Free Agency Frenzy: The Impact on Draft Strategy & Outlook

Free Agency is heating up, but how will it effect the top 10 picks in the NFL Draft? As the dominos begin to fall, we logically piece together how these moves may impact the early first round.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick I had: Evan Neal | Alabama, OT

Right off the bat there have been major moves that will impact the Jags strategy and outlook. Entering the week, Evan Neal was the consensus 1st overall pick, but the Jags made several moves on their OL and now will likely go in a different direction. The Jaguars have made their motives very clear, which is to finish with a much better record than their back-to-back last place finishes.

Positions of Need: OT, EDGE, IOL, DL, WR, TE, S, LB, CB (bold indicates signings)

Key Signings: WR Christian Kirk, IOL Brandon Scherff, TE Evan Engram, WR Zay Jones, LB Foye Olukon, OT Cam Robinson (TAG)

Key Losses: WR D.J. Chark, LB Myles Jack

New Pick: Aidan Hutchinson | Michigan, Edge

2. Detroit Lions

Pick I had: Aidan Hutchinson | Michigan, Edge

Positions of Need: EDGE, WR, QB, DL, S, CB

Key Signings: WR D.J. Chark, EDGE Charles Harris (re-sign)

Although the Lions would love to land Aidan Hutchinson here, it is seeming like the Jags are more than likely leaning that direction. The Lions are in a great situation to trade back to one of the teams who lost the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, or indeed could make a surprising pick and land their top QB here. However, they instead set their focus on one of the most talented Safeties that we have seen in a while.

New Pick: Kyle Hamilton | Notre Dame, S

3. Houston Texans

Pick I had: Ikem Ekwonu | NC State, OT

Positions of Need: EDGE, WR, S, CB, DL, IOL, OT, RB, QB, LB, TE

Key Signings: IOL A.J. Cann

Key Losses: S Justin Reid

The Texans have been most focused on moving Deshaun Watson, so a boatload of potential picks could significantly modify their draft strategy. The Texans have made a minor attempt bringing in Free Agents so far, but it is clear that they are working on a full blown overhaul of the organization. I think the Texans go best available here, which will likely be one of the two tackles. I like Ekwonu here still due to his mauler mentality in the run game, another position I think they will shape up through the draft.

New Pick: Ikem Ekwonu | NC State, OT

4. New York Jets

Pick I had: Kyle Hamilton | Notre Dame, S

Positions of Need: EDGE, DL, IOL, CB, LB, S, WR, RB, TE

Key Signings: WR Braxton Berrios, TE C.J. Uzomah, IOL Laken Tomlinson

Key Losses:

The Jets have had a hot start to free agency and secured several positions of need. Laken Tomlinson secures that young OL and will give the team confidence in passing up an offensive lineman with their first pick. The Jets seriously still have a major hole at edge and take Thibodeaux here.

New Pick: Kayvon Thibodeaux | Oregon, Edge

5. New York Giants

Pick I had: Kayvon Thibodeaux | Oregon, Edge

Positions of Need: OT, IOL, Edge, CB, TE, WR

Key Signings: IOL Mark Glowinski, IOL Jon Feliciano

Key Losses: TE Evan Engram

The Giants have made it very clear what their top objective is in free agency. Despite making zero moves with draft picks and free agents to address their OL in 2021, they have already brought in a pair of starters for the interior. Rumors are still floating around that they are looking to trade James Bradberry and Saquon Barkley, which could leave them leaning towards those positions in the early rounds. Although they have secured the IOL a bit more, the higher price OT spot opposite of Andrew Thomas is wide open and could be a desperate need on draft day.

New Pick: Evan Neal | Alabama, OT

6. Carolina Panthers

Pick I had: Devin Lloyd | Utah, LB

Positions of Need: OT, IOL, QB, CB, TE, Edge, S

Key Signings: IOL Austin Corbett, S Xavier Woods

Key Losses: Edge Haason Reddick, CB Stephon Gilmore (potentially), CB Donte Jackson (potentially)

Carolina already lost Haason Reddick to the Eagles, and that will sting even more if they lose a pair of starter-calibre CBs. Jaycee Horn should have no trouble stepping in, but the though of wasting a day 2 pick on Gilmore for a half season rental is brutal for the new regime in Carolina. All attention has been drawn on Deshaun Watson, but there is a significant chance that the Panthers desperate approach falls short. I predict that it does, which will lead to Matt Rhule campaigning to get his QB, Kenny Pickett. The Panthers over-draft on QB here, which will either make or break Rhule’s NFL Career.

New Pick: Kenny Pickett | Pittsburgh, QB

7. New York Giants

Pick I had: Charles Cross | Mississippi State, OT

Positions of Need: OT, IOL, Edge, CB, TE, WR

Key Signings: IOL Mark Glowinski, IOL Jon Feliciano (Drafted Evan Neal 5th Overall)

Key Losses: TE Evan Engram

The Giants went Evan Neal 5th overall, which leaves the door wide open here at 7. They could bring in a edge rusher, but instead take the top talent on the board and also fill a need, assuming that they move James Bradberry for picks.

New Pick: Ahmad Gardner | Cincinnati, CB

8. Atlanta Falcons

Pick I had: Travon Walker | Georgia, Edge

Positions of Need: Edge, WR, S, LB

Key Signings: OT Jake Matthews (re-sign)

Key Losses:

The Falcons have been dead silent to start Free Agency, but have become late contenders for Deshaun Watson. This is probably a long shot, but also adds to the fact that this new regime is wide open in terms of direction of this franchise. The Falcons likely will bring back some playmakers like Patterson and Gage, but WR could be a position to watch here. Whatever they decide, they must somehow bring in some talent on the defensive line.

New Pick: Travon Walker | Georgia, Edge

9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver)

Pick I had: Malik Willis | Liberty, QB

Positions of Need: QB, Edge, LB, DL, CB, OT, IOL

Key Signings: TE Will Dissly, CB Sidney Jones, S Quandre Diggs, QB Drew Lock (trade), TE Noah Fant (trade), DL Shelby Harris (trade)

Key Losses: QB Russell Wilson (trade), LB Bobby Wagner

The Seahawks have completely flipped the switch this offseason and are moving on from two of their team captains. The Seahawks now are entering complete rebuild territory and will need to fill huge holes throughout their roster. Despite landing Drew Lock, there are indications that Seattle wants to bring in competition at QB.

New Pick: Malik Willis | Liberty, QB

10. New York Jets

Pick I had: Jermaine Johnson II | Florida State, Edge

Positions of Need: EDGE, DL, IOL, CB, LB, S, WR, RB, TE

Key Signings: WR Braxton Berrios, TE C.J. Uzomah, IOL Laken Tomlinson, (Drafted Kayvon Thibodeaux 4th Overall)

The Jets landed Kayvon Thibodeux earlier in the draft, which leaves the door open offensively here. Tomlinson certainly is a major upgrade and the offensive line seems to be coming together nicely, with a great combination of youth and leadership. The receiving corps seems solid with Elijah Moore and Corey Davis, but the addition of a do-it-all rookie could push this offenses potential through the roof.

The Pick: Drake London | USC, WR

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