While we’re still over a month and a half away from the 2014 NFL Draft, the free agency period can sometimes give us a few hints about how it might all play out in Radio City Music Hall on May 8th. Can the moves a team makes in free agency tip their hand as to which direction they’re going to go in the draft?
Take, for instance, the Houston Texans who sit at the #1 overall pick. They’ve just dealt Matt Schaub to the Raiders for a late-round pick. Sure does sound to me like Jadeveon Clowney’s chances at being the first pick in the draft just got slimmer. It’s still up in the air on whether or not the Texans will keep Manziel in the state and make him their top pick or if they’ll go with Bridgewater or Bortles but I’d think it’s a safe bet that the top pick in this years’ draft will be a quarterback.
While that move was a trade and not necessarily a free agent signing, there are signings that can clearly point to where a team might be looking in the draft, and where they’re no longer needed to look in the draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers needed to inject some youth in their defense and had projected to be looking in the direction of Ha Ha Clinton Dix but with their signing of Mike Mitchell, it frees them up to look to possibly their offense in the first round of the draft or even the defensive line.
The Dolphins obviously needed to do some rebuilding work on their offensive line this offseason and they achieved that, in part, with their signing of Branden Albert. Their other free agency signings like safety Louis Delmas signifies that they could be looking to add offensive line depth to their newly acquired line with their draft picks.
Since the Atlanta Falcons seemed to have signed just about every defensive lineman or tackle available, it points to them possibly looking towards linebackers in the draft. And when it comes to the Raiders…well I don’t know if anything can tip their hand on where they’ll go in the draft aside from the fact that they’re the Raiders.
There’s no denying that free agency definitely affects how the draft will play out. Some teams prefer to add experience to fill certain needs on their team and youth for others. The balance between signing the right guys and drafting the right guys is what all the teams are after.