aren’t going to be in the quarterback market until 2019 at the earliest. The easy move is to mock Alabama wideout Calvin Ridley to the Ravens in what will be the final draft for legendary former Alabama tight end Ozzie Newsome, but Ridley’s dismal combine performance suggests that the 6-foot-1 wideout should be available later on Day 1.
If the top of the draft is quarterback-heavy, this portion of the first round should be heavy on defensive players, particularly defenders in the middle of the field. The Ravens are relatively stacked there, but the Falcons still need someone to take Dontari Poe‘s role as a run-stuffing interior lineman. If Vita Vea is still on the board at 16, the Falcons might be tempted to bite on what is the biggest present weakness in their young defense.
Chargers get: 1-8
Bears get: 1-17; 2-48; 5-155
Minkah Fitzpatrick could end up looking a lot like Earl Thomas, which would make him a valuable asset for a team who spends a lot of its time with one free safety in the middle of the field, as was the case in Seattle. The 49ers might very well be interested in Fitzpatrick, given the presence of ex-Seahawks assistant Robert Saleh as their defensive coordinator.
Saleh’s former boss might have something to say about that, though, as Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley managed to coax a career season out of Tre Boston last year. Boston is a free agent, but if the Chargers don’t upgrade the interior of their defensive line, Fitzpatrick would be a logical move. This trade also comes within less than one point of being a perfect swap on the Johnson chart (1,400 to 1399.4).
Seahawks get: 1-22; 3-96; 6-187
Bills get: 1-18
The Seahawks badly need extra selections in this draft, given how few of their recent picks have made an impact. With their second- and third-rounders already traded away, Seattle will have to trade down from 18 to get another early-to-mid round selection.
That could be a deeper dive into the bottom of the first round, but in this swap, it’s only four spots to 22. If the Bills get their quarterback at 12, they can still use their mass of picks to move around the board. With a hole at middle linebacker after losing Preston Brown in free agency, the Bills could be looking at a player like Roquan Smith or Leighton Vander Esch to serve as the Luke Kuechly or Thomas Davis of Sean McDermott’s defense in Buffalo.
The obligatory Thomas trade has to fit a few criteria to justify the Seahawks’ demands. The Seahawks have reportedly been asking for first- and third-round picks as part of a Thomas deal. They get that here, but also have to give up a fourth-rounder to make it happen. They also get Jones, who has struggled at safety but has the size and college experience that could make him a valuable prospect for the Seahawks at cornerback. The team trading for Thomas would also need to make sure that it can sign the future Hall of Famer to an extension, but given Thomas’ professed affection for Dallas, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Lions get: DE Whitney Mercilus; 2019 first-round pick
Texans get: 1-20
The Texans desperately need to find a way to protect budding superstar Deshaun Watson. They currently have the league’s worst tackle situation — if not its worst offensive line — and are without first- and second-round picks, preventing new general manager Brian Gaine from drafting a replacement who is likely to start Week 1.
Houston’s most expendable asset with value is Mercilus, a talented pass-rusher who is a luxury on a team with Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt. The Lions would love to have a second pass-rusher across from Ezekiel Ansah, and while it means waiting a year for Houston’s first-round pick, they can look to the Browns, who are reaping the benefits of their patience with that fourth overall selection acquired in last year’s draft trade with the Texans.
Bengals get: 1-25; 3-89
Titans get: 1-21
The Bengals don’t often make meaningful draft trades of any kind, so after trading down as part of the Cordy Glenn deal, it would be surprising to see them make a second deal. This minor move would net them a third pick in the third round. Tennessee is relatively thin at inside linebacker after losing Avery Williamson, and while the Titans will give a bigger role to 2017 fifth-rounder Jayon Brown this year after playing him as a coverage linebacker, the fast-rising Vander Esch could figure in the rotation immediately before eventually taking over as a starter from Wesley Woodyard.
Bills get: 1-4
Browns get: 1-12; 1-22
Nobody is rooting for the Giants to pass on a quarterback more than the Jets and Bills (in that order). In the trade I proposed for the Giants and Bills at 2, the Johnson chart calls for Buffalo to send both of its first-rounders and a pair of second-rounders, with Lawson packaged for added value. That’s a bit high of a price — the picks alone are worth about $1.05 on the dollar relative to the second overall selection, per the Johnson chart — but it’s also the reality of how desperate teams are to draft a quarterback.
