There is a perfect storm brewing over the next 16 days that is building to April 26th, and it could result in a whirlwind like we've never seen.
This draft has a recipe building that consists of a relatively flat level of talent throughout the first few rounds, new found flexibility at the top of the round because of the CBA, and teams with similar needs that are drafting close together, that we could see an outlandish number of draft day trades.
My hypothesis is that the Cleveland Browns hold the keys to this entire draft. What they plan to do, and what the teams drafting shortly after them believe that they plan to do will have a huge impact on how the top 10 shakes out and in turn how the rest of the first round falls.
The Browns are believed to be interested in one of 3 or 4 players, for this example, we'll use Tannehill, Richardson, and Blackmon as the players who hold the most interest to them. If the Tampa Bay Bucs, who pick at #5, believe that the Browns will pick Richardson at #4, it is very likely that they trade up from 5 to 3 to beat Cleveland to the Richardson pick. If the Dolphins believe the Browns want Tannehill, they would likely trade up to 3 to get the QB before Cleveland has a crack at him. If this happens and the Dolphins trade up to 3, Minnesota now moves back to 8, So Tannehill goes 3rd, and then likely Richardson goes 4th. That leaves Matt Kalil, one of the top 2 or 3 players in the draft as well as Claiborne, and Blackmon available for the Bucs. I'll assume they take Claiborne, Now Kalil, long thought of as the lock to be the number 3 pick, is still available when the Rams pick at 6.
Do they draft another tackle at the top of the draft or do they go after the potential big play reciever to pair with Bradford? Let's say they go with the "you win in the trenches" mentality and opt to protect Bradford with Kalil.
Jacksonville now has the option of providing Chad Henne/Blaine Gabbert with a shiney new weapon to go with MJD hopefully bring their Offense up to speed with their quality defense. They go with Blackmon...
Now Minnesota, who traded out of the #3 spot to get extra picks, is left with no Kalil and no Blackmon available, and inorder to fill either of their most pressing needs, they have to take the next best tackle or WR available to them. Probably Riley Reiff or Michael Floyd at 8. We'll say they go OT because of the depth of this WR class, and the extra picks they got from Miami for their #3 slot.
Now we are at the number 9 slot where Carolina likely looks to their local college product and best DE available at takes Quinton Coples hoping he can be Julius Peppers 2.0.
Now at 10 Buffalo is left a little stripped. Reiff was a possibility for them at 10 but when he went #7 to Minn. So they go WR, and take Michael Floyd which when Combined with Stevie Johnson gives their offense a dimension outside the #s they didn't have last year.
So here we are finished with the top 10: and only 2 defenders are off the board. This is good news for the Cowboys, because that leaves almost everyone on their radar (Poe, Upshaw, Ingram, Gilmore, Barron, DeCastro, etc) untouched in the top 10, and allows them to take the one they like the most, or field phone calls with offers if a team really wants a specific player.
This type of scenario, one team jumping ahead of another for a specific player, could happen at any one of several spots throughout the draft, especially the first round. I'll use the Cowboys pick and Luke Kuechly for example. If Kuechly falls to 14, and someone believes the Eagles will pick him at #15 they may pick up the phone and call the Cowboys and make an offer for the pick.
But the number of teams and players who could be affected by the Browns perceived interest in a particular player as well as their possession of the #22 pick in the first gives them the keys to how the top 10, and in turn the first round as a whole will go.