INDIANAPOLIS -- The key players at the top of the 2018 NFL Draft are gearing up for a bidding war.
Cleveland is in position to address its glaring quarterback need with the No. 1 overall pick. The New York Giants, sitting at No. 2, acknowledge their obvious need for an heir to 37-year-old quarterback Eli Manning.
That puts Indianapolis at No. 3, Cleveland at No. 4 and Denver at No. 5 in get-rich-quick, trade-down positions.
Indianapolis General Manager Chris Ballard could not contain an ear-to-ear grin when asked if he could envision teams figuratively storming his doors for the third pick.
"Do we think we're in a pretty good spot? Yes," Ballard laughed.
At least four quarterbacks are considered upper-half of the first round prospects, and history shows teams race to the top to fill their QB need.
The Buffalo Bills are a prime candidate to join that race, given their QB need and the fact they have two first-round picks and five picks in the top 100.
Will the Bills want to sell the farm for a top-five pick? If Southern Cal's Sam Darnold and Wyoming's Josh Allen go 1-2, as some predict, would the Bills salivate for UCLA's Josh Rosen? If they do, they won't have trouble getting potential traders to answer the phone.
"My door is wide open if somebody wants to come up and talk to me about a trade, I'm willing to trade," said Browns General Manager John Dorsey.
"Any good GM wants to field phone calls from all his peers," Dorsey said. "Why wouldn't I? So that's why I say, you know guys, just give me a call and see what's up."
Cleveland already has seven picks in the top 100. Would adding more picks do the Browns any good?
"You can't have enough good football players on your team," Dorsey said. "We'll see how that unfolds."
Denver General Manager John Elway, speaking Wednesday, gave every indication he will solve his team's QB need through free agency. He said he would consider every veteran QB available, which includes Washington's Kirk Cousins.
“We’re open," Elway said of the trade-down option. "Everything is going to come in order, and obviously ... free agency is first. We’ll be open for business on the fifth pick depending on how things fall.”
Giants GM Dave Gettleman played it predictably coy on his plans at No. 2. He talked up Manning, who has not had a stellar season since 2011. He said he's willing to trade down. But he didn't deny the QB need exists.
"Nobody wants the No. 1 to go down and you’re pffft," Gettleman said, referring to the prospect of adding an heir to Manning. "At the end of the day you evaluate, you bring in the guys you believe in, you go through camp. When you start camp, the roster shuffling doesn’t stop."
Reading between the lines, Gettleman seemed to acknowledge the chance to draft a QB at No. 2 is hard to pass up.
"If someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse, would I move back?" he asked. "It depends upon who’s there, if there is a guy worthy of being the second pick of a draft. And what we’re basically saying if we answer that question in the affirmative is that you think you’re drafting a Hall-of-Fame player. So you can’t get too cute about the whole thing. Does that make sense?"
The Colts have a glaring need for a pass rusher that could be filled if they keep the No. 3 pick. But the Colts also have a lot of holes. A better view of the trade-up market will come after the free-agency QB signings are made.
"I think you've got to weigh it," Ballard said. "It's the players you might take vs. the picks you'll acquire and who's going to be there. So if you trade back and you say there's only 15 or 16 first-round players, is it worth trading back for these extra picks? And then the player you're going to take, is he a difference-maker to where this one guy is going to make that much of a difference for our football team vs. three guys? You've just got to weigh it. Are we always open? Absolutely."