General managers will often take a chance in the draft, instead of free agency, to find that one player who can put his team over the top. Early in the first round, the blockbuster trades usually revolve around teams' pursuit of a franchise quarterback. We witnessed this last year with the Bears, Chiefs and Texans trading up for a QB, and the year prior with Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
There's usually movement later in the first round, too, as teams with an eye on becoming an annual playoff contender -- or remaining one -- target impact players at other positions.
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. With four weeks to go until the draft is officially underway, these are some of the deals that would make sense for teams to discuss in advance of this year's proceedings.
If quarterbacks are selected with the first three picks, as I project in my latest mock draft, my dark horse to move up to select the fourth quarterback is New Orleans. Remember that Kansas City traded from the 27th spot to the 10th slot last year to acquire Patrick Mahomes. The Saints' decision to re-sign Drew Brees was wise, but finding his eventual replacement is paramount for the future of a franchise that struggled for a long time before he arrived.
Sean Payton's squad is not likely to pick early in the first round over the next couple of years, so if they want a top prospect to groom under Brees, they'll have to go get one. Mayfield would be such a perfect fit for the Saints, and Brees would be an excellent mentor on and off the field for the feisty young passer. If Josh Rosen or Josh Allen were available instead of Mayfield, the trade would still make sense. The Bears, on the other hand, would pick up one or two selections from the Saints this year in addition to a high pick or two in the 2019 draft -- regaining some of the draft capital they lost in the trade to move up for Mitchell Trubisky last year.
Bills GM Brandon Beane is playing it coy when answering questions about the team's willingness to trade up again to get a quarterback. He's already made a deal to move up nine spots (from 21 to 12 in a trade with the Bengals), and I won't be surprised if he and head coach Sean McDermott trade up again to land a true playmaker at the position.
Last year, the Bears signed Mike Glennon to a three-year deal before drafting Trubisky. The Bills could follow suit -- their signing of AJ McCarron to a two-year deal earlier this month should not prevent them from striking for a QB in this draft. As for Jackson, he's a special talent at quarterback. McDermott's defenses practiced every day against Michael Vick in Philadelphia and Cam Newton in Carolina. I think he'd welcome that type of dual-threat QB on his team again this summer. The Niners would move back a few spots and add a third-round pick (No. 65 overall) to their draft haul as part of the trade, and might very well be able to claim the same player at No. 12 that they would have selected had they kept the ninth pick.
The Panthers traded for Torrey Smith this offseason, and they still have a strong receiver over the middle in Devin Funchess. But since Steve Smith Sr. left town, the team has lacked a true star at the position. As well, Funchess is due to become a free agent after the 2018 season, and teams do look at next year's free agents when making decisions about the upcoming draft. Ridley's suddenness and ability to find the ball in the air separate him from the other receivers in the draft class, with the exception of D.J. Moore, whom I project to be picked in the top 15.
This trade could also be made for Miller if the Panthers decide they're more interested in upgrading their line and moving second-year player Taylor Moton inside to replace Andrew Norwell, who departed in free agency. Either way, a trade with Seattle gets them ahead of Dallas, a team that could be looking at those same prospects. The Seahawks could move back a few spots in exchange for a third-round pick (the Panthers have two they could offer) and maybe a sweetener. They could still land a top cornerback (Josh Jackson), safety (Justin Reid), or a defensive lineman (Josh Sweat) with the 24th pick.
Last year, many people expected Ryan Ramcyzk to be picked in the top 25. He lasted until pick 32, though, when New Orleans happily snapped him up and plugged him in at right tackle. A similar fate could await one of the tackles in this class due to the demand for quarterbacks, as well as team needs at other positions. If either the tough-minded McGlinchey or athletic Williams is available at No. 30, the Browns should consider giving up pick 35 and their fourth-round pick (No. 114) to find a future starter on the left side to take over for the retired Joe Thomas. Minnesota would not lose much value by making this trade, picking up an extra selection while still acquiring an offensive lineman or linebacker early in the second round.
The Patriots are usually willing trade partners in the draft, and the Buccaneers are in desperate need of a No. 1 running back following the departure of Doug Martin. Philadelphia might be tempted to pick Guice if he's available with the last pick of the first round (No. 32). There are also teams selecting early in the second round (Browns, Giants, Colts) that could be in the market for a RB if they're not able to land Saquon Barkley early in the draft. Giving up a fourth-round pick to move back into the first round to get ahead of these teams shouldn't be an issue for the Bucs. In fact, the team pulled off a similar deal to get Martin in 2012. If Guice is gone before the Patriots' pick, the Bucs could still make this move to select Chubb, who is a sturdy runner with very good speed and vision. Tampa Bay's fourth-round pick this year would be especially good trade bait, as it's the second pick of the round (No. 102 overall).