Graphic by Pat Pryor
Written by: Alexander Amir
We’re in that odd time of the NFL offseason when the season is firmly behind us but free agency is too far away. Naturally, to fill the void, rumors begin to swirl around some of the best players in football, some of which are more valid than others. Today, we’re going look at what happens if some of those rumors come true. DISCLAIMER: THE MAJORITY OF THESE TRADES WILL PROBABLY NOT HAPPEN. Most of this pre-free agency buzz ends up being hot air, but it’s interesting to see how each move could impact the rest of the draft. I’m going to set out four hypothetical trades of big-name players, and we’ll see how they impact the first round of the NFL Draft.
1) New York Giants receive:
Russell Wilson (QB)
Seattle Seahawks receive:
Olivier Vernon (EDGE), Janoris Jenkins (CB), #6 overall, 2020 1st round, 2020 3rd round
2) New England Patriots receive:
Odell Beckham Jr. (WR), #144 overall
New York Giants receive:
Duron Harmon (S), #32 overall, #56 overall, #101 overall, 2020 2nd round pick
3) San Francisco 49ers receive:
Antonio Brown (WR), #52 overall, #194 overall
Pittsburgh Steelers receive:
Solomon Thomas (DE), #36 overall, 2020 2nd rounder, 2020 4th rounder
4) Oakland Raiders receive:
Xavien Howard (CB)
Miami Dolphins receive:
(Read each team’s draft pick description to get more insight on the trade)
1. Arizona Cardinals- Quinnen Williams, DT (Alabama)
Nick Bosa has been going 1st overall in the vast majority of mock drafts both at Blitzalytics and at other draft sites. But Williams should not be slept on as the #1 overall pick. The Cardinals have a much more dire need at interior defensive line than at edge rusher, plus edge is so deep in this draft that they can likely get a 1st round talent at edge defender with their 2nd rounder if they so choose. Beyond that, however, Williams is just an absolute monster with elite penetration ability. He has the size to eat up gaps with the speed to get into the backfield in a second. Don’t be surprised if he’s taken over Bosa...
2. San Francisco 49ers- Nick Bosa, DE (Ohio State)
...that being said, it’s a no-brainer that San Francisco takes Nick Bosa here. In their trade above with the Pittsburgh, they send off defensive end Solomon Thomas, who has promise but hasn’t been able to put it together in the Bay Area. Bosa will immediately offer a solution at a position of need and drastically improve the team’s defense. In terms of trading for Antonio Brown: 1) there’s a need at wide receiver; 2) there is plenty of money available to sign him; 3) he has expressed interest in playing here; and 4) he’s better than any combination of players they would select with the draft picks they traded.
3. New York Jets- Josh Allen, EDGE (Kentucky)
Allen rounds up the consensus top 3 prospects in the draft, and the Jets will happily take him here. Gang green has always liked having a deep defensive line, and edge rusher is a big priority for them this offseason. They need to get better at almost every position, so it makes sense to take the best player available. There will now be two “Josh Allens” in the AFC East.
4. Oakland Raiders- Rashan Gary, DL (Michigan)
Before we get to the pick, let’s talk about the trade. Like the Jets, the Raiders have needs almost everywhere, and that includes cornerback. Xavien Howard is young and extremely talented, and Oakland has the cap space to invest in a long term contract with him. Now that the Raiders have a piece in their secondary, they can feel comfortable taking Rashan Gary up front. The Michigan product is a super versatile, high-motor defender that can play anywhere along the defensive line. He opens up lots of creative possibilities from a defensive play-calling standpoint.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Devin White, LB (LSU)
Cornerback and offensive line are probably the team’s two biggest needs, but linebacker is up there as well. Kwon Alexander will be a free agent and he’s coming of an ACL injury. Given how cash-strapped the Bucs are, as well as their weakness covering the middle of the field, Devin White would fill in beautifully for the fan-favorite Alexander.
6. Seattle Seahawks (from New York Giants)- Kyler Murray, QB (Oklahoma)
Let me be clear once again: the odds of this trade happening are extremely small. However, if the Seahawks do trade Russell Wilson for the myriad reasons that you have probably heard already, I can see them replacing him with Wilson 2.0, Kyler Murray. The Heisman Trophy winner has insane escapability and a very strong arm, and is undersized like Wilson (though significantly more so). Murray would become the new face of the Seahawks franchise
In terms of the return for Wilson, it might seem crazy that Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t included in the trade. However, Pete Carroll has always prioritized the defense, and Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins would instantly fill two important positions of need. Also, the best receiver that the Seahawks have had in the Pete Carroll-era is Golden Tate, which makes me feel like Carroll would prioritize earlier draft picks over Odell.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Dwayne Haskins, QB (Ohio State)
The Jaguars are ecstatic that Haskins is available for them here, now that the Giants traded out of their pick. Haskins is the type of QB that VP of Operations Tom Coughlin likes, and while he is a bit of a project, he has the potential to bring a team that is just 1 year removed from the AFC Championship game on a deep playoff run.
