The NFL Draft will look a lot different than usual in 2020.
A “fully virtual” draft will force NFL executive, coaches, and scouts to make draft-day decisions from their own home. How that will affect the trade market remains to be seen. With decision makers scattered in separate locations, the NFL is reportedly considering allowing a couple of minutes of extra time for teams to broker a trade.
Most likely, the draft will have a bustling trade market as usual. Just like every year, some teams will jump the order to snag their most coveted prospect, while others will slide down in exchange for more draft capital.
With the 2020 NFL Draft not far off, here are eight teams that may be interested in moving around in the first round.
4 teams that could trade up
1. Los Angeles Chargers
Pick: No. 6
Now they’re left with Tyrod Taylor to start in 2020. It’s not the worst scenario; Taylor was an adequate starter for the Bills for three seasons and briefly took the reins for the Browns. But it’s crucial that Los Angeles uses this draft to find the quarterback who will eventually lead the team.
That could be a bit difficult with the Chargers sitting at sixth overall, though.
If the Chargers want their choice of the non-Burrow quarterbacks — likely Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or Oregon’s Justin Herbert — they’ll almost certainly need to skip ahead of Miami. That means making a deal with the Lions or Giants, owners of the third and fourth picks, respectively.
While Chargers general manager Tom Telesco rarely makes draft-day trades (his last involving a first-rounder was in 2015), securing a quarterback is a different story. It requires urgency, and that could result in a bidding war between the Dolphins and Chargers.
2. Miami Dolphins
Pick: Nos. 5, 18, 26
The Dolphins didn’t tank the 2019 season just to land the third-best quarterback in the draft.
They were surprisingly good at winning football games in 2019, despite ripping the roster to shreds. With another year of development, it seems unlikely the Dolphins will be drafting in the top five again in 2021. So now is the time to use a premium pick on a player to build around for years to come.
With the Chargers in position to possibly trade ahead of the Dolphins, it’d be prudent for Miami to beat Los Angeles to the punch.
The Dolphins have three first-round picks and two second-round picks — more than enough ammo to make sure they aren’t undercut by the Chargers for the second passer off the board.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: No. 21
The clear-cut top receivers in this draft are Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. Philadelphia could greatly benefit from drafting one of them.
In 2019, DeSean Jackson played only 65 snaps for the Eagles due to injuries. Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery struggled to contribute and also ended up on the injured reserve. Now Agholor is a member of the Raiders, and both Jackson and Jeffery are on the wrong side of 30.
Carson Wentz is in desperate need of an outside receiving threat, and the Eagles could easily miss out on Jeudy, Lamb, or Ruggs if they wait until the 21st overall selection.
With few teams in the top 10 in need of a receiver, the Eagles may only need to move up eight or nine picks to grab one of the top-flight prospects. Even after sending away a third-round pick to get Darius Slay, the Eagles have eight draft picks, including six in the first four rounds.
4. New England Patriots
Pick: No. 23
It feels weird to put New England in this section because trading up feels so ... un-Patriotslike. Usually, it’s Bill Belichick swindling teams and stockpiling draft picks, not the other way around. This isn’t the typical New England offseason, however.
Stidham looked impressive in preseason last year, and there’s a chance a veteran like Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, or Jameis Winston could be added to the fold. But if the Patriots are really aiming to find a quarterback of the future, the first round is typically the place to do it.
At No. 23 overall, New England would have to settle for the fourth or fifth quarterback off the board. Utah State’s Jordan Love has been a popular choice for the team in mock drafts, but he’s raw. If Tagovailoa or Herbert slide at all, don’t be surprised if Belichick makes a move up to snag a top-three quarterback.
4 teams that could trade down
1. Detroit Lions
Pick: No. 3
Barring a gigantic curveball, it’ll be Burrow to Cincinnati and Chase Young to Washington at the top of the draft order. Then the quarterback sweepstakes could really start.
If either the Chargers or Dolphins decide to jump ahead of the other, Detroit could be the team that benefits.
The Lions have a lot of work to do after a 3-12-1 season in 2019. They sent away No. 1 cornerback Darius Slay and have plenty of needs along both the offensive and defensive lines. Moving down just two or three spots down the draft order would still net the team an elite prospect and could give them another valuable pick.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the Lions’ desire to trade away the third overall pick is “no secret” among NFL circles.
2. New York Giants
Pick: No. 4
If the Lions don’t make a deal, that opportunity will be gifted to New York.
The Giants also have a long list of needs after a 4-12 season. The team is building around Daniel Jones and the first step is providing him with more protection. Loading up on defensive talent is important too.
With so many areas to address, it’s no surprise that general manager Dave Gettleman is open about his interest in trading down.
Dave Gettleman: Giants are "open for business" at No. 4. pic.twitter.com/tX4BHJyFCv— Big Blue View (@bigblueview) February 26, 2020
Gettleman’s leverage to actually get a deal done largely rests in the hands of the Lions, though.
3. Carolina Panthers
Pick: No. 7
The Panthers are going to look much different in 2020. Ron Rivera was fired and replaced with former Baylor coach Matt Rhule. Carolina’s veteran stalwarts Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Greg Olsen are also gone.
While the Panthers signed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, that doesn’t mean they’re a player or two away from being an NFC South contender again. It could take some time, and beefing up both the offensive and defensive line is top priority.
Most mock drafts project Carolina will select a defensive cornerstone — predominantly Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons or Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown — with the seventh overall pick. But if a team comes calling with a huge offer, it’d be in the Panthers’ best interest to slide back.
Not only does Carolina need draft picks for its rebuild, but it could still end up with a defensive playmaker later in the first round.
4. Seattle Seahawks
Pick: No. 27
Why would Seattle trade back? Because it always does.
The Seahawks have made a trade involving their first-round pick in each of the last eight offseasons. Most recently, they traded back twice in 2019.
The philosophy is working out well for Seattle. The team is stocked with talent that was mostly acquired in the middle rounds of the draft. All three of the the Seahawks’ 2019 Pro Bowlers (Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, and Shaquill Griffin) were Day 2 draft picks. So were their leading receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
Seattle loves to have as many mid-round picks as possible. If a team comes calling for the 27th pick, expect the Seahawks to stick to their winning formula.