Speculation about what could happen in the draft only intensifies as we get closer to Thursday's first round.
Given the scenarios that might play out, Thursday night is highly unlikely to disappoint when it comes to drama, and here are four moves that could turn the draft upside down.
This is an exercise in pure fantasy -- I'm not suggesting any of these moves are likely to happen, but it's a lot of fun to think about what would ensure a frenzied start to the weekend in Chicago.
Cowboys move up for Mariota
Last year, Jerry Jones admitted he nearly had to have a draft card with Johnny Manziel's name on it snatched away from him when the Cowboys were making their first-round pick. They passed on Manziel, taking OL Zack Martin instead with the 16th overall pick, and that worked out very well (Martin was selected as an All-Pro as a rookie). But with Tony Romo a year older, would Jones get the same urge if Oregon QB Marcus Mariota doesn't get picked second overall and starts to slide a bit? Jones said Tuesday that "there's certainly a possibility that we could trade up," so he's at least open to some sort of move. How high would he go, though? The price to get to No. 2 would likely be way too rich, but if Mariota is there at No. 6 (Jets) or No. 10 (Rams), what if Jones gets that twinkle in his eye and picks up the phone to beat all the truly QB-needy teams to the punch? Romo has played well despite his back issues, but Jones obviously didn't think it was too soon to think about finding his eventual replacement a year ago.
Browns land Adrian Peterson
Cleveland has not been one of the teams most closely attached to the Peterson rumblings, but it certainly will have the flexibility to make a big splash in the draft with three of the first 43 picks, including two first-rounders. It would make plenty of sense if the Browns are interested. In a division where they're competing against the likes of Le'Veon Bell and the tandem of Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill, the Browns like their young RBs, Terrence West and Isaiah Crowell, but they don't have the star power or game-changing ability of Peterson. Would GM Ray Farmer be able to get the Vikings' attention with an offer? Minnesota GM Rick Spielman said plainly Tuesday that the team has no interest in trading Peterson, so his answer to that question would appear to be a firm no, even though Peterson's camp has made it clear that he wants to move on with a new club. Remember, though, we're in fantasy land here, and Farmer has some very intriguing ammo. That is, if he doesn't move up to No. 2.
Chargers deal into top 10 for Gurley
There's been plenty of talk about the Chargers moving up in this draft, but they've been connected to Mariota in the trade-up speculation. Perhaps they make that move up, but go for Todd Gurley a little later and hang onto Philip Rivers instead of sending him to Tennessee to get Mariota with the No. 2 overall pick. Gurley is very much in play for the RB-needy Chargers, but which team would be San Diego's partner in a move to get the Georgia rusher? Maybe it's the Falcons at No. 8. Atlanta really wants a pass rusher, but three of the top five pass rushers -- Dante Fowler, Jr., Vic Beasley and Bud Dupree -- could be off the board before the Falcons are on the clock. The other two top pass rushers -- Randy Gregory and Shane Ray -- come with baggage that could very well keep Atlanta from taking either of them. There's probably no other pass rusher to take that early. With Atlanta potentially looking to move down after an edge-rusher run and San Diego, which holds pick No. 17, willing to be aggressive to guarantee itself a coveted runner like Gurley, perhaps a deal could be arranged.
Dorsett goes in first half of Round 1
If enough teams decide to invest in offense this year after watching the success of the highly impressive 2014 WR class, here's what it could trigger in the bizarro NFL world we're operating in for this article: 6 WRs go in the top 16, including 4 in the top 10. It could look something like his: Amari Cooper to the Jaguars (No. 3), Kevin White to the Raiders (No. 4), DeVante Parker to the Bears (No. 7), Nelson Agholor to the Rams (No. 10), Breshad Perriman to the Browns (No. 12) and Phillip Dorsett to the Texans (No. 16). It wouldn't surprise me to see WRs Devin Smith and Dorial Green-Beckham go in Round 1, too -- both get picked in the first round in my final mock draft -- but I don't have Dorsett in the mock. That said, Houston needs speed at the position, and few can offer it like Dorsett, who was clocked at 4.25 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. I've said seven WRs in the first round wouldn't surprise me. Should we make it 8?