Trades during the first and early-second rounds of the NFL draft are like those moments in horror movies where you know something bad is going to happen but still send your popcorn flying when that dude with a knife comes out of the closet.
Everyone knows there are going to be trades during the draft, but when the commissioner announces "There has been a trade ...", people at the draft site and those watching at home hold their breath and wait for the details to emerge. The suspense and payoff result in cheers (and boos) from fans on both sides of the deal.
There were eight trades in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, in which a team moved up to target a specific player, if we count the pre-draft trades between the Colts and Jets (ultimately leading to New York selecting QB Sam Darnold). The Bills (Josh Allen), Cardinals (Josh Rosen) and Ravens (Lamar Jackson) moved up to get quarterbacks; New Orleans landed a pass rusher in Marcus Davenport; Buffalo (again) and Tennessee went up to pick linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Rashaan Evans, respectively; and Green Bay bolstered its cornerback depth by making a move for Jaire Alexander.
While there won't be quite as much hype around this year's quarterback class (the driver for many first-round trades), I found eight potential deals that make sense for both sides in terms of meeting roster needs for the team trading up and increasing draft capital for the team trading down.
Raiders trade No. 4 overall (Round 1) to 49ers for No. 2 (Round 1)
It's easy for me to see Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wanting to Lock up Drew, the former Missouri quarterback he coached at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Lock's physical skills and personality have to remind Gruden of Brett Favre, whom he coached in Green Bay many moons ago. The Broncos might have a strong interest in the second or third draft slot to grab the gunslinger ahead of Gruden, as no matter what general manager and president of football operations John Elway says, Joe Flacco is not anywhere close to being in his prime. Elway recently witnessed the success of in-division rival Kansas City's move from a veteran to youthful starter, so he may try to emulate that plan. But Gruden also possesses the extra draft picks to make a deal like this work, even after trading for disgruntled receiver Antonio Brown. Two years ago, the Bears gave up two thirds (one current and one future) and a fourth to move up one spot to select Mitch Trubisky. The Raiders could give up a second-round and fourth-round pick this year to get Lock, but could re-gain those picks by trading down with one of their late first-round selections (No. 24 or 27).
Falcons trade No. 14 overall (Round 1) to Lions for No. 8 (Round 1)
The Falcons reportedly interviewed defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence, Ed Oliver and Christian Wilkins at the NFL Scouting Combine. General manager Thomas Dimitroff is not shy about moving up in the draft to get the player he wants (see: Julio Jones). Adding a playmaker next to franchised starter Grady Jarrett gives him a great duo in 2019 and beyond -- or maybe an insurance policy if Jarrett leaves as a free agent next year. Dimitroff will likely have to give up a 2020 second- or third-round pick and one or both of their mid-round free-agent compensatory selections in this year's draft (which are now tradable). The Lions met their primary need by signing Trey Flowers via free agency and could still pick up another defensive end to replace Kerry Hyder with the 14th pick (or a corner, safety or tight end) if they so desire.
Giants trade No. 17 overall (Round 1) to Bills for No. 9 (Round 1)
Unless Giants general manager Dave Gettleman is pulling off a great ruse, it looks as though he will spend the sixth overall pick on the highest-rated non-quarterback on the board. If Gettleman indeed passes on a passer early on, and the Giants are not that interested in Josh Rosen (if available), then they should jump up to get signal-caller Dwayne Haskins ahead of the Denver Broncos at No. 10. Haskins' accuracy, poise, quick release and arm strength give him a chance to excel at the next level. Last year, the Cardinals gave up a third and a fifth to jump up from 15 and get Rosen with the 10th overall pick, so maybe the Giants could get away with trading their third and one of their fourths to make the move. If there is competition for the pick, Gettleman might have to give up a 2020 first- or second-round pick instead.
