As the first round of the NFL draft plays out, general managers are constantly watching some of their favorites come off the board. If it looks like their targets won't be available come their scheduled pick, it's time to make a call to trade up.
Teams often set up trade scenarios with other teams before the draft in order to settle on compensation instead of trying to seal the deal within the 10-minute window between picks. These are some of the deals that would make sense for teams to discuss in advance of this year's proceedings (April 27-29 in Philadelphia).
While the prevailing perception at this point in the process seems to be that no QB will go in the top 10 because there are no QBs in this draft worthy of a top-10 selection, I see things playing out differently. Watson is definitely worthy of a high selection, and the Browns know it. But instead of using their No. 1 pick on Watson, they might decide to pick defensive playmaker Myles Garrett, and then move back into the top five to get their offensive leader of the future. This trade would likely require Cleveland to give up its first-round selection in 2018, along with at least a third-round pick in this year's draft, and it would allow the Browns to move one spot ahead of the QB-needy Jets.
If a QB or two goes in the top 10, that means some top position players are going to be available later than people think. If Lattimore is still there when Carolina is on the clock, the Eagles should strike. Philly has a major need at cornerback with Leodis McKelvin gone. They could also consider taking a top receiver or defensive end in the 8 spot. If they want to keep up with the other teams in the NFC East, it might be time for a bold move (Tennessee gave up a 2016 third-round pick and 2017 second-round pick to move up from 15 to 8 for right tackle Jack Conklin last April).
You don't see a lot of trades in the first round for linebackers, but this year might be different. The Chiefs need to upgrade the second level of their defense, especially with Derrick Johnson nearing retirement. Reddick can play outside or inside in a three- or four-linebacker scheme. With every team in slots 20 through 24 potentially being interested in Reddick, it would take a trade-up to land him -- likely costing the team a couple of middle-round selections (they have third- and fifth-round compensatory picks).
The lack of a consistent pass rush hurt the Falcons in the Super Bowl. GM Thomas Dimitroff likes to make trades. These two facts together portend upward movement by Atlanta in this year's draft. Barnett and Willis could be on Dimitroff's radar as complementary pieces across from 2015 first-round pick Vic Beasley. Detroit, Miami, Dallas and others will likely be looking for a pass rusher, as well, so budging in line might be necessary to get the guy they want. They'd likely need to give up a third-round pick plus a "sweetener" (late-round pick or swap of mid-round selections) to get their man.
All apologies to Alex Smith (will be a 34-year-old free agent in 2019) and Drew Brees (38 years old) ... but it's pretty clear that the Chiefs and Saints are looking for their next quarterback. It also seems like Mahomes will be selected earlier than initially anticipated. If he's available in the early 20s range of Round 1, a team will attempt to move up to get him before the Texans do at 25 -- especially now that Tony Romo is opting for retirement.
Alternatively, if teams were being honest with Davis Webb when they told him he's a first-round talent, the Chiefs or Saints might have interest in picking him up before Houston's pick. Sean Payton made similar trade-up moves in 2011 (for RB Mark Ingram) and 2014 (WR Brandin Cooks) for offensive playmakers, so it wouldn't be out of character for the team, despite Payton's public comments about needing to bolster the defense.