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Nothing grabs your attention on draft day like a big trade in the first round. Last year, the Miami Dolphins traded up to the third pick to take defensive end Dion Jordan, whilst the ramifications of the Washington Redskins’ blockbuster trade for the second overall pick in the 2012 draft are still being felt around the league now. We’ve taken a look at some of the teams most likely to make a move on May 8, in what direction they’ll be moving, and who they could be targeting.
Atlanta Falcons – Trading up for a top three pick
The Falcons need a pass rusher and there is no more tantalizing prospect at that position than Jadeveon Clowney (DE/OLB, South Carolina). Chances are this means trading all the way up to the number one overall pick, which currently belongs to the Houston Texans. It won’t come cheap, but Atlanta has form in trading up, having recently aggressively pursued Julio Jones in the 2011 draft, a move which, despite durability concerns, has already paid off. Alternative scenarios include the Texans taking a quarterback with their first round pick, allowing the Falcons to make a slightly cheaper deal with the St Louis Rams for the second pick, or given the likelihood of Atlanta adopting a 3-4 defense next season, a possible deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars (for the third pick) and the chance to draft the more scheme-suitable Khalil Mack (OLB, Buffalo).
San Francisco 49ers – Trading up into the top 10
The 49ers made the most last season of having a plethora of draft picks and few open roster spots, and traded up to the 18th pick to select playmaking safety Eric Reid. Given that San Francisco have even less open roster spots this year, and almost as many draft picks, an even bigger foray up the first round could well be on the cards. There has been a lot of noise about San Francisco trading up for one of this year’s premiere receivers in a bid to help them over the final hurdle to Super Bowl glory. Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson) fits what the 49ers need in a receiver, but to select him they might have to go as high as the second overall pick, owned by their divisional rivals, the Rams. Another name being linked with San Francisco is Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M), and the Oakland Raiders, who need draft picks to help rebuild their roster, could be willing to deal their sixth overall pick and give the 49ers the chance to leapfrog the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are seen as the most likely home for Evans as things stand.
Seattle Seahawks – Trade out of the first round
Seattle will undoubtedly be fielding calls on May 8 from teams eager to jump up into the first round and snag a desired prospect with the final pick of the first round. Considering the Seahawks traded away their first round pick last year for Percy Harvin, they could well be eager to add a bona-fide first round talent this year, but if they are not in love with any of the prospects still on the board, trading down could be the right move for Seattle. The Seahawks have needs, including a press corner to step into the shoes of Brandon Browner, and a wide receiver to replace the lost production of Golden Tate, but both positions are deep this year and there will be plenty of opportunities to draft potential starters in the second and third rounds.
Baltimore Ravens – Trade up to the 10-12 range
This move hinges on just how much of a fan of Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville) Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome is. Both Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama) and Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan), prospects who fill big needs for the Ravens, will likely be gone by the time Baltimore is on the clock with the 17th pick, and could be targets to aggressively pursue if Newsome isn’t convinced by Pryor’s suitability in their scheme. Bypassing the Rams (13th pick) and Dallas Cowboys (16th pick) will be a necessity to draft Clinton-Dix, whilst leapfrogging the Giants (12th pick) would probably be required for a shot at Lewan. The Giants themselves may be convinced to trade, as could the Tennessee Titans (11th pick), both of whom have significant holes on their rosters to fill and could relish the chance to accrue some extra picks.
Carolina Panthers – Trade up to middle of first round OR trade out of first round altogether
The Panthers are in an awkward position. They pick at 28, but it’s hard to still see any of the draft’s elite receivers, corners or tackles still being available at that point. All three positions are big needs for Carolina, but fortunately they are also all relatively deep in this year’s draft class. If there is a prospect GM Dave Gettleman loves, it would not be surprising to see him move up and try to beat the rush, particularly at wide receiver or corner, otherwise accumulating picks in the second, third or even fourth rounds could payoff significantly this year, especially for a team that has seen a lot of players leave this offseason.
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