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3 teams that could trade up, 4 that could move down in the 2019 NFL Draft

There’s almost always a trade up for a quarterback. Is Washington the team that will jump at the chance this year?

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NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, there were eight trades during the first round of the NFL Draft. There should be no shortage of wheeling and dealing in 2019, either.

Projecting who will make deals isn’t as easy, though. Even the notoriously trade-happy New England Patriots surprised everyone by sitting tight with both of their first-round picks in 2018.

The 2019 NFL Draft could be even more unpredictable with a quarterback class few can seem to agree on, and a long list of pass rushers and wide receivers that could come off the board in any order. Still, there are some teams that could benefit from adding more picks, and others that might want to package later picks for an elite, young contributor.

With the draft two weeks away, here are seven teams that could shuffle the order in the first round:

3 teams that could move up

Washington
Picks: Nos. 15 (1st), 46 (2nd), 76 (3rd), 96 (3rd), 153 (5th), 173, (5th), 206 (6th), 227 (7th), 253 (7th)

An NFL Draft rarely goes by without at least team moving up for a quarterback. Last year, four of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round were taken after a trade. Baker Mayfield, who went first overall, was the lone exception.

The question is, which team would jump at the opportunity to trade up for a passer this year?

It might depend on if there’s an early run at the top quarterbacks like Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins. Then, there are a few candidates outside the first nine picks that could try to make a deal. There’s the Dolphins, who only have journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick starting at quarterback for now. But that team is in full-blown tank mode and probably wouldn’t want to cut into its future draft picks much.

Bengals executive Duke Tobin spoke about his hesitance to move up the order this year, and the Broncos might not want to give up picks for a quarterback after trading to acquire Joe Flacco.

Washington seems like the best choice given its outward interest in trading for Josh Rosen. Alex Smith may never return from the broken leg he suffered in 2018, and Case Keenum is far from the future at quarterback. Washington has a lengthy history of being an aggressive team willing to push its chips to the middle of the table, so don’t rule out it happening again in 2019.

New Orleans Saints
Picks: Nos. 62 (2nd), 168 (5th), 177 (6th), 202 (6th), 231 (7th), 244 (7th)

Currently, the Saints have to wait until the end of the second round (No. 62 overall) for their first pick. A trade to secure Marcus Davenport in last year’s draft sent the Saints’ 2019 first-round pick to the Packers. They’re also without a third-round pick and and a fourth-round pick after trades for Teddy Bridgewater and Eli Apple.

So it’d take quite a lot for the Saints to find their way into the first round this year, but it’s really not that far-fetched considering New Orleans always trades up.

The Saints Wire’s John Sigler broke down all the draft-day trades during the Sean Payton era. There are 15 examples of the Saints moving up compared to just three times they moved down. The only time in the last 12 years that they didn’t move up at all was in the 2012 NFL Draft, which was about a month after Payton was suspended for the season.

If ever there were a time for the Saints to double down on that strategy, it’s now. Drew Brees is 40 and the championship window for him is closing fast. The second-round pick could be used to give the team the boost it needs to get to Super Bowl 54, but don’t be surprised if the Saints dip into their 2020 and 2021 draft picks to go get a premium prospect right now.

Philadelphia Eagles
Picks: Nos. 25 (1st), 53 (2nd), 57 (2nd), 127 (4th), 138 (4th), 163 (5th), 197 (6th)

The Ravens’ trade up for Lamar Jackson in 2018 supplied the Eagles with an extra second-round pick this year, and that could be just the ammunition necessary to move up in the first round.

According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, there are already rumblings that could be Philadelphia’s plan:

Philly is another win-now team looking for instant-impact players, but the speculation around the league is that the Eagles would look to move up from No. 25 if an offensive tackle they like starts to tumble.

The interesting thing about the report is that it characterizes the Eagles as a team hunting for players who can help right away, but an offensive tackle doesn’t really fit the bill. Barring something shocking, Jason Peters and Lane Johnson will be the starters in 2019.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense, though. Peters is 37 and finding his replacement needs to be a priority. An offensive tackle might not be the splashy pick that ups the Eagles’ Super Bowl odds, but it’s a move that would set up Philadelphia well for the future.

