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How Will Free Agency Impact the Draft?

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With the initial free agency frenzy mostly over, it’s becoming more and more clear where teams around the NFL have placed value in their places of need.

Most apparent is the fact that teams have been particularly aggressive going after wide receivers this off-season. As mentioned yesterday, in a league driven by offensive-geared football, franchises are using their cash and energy on landing the best and most coveted receivers in order to boost what has become the NFL’s new bread and butter: high-powered aerial attacks.

In a quarterback-driven league, most teams are placing a high-priority on surrounding their passers with top-level receiving talent as well as solid protection along their offensive lines. Blockbuster deals for the likes of: Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Ben Grubbs, Pierre Garçon, and Calvin Johnson are all evidence of the offense-comes-first philosophy that has swept the NFL.

With the free agency hype still at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the NFL draft has not become an afterthought, but certainly has taken a back seat to the free agency hoopla; however, both are inextricably linked. Both events affect each other in some capacity and the full picture won’t come into focus until next month in late April, but the way free agency is shaping up it could certainly dictate how teams approach the draft.

The way I see it is like this: either the offense-comes-first mentality will carry over into the draft or it won’t, especially in the first few rounds. With teams loading up on offensive talent through free agency, it may push several top-offensive players down draft boards this year leading to several teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, having the opportunity to draft a top-tier receiver or offensive lineman that they may have not previously had any hope of selecting.

For a team like the Ravens that could use an infusion of youth at both the receiver and offensive line positions, they should be loving the fact that teams around the NFL are snatching up players at these positions like there ain’t no tomorrow, or for that matter, like the draft isn’t right around the corner choc-full of cheaper, younger, and in some cases, better talent.