The most thrilling thing about the NFL Draft is hearing that a trade has been made, particularly when a team makes a bold move up the board during the first round Thursday night.
The 2017 NFL Draft might offer more opportunities for moving than we've seen in quite some time because of the bizarre composition of draft boards. There is a clear-cut top prospect in Myles Garrett, but then things get muddled between Nos. 2 and 15. Certain candidates to go No. 2 could fall into the mid-teens. That is not normal.
After that, things get even harder to parse because the pool of potential prospects for 15 through 45 is a large group. While there aren't elite linemen in this crop, there are a lot of guys who could fill immediate needs. There aren't any lock franchise quarterbacks (spoiler: There almost never are), but there are several who could send teams scrambling when it comes to the middle and late portions of the first round.
It's going to be hairy and fun to watch. Let's look at 10 potential first-round trades in the 2017 NFL Draft. If you don't like the compensation, leave a note in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @WillBrinson with a better idea. Bear in mind these are simply possibilities for teams interested in making a move up or down the board.
1. Cleveland Browns trade up to No. 2 overall
The trade: CLE sends No. 12, No. 33, 2018 second-round pick to SF for No. 2.
Why it happens: The Browns want to take Myles Garrett No. 1 overall, but are still thinking about Mitchell Trubisky. They would make this move because they are concerned the Ohio native will be a franchise quarterback, and this franchise has missed on plenty of quarterbacks. There is no guarantee they get him anywhere but No. 2, and San Francisco understands that and is willing to trade down at a discounted price. Giving up three top-75 picks for a quarterback they might be able to get a few picks later in a deal is a lot, but if the Browns want to guarantee they get their quarterback of the future, this is the move. The 49ers need bodies, and picking No. 12 instead of No. 2 isn't that steep a drop in this draft when you consider the additional picks they'll get.
2. Washington Redskins trade to No. 2 overall
The trade: WAS sends No. 17, Kirk Cousins to SF for No. 2
Why it happens: Washington still isn't sold on Cousins as a franchise quarterback. If the Redskins were, long-term contract negotiations would have progressed. It's hard to imagine Cousins sticking around if a deal isn't hammered out before July 15, which means Washington might lose Cousins to free agency next year (barring a transition tag or a third franchise tag, both of which would be absurd guaranteed money for three years of work). The 49ers want to get out of the No. 2 pick because there isn't a clear-cut prospect to grab there, and Kyle Shanahan is a Kirk Cousins supporter. This isn't great value for the 49ers, right? I guess: If Cousins can be a franchise-caliber quarterback in your system, you slide down 15 picks to grab him in a draft with fairly nebulous value from Nos. 2 through 32. Some people would say the 49ers don't get enough and some would say the Redskins don't get enough. That's how you know it's a reasonable move.
3. Cleveland Browns trade to No. 5 overall
The trade: CLE sends No. 12, No. 52, No. 108 to TEN for No. 5
Why it happens: This is another avenue to landing Trubisky because the Browns, as you might know, need a quarterback. It makes a lot of sense to believe they will take some of the draft capital they have acquired over the past year or so and trade up in order to get said quarterback. This deal actually seems more realistic: The Titans would like to get out of No. 5 and add picks, and by making this move they would actually get their old second-round pick back. The Browns don't have to give up No. 33 in the deal and they can take Trubisky, although there is obviously more risk in hoping he falls to No. 5.
4. Buffalo Bills trade to No. 5 overall
The trade: BUF sends No. 10, No. 44 to TEN for No. 5, No. 100
Why it happens: Back-to-back trades to No. 5! Obviously only one of these can happen, but again, not all of these moves have to take place. The Bills are very much in the franchise quarterback business, and assuming Trubisky is gone, there could be a whole pile of teams scrambling for the next guy, Deshaun Watson. We're assuming Watson is going to make it past the Bears and Jaguars in this scenario, which means the Bills have to sit there and wonder if the Jets would snake a potential franchise quarterback they'll have to face twice a year. The Titans traded down last year and loaded up with picks; trading down in this instance isn't prohibitive and means they'll add another top-50 pick to their already stout 2017 haul. The Bills would walk away with their quarterback of the future.
