The Giants.com staff discusses the impact of free agency on the draft:
As the NFL enters the second week of free agency, our Giants.com writers look at how the signings and trades around the league will affect the top of the draft order.
Pardon my rant ahead of time, but it has driven me absolutely nuts how much people have overreacted to all the trades and signings when it comes to future draft plans. The Browns acquiring Tyrod Taylor on a one-year contract was never in a million years going to affect their decision on when to draft a future franchise quarterback. Likewise, the fact the Broncos have Case Keenum on a two-year contract is not going to change the fact that they still need a future franchise quarterback. Same for Sam Bradford and the Cardinals, A.J. McCarron and the Bills, and Teddy Bridgewater and the Jets. If those teams can find their future quarterback in the draft, they will take them or even trade up to get them.
The decisions at the top of the draft are so important with potential Hall of Fame players available that short-term investments in free agency should not have that big of an impact on teams' plans. The Browns signed a solid running back in Carlos Hyde, but if they think Saquon Barkley is worthy of the top pick, they will still pick him. The fact the Giants signed Jonathan Stewart or an offensive lineman shouldn't impact their thoughts on Barkley and Quenton Nelson. When you start passing on better players for positional need, you get in trouble.
If a player you draft is truly great, coaches will find a way to get them on the field and make use of their talents. You shouldn't pass on someone that might be a 10-time All-Pro for someone who might be a two time All-Pro because you have a short-term investment. That counts a million times over for quarterbacks. Ensuring a team has the quarterback position figured out long term is the most important and hardest thing a general manager has to do, and free agency doesn't change that. Rant over. Thank you.
While we all speculate on what could happen, there was a very real change to the top of the draft order over the weekend that we should mention here. The Jets traded with the Colts to move up from six to three, making the quarterback – and Saquon Barkley -- sweepstakes that much more interesting.
As for the Giants, they won't be shopping hungry at the draft because of what they have done so far in free agency. They locked up some key offensive linemen and linebackers, two of the biggest positions of need heading into this offseason. Now they have plenty of options with the second pick, and all of them are good. Take the franchise quarterback, take the best offensive skill player, take the best defensive playmaker, or trade back and acquire more picks – all possibilities presumably make the team better as the franchise ushers in a new era. And because of what they have done since 4 p.m. last Wednesday, they won't be pigeonholed into anything on April 26.
I don't think free agency moves will have a major impact on teams selecting at the top of the draft because most franchises are looking for the best value with their picks. The Browns acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Bills and signed running back Carlos Hyde. Does that mean they won't consider drafting a quarterback with their first or fourth overall picks or take Penn State running back Saquon Barkley? Absolutely not. The same can be said about the Giants at No. 2. Just because they added running back Jonathan Stewart and offensive lineman Nate Solder doesn't mean they won't consider choosing a player at one of those two positions.
Given the injury rate in the NFL, you can never have enough depth or options at any position, and you never know when the market may change and turn your depth into a trade chip. Case in point: heading into the 2016 draft, the Eagles had quarterback Sam Bradford and backup Chase Daniel on the roster, yet that didn't stop them from moving up to select Carson Wentz with the second overall pick. A few months later, the Vikings lost starter Teddy Bridgewater to a season-ending injury during training camp and wound up calling up the Eagles to acquire Bradford. While they likely figured Wentz would watch for at least a year behind Bradford, the Eagles liked what they saw out of Wentz over the summer and felt comfortable trading away Bradford, especially since the deal landed Philadelphia a future first round pick.
When Dave Gettleman addressed the media at the NFL Scouting Combine and was asked about the second overall pick, he said: "That's why when you are looking at the second pick in the draft like we are, the first thing we have to determine is: Is this guy worthy of being the second pick of any draft? Not just this year's draft, but any draft? And then you make that determination and you move forward. Position? If he's a great player, I don't care how stacked we are at that position, we're taking him. It's all about accumulating talent." Yet another reason why I don't think free agency moves will shake up teams' targets at the top of the draft.