In 2019, every NFL trade is plausible. Imagine if I’d told you this time last year that the Steelers would trade Antonio Brown for third- and fifth-round picks, or that the Giants actually dumped Odell Beckham Jr. and said Jabrill Peppers and first- and third-round picks were too good of an offer to turn down. You would have rightfully stopped reading this article. Yet, here we are.
Every April, I read well-intentioned mock drafts that don’t include any trades amid their 32 selections. I know that it’s the reality of constructing a mock draft — it’s difficult enough to project where prospects will go, let alone where trades might occur — but it also leaves out a huge portion of what makes the draft fun. Last year, just 12 of the first 27 selections were made by the teams that originally held those picks. There were three draft-day trades within the first 14 picks. You can’t do a mock draft without trades.
With that in mind, I offer up an annual first-round mock draft that consists entirely of trades. It’s not exactly the same as a traditional mock draft, because each of the 32 trades exists in a different universe in which the other trades haven’t happened. The goal is to try to look at how an organization might approach a specific opportunity at its spot in the draft, given its general manager’s history, current needs and the needs of the teams around them.
As a result, you’ll see multiple teams trading for Josh Rosen or moving up to grab someone like Rashan Gary at different points in my 2019 mock draft. I’m suggesting there are scenarios in which each of those trades could make sense if the picks beforehand go a given way. I’ve used the Jimmy Johnson chart to evaluate the relative value of trades; in cases where teams have typically overpaid by the traditional chart, like when they use picks from future drafts, I’ve tried to overpay accordingly. I’m not suggesting that any particular move is smart or stupid, just that I could see a scenario where both teams could find the logic in making a move.
One final note: For picks in the 2019 draft, I’ve notated the selections with their round and their spot within the overall draft order. That means the 13th pick in the first round is written as 1-13.
Let’s get started with a rare Cardinals trade scenario that doesn’t include Rosen…
Cardinals get: 1-4, 1-24, 2-35
Raiders get: 1-1, 3-65
If the Cardinals eventually decide to keep quarterback Josh Rosen, they should be able to drum up a reasonable trade market for the top pick. Nobody thinks the 49ers or Jets are taking a quarterback at Nos. 2 or 3, but there’s a good chance both teams will be open to a trade down with a team interested in grabbing Kyler Murray before the Raiders, who would be able to pounce with the fourth overall pick.
The Raiders, therefore, might very well be the most plausible candidates to trade up to No. 1 and get their quarterback for Las Vegas. They have three first-round picks to work with, and while they aren’t one player away from competing, trading up would give the organization some final bit of cover for the Khalil Mack trade, given that the 24th pick new GM Mike Mayock would be sending to the Cardinals is one of the first-rounders Jon Gruden got from the Bears. If the Raiders trade up for Murray and come away with a superstar quarterback, the Mack deal doesn’t seem quite as bad.
Meanwhile, from Arizona’s perspective, this is a chance to gain an extra first-rounder without missing out on a defensive difference-maker. If Murray goes first, the 49ers and Jets would seemingly be inclined to target edge rushers Nick Bosa and Josh Allen. Arizona already has its star edge rusher in Chandler Jones and added Terrell Suggs this offseason, but it could sorely use an interior disruptor such as Alabama star Quinnen Williams. If the Cardinals don’t draft Murray at No. 1, Williams would be a logical pick. Here, they move down and get him at No. 4 anyway.
While the Giants might be in denial publicly about their rebuild under general manager Dave Gettleman, they’ve established a habit of dumping veterans from the Jerry Reese era while they still have some trade value. New York has shipped off guys such as Eli Apple and Olivier Vernon over the past six months, and it wouldn’t be shocking if they continued by dealing away the 30-year-old Jenkins, who still has two years and $22.5 million remaining on his deal. Jenkins doesn’t have the size that teams that play the Seahawks Cover 3 defense typically want from their corners, but he would be a big upgrade on Witherspoon and give the 49ers a pair of effective veteran corners alongside Richard Sherman.
For the Niners, though, this trade is more about adding a juicy first-round pick in 2020 from a team that has an inflated view of its own ability to compete this season. There’s a good chance that pick will be better than the 17th selection, which the Giants hold as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. It also restores a top pick to replace the 2020 second-rounder the 49ers shipped off to the Chiefs as part of the Dee Ford trade. After adding Ford, the Niners don’t have as much of a pressing need for an edge rusher; they should still be in line to add someone like Montez Sweat or Devin White to supplement their defense with the sixth pick, or they could choose to trade down again.
