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First-Round Picks Could Be on the Trading Block on Day 1 of the NFL Draft
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By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
April 24, 2024

The NFL draft could see a flurry of first-round picks changing hands, with teams looking to secure franchise quarterbacks or specific players. (AP File)

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The No. 1 pick in the NFL draft already has traded hands, with Carolina sending it more than a year ago to Chicago in a trade to move up to take Bryce Young first overall in 2023.

Based on recent history, plenty more first-round picks should change hands on Thursday night with teams either looking to move up a spot or two for a specific player or to make a bigger investment with future picks to trade up for a franchise quarterback.

Over the past five drafts, there have been 28 trades during the first day of the draft that included first-round picks, with five of those deals involving picks in the top 10.

Recent Trading History

Three of those five draft-day trades involving top 10 picks came last season, with Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort making two of them. The Cardinals traded down from No. 3 to No. 12 to let Houston take eventual Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr.

Arizona then moved back up to No. 6 to take tackle Paris Johnson.

There were six trades during last year’s opening night of the draft involving first-round picks, with Jacksonville also making two. The Jaguars moved down from No. 24 to No. 27 in a pair of deals that netted them picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds.

The busiest draft day in terms of trades in recent memory came in 2022 when there were nine trades on opening night involving first-round picks.

Trading First-Round Picks

While trading first-round picks during the draft is common, giving up a first-round pick before the season that turned out to be the No. 1 overall pick is quite rare.

The last time it happened before Carolina’s trade with Chicago was in 1983 when Cincinnati dealt quarterback Jack Thompson to Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers went 2-14 in 1983 and had to send the top pick in the 1984 draft to Cincinnati. The Bengals then traded that pick to New England. The Patriots drafted Irving Fryar No. 1.

The same thing happened five years earlier when San Francisco traded the pick that turned out to be No. 1 overall to Buffalo for O.J. Simpson.

The Bills used the pick on Tom Cousineau, who went to Canada instead of signing with Buffalo and then later was traded to Cleveland when he came back to the NFL.

Running Back Wait

In a draft that is shaping up as a potential record breaker for offensive players in the first round, running backs might have a long wait to start going off the board.

No running backs are projected to go in the first round on Thursday night as teams are shying away from investing big resources in a position that has a short shelf life and often has many viable options later in the draft.

This could be the third time in the common draft era that started in 1967 that no running back is picked in the first round, with it also happening in 2022 and 2014. The high for running backs came in 1971 when eight of the 26 first-round picks were used for the position. There were five first-round backs taken in 2008, which is equal to the total from the previous four first rounds combined.

The latest for the first running back to be selected is No. 54 when Tennessee took Bishop Sankey in 2014. Bryce Hall went 36th to the New York Jets in 2022 in the only other draft without a first-round back.

Record Breaking Draft

This could be the fourth draft ever with quarterbacks going with the top three picks after it previously happened in 1971, 1999 and 2021 and possibly the first with four QBs going in the top nine picks. The 2018 draft had four quarterbacks taken in the top 10 in Baker Mayfield (first), Sam Darnold (third), Josh Allen (seventh) and Josh Rosen (10th).

The record of 19 offensive players taken in the first round could fall this year, with BetMGM Sportsbook projecting an over-under of 21 1/2 offensive players. There were 19 taken in 2009, 2004 and 1968.

The latest pick for the first defensive player in the common draft era came in 2021 when Carolina took cornerback Jaycee Horn eighth overall.

BetMGM also has set the over-under on first-round receivers at 6 1/2 with the record of seven happening in 2004. This could be the record fifth straight draft with at least four receivers going in the first round.

The most offensive linemen taken in the first round was 10 in 1968, with the over-under this year set at 9 1/2.

Hello Heisman

The last two Heisman Trophy winners should hear their names quickly on draft night, with 2022 winner Caleb Williams projected to go first to Chicago and last season’s winner, Jayden Daniels, likely to go in the top five.

This would be the eighth time in the common draft era that two Heisman Trophy winners were selected in the same draft, with it last happening in 2018 when 2017 winner Baker Mayfield went first to Cleveland and 2016 winner Lamar Jackson went 32nd to Baltimore.

There’s been only one year when two Heisman winners went in the top five of the same draft, with 2013 winner Jameis Winston and 2014 winner Marcus Mariota being taken with the top two picks in 2015.

Small School Gems

One byproduct of the transfer portal in college football is fewer players entering the draft from colleges outside of the Power Five conferences.

Last year’s draft was the first in the Power Five era when no players from schools outside the biggest conferences and Notre Dame were taken in the first round. North Dakota State offensive lineman Cody Mauch was the first player from outside the Power Five to be drafted when he went 48th to Tampa Bay.

There’s only one player this year from outside the Power Five ranked in the top 50 on the big board for Pro Football Focus, with Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell projected as a first-rounder.

In the 10 previous drafts, there were 34 smaller school players taken in the first round, with at least two going in every year outside of 2020.

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