By now, we are all up to our ears in mock drafts.
With the combine, the pro days, and the analysis over the past few months, you would think that the entire first round of the NFL draft was already set in stone.
And then came the first week of the free agency market. With high profile players signing to new teams, many of those mock drafts now seem obsolete.
The market has only been open for one week! And the NFL draft isn’t for another month!
Here’s a look at how the free agency is shaking up the first round of the NFL draft:
Before the free agent market opened on March 13, two things were already very clear: Peyton Manning’s new landing spot would have a huge impact on which team would still be looking to draft a starting quarterback, and whoever the Broncos picked up on the market would effect whether or not they drafted a quarterback in the first round in John Elway’s effort to get rid of Tim Tebow.
Because, lets be real, Elway never liked Tebow.
But then Manning and Elway joined forces for the most touted contract signing of the 2012 offseason.
Before the market, I was completely convinced that the Broncos were going to draft Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M to light a fire under Tebow and scare him out of his job.
Now, these prospective QBs could be looking at second string roles on other teams, such as the Browns or the Dolphins, as possible landing places.
And while we’re talking about the Dolphins...
The Dolphins lack of luck in the first days of the free agency market will greatly affect who they pursue in the first round of the draft.
When Miami was thought to be the landing spot for Manning, mock drafts on CBSSports.com and NFL.com indicated that the Dolphins might be looking to land a defensive player with their first pick, like Memphis tackle Dontari Poe.
But after losing out on both Manning and ex-Packer Matt Flynn, and shipping Brandon Marshall off to Chicago, Miami might be more inclined to go after an offensive player with their first pick. It would behoove them to pursue Tannehill or a wide receiver such as Kendall Wright or Justin Blackmon, if Blackmon doesn’t get picked up by the St. Louis Rams with the No. 6 pick.
Football hubs such as NFLDraftGeek.com were convinced that the San Francisco 49ers would be drafting a wide receiver with their first round pick. The biggest question would be if receivers such as Kendall Wright, Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd and Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill would still be available so late in the first round.
But with the acquisition of Randy Moss, picking up a receiver doesn’t seem quite as crucial for San Francisco. Or, at the very least, not a first-round priority.
While NFL Network’s Chad Reuter and NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks still project that the Niners will look to snag a receiver with that first pick, watch for San Francisco to pursue a defensive titan to improve their 16th-ranked pass opposition.
The Seattle Seahawks, much like the Denver Broncos, are now one less team in need of a quarterback going into the draft.
With the acquisition of Matt Flynn for a three-year, $26 million deal, Seattle can put their focus on building on o-line that will keep him safe.
And I agree with the mock draft aficionados at NFL.com in thinking that pursuing a guard would be in the Seahawks’ favor.
With no quality guards currently available on the free agent market, it would be a big steal for Seattle to pick up No.1-ranked guard prospect David DeCastro from Stanford.
The Bears have certainly been busy this offseason, beefing up their offense.
And with the acquisition of Brandon Marshall from the Dolphins and Michael Bush from the Raiders, Chicago can turn their attention to drafting a defensive player.
While they were ranked fifth against the rush last season, they were a dismal 26th against opposing passers. A defensive end, such as Nick Perry from USC or Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus—if he’s still available—would be a solid draft pick for Chicago.
The Jets have been such a sensational train wreck as of late. Who knows if they will actually look at their activity during free agency and learn from it.
What the Jets actually need is to add tools to their offense. In 2011, they were ranked 21st overall in passing and 22nd overall in rushing.
Mock draft gurus at NFL.com seem convinced that they will pursue a defensive lineman with their first pick.
For all we know, they could choose to draft a quarterback just to spite Mark Sanchez. The irrational possibilities are endless.