The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft will be held on Thursday, April 27. With only a week to go, mock drafts are being published like crazy, with analysts trying their best to accurately predict what will happen. Some of the excitement of the event, though, is the unpredictability of it all, including trades coming out of nowhere.
Fully leaning into the chaos of trades, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has entered the chat. He gives us an oops, all trades-esque mock draft where he suggests a trade for every single first round pick. Barnwell provides his stipulations and creates his own rules. A trade for each would be absolutely insane, but there are some in here that have some real traction and could give us a glimpse of what is to come. Let’s look at what happened last year for a refresher and then look at Barnwell’s mock to determine which trades could realistically happen.
2022 First Round Trades
The 2022 NFL Draft didn’t disappoint. There were plenty of trades prior to the actual event, but the trades that happened during the first round were unexpected and were game-changers. It started with Washington swamping first rounders (and more) with the New Orleans Saints, who then drafted Chris Olave at No. 11. Washington followed that up by selecting Jahan Dotson at No. 16.
The Detroit Lions completed a divisional trade with the Minnesota Vikings and selected Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams at No. 12. Houston swapped firsts with Philadelphia, which saw the Eagles selecting Jordan Davis at No. 13. Then the blockbusters started. Philly wasn’t done, as they traded No. 18 and No. 101 to the Tennessee Titans for WR A.J. Brown. The Baltimore Ravens surprisingly moved WR Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 23 pick. There were four more trades completed in the round just for less high-profile players.
Carolina Panthers trade 1.01 to Houston Texans
The Panthers made a huge trade to move up to 1.01, so it may seem shocking that they make a move back. Here’s the thing, Carolina wanted to be able to control what happens at the top of the draft. They have their pick of the entire draft class and are basically in charge of how this thing gets underway. The Houston Texans are notably in on Bryce Young, and the Panthers have done a good job alluding to the fact they are in on Young. If they really have CJ Stroud ranked higher, they could get some draft capital back from the trade with the Chicago Bears to move back and still get their quarterback of the future.
Tennessee Titans move up to 1.03 for two picks in 2023, one in 2024 and one in 2025
I love this move for the Titans and think Barnwell is on to something. The Titans are in the final year of the Ryan Tannehill experience, and from what we have seen of Malik Willis, his fall from grace in last year’s draft was warranted. This move allows the Titans to go after whoever is left after the Panthers and Texans pick some combination of Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson. In this deal, the Arizona Cardinals would move down to No. 11, pick up an extra third this year, a first next year and a second in 2025.
New York Jets acquire Aaron Rodgers
Barnwell used a trade calculator and various charts, and historical analysis to come up with his trade terms. He orchestrated a three-team trade between the Jets, the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. With no movement on the Rodgers’ front since he publicly said that he wants to play for the Jets, it just seems like we are destined for a mid-draft trade. If the Packers soften on the draft pick compensation, Barnwell had another trade where New York moves No. 13 and some picks to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8 to select a top offensive tackle and then uses their second round pick for Rodgers. If that happens, you may have to rule the Jets as the winners of the draft. I love the idea of both of these happening, but I will be honest in saying I don’t know how the math checks out with draft pick compensation.
Baltimore Ravens dip from the first round, Las Vegas Raiders move back in
The Ravens trade No. 22 this year and a fifth next year to Vegas for No. 38 and a second next year. Let’s say that the Raiders address a team need earlier in the round by selecting a top defender or offensive lineman. Baltimore’s biggest need entering this draft class was wide receiver which they have already partially addressed with Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr. They can trade back, allowing the Raiders to move up and select quarterback Hendon Hooker (at least in Barnwell’s example). Baltimore gets an extra second round pick which they can use on a wide receiver or an above-average cornerback.
New York Giants bring in DeAndre Hopkins
Regardless of what Arizona does with the No. 3 pick, they will still be rebuilding after it with a plethora of team needs. This move allows the Cardinals to re-enter the first round and add a fourth round pick at the price of DeAndre Hopkins and a second rounder. Arizona could even use this pick to select Hopkins’ replacement bringing in a rookie wideout on a cheaper deal. If Hopkins is healthy, this move could be enough to swing the pendulum the Giants’ way for the NFC East.