On the other hand, the Giants are perilously thin on the edge after trading away Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul over the past year. Moving up after a Kyler Murray trade would guarantee them Nick Bosa, who could be the defensive building block the team sorely needs. They also get a possible quarterback of the future in Mullens, who was impressive in a half-season filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers can roll with C.J. Beathard as their backup, while the Giants can turn to Mullens if — or after — Eli Manning struggles this season.
Jets get: 1-14, 3-79, 2020 first-round pick, DE Vic Beasley Jr.
Falcons get: 1-3, 4-105, 2020 conditional pick
The Falcons badly need to add an impact pass-rusher. They also need to conserve cap space as they attempt to extend Grady Jarrett and Julio Jones this offseason, which makes Beasley’s $12.8 million fifth-year option unappealing. We know the Falcons have gone all-in for a potential superstar in the past when they traded a future first-round pick to move up from No. 27 to No. 6 in 2011 to draft Jones. That move worked out, and if the Falcons see a similarly impressive star in Nick Bosa or Josh Allen, it’s not crazy to think that they would make the same sort of move to grab the edge rusher their defense desperately needs.
It’s a tougher sell for the Jets, who also need an edge rusher after Anthony Barr left them at the altar in free agency. In a deep class, though, they would still have a great shot at adding someone like Rashan Gary or Brian Burns with the 14th pick, so if they don’t see whoever is left at No. 3 as a star, moving down would make sense. This franchise badly needs extra picks after trading three second-rounders as part of the Sam Darnold trade.
They also take a flier on Beasley, who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks in his second season, but has just 14 sacks combined in his other three campaigns. The conditional pick here gives the Falcons a fifth-rounder in 2020 if Beasley hits six sacks and a third-rounder if he makes it to 10 sacks.
Raiders get: QB Matthew Stafford, 2-43
Lions get: 1-4
If you’re Detroit decision-makers Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia, do you at least think about starting over with a young quarterback? They inherited Stafford from the prior regime, and over his 10-year career, the former first overall pick has taken home $178 million, the fourth-most of any player in the league. Stafford has made one Pro Bowl and delivered zero playoff victories over that time frame. While the latter isn’t entirely his fault, the Georgia product doesn’t appear to have the ceiling of a top-five quarterback. He has thrown 5,405 passes as a pro, and the Lions just moved on from the pass-happy attack of former offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. This team doesn’t appear close to winning a Super Bowl as currently constructed.
Making this trade would give the Lions two of the top eight picks, which should be enough to draft a quarterback and add one stud defender. Moving up from No. 8 to No. 4 could give them a shot at either Josh Allen, Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. It also could push them ahead of the Bucs if they want to grab linebacker Devin White, whom ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has going to Tampa at No. 5 in his most recent mock draft. Detroit would incur a staggering $35.5 million in dead money on its 2019 cap, but given that Stafford’s cap hit is already a league-high $29.5 million, it’s not an enormous difference.
Jon Gruden, meanwhile, might very well prefer the 31-year-old Stafford to any of the rookies in this class. He has publicly backed Stafford in the past and never pulled the trigger on a highly drafted rookie at quarterback during his time as a head coach, instead preferring veterans such as Rich Gannon and Jeff Garcia or midround picks such as Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski.
With Stafford’s $50 million signing bonus already paid, the Raiders would be inheriting Stafford on what amounts to a four-year, $84 million deal, which would be a relative bargain for an average veteran starter. The Raiders would still lose their top pick in the process, but they would keep their other two first-rounders and get another second-round selection. Stafford throwing to Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams would sell some tickets in Las Vegas. This deal would render Derek Carr relatively null and void, but the Raiders might be able to find a trade market for him over the summer if they eat some of his $19.9 million base salary.
Buccaneers get: 1-9, 2-40
Bills get: 1-5, 4-107
The Bucs could use defensive help — they could always use defensive help — but they’re probably looking for a middle linebacker, cornerback or offensive tackle to replace Demar Dotson, and all of those spots should be available at No. 9. Tampa is probably safe dropping down four spots and picking up an extra second-round pick for the trouble. It needs multiple starters on defense more than it needs one impact player.