If the Bills can wait and still grab their quarterback at No. 4, though, it would be a significant savings. They can send their two first-rounders and still pay the premium (in this case $1.10) that the Browns would likely require on the Johnson chart for the fourth overall pick. Moving up would push the Bills in front the Broncos for a quarterback like Allen or Mayfield. It might take more to seal the deal given how Dorsey might not be desperate to trade down with the opportunity to grab Barkley or Chubb at 4, but the general concept applies: It will take far less to move up to the fourth spot than it would the second.
If the Patriots don’t have the draft capital to trade up for their quarterback of the future, they might as well get him a franchise wide receiver. I wrote about the possibility of the Patriots trading for Beckham after the Brandin Cooks swap, and while I still think the Giants will end up holding onto their star receiver, this is at least a plausible deal.
If the Giants were constructing a checklist for a Beckham trade, this would hit most of their boxes. They’re dealing the former LSU star to an AFC team that they’ll see only once every four years. They get two first-round picks, which is the reported asking price in a Beckham deal, although both come relatively late on Day 1. They get a replacement who can step in immediately for Beckham with Hogan, who is entering the final year of his three-year, $12 million deal and is in line for a contract the Patriots aren’t likely to hand out. Gillislee is included as a risk-free power back if 31-year-old Jonathan Stewart shows up for camp with nothing left in the tank.
The Patriots obviously get a game-breaking receiver who will serve as a primary target both for Tom Brady and whoever ends up as Brady’s permanent replacement, given that Beckham is still only 25 years old. New England doesn’t have the unlimited cap space a team acquiring Beckham might want, but if Rob Gronkowski really is retiring after this season, it would free up $10 million that could go to Beckham. The Patriots also would get to take a buy-low look at Apple, who nearly played his way off the Giants’ roster last year but looked like a starting cornerback over the second half of his rookie season in 2016.
Panthers get: 2-36; 3-67
Colts get: 1-24
The Colts have plenty of roster spots they might want to upgrade and four picks between No. 36 and No. 67 to use in addressing their needs. They could hold onto those four selections, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise if Ballard packages two picks to move back into the bottom of the first round and get ahead of the Falcons at 26 for help on either side of the line of scrimmage.
Titans get: OLB Emmanuel Ogbah; 2-35; 2019 fourth-round pick
Browns get: 1-25
The Titans are in a weird spot at 25. They have one of the league’s deeper rosters (and don’t need to trade down), but don’t really have the draft capital they would otherwise need to trade up for a guy who could make an immediate impact like Chubb or Nelson. The one thing the Titans might want to go after is a young pass-rusher, given that Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are both free agents after the season.
The Browns aren’t exactly overcome with riches on defense, but Ogbah would be an interesting trade candidate as a player who was drafted by the previous administration and could be pushed into a secondary role if Cleveland drafts Chubb fourth overall. The 2016 second-rounder has 9.5 sacks and 21 knockdowns over his first two seasons with the Browns, and this trade would value him as a late third-round pick. Tennessee can still go best player available at 35, while the Browns can move ahead of the Falcons if they want to draft help at defensive tackle.
Falcons get: 1-19; 4-137
Cowboys get: 1-26; 3-90; RB Tevin Coleman
The Falcons are obsessed with speed on defense, so if they’re not in the market for a defensive tackle, they could be another team consumed by the idea of trading up to draft Vander Esch. The Lions and Bills could be considering the linebacker at 20 and 22, respectively, so trading up to 19 would push the Falcons just ahead of the competition. It also would cost them Coleman, but the Falcons likely won’t have the cap space to retain their receiving back after locking in Devonta Freeman. Coleman would be a useful change-of-pace back for the Cowboys alongside Ezekiel Elliott and would likely net a quality compensatory pick after hitting free agency next offseason.
Saints get: 2-38; 2019 second-round pick
Buccaneers get: 1-27; 2019 fourth-round pick
Any team that falls in love with a back like Derrius Guice has to be worried about the Steelers at 28, given the likelihood that this will be Bell’s last season in Pittsburgh. (More on that in a second.) Teams drafting at the top of the second round might wait for a running back to fall to them, but as we saw with players like Jerick McKinnon this offseason, organizations have a habit of falling for very specific skill-position weapons.
