NFL Draft: Five clubs that could be poised to trade down in Round 1

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The beauty of the NFL draft is in its unpredictability, a fact which is only increasingly revealed as we spend months working our way through endless trade scenarios in order to correctly anticipate how events will unfold in the first round. It has already been a trade-heavy offseason, and we could see the trend continue into the draft given the interest in quarterbacks and the possibility of one or two sliding outside of the top five picks.

Here are five trade-down scenarios that could occur by the time the first round ends on April 26.

1. Cleveland Browns

If you want to know the fastest way to get trade scenarios brewing in the 2018 NFL draft, it starts with the Giants passing on a quarterback for Bradley Chubb at No. 2 and Denver being open to moving down at No. 5. Both of those are more distinct possibilities than they were weeks ago, as the Giants trading Jason Pierre-Paul opened a big hole at defensive end, and the Broncos signing Case Keenum quelled their immediate need at quarterback.

The Browns are sandwiched between both of those scenarios, as a team with two top-five picks that could potentially move out of No. 4 if the player they want isn’t there. I believe Chubb is that player, and if the Giants take him at No. 2, the desire for Cleveland to move back for an amazing offer could go up significantly.

Of the teams rumored to be interested in moving up, only Buffalo and New England might have the ammunition, and the 12th and 22nd picks from the Bills is a lot better than anything the Patriots can offer. The Browns could trade back to 12, grab the best left tackle in the draft in Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey and then still come back with one of the best corners or running backs in the draft at 22. If Chubb is off the board, it’s a legit scenario I could see unfolding.

2. Denver Broncos

I think the Broncos ultimately stay put and take a quarterback (if one falls) or Quenton Nelson to finish off their new and improved offensive line. But if the Bills feel the heat from New England and offer a king’s ransom, Denver would be foolish not to take pick Nos. 12 and 22 and a second-rounder from a desperate Buffalo team, provided the Broncos aren’t in love with a quarterback.

Denver doesn’t have a ton of needs, but at 12 it could still potentially land Roquan Smith, one of the top cornerbacks, or Isaiah Wynn, while coming back with one of those positions or a running back at no. 22. Would you rather have Nelson or Wynn, Derrius Guice and an extra second- rounder to grab a quality corner and pass rusher in Round Two before they are all gone? Seems like a no-brainer to me, as good as Nelson is. Unless the Broncos love a quarterback, of course, in which case there should be no hesitation to take one.

3. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are staying put at No. 6 unless only two quarterbacks go in the top five picks, and Nelson, Saquon Barkley and Chubb are all off the board. Still, Indianapolis might stay put for a linebacker like Smith or Tremaine Edmunds, or even a cornerback like Denzel Ward. But again, the Bills' potential offer could trump anything on the table if the Colts top three options are gone, especially given how badly Indianapolis is in need of extra picks while sporting the worst roster in the league.

4. Chicago Bears

If the scenario described above plays out, the Bears are flexible enough with their needs to move down a few spots and still be just fine in acquiring the type of player they want. Leighton Vander Esch, Harold Landry or Wynn could all be targets for the Bears if they get out of the top 10, and without a truly crying need to address at No. 8, they could be wise to take advantage of the opportunity to score extra picks.

5. San Francisco 49ers

Quietly, the 49ers roster is still quite an eyesore, and the team could easily look to add a pass rusher like Landry, linebacker like Smith or Edmunds, safety like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James or a cornerback like Denzel Ward at No. 9. But if they’re comfortable with all those options, getting extra picks to move down a couple spots could make a ton of sense for the Niners, given how depleted their roster is.

On top of all those defensive needs, the 49ers could use another guard like Wynn for Kyle Shanahan’s zone-heavy attack, and the wide receiver talent on the roster is scarce. I’ve heard (and previously reported) from sources that Derrius Guice is John Lynch’s top running back in the draft, and given what Shanahan prefers in his runners, it wouldn’t surprise me if he were the target in a trade-down scenario.

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