Top of this year’s NFL Draft a high-stakes game of chicken

There are a number of teams desperate to land a franchise passer heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, but none of them hold any of the top-three picks. This dynamic sets up what will be a high-stakes game of chicken atop the draft.

Holding the keys: The Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets hold the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 overall picks. To a lesser extent, the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also in prime spots to trade down.

  • All these teams have young quarterbacks. The top three have passers that they recently acquired and are in a position to trade down with teams that would be looking to move up and land their own franchise quarterback.
  • The 49ers have made it clear they’re open to trading down.
  • The Jets have gone even farther than that.
  • The Cardinals have made quite a different statement that is open to interpretation. Regardless, it’s almost inevitable that at least one team will trade up into one of the top-three spots, if not more.

The trade-up contenders: There is at least a handful of teams that could be desperate enough to land “their guy” that they give up the farm in a trade up.

  • New York Giants (No. 6 overall)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 7 overall)
  • Denver Broncos (No. 10 overall)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (No. 11 overall)
  • Miami Dolphins (No. 13 overall)
  • Washington Redskins (No. 15 overall)

The trade-up targets: There is no consensus No. 1 quarterback in this year’s draft class. In fact, there are four passers who could potentially go No. 1 overall, or be the top quarterback selected.

  • Kyler Murray out of Oklahoma
  • Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State
  • Daniel Jones out of Duke
  • Drew Lock out of Missouri

Cardinals are the wild card: Thanks to some cryptic comments by general manager Steve Keim, nobody has any idea if Arizona will draft Kyler Murray No. 1 overall.

  • The thing is, Keim could be doing a masterful job of trolling teams that need a quarterback to drive up the price of his No. 1 overall pick.

The cost is high: Looking at the recent trade-up scenarios atop the draft, it’s clear that teams have to be willing to sell out completely to land the top picks. The supply is far less than the demand, which drives up the price tag to move up even more than usual this year.

The rub: If the Cardinals really aren’t in the market for Murray, then that means all three top-three teams in the draft could take non-quarterbacks.

However, teams that are likely to take a quarterback atop the draft have to decide if they’re willing to let “their guy” fall to them or if they’re going to make a bold play to ensure another team does not claim him.

Essentially, general managers that need a quarterback are all staring one another in the eyes waiting for someone to blink.