5 potential first-round trades in the 2016 NFL draft

Jaguars up to No. 3? Browns to No. 4? Jeff Dooley proposes a handful of first-round trades that would benefit both teams.

| 6 months ago
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

5 potential first-round trades in the 2016 NFL draft

We’ve already seen big trades to move up the draft board from the Rams and Eagles, respectively, to acquire the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the 2016 NFL draft.

What other draft trades would make sense for both sides involved? We came up with five deals that would benefit both teams, landing them ideal prospect fits who grade out well on our draft board.

Here are five first-round trades that would benefit both teams:

  • Jacksonville Jaguars trade up to No. 3 to draft Florida State CB Jalen Ramsey
    San Diego Chargers move back to No. 5 to draft Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil

Details: Jaguars give up their 2017 second-round pick

Jaguars: The idea for this one came from colleague Steve Palazzolo, who included it in his mock draft on Monday. The Jaguars would certainly be fine to stay put at No. 5 and let the best available defensive player drop to them – Ramsey, Ohio State DE Joey Bosa, Oregon DE DeForest Buckner or UCLA LB Myles Jack – but Ramsey fills by far the biggest need and is an ideal fit in head coach Gus Bradley’s scheme. The Jags had the third-worst overall coverage grade last season, and Ramsey has the versatility to play corner, safety or some kind of hybrid role – he’d likely slot in at safety early. It’s not that a guy like Bosa wouldn’t help, but between free-agent signing Malik Jackson, Jared Odrick and No. 3-overall pick Dante Fowler Jr., Jacksonville should be able to generate a productive pass rush next season. Landing a difference-maker in the secondary like Ramsey would make parting with next year’s second-round pick worth it.

Chargers: I like this trade even more for San Diego, because it adds a valuable asset in Jacksonville’s 2017 second-rounder while getting the player it could have taken at No. 3 in Tunsil. The Chargers ranked second-to-last in run-block grades and dead-last in pass-block grades last season, and Tunsil could slot in at either tackle spot right away while developing into a long-term answer on the left side. He was one of the top-graded run-blocking tackles in the nation on a per-snap basis last season, and only allowed five total QB pressures (and zero sacks) in pass protection.

  • Cleveland Browns trade up to No. 4 to draft Ohio State DE Joey Bosa
    Dallas Cowboys move back to No. 8 to draft Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott

Details: Browns give up one of their third-round picks, No. 65

Browns: Cleveland will be well-positioned to make a run at a QB prospect in next year’s draft, but it can also use the additional draft capital accumulated in its trade with Philadelphia to move back up and draft the No. 1 prospect on the PFF draft board in Bosa. He might not seem like the perfect fit in the Browns’ 3-4 base defense, as his ideal position is that of a 4-3 defensive end (he ranked No. 1 in edge defender grades last season). But in a league in which only five of the 32 teams threw less than 60 percent of the time in 2015, defenses are in nickel and dime looks as frequently as they are base packages – and in those schemes Bosa could slot in as either an edge rusher or interior rusher, providing an immediate upgrade at either spot.

Moreover, the Browns had the second-worst run-defense grade in the entire NFL last season, and Bosa projects as an excellent run defender who could set the edge on running plays in the Browns’ base defense. Having an elite defender in place will make life easier for whichever franchise QB they end up finding next year.

Cowboys: Bosa would also be an excellent fit for Dallas as a 4-3 DE with playmaking ability against the run and as a rusher, but no prospect in this entire draft might have the potential to make an instant impact like Elliott would for the Cowboys. He is a pro-ready back due to his abilities as a pass-catcher and pass-blocker (just one pressure allowed all of last season), and behind the NFL’s No. 1 run-blocking line (they rank No. 1 in pass-blocking, too) he could have a very productive rookie season – he ranked No. 1 in this class in yards after contact per attempt, so he can make the most out of the running lanes provided to him. A healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant teamed with the league’s top O-line and Elliott would make for one of the best offenses in football – and in this scenario they could add a third-round pick in doing so.

  • Chicago Bears trade up to No. 7 to draft Oregon DE DeForest Buckner
    San Francisco 49ers move back to No. 11 to draft Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley

Details: Bears give up their third-round pick, No. 72

Bears: Chicago could very easily stay put where it is and either draft the best available offensive tackle (either Stanley or Michigan State’s Jack Conklin) or best available defenders (perhaps Louisville DL Sheldon Rankins). But the Bears have a real need at 3-4 defensive end, and Buckner is the No. 2 overall player on our board after grading out as far and away the best interior defender in the nation last season. He was effective against the run and could use his combination of length and power to take on blockers and make plays in run defense, while acting as an interior pass-rushing force (his 67 total pressures last year were the most from an interior lineman) on obvious passing downs, teaming with edge rushers Pernell McPhee and Willie Young. The cost of giving up a third-rounder would be worth it if Buckner becomes one of the best players in this class.

