After weeks of poring over scouting reports, launching Zoom conference calls and reviewing medicals, teams have done the legwork for this week's NFL draft. Now comes the fun part: exchanging notes and potential trade ideas over the phone.
During the next few days, general managers will sit in their home offices and consult peers they trust, piecing together which teams are comfortable dealing and which players will spark a positional run. With 40 trades executed during last year's draft, moving up and down a draft board is as much a part of the event's fabric as ceilings and late risers. One spot to keep a close eye on is late in the first round, when players -- especially quarterbacks -- who have slipped a few spots can spur action. Because first-round rookie deals include a fifth-year option, that entices teams to package a deal and jump back into Day 1 proceedings.
This explains why Lamar Jackson is on the Ravens. Two years ago, Baltimore bundled two second-round picks and a fourth-rounder to move up 20 slots, selecting Jackson No. 32 overall. That worked out pretty well. Minnesota did something similar in 2014 with Teddy Bridgewater, moving up eight spots to select him 32nd.
This year, some teams have made it clear that they would prefer not to execute trades while on the clock because of the technological hurdles of working from home, according to multiple execs. And with less information on prospects due to the cancellation of pro days and player visits because of the coronavirus pandemic, one NFC exec suspects teams could play it "super safe" with their picks. But others aren't so nervous and expect business as usual. "Don't overcomplicate it -- make your pick, call it in," one general manager said.
In the final days before the picks fly, we asked people around the league how things might shake out late in Round 1 -- and which players and teams will test the bandwidth of this virtual draft.
The Eagles are always lurking, and wide receivers are plentiful
Howie Roseman is known as an aggressive general manager this time of year, even when he doesn't make a move. He always is making calls and willing to listen. Most expect Roseman's Philadelphia Eagles to strongly consider one of the wide receivers in the first round, either by trading up or with their No. 21 overall pick. None of their wide receivers reached even 500 yards in 2019, and current No. 1 Alshon Jeffery is 30 years old and often injured. If Alabama's Jerry Jeudy, Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb and Alabama's Henry Ruggs III are off the board early, the depth at wideout is so strong that Roseman might be able move back for more picks, allowing him to get a top-flight wide receiver and an impact defensive player. Both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay had 12 wideouts in their recent two-round mock drafts, a testament to the talent of the class.