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NFL Draft

5 Teams That Can Draft BPA Because Of Free Agent Signings

  • The Draft Network
  • March 19, 2021
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The rules of the offseason are simple: sign for need, draft for talent. That’s what the best organizations do. Your job as a general manager, head coach, or any part of the decision-making staff is to look at the holes on your roster, assess both the upcoming free agent and NFL draft classes, take an honest look at where your team is in terms of a winning window, and decide how you are best going to spend the money you have this year in order to draft the best talent possible in the first few rounds.

If you do that enough, that process will get you in the conversation for a championship.

Though it doesn’t often happen overnight, there were a handful of teams that I believe really executed the free agency period well in terms of their team needs, and have really freed themselves to draft the best prospects on the board when their name comes up in the first round—not pigeonholing themselves into a situation where they have to panic and only take a certain position.

Here are some of the teams who, thanks to a great free agency week, have truly put themselves in a position for a “best player available” approach in the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Cleveland Browns

Notable Signings: S John Johnson III, DE Takk McKinley, CB Troy Hill, LB Malcolm Smith

The Browns essentially hit all their major needs this free agency, and they did so with a great budget in mind. They didn’t have the most money in the league to spend, so they knew they couldn’t get the highest impact players at each position, so they prioritized the secondary with most of their money in Johnson and Hill, while getting decent depth players in McKinley and Smith.

Now they’ve set themselves up to take whichever top defensive falls to them.

Pick Number: 26

First-Round Targets: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, IDL Christian Barmore, EDGE Jaelan Phillips, EDGE Gregory Rousseau

Washington Football Team

Notable Signings: WR Curtis Samuel, CB Wiliam Jackson III, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

I loved what Washington was able to do in free agency. I would have liked it if they could have signed a bigger, more X type of receiver like Kenny Golladay, but the thought of Samuel, Terry McLaurin, and Fitzpatrick in the same offense feels like a blast. They also addressed what was shaping up to be their biggest need at corner with the departure of Ronald Darby.

These moves now give Washington the flexibility to not just pick the best player available, but also potentially make a huge trade up for a future quarterback.

Pick Number: 19

First-Round Targets: OT Christian Darrisaw, OT Liam Eichenberg, QB Mac Jones, QB Trey Lance (trade up), QB Justin Fields (trade up)

New England Patriots

Notable Signings: TE Jonnu Smith, TE Hunter Henry, WR Nelson Agholor, LB Kyle Van Noy, QB Cam Newton, C David Andrews, DL Davon Godchaux, DL Henry Anderson

The Patriots had a lot of money to spend this free agency window, and they didn’t waste much time spending it. They acquired a handful of big offensive weapons to change the outlook of their team, and they also brought back Newton. Their offensive line is once again poised to be one of the best, and the defensive players they added means there’s not a “must draft” position with their top pick.

Look for this team to keep that aggressive mindset into the draft.

Pick Number: 15

First-Round Targets: LB Micah Parsons, EDGE Jaelan Phillips, WR Jaylen Waddle, WR DeVonta Smith, WR Ja’Marr Chase, QB Trey Lance (trade up), QB Justin Fields (trade up)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Notable Signings: CB Shaquill Griffin, S Rayshawn Jenkins, CB Sidney Jones, DT Tyson Alualu, WR Marvin Jones, WR Phillip Dorsett, WR Jamal Agnew, RB Carlos Hyde, DT Malcolm Brown, DT Roy Robertson-Harris, S Rudy Ford

It feels like it’s more appropriate to talk about who the Jaguars didn’t sign rather than who they did. Jacksonville added both starters and depth pieces, and have truly unlocked a best player available approach for themselves with their second first-round pick.

They likely don’t “have to” grab a cornerback anymore, which was shaping up to be a huge need. They also got plenty of new bodies on the defensive line. A true free safety appears to be their biggest need to address. All of this should make for a flexible and aggressive Urban Meyer in his first draft as head coach.

Pick Number: 1 and 25

First-Round Targets: QB Trevor Lawrence (No. 1), S Trevon Moehrig, TE Pat Freiermuth, TE Kyle Pitts (trade up), OT Christian Darrisaw, OT Teven Jenkins, WR Rashod Bateman, WR Kadarius Toney

New York Giants

Notable Signings: DE Leonard Williams, WR John Ross, TE Kyle Rudolph, LB Reggie Ragland

Though the moves so far for the Giants—we hear they’re also in on wide receiver Kenny Golladay—aren’t Earth-shattering, they are new bodies that could let them get away with having a BPA approach at No. 11. General manager Dave Gettleman isn’t really one to trade down in the draft, so that might be off the table, but there is plenty of top-tier talent that could be on the board, and these moves may free him up (at least in his mind) to take the best of what is available.

Pick Number: 11

First-Round Targets: EDGE Jaelan Phillips, LB Micah Parsons, WR DeVonta Smith, WR Jaylen Waddle, WR Ja’Marr Chase, EDGE Kwity Paye

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