This is something new that I thought would be pretty fun. It's what it sounds like - if free agency occurred in a draft format, who would be the top picks? I've excluded all the free agents that have been franchised or tendered at fewer than four years.
Carolina Panthers: Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Raiders. Age: 30.
This is a pretty easy first pick. Nnamdi Asomugha is the only available 5-star free agent in my 2011 NFL Free Agency Rankings. Corner is not Carolina's biggest need, but no team would pass up the chance of landing arguably the top cornerback in the NFL.
Denver Broncos: Barry Cofield, DT, Giants. Age: 27.
The Broncos have to skip all of the 4.5-star free agents because they've backed themselves into a corner. They have absolutely nothing at defensive tackle. Barry Cofield happens to be the best player available at the position.
Buffalo Bills: Paul Posluszny, ILB, Bills. Age: 26.
A major reason why the Bills never make the playoffs is because they misevaluate their own talent. They inexplicably fall in love with their own mediocre players when it's very obvious that an upgrade is needed. However, Paul Posluszny is one of the few talented players on the team, so Buffalo would re-sign him above anything else.
Cincinnati Bengals: Johnathan Joseph, CB, Bengals. Age: 27.
Sorry, this is another boring pick. But the Bengals have made it clear that re-signing Johnathan Joseph is their top priority. That's why they passed on Patrick Peterson in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Arizona Cardinals: Willie Colon, OT, Steelers. Age: 30.
I'm pretty surprised that the Cardinals didn't upgrade their offensive line in the 2011 NFL Draft. Kevin Kolb will need some protection next year, and I'm sure Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm would love to work with Willie Colon again.
Cleveland Browns: Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets. Age: 27.
Trading with the Falcons was a no-brainer for Cleveland. Getting all of those picks was huge. However, I'm sure the Browns would love to obtain a No. 1 wide receiver, and Santonio Holmes is definitely more sure-handed than Julio Jones.
San Francisco 49ers: Eric Weddle, S, Chargers. Age: 26.
The 49ers don't have a huge need at safety, but there is definitely room for improvement. Besides, Eric Weddle is just one of two remaining 4.5-star free agents, and Stephen Tulloch would have to make a scheme change into a 3-4.
Tennessee Titans: Stephen Tulloch, ILB, Titans. Age: 26.
And there's the last 4.5-star free agent. I'm sure the Titans would love to retain Stephen Tulloch, but I doubt that's going to happen in real life. Tennessee is in complete re-building mode, so I'll be surprised if Tulloch wants to stick around.
Dallas Cowboys: Doug Free, OT, Cowboys. Age: 27.
I swear, this is one of the last boring picks - I just find it hard to believe that Jerry Jones would let the promising Doug Free get away.
Washington Redskins: Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings. Age: 25.
The Redskins have Anthony Armstrong, Leonard Hankerson, Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson at receiver. Not exactly the most talented wideout corps in the league. Sidney Rice would come in and automatically become a reliable No. 1 receiver for John Beck.
Houston Texans: Dawan Landry, SS, Ravens. Age: 28.
The Texans upgraded the front seven of their defense in the 2011 NFL Draft, so they go for the best defensive back available. Pretty much any free agent ranked three stars or better would instantly help an anemic Houston secondary.
Minnesota Vikings: Ray Edwards, DE, Vikings. Age: 26.
OK, I lied. Here's another boring pick. But the Vikings would love to retain Ray Edwards in an attempt to keep their once-vaunted defensive line intact.
Detroit Lions: Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Giants. Age: 28.
I've learned my lesson. I'm not going to force a left tackle or a cornerback here. The Lions always go for the best player available, and in this case, it's Mathia Kiwanuka, who would look great next to Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
St. Louis Rams: Brandon Mebane, DT, Seahawks. Age: 26.
The Rams were projected to go after Corey Liuget or even Nick Fairley with the 14th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, but Robert Quinn fell into their lap. They still need help next to Fred Robbins.
Miami Dolphins: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers. Age: 27.
I know the Dolphins obtained Daniel Thomas at the end of the second round, but they can't be completely confident in his ability to carry the load. I'm sure Miami would still love it if Williams decided to take his talents to South Beach.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers. Age: 25.
I can't believe the Jaguars didn't address the defensive end position in the 2011 NFL Draft. They almost have to make this free agency pick.
@jsemmens I've been to the Big Board in the past, but it's still an inefficient way of going about a mock. Not to mention, reports and the people writing them change, no? I come to Walt's site because I used to like his insight on every player. Now, it's simply team needs and a very limited amount of actual analysis. You definitely need SOME amount of explanation behind a pick with regards to team need, but you need much more of the player evaluation angle. Any dummy can write why a particular team "needs" a specific position; it takes a pretty good eye to understand what player needs to fill it. Again, just my 2 cents.
@dawg66 I see where you're coming from. I really do. But I'm sure as a Browns fan you can understand, they have needs EVERYWHERE. You aren't gonna win a super bowl unless you have a QB. Case in point pretty much every super bowl winning quarterback ever. Second, yes you have Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman. Terrelle Pryor is a slot receiver which is gonna get you nowhere unless you play for New England. Corey Coleman has yet to prove a damn thing. Mike Williams, however, just took down Alabama pretty much BY HIMSELF. It's the right range for him and I'm positive Huge Jackson wouldn't pass over him at this point, meaning pre-combine and interviews.
Here's my mock based on team need, prospect value and prevailing opinion as well as some ideas of my own. Please let me know about the team(s) that you follow more closely, and any picks that you agree or disagree with. Please comment, and feel free to rate.