One of the most fascinating aspects of any NFL draft is a team trading multiple picks to move up the board or trade a top pick in exchange for a big haul of draft capital.
There was arguably no moment more thrilling in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft than when the Chicago Bears traded up to the 11th overall pick to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Trading picks during the draft is common practice, but why do teams do it?
Why do teams trade picks during the NFL draft?
NFL franchises trade draft picks for multiple reasons. There are some teams, like the San Francisco 49ers and the Bears this year, who desperately wanted to be in a position to acquire a player that they feel would help get them back into contention.
The 49ers traded a haul of picks to the Miami Dolphins to acquire the third overall pick in the draft to select quarterback Trey Lance. San Francisco sacrificed multiple picks in this year’s and next year’s draft to ensure that they could draft a player they believe will be the team's franchise quarterback.
In other scenarios, teams want to acquire as many picks as they possibly can so they can build their roster.
Ahead of the 2019 season, the Dolphins knew they would not be able to contend for the playoffs. So, they traded veterans like Kenny Stills and Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans in exchange for future draft picks. Miami has been able to replenish its roster by trading two stars who weren't going to have an impact on the franchise's immediate future.
Sometimes, there are players that a team wants but does not want to part ways with multiple picks to move up the board and pick them and rather hopes they fall to them at their designated spot in the draft.
The New York Giants were reportedly hoping that Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith would still be available when they were on the clock to select a player with the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. But as it turned out, the Philadelphia Eagles wanted Smith more than the Giants did.
The Eagles traded up and acquired the 10th overall pick to draft Smith. With their primary target off the board, the Giants decided to trade the 11th overall pick to the Chicago Bears in exchange for four picks, including the 20th overall pick, which they used to draft wide receiver Kadarius Toney.