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2024 NFL draft Round 1 trades: Which teams should move up? – ESPN




2024 NFL draft Round 1 trades: Which teams should move up?

Coach Kevin O’Connell and the Vikings signed quarterback Sam Darnold this offseason after losing Kirk Cousins in free agency. With pick No. 11 in the 2024 draft, they could be primed to move up for a rookie passer. AP Photo/Abbie Parr
  • Bill Barnwell, ESPN Staff WriterApr 8, 2024, 06:20 AM ET


      Bill Barnwell is a senior NFL writer for He analyzes football on and off the field like no one else on the planet, writing about in-season X’s and O’s, offseason transactions and so much more.

      He is the host of the Bill Barnwell Show podcast, with episodes released once a week. Barnwell joined ESPN in 2011 as a staff writer at Grantland. Follow him on Twitter here: @billbarnwell.

Study after study has shown that NFL teams have little ability to draft the right players after accounting for where those picks take place. Even the best general managers have a rough time landing on the correct selections every year. Eagles GM Howie Roseman drafted Jalen Reagor just before Justin Jefferson in 2020. In the same draft, Chiefs GM Brett Veach picked Clyde Edwards-Helaire immediately before Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr. and D’Andre Swift came off the board. In 2017, 49ers GM John Lynch took Solomon Thomas (and otherwise was going to draft Reuben Foster) when Christian McCaffrey and Patrick Mahomes were still available in the top 10. You get the idea. It’s hard.

The one thing executives can control, though, is how they maneuver around the draft board. We know it’s generally optimal to trade down and amass extra picks, but the best GMs have a knack for timing a move up the board, too. Veach collected a haul when he traded Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins in 2022, and the Chiefs used one of those picks and moved back up in Round 1 of the draft to take cornerback Trent McDuffie, who has played a key role in winning back-to-back Super Bowls. Oh, and Veach’s predecessor, John Dorsey, moved up in the 2017 draft to jump ahead of the Saints for Mahomes. That move worked out pretty well.

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Let’s run through the 32 picks in the first round of the 2024 draft and identify what each team should do with its selection. Should it be more inclined to trade down? Move up? Or should it stand its ground and stay put? I’ll mention when a general manager has a history of making moves in one direction or another, but this isn’t about predicting what will happen later this month in Detroit. It’s my preference after looking at post-free agency rosters, who each is likely to pursue in the draft and what’s lurking around every team on the board.

We’ll start with the top of the board, where there likely won’t be any surprise or suspense in what the Bears should do:

Jump to an interesting pick:
NE at No. 3 | NYG at No. 6
CHI at No. 9 | MIN at No. 11
DEN at No. 12 | LAR at No. 19
MIN at No. 23 | BUF at No. 28

1. Chicago Bears (via CAR)

What they should do: Stay put.

Well, the Bears can’t trade up any further, so this is going to be a relatively short start to the column. There hasn’t been much chatter about them being open for business and willing to trade down.

While there has been plenty of speculation that Jayden Daniels (LSU) might jump ahead of Drake Maye (North Carolina) and be the quarterback who comes off the board at No. 2, Caleb Williams (USC) seems to have firmly ensconced himself atop the league’s consensus draft board. If the Bears were having serious thoughts about trading down, there would be a lot more smoke surrounding what they’re going to do by now.

2. Washington Commanders