Time to share my favorite article of the offseason. You’ve read lots of 2023 mock drafts this spring. I feel pretty confident in saying none of them looks anything like this one. Most mock drafts don’t include any trades. This one only includes trades. Yes, it’s my annual all-trades mock draft, where I come up with a trade for each and every pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
Usually, that means 32 trades. This year, with the Dolphins losing their first-round pick to tampering charges, you’re getting 31 trades. I can’t opt out or say a team is going to stay put, even if history and logic tell me a team isn’t going anywhere from its current draft slot. Every pick is getting traded, some more than once. Some players are joining the fray: There are deals for Lamar Jackson, DeAndre Hopkins, Aaron Rodgers and another future Hall of Famer.
Here are a few important pieces of information to skip past so you can get mad at the trade for your favorite team:
Each trade exists in its own universe. There are multiple trades for the No. 3 overall pick in this piece. Those trades don’t build on each other; each trade occurs under a unique set of circumstances. Likewise, I might mention that a team could be considering a trade up for a player with one pick and then suggest another team could consider trading up for that same player in a later deal. Obviously, in each scenario, I’m starting fresh and assuming that prospect is still on the board.
I’m attempting to use each team’s track record and current situation to judge what they’re likely to consider, not what they should do. I don’t have any expectations about ever getting one of these trades spot on, but I do want to try to think the way these teams do as they approach the draft. The Eagles, Ravens and Vikings are among the league’s most analytically inclined organizations and are more likely to trade down. The Saints are going to do Saints things.
I’m using history and the Jimmy Johnson chart to measure what teams need to trade to get a deal done, but a different chart to measure how they actually performed. Teams still use historically comparable deals and the Johnson chart as a sort of shared language to try to find common ground on trades. At this point, most organizations have their own draft chart as a measure of what picks are “really” worth, though. I’m fond of using the chart created by Chase Stuart, which is built upon how each pick actually performed after accounting for replacement value. Of course, team executives might throw every chart out the window if they think the prospect they’re acquiring is worth a lopsided deal (although they’re usually wrong to make that choice).
2023 picks are notated by their round and number. As an example, the 34th overall pick is the third pick of Round 2. That pick is notated as 2-34. Future picks are listed with their year and round number.
Let’s start with pick No. 1!
Jump to a pick:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16
17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24
25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31
Panthers get: 1-2, 2-33, 3-65, 3-73
Texans get: 1-1, 2-39, 4-132
Normally it’s impossible to make a realistic deal for the No. 1 overall pick. The Jaguars weren’t trading it when they could land quarterback Trevor Lawrence in 2021, and they couldn’t find a team that wanted to move up for the pick when they drafted edge rusher Travon Walker last year. It’s even harder when a team trades up for the top pick before this column is filed, since no organization is going to move all the way up to No. 1 and then drop back down. Right?
This is a unique year, though, and the Panthers have publicly hinted they’re in a unique position. If they really traded up without a significant preference between C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) and Bryce Young (Alabama), they could theoretically move down to No. 2 and still be happy with the quarterback they’ve landed. I’m sure the Colts would love to go from No. 4 to No. 1, but would the Panthers be willing to settle for what might be the fourth passer in this class?
When the Bears owned the pick, they reportedly talked to the Texans about moving from No. 1 to No. 2 without much luck, but they might have wanted much more than what the Texans were willing to offer. I don’t think the Panthers can expect to recoup too much for the move down, given that even calling Houston about a potential deal erodes a decent amount of their leverage. This only works if the Texans have an expressed preference for a particular quarterback and the Panthers successfully scare them into thinking they’ll take that guy at No. 1.
In addition to moving up six spots in the second round, the Panthers would land two picks toward the top of the third round, helping them recoup some of the capital they sent to the Bears in the original trade. The Texans, who are flush with picks as a product of last year’s Deshaun Watson deal, would package two of those selections to get the quarterback of their choosing. They also would get the fourth-rounder the Panthers acquired as part of the Christian McCaffrey trade.
This would be a slight win for the Panthers on the Johnson chart and a bigger victory on the Stuart chart, which has a flatter curve for pick value.
Texans get: QB Lamar Jackson, 1-22
Ravens get: 1-2, 3-73, 2024 fourth-round pick (conditional)
This was the most difficult trade to put together. If the Texans want one of the top two quarterbacks, they can’t move down. The team most interested in moving to this spot is the Colts (No. 4), Houston’s division rivals, who also want a signal-caller. Dropping below the Colts and past the Seahawks (No. 5) would run the risk of not landing any of the top four quarterbacks, a move the Texans can’t countenance after running out Davis Mills last season. The idea of moving down in a trade for Mac Jones is cute but probably not realistic.