After spending all offseason working to build an offensive infrastructure around Josh Allen, meanwhile, the Bills might want to use this opportunity to work on the future of their defense. Buffalo quietly posted the league’s second-best defensive DVOA last season. While the defense is built around young stars such as Tremaine Edmunds and Tre’Davious White, general manager Brandon Beane has to be thinking about the future at defensive end. Jerry Hughes is a free agent after this season, Trent Murphy wasn’t an impact player in his first year with the Bills, and Shaq Lawson hasn’t impressed since the prior regime drafted him in the first round in 2016.
Giants get: 1-24, 4-106, 2020 first-round pick
Raiders get: 1-6
If the Giants don’t think there’s a franchise quarterback on the board for them at No. 6, their best move is trading down to add as many draft picks as possible while replenishing their defense. If I ran the team, I’d also have a goal of coming away from this draft with an extra first-rounder in 2020, which could come in handy if the Giants do finally address their quarterback conundrum in the draft next year.
When that pick belongs to the Raiders, who were just 4-12 last season and could combust before their move to Las Vegas in 2020, this trade gets more appealing for Big Blue. The Giants could end up with two top-five picks in 2020, which is exactly how the Browns were able to finally kick-start their endless rebuild.
Oakland would be moving up to either grab its own quarterback of the future or a second stud defensive piece. The league’s worst scoring defense from 2018 badly needs pass-rushing help, so imagine if the Raiders are able to come away with Quinnen Williams and Rashan Gary before using their third first-round pick on help in the secondary. This would leave them without the option to draft a young quarterback in the first round next year, but again, I’m not sure that’s a preference Gruden has expressed in years past.
Jaguars get: 1-10, 3-71
Broncos get: 1-7, 5-148
The Lions have been popularly linked to Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, who is getting comparisons to Rob Gronkowski. It’s always going to be aggressive to compare a guy who hasn’t played a single NFL snap to arguably the best player at his position in NFL history, but Hockenson has huge upside as a blocker and a receiver. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him go in the top 10, especially when you consider that the Lions’ brain trust spent their formative years with Gronk in New England.
To get ahead of the Lions, who pick eighth, the Broncos have to make a slight move from No. 10 to No. 7. Denver re-signed Jeff Heuerman to a two-year deal, but it can’t depend on Jake Butt as a receiving tight end after years of injuries. There’s a chance Hockenson might fall to the Broncos with the 10th pick, but they should be willing to move down later in the draft to ensure they get their man. The Jags, who are likely looking at a right tackle to replace Jermey Parnell, should be able to land Jonah Williams or Jawaan Taylor three picks from now.
Lions get: 1-19, 2-51, 4-121
Titans get: 1-8
Bob Quinn has made 10 trades involving draft picks during his time as Lions general manager, and six of those were with his former employers in New England. Last year, he traded up to nab Kerryon Johnson and then sent his 2019 third-round pick to draft Da’Shawn Hand with a fourth-round selection as part of a pair of trades with the Pats. Quinn got an extra third-rounder back from the Eagles as part of the Golden Tate trade, but this is a Lions team that needs to add depth, especially on defense.
Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson is considered one of the most complete TEs in the draft and is often compared to Rob Gronkowski in terms of his playing style.
It’s difficult to make a Patriots trade work — they could theoretically send four picks to the Lions to move up from No. 32 to grab Hockenson — but let’s opt for another Patriots satellite in Tennessee. The Titans could very well be interested in T.J. Hockenson as the long-term replacement for Delanie Walker alongside Jonnu Smith. They could move up to grab someone such as Montez Sweat as the bookend for 2018 second-rounder Harold Landry on the edge. They could even theoretically move up for a quarterback if GM Jon Robinson & Co. aren’t committed to Marcus Mariota, although if that’s the case, they’re holding their cards extremely close to the vest.
Bills get: 1-17, 2-37
Giants get: 1-9, 4-112, 5-147
Reports have suggested that the Giants don’t think Dwayne Haskins “fits” their roster, which could mean just about anything, given how teams smokescreen their intentions this time of year. There’s a reasonable chance the Giants are telling the truth, of course, but they might also be trying to keep Haskins’ value down so they can take him without having to use the No. 6 pick.
