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Quiet Trade Market in First Round of NFL Draft

It took 14 picks and nearly two hours until the first trade occurred on Day 1 of the NFL Draft.

Shocked? So am I.

Throughout the day, rumors swirled about a number of teams looking to move up, specifically to take Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The obvious rumor involved Chip Kelly offering everything but the Liberty Bell to take his former college quarterback. At one point, there was discussion of a deal that would have involved multiple first-round picks, a few Day 2 picks, budding star Fletcher Cox as well as Mychal Kendricks and Vinnie Curry.

Later in the day, the Chicago Bears entered the Mariota Sweepstakes, but the Tennessee Titans had no interest in taking on Jay Cutler.

And of course, the king of draft rumors, the Cleveland Browns, were talked about as a team looking to trade up to take the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner.

Yet, nearly the entire first half of the NFL Draft came and went without a single trade.

Zero.

Zilch.

Nada.

Tampa Bay predictably took Jameis Winston No. 1 overall, and the Titans, despite all the rumors, smartly made Mariota their franchise quarterback (for now). From there, the Jaguars took local star Dante Fowler Jr. to be Gus Bradley’s newest toy.

January 12, 2015: Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (#8) during the Ohio State Buckeyes game versus the Oregon Ducks in the College Football Playoff National Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.  Ohio State won the game 42-20.

Marcus Mariota went No. 2, but Chip Kelly couldn’t move up to get him.

Oakland—faced with the option of taking one-time projected No. 1 pick Leonard Williams or top receiver Amari Cooper—opted to give Derek Carr a No. 1 receiver.

Once the Redskins took Brandon Scherff with the fifth pick, a trade seemed all but assured. I mean, why would the Jets take Williams with Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson entrenched at defensive end? New GM Mike Maccagnan surely would trade down, accumulate more picks and find an impact edge rusher, offensive lineman or even a receiver, right?

Wrong.

Maccagnan stuck with his board and took the best player available in Williams, who now gives the Jets arguably the biggest, baddest defensive line in football.

From there, the draft continued to mysteriously unfold without a single trade. Kevin White to Chicago. Vic Beasley to Atlanta. Ereck Flowers to the Giants.

The Rams made things interesting, but stayed at 10 and boldly took Todd Gurley. Despite not being fully recovered from his ACL injury, St. Louis apparently feels comfortable enough that Gurley can regain his pre-injury form that made him a Heisman candidate at Georgia.

Even with elite talents like Shane Ray, Randy Gregory and DeVante Parker sliding out of the top 10, not a single team maneuvered up. Instead, teams stayed put and took what fell to them.

Minnesota didn’t waste a second to turn in the card for the draft’s top cornerback Trae Waynes. Neither did the Browns, who added 339-pound nose tackle Danny Shelton to anchor their run defense. Even the Saints, armed with another pick later in the round, didn’t blink an eye and took Andrus Peat to beef up a bad offensive line.

That maneuver sent Dolphins fans rejoicing, as Miami took Parker with the 14th pick to join a young receiver corps that also features Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. Seriously, could this draft be any more boring?

Jan 01 2015:    Melvin Gordon (25) of Wisconsin runs the ball during the Outback Bowl between the Auburn Tigers and the Wisconsin Badgers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Melvin Gordon was the player that forced the first team to trade up.

Finally, someone was tired of watching every team make its pick. After watching Gurley go off the board, the Chargers simply couldn’t stand to lose out on the only other first-round worthy back. The first trade of the draft wasn’t particularly exciting, but San Diego broke the trade-less streak by sending their first-round pick (No. 17 overall), fourth-round pick (No. 117 overall) and a 2016 fifth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for the 15th pick in order to take Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon.

For all the talk about the devalued state of the running back position, watching two go in the top 15 surely opened some eyes. The fact that the first trade in the entire draft was to move up for a running back was even more surprising.

San Francisco didn’t lose out on much, as GM Trent Baalke still got his man in 6’7″, 292-pound defensive lineman Arik Armstead at 17 and picked up some valuable mid-round picks.

All the trade chatter turned out to be just that early in the first round—perhaps a reflection of the fact that there simply weren’t many blue-chip players in this draft. There’s been a ton of talk that the sweet spot in this draft is in the second- and third-rounds, so maybe the lack of trade activity signifies NFL teams feel that’s the case. It’ll be interesting to see if teams start getting active in the late 20’s, where guys like Bill Belichick are always willing to move back in order to get a future first-round pick.

Then again, it takes someone willing to move up to move down. Any takers?

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