The most exciting words coming from commissioner Roger Goodell at the lectern during the first round of the NFL draft are: "There has been a trade."
Gasps escape from the mouths of the crowd watching the event live, and then they and fans all over the country hold their breath to hear which team made a bold move up the draft board to get a potential star of the future.
Typically, two to three trades are made before the midpoint of the first round. Here are five first-round swaps that would make sense in the first round of this year's draft, which begins on April 28 and will be broadcast live on NFL Network.
Even if Colin Kaepernick is still on the roster, it won't prevent San Francisco from selecting a future starter in the first or second round. If the 49ers want to guarantee themselves a shot at Goff or Wentz -- the top QBs available this year -- a move up in Round 1 seems prudent. They could entertain the idea of going up to No. 1 to move ahead of the Browns, who are expected to take a QB at No. 2, but it will be less costly to go to No. 3. That's a more attractive option than paying the high cost the Titans will be looking for with the top pick. The 49ers might be in a bidding war with move-up offers from Los Angeles and others, as well. The 49ers' "best and final offer" will include not only their first- and second-round pick this year, but a future first-rounder -- and maybe more. If San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke isn't willing to pull the trigger on that sort of deal, he'll have to join the Rams and others in fighting for a second-tier quarterback prospect at the end of the first round (see No. 5 below).
Whether it's pass-rushing help in Lawson or a big target who Drew Brees can count on in the red zone like Treadwell, the Saints might be interested in grabbing their player of choice ahead of the Giants and Bears, who pick 10th and 11th, respectively. The Saints could use a replacement for Marques Colston and never really replaced the strength of tight end Jimmy Graham. Their defense also ranked among the worst in the league in bringing down quarterbacks, so starting Lawson across from Cameron Jordan would be a big help. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, still would be in position to land a top cornerback or another quality defender if it were to acquire the Saints' pick at No. 12. Picking up a mid-third-round pick or better to move down three spots makes the deal worthwhile.
Teddy Bridgewater needs a dynamic downfield receiver as he attempts to move from game manager to playmaker in his third season. But multiple teams picking directly in front of the Vikings (Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta, Houston) are also looking to pick up a receiver. Switching spots with the Raiders would, therefore, be a shrewd move for general manager Rick Spielman if he covets one pass-catcher over the others. Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie could still pick Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland or a defensive back at No. 23, in addition to receiving a third-round pick (with a potential late-round sweetener) in exchange.
The Bengals have a reputation for not trading their picks, but they did move down in 2012 in a trade with Patriots, and might be amenable to do so again for a couple of picks in this deep draft (maybe fourth- and sixth-rounders). Moving down 10 spots won't prevent the Bengals from getting a very good prospect in one of their need areas. The Cowboys would want to get ahead of Seattle and Carolina if they dream of the big back running behind their powerful offensive line.
I'll be surprised if a team doesn't move into the late part of the first round to snap up a quarterback. I expect the top three prospects will be gone by the mid-first round, so Cook will be coveted as the fourth-rated passer. The Rams are certainly in the hunt if they don't select Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch, or Carson Wentz in the first; plus, they have two second-round picks, a key bargaining chip. The difference in value between picks 27 and 43 is minimal in this year's draft if you're not looking for a future starting passer, so Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson would gleefully take the 43rd and 45th pick (or maybe even a second- and a third-rounder) in exchange for the 27th selection. Others potentially looking to get ahead of the Chiefs, Cardinals, and Broncos in the late first round include the Cowboys and Bears, as well as the Browns and 49ers if they choose not to pick up Goff, Lynch or Wentz early on.