This is their chance to come away with a key defensive piece and their quarterback of the future, as general manager Dave Gettleman can use the sixth pick on a defensive lineman before trading up from No. 17 to grab a quarterback such as Haskins or Drew Lock. Trading up would allow the Giants to pip the Bengals (11th) and the Dolphins (13th) from drafting a quarterback themselves.
Broncos get: 1-13, 3-78
Dolphins get: 1-10, 6-182
The Dolphins are privately rebuilding, even if they’re unwilling to fully commit to an idea of a rebuild in their public comments. After trading away Ryan Tannehill, they are committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starter in 2019, although it seems likely that they’ll draft a quarterback in the first round in either the 2019 or 2020 drafts.
Miami could wait until next season for what might be a superior quarterback class, but with an ownership group that wouldn’t realistically be characterized as patient, it could move up in this draft and pick Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock if they’re still on the board at No. 10. The Dolphins would be moving up to try to beat the Bengals to the punch, given the chances that Cincinnati could draft a starting quarterback to replace Andy Dalton at No. 11.
I’d like to believe the Bengals will eventually come to terms with their star receiver as Green enters the final year of the four-year, $60 million extension he signed in September 2015. After Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown were traded this offseason, though, it seems naive to rule out anything. If the Bengals don’t think they’re a Super Bowl team with their current core — and it’s hard to argue that they are — this would be a chance to reshape their roster with one trade.
This trade only makes sense if Kyler Murray is still on the board at No. 3, which would position the Bengals to come away with their quarterback of the future to develop under new Bengals coach Zac Taylor. Losing Green would obviously cost Murray his would-be top receiver, but the Bengals would still have a young wideout core with both a track record of production and future upside in Anderson and Tyler Boyd, both of whom are 25 or younger. They would also get an inside linebacker in Lee, a former first-round pick who doesn’t have a spot in the Jets’ starting lineup after the C.J. Mosley signing but showed promise last season.
The Jets, meanwhile, would suddenly have a No. 1 wideout for Sam Darnold without having to give away their first-round pick. They would miss out on adding a pass-rusher with the third pick, but there could still be options up front such as Rashan Gary or Ed Oliver at No. 11. The Jets also have the cap space to give Green a new deal. This contract would value the difference between Green and the two Jets players as equivalent to the 19th pick in a typical draft; far more than the Steelers got for Brown, who is the same age as Green (30), but for a player without the off-field issues Brown exhibited during the end in Pittsburgh.
Packers get: 1-15, 3-96, 2020 first-round pick
Washington gets: 1-12, 1-30, 5-150
Here’s a creative way for the Packers to try to create a valuable draft pick out of the selection they got from the Saints last year. Split up the trade into two parts, and you have the Packers moving down three spots from No. 12 to No. 15, with Washington swapping the third-round compensatory pick it got for Kirk Cousins for Green Bay’s fifth-round pick in return. On the Jimmy Johnson chart, that’s a slight advantage for Washington, with Jay Gruden’s team giving up 1,166 points of draft capital and getting 1,231 points in return.
The big opportunity for the Packers would be swapping the 30th pick in this year’s draft for Washington’s 2020 first-round pick. There’s obviously not much chance that Washington will make it to the NFC Championship Game, so the pick will land higher in the draft than 30th. It’s far more likely that Washington will finish below .500, which would push this pick into the upper half of the first round. It also gives the Packers a promising player on a rookie contract that starts in 2020, and that’s particularly valuable given that the contracts from their free-agent class all spike next season. Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos have a combined cap hit of $19.2 million in 2019, rising to $40.2 million in 2020.
Washington could make this deal for a number of reasons. If a quarterback it loves is on the board at No. 12, it could use this trade to get ahead of the Dolphins. It also gives Washington an extra first-rounder to help move up for a quarterback; Washington would be able to package three of the top 46 picks in this draft as part of a deal, which would be enough on the Johnson chart to return the No. 3 overall pick.
Dolphins get: 1-2
49ers get: 1-13, 2020 first-round pick
NFL teams occasionally agree on conditional trades, which are dependent upon a player being available at a given spot. Last year, for example, the Broncos and Bills agreed on a tentative pick swap, with the Broncos retaining the right to keep their pick if their player was still on the board. When Bradley Chubb fell to the fifth slot, the Bills had no deal.
