The first round of the NFL Draft kicks off in two weeks and the trade rumors are heating up.
Both the Saints and Dolphins lost their starting left tackles in free agency when Jermon Bushrod signed with the Bears and Jake Long signed with the Dolphins.
Since there was a thin free-agent market at left tackle (beyond Bushrod and Long), both teams will turn to the draft to find new blindside protectors for Drew Brees and Ryan Tannehill.
Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson are the highest-rated left tackles in this draft, and all three players are expected to be top-ten picks.
That presents a bit of a dilemma for the Dolphins (12th pick) and Saints (15th pick).
That’s why both teams will reportedly consider trading up into the top-ten for a shot at Johnson.
Alabama’s D.J. Fluker and Florida State’s Menelik Watson are probably the next best offensive tackles on the board after Johnson, but they are projected as right tackles in the NFL.
Given the investment that the Saints and Dolphins have put into their quarterbacks, I’m not surprised to hear that trying to land a starting left tackle at the top of the draft. If you recall, the 6’6″, 303 pound Johnson demonstrated his elite athleticism when he ran a 4.71 forty-yard dash at the NFL Draft Combine. I don’t think there’s much of a talent dip between Johnson and Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher, and Joeckel and Fisher are competing to be the first overall pick in the draft.
Cleveland (6th pick) and Arizona (7th pick) will likely be in the best position to pick up a couple of extra draft picks if either the Saints and Dolphins decide that Lane Johnson is their guy.