One thing to watch: This year’s draft is so different, with more uncertainty among prospects because of the shortened college season and scouting process, that teams could be more likely to trade away their choices for picks in next year’s draft. That has been true with a few trades already.
Here are several potential deals that would make sense:
Broncos trade up to No. 4 (Falcons) for a QB
I still believe the Falcons will stay put to take Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell or Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, but they will listen to offers. The Denver Broncos, who have the ninth pick, could try to trade up to get a quarterback, most likely Justin Fields or Trey Lance. The Broncos want a quarterback to compete with Drew Lock, and their veteran options are dwindling — even more so now that Alex Smith has retired.
The price to move from No. 9 to No. 4 would be high, probably costing the Broncos a third-round pick this season and their first-rounder next year.
Patriots trade up to No. 7 (Lions) or No. 9 (Broncos) for a QB
New England needs a long-term answer at quarterback and could be aggressive in moving up if one of the top prospects makes it to the seventh pick. The Lions could pick up second- and fourth-round picks this year in addition to a second-rounder next year (and perhaps give back a fifth this year) while still nabbing a really good player, such as Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons or Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith, with the 15th pick. The rebuilding Lions are likely to be one of the teams looking to add picks in the 2022 draft; they already have the Rams’ 2022 first-rounder from the Matthew Stafford trade.
If the Broncos find a veteran option at quarterback — perhaps Carolina’s Teddy Bridgewater — or decide they don’t like the quarterback options available to them in the draft, they could move back six spots. The Patriots’ second-round pick could be enough to get the job done, with Denver sending back a late-round pick to New England. The Broncos could get a good offensive lineman or the second- or third-best cornerback at No. 15.
Eagles trade up to No. 9 overall (Broncos) for a cornerback
Philadelphia, which moved back from sixth to 12th for a 2022 first-rounder from Miami in a trade last month, might be willing to move back into the top 10. The Eagles’ objective probably would be to jump the division rival Dallas Cowboys and land the top cornerback in the draft, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II.
Washington trades up to No. 8 (Panthers) for a QB
The Washington Football Team will be calling around for a chance at one of the five potential first-round quarterbacks, but it has a problem: Its division rivals own the 10th (Cowboys), 11th (Giants) and 12th (Eagles) picks, meaning trade-up options are limited.
But the Panthers, Ron Rivera’s former team, could be willing to deal. Now that Carolina has traded for Sam Darnold, it probably isn’t looking to draft a QB and might be willing to move back to Washington’s 19th pick. To get a deal done, it might require Washington giving up both of its 2021 third-round picks and next year’s first-rounder.
If Washington can’t move up for a quarterback, it could consider moving up a few spots for Parsons or an offensive tackle.
Bears trade up to No. 11 (Giants) for a QB
Of all the teams that need a quarterback, Chicago, which has the 20th pick, has the furthest to go. One option, if any of the top five quarterbacks get past the top 10, is a move with the Giants, who might be willing to wait until No. 20 to select an edge rusher or offensive lineman. The teams could get it done if the Bears give up their second- and fifth-round picks this year.
Browns trade up to No. 18 (Dolphins) for a linebacker
The Dolphins are sitting pretty with the sixth pick, which they could use to select LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. They also have the 18th pick and could consider Alabama running back Najee Harris at that spot, but they could also look to move back and pick up mid-round picks while still getting Harris, Clemson running back Travis Etienne or an edge rusher such as Miami’s Jaelan Phillips or Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari with the 26th pick. The deal would involve the Browns sending third- and sixth-rounders from this year’s draft and Miami sending back a 2022 fifth-rounder.
Packers trade up to No. 21 (Colts) for a wide receiver
Colts General Manager Chris Ballard is always willing to trade down to get value, and this is the perfect year to do it. They need a left tackle to replace Anthony Castonzo, but the Colts could move down eight spots and still draft Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield or Texas’s Samuel Cosmi or select an edge rusher.
The Packers might be willing to give up their two fourth-round choices to move up in the first round and finally draft a wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers. Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, who could be targeted by several teams drafting in the 20s, would be a great option.
Colts trade a second-round pick for Ravens tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
If Indianapolis doesn’t draft a tackle and instead takes an edge rusher in the first round, it could trade for Brown, who has told the Ravens he wants to play left tackle — a job that in Baltimore belongs to Ronnie Stanley. Brown could be worth a second-round choice, which the Ravens could use to draft his replacement.
Chiefs trade up to No. 25 (Jaguars) for an offensive tackle
The Chiefs have rebuilt the interior of their offensive line, but they desperately need a tackle. They could stay put at No. 31 and draft one, but if they get nervous based on how the board is breaking, they could move up six spots for fourth-round picks this year and next. Jacksonville, meanwhile, might be okay with moving down and still landing TCU’s Trevon Moehrig, the top safety in the draft.
Bills trade up to No. 28 (Saints) for an edge rusher
Buffalo is looking for a defensive end, and if Phillips makes it to New Orleans’s pick at No. 28, the Bills could be willing to part with a fourth-round pick to get their guy.