Here, the Dolphins would be striking a conditional swap if the Cardinals decide to pass on Kyler Murray with the top pick, presumably to draft Nick Bosa. The 49ers and Jets have no need for Murray, but the Dolphins would want to move ahead of the Raiders at No. 4 to grab their quarterback of the future. The Jets likely want to add one of the edge rushers at No. 3 after missing out on Anthony Barr this offseason, and they’re not going to be inclined to help a divisional rival get their quarterback of the future.
That leaves the 49ers, who could certainly consider drafting Allen at No. 2, but don’t have the same sort of need on the edge after trading for Dee Ford this offseason. Moving down would net the Niners a future first-round pick from a team that might be among the worst teams in football in 2019, which has to be appealing to general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. They might covet Bosa, but if he comes off the board at No. 2, the Dolphins could have a deal.
Falcons get: 1-8, 3-88
Lions get: 1-14, 2-45
The Falcons’ needs — defense, with a particular focus on edge rusher — line up well with the strengths of this draft. They have to be a little antsy about where they sit at No. 14, given that the top defensive ends — Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Montez Sweat, Rashan Gary and even Brian Burns — could be off the board.
They probably won’t be all-in for Bosa and Allen in the way that I suggested they might with the trade at No. 3, but it’s certainly plausible that they could move up and go after someone like Sweat if he’s on the board at No. 8. They would make this move to get ahead of the Bills at No. 9. It’s also a perfect match on the Jimmy Johnson chart.
The most simple trade in this mock! The most logical landing spot for Rosen is Washington, given that Jay Gruden’s team doesn’t have a quarterback of the future behind Alex Smith, who might never play again. Arizona wants to come away with a first-round pick for its second-year passer, but I don’t think it has a great shot of getting one straight up unless it’s the 32nd pick from the Patriots.
Louis Riddick is sure Josh Rosen will be a pro despite the trade rumors and says many teams will be interested if he’s on the block.
The Cardinals also get a veteran backup for Kyler Murray in Keenum, who once played under Kingsbury in Houston. This deal values the difference between Rosen and Keenum as equivalent to the 43rd pick in a typical draft.
Panthers get: 1-7, 6-178
Jaguars get: 1-16, 2-47, 3-100
The Panthers have enough starting-caliber talent across their roster to spend the first round of this draft focusing on their future. They probably want to come away with a defensive end to add to their rotation to play behind Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin. General manager Marty Hurney could try to find a downfield threat to replace Torrey Smith and supplement the oft-injured Curtis Samuel behind DJ Moore, although I doubt he’ll use his first-round pick on a wide receiver in consecutive seasons.
One other path to take would be to move up and draft tight end T.J. Hockenson as a replacement for 34-year-old Greg Olsen, who has missed 16 games over the past two seasons and might be close to joining a television network. Ian Thomas flashed promise in December while subbing for an injured Olsen, but there’s nothing stopping the Panthers from using a heavy dose of two-tight-end sets. Carolina can use its second-round pick and the compensatory selection it nabbed for losing Andrew Norwell to move up for the Iowa tight end.
Giants get: 1-30, 2-44
Packers get: 1-17, 3-95
The Giants picked up the 17th and 95th selections from the Browns in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, and while they might want to use those picks to make a dramatic selection by using one on a quarterback, their best chance of adding talent as part of that swap is to trade down. This move would give the Giants four of the top 45 selections in this draft, which should allow them to address right tackle and simultaneously buff up a bereft defense.
Meanwhile, the Packers could use the first-round pick they got from the Saints as part of the Marcus Davenport trade as a weapon to move up for a second key piece of talent. It seems likely that they’ll want to add at least one weapon for Aaron Rodgers, and while there might not be a great fit for anyone besides T.J. Hockenson at No. 12, they could use that pick on an interior disruptor like Christian Wilkins while moving up to No. 17 for Noah Fant, Hockenson’s teammate at Iowa. A wideout like D.K. Metcalf or Marquise Brown also could be in play here.