If we’re going to put together a pie-in-the-sky proposal, let’s make our first effort to resolve the Jackson situation in Baltimore. This probably would only make sense if two things are true. One would have to be that the Texans love only one quarterback in this class and the Panthers take that quarterback before them. The other is that the Ravens are so frustrated and so worried by the possibility of losing Jackson for free after 2024 that they’re willing to settle for something significantly less than two first-round picks.
How much less? Baltimore would have to attach a first-round pick with Jackson, although it would land this extremely valuable selection. In doing so, it would immediately be in position to land a franchise-altering replacement for Jackson from whomever doesn’t go No. 1. The Ravens would land a couple of midround picks from Houston; the 2024 fourth-rounder would become a third-rounder if Jackson plays 80% of the offensive snaps in 2023 or a second-rounder if he plays 90% of the snaps.
Marcus Spears: OBJ and Lamar Jackson ‘could be magic’
Marcus Spears says if Odell Beckham Jr. stays healthy, he and Lamar Jackson could be magic together.
In this scenario, Jackson would sign his franchise tag before inking a long-term deal for one more guaranteed dollar than Deshaun Watson got as part of his trade to Cleveland. New Houston offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik was most recently the passing game coordinator in San Francisco, where Kyle Shanahan had installed a quarterback run-friendly attack for Trey Lance before the second-year passer suffered an ankle injury last season. Jackson would be a big bet for the Texans, but as they try to rebuild trust with their fan base and compete in the AFC South, his floor and ceiling both project to be better than this draft’s quarterbacks. Houston would also still have two first-rounders — Nos. 12 and 22 — and could use one of them on a much-needed wide receiver to help Jackson.
By both the Johnson and Stuart charts, this would value Jackson as being worth a top-10 pick. It’s not two first-rounders for the Ravens, but this might be better than two future first-round picks from a team that likely projects to pick in the 20s in 2024 and 2025. This deal is more implausible than most of the others in this article (which is saying a lot), but there’s a universe in which it makes sense for both parties.
Cardinals get: 1-11, 3-72, 2024 first-round pick, 2025 second-round pick
Titans get: 1-3
There’s no shortage of logical suitors for this pick. The Cardinals should be trading down to amass extra selections as they go through what’s expected to be a rebuilding season. The Titans are going through their own version of a rebuild after cutting expensive veterans Bud Dupree and Taylor Lewan and attempting to coax Kevin Byard into a pay cut. Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill are both entering the final year of their respective deals, and new general manager Ran Carthon doesn’t appear to be building his future team around a 34-year-old quarterback.
With all due respect to 2022 third-rounder Malik Willis, who struggled across 211 offensive snaps as a rookie, this would be Carthon’s biggest step toward plotting out the future of the franchise. It would be a move up for C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Bryce Young (Alabama), Anthony Richardson (Florida) or Will Levis (Kentucky), at least two of whom will still be on the board. The Titans could then cut Tannehill or use him as their bridge quarterback before handing the reins over to the young guy in 2024. They would also be moving ahead of the division rival Colts (No. 4) in making this deal, which might make the trade that much more justifiable.
For Arizona, this wouldn’t be quite as much as the Dolphins got from the 49ers for the pick that became Trey Lance in 2021, but it would be a series of valuable future selections to help replenish a roster that has just three of the 53 players former general manager Steve Keim drafted between 2013 and 2019 left on the roster. With the Titans playing through a lame-duck season in 2023, the Cardinals could land a top-10 pick next year to go with the No. 11 pick this year.
Colts get: 1-3
Cardinals get: 1-4, 3-79, 5-138, 2024 third-round pick
For the Colts to avoid being beaten to the punch for the third quarterback in this class, they’ll need to trade up themselves. The Cardinals probably aren’t going to take an offer like this unless there’s nothing more significant on the table from a team moving up later in the round. If Arizona loves pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama) or one of the class’ top cornerbacks, it could also make this deal to pick up two extra selections and still land its pick of the defensive players.
As I mentioned in my story on which teams could trade up or down in Round 1, the Bears sent two third-round picks and a fourth-rounder to move up from No. 3 to No. 2 in 2017 and select Mitch Trubisky. The price for the Colts would be in the same ballpark if Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort plays his cards right.
Colts GM Chris Ballard can’t love the idea of trading away three picks to move up one spot and get a player the Cardinals don’t have any intention of taking, but this would be about keeping Arizona from sending its pick to another team.
Seahawks get: 1-7, 2-38, 4-109
Raiders get: 1-5, 2-52
The Seahawks are in a tougher spot than it might seem here. The Panthers, Texans and Colts aren’t likely to want to move down out of the top four spots and potentially miss out on a quarterback. The Cardinals should be happy to move down, but will they really want to make a deal with their division rival that sees Seattle get its quarterback of the future? I suspect Arizona would do it if it had no other options, but the Seahawks are going to need to pay more than other teams in the top 10 to convince the Cards’ front office.