49ers: Buckner is also a good fit for San Francisco, but the team just spent a first-rounder on a 3-4 DE from Oregon last year (Arik Armstead) and has needs all over the roster it needs to fill. One such need area is offensive tackle, and Stanley’s quickness and overall athleticism projects well in head coach Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme. He only allowed 14 total pressures last season for Notre Dame, including three sacks, and would help fix up a line that featured some disastrous performances a year ago.

  • Kansas City Chiefs trade up to No. 21 to draft Baylor WR Corey Coleman
    Washington Redskins move back to No. 28 to draft Alabama LB Reggie Ragland

Details: Chiefs give up their fourth-round pick, No. 126, plus a 2017 fourth-rounder

Chiefs: Jeremy Maclin had a solid first season in Kansas City, and Travis Kelce posted the 11th-best receiving grade among tight ends last season, but the team still needs to add more of a supporting cast around Alex Smith. His average depth of throw of 6.8 yards tied for the shortest in the league, so a receiver like Coleman who can use his speed and explosiveness to both separate quickly from coverage (he is excellent at shaking press-man) and turn underneath catches into big gains after the catch is an ideal fit. Screens, quick outs and slants made up 30 percent of Smith’s throws in 2015 (the NFL average is 20 percent), and he was incredibly efficient on all three patterns – the combination of Coleman, Maclin, Kelce and dynamic slot receiver DeAnthony Thomas would give the Chiefs a group of pass-catchers ideally matched for Smith’s skill set – hopefully closing the gap between the offense and the team’s defense, which ranked No. 6 in overall PFF grades last season.

Redskins: Washington had one of the most productive draft classes in 2015, and by moving back to acquire fourth-rounders in each of the next two drafts, it can continue to re-stock its roster after the trade up to No. 2 overall to land Robert Griffin III back in 2012. Moreover, the signing of Josh Norman minimizes the Redskins’ immediate need at corner, and by moving back to No. 28 overall they can either address their need at linebacker in Ragland – a player they could consider at No. 21 – or take the best player available.

  • Carolina Panthers trade up to No. 24 to draft Houston CB William Jackson III
    Cincinnati Bengals move back to No. 30 to draft Oklahoma WR Sterling Shepard

Details: Panthers give up their third-round pick, No. 93

Panthers: Our boss here at PFF, Cris Collinsworth, has an interesting theory regarding Carolina’s decision to rescind its franchise tag on Norman and allow the star corner to sign with Washington as an unrestricted free agent. The Panthers might have come to the conclusion that head coach Ron Rivera’s defensive system – which puts defensive backs in position to make big plays by encouraging them to jump routes and make plays on the ball — had played a major role in Norman’s success, and that rather than pay big money to a cornerback approaching 30 years old, they could create another star at corner within Rivera’s system at a much lower cost.

If that’s the case, Jackson would be an ideal replacement for Norman. Jackson impressed our analysts with his ability to make spectacular plays on the ball in 2015, earning PFF’s second-highest coverage grade in the class despite being targeted a ton. He could get beaten on some double moves early in his career, but in Rivera’s scheme he could produce a lot of big plays for the Carolina defense, as well.

Bengals: Not only would the Bengals pick up a third-round pick in this scenario, but they’d be getting the No. 3 wide receiver on the PFF draft board and top-graded receiver in all of college football last season. Shepard did most of his damage from the slot for the Sooners (his slot catch rate of 82 percent led the nation, and his 3.2 yards per route run from the position ranked second), so he’d provide an excellent complement to deep-threat A.J. Green and seam-stretching tight end Tyler Eifert for QB Andy Dalton, who doesn’t have the best arm strength in the league.

Despite doing most of his work underneath, Shepard was also a remarkably efficient deep threat in 2015, hauling in 65 percent of the throws traveling 20 or more yards in the air – the third-best rate in the class. There are more hyped receiver prospects in this class that Cincinnati could take at No. 24, but Shepard would be an excellent value at the end of the first round.

| Editor-in-Chief

Jeff is the Editor-in-Chief of PFF, and a regular contributor to The Washington Post's NFL coverage. He previously worked as the editor for ESPN Insider's NFL, Fantasy, and College Football coverage.

  • Mnstorm99

    Don’t be surprised if the Vikings trade back from #23 either. Spielman tends to be very good at trading draft picks, and the value vs. needs at #23 is underwhelming.

