Teams Most Likely To Trade 2019 NFL Draft Picks
There are two ways for teams to approach the NFL Draft. Neither method is wrong; it just depends on the team’s situation that offseason and what they look to accomplish in the draft.
The first method is going for quality over quantity. Only a limited number of players will sign second contracts with the team that selected them, so it’s better to come away with a can’t-miss prospect. Using a bunch of picks on players who may or may not develop into NFL talent is not the best way to build an improved roster for the 2019 season.
The other approach is going for quantity over quality. One player is probably not going to make or break a team’s season, and we really do not know which players will turn out to be great. Drafting in volume gives a team the best chance to upgrade the roster with many prospects who could develop into good players. The more picks a team has, the more likely that team is going to hit a gold mine and come away with a great player.
A big factor in which approach a team will take is its roster construction heading into the season. A contender may only be a player or two away from winning the Super Bowl, so a team in that situation will most likely be interested in acquiring one particular player over many prospects. On the other hand, a squad rebuilding from a 3-13 season may rather stockpile multiple picks over one someone who won’t complete the rebuild on his own.
Teams used to be hampered by large rookie contracts when it came to making trades in the first round. That is no longer a concern, so we will likely see many deals next Thursday night. Here are five teams that will likely be looking to make a move in the opening round.
1) New York Jets
The Jets have their franchise quarterback in theory after drafting Sam Darnold last year. While it is impossible to say if he will be their starter for the next 10-15 years, he played well enough in 2018 that they are not going to use the third pick on another passer. One non-quarterback is probably not going to change their fortunes as much as several high draft picks, so it would make sense for them to move down.
Several teams may want to move into that third spot to take a quarterback. The New York Giants at sixth, Miami Dolphins at 13th, and Washington Redskins at 15th could all desperately use help under center. If one of them throws a big offer at the Jets, it is going to be hard for them to stay in this third spot. Look for the Jets to move down with another team looking to acquire an elite quarterback prospect, most likely Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins or Missouri’s Drew Lock.
2) Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders have the most capital in this draft, and that means they could move in a number of different directions. Per Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, they are “not totally sold on Derek Carr” and may move up for Murray. There are also reports that the Arizona Cardinals love Murray and could take him with the first pick. The question is if Cardinals would rather replace Josh Rosen or acquire multiple picks. The Raiders have the fourth, 24th, 27th, and 35th picks in this draft. Do the Cardinals want Murray so much that they would pass up a package of those picks to take him?
On the flip side, quarterback is not even the Raiders’ biggest concern. They have Carr on the roster, and he was an MVP candidate in 2016 before breaking his leg near the end of the season. The Raiders may decide that they would rather just take the best player available with the fourth pick. They could also move down and stockpile more picks if the Giants, Dolphins, or Redskins want to trade up for a quarterback. The Raiders have so many top-35 picks that they are bound to move at least one. The big question is whether their strategy is to acquire one or two particular players or hoard more draft assets to speed up their roster rebuild. My guess is they take an impact defensive player with the fourth pick before making some smaller trades with their other picks to maximize value on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
3) New York Giants
The Giants made the correct call to pass on a quarterback last year. Penn State RB Saquon Barkley was such a special talent that it made no sense for them to pass on him for a quarterback that may or may not have developed into a franchise player. The problem is they went all in on Eli Manning and finished 5-11 with a roster that needed much better quarterbacking than he could provide. That means they need to find a passer in this year’s draft, but if they wait until the sixth pick, it may be too late to add one who that can play effectively in 2019.
Look for the Giants to pair the 17th pick — which they acquired from the Cleveland Browns for Odell Beckham Jr. — with their sixth pick to move up. It makes no sense to deal Beckham at a discount unless they use the picks acquired from Cleveland to find a franchise quarterback. The most sensible option for the Giants is trading to the third spot with the Jets and selecting Haskins. There has been talk that the Giants would rather take a defensive lineman, but that could be a typical smoke screen to get the guy they want without having to surrender a ton of picks.
4) Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers have two first-round picks. Anytime a team has multiple picks in the opening round, it gives them trade flexibility. They can either package the picks together to move up and take an elite prospect, or they can use one pick on a player they like and another to move down and acquire multiple picks later.
The Packers are looking to retool their roster, but the 12th pick may be too low for another team to trade up and take an elite quarterback prospect. There thus might not be enough demand. I think it’s more likely that the Packers use the 12th pick on the best available prospect. If a team wants to trade into the back of the first round, the Packers will move down from the 30th pick and acquire additional Day 2 selections. The 30th pick is probably not going to be valuable enough for them to make a huge splash, but those late picks are popular for NFL teams looking to draft a quarterback with a fifth-year option. That could allow the Packers to make a deal at the end of Day 1.
5) New England Patriots
The Patriots have 12 picks in the NFL Draft, including the final pick in the first round and two second-round selections (56 and 64). They also have Detroit Lions’ 73rd pick, which is early in the third round. Even though they do not have an elite draft pick, they have a lot of flexibility.
Tom Brady turns 42 this year. If he were to go down with an injury or retire after the 2019 season, the next quarterback up on the roster would be Brian Hoyer. Brady is still going strong. He won the regular season MVP award in 2017 and just led the Patriots to their second Super Bowl ring in three seasons. The Patriots are not going to want to package all those picks to acquire a player who likely won’t play in 2019, but they have to upgrade Hoyer with a quarterback of the future. Head coach Bill Belichick loves to wheel and deal his way around the draft, so do not be surprised if the Patriots pull off a trade to secure a quarterback while acquiring other players to help them repeat in 2019.