Mock drafts leading up to the opening of round one are always interesting, but more often than not, they leave out the fact that teams are constantly shuffling picks. In doing so, those teams change the list of priorities teams at the top of the draft order are picking for, which naturally changes where and when players are taken off the board.
This year has more potential than most for shuffling at the top of the draft order. The top three teams in the draft, the Texans, Rams and Jaguars, are all interested in trading down to acquire more picks. Teams like the Browns, Bills and Lions are interested in leapfrogging the competition to get their guys. Because there’s so many teams wanting to move around early in the draft, we won’t see the type of blockbuster trades that landed Robert Griffin III with the Redskins, but a bidding war isn’t out of the question.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network has linked the Lions with wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a player many think could go to the Jaguars with the third overall pick. If the Lions want Watkins, they may have to throw a lot of ammunition at a trade to move up from the tenth overall pick to the second pick.
That price tag for moving up could be complicated by the Bills, who, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, are interested in jumping up into one of the top two draft positions to snag either Jadeveon Clowney or Greg Robinson.
The Cleveland Browns could come into play at the top of the draft order as well. Although it’s unlikely that they’ll trade up from the fourth overall pick at this point, there have been a number of rumors that the team wants to acquire a third first round draft pick. By moving down from the fourth pick, Cleveland would be able to gain ammunition they could later use to jump back into the back end of the first round to claim a quarterback before Houston is able to do just that at the top of the second round.
With so much potential movement early in the draft, the question becomes, why?
The answer is actually quite simple. This is a draft that is perceived to be as deep as any in recent memory, but this class also lacks an elite player that simply has to be taken first overall. True, Clowney will almost certainly be the first player to be taken, but he’s not the type of player that a team can’t move on without.
Those two simple points have pushed teams, for the first time in a long time, to seek more picks in favor of a select few players. Normally, that would drive prices to move up way down, but a few players (Clowney, Watkins and Robinson) have kept the prices from bottoming out. It appears that a couple teams drafting in the top three may be able to benefit from the current market. If nothing else, the situation will make for some tense moments early in the first round of the draft.