Vikings get: 1-29, 2-63
Chiefs get: 1-18, 6-190
After re-signing Anthony Barr and giving Adam Thielen a much-deserved raise as part of his contract extension, general manager Rick Spielman and the Vikings know they need to nail their draft picks to find regulars on low-cost deals. Minnesota will naturally look to address its offensive line yet again in the draft, but it might be more interested in guards if it plans to keep Riley Reiff at tackle. The Vikings could be better off moving down and picking up an extra second-round pick.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, have to be aggressive in going after edge-rushing help after somehow turning Dee Ford and Justin Houston into Alex Okafor and Emmanuel Ogbah this offseason. Trading up to the middle of the first round might give them a shot at adding someone like Brian Burns to their rotation at defensive end. The Chiefs also could use this trade, which includes the second-rounder Kansas City acquired from the Rams in the Marcus Peters deal, to trade up for their pick of the cornerback class.
Titans get: 1-32, 2-64
Patriots get: 1-19
The Patriots don’t often trade up, but it could make sense in this situation. New England has seven picks in the first four rounds, so it’s extremely likely that Bill Belichick & Co. could either consolidate some of those selections or trade for future picks in 2020.
Given the Pats’ hole at tight end, it would make sense for them to consider moving up ahead of the Steelers at No. 20 to grab a weapon for Tom Brady. This could be a landing spot for Noah Fant. After making just four selections last year, meanwhile, the Titans should consider amassing extra picks in this draft, even if it means waiting on drafting an edge rusher until the bottom of the first round.
Steelers get: 1-13
Dolphins get: 1-20, 3-66
The Steelers don’t often trade up, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented: They once dealt up from No. 27 to No. 14 to grab Troy Polamalu, and that turned out OK. Could they make a similar trade if tight end T.J. Hockenson is still on the board? I don’t know if he’ll still be around at No. 13, but Pittsburgh could move up to target an offensive tackle like Jonah Williams, given that it traded Marcus Gilbert and currently has Matt Feiler penciled in as the starting right tackle.
With offensive line coach Mike Munchak leaving for Denver this offseason, the Steelers might want a higher-upside option at right tackle than the undrafted Feiler.
Seahawks get: 1-26, 3-89
Colts get: 1-21, 6-159
As much as the Seahawks might love to stay put and draft the best available edge rusher on their board, they are already down their second-, sixth-, and seventh-round picks in this draft after trading for Duane Brown, Brett Hundley and Shalom Luani. They need to add draft capital. Trading down a few picks in the first round and getting a third-round pick back would make sense.
It might seem like the Colts would be an unlikely team to trade up, but Indy did move up three spots in 2018 to take Tyquan Lewis at the end of the second round, so general manager Chris Ballard is apparently comfortable making a small move forward if the price is right. This would be five spots in the first round, so the cost would be commensurately higher, but it would allow Indy to get ahead of teams such as the Ravens and Raiders to grab talent for its defensive line.
Ravens get: 1-31, 2020 second-round pick
Rams get: 1-22, 4-123
New general manager Eric DeCosta is down a second-round pick after sending it to the Eagles as part of the Lamar Jackson trade last year, so while he has two picks in each of the third and fourth rounds, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him trade down to try to get back some draft capital. Given that the longtime deputy to Ozzie Newsome isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, he shouldn’t be terribly concerned if that capital doesn’t come back until 2020.
Any team interested in offensive linemen will be looking to get ahead of the Texans at No. 23, and after losing Rodger Saffold in free agency and cutting John Sullivan, the Rams could very well be in the market for an interior lineman such as Erik McCoy. The Ravens themselves could target McCoy — Kiper picked McCoy to Baltimore here in his latest mock draft — but they should be happy to move down nine spots and pick up a second-rounder for 2020.
Texans get: 1-14
Falcons get: 1-23, 2-55
The Texans learned just how dangerous it can be to trade up when they shipped off a future first-round pick for Deshaun Watson and ended up missing out on the fourth overall selection last year. They’re happy with Watson, of course, and general manager Brian Gaine wasn’t around for that trade, but you would understand why the franchise might be wary to make a huge leap up, even if they’re attempting to target a position of need.
With an extra second-round pick from the Duane Brown trade, though, the Texans should consider moving up to grab some desperately required help along the offensive line. Washington has been bringing linemen in for visits, and the Texans might need to get ahead of the 15th spot if they want to draft someone such as Erik McCoy or Jonah Williams. Sometimes, it’s just that simple.
