Free agency is just a day old, but it's already impacting the outlook of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Kansas City Chiefs really got things moving officially completing the trade for quarterrback Alex Smith and signing Chase Daniel. It's accuracy over pure arm talent. By adding two quarterbacks, there should be zero discussion of the Chiefs taking a quarterback first overall.
That's not the biggest draft-related storyline from the first day of NFL free agency. These teams had the biggest impact on the NFL Draft.
The Bills signed no players on Tuesday. That's not why they get the top billing (pun!). Buffalo added even more confusion to its offseason by losing guard Andy Levitre and cutting the spectacularly average Ryan Fitzpatrick. The direction Buffalo could go with the eighth pick is wide open. Outside linebacker looked like the prime position days ago, but now it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Bills target a quarterback in the first round. But which one? Ryan Nassib, who was coached by new Bills head man Doug Marrone at Syracuse, seems like too obvious of an answer. Especially in the first round. There have been indications Buffalo is moving to a modified West Coast system on offense. Bills fans may not want to hear it, but Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley is a fit.
Although the Titans signed Levitre, the best guard available in free agency, it doesn't completely fix the team's line. It does, however, mean the Titans don't have to take Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper in the first round if they're not enamored. Signing Levitre opens the Titans up more to take one of the defensive linemen that could fall to them with the 10th overall pick. A guard like Brian Winters of Kent State or Kyle Long of Oregon could be had in the third round.
The Browns have plenty of money to spend and they did so on Tuesday. Cleveland added just two players in linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant. But those two cost them $75 million. Those moves will accelerate Cleveland's transition to the 3-4. It also gives the Browns some flexibility if they want to trade Phil Taylor or Jabaal Sheard. The moves don't affect the team's first round direction that much, though. They could still add another pass rushing linebacker with the sixth pick.
Just about every mock draft has had the Dolphins taking a wide receiver with the 12th pick in the draft. That won't happen after signing Mike Wallace to a five-year, $65 million deal. Miami also dropped big money on linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler. Cornerback is now likely Miami's top target in the first round. Look for Miami to be heavily tied to Florida State's Xavier Rhodes and Washington's Desmond Trufant between now and the draft.
Signing five players, the Eagles were one of the busiest teams at the start of free agency. None of those signings changes what the Eagles will likely do with the fourth pick in the draft. Many believe the Eagles to be looking for a pass rusher or offensive tackle with their first-round pick. Likely H-back James Casey was arguably Philadelphia's biggest move of the day. If Eagles fans want a hint at how the athletic Casey may be used by head coach Chip Kelly, look up some Colt Lyeria Oregon highlights from last season.
Kelly hasn't come out and said the Eagles are running a 3-4 defense, but the team's signings on Tuesday proved as much. Isaac Sopoaga is exclusively a 3-4 nose tackle and may allow the Eagles to wait on drafting the position this year.
The Colts swung for the fences signing five players on Tuesday. There's not a lot of flash in offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, outside linebacker Erik Walden. The perception is the Colts overpaid on both. The better signings for the Colts were cornerback Greg Toler and guard Donald Thomas. Both are likely starters on reasonable deals. The direction Indianapolis goes in the draft is now wide open. A good piece for the defensive line may be the smartest way to go in the first round.
Since the Super Bowl, the Ravens have lost three linebackers, a veteran wide receiver and the future of Ed Reed is unknown. Fortunately for the Ravens Ozzie Newsome is one of the best general managers in the NFL Don't be surprised if the Ravens drop out of the first round to add more picks this year to fill some newfound holes.
San Diego Chargers
Not only did the Chargers already need an offensive tackle in the NFL Draft, they now need a guard after losing Louis Vazquez. While King Dunlap was signed, his position is unknown. Unless the Chargers can add another free agent or two, their draft class this year is going to be heavy on offensive linemen.
The Bears got ripped by stats enthusiasts for signing left tackle Jermon Bushrod to a big-money deal. But they must believe he can be the left tackle of the foreseeable future. It could be argued that there was no bigger need in the whole league than offensive line for Chicago. They upgraded the position – or at least they hope so. Signing Martellus Bennett was a shrewd move. He's not a top-end tight end, but he's solid to good. At the least, it eliminates tight end as a first-round need. The big loser is Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert. Also, lost in the shuffle, did anyone notice that Brian Urlacher is a free agent? That's sort of weird.