5. Denver Broncos trade to No. 14 overall
The trade: DEN sends No. 20, No. 82 to PHI for No. 14
Why it happens: The Eagles have a history of moving in the draft and Howie Roseman won't be afraid to slide down here. If Roseman's top options are off the board, maybe he wants to move. He should find plenty of suitors, especially when it comes to offensive lineman in this class; the Broncos are one of several teams who need a lineman (see the Giants trade below) and jumping up six spots for the cost of a third-round pick would allow them to get the cream of the crop at the position and set the tone for the back half of the first round in terms of offensive line prospects.
6. Houston Texans trade to No. 16 overall
The trade: HOU sends No. 25, No. 57 to BAL for No. 16, No. 78
Why it happens: The Texans should be, like many teams, motivated to move up for a quarterback. They are currently rolling with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden. It's like Bill O'Brien is one of those guys who refuses not to play from the tips. You're a good golfer, Bill, but your handicap lets you play from the blues. Stop making it hard on yourself. Just move up to the blues already and get yourself a semi-competent quarterback. Ozzie Newsome loves to trade down and in this draft, getting an extra second-round pick for sliding down nine spots in the first round feels like a steal. You could argue that Newsome might want more in return based on the trade value chart, but this slide in the first is negligible given the first-round talent and the bump you get by adding picks.
7. New York Giants trade to No. 18 overall
The trade: NYG sends No. 23, No. 87 to TEN for No. 18, No. 124
Why it happens: The Giants are sitting there with the Titans on the clock, knowing the offensive line prospects situation and the importance of getting protection for Eli Manning. They look at teams ahead of them and realize somewhere between one and three offensive linemen could go off the board, so they move up to grab Forrest Lamp or Ryan Ramcyzk. Both should still be on the board and either would dramatically improve New York's offensive line. The Titans are always willing to trade, at least based on how Jon Robinson has approached the draft, and Tennessee could probably move down and land a wide receiver (Corey Davis? Maybe John Ross?) at this point.
8. Dallas Cowboys trade to No. 19 overall
The trade: DAL sends No. 28, No. 133, Alfred Morris to TB for No. 19
Why it happens: The Cowboys have a big-time offensive identity that will, barring unforeseen regression from Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, put up some big numbers in 2017. But they need to get better on defense after an offseason when they failed to find a pass rusher and lost players in the secondary. This is the draft to find that defensive player, and there is a real opportunity to move up and get an edge rusher. In this case, let's identify them as being interested in chasing Missouri's Charles Harris, who has frequently been mocked to them at No. 28, but who might not actually be there when they pick. He is sitting there at No. 19, though, so the Cowboys package a third-round pick and jump up to grab a guy who can make an immediate impact. The Buccaneers don't mind moving down while and potentially even adding Dalvin Cook. Yes, the Bucs would have all the running backs, but it's a position of need because of the suspension to Doug Martin.
9. Kansas City Chiefs trade to No. 20 overall
The trade: KC sends No. 27, No. 91 to DEN for No. 20
Why it happens: The Chiefs are in the hunt to land a future quarterback. Just look at the ceiling they've hit with Alex Smith and then look at his contract. Then look at Andy Reid's history handling quarterbacks as they get to an advanced age. But they're committed to Smith for 2017 and believe they can win with him this season. That's fine, but it shouldn't prohibit them from moving up to acquire a potential franchise quarterback, likely either Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes, provided that either is still on the board. The Broncos want to land offensive line help, but the top guys (Forrest Lamp, Ryan Ramcyzk) are already off the board and they would rather dip down a few picks, let the board come to them and pick up an extra player.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers trade to No. 22 overall
The trade: PIT sends No. 30, No. 105 to MIA for No. 22
Why it happens: Well, for starters, the Dolphins don't have their original third-round pick because they traded it to the Vikings (though they did add a compensatory third-rounder to their stash). So they could use an opportunity to pick up some more capital. The Steelers have two picks, Nos. 94 and 105 (the latter being compensatory) and might be willing to send an extra selection in order to move ahead of the Giants and Raiders to ensure they get Miami tight end David Njoku, who might not fall all the way down to No. 30. As with a lot of these deals, it doesn't necessarily hit on the full value in the trade chart, and I'm not sure I see the Steelers as a team that would likely trade away later draft capital to move up in the draft. But adding Njoku to this offense would give them another dimension, since Ladarius Green hasn't necessarily worked out.