The draft is less than a week away, and the NFL players are still locked out by the owners. The NFL and the players have agreed to suspend mediation until mid-May. This means that free agency will likely remain closed until after the draft.
If there is a 2011 NFL season, free agency will eventually reopen. Until that happens, however, teams will struggle to address their positional needs because the draft is their only present option.
This uncertainty means that we will see many more teams drafting for need as opposed to the best player available. Some teams, on the other hand, may be confident with addressing the free-agency market in certain areas. This will leave them to draft for the BPA, while still addressing some other team needs.
Teams like the Minnesota Vikings or the Arizona Cardinals both have need at QB, but, because of ties to veteran players like Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb through trades or free agency, may move in a different direction with their first-round picks.
Another example could be the Dallas Cowboys ignoring their need at CB, because of the possibility of acquiring Oakland Raider Nnamdi Asomugha through free agency.
In short, because some teams will ignore free agency and rely solely on the draft, other teams may have an advantage in waiting for free agency to reopen to address some of their biggest needs. This possibility has the potential to shock a lot of people, changing the entire landscape of the draft.