4 teams that could move down

Arizona Cardinals
Picks: Nos. 1 (1st), 33 (2nd), 65 (3rd), 103 (4th), 139 (5th), 174 (6th), 179 (6th), 248 (7th), 249 (7th), 254 (7th)

The talk surrounding the Cardinals’ No. 1 pick in the last couple months has been Kyler Murray, Kyler Murray, and more Kyler Murray. He’s nearly a consensus pick for the Cardinals in mock drafts, and very well could be the team’s quarterback of the future.

There are still a few reasons to doubt they actually make the pick, though.

The biggest of those reasons is Josh Rosen was a quarterback the Cardinals traded up to get just one year ago. His rookie season was rough, but no worse than Jared Goff’s in 2016.

It’s certainly possible — if not probable — that Murray is the pick. But if it’s all an elaborate ruse to drive up the value of the first pick, it probably worked. Jay Glazer of The Athletic said there’s expected to be “an absolute feeding frenzy” if Murray is available with the No. 2 pick.

The Cardinals have seemed willing to trade the No. 1 pick. Now that Murray’s stock is solidified at the top of the draft, Arizona might have a chance to secure a boatload of draft capital in a trade down.

Detroit Lions
Picks: Nos. 8 (1st), 43 (2nd), 88 (3rd), 111 (4th), 146 (5th), 184 (6th), 204 (6th), 224 (7th), 229 (7th)

There were a lot of things wrong with the Lions in 2018. They were No. 25 in points scored and No. 16 in points allowed. There are no gaping holes on the roster, but there are so very many places where the team can get much better.

Detroit could stand to add another pass rusher even after signing Trey Flowers. In the SB Nation writers’ mock draft, the Lions took Brian Burns with the No. 8 pick — but there’s a possibility he’s a player they’d be able to snag after sliding down a few spots.

The Lions could also be on the hunt for defensive backs, offensive linemen, receivers, and tight ends. With so many needs and no singular position that’s top priority, loading up on picks makes sense.

“If I can move back a few spots and get a really good player in the first round and add another pick, I think that’s something that would be great,” Lions general manager Bob Quinn told Ian Rapoport on a podcast posted earlier this month. “People out there listening, I’m open for business.”

That’s as clear as a “for sale” sign gets.

Seattle Seahawks
Picks: Nos. 21 (1st), 84 (3rd), 124 (4th), 159 (5th)

While the Saints always trade up, the Seahawks do the opposite. The team has moved down in the first round in every draft since 2014, and only missed out on doing so in 2013 because it sent its first-round pick to the Vikings for Percy Harvin.

This year, Seattle is without second-, sixth-, and seventh-round picks after trading for Duane Brown, Brett Hundley, and Shalom Luani. That leaves just four selections for a team that is still trying to replace the Legion of Boom members and needs a pass rusher to pair with Frank Clark. The offense could also stand to better protect Russell Wilson and provide the quarterback with more receiving options.

There will undoubtedly be a bevy of talent on the board when the Seahawks are on the clock at No. 21 overall. Sliding down a bit, scooping up extra draft capital, and landing a player a few spots later would be a very on-brand decision for Seattle.

New York Jets
Picks: Nos. 3 (1st), 68 (3rd), 93 (3rd), 105 (4th), 196 (6th), 217 (7th)

Most mock drafts think quarterback Kyler Murray and defensive end Nick Bosa will be the first two players taken in the 2019 NFL Draft. That’ll leave Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen among the top prospects still on the board.

The Jets could use one of those players, but they may be better off adding some more draft picks after giving up three second-round picks to get Sam Darnold last year.

“We’re very open to potentially moving back from three,” Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan told the New York Post in March. “I wouldn’t envision us moving up in the draft. I think you can rule that one out. If we end up staying at three and taking a player, we think there are some very good players at three. But we’d definitely be interested if another team came with an offer that we felt was worthy of moving out of the spot. We would definitely consider that. Not to say we’re committed to doing it, but we’d definitely be very intrigued by that.”

The Jets could use a defensive lineman prospect as elite as Williams or Allen. But in a draft class loaded with pass-rushing talent, more picks doesn’t mean they’d miss on a great player.

It cost the Jets a lot to move up to No. 3 last year, so turning the tables and getting a similar haul could be a great way to retool the roster.