Chiefs trade No. 29 overall (Round 1) to Panthers for No. 16 (Round 1)
At one time, teams were only in "win-now" mode in terms of player acquisitions because they had a veteran quarterback in the twilight of his career. Now the teams with young passers on rookie contracts are the ones trying to acquire tons of talent because they can take advantage of the extra cap space a cheap quarterback allows. The Chiefs may, therefore, be aggressive in this draft to find guys to play with Patrick Mahomes over the next few years. The team could use a new center like Garrett Bradbury, since Mitch Morse left as a free agent, but the Giants (No. 17) and Vikings (No. 18) could also be looking at Bradbury as their future starter in the pivot. Kansas City might take a receiver (Marquise Brown) with Tyreek Hill's future with the team up in the air. The Chiefs are also changing to a 4-3 scheme, so they might want a base end or defensive tackle to play next to Derrick Nnadi -- or maybe they have their eye on a cornerback or safety they believe could be gone by the time the 29th pick arrives. Kansas City would probably package its third- and fifth-round picks in this year's draft to swap first-round slots with Carolina. The Chiefs have an extra second-rounder this year, which they could deal later to mitigate their losses.
Colts trade No. 26 overall (Round 1) to Seahawks for No. 21 (Round 1)
Colts GM Chris Ballard wants to upgrade his defensive line, and the Seahawks have just four selections in this draft. Let's deal. Indianapolis has extra second- (No. 34) and fourth-round picks (No. 135) this year, so it's plausible to think they could use their third-round selection (No. 89 overall) to move up a few spots in Round 1 and draft a dropping defensive end or tackle. Or maybe, with free-agent WR Devin Funchess being a fine one-year stop-gap measure, they fancy a particular receiver who could become Andrew Luck's long-term, big-bodied target and complement to T.Y. Hilton. Seattle gave up its second- (for LT Duane Brown), sixth- (for QB Brett Hundley), and seventh-round picks in 2019 (S Shalom Luani) in previous trades, so GM John Schneider needs some draft capital to plug multiple roster holes.
Rams trade No. 31 overall (Round 1) to Raiders for No. 24 (Round 1)
Rams GM Les Snead could smell a championship last year, and he might consider his team as being just a couple of players away from returning to the Super Bowl after losing the Lombardi Trophy to the Pats in February. A pass rusher, linebacker or interior offensive/defensive lineman might be on Snead's wish list. Edge player Dante Fowler, who signed a one-year deal in March after being traded to L.A. last October, will be in position to hit the jackpot next spring with another good season, so jumping up to snag pass rusher Jachai Polite could make sense. The team might entrust second-year players Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen with the guard and center spots -- or maybe Los Angeles will look for an upgrade in a prospect like Chris Lindstrom or Erik McCoy. If veteran DT Ndamukong Suh signs elsewhere, then a big-time defensive tackle (Dexter Lawrence? Jeffery Simmons?) could be selected to man the middle of the defense. If the Raiders trade up earlier in the first round, they could regain one of the picks they'd lose in that transaction with this move (or collect a top-100 selection in 2020).
Buccaneers trade No. 39 overall (Round 2) to Packers for No. 30 (Round 1)
I believe there will be a run on safeties and wide receivers early in the second round of this year's draft -- and the Buccaneers have a need at both positions. They traded DeSean Jackson to the Eagles and lost Adam Humphries to free agency, so finding another pass catcher should be a high priority for new head coach Bruce Arians. The Bucs might also value the versatility of a defensive back like Nasir Adderley or Chauncey Gardner-Johnson enough to make an upward move (giving up their fourth-round pick, No. 107 overall) into the first round so they don't lose out on their top guy on Friday evening. Green Bay, meanwhile, holds two first-round picks (Nos. 12 and No. 30) thanks to a draft-day trade with the Saints last year. The youthful Packers brain trust, comprised of head coach Matt LaFleur and GM Brian Gutekunst, should be interested in grabbing a mid-round pick for a relatively small move down the board, barring the availability of a top-tier prospect when their turn comes with that second first-rounder.
Bengals trade No. 42 overall (Round 2) to Rams for No. 31 (Round 1)
The Bengals' new coaching staff does not have deep ties to quarterback Andy Dalton, who has two years on his deal and no dead-cap potential. If former Duke star Daniel Jones is still available at the end of the first round, then new head coach Zac Taylor may have an interest in jumping up to grab his future starter. Taylor might also want to get ahead of the Patriots, who hold pick No. 32, if they think Bill Belichick is interested in Jones being Tom Brady's heir apparent. Taylor would probably need to part with a third-rounder (No. 72) or possibly the Bengals' 2020 second-rounder, as the price goes up a round when dealing in future picks, and one of their five sixth-round selections to make the move.