We obviously never truly know what NFL front offices are thinking, we make educated guesses (at best). Now that we are well past the first phase of NFL free agency, let’s talk about what’s next. These are some of my educated guesses, based on what I think teams should do. If you want a full list of team-by-team signings, CBS has a great post about it here (no interest in re-creating the wheel lol).
NFL Free Agency Effects on the 2023 NFL Draft
Putting on my armchair GM hat, and here we go…
Big Splashes Mean Big Changes to The Draft?
I’ll start with my Detroit Lions, they attacked their biggest need (ALOT). Signing Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Mosely, AND Chauncey Gardner-Johnson means pick 6 could be ANYTHING. Up until now, our friends over at the Mock Draft Database had Detroit taking a corner as the consensus pick.
Don’t get me wrong, they could still draft a corner at some point in the draft, as two of the free-agent deals are just one year. With that being said, I’d be shocked if they didn’t take a defensive lineman again with one of their two first-rounders (probably 6 if Jalen Carter really falls). Could they take QB? Sure, Maybe even reach for a linebacker or take their favorite offensive lineman. In the end, they put the draft on notice, that they can do whatever they want…
Outside of Detroit, no one in the top 10-15 picks really did anything that made me believe they wouldn’t target the players MDDB has as their consensus picks. You can look at Chicago, who targeted defense and got tons better at linebacker. But otherwise, I could still see them taking the best tackle available or even edge rushers. The Colts signed Gardner Minshew but he’s yet to prove to be anything other than a high-end backup. So in my mind, they are still probably targeting the best QB unless something crazy happens.
A lot of Signings, Still PLENTY of Uncertainty in Round 1
The Texans made sure there were more skill position players for (potentially) Bryce Young, or whatever QB they target at pick 2. Arizona still looks like a wild card, in that we don’t know if they are sold on Kyler Murray or targeting a replacement in the 1st round. Seattle made a big move and re-signed Geno Smith but does that mean they for sure don’t draft a QB? Probably not with Drew Lock waiting in the wings, and bigger needs to be addressed. Though I don’t put anything past them, so if they fall in love with a player, they will take them.
Las Vegas landed their new QB1 in Jimmy Garoppolo but we know his injury past, so Vegas still needs to make sure they have a QB to fill in. Their team needs are still pretty much the same as before free agency, which is wild to me. They could be one of the most confusing teams to gauge, which I don’t see as a good thing.
The Falcons don’t need a running back in round one, Tyler Allgeier did much better in the last ten games of 2022. They resigned their important offensive lineman and in turn tell me they probably target the defensive line in round 1, as that’s a big need still.
Tennessee locked up some solid talent in free agency, though I could still see them targeting the line in round 1. The interesting thing with the Titans is that, I could see them targeting any position in round 1. You can make a case that they don’t believe Willis is ready and could go QB. They also could look to the future and target Bijan, or lineman OR cornerback. Tennessee is a fun team to project, also very confusing because of that!
The Rest of Round 1, More of The Same?
Teams that pick in the 2nd half of round 1 addressed needs and brought in talent but none of them did anything that makes me think they go a different direction in round 1. The Giants brought in wideouts, and still, need a true #1 guy. The Saints brought in their new QB1 but still need help on the edges. The Chiefs lost a lineman and gained a lineman, still need edge help as well.
We love free agency, it’s a time when anything is possible and our favorite teams could (potentially) fix all their problems. In reality, our teams may or may not really do anything to move the draft needle. In terms of this year’s free agency, we saw enough movement to shake up the Draft, which is fun!