NFL Draft 2018: Free agency impact on the draft

Many teams have been very busy and aggressive during the first wave of free agency. How do these moves impact next month's draft?

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The Browns control the draft

After making a plethora of huge moves within the past week, the Cleveland Browns still have some work to do and some major decisions to make. The Browns vastly improved their roster, bringing in proven players such as quarterback Tyrod Taylor, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, and running back Carlos Hyde.

However, the Browns still do not have a long-term solution in place under center and they have a massive hole on the offensive line, now that future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas has announced his retirement.

Is there a chance that Tyrod Taylor is the solution at quarterback? Possibly, but highly unlikely. The front office and coaching staff most likely view him as a short-term bridge quarterback to whichever rookie John Dorsey hand picks to be the Browns’ potential savior.

The smart move is to draft the quarterback of the future with either the first or the fourth overall pick and have him develop behind Taylor for a season before taking over as starter. Many NFL analysts have said that Dorsey is a huge fan of Wyoming’s Josh Allen, and Allen is a raw prospect with lots of potential, who could definitely benefit from a red-shirt year. 

With Joe Thomas calling it quits, the Browns also need to address their offensive line, especially if they want to put their rookie quarterback in the best possible position to succeed. Therefore, the Browns should seriously consider trading down with a quarterback-needy team in order to stockpile assets and draft their Joe Thomas replacement.

Teams such as Buffalo and Arizona are desperate for a long-term answer under center, and it is very likely that a top quarterback prospect will not be on the board once they are on the clock. These teams could very well be willing to pay a premium to get their signal-caller, and Cleveland certainly should pounce.

Do the Jets take a quarterback?

The New York Jets face an interesting predicament, as they inked both Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater to contracts this past week, yet both quarterbacks are only locked up for one season. Should the Jets draft a quarterback with the sixth overall pick, or do they believe that Teddy Bridgewater can live up to his potential and return to pre-injury form?

The Jets are in a very interesting position and should seriously consider the possibility of trading down in the draft. There are lots of teams in the draft who are desperate for a quarterback, such as Miami, Buffalo, and Arizona. Even teams like Baltimore, the LA Chargers, and New Orleans could look into selecting a future franchise quarterback, as all three of those teams have aging signal-callers who do not have much left in the tank.

The Jets should look into making a deal with one of these teams. Moving down would allow them to collect valuable assets and address many positions of need as the Jets have quite a few holes on their roster. They seriously need a number one receiver, and Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is an intriguing option. They also need some help on the defensive line and at linebacker, with both Mo Wilkerson and Demario Davis departing the Big Apple in free agency.

Editor’s note: Since this article was written the Jets have decided to go the other way, and have traded up with the Colts to claim the third pick in the draft. It appears that a rookie quarterback will be the target, given the price paid.

Will a deal go down in the desert?

The Arizona Cardinals have a major need under center with the retirement of long-time franchise quarterback Carson Palmer. The team signed two quarterbacks this past week, locking up both Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon on short-term deals this week. However, neither of those two is a viable solution long-term, especially for a team looking to stay afloat in a hyper-competitive NFC West division.

Sam Bradford has been unable to stay healthy for the entirety of his career, ever since the Rams made him the first overall pick back in 2010. Mike Glennon, to put it bluntly, is not very good. The Chicago Bears threw huge money at him last offseason, with the plan in mind to give Mitchell Trubisky a red-shirt rookie season. That plan did not work out, as Glennon was outright dreadful and Trubisky took over as starter mid-season.

The Cardinals desperately need a franchise quarterback to compete with the LA Rams and San Francisco 49ers and there is a slim to none chance that one of the top four quarterback prospects will still be available when they are on the clock at No. 15. As a result, Steve Keim needs to pull off a deal to move up.

Sam Bradford is a good bridge quarterback and a rookie would learn a lot behind him, but he is also an injury risk, and thus, not a viable solution under center. The rest of the Cardinals’ roster is pretty solid, and they must take a quarterback if they hope to chase a playoff spot down the line.

Buffalo must build for the future

The Buffalo Bills finally ended a long playoff drought last season, securing their first postseason appearance in a whopping seventeen years. If they would like to make a repeat appearance in the postseason, it is essential that they use their draft capital to move up and select a franchise quarterback.

Yes, the Bills signed A.J. McCarron to a two-year deal, but he is nothing more than a solid stopgap quarterback at best. He is not the long-term solution in upstate New York. Many NFL analysts have said that the Bills reportedly love USC quarterback Sam Darnold and would like to trade up to draft him.

Luckily, the Bills have a gold mine of valuable draft capital with two picks in each of the first three rounds. They should take advantage of their wealth of assets and use them to sway a team such as the New York Giants or Indianapolis Colts to consider trading down. The rest of the Bills’ roster is pretty good, as evidenced by their playoff appearance last season, and they must draft a quarterback to ensure their competitiveness for years to come.

Some Giant decisions to be made

The New York Giants are picking at the top of the draft for the first time in a long time, and they certainly have a giant decision to make with the second overall pick. It seems that they likely will not select a quarterback, as the front office seems to believe that Eli Manning still has a couple of years left in the tank.

If the Browns select a quarterback with the number one pick, then the Giants should absolutely snatch up Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants have had a non-existent running game for years now and it has plagued them, as evidenced by last season’s dreadful performance after wideouts Odell Beckham Jr and Brandon Marshall went down with season-ending injuries.

It looks like Barkley could well fall into the Giants’ lap, as the Browns will likely take a quarterback and already have a decent duo in the backfield with Duke Johnson and the recently signed Carlos Hyde. Barkley and Jonathan Stewart would make a formidable duo in the Giants’ backfield and would definitely help the team win some more games this season.

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