There was only one swap of draft picks in the top half of the first round in last year’s draft. That was boring for those of us who like to see deals being made.
Something tells me we’ll witness a bit more trade action early in the 2020 proceedings, which begin on April 23. Quarterbacks are often the impetus for draft-night trades — there’s been at least one upward move for a passer in the first round in seven of the last 10 drafts. It will not be a surprise if we see at least two teams move up for quarterbacks in the first round this year.
Other positions that are regularly targeted in trades: wide receivers, edge rushers and cornerbacks. There will competition for this year’s top receivers early on, and possibly for the best of the second-tier pass catchers later in Round 1. The edge rusher class is not particularly deep, so a team might make a move for one of the few high-impact prospects at the position. The same goes for corners, as a lackluster second-tier group may force a team to make a move to land the one that it values the most.
So, after seeing several trades in the first round in each of the last few years, here are eight potential 2020 NFL Draft deals that make sense for both sides in terms of meeting roster needs for the team trading up and increasing draft capital for the team trading down.
Dolphins trade No. 5 overall (Round 1) to Lions for No. 3 overall (Round 1)
The Dolphins need a young quarterback to build around. If the Bengals pick Joe Burrow first overall and the Redskins select top pass rusher Chase Young at No. 2, then the Lions could reap the benefit with Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert still on the board and Miami in great position to make an offer with its stockpile of draft capital.
With the Chargers and Jaguars also potentially in the market for a quarterback, the Dolphins may need to give up the fifth pick and two second-round picks (one in 2020 and one in 2021) to stop others from leap-frogging them for a passer.
That said, I won’t be surprised (or blame) Washington head coach Ron Rivera if he falls in love with the talent and character of Tagovailoa. If the Redskins pick a QB at No. 2 and the Lions take Young with the third pick, then Giants general manager Dave Gettleman’s statement of being “open for business” with the No. 4 overall pick could really come to fruition.
Broncos trade No. 15 overall (Round 1) to Browns for No. 10 overall (Round 1)
The Broncos made a smart pick last year when they selected Drew Lock in the second round — or at least it looks that way from the early returns. They should now be in the market for one of the top-notch receivers in this year’s class to complement WR1 Courtland Sutton. Whether they covet the top-end speed of Henry Ruggs III, smooth routes of Jerry Jeudy or the excellent all-around game of CeeDee Lamb, the Broncos‘ hopes of becoming a contender in the AFC rest on the team’s ability to consistently move the ball through the air.
The Jets (No. 11 overall), Raiders (No. 12), 49ers (No. 13) and Buccaneers (No. 14) are candidates to pick a receiver before Denver is on the clock with the 15th pick. There are other teams slated to pick later in Round 1 that might be trying to move ahead of John Elway and his Broncos for one of the top three pass-catchers, as well. Trading away the 15th selection and two third-round picks may be necessary for Denver to ensure it lands the receiver it desires. The Browns could still pick up an excellent player in the mid-first round and use the extra selections to shore up the roster. Arizona (selecting eighth) and Jacksonville (ninth) could also be willing trade partners for GM John Elway. If he doesn’t want to move up in Round 1 to get a receiver, don’t be surprised if the move happens in Round 2 — or perhaps he’ll trade back into Round 1, late in the opening stanza.
Falcons trade No. 16 overall (Round 1) to Jets for No. 11 overall (Round 1)
The Falcons have needs on defense that would be best addressed by the elite players in this draft: defensive tackles Javon Kinlaw or Derrick Brown and linebacker Isaiah Simmons. General manager Thomas Dimitroff has proven himself willing to make first-round trades in the past (he moved up for Julio Jones, Takkarist McKinley and Kaleb McGary). The Jets can fill their need for an edge rusher or receiver in the mid-first round while accumulating more middle-round selections. It sounds like a win-win situation to me.
Ravens trade No. 28 overall (Round 1) to Dolphins for No. 18 overall (Round 1)
Last year, the lone trade among the first 16 selections of the draft was Pittsburgh’s move to secure the services of linebacker Devin Bush. Perhaps the division-rival Ravens will make a similar move to land a new leader for the middle of the defense in former Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray. They might have to get ahead of the Raiders‘ second selection (No. 19 overall) or go even higher to land Murray, though.
One potential alternative would be for the Ravens to move in front of the Patriots (No. 23) to select Patrick Queen, another beast at middle linebacker in this draft class. They’ll have to give up the 28th pick, a 2021 second-round selection and a middle-rounder this year to get Murray, but they might be able to land Queen by trading with Jacksonville at 20, Philadelphia at 21 or Minnesota at 22 for a lower price.
Chargers trade No. 37 overall (Round 2) to Patriots for No. 23 overall (Round 1)
Former Utah State quarterback Jordan Love is a polarizing prospect in this draft. Some believe he has the same type of potential that made Josh Allen a top-10 pick in 2018, while others believe he’s a developmental prospect who offers value in Round 2. But often teams looking for a future starter at QB will move from the second to first round to beat others to the punch — and get the fifth-year option that is tied to contracts for all first-round picks. Tyrod Taylor can serve as a bridge QB for the Bolts, but Love’s playmaking abilities could push them to give up the 37th pick and a 2021 second-round selection to gain 14 rungs on the draft ladder. The Patriots are always looking to add picks, so if they don’t have interest in Love and do not see any other first-round-caliber players remaining on their board, they’ll likely jump at this deal.
Panthers trade No. 38 overall (Round 2) to Dolphins for No. 26 overall (Round 1)
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule could be looking to bring in his former pupil at Baylor, defensive lineman James Lynch. But teams drafting late in the late first round and early in Round 2 could have interest in Lynch, as well. So, Rhule might have to make a move to secure his services. Another possible target for Carolina would be Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson (or a different corner to replace James Bradberry, who departed in free agency). Johnson has a chance to go late in the first round with the CB-needy Titans (No. 29), Packers (No. 30) and Chiefs (No. 32) situated toward the end of Round 1.
If the Dolphins do indeed trade up early in the first round, they could value a move down here to regain some of the capital they gave up.
Giants trade No. 36 overall (Round 2) to Seahawks for No. 27 overall (Round 1)
Last year, the Giants moved up to get cornerback Deandre Baker late in the first round. If they make a similar move this year, it could be for a wide receiver. If pass-catchers Tee Higgins, Justin Jefferson or Denzel Mims are available by the time Seattle’s pick rolls around, the Seahawks might be a willing trade partner for team looking to give quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley more top-level help on offense. In this scenario, the Giants would give up the 36th pick, their third-round selection (No. 99 overall) and a Day 3 pick (Rounds 4-7) to make the move (or a selection they received when trading down in Round 1, should they choose to do so).
Jets trade No. 48 overall (Round 2) to 49ers for No. 31 overall (Round 1)
A second Big Apple squad jumps into the fray in this deal, giving up the 48th pick and the third-round selection it received in the Leonard Williams deal with the Giants (No. 68 overall). The Jets have some pressing needs to address, and can spend this pick on a spot they didn’t address with their first selection. Receiver, edge rusher, a defensive back or an offensive lineman could all be in play here if a prospect they covet falls to San Francisco’s slot. With New England potentially taking a step back without Tom Brady, Buffalo looking to become a regular playoff contender and Miami trying to enhance its roster through a strong draft, the Jets need to be proactive to avoid falling behind.
I expect the Niners, who don’t currently hold a pick in Rounds 2-4, to look to move down and pick up additional selections — especially if there aren’t any players that they’ve graded as first-rounders available at No. 31.
Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter @chad_reuter.