NFL Draft: These QB-needy teams are most likely to trade up, and here's what it would take

INDIANAPOLIS — Just like every year, quarterbacks are dominating the NFL Draft discussion to the point where it feels like they’re the only position on the field. Of course, that’s because they are the most important position on the field and getting that position right can define legacies — and keep coaches and front-office members employed.

Getting the quarterback position solidified is still priority No. 1 for every NFL team, to the point where teams are willing to mortgage their future to get their hands on a quarterback. That’s no different this year, when teams have already started discussing how feasible a trade-up is to the top of the draft to secure a franchise signal-caller. That might include any of the consensus top three prospects: USC's Caleb Williams, North Carolina's Drake Maye and LSU's Jayden Daniels.

What's different this year is the teams at the top of the draft might not be willing to part with those picks because they also need a quarterback. With the No. 1 pick, the Bears seem like a lock to draft a new QB once they figure out a plan for Justin Fields. The Commanders at No. 2 have a new ownership group that has no attachments to Sam Howell, and the Patriots at No. 3 don’t really have anything to write home about at that position after the Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe show last season. It seems unlikely that any of those teams would be willing to move off those picks due to their needs at quarterback, but it’s still worth exploring all options and seeing what it would take to make that happen.

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields hugs general manager Ryan Poles as they celebrate a win over the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 31, 2023, at Soldier Field in Chicago. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Based on recent history, a trade to get into the top three of the draft would be exorbitantly expensive. The 49ers traded three first-round picks to jump from the 12th pick to the third pick in 2021 and selected Trey Lance, who never really got his career in motion with San Francisco due to a broken leg and the emergence of Brock Purdy. Even though the 49ers have been able to stay at the top of the sport despite whiffing on that trade, that was undoubtedly a huge miss in terms of draft allocation. Most teams don’t have the infrastructure in place to survive throwing away three first-round picks, but it still would be a worthwhile investment if a team did in fact hit on the ensuing quarterback selection.

The 49ers were able to work out a trade with a team that didn’t need a quarterback. That’s where this year’s potential trade-up scenarios differ. It’ll be harder to pry that pick away from Chicago, Washington or New England without taking a cleaver to draft assets and potentially trading away a star player in the process (see: Panthers and DJ Moore last season). Still, it’s worth taking the time to note teams that still may want to trade up for a franchise signal-caller this year — despite the potentially crippling price to move up prior to the start of the draft.

Pick No. 6: New York Giants

The Giants have already said they feel comfortable with Daniel Jones as their starter for the 2024 season, and still owe him a pretty good chunk of change, so this is improbable. Still, Jones hasn’t played well enough for the Giants to completely eliminate the possibility of drafting a quarterback and the Giants wouldn’t have to move up too far to make that happen.

Pick No. 8: Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta’s brass has already spoken publicly about their desire to upgrade their quarterbacks room. They may be one of the few teams willing to pay the price to get to the top of the draft so they can start to maximize their young skill position trio of Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijan Robinson.

Pick No. 11: Minnesota Vikings

This is about the range where three or more first-round picks would be necessary to facilitate a trade. If the Vikings can’t figure out a deal with Kirk Cousins, they’ll have to explore trading up in the draft.

Pick No. 12: Denver Broncos

The Broncos would have one hell of an offseason if they eat all of the dead money on Russell Wilson’s contract and then traded the ammunition needed to get to the top of the draft. They wouldn’t have many assets to work with for the new quarterback, but at least they would have one that head coach Sean Payton theoretically likes.

Pick No. 13: Las Vegas Raiders

Las Vegas needs a quarterback desperately if it's going to have a prayer of competing with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the AFC West, but the Raiders' draft position is near the untradeable pick range.

Pick No. 20: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are only here because they need a boost in QB play, but making a trade from the 20th pick is tough. It would probably cost them ownership stakes in the team to get to the top of the draft.