If the top three quarterbacks and Will Anderson Jr. are off the board, I wonder if the Seahawks would try to move down a couple of spots and target a cornerback. Adding a fourth-rounder and jumping 14 spots in the second round might not seem enormous, but the organization would add a pick in the 20-40 range that general manager John Schneider typically targets for selections and trade opportunities. Seattle already has pick Nos. 20 and 37, so it could use a third selection in this range to help move around if it want to grab Hendon Hooker, who is ranked as the fifth-best signal-caller in the class.
For the Raiders, this would be jumping ahead of the Lions for interior disruptor Jalen Carter. While the player out of Georgia pleaded no contest to reckless driving charges last month, the defensive tackle is still expected to land in the top 10. Carter would be able to take advantage of playing with Vegas edge rushers Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones.
Lions get: 1-3, 2024 fifth-round pick
Cardinals get: 1-6, 2-55, 2024 third-round pick
Let’s get coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn the NFL’s most exciting duo of young pass-rushers. In this trade, Detroit would move ahead of Seattle to take Will Anderson Jr., the best edge rusher in this class, and pair him with last year’s No. 2 pick Aidan Hutchinson, who had 9.5 sacks as a rookie.
Teams shouldn’t treat acquired picks as house money, but the Lions would be sending the capital they acquired from the Matthew Stafford and T.J. Hockenson trades to move up and grab a potential franchise pass-rusher. They would still be able to use their own picks at Nos. 18 and 48 to address tight end and defensive tackle.
Raiders get: 1-10, 2-62
Eagles get: 1-7, 4-109
If the Raiders can’t add defensive tackle Jalen Carter, they should try to trade down. There’s just too much missing from their roster after years of poor draft picks and overaggressive decisions, including general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels announcing their arrival in town last year by trading their first- and second-round picks for Davante Adams. If Las Vegas can come away from this draft with six selections in the first three rounds, it would be a step in the right direction.
When Eagles GM Howie Roseman moves up in the draft, it’s typically a small move to get ahead of a team for a player he covets at a specific position. We know Roseman loves defensive linemen, and with the Eagles retooling up front in advance of the Jalen Hurts deal, this could be an attempt to land a future starter on the edge. In this scenario, that’s No. 2-ranked edge rusher Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech).
The Falcons and Bears pick at Nos. 8 and 9, respectively, and both should be in the market for edge rushers and cornerbacks, positions Philadelphia should be trying to hit for the future at No. 10.
Falcons get: 1-13, 2-43, WR Corey Davis
Jets get: 1-8, 3-75
This should be the first call for teams interested in left tackle prospects Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State) and Peter Skoronski (Northwestern). The Falcons are set at tackle with Jake Matthews and Kaleb McGary, but the Bears (No. 9), Titans (11), Jets (13), Patriots (14) and even Packers (15) could be looking to find their tackle of the future in this range. Mekhi Becton was seen as that player for the Jets and could end up there after Duane Brown‘s contract expires, but the 2020 first-rounder has played just one game in two seasons.
With this trade, the Jets would jump five spots for Johnson. The Falcons would drop down five spots but move up 42 spots in the other part of the deal, getting them in position to add more starting-caliber talent to a defense that has holes at multiple positions. They would also add an intriguing wide receiver in Davis, who had his breakout 2020 season under Falcons coach Arthur Smith when the two were together in Tennessee. Davis would have to take a pay cut to $6 million and the Jets would eat $4 million of that amount to facilitate his trade to Atlanta, where Davis would compete with Mack Hollins for the starting role next to Drake London.
New York would still hold on to the 44th pick, which it could use for an unnamed veteran quarterback.
Bears get: 1-5, 3-83
Seahawks get: 1-9, 2-53, 2024 third-round pick
We’ve already seen Chicago general manager Ryan Poles move out of the top spot and acquire star wide receiver DJ Moore and valuable draft capital, including Carolina’s 2024 first-round pick. The Bears have four of the top 64 picks in this year’s draft, so they have flexibility to move wherever they want.
What if Poles wants to move back up for the difference-maker his team desperately needs on the line of scrimmage? Remember what the Colts did in 2020 to help get the most out of Matt Eberflus’ defense. They traded a first-round pick for interior disruptor DeForest Buckner, who has 24.5 sacks in three seasons since the move from San Francisco.
Here, the Bears would move back up to add Jalen Carter, who could be a target for the Lions and Raiders before Chicago’s current pick. Carter is not going to single-handedly turn Chicago into a great defense, but Poles will need to add that kind of talent somewhere along the way. Carter would be a much-needed building block, and the Bears would still hold on to picks Nos. 61 and 64.
