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What if free agents were added to the draft?

How would the NFL approach talent acquisition in 2021 if the draft was the only way?

During PFF’s 2 for 1 Drafts a listener asked Austin Gayle and Mike Renner how the draft would play out if free agents were added. In this scenario any veteran player’s new contract would fit into the draft slot he’s fitted. I’ll let you take a listen to find out how they played it out, but Scotty Payne and I liked the idea so much we though we’d work through it as well.

Joe will serve as the odd numbered picks while Scotty is the evens and we agreed on the direction of the Broncos.

Let us know what you think.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - QB - Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

Urban Meyer didn’t come out retirement for anyone else, so I’m almost thankful Dak Prescott resigned with the Dallas Cowboys. While some of my scouts argue Zach Wilson is the real QB1 in this draft I take the best QB prospect since Andrew Luck.

2. New York Jets - QB - Zach Wilson - BYU

The Jets are moving forward with a new coach and a new approach so adding the draft's second-best quarterback makes a lot of sense. Wilson will be making a big leap, but the arm talent there is hard to deny.

3. Miami Dolphins - WR - Kenny Golladay, Lions

When the league disallowed free agency they also outlawed pick trades, so Deshaun Watson is trapped in Houston. Without the ability to move the pick, I set my sights on eliminating the variables in evaluating Tua Tagovailoa. Golladay can create separation and also box out and win jump ball situations. Adding him to the receiver room moves every other pass catcher down a rung on the ladder, which will make for a stronger unit.

4. Atlanta Falcons - QB - Justin Fields - Ohio State

New General Manager, new Head Coach, and now a new quarterback. Fields would do well to mentor under Matt Ryan for a year before taking over as the starter down the road.

5. Cincinnati Bengals - OT - Trent Williams - 49ers

At the end of the day Joe Burrow needs help now. While Penei Sewell could be a generational prospect I can’t afford to let my franchise quarterback take the beating he did in 2020. Williams can push Jonah Williams to the right side or even inside and immediately provides an elite pass protector to the blind side.

6. Philadelphia Eagles - WR - Ja’Marr Chase - LSU

The Eagles have plenty of holes, but they tanked the final game of the season for this pick and I see them adding the draft's top receiver. Chase would step in on day one as the teams number one wide receiver.

7. Detroit Lions - TE - Kyle Pitts - Florida

Let’s be real, Jared Goff is probably driving a tank so we can secure Taysom Hill in 2022. With that in mind it didn’t make sense to take a project like Trey Lance. Kyle Pitts will give Hill a hybrid weapon to create migraines for another ten years.

8. Carolina Panthers - QB - Trey Lance - NDSU

Teddy Bridgewater is not the future in Carolina and the Panthers have been aggressive in their search for a quarterback so them selecting Lance here makes a ton of sense. He’s dripping with talent, but may not be ready to start right away, so this situation makes a lot of sense for parties.

9. Denver Broncos - CB - Caleb Farley - Virginia Tech

Assuming his medicals check out and the Pro Day goes off without a hitch, there isn’t a better combination of upside and fit for Vic Fangio this offseason. While Pat Shurmur tried to convince me to take Mac Jones and trade Drew Lock, we’re going to try and grab competition on Day 2.

While Penei Sewell came to mind, we felt the need at corner so dire that the Broncos can’t afford to miss a chance to help the boundary. 10 corners played significant downs last year and both Essang Bassey and Bryce Callahan are returning from Injured Reserve. If Denver’s goin to have a chance in 2021 they need a cornerback from somewhere.

10. Dallas Cowboys - CB - Patrick Surtain II - Alabama

The Dallas secondary was atrocious and will look Surtain as a hopeful first step to improving that unit.

11. New York Giants - OT - Penei Sewell - Oregon

I’ve already spoken with Shaq Barrett’s agent because we need some edge help, but never thought Sewell would slide so I have to scoop him up. He’s the number two player on my board, replaces Cameron Fleming and makes both Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley better.

12. San Francisco 49ers - OT - Rashawn Slater - Northwestern

With Trent Williams moving on, Kyle Shanahan will add Rashawn Slater to his offensive line. The athletic tackle is a perfect fit for his scheme.

13. Los Angeles Chargers - OG - Joe Thuney - Patriots

Justin Herbert was a maestro dealing with pressure a year ago, but helping him is a priority and Thuney is a proven pass protector. Grabbing a pass rusher is tempting, but I’ll gamble on the depth of this class.

14. Minnesota Vikings - OT - Christian Darrisaw - Virginia Tech

The Vikings just released Riley Reiff and add the athletic Darrisaw to it’s unit. He’s another athletic offensive lineman who can start day one for the Vikings.

