In the offseason, mock drafts flood the internet. Before the Super Bowl even happens, analysts take their best guesses at how the NFL Draft will shake out in the spring.
But, when the lights go down and Roger Goodell takes the podium, all bets are off. All predictions fade from our memory as the uncertainties of reality set in. Anything can happen.
Remember the video of Laremy Tunsil, 2016’s top O-Line prospect, that leaked just before the start of the draft? Or when Geno Smith, the top rated quarterback in 2013, fell all the way to the seventh pick of the second round?
So, let’s have some fun by predicting five possible draft scenarios that would shake up the league.
1.) Rams Trade WR Robert Woods to Move Up
The LA Rams are on a mission this offseason. So far, they’ve acquired Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and Brandin Cooks. There are three factors that make this trade plausible.
First, the Cooks deal, along with the development of Cooper Kupp and Pharoh Cooper, makes a receiver expendable. Second, the Rams are brushing right up against the cap, with only $262,825 in space. Lastly, they don’t have a selection until the end of the third round.
Robert Woods carries a cap hit of about $9MM this season, so trading him would be an enormous salary relief. If they can pair up with a receiver-needy team, such as San Francisco, they can use Woods to possibly move up into the second round and acquire cheaper young talent.
2.) Raiders Trade Bruce Irvin to Reload Their Defense
Like the Rams, the Raiders are in a tough spot with cap space. With less than $3MM free, and a defense that needs an infusion of talent, Oakland could move Bruce Irvin and his $8.25MM cap hit to stockpile more draft choices.
This will be coach Jon Gruden’s first draft since 2008, when he selected CB Aqib Talib in the first round. Gruden is known for being set in his ways, and he will prioritize building an elite defense like he had in Tampa Bay in 2003 and 2004.
Bruce Irvin is 30-years-old. But he’s coming off an 8-sack season in a defense where he was often asked to drop into coverage. A team in need of an edge rusher, like the Titans or Giants, would be happy to trade a few mid-to-late round picks for Irvin’s services.
3.) Patriots Trade Into the Top-10 to Select a QB
Historically, the Patriots have selected quarterbacks as a luxury pick, later shipping them off to a team with high expectations for their Tom Brady understudy. Ryan Mallett, Jacoby Brissett, and Jimmy Garoppolo were all traded in recent years.
But Tom Brady will be 41 this season. The only other QB on the roster is 32-year-old Brian Hoyer. The Patriots are in a unique position, holding picks 23, 31, 43, and 63 in the first two rounds.
There’s a clear need for a young quarterback to groom for the future. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for New England to put together a package to move up and select one of the top-5 passers in the draft.
They have the ammunition, they just need to pull the trigger. The only thing stopping them is probably Tom Brady, who might
demand a trade to Miami feel threatened by the presence of his successor.
4.) Bills Lose Out on Top-5 QB
If a mystery team like New England trades into the top-10, the Bills may be out of luck. They previously traded up to #12, and many thought they’d use their two first rounders to move up even further. But they haven’t budged.
If this happens, they’ll be stuck with 16 games of A.J. McCarron or, even worse, Nathan “5 Picks” Peterman.
5.) Seahawks Trade Earl Thomas for Picks
This offseason, Seattle lost defensive stars Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and Sheldon Richardson. It’s unknown whether Kam Chancellor will play at all this season. The team needs a reset on defense.
In last year’s trades for Sheldon Richardson and Duane Brown, Seattle gave up their second and third round picks. They only have one selection in the top-100.
Although they were hoping to get a first rounder for Thomas, they could still get a nice package of a second or third paired with a Day 3 pick.
There are plenty of suitors. Dallas, Arizona, Buffalo, and Carolina all need a difference-maker at the safety position. The question is which team will provide Seattle with enough ammo to reconstruct their once topflight defense.
Reading on your iPhone? Download the Spotlight app to keep up with our latest columns!
Want More Underdog Stories?
Get a bite-sized rundown of the best underdog stories in sports – handpicked from across the web & delivered to your inbox every Tuesday.Join Us