In a draft that many in the NFL consider the most talented in years, we could see a considerable amount of movement in the top 10 picks. Teams could shift around to target the top players in the draft. Or they could trade back to accumulate picks and rely on the depth of the class.
One general manager who hasn't been afraid to move around is Thomas Dimitroff of the Atlanta Falcons. In 2011, Dimitroff sent five picks to Cleveland to move up from No. 27 to No. 6 to select wide receiver Julio Jones. If Dimitroff wants pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, he may have to trade up to the No. 1 pick. Because the Falcons have the sixth pick in this year's draft, Dimitroff may not have to give up quite as much as he did in 2011, but he'll have to give up quite a bit of compensation — and risk future depth — to move up.
Of course, any type of move up would require the Texans being interested in moving down. Adding a second-round pick in a loaded draft will be tempting for them. Getting even more in return, which Houston should expect, would be hard to pass up.
That is the cost and risk of trading in the NFL Draft. For teams moving up, they're sacrificing future depth. For teams dropping down, they'll risk missing out on a good player. Here's what the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft could look like if the top pick is traded. As always, if you have your own mock, or even some trade theories of your own, feel free to share them in the comments.
TRADE: 1. Atlanta Falcons (from Houston): Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Atlanta gives up this year's first- and second-round choices and a 2015 first-round pick to Houston in exchange for the No. 1 pick.
If the Falcons want Jadeveon Clowney, they may have to go up to the No. 1 pick to get him. It's obviously cost prohibitive to jump that high in the draft. But what happens if Clowney, Khalil Mack and even Greg Robinson are picked before Atlanta's selection? Thomas Dimitroff has added several big-name veteran front office men this offseason. Trading away picks means he'll have to rely on their expertise to hit on picks later in the draft.
2. St. Louis Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
If Clowney goes first overall in the draft, it leaves the Rams to choose between Robinson and wide receiver Sammy Watkins. On a team with only an average (at best) quarterback situation, Robinson could have the bigger impact. Zac Stacy is an emerging talent as a running back, and Robinson is the type of blocker who could turn him into a Pro Bowler.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Despite bringing back Jason Babin and signing Chris Clemons, the Jaguars could look to add more pass-rushing help with a player like Mack. He's as versatile as any defensive player in the draft this year and would give head coach Gus Bradley countless options.
4. Cleveland Browns: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
What Cleveland truly thinks of the top quarterbacks in the draft this year will determine much of how the first round unravels. Let's assume for now the team doesn't like any of them at No. 4. With Robinson gone, that leaves Watkins for the Browns. Although they brought in Andrew Hawkins in free agency, he's not the outside receiver the Browns need to pair with Josh Gordon.
5. Oakland Raiders: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
The Raiders are bringing Manziel in for a visit this week. Chances are if you're a top-five team, you don't bring in a first-round player who you don't like. But why Manziel over the other quarterbacks? Manziel would give the Raiders' offense a unique identity the others cannot. While Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater are both good players, they can't transform a team's offense like Manziel. Besides, there's just something fun about Manziel and his swagger being in Oakland.
TRADE: 6. Houston Texans (from Atlanta): Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
While there is some risk in trading down this far from No. 1, a good quarterback should be available for the Texans with this choice. Teddy Bridgewater — for us anyway — grades out as a better player than Bortles. Other than fan conjecture, though, there has been almost no discussion of the Texans and Bridgewater. Question it however you choose, but there has been more of a connection between Bortles and Houston. For that, for now, he is the choice.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Watkins being gone would change things for the Buccaneers. He's been the consensus choice for Tampa Bay in many mock drafts. Tampa's biggest need is arguably guard, but the value just isn't there. After getting rid of receiver Mike Williams, Evans may be the next biggest. Then it comes down to how general manager Jason Licht and his staff grade the group. Evans is our highest-rated after Watkins, so he's the choice. But he does play a lot like Vincent Jackson. Would the Buccaneers have a higher grade on Odell Beckham Jr.? Maybe not, but it's something worth considering.
Red Zone domination
8. Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The goal for this week's mock draft was to have one of the top three quarterbacks dropping out of the top 10. But if two are gone by the time the Vikings pick, it's hard to see that happening. Although media reports may disagree, choosing Bridgewater with this pick wouldn't be a reach. In fact, he's our top-rated quarterback. In a sense, this would be the anti-Christian Ponder choice. Instead of reaching for a quarterback, the Vikings could sit at eight and get the best one available.
Louisville pro day
9. Buffalo Bills: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Like many mock drafts we've put together, this ends up being a tough draw for the Bills. The top two wide receivers are gone, and Buffalo's other top needs don't have value here. There is nothing wrong with settling on Matthews. Arguably the best tackle in the draft, Matthews would fit nicely as Buffalo's starting right tackle.
