NFL Draft: Active trade market forecast for draft night

10:23 AM, Apr 26, 2012   |    comments
The Indianapolis Colts have confirmed that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will be the Number 1 selection in the NFL draft.
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(USA TODAY) -- As tradition dictates, Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome will head into the NFL draft with a 10-10 plan for exploring the trade market.

It's an aggressive trade scenario devised by personnel director Eric DeCosta and Pat Moriarty, vice president-football administration, that forecasts the types of offers the team would make during the first round on Thursday night to the 10 teams slotted ahead of the Ravens pick and the 10 teams positioned behind them .

Baltimore is currently slated to pick 29th, but that can't be etched in stone.

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Newsome has swung a trade during each draft since 2001.

"It's already prepared for," Newsome says of trade prospects for this week. "We make calls to teams ahead of us and behind us to alert them that we have the potential to move."

Clearly, Newsome likes the action. But there's a reason he typically doesn't seek to move up more than 10 slots.

"If you go beyond that, you start to deal with a first-round pick the following year," he says. "Only once have we given that up. ... That's why there's a cutoff."

The phone lines could be busy on Thursday, as decision-makers across the league expect active trade talk. With the new collective bargaining agreement limiting rookie salaries - most notably the boom-or-bust top-10 picks who would have commanded significantly more millions under the old system - conditions are more favorable for teams seeking to move up in the draft.

There's still additional monetary risk attached to top-10 picks, who in the option year of their five-year contracts would be paid a transition-tag salary (the average of the top 10 players in the league at their position in the final year). But with lower numbers in the first four years, it's less risky than it used to be.

"I definitely think there'll be some different dynamics," said Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli. "The past couple of years, teams wanted to get out of those top picks. Teams wanted out and no one wanted in. With that stabilizing, I think there'll be more teams desiring to move. I mean, we've already had a trade."

The Washington Redskins gave up a bundle to the St. Louis Rams, including three first-round draft picks, to move up four slots in the first round to No. 2 overall, where they will select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.

While the price was astonishing enough, Pioli was struck by the timing - seven weeks before the draft.

Last year's big draft trade, when the Atlanta Falcons moved up 20 slots to sixth in order to take Alabama receiver Julio Jones, didn't occur until the night of Round 1 - after the Falcons contemplated their offer for weeks.

With the top quarterbacks - Andrew Luck and Griffin - accounted for in the 1-2 slots, NFL Network analyst and former GM Charley Casserly says he doesn't envision another blockbuster for this draft. But he senses buzz for Alabama safety Mark Barron.

"I think that's a guy who will generate action," Casserly says.

Barron, a well-rounded player who keyed college football's best defense, is the premier player at a thin position in the draft. According to draft analysts, his stock in recent months has risen from that of a late first-round pick to the first half of Round 1.

In several mock drafts, Barron would be the choice of the Dallas Cowboys in the 14th slot. Yet it's possible that a team targeting Barron would trade up to get him.

Others who might fuel conversation: Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon and Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill? Many have Tannehill pegged for the Miami Dolphins, holding the eighth pick. There's also speculation that the Chiefs will deal up from the 11th slot for a shot at Tannehill.

Says Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland: "Anything's possible. Trading back or trading up."

There are usual suspects to find as trade partners, including the Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots.

With two first-round picks (27th, 31st), the Patriots have ammunition to package a deal - and the track record.

"Right now is where we are, but the door is always open," said Patriots personnel director Nick Caserio. "Things kind of evolve as the draft sort of moves along."

The Eagles, meanwhile, could include cornerback Asante Samuel (who has a $10 million salary for 2012) as part of a deal.

"If I were still running a draft, I know there are some teams I'm going to call or expect a call from," says Casserly. "Baltimore and Philadelphia are usually aggressive. A lot of teams will call, but not everyone is as willing to make a deal like them."

The suspense mounts.

"Would we consider moving down?" asks Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix, with the 10th pick. "I always hear 'sources' quoted. I wish when they say we'd be better off moving down they'd tell me who we can trade with, because it takes two and it's normally not a lot of action with us for people wanting to move to 10. But we'd consider everything."

Now that's a plan.

Jon Saraceno, USA TODAY

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