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Five 2018 draft takeaways from NFL trade deadline deals

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This season's NFL trade deadline is bringing more fireworks than we're used to seeing at this time of year. I can't remember a deadline where we've had this much action.

News of a blockbuster trade (Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers) spread on Monday night and the moves kept coming Tuesday morning, with the Eagles sending Pro Bowl RB Jay Ajayi to the Eagles.

Now, the 2018 draft is still six months away, but these swaps give us some early indications about how teams feel about the prospects in the pipeline, as well as some hints about how things could play out when the picks start rolling in this spring.

Here are five takeaways for the 2018 draft from the trade deadline.

1. It looks like the 49ers were not enamored with the top QBs in college football. San Francisco struck to land its guy in Garoppolo, sending a second-round pick to the Patriots in the trade. GM John Lynch was aggressive and didn't care to wait around to see what QB options might develop in the draft, which I can understand.

I remain very high on some of the top talents at the QB position in the college ranks, but a lot of folks are disenchanted with the ups and downs of the group. If Garoppolo plays to his potential, this could turn out to be a great deal for the Niners. He fits what Kyle Shanahan is looking for at the position. However, I don't think his ceiling is nearly as high as that of some of the QBs that could be available in next year's draft.

As much criticism as the Browns have received for passing on Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft, the 49ers seem to have skirted the criticism and now they've gone all in on Jimmy Garoppolo. They better hope that none of these potential members of the 2018 QB class turn out to be studs.

2. Some of the teams picking at the top of the draft aren't going to feel like they have to select a QB, which is going to effectively put a for-sale sign on those picks.

In most years, it's the other way around. The clubs at the top of the board tend to have a glaring void to fill when it comes to the most important position on the field, but 2018 could be different.

As of now, the Browns, 49ers, Giants, Colts and Bucs, in that order, hold the top 5 picks in next year's draft. That order likely will change before the end of the season. However, most of those clubs will probably be situated at least close to the top of the board, and most of them will feel like they can afford to pass on a QB.

Of the teams holding picks inside the top 5 right now, I think the Browns and Giants are the clubs that will feel the greatest sense of urgency to land a QB early.

The Browns don't have a clear answer at QB, and after passing on opportunities to take QBs like Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the past two drafts, it would be surprising if they took a pass on that type of player once more in 2018. For the Giants, the search for Eli Manning's successor continues.

3. Kirk Cousins is going to be a pivotal piece of the offseason and he's going to affect the draft in a big way. In case you hadn't heard, the Redskins QB is due to hit free agency after the season, and he's in the prime of his career.

The Garoppolo trade kills the Cousins-to-49ers storyline that's been talked about since Kyle Shanahan, Cousins' former OC, was hired in San Francisco. I know Cousins is going to come at a high cost, given his salary demands, but you know what you're getting. He's a top-15 QB.

That's a big domino that will fall. He could elect to stay in Washington or move on, but either way, he'll dictate which teams are in or out of the QB market come draft day.

4. The Panthers will need to add a target for Cam Newton. It was fitting, but not any less surprising, to see a wild 24 hours of trades come to an end with one big final move -- Carolina sent WR Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills for a third- and seventh-round pick in the final minutes before the deadline. It's a nice pickup for Buffalo -- certainly one that QB Tyrod Taylor will welcome -- and the Bills had picks to spare.

It leaves a big void in the the Panthers' receiving corps, though. Benjamin was one of Newton's favorite targets. Carolina went heavy on offense early in the 2017 draft, adding some versatile guys like Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. They might need to make that an early focus again in 2018.

5. The Dolphins will be in the RB market. In a draft that looks like it could once again be very deep at the running back position, Miami will have to jump in and find someone to fill the hole left by Jay Ajayi's departure.

Adam Gase's offense ranks last in the league. This is a team that's desperate for offensive playmakers. Given Ryan Tannehill's health and the less than stellar Jay Cutler experience, the Dolphins could be in line for a complete offseason overhaul on offense.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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