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Mel Kiper Jr. projects multiple trades in first round of 2024 NFL Draft

profilephotocropby:Suzanne Halliburton04/12/24


J.J. McCarthy NFL Combine
(Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Mel Kiper, the noted ESPN analyst, thinks multiple trades could be a major theme in the first round of the NFL Draft. And while quarterbacks will inspire the swaps, so will other positions.

Now, we’ll add this caveat. Trades always can be a major part of the NFL Draft vibe. Remember last year? The Panthers traded with the Bears to land the No. 1 pick (and select Bryce Young). Then the Texans did an exchange of picks with the Cardinals in order to select second and third. Hello C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson. Those were some gasp-worthy moments as the draft unfolded in Kansas City.

Kiper, who spoke with NFL media this week about his draft thoughts, believes the trades will start early. However, the Chicago Bears will pick Caleb Williams at No. 1 and the Commanders seem to be locked into Jayden Daniels. The fun might not get started until the Patriots at No. 3 or maybe the Cardinals at No. 4. (You can check out the entire draft order here.)

“Now we know more (about the prospects), from the medical and character standpoint, the interviews. A lot of the works been done,” Kiper said. “So I think you’re gonna start early on with quarterback J.J McCarthy or Drake Maye. Somebody’s going to be aggressive there.”

Drake Maye could inspire a trade in the first round of the NFL Draft later this month. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

There are other trade scenarios inspired by certain players aren’t quarterbacks. The Chargers, at No. 5, may be willing to trade down so that new coach Jim Harbaugh can pile up picks. The Giants, at No. 6, could be willing to move up or down for the right player. And the Vikings, who are just outside the top 10, are obvious candidates to move for a QB.

“You could see some teams aggressively try to move up to get a corner like Quinyon Mitchell of Toledo or Terrion Arnold from Alabama. If Brock Bowers drops a little bit, maybe somebody moves up to get him.”

TE Brock Bowers
If Georgia’s Brock Bowers starts falling in the NFL Draft, Kiper said a team will trade up for the tight end. (Trevor Ruszkowski | USA TODAY Sports)

Then there are the other teams in need of specific positions.

“I’m gonna see if Buffalo moves up to get a receiver, which they could certainly,” Kiper said of the draft. “Dallas needing an offensive lineman as desperately as they do. Are they gonna sit and wait? Green Bay needs one as well. So I think there could be a lot of activity there.”

Of course, the Cowboys pick at No. 24, with the Packers selecting a notch later. The Bills own No. 28. Buffalo is in need of a receiver after trading Stefon Diggs to the Texans. They likely can use the 28th for a wideout. Or, they may trade up to get a better one.

QB Michael Penix Jr.
John David Mercer | USA TODAY Sports

Then after the upper layer of quarterbacks, teams may over value a couple of others. Kiper talks about them as well in his NFL Draft assessment.

“I think Michael Penix Jr., if you can reconcile the medical, he’s a first round caliber quarterback,” Kiper said. “It’s just the four injuries at Indiana, are they gonna prevent you from drafting him? Or if … you can reconcile it and you’re okay with the medical, he’s a first round-caliber player.”

Wait, there’s another quarterback.

“Or Bo Nix, f you can say okay, ‘Bo Nix doesn’t have the big arm, but I see some similarities to Drew Brees.’ I can reconcile taking him in the first round. So again, yeah.”

Kiper added: “I would say the Rams are a team (that could trade). I have them moving up to get Penix. I have the Giants moving up to get Nix. So we’ll see. But I think right now that you know those quarterbacks are in the mix. They’re a borderline first. (Both) or one of the two is going to become a first round pick more than likely one of those two will.”