10. Detroit Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
If Watkins happens to fall past Cleveland with the fourth pick, Detroit may consider trading up to get him. If not, the Lions could sit here and take whomever they view as the top cornerback in the draft. Gilbert projects out as the type of shutdown cornerback that Bill Bentley and Darius Slay do not.
11. Tennessee Titans: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Barr to Tennessee is another pick that has been locked in by many. It just makes sense. Barr is the kind of pass rusher who Ray Horton needs to really make his defense click. Put him with veteran Shaun Phillips and Barr's growth in the NFL will be accelerated.
12. New York Giants: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
The Giants have a few key needs on offense. One of them is tight end, where the team is hoping the development of Adrien Robinson pays off. Selected in the fourth round in 2012, Robinson has exactly as many catches as you do. Unless you happen to be an NFL player reading this, that would be zero. Instead of hoping he turns into something, the Giants could target the sure thing at tight end with Ebron.
13. St. Louis Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
This is a pick where need absolutely meets value. Clinton-Dix profiles as a top-10 talent, so this is about the range for him in the draft. Clinton-Dix is a playmaker in the secondary, something the Rams' defense needs.
14. Chicago Bears: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Bears have added several defensive ends in free agency, but only brought in tackle Jay Ratliff with the hope that he's healthy. The need for a defensive tackle is still present for Chicago. Choosing between Donald and Louis Nix of Notre Dame isn't quite as easy as you may think. Nix probably gives the Bears more versatility, but Donald offers more playmaking potential.
SB Nation Interview
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Steelers' secondary has needed some work for several years. Instead of waiting again to address it, the team can bring in a Steelers-style corner like Dennard in the first round. He's a physical corner in coverage and has the ability to cover the AFC North's top receivers.
16. Dallas Cowboys: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
After DeMarcus Ware signed with the Denver Broncos, it opened somewhat of a need at pass rusher for the Cowboys. Even if Anthony Spencer is brought back, a player like Ealy would go nicely on the defense with George Selvie.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Although Lewan may have some off-field baggage attached to him leading up to the draft, his value would be far too great for the Ravens to pass up at 17. He could be plugged in straight away at right tackle for the Ravens, or on the left side in case Eugene Monroe reverts to his Jaguars form.
18. New York Jets: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU
Be the Scout
Be the Scout
The Jets did well to bring in Eric Decker as a free agent, but another wide receiver would go a long way in speeding the development of Geno Smith. Beckham is a dangerously fast receiver on the field with stellar hands.
19. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
Miami had one of the best signings of free agency by bringing in left tackle Branden Albert. There is still work to be done on the offensive line, namely at guard. Whether it's Su'a-Filo or Notre Dame's Zack Martin, it would represent an upgrade for the Dolphins. Su'a-Filo just so happens to be our top-rated guard, and good value, so he's the choice.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Time to publicly come to grips with Cardinals fans. In last week's mock draft, I gave Arizona a cornerback instead of Pryor. The Louisville thumper is a better choice than any cornerback the Cardinals could add here. He's a tone-setting safety who can play the run and drop in coverage.
TRADE: 21. Kansas City Chiefs (from Green Bay): Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Kansas City gives up this year's first- and fifth-round picks to Green Bay in exchange for the No. 21 pick.
Trading up could be problematic for the Chiefs this year since they don't have a second-round pick. But if Cooks is the receiver they want, they might have to hop ahead of Philadelphia to get him. That's the sole reasoning behind this choice. Besides, trading up just two spots wouldn't cost much.
22. Philadelphia Eagles: Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California
With Cooks off the board, the Eagles would have to go after Lee if they want a wide receiver. After him there is a drop-off at the position. Lee is a natural playmaker and would be an adequate replacement for DeSean Jackson.
TRADE: 23. Green Bay Packers (from Kansas City): C.J. Mosley, MLB, Alabama
Even though the Packers wouldn't get much in return from this type of trade, they can still get a perfect fit for their defense in Mosley while getting another chip for Ted Thompson with which to play. Mosley would make for a good tandem with A.J. Hawk. He can drop in coverage and blitz the quarterback.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
Although Dee Ford's listed position is defensive end, he's more or less a pass-rush specialist. There is some value there for a team like the Bengals. In limited snaps, Ford would be able to rely on his strength of getting into the backfield after the quarterback, negating the loss of Michael Johnson as a pass rusher.
