In order to pull off trades in the NFL Draft, you’ve got to have draft capital that other teams covet — just using current players isn’t typically enough, or even preferred. Luckily for the Indianapolis Colts, this year they have picks located in sweet spots all over the draft board.
They already traded back with the New York Jets from the No. 3 overall pick down to No. 6. This draft has a handful of quarterbacks who teams covet, so with a pick so close to the top of the first round, it gave the Colts a big bargaining chip. The first isn’t the only round that the Colts could find themselves inside of a bidding war, though.
Many years, there are a couple of waves where top quarterbacks are taken early in the draft. Guys are often taken in the first dozen or so picks of the first round, then you’ve got the late first rounders (20/30’s) and early second-rounders.
In the last 10 drafts, there have been 19 quarterbacks selected within the first 12 picks, five taken in the 20’s/30’s in the first round, and four in the second round before the 40th overall pick.
This year, it looks like we’re going to have another pair of quarterback waves.
It certainly seems at this point that the first group is set, with Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen all probably going in the top 10. However, Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph are also going to receive first and early second-round consideration — Kyle Lauletta could even make a push for that group.
Assuming six or seven quarterbacks aren’t all taken in the first round, that’s going to put one-to-three quarterbacks in teams’ cross-heirs near the top of the second round. This is where the Colts come into play, as they hold the fourth and fifth picks in the second round (No. 36 and 37 overall). If it creeps closer to the Colts’ picks and other teams see their potential future franchise quarterback on the board, the Colts’ phones may start blowing up.
As we’ve already seen, Colts general manager Chris Ballard is always open to trading down as long as they are compensated fairly. Trading down in the second should also be a much more welcome scenario. Sliding down from No. 36 or 37 isn’t the same as trading back from No. 3 or 6. There are potentially elite-level guys you could miss out on by moving from 3 or 6, whereas the margin between grades on many of these players in the second round is going to be razor thin.
While the supply should be there, there also obviously has to be demand. We know about some teams who may try to move up into the top of the first round. However, not every team will be able to afford it or be able to pull it off. The Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals are teams to keep an eye on in the first couple rounds. I wouldn’t put it past the Washington Redskins either if they want to find their eventual Alex Smith replacement. The Jacksonville Jaguars are another candidate, as they already have a great, young roster, don’t have any huge needs, but do have a question mark at quarterback with Blake Bortles. Teams with quarterbacks near the end of the road like the Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers should also be on watch.
The New England Patriots have the ammo to move up, but they don’t count. They may package some of their early picks (five picks inside the first three rounds) to move up for Tom Brady’s replacement, but they will have to weigh Bill Belichick’s logical team-building skills against Brady and Robert Kraft’s feelings. If New England does pull off a trade to move up, it won’t be with Ballard; believe that.
If you’ve paid attention to what Ballard has said in the media over the last year, as well as the team’s careful approach to free agency, then you know they prefer to build through the draft. If you’re going to skip on high-caliber free agents then you’ll want to accrue as many draft picks as possible to fill the roster. The Colts currently have nine picks following the trade with the Jets, but they could wind up with at least a couple more by the end of the draft.
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