Eagles get: 1-19, 2024 first-round pick
Buccaneers get: 1-10, 2024 third-round pick
General manager Howie Roseman might want to add a defensive lineman with this pick, but would he be able to resist the urge to trade down and acquire what might be another top-10 pick in 2024? Last April, Roseman picked up a midround selection for essentially betting on the Saints to struggle in 2022. He won that bet, although it wasn’t quite as lucrative a victory as it seemed when the Saints were 4-9 in December.
This trade is slightly different. The Eagles would stay in the third round, but they’d pick up what could be an extremely valuable first-round pick from the Buccaneers in 2024. Tampa would move up if one of the top quarterbacks fell, jumping ahead of the Titans in an attempt to land its quarterback of the future. Kyle Trask hasn’t impressed in preseason over the past couple of seasons, while free agent signing Baker Mayfield is on a one-year deal. If the Bucs like Anthony Richardson or Will Levis and they’re available here, they could justify giving the Eagles a call.
Titans get: 1-14, 3-76
Patriots get: 1-11, 5-147
If the Titans believe free agent addition Andre Dillard is their left tackle of the future, this could be a spot to trade down and acquire draft capital. New general manager Ran Carthon has to reckon with the futures of Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill, but he is clearly trying to replenish a roster that might have peaked with the 1-seed in 2021.
Picking up a third-rounder to drop three spots would be good business for Tennessee. For Bill Belichick and the Patriots, this would be a trade up the board to grab a wide receiver ahead of the Texans (No. 12) or a left tackle ahead of the division rival Jets (13). Belichick sticking it to his former employers? It’s not tough to imagine that one happening. The legendary coach doesn’t often make huge trades forward in Round 1, but he has made left tackle a priority.
Steelers get: 1-12, 4-104
Texans get: 1-17, 2-49
This would be the last chance for a team to move up the board for a left tackle before the Jets and Patriots. The Texans are set at tackle with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard, although the latter is entering the final year of his deal. If general manager Nick Caserio is going to use his second Round 1 pick on a wide receiver, doing so at No. 17 is probably better value than taking one here, given the relatively muddled group of options in the top tier.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, while now-retired Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert rarely moved up in the first round, this is Omar Khan’s team now. It’s fair to start with the idea that Khan will behave the same way as his former boss, but Brian Gutekunst took over the Packers from Ted Thompson and immediately started trading up. The Steelers have an extra second-round pick after sending Chase Claypool to the Bears, which might make a move easier to swallow.
Incumbent left tackle Dan Moore was pushed into the starting role prematurely as a rookie in 2021, and he has ranked 66th out of 77 qualifying tackles in pass block win rate over his first two seasons while committing 15 penalties. Moving up for Paris Johnson Jr. or Peter Skoronski would net the Steelers a blue-chip prospect to protect Kenny Pickett while turning Moore into experienced depth to help deal with more injuries up front.
Jets get: QB Aaron Rodgers, 3-78 (from GB), 1-20 (from SEA)
Packers get: 1-13, 2024 third-round pick (conditional, from NYJ)
Seahawks get: 2-42 (from NYJ), 2-45 (from GB)
Well, you knew a Rodgers trade was coming. To get the Packers this pick and keep the Jets in the first round, we have to get creative. I’m relying on the Seahawks to help facilitate this deal and pick up some draft value in the process.
Let’s break this up into two deals. First, the Jets send No. 13 and a conditional pick in 2024 to the Packers. This would be a third-round pick that becomes a second-rounder if the Jets win a playoff game in 2023. In return, they finally land Rodgers, as well as Nos. 45 and 78 from Green Bay. Depending on how you evaluate the future conditional pick, this values Rodgers as roughly being worth the 25th pick in a typical draft by the Johnson chart.
Then, the Jets would send Nos. 42 (acquired from the Browns in the Elijah Moore deal) and 45 (just acquired in this Packers deal) to the Seahawks for No. 20. This is a slight win for Seattle by the Johnson chart and a significant one by the Stuart chart, as picks in the top half of Round 2 are often underrated.
All of this adds up, right? The Jets lose this selection but land Rodgers while moving down only seven spots. The Packers get the first-rounder they want for Rodgers to address their 2023 team and add another meaningful pick in 2024. The Seahawks create more value for themselves and have four picks between 37 and 52, which allows them to move wherever they want in the bottom of the first round and top of the second round.
Patriots get: 1-29, 2-40
Saints get: 1-14
There’s no more harmonious match between a team that prefers to trade down and one that loves to trade up. The Patriots could stay put here if there’s a left tackle they like, but otherwise, they should field calls from teams that want to take a cornerback ahead of the Commanders (No. 16), Steelers (17) and Lions (18). Bill Belichick typically prefers to address corner after Round 1.
