These 5 NFL Draft-Day Trades Were Huge

April 24, 2019 - 3:53 pm

Every NFL team has a wish list going into the draft, but there’s no guarantee the player they crave will fall to them. When a team really believes in a player, they will make a bold move to go get him.

Here are the five biggest draft-day trades in NFL history:

Ricky Williams, 1999

In what may be considered the wildest trade of all time, the New Orleans Saints sent eight draft picks to the Washington Redskins in order to select University of Texas running back Ricky Williams. The haul included six picks in the 1999 draft (first-, third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-rounders) and two more for the following year (first- and third-round picks). The trade was widely criticized and never really paid off for either team. Williams and the Saints went 3-13 his first year before coach Mike Ditka was fired. Williams was traded to Miami three years after the draft. The Redskins made the playoffs in 1999, but failed to return until 2005.

Michael Vick, 2001

The Atlanta Falcons traded the San Diego Chargers their first- and third-round picks as well as a second-round pick the following year to draft quarterback Michael Vick at No. 1 overall. Vick, coming out of Virginia Tech, revolutionized the QB position. He holds the record for career rushing yards by a quarterback at 6,109 and the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season with 1,039. But the Chargers may have gotten the better of the draft-day trade: They took Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson from TCU in the first round then quarterback Drew Brees out of Purdue in Round 2.

Eli Manning, 2004

Despite being drafted by the Chargers, Manning refused to sign with the team, forcing San Diego to trade the Ole Miss QB to the New York Giants for NC State quarterback Philip Rivers, a 2004 third-round pick and first- and fifth-round picks in 2005. Manning led the Giants to two Super Bowl titles, winning MVP honors in a pair of upsets over the New England Patriots. It’s safe to say the trade worked out for both teams: Rivers, like Manning with the Giants, became the Chargers' all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns.

Julio Jones, 2011

The Falcons traded five draft picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up to No. 6 and select wide receiver Julio Jones out of Alabama. The Browns received first-, second- and fourth-round picks in 2011 plus first- and fourth-round picks in 2012. Jones has proven to be worth it. He led the league in receiving yards in 2015 (1,871) and 2018 (1,677). In 104 games, Jones became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 career receiving yards.

Patrick Mahomes, 2017

The Kansas City Chiefs traded their first- and third-round picks plus another first in 2018 to the Buffalo Bills to move up from No. 27 to No. 10 to select quarterback Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech. In his second season, Mahomes became the second quarterback in NFL history to throw 50 touchdown passes and more than 5,000 yards. He led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship game, and was named the league’s MVP at just 23 years old. Buffalo selected quarterback Josh Allen out of Wyoming with its first-round pick in 2018. 

By Ryan Kroll