NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft: 5 first-round trades that just make sense

2W9A1D0 San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) runs against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

• Could 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk be on the move? The Pittsburgh Steelers have long been rumored as an interested party in Aiyuk, and trading the No. 20 pick for him would be good business.

• Don't count out the Falcons as a trade-back candidate: Atlanta is widely assumed to be selecting the first defender in the 2024 NFL Draft, but a quarterback-needy team or even the Saints might be looking to move up.

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Minnesota Vikings trade up to No. 3

  • MIN receives: No. 3
  • NE receives: Nos. 11, 23 and 108 and a 2025 third-round pick

The Minnesota Vikings have armed themselves with the ammunition to make a big jump in the draft, and they have a need at quarterback. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported, however, that the Texans were the instigator of the trade talks that brought them the second-round pick acquired from the Vikings — not the other way around. The Vikings are likely interested in a trade for the right quarterback but aren’t necessarily hell-bent on just drafting anybody they can get.

In this trade, it would cost both first-round selections and likely some later picks or pick-swaps to make it happen. The team is unlikely to want to give up next year’s first on top of that but could feel it worth it if their top target makes it past Washington at No. 2 overall (Drake Maye?)

The Patriots, meanwhile, have an opportunity to kick-start the rebuild with multiple impact players in year one and pass on the quarterback solution either until later in the draft or next year with a new regime in charge. Their interest in this deal also likely hinges on which quarterbacks make it past Washington, as the Patriots likely do not have them ranked in the same way as the consensus.

Click here to see Drake Maye's 2024 NFL Draft profile.

Pittsburgh Steelers trade No. 20 for Brandon Aiyuk

The Steelers traded away wide receiver Diontae Johnson, and that has reopened their interest in receivers. They are seen as a potential landing spot for LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. in the first round, but like a few years ago, there is no better use of a first-round draft pick this year than one to prise Brandon Aiyuk loose from the 49ers.

The San Francisco front office likely isn’t lying when saying it would like to keep Aiyuk, but it’s one thing to make that declaration in abstract terms and another entirely to actively turn down the 20th overall selection.

Pittsburgh could pair Aiyuk with George Pickens in a new-look offense, and they have the resources needed to sign Aiyuk to the contract he covets. If the Steelers are really in the market for a significant receiver investment, this is the best deal they could make.

Atlanta Falcons trade back from No. 8

  • ATL receives: No. 14 and a 2025 second-round pick
  • NO receives: No. 8

One of the default assumptions in this first round is that Atlanta sits at No. 8 and will take the first defender off the board. Even outside of defense, quarterbacks and receivers could make up six of the seven picks before the Falcons come on the clock, so any team interested in any other position could value their spot significantly.

Equally, it’s a potential destination to grab the fourth quarterback off the board for a team looking to leapfrog Minnesota or Denver.

Atlanta likely values the option to select the top defender in the draft, but they may be enticed to give it up for the right trade package.

The New Orleans Saints have a long history of trading up aggressively for the player they covet. Would they repeat that here to select the top one off the board at a given position? They could package No. 14 overall and next year’s second-round pick to make the jump and come out of this draft with the top edge rusher, interior lineman or cornerback. They could even have aspirations of acquiring a rare talent like Georgia tight end Brock Bowers.

Miami Dolphins trade back from No. 21

  • MIA receives: Nos. 39, 65 and 240
  • CAR receives: Nos. 21 and 158

Miami has just six selections in this draft, and only two of them come before the fifth round. The Dolphins can certainly find a player in the first round to start and make an impact from day one, but they would be better served to try to restock that draft capital and bank on the relative lack of difference between players selected from No. 21 to No. 35 in any given draft.

They are in a spot where certain players sliding in the first round will be attractive to teams, but not in a position where the depth completely dries up.

Perhaps a team like Carolina — with multiple picks early in the second round — wants to jump this far to select the fourth or fifth receiver off the board rather than wait until the second round when the options may be less to their liking.

New York Jets trade up to No. 4

  • NYJ receives: No. 4
  • ARI receives: Nos. 10 and 111 and a 2025 second-round pick

The Jets are all-in this season like no other team (except maybe in Dallas in the mind of Jerry Jones).

Year one of Aaron Rodgers ended after just four snaps, and this year is all they may get out of what was supposed to be a franchise-altering move.

They need immediate contributions, and that means the focus has been on whether they select a player like Brock Bowers or an offensive lineman to continue to overhaul a unit that struggled badly last season.

There is another option, however. What if the Jets really want to focus on this year and move aggressively for one of the top receivers in the draft, like Marvin Harrison Jr.?

With Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard and Mike Williams already on the roster, not to mention young players like Xavier Gipson and Jason Brownlee, receiver isn’t a desperate need like it was previously. On the other hand, Harrison is one of the best prospects to enter the league in recent memory and has a polish beyond his years, thanks to growing up with Hall-of-Famer Marvin Harrison Sr.

Lazard disappointed last season without Rodgers, and Williams carries significant injury risks. Harrison would change the dynamic of the Jets' offense and make an immediate impact for Rodgers.

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