@Dinner Arizona is basically the sweetheart of sports writers and the refs and they don't want to admit it. It's obvious to everyone watching football that they're not better than Carolina, let alone Minnesota or probably even Green Bay. But the media keeps up with this "best team in the NFC" silliness and the refs keep handing them calls they apparently think everyone is too blind to see. Fortunately Carson Palmer will predictably implode when playoff time comes around and either Honey Badger or Patrick Peterson will find a way to get injured again.
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.
Oakland Raiders: Zach Miller, TE, Raiders. Age: 25.
"I must... keep my... great playas... quick... assistant gargoyle... make sure... Pete Rozelle... knows... I want to keep... Zach Milla..."
San Diego Chargers: Danieal Manning, S, Bears. Age: 29.
The Chargers lost Eric Weddle in this imaginary free agency draft, so they'd consider the next-best safety as a replacement.
New York Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants. Age: 25.
The Giants didn't pick a running back until the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft, so if they lose Ahmad Bradshaw, they'll only have Brandon Jacobs and Da'Rel Scott at the position. Having them keep Bradshaw is a no-brainer.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jammal Brown, OT, Redskins. Age: 30.
Jammal Brown is one of the top players available, and he'll easily upgrade the right tackle position to give Josh Freeman more time in the pocket.
Kansas City Chiefs: Tyson Clabo, OT, Falcons. Age: 29.
The Chiefs wanted to draft Nate Solder, but the Patriots grabbed him at No. 17. Tyson Clabo could easily fill the void at right tackle that Kansas City is looking for.
Indianapolis Colts: Michael Bush, RB, Raiders. Age: 27.
The Colts made the appropriate offensive line upgrades in the 2011 NFL Draft, but they still probably won't be able to run the ball. The talented Michael Bush would easily upgrade a pedestrian running back corps.
Philadelphia Eagles: Chris Carr, CB, Ravens. Age: 28.
The Eagles will be going after Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency, but he's not a realistic option in this fake mock draft. Instead, Philadelphia has to settle for the underrated Chris Carr, who is definitely not a bad consolation prize.
New Orleans Saints: Cullen Jenkins, DT, Packers. Age: 30.
Cullen Jenkins moves back to the 4-3. The Saints found help at defensive end in the 2011 NFL Draft, but they weren't able to upgrade the nose tackle position. Shaun Rogers is not a realistic solution.
Seattle Seahawks: Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets. Age: 28.
Charlie Whitehurst is probably going to struggle in 2011 - especially if the Seahawks can't secure a No. 1 receiver. I'm not a fan of Braylon Edwards, but he would unquestionably be the top wideout on Seattle's roster.
Baltimore Ravens: Josh Wilson, CB, Ravens. Age: 26.
It's a close call between Antonio Cromartie and Josh Wilson, but I'm sure the Ravens would rather keep their guy. Baltimore will have to re-sign one of its corners as a complement for Jimmy Smith.
Atlanta Falcons: Harvey Dahl, G, Falcons. Age: 30.
Another team keeping its star free agent. This is for good reason - the Falcons can't afford to lose their linemen to other teams. Harvey Dahl is the best of the bunch.
New England Patriots: Manny Lawson, DE/OLB, 49ers. Age: 27.
The Patriots weren't able to find front-seven upgrades in the 2011 NFL Draft. Manny Lawson is the best player available of all the five-techniques and rush linebackers. He's not a great pass-rusher, but maybe Bill Belichick and his coaching staff will be able to teach him a few things.
Chicago Bears: Jason Babin, DE, Titans. Age: 31.
This is the last thing NFC North quarterbacks want to see - a dangerous pass-rusher across from Julius Peppers. The fans chanting for Da'Quan Bowers at the 2011 NFL Draft will undoubtedly be satisfied with the addition of Jason Babin.
New York Jets: Quintin Mikell, SS, Eagles. Age: 30.
The Jets could use some help at safety. Quintin Mikell is one of the better players available. The Eagles will definitely allow him to hit the market in the wake of the Jaiquawn Jarrett pick.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ike Taylor, CB, Steelers. Age: 31.
The last boring pick. The Steelers still need help at corner despite the Curtis Brown pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, so they can't afford to let Ike Taylor go.
Green Bay Packers: Stephen Bowen, DE/DT, Cowboys. Age: 27.
Cullen Jenkins is gone. Johnny Jolly has been arrested. The Packers just missed out on Muhammad Wilkerson and Cameron Heyward in the 2011 NFL Draft, so they'll make up for it with the final pick of the 2011 NFL Free Agency Draft.