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NFL Draft

3 Teams Whose NFL Draft Needs Changed After Tampering Day 1

  • The Draft Network
  • March 16, 2021
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What a way to start off the week, right football fans? Monday saw the start of the legal tampering window where teams can officially begin to negotiate with free agents, and we have already seen plenty of major deals come down the pipe. The day started with a bang when the news came out that the Baltimore Ravens signed guard Kevin Zeitler to a three-year contract. As the day went on, more deals started to get announced and players such as Shaquil Barrett, Jonnu Smith, John Johnson, Corey Linsley, and Yannick Ngakoue all found themselves off the market. In the days and weeks to come, more deals will begin to be announced as teams look to improve their rosters ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Smart general managers understand that good team building is done through a balance of both solid free agent signings as well as sound drafting. Understanding the free agent market and the opportunity cost of signing a particular free agent or waiting to draft that position is a skill that separates good general managers from average ones. Teams who signed marquee free agents to fill a particular need can now turn their focus to another position when it comes to the NFL draft, and vice versa. If a team failed to address a certain position of need in free agency, then of course it becomes even more important to fill that need through April's draft. 

After one day of the tampering window, here are a few teams that saw their draft needs change based on the players they signed.

Los Angeles Chargers

Before the addition of former Green Bay Packer Corey Linsley, center was right near the top of the Chargers' need list. Last year, the Chargers' starting center Mike Pouncey suffered a season-ending hip injury at the beginning of the year, leaving a massive void in the middle of their offensive line. The Chargers then moved starting left guard Dan Feeney to center, and while it was clear Feeney made a better center than guard, he still was a below-average player at the position.

The addition of Linsley gives the Chargers arguably the best center in the game and a foundational piece as they look to build around quarterback Justin Herbert. Linsley’s athleticism and ability to reach the second level will also pay huge dividends in the run game and will make life a lot easier for running back Austin Ekeler to create big plays. 

Los Angeles can now turn their attention to shoring up their left tackle position, which is still the team’s top need. Lucky for them, this draft is ripe with offensive tackles, and they can conceivably find a starter in either Round 1 or 2. The Chargers can also focus on adding an extra pass rusher or corner now that they have their center position set.

Cleveland Browns

One position that I find the most fascinating leading up to the NFL draft is this year’s safety class. I recently wrote about how I think it's one of the strongest positions in the draft and that TCU’s Trevon Moehrig is more than capable of being a first-round pick. One of the most common picks in recent mock drafts had the Cleveland Browns picking Moehrig at No. 26, but that will no longer be the case as the team agreed to a three-year deal with former Los Angeles Rams safety John Johnson III.

Johnson was the best safety available in this year’s class and his addition to the Browns should not go unnoticed. His ability to match up in both man and zone coverage will allow defensive coordinator Joe Woods to get creative with how he rolls out his personnel. Woods is known for favoring three-safety looks and a bunch of big nickel formations. Now that he has a safety room that consists of Johnson, Ronnie Harrison, and Grant Delpit, he will be ankle to run his style of defense to perfection. 

Now that safety is scratched off the list of needs for Cleveland, the Browns can look to address other positions on their defense. Specifically, the Browns need to add another pass rusher to play alongside Myles Garrett. Whether that is an edge rusher or an interior penetrator, the team needs to bolster their defensive line to take some of the attention away from Garrett.

Las Vegas Raiders

One of the most underrated signings from Monday was the Raiders' acquisition of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. This was a major need for Las Vegas as the team desperately had to get better at rushing the passer. Ngakoue is an explosive edge rusher who wins with an outstanding first step and speed around the corner. His skill set is a perfect complement to Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, who wins with power, technique, and effort. Ngakoue will play the Melvin Ingram role in Gus Bradley’s defense and will be counted on to get to the quarterback rushing from the weak side of the formation. 

While there's still a need for more pass-rush help, the signing of Ngakoue will allow the Raiders to turn their focus to other needs at the top of the draft. The team can look to fill the void at right tackle now that Trent Brown has been traded to the New England Patriots. Las Vegas could also draft a linebacker who can cover and play in space like Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah or a free safety like Moehrig. 

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