25. San Diego Chargers: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Like the Steelers, the Chargers need a fair amount of help at cornerback. They have a star safety in Eric Weddle, but not much else in the secondary. Fuller is a cornerback who isn't afraid to get physical with a receiver. He could slide right into the starting lineup for the Chargers and be a difference-maker immediately.
26. Cleveland Browns: Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
Carr with the fourth pick in the draft, as it's been floated some recently, is ridiculous. Carr with the 26th pick is a little more reasonable. The Browns seem to like Carr, though we'll see what kind of information leaks out about the other quarterbacks Cleveland brought in last week.
A package deal?
27. New Orleans Saints: Zack Martin, OT/G, Notre Dame
The Saints are another one of these teams that are in a tough spot in the first round. Ideally, they may hope a team at the top of the second round wants to trade back into the first to get a quarterback. If not, they could target a cornerback or a player like Martin. The Notre Dame left tackle should be a versatile chip in the NFL, giving New Orleans plenty of options up front.
28. Carolina Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
There is a great need at wide receiver for the Panthers, but it's unlikely the team burns up valuable picks to trade up and get one. Instead, letting the receiver board fall to them leaves a player like Benjamin as arguably the best receiver available. If not him, it could be Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews, who doesn't provide as much big-play potential as Benjamin.
29. New England Patriots: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
Louis Nix interview
Louis Nix interview
If the draft falls in this fashion, the Patriots would be getting one of the true steals by picking Nix here. He's an instant plug-and-play defensive tackle who would boost the line. He's obviously capable of playing the 3-4 nose, but he's athletic enough to handle the duties of a 4-3 defensive tackle.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Verrett is the draft's best cornerback, but he may not be the first one selected because of his size and maybe a perception of lack of upside. He would be the perfect choice for the 49ers, who lost Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers.
31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Denver has to figure out a way to replace the 765 snaps that Wesley Woodyard took last season at middle linebacker. Shazier was mostly listed as an outside linebacker, but Ohio State's defense often called for him to line up in the middle and control the defense. He's more than capable of playing the position full time in the NFL and would even be an upgrade over Woodyard.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
In this mock draft, there are six wide receivers already off the board. If that happens, Seattle might choose to sit on the position until the second round and fix up the offensive line. Moses is a big mauler of an offensive tackle who should be able to convert to the right side.
33. Houston Texans: Demarcus Lawrence, DE/OLB, Boise State
There has been some talk about why Khalil Mack should be the pick for the Texans at No. 1. It makes sense because he's a true linebacker and better obvious fit for the defense than Clowney. If Houston goes quarterback in the first, a player like Lawrence could fill that outside linebacker spot nicely.
34. Washington Redskins: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
While the Redskins did bring in free agent Jason Hatcher, Hageman's value is just too great with this choice. Our 19th-rated player, Hageman provides depth, versatility and boundless upside.
35. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
The Browns need an outside cornerback so Buster Skrine can exclusively line up in the slot. Roby has a lot of talent, but needs to work on his technique. Though an offensive lineman would be intriguing with this choice, Roby is the best player available.
36. Oakland Raiders: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
The loss of Jared Veldheer in free agency opens up offensive tackle as the biggest need for the Raiders in the draft. While there is some injury fear with Kouandjio long term, he should provide enough in the short term to be worth this choice.
TRADE 37. Houston Texans (from Atlanta): Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Richardson could be Houston's right tackle of the future. He's an athletic blocker — don't let his combine stats fool you — who is just as good of a run blocker as he is a pass blocker.
Not just throwing darts
Not just throwing darts
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State
Patrick Omameh was a personal favorite in last year's draft, but it's obvious the Buccaneers need help at right guard. While this is slightly early for Jackson, this is a big need fill.
39. Jacksonville Jaguars: Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Justin Blackmon's future in Jacksonville is murky, and the Jaguars could be looking for an upgrade. If the Jags are looking for pure talent (potential if you will), Adams has more of it than receivers like Jordan Matthews or Jarvis Landry.
40. Minnesota Vikings: Lamarcus Joyner, CB/S, Florida State
Joyner would give new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer versatility. He can line up a safety or cornerback and did both well in college.
41. Buffalo Bills: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Safety Jimmie Ward was tempting here as a replacement for Jairus Byrd, but Amaro could be the type of pass-catching threat that Scott Chandler is not.
42. Tennessee Titans: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Tuitt represents the final piece the Titans would need to completely reform the front seven to a 3-4.
43. New York Giants: Tim Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Dropping Jernigan to the second round usually gets ripped in the wonderful comments sections of these mock drafts, but it's just hard to find a fit for him. He doesn't offer the versatility other defensive tackles do, and he's rated behind all the ones selected.
