There will be plenty of surprises during the first night of the 2018 NFL draft, but the Buffalo Bills trading up for a quarterback will not be among them.
Nobody in Texas' AT&T Stadium on April 26 will be shocked if the Bills move up into the top five picks and draft what will become the highest-selected quarterback in franchise history.
That endgame has become increasingly clear after Friday's trade of starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns, netting the No. 65 overall selection, and Monday's trade of left tackle Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals, moving Buffalo up from No. 21 to No. 12 in the order.
The only questions that remain: Who will the Bills trade with and which coveted quarterback will be available to select?
There can be value in teams' shrouding their draft plans until the last possible minute. That is not necessary in the Bills' case. They have enough draft capital to outbid any other quarterback-needy team trying to beat them to a potential franchise quarterback.
The Bills now own the 12th and 22nd selections in the first round, as well as two second-round picks (Nos. 53 and 56) and two third-round picks (Nos. 65 and 96).
Using a conventional draft trade value chart, the Bills could package the Bengals' first-round pick and the No. 22 selection (acquired last year from Kansas City) to move as high as No. 4. Adding one or more of their second- or third-round picks to the deal could push Buffalo higher in the order.
Previously, Buffalo's two first-round picks (Nos. 21 and 22) were worth only enough to move to No. 7 under a conventional draft trade value chart.
There is reason to believe Buffalo could find trading partners in the New York Giants (No. 2 selection) or Indianapolis Colts (No. 3), both of which do not have immediate needs at quarterback and could value a volume of high-round picks from Buffalo. If the Browns draft a quarterback at No. 1, they could have incentive to deal with the Bills at No. 4 should a quarterback the Bills covet remain available.
The trade scenarios begin to get murky with the Denver Broncos at No. 5 or the New York Jets at No. 6, depending on what happens in free agency at quarterback for both teams. Those slots might also be too low for the Bills to secure whichever quarterback they want most.
Unless the Bills can get as high as No. 1, however, there are no guarantees about which quarterbacks will be available even by trading up. Perhaps the Giants or Colts will reject the Bills' offer.
It remains possible that the Bills will be stuck at No. 12, which still might be high enough to snag one of the top four quarterbacks -- Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield -- who begins to slide. Maybe the Bills could use the No. 12 pick on a different position entirely and select a quarterback such as Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph at No. 22.
Even so, the odds continue to improve after Monday's transaction that the Bills will be trading up this April.
Financially, both recent trades also come with benefits for the Bills. They enter this week with $22.8 million in cap space, but they will have about $37 million after clearing $10.44 million from Taylor's contract this season and $4.85 million from Glenn's deal. Part of that cap space could go toward pursuing a midlevel veteran quarterback, as well as reinforcing some positions of need at wide receiver, defensive tackle and linebacker.
The savings are more significant in 2019. Trading Taylor and Glenn now means the Bills will clear the entirety of their deals next season off the books. Combined, that gives the Bills about $30 million extra in cap room and pushes the team's projected cap space next offseason into the neighborhood of $100 million.
Moving Glenn should also deal less of a blow to the current roster than the trade of Taylor or a midseason deal that sent Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville. Glenn missed 10 games last season because of foot and ankle injuries, and his replacement, 2017 second-round pick Dion Dawkins, performed well in his absence.