Raiders get: DE Jadeveon Clowney
Texans get: 1-24, 5-140
What’s more complicated for the Texans, though, is coming to terms on an extension with Clowney. I wrote back in February about how difficult it would be to find common ground with the edge rusher on an extension, and after seeing players such as Za’Darius Smith top $17 million per year on deals this offseason, things aren’t getting any easier for the Texans. They can use the franchise tag on Clowney a second time in 2020 and pay the former first overall pick $19.1 million, but he would top a $20 million average salary in free agency, and his camp knows it.
If the Texans aren’t willing to give him a DeMarcus Lawrence-type contract, this would be the right time to make a trade. Coming away with a first-round pick in a draft deep with edge-rushing talent is far more appealing than waiting a year and ending up with a compensatory third-round pick.
One team that would probably be comfortable using a first-round pick to pay Clowney north of $20 million per year would be the Raiders, who would be using the pick they received from the Bears in the Khalil Mack trade to go after an edge rusher with proven success and significant upside. Trading Mack for two first-round picks doesn’t sound quite as bad as trading Mack for Clowney and a first-round pick, and while I’m not sure that’s a great way to make football decisions, I would also be pretending to think that teams don’t think that way internally.
Eagles get: CB Trae Waynes, 2-50, 6-190
Vikings get: 1-25
The Eagles gave cornerback Ronald Darby a one-year, $6.5 million deal this offseason to come back, but Howie Roseman is one of the most creative and aggressive general managers in the league when it comes to acquiring talent at positions of need. The Eagles have possible options at the position with the likes of Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones, but they need as much help at corner as possible.
In this deal, he goes after Waynes, who is on what amounts to a one-year deal for $9.1 million on a Vikings team already deep at cornerback and unlikely to retain him next year in free agency. Minnesota can move up and use yet another first-round pick at the position to supplement Xavier Rhodes and Mike Hughes, who would be promoted to the starting lineup with Waynes’ departure. The Eagles would move down 25 spots in the draft, but they would likely come away with a compensatory pick for Waynes in free agency next season.
Colts get: 2-36, 3-67
49ers get: 1-26, 5-164
The Colts might have rode a blistering-hot second half into the postseason, but it’s also fair to say that their rebuild is still in progress. Indy managed to coax career seasons out of veterans such as Margus Hunt, Denico Autry, Pierre Desir and Clayton Geathers on defense last season, and though they’re all returning in 2019, the best path for the Colts to build a sustainably excellent defense is still going to be through drafting and developing young talent.
General manager Chris Ballard used three of his four second-round picks on defenders last year and found a superstar with the 36th pick in Darius Leonard. This trade gets him another pair of quality picks at the top of the second and third rounds, including that very same 36th pick again in a swap with the 49ers. San Francisco’s rebuild is also in progress, but given how GM John Lynch has fallen in love with specific players over his tenure as general manager, this could be a spot for the 49ers to trade up and grab a cornerback like Greedy Williams or Rock Ya-Sin.
Raiders get: 2-62, 2020 first-round pick
Saints get: 1-27, 4-106
Everything the Saints have done over the past few months suggests they’re all-in for the 2019 season. Most of what the Raiders have done over the past year suggests they’re trying to build a competitive team for their move to Las Vegas in 2020. This deal better aligns both those windows.
The Saints don’t have a 2019 first-rounder after trading up for Marcus Davenport last year, but they would much rather be without a first-round pick in 2020 as opposed to 2019 if it means they have a better shot of winning a Super Bowl this season. The Raiders are amassing tons of draft capital under Jon Gruden, but there’s no reason they should be desperate to make one of those picks in 2019 as opposed to 2020, especially given that the pick they would be sending in this deal is the sixth-worst selection of the first round. The Saints are likely to send them a bottom-six pick in next year’s draft too, but Oakland will move up 44 picks and take home a second-round pick this April for being patient. If the Saints disappoint in 2019, this could end up being a huge win for Gruden.
Chargers get: QB Josh Rosen, 2-33, 4-103
Cardinals get: 1-28, 2-60
Chargers general manager Tom Telesco hasn’t really exhibited much interest in trading draft picks. Since trading up to grab Melvin Gordon in 2015, the only time Telesco has traded away a draft pick was when he sent a seventh-round pick to the Bills for Cardale Jones in 2018. There’s a good chance he’ll hold onto his picks again this year.