  • themacabre

    Dallas getting Elliott certainly brings up comparisons to the Dallas offense of the 90s when they won 3 superbowls – Aikman – QB, Smith – RB, Irvin – WR, and a great Offensive line…now Romo – QB, Elliott – RB, Bryant – WR, and probably the best offensive line in the NFL. The 90s defense was clearly better but they can still get defensive help after Elliott.

    • AJ

      Are you comparing Romo to Aikman? Romo yes good, has never been anywhere near as good as Aikman when it counts. Bryant and Irvin is probably a fair comparison now. But Elliot to Emmitt? A guy whose never stepped foot on the field with NFL players and tried his game, compared to arguably the most durable and one of the best backs of all time? Slow it down a little bit

      • Anthony

        Aikmen was a game manager. Worse than Alex Smith is today. You can attribute their success to their defense and their running game.

        • AJ

          In the regular season definitely. It’s why I added the caveat, when it counts and 100% on the run game and defense it’s why I said what I did about Elliot. As far as Aikmans playoff numbers especially the years they won the super bowl are very good.

          • Paulus Maximus

            Just curious, are you guys 100% on board with Romo, or have you been the last few years? He reminds me of a wounded “almost” guy and with all his heart doesn’t seem to quite get there. Thoughts? And granted, Aikman had Harper, Irvin and Emmit. Sheesh…

        • John

          HOF game manager? Lol. Ok.

          • Anthony

            161 TD’s 141 Ints 81.6 Passer Rating. Also i’m 46. I grew up watching him and i watch Alex Smith today. I think i’d fucking know. Probably 15 year old, smartass.

      • themacabre

        My comment is a comparison of what they are trying to build…who knows on the execution. As to Aikman vs Romo. Aikman life time rating is 80. Romo’s is 97. Yes Aikman has 3 Superbowls but that was more about Smith, Irvin, a great oline, an underrated defense and a great head coach.

    • Chris Toler

      They are not going elliot there going Ramsey.

  • pet wannabe

    the hypothetical bears trade to move up and pick buckner sounds great to me. they need more difference makes and he is one.

  • the_river

    No way do the Chiefs make that trade. They would then not have a pick in the 3rd and 4th rounds. If anything they’ll trade down to get that 3rd round pick back.

    • Kansas_city_chiefs_fan25

      I’m in total agreements on no on that specific trade. The only trade up I see that the chiefs might do is trade up to 24 to take a corner before Pittsburgh. Maybe if the last out of Alexander, Apple, and Jackson 3 are still there. PFF’s ranking are largely based on their information tho. There is no way the draft goes as they predict

    • Paulus Maximus

      Well, this trade makes sense in the fact that the Alex Smith has already peaked and the Chiefs might be smart to try to add a playmaker because their offense isn’t going to get better. The author is right (as are the stats) Smith plays short ball. If I disagree with him (and agree with you) they need some serious investment in young talent: Old front 7, decent O-line…

      • guest

        Why in the hell would they sacrifice that 4th round pick already down the 3rd round? Especially if it was a WR as there are several to choose from that will still be on the board. Corey Coleman is not worth losing another pick.

      • 816KillaCityRoyalChief816

        Only Tamba and DJ are over 30 in the front 7 sir. I agree with you on the fit, I just don’t see us having only two picks in this year’s draft 1st 4 round. Personally I’ll take a D-Lineman. Coleman is a beast so I wouldn’t be upset with or Karl Joseph. Most likely it’ll be a corner. Hope if we select a qb it’s Dak or Jones.

  • Assassin

    Cleveland Browns trade up to No. 4, Cowboys move back to No. 8. Browns give up one of their third-round picks, No. 65
    – Not even remotely close on the value chart. 4 is 1800, 8 is 1400, #65 is 265. You dont’ get less for trading back, you get more if anything. Who comes up with this stuff?

    • Leo

      You’re thinking about it wrong. Let’s say the Cowboys are in fact going to take Elliot at number four. If they are able to trade back four spots and still get their guy AND get a third round draft pick in the process, it’s basically a free third round pick.


    Washington would trade to the spot behind The Packers in order to draft Ragland?
    Emm… idk man, if Washington wants Ragland, just sit there and get him, don’t give the cheeseheads a chance at nabbing him.

    • Joe Doe

      As a Packers fan these were my exact thoughts when I saw this. We could use a DT but our need lies heavily at ILB. You can’t look at Ted Thompson’s last three drafts and tell me he picks the best player available and not based on need.

