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Fact or Fiction: Early predictions for draft, free agency


The crew debates a variety of topics as the league approaches the draft and free agency.

There will be multiple trades in front of the Giants in the draft.

John Schmeelk: Fact - Trades in the top 10 always revolve around quarterbacks and there could be as many as four or five taken before the Giants make their selection at 11th overall: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and perhaps Mac Jones. Depending on what happens in free agency and the trade market, there could be teams in the top five who do not want a quarterback and be willing to trade down; other teams may look to move into the top five. If one of those quarterbacks are available when the Cowboys (10th) and Giants (11th) pick, there could be opportunities for them to trade down.

Dan Salomone Fiction – Teams are at the top of the draft order for a reason, usually they need a quarterback. This class appears to be deep at the premier position and, more importantly for this conversation, they have plenty of suitors picking ahead of the Giants - that's good news for Big Blue. The more quarterbacks who go before them the better, because that means elite players at other positions can drop.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Last year, there were no trades in the top ten picks of the NFL Draft and there was just one in 2019, when the Steelers moved up to grab Devin Bush. There were two such moves In 2018. Although there hasn't been a notable trend, there also hasn't been a high volume of trades. It may be fun to speculate about this subject every year, but most teams with high picks feel they can capitalize by selecting an impact player and won't be itching to move out of that spot. As it stands, I'll lean toward there not being multiple trades in front of the Giants, mainly because there won't be a conventional scouting combine this year and several players opted out of the college season. With limited face-to-face interactions, you have to wonder whether NFL teams will be as aggressive in trying to move up.

NFL free agency has become as significant as it is in the NBA.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - NBA free agency is very significant because there are years where some of the top five players in the sport become available and switch teams. One player of that caliber can change the direction of an NBA franchise. Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving changed teams as free agents over the last three years. Elite players rarely reach free agency in the NFL due to the franchise tag and, spare some quarterbacks, do not have the impact on their NFL teams that those players have on a NBA team. Tom Brady is the exception to a fairly hard and fast NFL rule.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Last year, one of the most decorated athletes of all time hit the market – and Tom Brady just won the Super Bowl. J.J. Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. was just released and will be available. Add in the forthcoming quarterback carousel, and NFL free agency is approaching NBA levels of drama.

Lance Medow: Fiction - The NBA is a superstar driven league, so free agency will always hold much more weight in basketball. It's no coincidence that the recent quest to put together a "big three" on nearly every contending team in the NBA has emerged as significant. NFL free agency can impact a roster, specifically at quarterback, but football teams carry larger rosters as well as a practice squad and a hard salary cap. So, the draft will always hold more weight in the NFL than free agency. It's no surprise that a team often crowned the "winner" in NFL free agency rarely claims the Lombardi Trophy.

View the players set to become free agents when the new league year begins March 17.

The position where a rookie can make the biggest immediate impact is wide receiver.

John Schmeelk: Fact - I might not have made this claim a few year ago, but with NFL offenses adopting more of the college game, receivers have been able to come into the NFL and make an immediate impact. Last year, Justin Jefferson was one of the most productive receivers in the league. Others such as Ceedee Lamb, Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins, and Jerry Jeudy also made an immediate impact. Two years ago, DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, Deebo Samuel, Hollywood Brown and Terry McLaurin were game-changers as rookies and none were selected in the first round of the draft. I do not think this is a trend that is going to change, either.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – Getting to the quarterback is more important than catching a ball from one. Look at what rookie edge rushers have done in recent history. Chase Young was a Pro Bowler and the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year – and helped Washington into the postseason. Nick Bosa earned both of those accolades the year before – and helped the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance. A few years before them, Joey Bosa was drafted to a four-win Chargers team – and helped them earn nine and 12 victories in his second and third years, respectively.

Lance Medow: Fact - Recent draft history overwhelmingly shows in favor of wide receivers making an immediate impact. In the 2020 class, the Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson of the Vikings, the Niners' Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins of the Bengals and the Steelers' Chase Claypool had impressive rookie campaigns and were selected in the first two rounds. You can say the same thing about 2019 - the Niners' Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown of the Titans, the Seahawks' DK Metcalf, Diontae Johnson of the Steelers and Washington's Terry McLaurin have been solid pros. I can go through several other draft classes and the results will be similar. Of all the positions in the NFL, wide receiver seems to make the quickest transition.

You would rather have the league leader in touchdown catches over the sacks leader.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - I do not put as much stock into individual touchdowns for players as much as other people do. Obviously, getting the ball in the end zone rather than settling for field goals is a big deal, but it is just as important to be able to move the ball to set up those touchdowns. Give me the player who leads the league in yards instead of touchdowns. I'm just not sure touchdown production is as sustainable year to year. Therefore, I'm taking the sacks leader. A sack will almost always short-circuit a drive or force a turnover, and consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback makes it very difficult for the other team to score on a regular basis.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – I refer to my previous answer.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Three of the last four players who led the NFL in touchdown receptions didn't make it to the postseason. The Texan's DeAndre Hopkins (2017), Antonio Brown of the Steelers (2018) and the Lions' Kenny Golladay were playoff spectators. On the flip side, two of the last five players to lead the NFL in sacks helped their teams get to the Super Bowl (Falcons' Vic Beasley, 2016 and Rams' Aaron Donald, 2018) and this past season, T.J. Watt helped the Steelers make the playoffs. The NFL is a passing league and you need to be able to score, but sometimes those numbers can be a result of teams taking part in shootouts rather than earning victories.

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah updated his ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft for the final time before the start of the draft.


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