The Buccaneers don’t have much at halfback after moving on from Doug Martin, so it seems extremely likely that Tampa will come away from this draft with a new starter at running back. That guy could be Barkley at No. 7, but if the Bucs use that pick to address their defense, Tampa could move back up and take a running back at 27.
It’s easier to think of this as a series of trades. First, Washington move up from No. 13 to No. 6 by sending its first- and second-round picks, which are a near-perfect match on the Johnson chart for the sixth overall selection. Washington sweetens the pot by including the wildly underrated Thompson, who is coming off of a broken leg but is about to begin a relatively team-friendly two-year, $7 million deal. He’ll be the pass-catching half of a rotation with Marlon Mack.
Then, Washington sends the sixth pick to the Steelers to get a new franchise icon in Bell, who obviously will be in line to sign a new deal as part of the trade. Washington moves down to 28 and gains a third-rounder after losing one in the Alex Smith deal. The 808-point difference on the Johnson chart roughly values Bell as being worth the 21st overall selection of a typical draft, which would be a generous return for a guy with one year left before free agency. (You could argue that Washington could just use the sixth pick to draft Barkley and save millions in the process, but that is a level of rationality the organization has not earned.)
That leaves the Steelers, who might be giving up on signing Bell to a long-term contract. Well, how does Barkley sound as a replacement? Trading into the top 10 for a running back wouldn’t exactly be a very Steelers-y move, but Barkley’s athleticism and wide-ranging skills would make him the best immediate replacement for Bell while the Steelers are in win-now mode at the end of Ben Roethlisberger‘s career. It even creates about $6 million in new cap room for Pittsburgh to go after a veteran front-seven piece after June 1.
Jaguars get: 2-42; 3-73
Dolphins get: 1-29; 4-129
The Jaguars can basically stand pat with their roster at this point, and they are going to get calls from teams who want to move ahead of the Vikings and Patriots to draft offensive linemen. The Jags are all set there after signing Andrew Norwell this offseason, so while they might look for pieces on the edges of their roster — notably a slot corner — they can probably do that in the second round. Miami moves up to find another lineman as the Dolphins desperately try to protect Tannehill. Imagine Brock Osweiler behind that line!
The Vikings have a bevy of young players who are in line for massive raises over the next two years. Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter and Eric Kendricks are all free agents after the 2018 season, while Waynes will hit his fifth-year option in 2019. After giving Kirk Cousins a record annual average salary of $28 million per year, the Vikings probably can’t afford to sign every one of their young stars.
Between having Xavier Rhodes already locked in and Mike Zimmer’s long-established habit of drafting and developing cornerbacks along for the ride, trading Waynes before he gets expensive might make sense. If the Patriots don’t trade up, a move back down the board to acquire Waynes could work, given that he’ll be under cost control for two more seasons and had his best season as a pro in 2017. Minnesota could get the disappointing Jones back as a flier, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Vikings draft their replacement for Waynes at 23.
Patriots get: 1-9
49ers get: 1-23; 1-31; 2019 third-round pick
Oh the cruel, cruel irony. If New England does want a quarterback like Jackson or Mayfield, and they’re on the board after the top six, the Patriots probably would need to look toward the 49ers as a trade partner if they want to get ahead of the Bills at 12 and probably would need to pay a premium to make a deal with the Dolphins at 11. The Raiders could be in the conversation at 10, but I half-sarcastically wonder if the 49ers feel like they owe the Patriots one after the Garoppolo deal. The third-round pick, one of three the Pats are projected to have after including compensatory selections, makes this a slight premium on the Johnson chart.
Eagles get: 3-97; 2019 first-round pick
Cardinals get: 1-32
Finally, let’s wrap this with a challenge trade. The Eagles have one of the deepest rosters in football and are returning virtually every one of their key contributors, so if any team can afford to wait a year and speculate on what might end up as a high draft pick, it’s Philly. If the Cardinals address one of their other weaknesses and don’t draft a quarterback at 15, this could be where they trade up and grab Jackson at the bottom of the first round.
They would be giving up a third-round comp pick and run the risk of a Texans situation, where the organization grossly overestimates its own chances of competing and ends up trading away a top-five pick in the next draft. Houston probably doesn’t regret what it did given what the Texans have seen from Watson, but it’s a huge risk to take given the chances Jackson doesn’t work out. Then again, turning over your passing duties to Bradford and Mike Glennon is a risk in itself.