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2024 NFL Draft: Cowboys, Eagles, Dolphins among teams that could trade into or out of Round 1

Ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft, the lion’s share of the football world’s attention is focused on how things will play out in and around the top five. It seems all but assured that the Chicago Bears will take USC’s Caleb Williams at No. 1 overall, but beyond that, there are seemingly more questions than answers.

Are the Washington Commanders really as locked in on Jayden Daniels as it seems? Which quarterback do the New England Patriots like best? Are they willing to trade down to accumulate picks? Will the Cardinals move out of No. 4, and if they do, can they move back up to land a top wide receiver? Will the Giants or Vikings or Broncos or Raiders jump up to grab their quarterback of choice? What will it cost to do so? Which receiver will actually go off the board first? How do the Chargers want to build their team? 

And that’s just the top five. Of course, there is also likely to be plenty of intrigue in the back half of the first round. There’s always the possibility of a run on tackles or wide receivers, and if the top quarterbacks come off the board early, someone sitting at or near the top of the second could get itchy and try to move up for Michael Penix or Bo Nix. 

With that in mind, we decided to narrow down which teams in the back half of the first round and candidates to potentially move down and even out of Day 1, and which teams are candidates to try to move back up.  

Trade-down candidates

Everybody knows the Saints love nothing more than to trade up. So that’s certainly a possibility. But they also currently have zero picks between Nos. 45 and 150. Accumulating more assets so they can finally inject some youth into their roster and fill some of their needs is an idea that has a lot of merit.

The Dolphins are in a similar boat. They have picks No. 21 and 55, and then don’t pick again until No. 158. With half their offensive line leaving in free agency, along with Christian Wilkins, with their edge rushers coming back from major injuries and with Kendall Fuller having signed only a two-year deal, Miami has plenty of needs and a move down the board could help in the quest to fill them.

The Eagles are on both this list and the next one. Nobody ever knows what Howie Roseman will do. He might move up from 22 into the top 15 to grab a cornerback. He might move down. He might stick and pick yet another defensive lineman. Who knows. But you always have to keep in mind that the Eagles might move around the board.

The Cowboys have so many significant needs that they almost have to trade down. They need starters at left tackle, center, running back, defensive tackle, and possibly linebacker. They need another wide receiver and some depth at cornerback. But they don’t have a fourth-round pick thanks to the Trey Lance trade, and they are in a spot where moving down a few picks could net them another Day 2 and/or Day 3 selection to help fill their various needs.

Detroit also doesn’t have a fourth-round pick, and the later you get in the first round, the easier it is to justify a move back to the top of the second and grab some additional draft capital. With both Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown in line for big contract extensions, you can never have too many opportunities to add cost-controlled talent.

And then the Ravens just seemingly always trade down. Not necessarily in the first round, but they do it a lot. And with several offensive line needs and the ever-lasting desire to add more and more pass-rush bodies, they could easily justify a move back into the top of the second to grab more picks. 

Trade-up candidates

The Panthers may want to move up to ensure they get their wide receiver of choice for Bryce Young, assuming they don’t trade Nos. 33 or 39 for someone like Tee Higgins. So they’re an obvious candidate. 

The Cardinals already have two first-round picks thanks to last year’s trade that netted Will Anderson for the Texans, but with so much ammo to move up and down the board, you can’t rule out them pursuing even a third selection on Day 1. What if they can come out of Thursday night with a top wide receiver, a starting center, and a potential No. 1 cornerback or pass rusher? That would be hard to pass up.

And then it’s onto the “we missed out on our quarterback in the first round” candidates. If the Pats actually trade out of No. 3, they become an obvious candidate to move back up. If one or more of the Vikings, Broncos, or Raiders jumps the Giants and they get locked out of the top few quarterbacks, they might feel like they need to do the same. And whichever of Minnesota, Denver, and Las Vegas (or even a team like Seattle) doesn’t get into the top-four QB mix then becomes a team to watch for Penix or Nix. 

There has been some smoke around the Falcons potentially looking for a QB of the future even after signing Kirk Cousins to a monster contract this offseason. If they get their pass-rusher or cornerback at No. 8, maybe they decide to move up from No. 43 into the latter portion of the first to find him.

And as previously mentioned, you can never bet against the Eagles doing pretty much anything.

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