8. Detroit Lions- Clelin Ferrell, EDGE (Clemson)
I sent Ferrell to the Lions in my 1st mock as well, and I think the board falls in such a way again that this is the right pick. Ferrell will help the Lions let Ziggy Ansah walk in free agency, saving them a ton of money to be used on other holes, of which there are plenty.
9. Buffalo Bills- Jonah Williams, OT (Alabama)
Offensive line and wide receiver will be Buffalo’s focus in this draft — I guarantee it. Josh Allen was running for his life last year and providing stability along the line will help him progress in his development. The 2nd round is also rich with wide receiver talent.
10. Denver Broncos- Drew Lock, QB (Missouri)
Lock seems like the only true “lock” of this class, at least based on early rumors. He is John Elway’s type of QB, and fits the prototype that the Broncos GM looks for. The Broncos offense needs more receiving skill and offensive line help, but this looks like a match made in heaven.
11. Cincinnati Bengals- Devin Bush, LB (Michigan)
The Bengals took Devin White in my first mock, and end up with the other “Devin” linebacker here. The Michigan linebacker can become a force on the Cincinnati defense that will see linebackers Preston Brown and Vincent Rey test free agency. Bush has tons of speed and coverage ability, and will become the centerpiece of a hopefully revamped defense.
12. Green Bay Packers- Ed Oliver, DL (Houston)
The Packers technically have more of a need at edge rusher than interior defensive lineman, but Oliver really is a do-it-all player. He has outstanding penetration ability and can line up at any position along the defensive line, and he’s really just a machine when it comes to creating chaos in an opposing team’s backfield. That’s exactly what Green Bay needs.
13. Miami Dolphins- Greedy Williams, CB (LSU)
The Dolphins would have loved to re-sign Xavien Howard, but they are going into serious tank mode and Howard will be looking for a serious payday next year. Getting an extra first rounder will help with the rebuild as well. Greedy Williams becomes Howard’s replacement as the best CB in this draft.
14. Atlanta Falcons- Brian Burns, EDGE (Florida St.)
Burns is pure pass rusher with elite bend and flexibility. The Falcons desperately need to generate pressure on defense, and while some of their defensive struggles in 2018 arose because of injury, they will be able to mitigate that threat by creating a deep pass rush rotation that includes Burns, Vic Beasley, and Takkarist McKinley.
15. Houston Texans (from Redskins)- Jawann Taylor, OT (Florida)
Redskins get: #23 overall, #55 overall
Texans get: #15 overall, #154 overall
Houston desperately needs to protect Deshaun Watson. Jawann Taylor has been rising up draft boards, and the Texans were previously picking behind the Panthers, Browns, Vikings, and Seahawks, all teams that need offensive linemen. They decide to skip them all and get a guy that definitely would have been gone before #23.
16. Carolina Panthers- Yodny Cajuste, OT (West Virginia)
There were many reasons for Carolina’s epic collapse last season, and offensive line was definitely up there at the top. 2018 starter Matt Kalil has an extensive injury history, and Daryl Williams was injured as well and will be a free agent. Cajuste will help stabilize the tackle spot and will let the Panthers feel comfortable with letting Williams walk.
17. Cleveland Browns- D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss)
I could easily see Cody Ford being the pick here, but I think the Browns want to inject more skill position talent into their roster. Metcalf complements the rest of the team’s receiving corps and offers tons of upside. He recently posted a workout picture of himself on instagram and he looked buffed up to linebacker size. If he tests well at the Combine he will easily be the first receiver off the board.
18. Minnesota Vikings- Cody Ford, OL (Washington State)
A versatile offensive lineman is exactly what the doctor ordered for Minnesota. There is talent everywhere else on offense, with Cousins, Cook, Rudolph, Thielen, and Diggs. The offensive line is needed to bring it all together, and Cody Ford can play guard or tackle. Given the unit’s injury woes last year, Ford would be a big asset.
19. Tennessee Titans- T.J. Hockenson, TE (Iowa)
Hock is starting to become a popular name in NFL circles and is rising up draft boards as a result. Tennessee does have Delanie Walker at tight end, but he’s getting up there in age and has an injury history. The Titans could run out some dangerous two-tight end sets with Hock and Walker, and when the latter inevitably retires in the next couple of seasons, Hock would slide right in as TE1. For a team that has seen starting QB Marcus Mariota struggle, a safer passing attack using Hockenson and Walker could help.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers- Montez Sweat, EDGE (Mississippi State)
The Steelers need to inject talent on the defense. Bud Dupree plays alongside T.J. Watt, and with a $9 million option for this season, Pittsburgh will probably look elsewhere to fill the pass rusher role. Sweat may be more successful as a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL, but he’s plenty talented for the Steelers to make use of him in any scheme.
21. Seattle Seahawks- Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, WR (Oklahoma)
How perfect is this pick? After selecting Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray as the team’s new franchise QB, they pair him with his favorite college target! Defense would normally be the pick here, but since they received Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins in their package from the Giants, they can address the offensive side of the ball. With the threat of Tyler Lockett downfield, Brown would see lots of single coverage. Murray and Brown would wreak havoc across the league and give the Seahawks a pretty potent offense.