The Saints aren’t really in the market for a cornerback after using a second-round pick on Alontae Taylor last year, but they could be in position to move up for an edge rusher. Cameron Jordan is 33; Payton Turner, a first-rounder in 2021, hasn’t impressed in his first two seasons; and Marcus Davenport left in free agency. Kaden Elliss, who served as a pass-rusher for stretches a year ago, joined the Falcons. Carl Granderson has been a solid rotational player, but he’s entering the final year of his contract.
New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis & Co. desperately need to address defensive tackle, but that’s a position they can hit later in this draft, even after trading away their second-round pick. This would be a trade up for an edge rusher such as Lukas Van Ness (Iowa) or Myles Murphy (Clemson), each of whom could be targets for the Lions or Seahawks (No. 20), depending on what those teams do with their previous picks in the top 10. Both of these players could see snaps on the interior in pass-rushing situations, which would shoulder some of the load created by all those vacated snaps at defensive tackle.
Packers get: 1-26, 2-58, 2025 fifth-round pick
Cowboys get: 1-15
You had to know this trade was coming, too. This is a move up for the Cowboys to keep running back Bijan Robinson in the state of Texas for the next four years. I wrote all about Robinson as a prospect and the possibility of teams valuing him as a first-round talent, but it’s clear Dallas believes star running backs are worth premium picks. The franchise used the No. 4 overall pick on Ezekiel Elliott in 2016 and then gave him a six-year, $90 million extension in 2019.
With Tony Pollard on the franchise tag, Robinson would be the Cowboys’ back of the future. For a team making all-in moves before Micah Parsons gets paid next offseason, Robinson could make an immediate impact. The Packers, in the market for help at tight end, can afford to move back and pick up a valuable second-round selection in the process.
Do the Packers need to trade Aaron Rodgers before the draft?
Damien Woody and Ryan Clark break down how important it is for the Packers to trade Aaron Rodgers before the draft.
Commanders get: 1-19, 3-82
Buccaneers get: 1-16, 5-150
Quietly the league’s sixth-best defense by points allowed per possession last season, the Commanders should feel like they can compete for a playoff spot if they get better quarterback play out of the duo of Jacoby Brissett and Sam Howell than they did out of Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. Coach Ron Rivera should be thinking about a cornerback with this pick, but Washington could move down, take a corner at No. 19 and recoup the third-round pick it sent to the Colts in the Wentz deal.
I’ve already broached the idea of the Bucs moving up to draft a quarterback, but this deal would be for an offensive tackle. The Bucs cut Donovan Smith after a topsy-turvy season and haven’t replaced him. Tristan Wirfs could move to the blind side, but this would be a spot for the Bucs to jump ahead of the Steelers to land a starter at either left or right tackle.
Steelers get: 1-21, 3-87
Vikings get: 1-17
Let’s welcome the Vikings to the quarterback market! They don’t have much draft capital (five total picks) after they traded their second-rounder in the T.J. Hockenson deal. They also don’t have a quarterback signed past the 2023 season; Kirk Cousins will hit free agency next March. Another go-round with Cousins doesn’t seem like it should excite the Vikings.
Landing a passer in this range would make sense, especially if Minnesota believes Hendon Hooker (Tennessee) can be an NFL starter. The problem for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is that the Buccaneers pick at No. 19 and the Seahawks own No. 20, and both could be interested in Hooker as their quarterback of the future. (The Lions pick 18th, and while the Vikings completed a deal with their divisional rivals during the draft a year ago, Detroit GM Brad Holmes might not be quite as interested if he figures Minnesota is moving up for a quarterback.)
Moving down four spots would net the Steelers a third-round pick, which would leave them in range for a cornerback.
Lions get: DT Aaron Donald
Rams get: 1-18, 2-55
Let’s get a little silly. The Rams won Super Bowl LVI on the back of trading two first-round picks to the Lions in a deal for QB Matthew Stafford. Things have gone south since, and general manager Les Snead has been cutting or trading away nearly every veteran on the defensive side of the ball in an attempt to clear cap space and reacquire draft capital. The Rams unquestionably hope to compete in 2023, but 2024 or 2025 might be more realistic.
At 31 and having already flirted with retirement a year ago, Donald’s timeline might not align with L.A. given how the organization approached this offseason. He has a no-trade clause and might not be willing to waive it to go to Detroit, but the Lions have a more credible chance of making a deep playoff run in 2023 than the Rams do with their respective rosters. (If the Steelers hadn’t re-signed Larry Ogunjobi, a deal to Donald’s old stomping grounds in Pittsburgh would have made plenty of sense.)
The Lions desperately need an interior pass-rusher. Levi Onwuzurike, a second-rounder in 2021, played just 396 snaps as a rookie before missing all of 2022 with a back injury, and his professional future is uncertain. This team ranked last in pass defense QBR a year ago and rebuilt its secondary during the offseason, most recently by trading away 2020 top-five pick Jeff Okudah to the Falcons. Detroit could use the No. 6 pick on an edge rusher to team with Aidan Hutchinson and then use this choice to make a stunning splash for a future Hall of Famer.