15. New England Patriots - QB - Mac Jones - Alabama

I had reservations, but Bill dialed up a conference call with Nick Saban and I’m convinced the kid can be the next GOAT. He’ll never be the kind of new age quarterback who’s ripping bombs out of structure, but he can manage the phone booth and play the short game like a 36-year old Brady.

16. Arizona Cardinals - CB - William Jackson - Bengals

The Cardinals are all in this year it appears after signing J.J. Watt to a defense that looks stacked on paper. So, adding the top free agent corner available makes a lot of sense in this scenario.

17. Las Vegas Raiders - QB - Shaq Barrett - Buccaneers

Believe it or not Clelin Ferril did show hints of promise last year. According to Sports Info Solutions charting he created pressure on 11% of his snaps. That said, we can’t afford a chance at the guy who wrecked Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl.

18. Miami Dolphins - LB - Micah Parsons - Penn State

The Dolphins get a bit of a steal here in Parson. They surprisingly released Kyle Van Noy, so they add the athletic Parsons to their defense.

19. Washington Football Team - OT - Samuel Cosmi - Texas

The hope was Mac Jones would slide, but alas we set our sights on protecting Taylor Heinicke or the second round pick.

20. Chicago Bears - QB - Jameis Winston - Saints

The Bears need to do something at quarterback and Jameis was the best option available. I don’t love it but it is what it is.

21. Indianapolis Colts - ED - Carl Lawson - Bengals

With the run on tackles it made sense to address our second biggest need. Lawson’s young enough to hint at better future and still produced pressure on at least 12.9% of his snaps three of the last four seasons.

22. Tennessee Titans - ED - Kwity Paye - Michigan

The Titans defense was a mess last season and they could really use a pass rusher. So, Kwity Paye can step in and replace Jadeveon Clowney who’s a free agent.

23. Seattle Seahawks - RB - Najee Harris - Alabama

The best way to bridge the gap between Rus and Pete is give them a player who can make both happy. Harris is a big burly back who will shred defenders and can give Wilson an outlet who will bump his numbers.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers - OL - Teven Jenkins - Oklahoma State

The Steelers could be losing multiple starting offensive lineman this offseason so adding the athletic Jenkins who can play guard or tackle makes a ton of sense for the Steelers.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars - CB - Jaycee Horn - South Carolina

With Trevor Lawrence set to give an identity to the offense Horn can do the same for the Joe Cullen defense. A physical alpha dog who will jam and reroute opponents at the line, he’ll need to adjust to the contact rules in the NFL but the tools are there to be special.

26. Cleveland Browns - WR - Jaylen Waddle - Alabama

Browns probably should have gone defense here, but, selecting Waddle is an absolute steal and gives Baker Mayfield an instant homerun threat.

27. Baltimore Ravens - WR - JuJu Smith-Schuster - Steelers

Only 24, JuJu’s prowess in the middle of the field and creating yardage after the catch will play into Lamar Jackson’s strengths as a passer. The Ravens play action offense will open up a role he never got to see with an old quarterback afraid to turn his back to the line of scrimmage.

28. New Orleans Saints - QB - Ryan Fitzpatrick - Dolphins

Drew Brees is (probably?) retiring and Jameis was stolen away in this hypothetical scenario, so they add the Fitzwizard.

29. Green Bay Packers - WR - Corey Davis - Titans

If we have to release Preston Smith edge becomes the priority here, but Davis can elevate the passing game by taking pressure off Davonte Adams. He’s also the kind of physical presence that will shine in Titletown.

30. Buffalo Bills - RB - Aaron Jones - Packers

The Bills run game was basically quarterback Josh Allen last season. That’s not ideal. So, adding Jones to that backfield gives the Bills a more balanced and likely effective attack in 2021.

31. Kansas City Chiefs - WR - Curtis Samuel - Panthers

Everyone appreciates the sacrifice Sammy Watkins made to chase another ring last year, but we can’t pass up Samuel’s versatility and explosiveness. Still just 24-years old, Samuels best football is clearly ahead of him.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - ED - Jaelen Phillips - Miami

With Shaq Barrett leaving, the defending Super Bowl Champs get a fast rising edge rushing prospect in Jaelen Phillips to replace him.

Your Broncos’ News

Report: GM George Paton will attend North Dakota State’s pro day to watch quarterback Trey Lance - Mile High Report

Paton and the Broncos will be doing their homework on one of the drafts top quarterbacks.

How should the Broncos attack each need? - Mile High Report

Is the draft or free agency a better answer to patch each hole on the roster?

Could Peyton Manning save the Denver Broncos again? - Mile High Report

The Broncos probably need a new owner, so ...