With that being said, the Chargers have a quarterback entering the final year of his deal who turns 38 in December, and while Philip Rivers continues to play at a high level, there’s no guarantee that the 15-year veteran wants to play deep into another contract extension. They wouldn’t need Rosen for 2019 or maybe even for 2020, but trading for him now would give the Chargers peace of mind that they’ll have a starter after Rivers packs it in.
At this price, L.A. would value Rosen as worth the 61st pick in a typical draft, which seems like the low end for a guy who was the 10th overall pick in 2018. With Tyrod Taylor‘s contract nonguaranteed in 2020, trading for Rosen is a move the Chargers would have to seriously consider.
Chiefs get: DE Carl Lawson, 2-42, 4-110
Bengals get: 1-29, 6-201
A Bengals trade up is about as rare as it gets, but with the Packers and Patriots lurking as teams that could at least consider using a first-round pick on a quarterback like Daniel Jones, any team interested in nabbing a quarterback is going to have to talk to the Chiefs. If the Bengals don’t draft a passer with their first-round pick, moving into the bottom of the first round would be a plausible alternative.
Kansas City general manager Brett Veach already has two late second-round picks, but as the Chiefs build their roster around a core of stars who are about to get very expensive, they’re going to need talented players on rookie deals. Here, they get a pair of valuable picks and a pass-rusher with upside in Lawson, who had 8.5 sacks and 21 hits as a rookie before tearing his ACL last season. With two years left on his rookie deal, any sort of return to that rookie form would make Lawson extremely valuable for a Chiefs team desperately seeking edge-rushing help.
Packers get: 2-38, 2020 second-round pick
Jaguars get: 1-30, 4-118
The Packers have a lot of flexibility with the 30th pick after spending so much in free agency. They could opt for depth at pass-rusher, offensive line help, or go after a receiver, but their best bet might be to amass more draft capital. At No. 30, they should have teams calling them to try to get ahead of the Rams and Patriots, who are most likely to be looking for offensive linemen and receivers, respectively.
Tom Coughlin’s Jags would be looking toward the latter. Even after signing Geoff Swaim to a two-year deal this offseason, Jacksonville badly needs a solution at tight end. This would be a move to trade up for Irv Smith Jr. ahead of the Patriots, but it would be costly: If Nick Foles doesn’t turn things around for the Jags, this trade could easily be the 30th pick for two picks in the 33-40 range.
Rams get: 1-22, 2020 fourth-round pick
Ravens get: 1-31, 3-94, 2020 second-round pick
Jeffery Simmons is a defensive tackle out of Mississippi State who is a projected first-round pick in the draft, but tore his ACL in February.
Unless they want to package both of their third-rounders to move up, the Rams probably will have to put their 2020 second-round pick into play. By including that pick and one of the third-rounders, the Rams probably have enough to approach the edges of the lottery. They could be trading up for an interior lineman to replace Rodger Saffold, but if they plan on keeping Michael Brockers at defensive end, it’s fair to wonder if the Rams might target a defensive tackle such as Jeffery Simmons if the Mississippi State product falls to No. 22.
The Patriots might very well make their own move for Rosen, but let’s finish up this mock draft by everyone getting a bit of what they want. The Cardinals want a first-round pick for the quarterback they chose with the 10th overall selection; they’ll have to settle for the last pick in the round, but it’s a fair return given that Rosen showed little behind a porous offensive line last season. Arizona will likely decline Nkemdiche’s fifth-year option for 2020, with the disappointing former first-round pick coming off a torn ACL. He’s not guaranteed to make the Arizona roster if he stays in the desert.
In getting Rosen, the Giants come away with a viable successor for Eli Manning without having to use the sixth overall pick on a quarterback. Giants GM Dave Gettleman instead leverages his second-round pick and Engram, another one of the Jerry Reese draftees who have little utility in a run-first attack, to get a possible franchise quarterback. They get a fourth-rounder back from the Pats to help cushion the blow.
The Patriots move down five spots from their first-round pick and send a fourth-rounder to the Giants to pick up two young players with upside. Engram isn’t a direct replacement for Rob Gronkowski — he’s more like Aaron Hernandez on the field — but the Ole Miss product is a valuable receiver at a position of need for the Pats and came out of school with an excellent three-cone drill mark, which Belichick has typically valued in his receivers. Nkemdiche is a flier along the defensive line with a cap hold of just $2.7 million for 2019.