Landing the Nos. 18 and 55 picks would give the Rams two key assets to use on help along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They would be on the hook for a whopping $41 million in dead money, but they could create space by restructuring their deals with Stafford or WR Cooper Kupp, and they would have way more space in total in 2024 and 2025. Donald would join the Lions on a two-year, $48.5 million deal. Implausible? A little, maybe. Fun to imagine Donald wrecking shop for a Lions team winning the NFC North? Absolutely.
Buccaneers get: 1-12, 4-104
Texans get: 1-19, LB Devin White
Here’s another way for the Bucs to creatively move up the board for their quarterback or left tackle of the future, albeit at the cost of White. The 2021 Pro Bowler had an uneven season a year ago, and amid a cap crunch, negotiations between the Bucs and their star linebacker haven’t gone well. White requested a trade last week, and while the team might not choose to honor White’s suggestion, his future could lay elsewhere. This trade would value White as being worth the 51st pick in a typical draft by the Johnson chart, roughly where Roquan Smith was valued when he was dealt to the Ravens under similar circumstances last year.
The Texans have essentially punted at linebacker over the past few seasons; their roster includes veterans Denzel Perryman, Cory Littleton and Christian Kirksey. Perryman and Littleton are signed to one-year deals with less than $1 million in guarantees, while Kirksey has no guaranteed money remaining on his contract. Adding White would land new coach DeMeco Ryans a talented playmaker in the middle of the field, something he’ll need as he rebuilds the defense, presumably in the image of his former employers in San Francisco.
By moving down seven spots, the Texans would still be in position to draft a wide receiver or defensive lineman.
Seahawks get: 1-25, 3-89
Giants get: 1-20
The Giants should not be done shopping for receivers. They’ve added Darren Waller, Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder and brought back Wan’Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard, but they should be looking for a primary option. Given how many possession and slot receivers they have, this is a team that sorely needs some speed on the outside beyond Slayton.
Moving up here would get the Giants ahead of the Chargers, who should be looking for a similar injection of speed to their receiving corps. Seattle general manager John Schneider should be happy to pick up a third-round choice for moving down five spots.
Chargers get: 1-14, 4-135
Patriots get: 1-21, 2-54
L.A. general manager Tom Telesco almost always stays put in the opening round of the draft, but that’s not an option here. The Chargers are at the beginning of a group of teams that expect to look for wide receivers, but any of those can move ahead of L.A. to make a trade with the Buccaneers or Seahawks.
In this case, the Chargers would be moving ahead of the Packers (No. 15) to land their favorite wide receiver in this class. The Packers drafting a wide receiver in the first round still seems to be a theory as opposed to something that might actually happen, but this would be a way for the Chargers to land Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Ohio State) as the long-term replacement for Keenan Allen. A more speedy option could be in play, although the Chargers probably would feel confident they could stay put and grab Zay Flowers (Boston College) or Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee).
Ravens get: 2-38, 2024 second-round pick
Raiders get: 1-22, 2024 fifth-round pick
Josh McDaniels once traded up for Tim Tebow. He’s always thinking about quarterbacks. The Raiders just signed Jimmy Garoppolo to what amounts to either a one-year, $35 million deal or a two-year, $48 million pact, but he is 31 and has a significant injury history. Vegas signed former New England passer Brian Hoyer to serve as Garoppolo’s backup, but this is a team that has a quarterback for now, not one for the future.
Enter Hendon Hooker, who would be snatched up just ahead of the Vikings. Hooker is already 25 years old and is coming off a torn ACL in his left knee, a combination that will certainly scare away some teams. I’m not sure the Raiders are one of them, especially given the likelihood that 2023 would serve as a redshirt year for him. Hooker led the nation in Total QBR last season.
The Ravens could consider Hooker as a hedge against Lamar Jackson‘s future, but the most likely scenario involves Jackson returning for the long term in Baltimore. Wide receiver was a pressing concern until the team shockingly signed Odell Beckham Jr. to a one-year deal, so this could be a spot for it to trade down. General manager Eric DeCosta would be excited about the possibility of landing No. 38 and a future second-rounder, which could fall in the same ballpark given Vegas’ track record of mediocrity.
Vikings get: QB Trey Lance, 3-102, 6-216 (from SF), 2-63 (from PHI)
49ers get: 1-21, QB Nick Mullens (from MIN)
Eagles get: 3-99, 3-101 (from SF), 2025 fourth-round pick (from MIN)
Here’s how the Vikings get their quarterback of the future and the 49ers get back into the first day of the draft. It feels like this three-way trade should somehow involve Kirk Cousins ending up with the 49ers, but cap constraints on both sides make that impossible. If this were the NBA or NHL, we would include a fourth team to take on some of the money due to Cousins’ contract, but the NFL would likely frown upon that sort of deal.