Devion Young just wants his shot - Mile High Report

After all, last fall he tweeted to the Broncos asking for a tryout. and he has reached out to a Broncos’ scout via LinkedIn. He would love a shot in Vic Fangio’s defense, but it’s some former Broncos defensive backs who he most admires.

When he first went to the Rebels, he chose No. 24. “I always idolized Champ Bailey.” he said. “I don’t idolize players, but because he was that guy, I idolized him and wanted No. 24.”

Bruce Feldman’s 2021 NFL Mock Draft: What coaches say about about Trey Lance, Zach Wilson, more – The Athletic

9. Denver Broncos: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech Denver needs cornerback help, and there are three good ones waiting. Farley, the freakiest athlete of that trio, once clocked 24.16 mph on the GPS in a game against Notre Dame.

He opted out of 2020 and also had back surgery last offseason.

In 2019, he led the ACC in passes defended with 16, was tied for second in the league with four INTs and earned first-team All-ACC honors. The Coaching Intel “He has great size and length for a corner and great burst. His ability to close is as good as it gets. Those are top-notch traits. I’m not as sold on his physicality and tackling ability, but when the ball’s in the air, he’ll make plays, and you didn’t want to mess with his side.”

NFL News

Patrick Mahomes restructure will free up $17 million of cap room for Chiefs - ProFootballTalk

Mahomes signed a 10-year deal with the Chiefs before the 2020 season, so there are plenty of future years for the Chiefs to use to their short-term cap advantage. The coming years could see more of the same as Mahomes has large roster bonuses due each season.

Patriots re-signing QB Cam Newton to one-year deal

Cam Newton is returning to New England for another go-around. The Patriots are re-signing the quarterback to a one-year deal, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported.

NFL news, transactions: Texans signing LB Christian Kirksey to one-year deal

Houston has agreed to terms with former Browns and Packers linebacker Christian Kirksey, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported.

Tom Brady, Buccaneers agree to terms on one-year extension

Tom Brady is staying in Tampa Bay for a bit longer than previously expected. Brady and the Buccaneers have agreed to terms on a one-year contract extension that will take him through the 2022 season.

Dak Prescott says he’s healthy and will be ready “when it matters” - ProFootballTalk

“But I’m healthy. As I said, I control what I control. I followed the doctor’s orders the whole time, put in my own work ethic to it and you saw me walking out here. I’ve been on that field back there. I’m healthy. I’m getting close. But I’ll be ready when it matters.”

$15.7 million drop is only part of the salary-cap story - ProFootballTalk

Thus, the difference from expected to actual 2021 cap isn’t $15.7 million. It’s at least $25.7 million. Teams negotiate contracts in reliance on the anticipated cap growth. Before the pandemic, there was no reason to think the cap wouldn’t continue to climb, by at least $10 million.

N’Keal Harry trade interest: Patriots fielding trade inquiries on WR

“(Harry is an) interesting guy to watch here as we get into the start of the league year, maybe a little bit further, as we get closer to the draft because there’s going to be a lot of moving parts in New England ... particularly this year,” Garafolo said.

Ron Rivera doesn’t ‘disagree with a lot of’ what Alex Smith said; worried ‘every day’ about another injury

“And the biggest thing that he and I talked about really was, that there really was no road map to get us to where we were. And I told him, I said, ‘Alex, I’ll be honest, I was scared to death. I didn’t know what to expect.’ Which I believe he appreciated, was that I [was] just telling him how I felt — how hard it was for us. I think that’s the thing that everybody forgets, is Alex did a great job. He worked his butt off to put himself in position to come back and play. But I said, there’s a part that people don’t understand and that is we — as a coaching staff — had to look through this and think through this. And it was always in the back of my head, what if he gets hurt again? What if he hurts that leg — that specific leg — again? I’m going to be the guy that put him back on the field to let him get hurt again.”

2021 NFL free agency: Pending free agents, notable departures for all 32 teams

With the 2021 NFL free agency period set to open in the coming days, here’s a team-by-team breakdown of notable pending NFL free agents and players who have already been released or traded.

North Dakota State, Oklahoma pro days: Trey Lance draws Josh Allen comp

North Dakota State and Oklahoma held their pro days on Friday, giving some of the 2021 NFL Draft’s top talents a chance to show out in front NFL teams. Chase Goodbread provides news and notes from both workouts, including a strong performance from NDSU QB

NFL news, transactions: Texans signing LB Christian Kirksey to one-year deal

Houston has agreed to terms with former Browns and Packers linebacker Christian Kirksey, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported.

2021 NFL free agency: Ten boom-or-bust candidates (plus team fits)

Will Patrick Peterson be a star or liability? Can JuJu Smith-Schuster prove the last two years were an aberration? Gil Brandt takes a close look at 10 boom-or-bust free agents.