There are no guarantees in the NFL draft, except one. There will be trades. In 2016 and 2017, 12 picks in the first round were moved at some point. The 2018 NFL draft will be no different. We’ve already seen two first-rounders change hands.
In this week’s mock draft, five trades get projected and they shake up the entire outlook.
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Should they trade this pick? Absolutely not. The Browns should figure out which quarterback they like the most and take him. Yes, even after they give pending free agent AJ McCarron way too much money in a few weeks. Trading when you need a quarterback is how you miss on Carson Wentz.
2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Should they trade this pick? The Giants should at least think about it, but considering Eli Manning’s age they should stand pat and go with Rosen.
TRADE: The New York Jets move up to the third overall pick to ensure they get a quarterback instead of risking it at No. 6. New York sends the sixth pick and No. 37 overall to the Indianapolis Colts.
NFL draft profile for Josh Rosen
3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The thing about trades in the draft isn’t always about the team with the next pick. Of course the Browns would never take two quarterbacks in the first round. But if the Jets think another team could jump into the third pick for a quarterback, they should try and strike.
TRADE: After quarterback, there is arguably no more important position in football than a pass rusher. For the Buccaneers, that’s overwhelmingly their biggest need and they should be aggressive to get the best one in the draft. Similar to the trade above, the Buccaneers would give up their first- and second-round picks to move up a few spots.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Cleveland Browns through Houston Texans): Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
Chubb is easily the best pass rusher in this draft and would plug in directly on the end for Tampa Bay.
5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Denver could be compelled to moving down from the fifth pick because a run on quarterbacks will see the draft’s top players sliding some. But there’s nothing wrong with going for Nelson, assuming the Broncos sign a veteran quarterback in free agency.
6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
This would be an ideal scenario for the Colts. They couldn’t be faulted too much if they took Barkley with the third pick. To get him and an extra second-rounder would be a coup for general manager Chris Ballard.
7. Cleveland Browns (via Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Like the Colts, a trade down could be a win-win for the Browns. Fitzpatrick is the type of player they need, and they’d now have yet another second-round pick. That could be used to make a move back into the first round. More on that later.
8. Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech
The Bears could try and trade back from here to get back the third-round pick lost as part of the trade to get Mitchell Trubisky last year. If they can’t find a partner, general manager Ryan Pace has shown he values athleticism. Edmunds is a superb athlete with unique size for an outside linebacker. He’s not quite the pass-rushing threat the Bears need, but he could blossom in that area of the game.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The 49ers could conceivably trade down from the ninth pick to get better value on an offensive lineman. But if they stick here, they should take the best player available that fits a need. That’s Smith. He could pair with Reuben Foster to give San Francisco the new version of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
10. Oakland Raiders: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Vea is a player the Raiders need, and by the time the draft comes around he is a player you may have to move up for and make sure you get. He’s going to turn heads at the NFL Scouting Combine with his athleticism for such a big defensive tackle.
11. Miami Dolphins: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley will get some consideration here if the Dolphins lose Jarvis Landry this offseason. Williams is a player some think will move inside to guard. He could do that in Miami or replace Ju’Wuan James at right tackle.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Cincinnati has to figure out how to fix the offensive line this offseason, and that could mean using its first pick on an offensive tackle. Brown is a massive blocker who should immediately help improve the run game.
13. Washington: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
There are worse things than building your defensive line out of Alabama players. Payne is an aggressive, high-motor defensive lineman who pairs nicely with Jonathan Allen.
TRADE: The Bills pair their two first-round picks to make a move for a quarterback. Conversely, new Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst may look to make a splash in his first draft in charge. To make this one work, the Packers could have to add in a third-round pick to get pick Nos. 21 and 22 from Buffalo.
