Predicting five NFL draft night trades for the first round

Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Mandatory Credit: USA Today)
Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Mandatory Credit: USA Today) /

Trading picks on draft night — one of the best traditions in sports.

Whether a team is moving up to get their guy or moving down to acquire more selections, teams are always strategically moving around the board. It is nearly impossible to predict who moves — and where — but, here is my attempt in predicting five draft night trades in the first round of the NFL Draft.

The Atlanta Falcons leapfrog all the way up to the third pick in the draft

Seeing as how Bryce Young and CJ Stroud are almost a lock to go in the first two picks, the Atlanta Falcons may have slim pickings at their native eighth pick in terms of quarterbacks.

Sure, one of Levis or Richardson may slip to the eighth pick. Or the Falcons could take a high-risk reach on someone like Hendon Hooker. But the Falcons want to go get their guy and will trade away a lot to go get him.

The Cardinals acquire an additional future first round pick, two second-rounders, two fourths and a fifth — and only move back five spots. The Falcons leapfrog the Colts, Seahawks and Raiders to take their future franchise quarterback in Anthony Richardson from the University of Florida.

The Jets move up to gain some protection for Aaron Rodgers while Chicago moves back once again

The New York Jets, holding the 13th pick in the first round, continue on their YOLO offseason by offloading a few future second and third round picks as well as their native pick for the 9th overall pick and the Bears back off to acquire even more future draft capital.

The Jets feel obligated to protect their shiny new quarterback and get aggressive, moving up into the top ten for their tackle of the future. Paris Johnson Jr., the unmovable behemoth offensive tackle from Ohio State, joins the Jets as they set their ambitions high in what appears to be a win-now season for them.

It’s a high-risk move that is fairly expensive for the Jets, but Johnson Jr. seems like the most can’t-miss offensive tackle prospect in this year’s draft. And the Jets have to keep Rodgers up right if they want to win.

Green Bay trades up for a weapon for Jordan Love

The Packers currently hold the 15th pick in the first round after narrowly missing the playoffs last season — otherwise called purgatory.

As Green Bay lost Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets, the Jets also stole away Allen Lazard, one of the Packers’ most productive wide receivers over the past couple seasons.

One of the issues Aaron Rodgers had with Green Bay was their unwillingness to invest in his weapons. The Packers traded away Davonte Adams in 2021 and have not drafted a wide receiver in the first round in 21 years, since they drafted Javon Walker in 2002.

The regime goes against the grain this year amid a flurry of huge changes to the franchise and trades up five spots to the tenth pick to select the first receiver off the board this year in Jaxon Smith-Njigba from Ohio State.

The Eagles get the 15th pick, two third-rounders and a second-rounder.

Tampa Bay moves up for their quarterback of the future

The Packers are not the only team to lose their Hall of Fame quarterback this offseason.

With the news of Tom Brady’s retirement (for real, this time), the Buccaneers are left with a skeleton QB room consisting of Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. Mayfield is as transitional of a quarterback as a player gets and Trask is nothing more than a backup.

The Buccaneers have a decently constructed roster and could compete in the near future if they land a promising young quarterback, and that’s exactly what they aim to do.

As the Steelers are on the clock with the 17th pick, the Buccaneers pull the trigger to move up two spots and leapfrog Detroit for Hendon Hooker, the quarterback from Tennessee who has climbed up draft boards in the weeks leading up to the draft. In Hooker, the Buccaneers don’t necessarily need to throw him to the wolves as he can sit behind Mayfield for a year or so before he’s ready to take the reigns in Tampa.

The Steelers receive a two thirds and fifth round pick for the two-spot move back.

Seattle trades back and picks up another two second round picks from the Jets

After selecting Jalen Carter in the first round and watching edge rushers like Tyree Wilson, Nolan Smith and Myles Murphy all go before their twentieth selection, Seattle wants to bail out of the first round.

Enter the YOLO Jets, who hold back-to-back picks in the second round, 42 and 43, who pick up the phone and happily take the second of Seattle’s first round picks. At 20, the Jets add tight end Michael Mayer to Aaron Rodger’s arsenal. The Jets send over the two consecutive 2023 second round picks, as well as a fifth and sixth round pick to Seattle to continue shaking up the first round of the NFL Draft.

Seattle ends up with four second-rounders in this year’s draft even after using a top-five pick in the first round and the Jets continue to stack their roster for their hopeful season with Aaron Rodgers at the helm.