It’s one of the most common NFL Draft practices. Teams lose out on the player they want, or a player falls that another team moves up for. Last year saw multiple teams trade down: the Denver Broncos from the 10th to the 20th overall pick, the Seattle Seahawks from 21st to 30th, which they then traded out of the first round, the Baltimore Ravens from 22nd to 25th overall, and the Los Angeles Rams trading out of the first round at 31st overall. This year, with numerous talented quarterbacks shuffling around the board, there should be a number of trades. Here are the five likeliest teams to trade down in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Washington Redskins – Second overall pick
Listen, Chase Young is an amazing talent. While “generational” gets thrown around a lot, Young is undoubtedly one of the most talented prospects I have scouted and deserves to be mentioned among the top pass rushers of recent years.
However, with quarterback talents like Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert available after Cincinnati selects Joe Burrow with the first pick, teams will want to move up to secure these potential franchise quarterbacks. For Washington, the Miami Dolphins look like the ideal trading partner.
If Miami offers Washington fifth overall, 18th overall, and/or 26th overall, with a second-round pick or future assets, I’d be surprised if Washington doesn’t at least listen to the offer. The potential decision for the Redskins would be Young at two, versus Jeffrey Okudah or Isaiah Simmons at five.
Plus, they would have at least another first-round pick and a top-50 pick. It’s a legitimate question and one that the Washington front office has to ask themselves and consider. There are more than a few Redskins fans I’ve talked to that want the team to trade down in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Historical precedence: The last time the Redskins traded down in the first round was in the 2016 NFL Draft when they swapped pick 21 to the Houston Texans for pick 22 and a 2017 sixth-round pick (WR Robert Davis). The Texans selected WR Will Fuller, and the Redskins selected WR Josh Doctson.
The previous trade down was in the 2011 NFL Draft. Washington traded pick 10 to Jacksonville for picks 16 and 49. Jacksonville drafted QB Blaine Gabbert, while Washington drafted EDGE Ryan Kerrigan.
Arizona Cardinals – Eighth overall pick
This isn’t being discussed often, but I believe it is a viable option. Arizona Cardinals GM Steve Keim said at the NFL Combine, “If there are opportunities to move back and acquire more picks, I think we’ll do it.” Those comments were made even before the Cardinals traded pick 40 for WR DeAndre Hopkins. The Cardinals have no second or fifth-round picks this year.
If one of these quarterbacks begins to slide (Jordan Love) or the Cardinals miss out on DT Javon Kinlaw or LB/S Isaiah Simmons, it would make sense for the team to consider trading back. Teams could also look to leapfrog the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets for one of the top offensive tackles in the class, offering even more potential suitors for the Cardinals.
Teams could also look to jump up for one of the talented receivers in this draft class. Several teams have traded up to take WRs before, so there is precedence, and in a class with such high-end talent, I expect it to happen again at least once.
Historical precedence: The last time Arizona traded down in the first round was the 2014 NFL Draft. Arizona traded pick 20 to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for picks 27 and 91. The Saints drafted WR Brandin Cooks, and the Cardinals drafted S Deone Bucannon and WR John Brown at 27 and 91, respectively.
The previous trade down for the Cardinals was in the 2003 NFL Draft. Arizona traded picks six, 37, and 102 to the Saints in exchange for picks 17, 18, and 54. New Orleans selected DT Johnathan Sullivan sixth overall, while Arizona selected WR Bryant Johnson and DE Calvin Pace at picks 17 and 18.
Seattle Seahawks – 27th overall pick
Admittedly, this is one established entirely off of precedence instead of a scenario occurring. Seattle has two second-round picks and a compensatory third-round selection, so they don’t lack in draft capital.
Why are they likely to trade down again this year? It’s a common theme throughout their draft history. Seattle, under John Schneider, has traded down in the first round in the 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 NFL Drafts.
They have traded out of the first-round twice under John Schneider – in 2013 when they traded pick 25 for Percy Harvin, and in 2015, when they traded pick 31 for Jimmy Graham.
There have only been two players Seattle has selected in the first round with their original draft picks OT Russell Okung in 2010 and G James Carpenter in 2011. That’s it. It is extremely likely that Seattle trades down again in 2020.
Tennessee Titans – 29th overall pick
The Tennessee Titans are in a unique spot at pick 29. They don’t have any overwhelming needs on their roster, putting them in “best player available” mode, and also making them a sensible trade-down candidate.
These late first-round picks often get traded and unless an incredible talent falls to them like Jeffrey Simmons did last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tennessee trades down in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Titans are missing a fourth and a sixth-round pick this year, courtesy of the Ryan Tannehill and Reggie Gilbert trades. In the 2017 NFL Draft, Green Bay traded pick 29 for a second and a fourth-round pick. In the 2016 NFL Draft, Kansas City traded pick 28 for a second, fourth, and sixth-round pick.
There is precedence to recoup lost assets and add a talented player a bit later. If Tennessee trades down, adds additional assets, and drafts a player like TCU OT Lucas Niang to replace Jack Conklin or a talented edge rusher opposite Harold Landry in Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara or Michigan’s Josh Uche, they’d be wise to do so.
Historical precedence: Tennessee was involved in one of the biggest trades in recent draft memory in the 2016 NFL Draft. Tennessee traded the first overall pick, their fourth-round pick, and their sixth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for picks 15, 43, 45, 76, and a first and third-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Rams selected QB Jared Goff, and the Titans used those assets to trade up to take OT Jack Conklin. The previous trade down for Tennessee was all the way back in 2004. Tennessee traded pick 27 to the Texans, who selected DE Jason Babin, while Tennessee traded out of the first round.
San Francisco 49ers – 31st overall pick
The San Francisco 49ers are in the same boat as the Rams from last year. They have the 31st overall pick in addition to the recently-acquired 13th overall pick from the DeForest Buckner trade, but San Fran is still missing picks in the second, third, and fourth rounds. They traded their second-rounder to Kansas City for EDGE Dee Ford, while their third and fourth-round picks went to Denver for WR Emmanuel Sanders.
The Rams traded pick 31 and a sixth-round pick last year to the Atlanta Falcons for Atlanta’s second and third-round picks. San Francisco can simply take the best player available at 13, maybe Kinlaw or one of the talented WRs, and use pick 31 to trade down in the draft to recoup some lost assets in later rounds to boost their depth.
Historical precedence: The last time San Francisco traded down was in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Niners traded the second overall pick to the Chicago Bears for picks three, 67, and 111, as well as a third-rounder in the 2018 NFL Draft. Chicago took QB Mitchell Trubisky, and San Francisco selected DE Solomon Thomas.
The last trade down before 2017 was in the 2015 NFL Draft when San Fran traded the 15th overall pick to the then-San Diego Chargers, who selected Melvin Gordon, while the Niners drafted DE Arik Armstead.
AJ Schulte is an NFL Draft Analyst for PFN. Follow him on Twitter @AJDraftScout and give him your feedback on his five teams likely to trade down in the 2020 NFL Draft.