On Saturday morning, the New York Jets went all-in. On who? They can’t even know for sure.
The Jets traded three second-round picks to the Indianapolis Colts to move up from No. 6 to No. 3. You won’t find a trade chart in which the Jets won that deal. The Colts made out really, really well. The crazy part of the Jets-Colts trade is New York is practically settling for whichever of its top three quarterback prospects is left over.
With other similar recent draft trades, for Carson Wentz and Jared Goff for example, those teams practically knew which player they were getting. The Jets must really like at least three quarterbacks in the class and not see much separation between them.
We know the Jets are going quarterback at No. 3. But their trade also gives a good idea what will happen with the picks around them too, especially with four top quarterback prospects having separated themselves in this class …
The Cleveland Browns likely have to go quarterback No. 1
The Saquon Barkley at No. 1 talk was fun, but it seems unlikely. The Browns can’t mess around at quarterback. The New York Giants picking at No. 2 now seem likely to take a quarterback or trade with a team that will (more on that in a moment), and we know the Jets are going quarterback at No. 3. It wouldn’t even make sense for the Browns to go with Barkley or any non-quarterback first overall anymore because that top non-quarterback should be there at the fourth pick.
The Browns could trade (if the No. 3 pick and the uncertainty that comes with it was worth what the Jets gave up, what is the first pick worth?) or simply get crazy and make a surprise pick, but now it seems clear a quarterback should be the first pick. We just don’t know who it is yet.
The Giants would have traded if they weren’t taking a quarterback, or they are holding out for more
The Jets would rather be picking second than third. That’s obvious. Based on that, it would be weird if they didn’t call the Giants about the No. 2 pick. And the Giants, presumably, said no. Unless the Giants are absolutely convinced that Barkley is the next Jim Brown, that decision to keep the second pick tells us a lot about their plans.
The Giants wouldn’t trade the second pick if they want a quarterback. They need to replace Eli Manning soon and they don’t want to be drafting this high again. This is their chance. They also could be thinking the No. 2 pick will rise in value. Would the Bills, for example, give up more than the Jets just gave up for No. 3? It’s risky, but possible. The Bills have the No. 12 and 22 picks, and that’s a starting point. It’ll still take more to top what the Jets gave up for No. 3.
The Giants didn’t stay at No. 2 to sit tight and draft a non-quarterback. That would be crazy. It’s either a quarterback or a trade package bigger than what the Jets just gave up to get to No. 3. Stay tuned.
The Jets gave up a ton for the third quarterback off the board
Even if there’s a trade in the top two coming, it would be a major upset if we don’t have quarterbacks go 1, 2 and 3. If you go by the Chase Stuart draft value chart that is widely cited, the Jets got 2,200 points of value with the third pick and gave up a comparable 2,130 points with the No. 6 and No. 37 picks … and gave up two second-round picks on top of it. The Jets gave up 198 cents on the dollar, Stuart said. The old adage is true: If the Jets get a true franchise quarterback out of this deal, the cost is fine. But they’re banking there are at least three of them in this class. This better work out.
The Browns are sitting pretty at No. 4
Get ready for some fun when the Browns go on the clock at 4. If there’s a team desperate to trade up and take the final top-four quarterback (Bills? Arizona Cardinals?) then the Browns could cash in. What if they get both Bills first-round picks for No. 4? Or the Browns could sit tight and take the top non-quarterback to pair with whoever they draft at No. 1. It’s a great, favorable position to be in. Imagine a combination of Sam Darnold and Barkley? That’s interesting. And if the Browns decide to go with Barkley, pass rusher Bradley Chubb or whoever they have ranked as the top non-quarterback …
Could the Broncos make a big trade down, or maybe the Colts cash in yet again?
Let’s say quarterbacks go with the first three picks and a non-quarterback goes fourth. The Denver Broncos would have to talk trade with a team wanting to move up. Signing Case Keenum doesn’t mean they can’t draft a quarterback at No. 5, but it would be a bit of a surprise. And if Denver decides they can’t pass on the chance to take Barkley, Chubb, cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick or even guard Quenton Nelson, the Colts could then pull off another huge trade down when they’re on the clock with the sixth pick.
If the draft goes quarterback, quarterback, quarterback, Barkley and Chubb (a player the Colts should covet at No. 6), the Colts might listen to trade offers and the Bills might be willing to overpay to get the final top-four quarterback. What if Buffalo would send the No. 12 and 22 picks to the Colts for No. 6? That would mean the Colts turn the No. 3 pick into Nos. 12, 22, 37, 49 and a 2019 second-round pick. It’s just a hypothetical, but Colts GM Chris Ballard got woozy.
There will be more surprises at the top of the draft between now and late April. While it seems now it will shake out a certain way, that never happens. But the Jets-Colts trade seems to have kicked off what will be one of the more entertaining drafts in a while.
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