NFL free agency has largely come and gone, and the impact on the NFL is massive. First-round targets for every team have changed based on the moves made so far this offseason. Of course, There are still some big-name players out there, like Odell Beckham Jr., Leonard Floyd and Frank Clark. Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson are still awaiting a trade as well. Those players will shift strategies again, but we will deal with the fallout when those moves are complete.
For the majority of teams though, their focus now firmly shifts to the NFL draft. There are still plenty of holes left to fill and some major shifts in draft strategy, especially when it comes to potential first-round targets. Here is a breakdown of the major moves made and some potential first-round targets for the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles and Commanders following free agency.
New York Giants
Brought back: QB Daniel Jones, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Darius Slayton
Key Additions: TE Darren Waller, LB Bobby Okereke, DL Rakeem Nunes-Rochez
Notable Departures: G Nick Gates, C Jon Feliciano
New York is going all in on running it back, with a couple of key additions. They extended Daniel Jones and franchise tagged Saquon Barkley. Team-friendly deals for Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard keep them in the mix as well. Joe Schoen made sure Jones had more receiving options this year as well, trading for Darren Waller and adding Paris Campbell on a one-year prove-it deal.
Despite the additions, receiver is still a clear need. The Giants’ roster is full of players who are good second, third and fourth options in an offense. New York is still lacking that clear go-to playmaker. I think receiver will be a clear target early in the draft.
Secondary is also in play for the Giants at No. 25. Julian Love left for Seattle and Cordale Flott is not the strongest starting option across from Adoree’ Jackson. Left guard and center are also currently up in the air with Nick Gates in Washington and Jon Feleciano in San Francisco.
Potential first-round targets: At receiver, many of the same names make sense for the Giants as they did for the Cowboys. Flowers, Downs and Addison are all good fits for New York’s offense. TCU’s Quentin Johnson could also make sense, but it would not surprise me if he was already off the board by pick 25. At corner, Julius Brents (Kansas State), Keelee Ringo (Georgia) and Emmanuel Forbes (Mississippi State) could be in play, but are all three very different players. Florida’s O’Cyrus Torrence and Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz are both options if the Giants prioritize the offensive line.
Brought back: CB Darius Slay, CB James Bradberry, C Jason Kelce, DT Fletcher Cox, DE Brandon Graham, RB Boston Scott
Key Additions: QB Marcus Mariota, RB Rashaad Penny
Notable Departures: DT Javon Hargrave, DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson, OT Andre Dillard, RB Miles Sanders, LB T.J. Edwards, S Marcus Epps, LB Kyzir White, QB Gardner Minshew
As of last week, just about every mock draft you saw featured the Eagles selecting a cornerback at No. 10 or No. 30. That was before they brought back James Bradberry and Darius Slay. Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are also back for one more run. That should lead to a major shift in the approach for this team come draft day.
Philly still has plenty of other holds to plug. Javon Hargrave and T.J. Edwards exiting should see increased roles for Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, but depth is needed behind both players. Safety is also a huge need with Marcus Epps leaving for Las Vegas and C.J. Gardner-Johnson on his way to Detroit. While the Eagles did bring in Rashaad Penny, the loss of Miles Sanders still leaves the door open for a potential early-round pick spent on a running back.
Potential first-round targets: Howie Roseman does a nice job of getting ahead of this team’s needs, but he has a lot of work cut out for him in the 2023 draft. Philly has a number of directions it can go with two first-round selections. Bijan Robinson from Texas would certainly be an option at No. 10, but it is hard to imagine a running back going that high these days.
Georgia edge rusher Nolan Smith, Oregon corner Christian Gonzalez, Illinois corner Devon Weatherspoon and Penn State corner Joey Porter Jr. all feel like viable options. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles traded down from No. 10. At pick 30, Alabama’s Brian Branch and Texas A&M’s Antonio Johnson Jr. are the top options if they choose to go with a safety.
Edge rushers Will McDonald IV (Iowa State) and Adetomiwa Adebawore (Northwestern) could give the Eagles long-term replacements for Brandon Graham.
Brought back: None
Key Additions: OT Andrew Wylie, QB Jacoby Brissett, G Nick Gates
Notable Departures: QB Taylor Heinicke, QB Carson Wentz, DB Bobby McCain
Washington is turning over a new leaf following a competitive but ultimately disappointing season. Carson Wentz is gone, which was expected. However, Taylor Heinicke’s departure was a bit more surprising. The Commanders brought in journeyman quarterback Jacoby Brissett to compete with 2022 draft pick Sam Howell, which leaves a ton of question marks at the position going forward.
Elsewhere, Washington did a nice job beefing up on the offensive line, adding Andrew Wylie and Nick Gates. That could shift the focus to the defensive side of the ball come draft day. Cornerback stands out as the biggest need at this point, even after signing Cameron Dantzler. Tight end and offensive line could also be in play.
Potential first-round targets: There are a number of corners that could be on the board when Washington is up at No. 16. Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Maryland’s Deonte Banks and Illinois’ Devon Weatherspoon could all potentially be there. Michael Mayer from Notre Dame and Darnell Washington from Georgia are the top two options if the Commanders want to upgrade at tight end, but it could be a little early for either player to come off the board.
Brought back: RB Tony Pollard, LB Leighton Vander Esch, S Donovan Wilson, QB Cooper Rush
Key Additions: CB Stephon Gilmore, WR Brandin Cooks
Notable Departures: RB Ezekiel Elliott, TE Dalton Schultz, WR Noah Brown, G Conner McGovern
Following another disappointing playoff exit, the Cowboys shook up their offensive staff and moved on from one of their most productive players in recent memory. Bringing back Tony Pollard likely moves running back to the back burner in terms of draft needs. I still expect the Cowboys to take a flier on a player on Day 3 to add depth.
They did sign Ronald Jones as well to offer a veteran option while Pollard continues to rehab from a fractured leg.All signs point to the Cowboys investing premium draft capital on pass catchers. Dallas was always in line to add a receiver opposite CeeDee Lamb, but with Dalton Schultz now in Houston, there is a good chance the front office will need to find a new starting tight end as well. They will also need to find someone to replace Conner McGovern at left guard. After trading for Stephon Gilmore and bringing back Leighton Vander Esch, I fully expect the Cowboys to go offense with their first-round selection.
Potential first-round targets: Boston College’s Zay Flowers, Josh Downs from UNC and Jordan Addison of USC are a few receivers I could see still being available when Dallas picks at No. 26 that would fit what they are looking for. Michael Mayer (Notre Dame), Dalton Kincaid (Utah) and Darnell Washington (Georgia) should all be in the mix from Georgia. Keep an eye on O’Cyrus Torrence from Florida as a potential option if the Cowboys choose to take a guard.