The 2018 NFL Draft is just days away, and there have already been multiple trades that have reshaped the first round. The New York Jets sent the sixth pick along with two second-rounders this year and one next year to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for the third overall pick. The Jets are almost certainly targeting a quarterback.
The Buffalo Bills traded the 21st selection and left tackle Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals for pick #12. Buffalo could be positioning themselves for another trade-up, this time to secure their quarterback of the future.
The New England Patriots traded star wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams for the 23rd pick. There are rumors that the Patriots really like UCLA QB Josh Rosen, but they are more likely to fill the holes on their roster with their high picks rather than trading them all for a QB.
Even if they were deadset on Rosen, it’s hard to see any situation in which a team with a top five pick would drop down to 23, and New England would have to give up multiple years’ worth of high draft picks.
These trades have changed the landscape of the draft, but the most impactful draft deal may be yet to come.
The Cleveland Browns own five of the top 64 selections in this years’ draft, including picks #1 and #4. They are widely expected to select a quarterback first overall, but no one is certain which QB it will be.
USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, and Okalhoma’s Baker Mayfield are all in the discussion. Browns GM John Dorsey has not even told owner Jimmy Haslam or head coach Hue Jackson which direction he will go.
But with their fourth pick, the Browns have even more options. They could take Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, touted by many as an even better prospect than LSU’s Leonard Fournette or Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliot.
Cleveland could shore up its defensive line with North Carolina State DE Bradley Chubb. Garrett and Chubb would terrorize opposing QBs for years to come.
Staying on the defensive side, the Browns secondary still needs a bit of work, and a safety like Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick or Florida State’s Derwin James would be a nice boost. Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward has garnered plenty of interest by Cleveland, and would give the team an instant number one CB, which they haven’t had since Joe Haden was free from injuries.
The Browns will have their pick of blue-chip prospects at 4. But, they will also have multiple trade offers that could be too good to pass up. If the New York Giants take a QB at 2, then Barkley, Chubb, and one of the top 4 QBs will be available at 4. If the Giants go with Barkley, then two of the top four QBs will still be there.
Potential Trade Partners
Quarterback is the most important position in football, and there are always teams that are desperate for a new signal-caller. Desperation sometimes leads teams to overpay when trading up, and that’s what the Browns should hope for.
The Bills, Miami Dolphins, and Arizona Cardinals could all be looking to move up for a QB. Miami picks 11th, Buffalo 12th, and Arizona 15th. The Cardinals and Dolphins could certainly make attractive offers by giving up picks in the future, but the Bills have the most to offer right now.
After trading down with the Kansas City Chiefs last year, the Bills own the 22nd pick in the first round in addition to their 12th overall selection from Cincinnati. They also own the 53rd and 56th overall picks, both second-rounders, in addition to their third-round pick, 96, and the first pick of the third round, 65, which they acquired from Cleveland in the Tyrod Taylor trade.
The Browns want to win now. They will most likely value current picks higher than future ones, and the Bills have the current picks needed to move up to 4.
The Bills may be hesitant to give up their first-round pick in 2019, as they will most likely be starting A.J. McCarron at QB and have many other holes on their roster. But that’s alright, because the Browns don’t need it to make a deal happen.
Something like this would be fair for both teams:
Cleveland sends: 4, 64
Buffalo sends: 12, 22, 53, 56, 65
The Browns would have four second-round picks and would move up eight spots from their last. They would also regain their third-rounder. They could target someone like Ward or another defender such as Harold Landry at 12, and possibly take a left tackle at 22.
The extra draft capital would allow them to move around in the second round, and even back into the first. Cleveland made three picks in the first round last year, and it would not be a surprise to see them repeat that this weekend.
This trade would give the Browns the 1st, 12th, 22nd, 33rd, 35th, 53rd, 56th, and 65th picks over days one and two. They would surely be in the drivers’ seat for the 2018 NFL Draft, able to add pretty much anything they want to.
The Bill would be able to take their franchise QB and begin rebuilding while keeping all of their picks next season.
This is a trade that benefits both teams involved and would have a huge impact on the first round of the draft. GMs of other teams must be prepared for a blockbuster trade like this to go down, because if they aren’t, they could find themselves without a plan when they are on the clock.