As it is, we have two trades. First, the 49ers would send their third-year quarterback and pick Nos. 99, 101 and 102 to the Vikings to move all the way up to No. 21. Those are also San Francisco’s top three selections as a result of the trades for Lance and Christian McCaffrey. This deal values Lance as being worth the 39th pick in a typical draft, which is probably fair given what little we know about him after his first two seasons. Nothing about how the Niners have handled his situation suggests they still value him like the player they gave up three first-round picks to acquire. They would also include a late sixth-round selection to reunite with Mullens, who would be displaced as the Minnesota backup.
Then, to avoid going without first- and second-round picks themselves, the Vikings would package pick Nos. 99 and 101 alongside a future fourth-rounder in a deal with the Eagles to move up to the bottom of Round 2. Minnesota would end up with no first-round pick and selections toward the bottom of the second and third rounds, but it would also land Lance, a long-term replacement for Cousins.
The 49ers would give up on Lance, but they would move forward for now with Mullens, Brock Purdy and Sam Darnold as their options under center before considering a reunion between Cousins and Kyle Shanahan in free agency next year. Moving up to No. 21 would allow them to draft a replacement for right tackle Mike McGlinchey, who left in free agency. Broderick Jones (Georgia) or Darnell Wright (Tennessee) could be available there.
Jaguars get: 2-33, 2024 third-round pick
Texans get: 1-24, 4-121
After that wild three-team deal, let’s follow with a rare intra-divisional trade between two rivals. With Calvin Ridley returning to the league, the Jaguars should be talking to teams looking to add a wide receiver ahead of the Giants (No. 25) and Bills (27). Jacksonville should be looking at tight ends, cornerbacks and interior linemen, all of whom should still be plentiful after the end of Day 1. Adding a third-round selection from a team that doesn’t project to be good in 2024 will help defray the cost of the conditional pick sent to the Falcons in the Ridley deal.
If the Texans go with a quarterback at No. 2 and an edge rusher at 12, this would be a move back into the first round to add a wide receiver. They have Robert Woods, Nico Collins and Noah Brown and hope to get back 2022 second-rounder John Metchie from his bout with leukemia this offseason, but they still need a No. 1 option for their new quarterback.
Giants get: WR DeAndre Hopkins, 2-34
Cardinals get: 1-25, 4-128
Want to build a receiving corps around Daniel Jones? Trading for TE Darren Waller was a step in the right direction, but Hopkins would be the alpha target the Giants didn’t have on their roster a year ago and don’t have on their depth chart now. It would take some cap gymnastics to fit Hopkins under the cap, either with an extension for him or a new deal for franchised running back Saquon Barkley, but if New York really thinks Jones is a star quarterback in the making, Hopkins is the sort of player who can unlock the best version of Jones at all levels.
The Giants would move down nine picks and send a fourth-rounder to the Cardinals to acquire Hopkins, who hasn’t attracted significant trade interest this offseason. By the Johnson chart, this deal would value Hopkins as being worth the 77th pick in a typical draft, which is close to the middle of the third round. Hopkins is unquestionably a great player, but he’s also 30, coming off seasons marred by injury and a performance-enhancing drug suspension and is hoping to land a new contract. This is probably where his value sits now, which could be a buy-low opportunity for the Giants.
Arizona would be able to move up ahead of the Cowboys and Bengals for much-needed defensive line help, and the cost savings would allow it to get a deal done with presumptive new top wideout Marquise Brown.
Cowboys get: 2-35, 4-106, 2024 fourth-round pick
Colts get: 1-26
After trading a pair of late-round picks to acquire crucial veterans Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore, the Cowboys might want to use a small trade down to help replenish their draft capital. They should be looking at running back and tight end and depth along the line of scrimmage, and those are positions they should be comfortable attacking on Days 2 and 3.
With the Bills and Bengals potentially looking at offensive linemen in the picks that follow, the Colts could move back into the first round to try to land a left tackle. Bernhard Raimann eventually took over out of necessity last season, but the rookie third-rounder wasn’t ready to play the blind side at the NFL level. He has incredible physical tools and needs reps, but I’m not sure the Colts can afford to have him as their only option at left tackle after everything that went wrong for their line. Moving up would allow Indianapolis to bring in someone to compete with him, and it already has negotiated one trade with Dallas this offseason.
The move Ryan Clark says the Cowboys need to make
Ryan Clark, Mike Greenberg and Damien Woody agree that the Cowboys should take Texas running back Bijan Robinson in the first round of the NFL draft.