22. Baltimore Ravens- Joshua Jacobs, RB (Alabama)
With Lamar Jackson at QB, it’s crucial that Baltimore gets him some offensive talent. Wide receiver is a possibility, but imagine putting Josh Jacobs in the backfield with Jackson. It will let the Ravens duplicate the success they had running the ball last season, but with a far more talented running back than Gus Edwards. Jacobs would also take pressure off of Jackson and let him have an easier develop into a passer.
23. Washington Redskins (from Texans)- Nasir Adderley, S (Delaware)
The Redskins will be eyeing a safety in the first round, and since none had been taken yet they felt safe trading back from 15 to 23. While Deionte Thompson would be the conventional safety to take here, he has been reportedly sliding down draft boards. Adderley, on the flipside, has been rising, and he has more versatility than Thompson does. The Redskins value that in their secondary, and he would step into the shoes of the departed D.J. Swearinger.
24. Oakland Raiders- N’Keal Harry, WR (Arizona State)
At this point the Raiders have already secured two high level defensive pieces, and it’s time to get Derek Carr some help. N’Keal Harry is considered by some to be the best receiver in this class, and Harry is a big target with excellent athleticism. He will give Derek Carr the #1 target that he’s been missing since Amari Cooper was traded.
25. Philadelphia Eagles- Byron Murphy, CB (Washington)
The Eagles were hoping that Josh Jacobs would fall to them here, but they will be happy taking another huge position of need. Eagles cornerbacks have struggled for years, and Murphy becomes an instant fix with his ball-hawking skills and explosiveness.
26. Indianapolis Colts- Jachai Polite, EDGE (Florida)
Pass rusher is far and away the most important need for the Colts this offseason. There will be many on the open market but they will cost a fortune, so GM Chris Ballard would be smart to take one here. Polite is a versatile pass rusher with underrated run-stopping ability. A combination of Polite, Kemoko Turay, and a high end free agent pass rusher would absolutely transform this defense.
27. Miami Dolphins (from Raiders)- Christian Wilkins, DL (Clemson)
Miami will double dip on defense after taking Greedy Williams earlier this round. This time, they take a versatile defensive lineman with great penetration ability. His ability to play in multiple fronts will be appealing for a Dolphins defense that has been looking for a replacement for Ndamukong Suh. They choose Wilkins over his teammate Dexter Lawrence due to his versatility.
28. Los Angeles Chargers- Dexter Lawrence, DL (Clemson)
The Chargers will select Lawrence because of their need for a true nose tackle. Lawrence is the perfect fit given his gap-eating ability, which will let Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram wreak havoc off the edge. LA already has so much talent at all levels of the defense, and Lawrence just gives them another dimension.
29. Kansas City Chiefs- Trayvon Mullen, CB (Clemson)
Mullen is a strong man-to-man defender who will be a nice pairing either across from CB Steven Nelson or as a replacement, as Nelson is entering free agency. Even if they retain him the Chiefs will need to continue to add to their secondary. Mullen fits the bill.
30. Green Bay Packers- Deionte Thompson, S (Alabama)
After trading away HaHa Clinton-Dix in 2018 the Packers will take his natural replacement. Thompson is a typical free safety, and while he has been dropping on draft boards, I don’t think he has enough to fall out of the first round. The Packers now get two cornerstones to hopefully improve a defense that has been lacking for years.
31. Los Angeles Rams- Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama)
The Rams have a need at edge rusher, but everyone saw how bad Jared Goff was in the Super Bowl. He was completely lacking a middle of the field threat, in part because slot receiver Cooper Kupp was out with injury. Regardless, a talented receiving tight end like Smith would give Goff 4 viable receiving targets in all areas of the field.
32. New York Giants (from Patriots)- Andre Dillard, OT (Washington State)
We finally get to the team at the center of it all, the team that wheeled and dealed their way to an entirely new roster. In my mind, the Wilson trade is a no-brainer. You’re in desperate need of a QB with a weak QB draft class, and you have a chance to take an elite QB in the prime of his career. They should give up anything for that chance, and while two very good defensive players and a couple first rounders is a lot, it becomes extremely worth it when you fix the most important player on the field.
Now, the Odell Beckham Jr. trade is a way for the Giants to recoup the draft picks they lost to acquire Russell Wilson while also filling a position of need. Duron Harmon will immediately start in place of Landon Collins, who will presumably not be franchise tagged. An extra second rounder this year and next year will help with New York’s rebuilding process. The Patriots would likely be content parting with Harmon given their depth in the secondary, and they were reportedly pursuing Odell heavily last season.
Now to the actual pick: Russell Wilson is the starting QB, but he will look at the Giants offensive line and feel like he never left Seattle. Nate Solder will be the starting left tackle for the foreseeable future, but right tackle has been a revolving door for years. Dillard could finally provide an answer.