JACKSONVILLE – If Bill Polian is correct, there will be first-round trades in the upcoming NFL Draft.
There may even be a lot of them.
But as for whether those trades will come early and often – and therefore, as for whether they will help the Jaguars – Polian said that's a different question.
Polian, a former longtime NFL general manager now an ESPN front office insider, on Tuesday said although there could be a slew of trades late in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, there is significant depth and evenness at many of the position groups.
That makes it what Polian calls a "strange draft."
It's also a draft that may not feature a lot of early first-round trading.
"You have a lot of players – even including the two quarterbacks at the top – in the first round who are kind of bunched together," Polian said on a Tuesday afternoon conference call. "There's not a lot of separation, at least in my mind, between these players. That would lead you to believe that absent the quarterback position there might not be a lot of movement."
One player Polian said could override that theory:
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who has been projected by draft analysts to be selected anywhere from No. 1 overall to Tampa Bay to the middle of the first round. Polian said he will be surprised if Mariota slides significantly and said he believes a team wanting to trade for Mariota likely will need to move to No. 2 or No. 3 to do so.
The Tennessee Titans hold the No. 2 selection with the Jaguars at No. 3.
"I think if you want to be sure to get him you have to go to two or three," Polian said of Mariota. "There is a lot of talk that people will try to go up and get him, so it would seem to be the likelihood of him being there (later) is not great."
Polian said while he expects the evenness within position groups such as wide receiver and defensive end could minimize early trading, the same is not true outside the Top 20.
"Once you get into the lower third of the round, because there are not 32 first-round players in any given draft – that's always a fact – you always see a lot of movement because people want to get out and pick up extra picks," he said. "They feel they're getting the same player at 41 that they would get at 26.
"That's normal. That's business as usual. But trading at 20 and above … I don't know … the players are just so closely bunched that I'd be inclined to sit where I was."
Also on Tuesday:
*Polian said he believes both Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston – the two top-rated quarterbacks in the draft – will be "projects that you're going to have to work with. That's the case with all rookie quarterbacks and I think that's the case here. They're going to make mistakes, the game is going to speed up … all of the things we hear every year." Polian said while Andrew Luck of Indianapolis and Robert Griffin III of Washington performed at a high level as rookies in 2012, they were "outliers" and that the struggles he expects from Mariota and Winston as rookies are more the norm. …
*Polian discussed Florida edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. and Southern California defensive end Leonard Williams, two of the players most often mentioned as possibilities for the Jaguars at No. 3 overall. "It's a question of where you feel the best fit is," Polian said. "Williams can play five-technique. He can go inside and rush in a three-technique in a nickel front. The Florida kid has really great explosion off the edge. He's a bigger version of a (Seattle Seahawks linebacker) Bruce Irvin-type of player. He can turn speed into power and he's an aggressive player and a pretty accomplished rusher. There's nothing with either one that to me looks like a red flag." …