      • Joe Doe

        On second thought, they should make this trade if they are unsure about Ragland. If Ted doesn’t pick him they’ll know they should draft someone else and they gained a pick in the process. lol

        • Paulus Maximus

          Hehe, watch your boys trade back and still win another SB in the next five years. The Nation thanks you for McKenzie, he was trained by the best. I bow my head to the Packers nation (Until we meet again!)

    • Carl

      Ragland can’t cover, the packers need a 3 down backer. Better odds they move up for Lee than take Ragland at all; 90% they go DL

  • Sifter

    It would never happen now…but in my own fantasy world where i control each team I would trade Romo + #4 to the Rams for #1 and Foles. (Swapping Romo and Foles would then be worth pick #12 on the trade chart. Cowboys fans would say that’s low, but he’s an old, expensive QB).
    Reason? Cap room for one. 2017 looks tight money wise for the Cowboys, and Romo takes up a lot of the Cowboys cap. They could go younger and cheaper at QB by taking Wentz at #1. Yes Wentz. They seemed to like Wentz more than Goff, and it would screw over the Eagles who want Wentz. The counter argument is that with Romo the Cowboys have a championship window open. It’s a pretty optimistic window when you can go 4-12 in a weak division and think you have a window.
    The Rams are better positioned for a run. They have a much stronger D than Dallas, and a competent QB could vault them to the next level. I don’t think they should have traded all that way to #1 for Goff – he doesn’t seem an amazing prospect. If I’m Fisher I’d prefer to have Romo, and then pick your BPA at #4. Either Ramsey or Bosa will be there, letting you keep refreshing the strength of your team – the D.

    • Carl

      Why do you even entertain these idiotic ideas in your mind

      • Paulus Maximus

        Hehe! Fantasy football? I was just curious about what you guys thought of Romo. The boys seem stuck

      • Sifter

        Gotta fill in those hours before draft night somehow…

    • Paulus Maximus

      Hey ‘Boys fan. Are they going to address the QB situation soon? The writer was off in saying they have one of the best offensive combos in football because Romo is approaching 90. Get a QB in there who can play 16 and Dallas starts looking pretty good…

      • Sifter

        I’m not a boys fan – the opposite actually. But I laugh how every year the Cowboys are poised to make a run (my team the Eagles would be the other offseason darlings). I think the issue is Jerry Jones believes the Cowboys are close. That’s
        why Garrett has stayed on, that’s why the storyline is ‘if Romo plays
        16 games, the Cowboys win the division easily’.

        I would cut bait with Romo and build again. His health is not reliable and he’s 36. If you had Wentz behind that good young O-line, you can build again. When will they be picking this high again to get a top tier QB?
        It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys draft a QB at all tonight. Logic says it can’t hurt to be developing a guy. But they may stock up on weapons instead.

  • JayMan

    Chargers should just take Ramsey and trade him to the Jags if Tunsil is still available in return for another 2nd round pick

    • Paulus Maximus

      Agreed. Ramsey would help support the run (which Weddle did, making Te’o and that other ILB) look good, and he’d help an almost decent secondary. Problem is that it’s the Chargers and where ever the invest, Rivers is gone after this year or next and the team really has little to build on

  • Paulus Maximus

    Not a Chargers fan obviously but will any situation actually help them? That team is a complete mess. Rivers is almost done, there’s no O-line (but most of their money in it). They sh*t on Weddle and gave an over the hill CB one of the biggest contracts on the team. They’re kind of like the Browns… except they have a QB

    • boltingindiego

      Weddle looked marginal at best this year and couldn’t stay healthy. i think it’s good for both parties that they’ve moved on weddle fresh start as a raven and SD to hopefully get ramsey.

  • Chris Toler

    Cle will move up but it will be a trade with Carolina. Carolina will send number 30 pic for number 32 allowing cle to get qb ahead of Denver and it will only cost cle a 3rd or 4th rounder. Carolina will use that pick to move up in the top of the 3rd to take Alabama cb Cyrus Jones. He is a better scheme pick and has potential to be one of the best cbs in the draft. He also gives them an imediate nickel guy to plug in behind Bene and Boykin. Mayock has Jones as the best nickel cb in the draft with a chance to compete for top spot on most teams. Carolina will go either Dodd, Oghba or DT with the first pick and Henry at rb or fuller at wr I think are guys Carolina may look to trade up for in either the 2nd or third round. The Panthers Gm has already stated that he dosent need 7 picks because thier are not 7 holes on this team so he will move up but not in the 1st. He can move back in top of second and use the extra pic to move up in the 2nd or 3rd and will also move back up in to the 4th or 5th. Just my prediction. I also think the Jets pass on Lynch and Denver may trade up to get him.

  • David Kubik

    If Buckner is there at 7…. then the bears better do it. I think it would cost them on of their 6 rounders to though.