Two big NFL trades may have given us our clearest look yet at how the top of the draft will play out

  • The New York Jets and New York Giants both made big trades that could affect how the top of the NFL draft plays out.
  • The Jets are thought to be targeting a quarterback at No. 3, while the Giants are a bit of an unknown, but could target defensive end Bradley Chubb with the second pick.
  • There are also rumors that the Giants could trade the second pick to a team looking to draft one of the top quarterbacks.
  • The moves may force the Cleveland Browns, who have the first and fourth picks, into taking a quarterback with the first pick.

The 2018 NFL Draft is still two months away, but two big moves are starting to give the top of the draft a bit more order.

Last week, the New York Jets traded a king’s ransom to the Indianapolis Colts to move up from the sixth to the third pick in the draft.

On Thursday, the New York Giants traded veteran defensive end Jason-Pierre Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a third-round pick and a swap of their fourth-round picks.

The top four picks in the draft now belong to (in order) the Cleveland Browns, Giants, Jets, and Browns again. The moves may reveal a clarity about how the top of the draft could play out.

Many in the NFL world believe Jets’ big move into the top three was to ensure they get one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. It’s unclear who, exactly, the Jets may target, but this year’s draft class is considered loaded, with prospects like Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Josh Rosen headlining the class. The Jets haven’t found a long-term answer at quarterback in years, and the short-term deals for veterans like Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater suggest the Jets will try to look for a QB at No. 3.

The Giants, meanwhile, have been something of a blank slate, with needs at several positions. Some have thought the Giants could look for a replacement for Eli Manning by taking a quarterback, or could take running back Saquon Barkley, who impressed at the combine.

But the Giants’ trade on Thursday suggests they may go after defensive end Bradley Chubb, considered one of the best and safest picks in this year’s draft. Trading Pierre-Paul opens up a spot on their defensive line.

These moves could shape how the Browns draft with the first and fourth picks. There was some debate about whether the Browns could take Barkley at No. 1 and then draft a quarterback at No. 4. But with the Jets breathing down their necks, and the general unknown of the Giants’ plans, the Browns may have to take a quarterback sooner rather than later.

That urgency may double if the Giants trade the second overall pick. There’s no indication that they will, but there have been murmurs that teams like the Buffalo Bills or Arizona Cardinals may trade up to try to get a quarterback. The Giants, with needs at several positions, could potentially acquire multiple picks to fill those holes. If a quarterback-needy team moves into the second spot, the Browns would have even less wiggle room when it comes to drafting a quarterback.

This year’s draft order seems hazier than normal, but already we’re seeing possible plans take shape. Quarterbacks tend to always go earlier than expected in the draft, and it may not be a surprise to see two or three get taken at the very top.