Bills get: 1-31, 3-95
Chiefs get: 1-27, 5-137
After they won the Super Bowl for the first time in the Patrick Mahomes era, the Chiefs used a “luxury” pick on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the 2020 draft. It didn’t pan out. This time around, the Chiefs could be more aggressive in attacking a position of need. In both cases, they will want to move ahead of the Bengals, who have needs at similar positions. The Bills might not be enthralled about helping an AFC rival, but then again, Cincinnati did just blow out Buffalo in the postseason.
In the short term, the Chiefs would want to add an offensive tackle to replace Andrew Wylie, who left in free agency, on the right side. Lucas Niang is penciled in to start, but the 2020 third-rounder didn’t excel in 2021 before going on injured reserve. The long-term move would be to trade up four spots for a tight end, who would serve as the second banana behind future Hall of Famer Travis Kelce before eventually taking over as the primary role once the 33-year-old star retires.
Bengals get: 1-19, 3-82
Buccaneers get: 1-28, 3-92, OT Jonah Williams
Why might the Bengals be in the market for a tackle? Because they have one who wants to leave. Williams lost his spot at left tackle when Cincinnati signed Orlando Brown Jr. last month, and he responded by requesting a trade. The organization doesn’t seem desperate to honor his request, but trading him makes more sense than losing him for nothing in free agency next year. Williams will play the 2023 season on his fifth-year option.
With that in mind, the Bengals can use Williams as their way of trading up. Jumping from No. 28 to No. 19 would get them ahead of likely trade-down teams such as the Seahawks (No. 20), Ravens (22) and Vikings (23) to take their tackle. La’el Collins is under contract on the right side, but he could be a cap casualty if Cincinnati finds someone it likes. It would also move up 10 spots later in the draft.
The Buccaneers would be giving Williams a chance to restart his career on the left side of their line while allowing Tristan Wirfs to remain a dominant force on the right side. They would move down only nine spots in Round 1, allowing them to address their need at tight end or to trade down again to acquire more selections. This deal values Williams as being worth something close to the 65th pick in a typical draft, which feels right given his play a year ago and how much time is left on his deal.
Saints get: 1-6, 3-81
Lions get: 1-29, 2-40, 2024 first-round pick
If the Saints need a defensive tackle, why not go all the way to the top of the class and take top-ranked tackle Jalen Carter? It would cost them two first-round picks and a swap of a second-rounder for a third-rounder, but who cares? The Saints will just deal their 2025 first-round pick to reacquire a first-rounder in 2024. The NFL’s oldest team is going to try to win now, even if winning now means nine games and a 14-point loss in the wild-card round as the 4-seed.
It would be tough for the Lions to drop from No. 6 to this spot, but they would grab another second-round pick, which would be the right place to target a tight end. Given the possibility of the Saints collapsing in 2023, the Lions might very well land another top-10 pick for being patient.
If we don’t consider the time value of waiting a year to make a pick, this would be a win by the Johnson chart, as long as the Saints don’t finish as one of the league’s four best teams in 2023. That’s a bet I would be willing to take if I were the Lions, although I would be surprised if Detroit passed up its own chance to land Carter if he’s on the board at No. 6.
Eagles get: 3-68, 2024 first-round pick
Broncos get: 1-30, 3-94
Bet you didn’t think the Broncos were going to make an appearance! After trading away a first-round pick for QB Russell Wilson and sacrificing their first-rounder from the Dolphins to acquire new coach Sean Payton, this would be a move for Denver to get back into Round 1. Payton’s Saints teams were naturally aggressive in trading future assets for present value and placed an emphasis on building their offensive line; this could be a move for a prospect such as guard O’Cyrus Torrence (Florida) or defensive lineman Bryan Bresee (Clemson).
For the Eagles, this would be delayed gratification; they would move up 26 spots in the third round and wait a year to use this first-round pick on another player. If the Broncos finish as one of the two best teams in football, Philly will have essentially wasted its time. The upside of trading for this pick should be obvious after what happened with Denver last season; there’s a chance the Eagles could turn the 30th pick into a top-10 selection.
Chiefs get: 1-26, 3-95
Cowboys get: 1-31, 5-169
Let’s finish with the reigning champs, who could get flexible at the end of Round 1 in targeting edge rushers, right tackles or even tight ends to play alongside ageless wonder Travis Kelce in their 12 and 13 personnel packages. With extra selections in the fourth, sixth and seventh rounds, they have flexibility if they want to move around toward the bottom of the first round, as they did in moving up for Trent McDuffie a year ago.
This would be a move up for an edge rusher, where the Chiefs need to replace Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap. The Bengals, Saints and Eagles pick between Nos. 28 and 30 and could all be interested in edge options. At No. 27, the Bills probably won’t go in that direction, but the Cowboys should have more motivation to trade down after sending away draft picks to acquire Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks earlier this offseason.