NEW YORK — One thing about an NFL draft with this many trades: There were that many players that teams just simply had to have.
This year, more than ever, teams were willing to make aggressive moves to jump the line and snag the player they really wanted. A record 33 trades were made Saturday and Sunday as NFL teams tried to assemble winning rosters for the 2008 season and beyond.
"It's not something you go in saying 'We have to do something' for the sake of doing it," St. Louis player personnel director Billy Devaney said. "As the draft unfolds, that's going to dictate what your approach is going to be."
The first player to inspire a move up was defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, whom New Orleans moved up from No. 10 to take seventh overall. One day, almost 14 hours and 32 deals later, the Saints made the draft's last deal, too, moving up to take Michigan wide receiver Adrian Arrington with the 237th pick.
In between, Radio City Music Hall was a veritable bazaar, as draft picks from this year, next year and even a couple of players already on rosters were swapped for picks. Most notably, the Tennessee Titans sent troubled defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones to Dallas for a fourth-rounder they turned into Cal receiver Lavelle Hawkins, as well as a 2009 sixth-rounder.
"First of all, let me just say thanks to Pacman Jones because if it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be a Tennessee Titan so thank you, Pacman Jones," Hawkins said.
Baltimore traded picks for a defensive back, too, sending its fourth-round slot to Oakland for Fabian Washington.
In all, teams exchanged 15 percent of the picks they had to trade. If the 32 compensatory picks (a full round's worth) had been tradable, it's almost certain some of those would have changed hands, too.
Of course, things started out quietly and orderly. The six players invited to New York for the festivities were the first six off the board, starting with Michigan's Jake Long.
Picking the mammoth left tackle was a mere formality for the Miami Dolphins, who had already signed Long to a five-year contract worth $57.75 million, $30 million of it guaranteed. The Dolphins even made him feel right at home by taking Wolverines quarterback Chad Henne in the second round.
Chris Long to St. Louis, Matt Ryan to Atlanta, Darren McFadden to Oakland, Glenn Dorsey to Kansas City and Vernon Gholston to the New York Jets were the next five taken, sparing them — and TV viewers — the agony of a long lurk in the green room.
McFadden went fourth to Oakland, the favorite team of his stepmother, Ella McFadden. She, like most members of Raider Nation, is well aware that Oakland didn't exactly have a shortage of running backs.
But when there's talent out there, it's hard for teams to resist. Even if it means a little haggling.
There was so much wheeling and dealing going on, the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns wound up trading for their own picks, reacquiring their original positions after trading them away.
The Baltimore Ravens, meanwhile, traded down, then back up to select a quarterback to push Kyle Boller and Troy Smith in the wake of Steve McNair's retirement. Baltimore dropped out of its No. 8 spot, but then gave up the 26th pick they got from Jacksonville to Houston so they could take Joe Flacco 18th out of Delaware.
Flacco is the highest drafted quarterback in franchise history and the first Blue Hens player to go in the first round. Even with big-school prospects Henne and Brian Brohm on the board, the Ravens made the move they wanted.
"He's a perfect fit for what we want to do," first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "Here's a guy that has a gift to throw the football, a gift for throwing it quickly and accurately. This kid is going to develop and get better and better."
In all, eight first-round picks were taken after trades. The only round with more action was the fourth, when 11 deals were struck.