With the conclusion of the 2011 season already here, with one game remaining, and the playoffs starting soon, the excitement and anticipation of watching which team will hoist the Lombardi Trophy is a little more than a month away. While the bloodline and infusion of talent for every organization is the NFL’s yearly draft, free agency comes first on the calendar and teams will work to fill hot spots during that period.

When preparing for the draft, all 32 clubs will spend hours upon hours setting their draft boards (front board and back board), as clubs move closer to draft day. They work tirelessly, burning the midnight oil, making the final touches, adjustments and aligning their draft boards, while discussing “what-if” scenarios. The teams have the option of trading away their picks, swapping picks with compensation in the form of multiple picks, within the same draft or picks into the future.

In the past, the inclusion of players was a very attractive way of consummating a trade. While player-for-player trades are rare during the rest of the year (especially in comparison to the other major-league sports), trades are far more common on draft day.

There are several reasons a team will look for a trading partner, and the 2012 draft will be no different:

Value: You must know the value that each player brings to the table, so when a trade partner calls, you truly understand the value and what you should accept or give up.

Heavy Position: Where a position is weighted heavily throughout the draft.

Team Needs: Teams study opponents’ rosters to develop an idea of a needs list, which helps on draft day when trying to gauge a proper trade partner.

Top prospects: These are players coveted and in high demand, where teams will consider giving up multiple picks in order to get in drafting position and select these players. Keep in mind there must be several elite college players to create trade partner scenarios.

The Rams currently have a two-win season, and that may change depending on the outcome of this weekend’s game against the divisional foe San Francisco 49ers. A two-win season has put them in position to earn picks 1-3 in the 2012 draft. The final games of the year are down to an embarrassing losing battle to receive the No. 1 overall pick.

The race for No. 1 is between the Indianapolis Colts and the Rams. The Minnesota Vikings could be as high as second, but they can’t pick first. For the Rams, regardless whether they select first, second or third, they must have a strategic plan in place. The Rams find themselves needing a lot in the way of playmakers and difference-makers. Despite having a solid core of players, injuries have set the Rams’ roster back and delayed the development and building of depth, including the back end of the roster and championship foundation.

Trade rumors will start once the underclassmen list has been announced (around Jan. 19) through the league office. This is when speculation starts to build with the possibilities of movement, and it only escalates higher as the draft approaches. It is not out of the norm that teams make selection trades a few days before the draft even starts, positioning themselves for success early. However, keep in mind, that sometimes no deal is the best deal.