It's finally NFL draft week! And as Thursday night's opening round nears, trade rumblings seem unusually quiet. However, that doesn't mean there aren't efficiencies to be had and trades to be made. As such, I've put together four potential deals involving first-round picks.
The work below blends my draft prospect rankings, team needs and projected player selection range models to provide competitive analysis for each pick. This piece builds off how I approached my mock drafts, in that its goal is to optimize for wins in the 2022 NFL season; but, I've added in a three-season factor for the top five positions according to positional value (quarterback, pass rusher, left tackle, corner and wide receiver) to make it reflect a closer-to-reality result.
The goal for the trades I've identified is to net both NFL teams a higher projected win total in 2022, while taking into account which positions/prospects other franchises are likely to target/draft.
Without further ado, let's get to it!
GREEN BAY RECEIVES:
- Round 1, 2022: No. 7 overall
NEW YORK RECEIVES:
- Round 1, 2022: No. 22 overall
- Round 2, 2022: No. 59
- Round 2, 2023
Should the Jets trade for a wide receiver prior to the draft (or during … ahem, Deebo Samuel), or select a non-wideout (or player who is not atop the Packers' board) at No. 4 overall, then the seventh pick stands to become a prime target for several suitors. In fact, it could shape the entire draft -- especially considering the number of teams with multiple first-rounders this year. I am well aware that Green Bay has not historically drafted receivers in the first round, but context is always key. The Packers have the league's reigning MVP (two years running) at quarterback and play in the NFC, which now has fewer top-tier QBs, reinforcing the urgency and proximity to win now.
The Packers had the tremendous fortune of landing Davante Adams in the second round in 2014, but they can't rely on catching that kind of break again. The strategy that creates the highest probability for success is to act on the reality of supply and demand in this situation, which means leapfrogging the Falcons (who also need a receiver) at No. 8 to get the wideout of their choice. Green Bay lands its guy and still has two selections (Nos. 28, 53) in the range my models identify as the most likely to yield high-value, above-average players in this draft (Nos. 21-72).
As for the Giants, this trade gives them four selections in that aforementioned sweet-spot range. With so much depth in the 2022 class, there are a whole bunch of prospects who in other years would be rated between Nos. 20-32. So there's a lot more projected value this year in the late-first-round-to-early-third-round (first eight picks) range relative to previous drafts. In this trade scenario, the Giants, who have a number of needs, still select at fifth overall and then four times in the desired range -- plus, they get a second-round pick in 2023 as the cherry on top.
KANSAS CITY RECEIVES:
- Round 2, 2022: No. 40 overall
- Round 3, 2022: No. 72
- Round 6, 2023
- Round 1, 2022: No. 30 overall
- Round 3, 2022: No. 94
The Chiefs and Seahawks both have back-to-back picks early in this year's draft (Chiefs at Nos. 29, 30; Seahawks at Nos. 40, 41), which presents an interesting opportunity for interpreting the Jimmy Johnson draft-pick trade-value chart. Kansas City, with its first-rounder (and the fifth-year option it comes with), has more leverage and could command a higher price than what I have proposed above, especially in the heat of the moment on Thursday.
Seattle's motivation to move back into Round 1 is driven primarily by the desire to jump ahead of Detroit, which holds the 32nd and 34th overall picks. That said, it's always nice, from a team standpoint, to have that extra year on a rookie contract -- especially at the most valuable and expensive position. The 'Hawks obtain the opportunity to take a quarterback here, offering a return far greater than the third-round pick they're surrendering, even despite all of their needs.
After this trade, Kansas City holds five selections in the top 72, with all of them in that sweet spot my model identifies. They could use all five or bundle some of them together to target specific players at areas of need (WR or CB).
- Round 1, 2022: No. 13 overall
- Round 1, 2022: No. 24 overall
- Round 2, 2022: No. 56
If Kyle Hamilton slides past the Commanders at No. 11 overall, the Cowboys should dial up Texans general manager Nick Caserio and make a deal. Pairing Hamilton with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn creates the greatest win-share increase for both the Cowboys and the player in 2022, which doesn't often happen outside of the top 10 picks. For the safety position, think of a very good rookie win-share number as 0.58 wins; Hamilton to the Cowboys creates an increase of 0.74 wins. While giving up a second-rounder isn’t ideal, if they want Hamilton, the Cowboys' alternative is sweating it out and hoping he lasts even longer on the board.
The Texans and their depleted roster need more prime selections. After making this deal, they hold five picks in the top 68 (Nos. 3, 24, 37, 56, 68) and get themselves out of No. 13, which is a lower probability ROI spot.
NEW YORK RECEIVES:
- WR Deebo Samuel
SAN FRANCISCO RECEIVES:
- WR Elijah Moore
- Round 1, 2022: No. 10 overall
- Round 2, 2022: No. 35
OK, I’ll bite on the Deebo drama. The math supports the reunion of Samuel with his former coaching staff in New York as being the optimal situation for Zach Wilson to succeed in the passing game this season. Known entities that possess Samuel’s talent level have improved their QBs' passing production; further, younger QBs have been helped considerably when surrounded by players with elite ability (e.g., Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs; Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins; Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase).
Despite the package they give up for Samuel in this scenario, the Jets still have a first- (No. 4), second- (No. 38) and high third-rounder (No. 69) this year. They also have the salary-cap potential to work out a new contract that matches Samuel's value.
Samuel isn't the only 49er in line for a new deal, as Nick Bosa could get a long-term contract this offseason, too. In this trade scenario, the 49ers think they have a better chance of finding their new top receiver in the 2022 draft than they do their new top edge rusher.