Posted Sunday, March 11, 2018.
I did this the past seven 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.
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2018 NFL Free Agent Draft: Picks 1-16
Los Angeles Chargers: Dontari Poe, NT, Falcons. Age: 27.
The Chargers need a nose tackle, yet both Da'Ron Payne and Vita Vea could be off the board by the time they're on the clock at No. 17 overall.
Seattle Seahawks: Trumaine Johnson, CB, Rams. Age: 28.
The Seahawks are in sudden need of cornerback help with Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane both gone. If Sherman goes to San Francisco, perhaps Seattle can copy the 49ers and take a corner from a divisional foe.
Dallas Cowboys: Rashaan Melvin, CB, Colts. Age: 28.
Orlando Scandrick won't be on the team next year, according to Stephen Jones. The Cowboys have some young corners to take over, but they could stand to add a talented veteran to stop Carson Wentz.
Detroit Lions: Patrick Robinson, CB, Eagles. Age: 30.
Patrick Robinson is coming off a great year, and the Lions will be hoping he can duplicate that magic for them. They have one great cornerback in Darius Slay, but they have a huge hole across from him.
Buffalo Bills: Prince Amukamara, CB, Bears. Age: 26.
The Bills signed Vontae Davis, but they still need a young cornerback to play across from Tre'Davious White. It seems like Prince Amukamara has been in the NFL forever now, but he's only 26.
Buffalo Bills: Case Keenum, QB, Vikings. Age: 30.
The Bills traded Tyrod Taylor to the Browns, so they'll need a veteran quarterback to start while their young signal-caller develops. Case Keenum should be able to lead Buffalo back to the playoffs.
Los Angeles Rams: NaVorro Bowman, ILB, Raiders. Age: 30.
The Rams dealt Alec Ogletree because he wasn't a great fit for their 3-4 defense. NaVorro Bowman would be, and his veteran leadership in the back seven could help put the Rams over the top.
Carolina Panthers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Bengals. Age: 26.
The Panthers haven't been the same since they lost Josh Norman. Their defense would be back to a Super Bowl level if it can obtain a shutdown cornerback. I don't know if Darqueze Dennard qualifies as one, but he played well last year and would definitely provide an upgrade.
Tennessee Titans: Josh Sitton, G, Bears. Age: 32.
Both of Tennessee's starting guards are impending free agents, so the front office needs to make sure it shores up this position so that Marcus Mariota is protected as well as possible.
Atlanta Falcons: DaQuan Jones, DT, Titans. Age: 26.
This was Richard Sherman before he signed Saturday night. I'll switch the pick to DaQuan Jones, as the Falcons will need a new run-stuffer in the wake of Dontari Poe's departure.
New Orleans Saints: Trey Burton, TE, Eagles. Age: 26.
The Saints have a huge hole at tight end. Jimmy Graham is available, and he would make sense at this spot. However, the ultra-athletic Trey Burton is both younger and better than Graham is right now.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Eric Reid, S, 49ers. Age: 26.
The Steelers have two huge holes in the middle of their defense. They need an inside linebacker and safety, and Eric Reid is the best player available at either position.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Nate Solder, OT, Patriots. Age: 30.
Jacksonville's two biggest weaknesses are quarterback and the offensive line. Nate Solder is injury-prone, but very potent when healthy. He'd provide a huge boost for the Jaguar offense.
Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings. Age: 25.
The poor Vikings lost out on Kirk Cousins in this make-believe situation. A.J. McCarron and Case Keenum are also both gone. Minnesota's best option available is Teddy Bridgewater, which actually doesn't sound too bad.
New England Patriots: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Falcons. Age: 30.
The Patriots have no pass rush. It's almost a miracle (or the result of how terrible the AFC is) that they made the Super Bowl, considering how bad their defense was. Adrian Clayborn would be a nice addition to the anemic front.
Philadelphia Eagles: Avery Williamson, ILB, Titans. Age: 26.
The Eagles could lose Nigel Bradham in free agency - and they did in this free agency mock draft - so targeting a talented linebacker wouldn't be a bad decision.
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