Every team enters the draft willing to navigate as much as necessary to get the players it wants. But it has to have the ammunition for success. Time and again, teams put together a package of picks that enables them to move into the late first round to grab a prospect, and the prospect takes a fall. Other times, big-name players are traded as the draft unfolds. Here are a look at this year's draft story lines and some predictions.
Five teams in prime positions
Five teams that have the wherewithal to make big news:
No one is suggesting the 49ers are about to do anything over the top, but they have the potential. They possess the 13th and 17th picks, which opens up all kinds of possibilities. Who knows? Maybe they're closet Sam Bradford fans.
Since the Josh McDaniels regime has taken over, the Broncos have been wheeling and dealing with abandon. Their latest deal sent receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami for two second-round picks, one of them this year. Denver now has three of the first 45 picks.
They have 11 picks after stockpiling them for the past year. Their 35th overall pick — the first of two in the second round — is particularly interesting because it would be extremely valuable in any effort to move into the late first round.
Philadelphia has pulled off a few trades that have put it in position to load up. Most notably, the deal that sent quarterback Donovan McNabb to Washington netted the Eagles a second-round choice. And get this: They have seven picks among the top 121 in a deep, deep draft.
Few teams draft better than New England. And no team seems to make better use of its middle-round picks. This year the Patriots have three second-round choices. This is the team that made a draft-day deal to get receiver Randy Moss for a fourth-rounder in 2007.
Bears might need a jolt
Like all teams, Chicago will be looking to spice up its roster. But coach Lovie Smith, left, and general manager Jerry Angelo will be twiddling their thumbs with no picks in the first and second rounds. The Bears can attribute that to their decisions to acquire quarterback Jay Cutler from the Broncos and defensive end Gaines Adams from the Bucs.
So unless the Bears make a trade — and without high picks, that will be hard to do — it's possible they could be sitting on their hands for the first night and a half of the draft.
To compound their frustration, Cutler had his ups and downs last season. And unfortunately, Adams died in January because of an enlarged heart.
Haynesworth + no cap = trade?
At this time last year, after Albert Haynesworth signed the richest contract for a defensive player, it would have been ridiculous to suggest that in a year we could be discussing a possible trade of the Redskins tackle. But a trade is not out of the question now because the Redskins are moving to a 3-4 defense and Haynesworth is unhappy about it. He doesn't believe he'll be the same player in that scheme.
If a trade of a $100 million player is going to happen, this would be the year because the league is in a year without a salary cap. Washington paid Haynesworth a $21 million bonus April 1. Under salary cap rules, that sum plus the remaining bonuses on his contract would have been applied to the 2010 cap, and with a cap in place, that would probably have been a deal breaker.
But no cap means no problem. And a team that takes him would have to pay him about $16 million, a reasonable price in these times for the next three seasons. Any trade could hinge on Redskins coach Mike Shanahan deciding whether he wants to force change on Haynesworth and whether owner Daniel Snyder could stomach watching his $100 million investment walk out the door.
If a deal happens, it's likely to come this week.
Though it appears as if the Lions will take Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh at No. 2 overall, don't be surprised if they send tremors through the first round by grabbing Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung.
Okung is a potential franchise left tackle who would be invaluable to the Lions' greatest asset: quarterback Matt Stafford. Stafford — last year's top overall pick, in whom Detroit has invested $40 million in guaranteed money — took a beating in games last season. The Lions gave up 43 sacks, and Stafford suffered shoulder and knee injuries. He's not easily replaceable, nor are left tackles easy to find.
Just a little something to think about.
A little history lesson on the No. 3 pick
The Bucs are scheduled to pick No. 3 overall Thursday night. A look at what some past No. 3 picks have yielded.
1980: Offensive tackle Anthony Munoz, USC, Bengals — Munoz was one of the best offensive linemen ever.
1989: Running back Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, Lions — Running backs picked this high often don't pan out long term (see Ki-Jana Carter), but Sanders was all right, if you're into Hall of Famers.
1995: Quarterback Steve McNair, Alcorn State, Oilers/Titans — He came from a small school, but the late McNair did some very big things, keeping the franchise in the hunt year after year.
The not so good
1991: Cornerback Bruce Pickens, Nebraska, Falcons — Any cornerback who has two interceptions in four seasons needs a different line of work.
1998: Defensive end Andre Wadsworth, Florida State, Cardinals — Injuries spelled the end for this college standout, who played three seasons.
1999: Quarterback Akili Smith, Oregon, Bengals — After four years of subjecting fans to horrific offense, he finished with a 52.8 rating.