NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Draft: Six first-round trades we want to see

Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) looks at the defense during the second half against the Eastern Washington Eagles at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Sunday, October 2, 2022. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun] Ncaa Football Florida Gators Vs Eastern Washington Eagles

• Titans make a big move up to No. 3 overall: Tennessee sends a big haul to the Cardinals to draft Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson.

• Seattle in a prime spot to move up or down from No. 20? A move up for a top cornerback could make sense, as could a trade-down to acquire 2024 draft capital.

• The Colts get their quarterback of the future: However, it comes at No. 30 overall…

Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins

While it’s a lot easier to just mock a draft pick for each team in the first round, the reality is we see around four or five first-round trades every year. It might be even harder to predict who will be making these trades than it is to predict the picks themselves, but we take a shot here with six hypothetical 2023 NFL Draft trades we’d love to see.

Tennessee Titans trade up to No. 3 with the Arizona Cardinals for QB Anthony Richardson

Trade terms: Nos. 11, 72, 2024 1st, 2025 1st for No. 3

I’ve referenced for weeks on the PFF Forecast the Tennessee Titans‘ desire to move up for a quarterback in this year’s draft, including making calls to the Chicago Bears at No. 1 overall before the Carolina Panthers eventually got the deal done. The buzz has gone national now, with multiple reports that Tennessee has turned its attention to the No. 3 overall pick as a potential target.

Arizona Cardinals new general manager Monti Ossenfort was the Titans' director of player personnel the past three seasons and has obvious ties to head coach Mike Vrabel and others in his former building. The Cardinals thus far have acted like a team that knows it needs to completely overhaul its roster, which will arguably be the worst in the NFL on paper once wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins inevitably finds a new home. What better way to do so than by adding a ton of draft capital with a major trade-down? The Cardinals currently rank dead last in the percentage of players on their roster who are homegrown talents, surely something Ossenfort and company are looking to change.

New Titans general manager Ran Carthon was a running back at Florida before playing in the NFL, so odds are he’s had Richardson on his radar as long as any talent evaluator in the league. The trade value here is also essentially a carbon copy of the move San Francisco made from No. 12 to No. 3 to select quarterback Trey Lance in 2021. 

New York Jets trade up to No. 9 with the Chicago Bears for DI Jalen Carter

Trade terms: Nos. 13, 43 for Nos. 9, 61

This might seem crazy with Quinnen Williams about to sign a massive extension, but that’s part of the idea here. The Jets were unable or unwilling to re-sign free-agent interior defenders Sheldon Rankins and Nathan Shepherd this offseason, and the depth chart at the position beyond Williams is very thin.

Head coach Robert Saleh’s old team in San Francisco just signed Javon Hargrave to a four-year, $84 million contract despite a loaded defensive line, continuing an approach predicated on rostering multiple top-end performers with quality depth for the unit. The team that just lost Hargrave to free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles, is sitting at No. 10 overall, one pick behind Chicago.

Philadelphia already brought Carter in for a pre-draft visit, and the team traded up in the first round last year to take his Georgia teammate in nose tackle Jordan Davis. Jets general manager Joe Douglas was the Eagles' vice president of player personnel from 2016-2019, so he knows as well as anyone how much Philadelphia values its defensive line.

When the Jets finally pull off their blockbuster acquisition of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, they have what appears to be, at best, a two-year window to contend. While this may not necessarily be the best long-term approach to roster construction, especially given Carter’s off-field issues, landing arguably the top talent in the entire class is how they can truly maximize the next two seasons. 

New England Patriots trade up to No. 10 with the Philadelphia Eagles for OT Broderick Jones

Trade terms: Nos. 14, 76 for No. 10

Our thinking here doesn’t align with the first two trades above, so view this move as a standalone idea — as if neither of those moves happens. With the Tennessee Titans sitting at No. 11 and the AFC East division rival New York Jets sitting at No. 13, New England is directly behind two teams that could very well draft a top tackle. If the Chicago Bears elect to draft a tackle at No. 9, this could also be the Patriots jumping up to ensure they get a top prospect before there’s a major run at the position. 

New England added veteran tackles Calvin Anderson and Riley Reiff in free agency to go along with Trent Brown and Conor McDermott, but none of them are under contract beyond 2024. Nevertheless, this could still be overkill at the position given all the investments. Cornerback and defensive line make a lot of sense for the Patriots in the first round, as well. 

Seattle Seahawks trade up to No. 15 with the Green Bay Packers for CB Deonte Banks

Trade terms: Nos. 20, 83, 154 for Nos. 15, 232

The thinking here is Green Bay does not need help at cornerback, but the Washington Commanders at No. 16, Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 17 and perhaps Detroit Lions at No. 18 certainly could target that position. If there’s a run on the premier cornerbacks at the top of the draft, the cornerback-needy teams in the late teens may need get aggressive. For our purposes, this trade is under the assumption the Seattle Seahawks take a top defensive lineman at No. 6 overall.

Seattle may have landed the steal of the 2022 draft when they selected UTSA cornerback Tariq Woolen No. 153 overall, and here they create a dynamic duo on the outside for years to come. While the Seahawks have 2022 outside starter Michael Jackson under contract as an exclusive rights free agent in 2023, Seattle ranked 19th in expected points allowed per dropback last season and could take a big leap with an upgrade on the outside. 

New Orleans Saints trade up to No. 20 with the Seattle Seahawks for EDGE Myles Murphy

Trade terms: Nos. 29, 71, 2024 5th for Nos. 20, 237

If there’s one thing we can expect the New Orleans Saints to do come draft time, it’s to trade up in the first round for their favorite prospect no matter the cost. The Saints acquired the No. 29 overall pick in their trade of former head coach Sean Payton to the Denver Broncos, and now it’s burning a hole in their pocket. Overall, the Saints enter the draft with eight total draft picks; they haven’t made eight selections in a class in any of the past seven years.

I had New Orleans trading up for the same player in my mock draft, but with a smaller jump to No. 25 overall with the New York Giants. Murphy has appeared to regain support as a clear top-20 draft pick in reputable mock drafts, and in retrospect it’s possible teams like the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 21, Baltimore Ravens at No. 22, Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 24 and New York Giants at No. 25 could be interested in adding more help at edge rusher.

Our assumption here is the Seattle Seahawks land a top edge rusher with the No. 5 overall pick and then look to trade down to accumulate more draft capital, as they love to do. Most importantly, considering Seattle has five picks in the top 85 selections, they could look to add 2024 draft capital if they want to have ammo to move up for a quarterback prospect next year. 

Indianapolis Colts trade up to No. 30 with the Philadelphia Eagles for QB Hendon Hooker

Trade terms: Nos. 35, 106 for No. 30, 219

The Colts currently hold the rights to the No. 35 overall pick in the second round, and here we’re operating under the assumption that Indianapolis doesn’t land its desired quarterback prospect at No. 4. The Las Vegas Raiders at No. 38 and Tennessee Titans at No. 41 could be in this market, as well, if they too fail to land their desired prospect with their early first-round picks.

The Philadelphia Eagles are no stranger to this type of move, trading down from No. 32 overall in 2018 with the Baltimore Ravens, who came up all the way from No. 52 to land their franchise quarterback — as of today — in Lamar Jackson.

Hooker is 25 years old and recovering from a torn ACL suffered in late November, but there’s too much buzz here to ignore that he may ultimately end up a first-round pick. The top half of the first round is probably a reach, but a team sitting in the early second round that wants to get the fifth-year option on their potential quarterback of the future would make a lot of sense. The Colts ranked dead last in expected points added per dropback in 2022, so they have to do something major at quarterback.

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