Posted Thursday, March 6, 2015.
I did this the past three years, and I thought it would be pretty fun to do it again. It's exactly what it sounds like - if free agency occurred in a draft format, who would be the top picks? I've excluded all the free agents who are either restricted or franchised.
Go here for my 2015 NFL Mock Draft
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2015 NFL Free Agent Draft: Picks 1-16
San Diego Chargers: Rodney Hudson, C, Chiefs. Age: 26.
Nick Hardwick has retired - and already slimmed down what seems like 100 pounds, somehow - so the Chargers will be in the market for a new center, whether it's in free agency or the draft. They are very familiar with Rodney Hudson, as they go against him twice per season, so I think they would be interested in him.
Kansas City Chiefs: Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens. Age: 26.
I don't think the Chiefs and Torrey Smith are a good fit, given Alex Smith's inability to get the ball downfield, but I still think they would sign him, given the opportunity. They have absolutely nothing at receiver - that includes Dwayne Bowe, who has been overrated for some time now - so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that no wideout scored a touchdown for them in 2014.
Cleveland Browns: Jared Odrick, DE/DT, Dolphins. Age: 27.
The Browns could double dip at defensive line early in the 2015 NFL Draft, given the opportunity to obtain two talented players to use up front. That's what they are doing here in this free agency mock draft, as Jared Odrick is the top player available.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Worilds, DE/OLB, Steelers. Age: 27.
Jason Worilds didn't go to Oregon, but Chip Kelly is still reportedly interested in him. With Trent Cole cut and Brandon Graham headed into free agency, the Eagles are sorely lacking talent at the outside linebacker position. Worilds would definitely change that.
Cincinnati Bengals: Greg Hardy, DE, Panthers. Age: 27.
As with the Eagles and Jason Worilds, the Bengals and Greg Hardy have been linked. Hardy would easily be in the top three of this free agency mock draft if it weren't for his off-the-field issues. Luckily for him, Cincinnati doesn't put much stock into such things.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Pernell McPhee, DE/OLB, Ravens. Age: 26.
The Steelers typically don't like to use first-round draft choices on edge rushers, as they don't trust players to thrive in scheme conversion. Jarvis Jones was an exception, and it backfired against them. However, they don't have to worry about Pernell McPhee adjusting to the 3-4, so this is an easy choice to upgrade the lacking pass rush.
Detroit Lions: Nick Fairley, DT, Lions. Age: 27.
I guess this is a boring selection, but Nick Fairley is the best free agent on the board, and the Lions will need to address the defensive tackle position with Ndamukong Suh heading into free agency. Losing both Suh and Fairley could hurt, so I'm sure Detroit would love to keep one of them.
Arizona Cardinals: Byron Maxwell, CB, Seahawks. Age: 27.
The Cardinals get to poach a star defensive player from their biggest rival, which is always nice. Arizona will need a new cornerback to play across from Patrick Peterson if Antonio Cromartie leaves the team via free agency. Cromartie has been linked to the Jets, as you can see in our NFL Free Agent Rumors page, so here's a replacement.
Carolina Panthers: Doug Free, OT, Cowboys. Age: 31.
The Panthers will be thrilled with any sort of help they can get on the offensive line. Cam Newton getting hot down the stretch despite poor exterior blocking is proof that the tackle position is overvalued, but it still wouldn't hurt to grant him better protection.
Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns. Age: 27.
Owen Daniels is a free agent, while Dennis Pitta's 2015 status is in question because of his lingering injuries. There's a chance the Ravens will use an early pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on someone like Maxx Williams or Devin Funchess. Here's an alternative solution.
Dallas Cowboys: Rolando McClain, ILB, Cowboys. Age: 26.
I apologize for my second boring pick, but the Cowboys would love to retain Rolando McClain. The former first-round pick was deemed an NFL bust when he was out of the league, but he was a revelation for Dallas this past season. Losing him will definitely hurt a defense that wasn't as bad as everyone thought it would be.
Denver Broncos: Trent Cole, DE/OLB, Eagles. Age: 32.
Trent Cole has plenty of experience in the 3-4, so Denver should be interested in him. The Broncos are moving to that style of defense themselves, and while they are set at the outside linebacker position in terms of their starters, Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, they currently have zero depth. If either player goes down, the Broncos will need someone competent to step in, and they don't have that right now.
Indianapolis Colts: Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB, Browns. Age: 26.
The Colts were able to get somewhat of a pass rush from Jonathan Newsome late in the year, but no one else was capable of generating any heat on the quarterback. This was quite evident in the AFC Championship, when Tom Brady had all the time in the world to dissect Indianapolis' secondary. The Colts are expected to add an edge rusher this offseason.
Green Bay Packers: Chris Culliver, CB, 49ers. Age: 27.
The Packers have Tramon Williams heading into free agency, and some of their other corners will have expiring contacts over the next two offseasons. Green Bay needs to get younger at the position, so why not begin here?
Seattle Seahawks: Tramon Williams, CB, Packers. Age: 32.
The Seahawks are bound to lose Byron Maxwell this offseason - they just watched the Cardinals snag him in this mock draft - so they'll have to find another cornerback. They need to do whatever is necessary to keep Tharold Simon from taking the field again.
New England Patriots: Justin Blalock, G, Falcons. Age: 31.
The Patriots had major blocking problems early in 2014. They managed to play around with their offensive line to improve Tom Brady's protection as the season progressed, but it still wasn't an ideal. They need to add some talent up front.
2015 NFL Free Agent Draft - 33-40:
- Tennessee Titans: Derrick Morgan, DE/OLB, Titans. Age: 26.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tarell Brown, CB, Raiders. Age: 30.
- Oakland Raiders: Cedric Thornton, DE/DT, Eagles. Age: 27.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Chris Myers, C, Texans. Age: 33.
- New York Jets: Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens. Age: 29.
- Washington Redskins: Dan Williams, NT, Cardinals. Age: 28.
- Chicago Bears: Cory Redding, DE/DT, Colts. Age: 34.
- New York Giants: Stephen Paea, DT, Bears. Age: 27.
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