I posted my first 2022 NFL Mock Draft (with draft props!) and we had our first mock draft stream last week (watch below), but neither featured trades. This column looks at the biggest trade candidates as we inch closer to the 2022 NFL Draft.
This new regime had a goal of clearing a bunch of cap space this offseason, a clear sign that they (rightfully) view this roster as being in a full rebuild. If they can convince a QB-needy team that they need to get ahead of the Panthers (6th overall), they are likely willing to move down. In this weaker quarterback class, this could be easier said than done. But they will try.
If they don’t view Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis as top-10 overall players, then they should be looking to move down the board because Carolina’s next pick doesn’t come until 137th overall. They can trade down for OL depth, or can trade down to get draft capital that can turn into a Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield trade. The Panthers are currently the only team with enough cap space ($30M) to facilitate a trade for Jimmy G ($25M). Makes you think!
They already traded a 2022 1st-rounder for a 2023 1st-rounder plus, and I think they’d be willing to do something similar again to make sure they have enough draft capital next year to land their long-term franchise quarterback. Even if it’s not a trade for a future pick, this analytics-based front office understands the value of trading down in the draft.
New Orleans got fleeced in their trade up with the Eagles, but some view that trade as the first step in another move up the board. The Saints (more so than any other team in the NFL) are confident in their draft evaluations and they consistently trade up to get their guys. I’m less convinced it’s a quarterback that they are after – I think they think they have a win now roster after restructuring a bunch of older players this offseason – but it’s possible they slide into the top-10 for a quarterback.
Nothing too complicated here. The Chargers simply don’t have their 2nd-round pick this year, and this pick is right in front of the Saints and Steelers, both of whom are in the QB mix. There are often quality right tackles and field stretching Z receivers in the 20th to 75th overall range if the Chargers can find a trade partner.
Mitchell Trubisky is essentially on a 1-year, $5.25M contract with a team option to make it a 2-year, $14.2M deal. That is backup or bridge quarterback money. The Steelers’ long-time GM is retiring after this draft, and he could follow former Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome’s footsteps by mic-dropping a franchise quarterback (Lamar Jackson) in his final draft. Kenny Pickett is the local kid and would be a good scheme fit as a distributor with pass-catching options already in place.
Green Bay has the 22nd, 28th, 53rd, 59th, and 92nd overall picks, plus own six Day 3 selections. That’s a lot of draft capital to sit back and wait. If they have a high grade on a consensus top-five receiver, then the Packers can easily move up the board.
Like the Chargers, the Titans simply don’t have a 2nd-round pick this year. They are also in the “trade up for that 5th-year option” range.
Kansas City has the 29th, 30th, 50th, 62nd, 94th, and 103rd overall picks, plus own six Day 3 selections. They aren’t as desperate as the Packers at pass-catcher, but if the Chiefs have a high grade on a top-five receiver, then they are clear candidates to move up the board.
QB evaluations are all over the place, but I’ve yet to see a single analyst who views Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett as worthy of the 2nd overall pick. With EDGE being a big need, I lean Kayvon Thibodeaux or Travon Walker as being Detroit’s pick early on. But the Lions own the 32nd and 34th overall picks, too. Combining those selections roughly gets them to 13th overall if they have a mid Round 1 grade on either of the top signal callers. Because 1st-round picks have a 5th-year option, we sometimes see teams trade up into the back half of Round 1 to get their targets.
The Seahawks are currently paying the least amount of money ($1M) to their starting quarterback than any team in the league. Drew Lock was practically a throw in and shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than a quarterback ready for a training camp battle. The rookie that makes some sense in Round 2 (or perhaps very late in Round 1) is Matt Corral. Pete Carroll has known the Kiffin family for decade.