Draft classes like the 2014 group represent rare opportunities for NFL teams. While in most years the drop off in talent from pick 10 to pick 25 is considerable, players taken this year within that range and beyond are believed to possess similar talent and ability. For a team like the Packers who already prefer to trade down and maximize selections, that perception makes moving back and collecting picks a more difficult proposition.
However, even though there are more foreseeable scenarios where the Packers stay at their current draft spot, it's not impossible to contrive a situation where GM Ted Thompson finds himself with suitors for his first round pick. Such requires multiple events to occur, and even then there's no guarantee the Packers trade back. That said, here's how it can happen.
Event 1: The Browns pass on a quarterback at pick four
The Browns haven't hidden their intention to draft a quarterback, not that anyone needed their help figuring it out. After Brandon Weeden proved the latest quarterback misstep for a franchise that's experienced mostly futility at the position since rejoining the league in 1999, the Browns moved on from both their coaching staff and general manager. Now with Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine running the show, it only makes sense for Cleveland to acquire a new quarterback.
Where they choose one is the only question. The Browns could very well have their pick of any quarterback in the draft with the fourth pick. The Texans may or may not draft a quarterback with the top overall pick. It's also possible they trade out of the pick, most likely leading to Jadeveon Clowney going to their trade partner. The Rams sit at two, but they appear unlikely to select a quarterback. Jacksonville may choose one with the third pick, but that's hardly a safe bet.
While most news arising within the final few weeks before the draft should be approached with a heavy dose of skepticism, Pettine's proclamation that the team's "ideal situation" involves passing on a quarterback at pick four makes a lot of sense. The team could instead add one of the draft's top defenders, offensive linemen, or wide receivers and still grab a signal caller with their other first round selection (pick 26). Should they pass on a quarterback, other teams looking to acquire one late in the first round may need to jump ahead of the Browns to do so.
Event 2: The Cardinals also pass on a quarterback
Like the Browns, the Cardinals are expected to draft a quarterback somewhere in the early rounds. However, the Cardinals do have a capable, albeit aged, signal caller already on the roster with Carson Palmer. Because of this, Arizona may not be compelled to use their first round pick (20th overall) at the position.
A compounding factor is the Cardinals' proximity to a playoff berth. In 2013, Arizona finished 10-6, a record usually good enough for the postseason. However, the stacked NFC West pushed Arizona out of the division title race and the Saints edged them out for the final wildcard spot. With so little separating the Cardinals from the playoffs, adding a player in the first round to make an instant impact is a top priority. While a quarterback is needed for the future, Arizona may opt to select one later the draft.
If the Cardinals don't take a quarterback in the first round, players like Derek Carr and even perhaps a draft slider such as Teddy Bridgewater could be on the board at pick 21, the Packers' selection.
Event 3: Ted Thompson accepts a lower price for Green Bay's pick than the Eagles, Chiefs, Bengals, and Chargers
Every team picking from 21 to 25 has the necessary motive to trade out of their top draft selection. Each comes off a playoff appearance and would be better served adding picks in the heart of the draft (rounds 2-4) rather than staying in the early- to mid-twenty region.
For teams looking to trade ahead of the Browns for their franchise quarterback, moving into the 20s is a far more cost effective proposition than jumping into the teens. If Derek Carr and other first round rated quarterbacks remain available after Arizona's turn, Green Bay can expect to field calls for the 21st pick. However, so will the Eagles, Chiefs, Bengals, and Chargers. The team that trades back will be the one with the lowest asking price.
As with any draft, there are many unpredictable moving parts that can ruin a team's plans. Even if the planets align in such a way to create demand for the Packers' first pick, there will still be stiff competition for the chance to trade down. There's also the possibility that regardless of the demand, Ted Thompson simply chooses to hold onto the pick. In the past, Thompson turned down trade offers because he believed in top remaining player on his draft board. Sometimes that approach nets a player like Aaron Rodgers; in other cases it saddles a team with Justin Harrell. Regardless, everything related to the draft is merely hypothetical until May 8 finally rolls around.