There aren't many teams aching to move into the top reaches of the first round, but I continue to get the sense from various league executives that there will be no shortage of movement during the draft, and certainly a few picks that will make analysts and draftniks do a double take.
One scenario that continues to gain steam among NFL people is the Washington Redskins moving up to take their franchise quarterback.
There are general managers convinced that this will go down. There are evaluators in Redskins Park who believe Blaine Gabbert has the potential to be a franchise quarterback, a great fit in their system and the best player in this draft. Washington has concerns about him being there 10th overall. Denver, among others, is immensely receptive to this possibility of trading down, and Mike Shanahan's ties to John Elway and Brian Xanders in the Broncos' front office could help facilitate a deal.
First round could be trade-heavy
Washington is never shy about trading future picks and has moved up in the first round for quarterbacks before (including dealing with Shanahan, when he was at Denver, to move up for Jason Campbell in 2005). Owner Daniel Snyder has coveted a franchise quarterback throughout his regime. There are other teams in the top 10 very willing to trade back, but Washington's concern would be one of the quarterback-needy teams in slots three, four or five (Buffalo, Cincinnati and Arizona) would take its guy. Moving up to No. 2 is the safest bet, and if you're sold on a kid, you do what you have to do.
Although Washington's lack of 2011 picks makes things somewhat tricky, there is ample potential here. A trade of this nature wouldn't surprise me in the least, nor any number of NFL execs and agents to whom I have spoken.
And don't underestimate the financial components here. Many teams believe the Broncos are cash-strapped to some degree now, and they could save at least $30 million guaranteed by dropping down should these picks get signed under the old system (a very real possibility). That's massive savings, and the Broncos badly need picks, which is another reason this deal could get done for perhaps less than what the various "draft-value charts" would dictate.
Houston is another team I have heard the most buzz about possibly trading into the top five. Team sources have downplayed it, but it hasn't died down. It's not particularly likely the Texans do so, but the opportunity to get Von Miller or Patrick Peterson will be enough to keep phone lines open Thursday, and I figure the team at least explores this route.
And several league sources said the Atlanta Falcons have thoroughly exhausted all possibilities of what it would take to get into the top five or 10. It likely will end up being costly, and prohibitive, but there are several players who intrigue them in that region, beyond just the top two receivers. While moving up that high from pick 27 probably won't make sense, they will continue doing their due diligence.