14. Buffalo Bills (via Green Bay Packers): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
If there is a slow play on quarterbacks in the free-agent market, the Bills may need to jump the Arizona Cardinals to get the quarterback they want. In this case, it’s Allen. He’s a physically gifted signal caller who needs to refine his game. The natural skills could lead a team to making a big gamble on draft night.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
With four quarterbacks gone, the Cardinals could go after a best-player-available choice. But a quarterback trumps draft value. With Carson Palmer’s retirement, Jackson could be the heir apparent in Arizona. And with Larry Fitzgerald coming back, Jackson’s development in the NFL could be accelerated with the Cardinals.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
This would be an easy choice for Baltimore to make if Ridley is available. In fact, you really have to wonder if the Ravens will try and move up to make sure they can get the draft’s top wide receiver. In the past Baltimore hasn’t been afraid to move up a spot or two to get the player it covets.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, S/LB, Florida State
Some teams may view James as a linebacker, and the Chargers could be one of them. With the two best defensive tackles and linebackers gone, James could be the next man up. He makes more sense to the Chargers than someone like Alabama’s Rashaan Evans because of his coverage ability.
TRADE: Seattle has only one pick in the first three rounds and would be smart to get more capital even if it means not getting the best value. In this scenario the Seahawks trade back with the Falcons and get a third-round pick back in the deal.
18. Atlanta Falcons (via Seattle Seahawks): Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
If the Falcons want to get Hurst, they may need to move up. He’s a perfect fit in the Dallas defense, and the Cowboys need him too. The Lions could snag him with the 20th pick too.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
This is a pretty terrible draw for the Cowboys, but that can happen if a team leapfrogs them in the first round. If they miss on the best defensive players, they could look at a guard to restock the offensive line.
20. Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
With the best interior linemen gone, the Lions could look to the edge to bring some playmaking ability to the defense. Landry should fit either, standing up or with his hand on the ground.
21. Green Bay Packers (via Buffalo Bills): Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Jackson could jump ahead of Ohio State’s Denzel Ward as the first cornerback taken in the draft. He has the combination of length and playmaking skill that teams covet in a cornerback.
22. Green Bay Packers (via Buffalo Bills through Kansas City Chiefs): Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA
Davenport is a project of a player, but his pure talent has some thinking he could be a top-10 pick. He could start his career on a team like Green Bay as a standup pass rush specialist.
23. Los Angeles Rams: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Ward is considered by many as the top cornerback in the draft, and to some (like me) one of the 10 best players overall. He doesn’t have the height that some love in a cornerback, but he otherwise has few flaws.
24. Carolina Panthers: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Safety is a big need for the Panthers, but there just isn’t great value here. They could use a wide receiver who can get himself open, and that is Kirk’s specialty.
25. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, Edge, Ohio State
Hubbard is another player to keep in mind when the combine comes around. By the time Tennessee is on the clock in the first round, they could be choosing between him and Arden Key of LSU.
26. Seattle Seahawks (via Atlanta Falcons): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
For the Seahawks, moving back into the mid-20s would give them proper value for a player like McGlinchey. He’s capable of lining up on both sides of the line, and he could be Seattle’s long-term fix at tackle.
27. New Orleans Saints: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Saints have long needed a linebacker, and they could get a good one in Evans. For Alabama he lined up on the outside and the inside. He could do the same in New Orleans.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
With Ryan Shazier’s football future in serious doubt, the Steelers could use their first-round pick on his replacement. Vander Esch is an intriguing player. He needs to get more aggressive shedding blocks, but he has good range and athleticism.
TRADE: Jacksonville’s first pick is often a tight end, and the team could still find a good one at the top of the second round. That’s what the Jaguars land in trading with the Browns. Cleveland, meanwhile, should use its excess draft capital to get the players it wants. In this case, the Browns could give up No. 33 and the fourth-round pick they acquired from Carolina.
29. Cleveland Browns (via Jacksonville Jaguars): Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
If the Browns fall in love with one of the cornerbacks, they shouldn’t hesitate giving up a little bit to get him. In moving up to No. 29, they jump New England to get a cornerback who is physical and aggressive at the line of scrimmage.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
The Vikings need to get much better up the middle on defense, and there could be value with the 30th pick. Phillips excels at working forward and shedding blocks to stop the run.
31. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
If Malcolm Butler is on his way out, the Patriots will have some options at cornerback even if a team moves ahead of them to target the position. Hughes is at his best when he can press at the line and use his size to make a play on the ball.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
The Eagles could lose two of their tight ends this offseason, and Andrews could fit into the Super Bowl champions’ roster straight away. South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert would be a little bit redundant with Zach Ertz, while Andrews offers a more well-rounded game.