44. St. Louis Rams: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
The signing of Kenny Britt shouldn't stop the Rams from taking a wide receiver in the draft this year. Yes, Matthews is another second-round pick without top athleticism. But he has much better hands than Brian Quick and can attack the ball at the high point better than Chris Givens or Austin Pettis.
45. Detroit Lions: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Even though the Lions signed James Ihedigbo in free agency, that shouldn't stop them from taking Ward if he's available here. Ward can come in and play safety. He can even line up at cornerback against the right opponent. He's the best player available here, by far.
46. Pittsburgh Steelers: Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
If the Steelers go defense in the first round, they can rely on the strength of the wide receiver class in the second. Moncrief has first-round ability, but this is about the right draft placement for him.
47. Dallas Cowboys: DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State
A player like Florida's Dominique Easley is rated higher than Jones, but there are some health issues that may cause him to drop in the draft. After him, Jones is the top defensive tackle available. He can step into the spot vacated by Jason Hatcher.
48. Baltimore Ravens: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
If the Ravens don't bring Ed Dickson back, they need to find another tight end for Joe Flacco. This is the right value for Seferian-Jenkins, and he could blossom in the Baltimore setting.
49. New York Jets: Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Van Noy, like Mack, is a complete linebacker. He's able to rush the passer, drop into coverage and he even plays special teams. There's not a lot of flash to his game, but he's the kind of reliable player Rex Ryan needs on defense.
50. Miami Dolphins: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Instead of doubling up on offensive linemen with their first two picks, the Dolphins could help their secondary with a player like Bucannon. He's a devastating hitter and good enough in coverage to not be a detriment.
51. Chicago Bears: Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt
Chicago's transformation on defense could continue in the second round with a cornerback like Hal. He's a good fit for what the Bears do with their corners and is the top-rated cornerback on the board here.
52. Arizona Cardinals: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
Left tackle Jared Veldheer was a shrewd free-agent signing, but the Cardinals still have some work to do up front. James is a better right tackle than anyone Arizona has on the roster currently and could go a long way in shoring up the line.
53. Green Bay Packers: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
The Packers haven't brought back Jermichael Finley, and that's for a reason. A player like Niklas could be around at this point in the draft, giving the Packers a playmaker at the position.
54. Philadelphia Eagles: Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
After going with a wide receiver in the first round, the Eagles should target the secondary in the second. Had Exum been healthy last season, chances are he'd be long gone by this pick.
55. Cincinnati Bengals: Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
The Bengals have several older cornerbacks on their roster, and they could infuse some some talent to the group with Breeland. A high-upside player, Breeland in the second round is better than Bradley Roby in the first.
56. San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Robinson is similar in many ways to the receivers San Francisco already has on its roster. He's able to high-point the ball and get vertical down the sideline.
57. San Diego Chargers: Scott Crichton, DE/OLB, Oregon State
Crichton is just too highly rated to pass up here. At the NFL Combine in February, Crichton said he thinks he can play outside linebacker in the NFL. Going to a team like San Diego, he'll get to prove it.
58. New Orleans Saints: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Never one to shy away from taking a small-school player, the Saints would target a player like Desir. A big cornerback who can press, Desir would push for playing time early and learn from veteran Champ Bailey in the process.
59. Indianapolis Colts: Brandon Thomas, G/OT, Clemson
Despite being the 59th pick in this draft, Thomas to the Colts was one of the easier selections to make. Indianapolis' glaring need is at interior offensive line help, and Thomas looks like a perfect candidate to move inside from left tackle.
60. Carolina Panthers: Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
Despite working out at right tackle at the Senior Bowl, Mewhort spent his career at Ohio State on the left side. He might not be a star player, but he's solid — similar in a lot of ways to Sam Baker of the Falcons. He's a decent value here as well, rated as our 59th-best player in the draft.
61. San Francisco 49ers: Joel Bitonio, OT/G, Nevada
Hey look, it's not a token injured player pick for the 49ers. Bitonio could be the ultimate utility piece for San Francisco. He can play guard or tackle, and provide some insurance if Mike Iupati leaves after next season.
62. New England Patriots: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Running backs are unpopular picks. So who better than Bill Belichick to take the first one in the draft? Hyde is a better, younger version of LeGarrette Blount, who New England lost in free agency.
63. Denver Broncos: David Yankey, G, Stanford
After losing Zane Beadles in free agency, Yankey could be brought in to plug that hole without much loss in talent.
64. Seattle Seahawks: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Pete Carroll has never been averse to going after size and upside. At wide receiver, only Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin rivals Coleman in that regard. Don't forget, before last season, there were some first-round projections out there for Coleman.