When the Giants traded for Eli Manning during a wild 2004 NFL Draft, general manager Ernie Accorsi did not hear from Chargers general manager A.J. Smith until there were seven minutes remaining for the Giants to make a pick. Seven minutes! Smith also wanted defensive end Osi Umenyiora as part of the deal, which was something the two had to work out with the time remaining on the clock.
The lesson here? For all the scenario preparation and board projecting that is done in the lead up to the NFL Draft, it really is insanity. Everything and nothing can happen, which is why several teams over the last few years have missed their picks entirely. It’s also why no general manager will truly close the door on trading anyone on his roster, because in the heated moments of the first round anything can happen. Perception of value can be dramatically skewed and the push to get younger and cheaper is infinitely more tempting.
That’s why we’re here, to look at which players might be dealt in an effort to acquire more picks during Thursday’s draft. While it’s anyone’s game, here are a few names you’re likely to hear come up.
Case Keenum, QB, Los Angeles Rams: The Rams placed a first-round restricted-free-agent tender on the quarterback for a reason. There are teams around the league that believe he is a more than capable starting quarterback in the NFL and, wouldn’t you know it, at least two teams need one for next year. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport has floated Keenum’s name in possible trades before, while 9News’ Mike Klis (Denver) reported the Broncos‘ interest in the 28-year-old Heisman finalist. With Los Angeles’ quarterback of the future expected to take over after Thursday’s No. 1 pick, Keenum gives the team a chance to get some of their picks back.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers: The dynamic quarterback is unhappy in San Francisco and the team’s efforts to trade him — or more accurately, to listen to calls regarding a trade — have been widely discussed and reported. What could push a team like the Broncos over the edge? Draft night. On Wednesday, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said that he hasn’t closed the door on trading Kaepernick though an ESPN report distanced San Francisco from picking a quarterback at No. 7. Perhaps the future of Kaepernick will be decided in the time it takes to make those six selections.
Joe Thomas, LT, Cleveland Browns: This feels more like an in-season panic maneuver — which the Browns might actually prefer, as it could net more value near the trade deadline — than it does a draft trade. Joe Thomas has been the only consistent part of the Browns‘ franchise over the last decade but it might be time for the nine-time Pro Bowler to spread his wings. Per Rapoport, Thomas asked the Browns to poke around at the deadline last year to see what was out there. While new head coach Hue Jackson said definitively that Thomas isn’t going anywhere, a healthy offer for a team looking at more draft picks would have to be considered.
Anthony Davis, OT, San Francisco 49ers: The team’s desire to move Anthony Davis and Antoine Bethea was noted in a blind item a few weeks back by the MMQB’s Peter King. Since then, Davis came out and said that Baalke told him the report — which wasn’t really a report, more of a collection of rumors — was false. The 49ers are still in a complicated situation with Davis, which could eventually lead to a trade. After a year off, plenty of questions remain and it is unclear how Davis will like playing for new head coach Chip Kelly. With solid offensive linemen at a premium, it might be a nice time to start building San Francisco’s team of the future.
Stephen Tulloch, LB, Detroit Lions: While 31-year-old inside linebackers rarely light the trade world on fire, Tulloch’s name has been mentioned several times in trade discussions. Most recently, the Detroit Free Press reported that the Lions would cut Tulloch if they could not move him, which may motivate some teams to simply wait it out. The former fourth-round pick has been solid throughout his career even if the Lions began to phase him out in 2015.
Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Bradford’s agent, Tom Condon, wasn’t mincing words while making the rounds last week. Bradford felt lied to by the Eagles‘ front office, especially after the group traded for the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft. Bradford wants to be an entrenched starter somewhere, far away from the endless jeers every time he makes a mistake. Operating with a talented rookie waiting on the bench is difficult, and few can blame Bradford for his decision. But will his salary be prohibitive? Will another team take this concession as a lack of competitive fire on Bradford’s part? Like we said, the draft makes people do crazy things.