Big offseason moves have escalated the hype behind this year’s spectacular draft class

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Sam Kassan, Staff Writer

The NFL offseason has been officially underway for less than a month and teams are starting to look towards the draft to further build their squad.  So far, there has been no shortage of exciting news and movement around the league, including many huge trades and signings.

The offseason started out with a bang, as elite quarterback Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions was traded to the Rams in exchange for three future draft picks and quarterback Jared Goff.  The Rams look to be gearing up for another Super Bowl run with this big move and other minor signings like former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson.  Eagles signal caller Carson Wentz was also dealt to Indianapolis, where he looks to make a comeback with a better supporting cast.

Both New York teams have been busy during free agency.  The Jets, with plenty of cap space at their disposal, signed former Titans wideout Corey Davis to a three year deal, along with adding pass rusher Carl Lawson.  They also traded their previous top ten pick in Sam Darnold to Panthers in exchange for numerous picks.  The Giants also made major moves, including locking up big time receiver Kenny Golladay on a massive four year contract.  For the first time in his career, Daniel Jones finally has a true number one receiver.  

“Signing Kenny Golladay was an amazing move for the Giants.  After having one of the worst receiving cores last year, adding a pro bowl receiver should improve the passing game drastically.  The run game should also open up, allowing Saquon Barkley to flourish,” said sophomore Alex Almahmoud.  

Big Blue didn’t stop with Golladay, inking young cornerback Adoree Jackson and star edge rusher Leonard Williams to huge contracts further strengthened the formidable Giants defense.

With most of the major players signed or traded, teams are starting to shift into draft mode.  While the NFL combine is usually used for teams to evaluate players, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented such an event from taking place.  Instead, players are forced to use their college pro days to show off their skills.  This presents many challenges for NFL front offices; not only are the times for many of the speed related events unofficial, but different pro days could overlap, forcing teams to choose which player they would like to watch in person more.  

“Many NFL teams will struggle to figure out which players are truly the fastest, as many colleges have clocked players running oddly faster than they should be.  Also, it is so important for coaches to see the players in action in order to get a true feel of what they are capable of, and many times, teams can’t watch every prospect they are monitoring,” said sophomore Jack McNaughton.  

This was showcased recently, as two of the top quarterback prospects, Justin Fields and Mac Jones, both participated in their respective pro days at the same time.  Coaches simply cannot be in multiple places at once, so team executives had to go to either one or the other, missing out on watching someone that could potentially be their franchise player.

Regardless of these challenges, this year’s draft is set to be one of the most exciting in recent years.  The level of talent at almost every position is extremely deep, especially at quarterback.  The quarterback class is headlined by Clemson phenom Trevor Lawrence, who has been given lofty comparisons to none other than Colts legend Andrew Luck.  Lawrence has no major flaws, posing as a threat at every level of the position.  The class also consists of BYU’s Zach Wilson, OSU star Justin Fields and Mac Jones from Alabama.  While Justin Fields’ phenomenal performance in the Sugar Bowl bested Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers, Lawrence is still a lock to be sent to Jacksonville with the first pick, while Fields’ future remains unknown.  The Jets seem to be leaning towards Zach Wilson with the second pick in the draft.  His arm talent and passion for the game make him a perfect fit for the rebuilding Jets.  

“I think Zach Wilson is the perfect move for the Jets.  As much as I loved Sam Darnold, it was time to move on,” said sophomore Sean Mondschein.  

Their new head coach Robert Saleh has a lot of work to do before the Jets can be considered contenders again, but the organization is in the right hands. 

The Dolphins and Niners shocked everyone when San Francisco traded their first round pick and a handful of future picks for the Dolphins’ spot at three, basically confirming that the Niners would be taking a quarterback.  While Mac Jones is the favorite, no one is quite sure what Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have planned.  The Dolphins went on to make another head turning trade with the Eagles, moving up to sixth  from their current place at twelth.  

The quarterback class is deep, but the wide receiver class is also exceptional.  Heisman winner Devonta Smith and fellow Alabama receiver Jalen Waddle, along with LSU star Ja’Marr Chase, are just the tip of the iceberg that is the 2021 receiving class.  Waddle is projected by many to go to New York, alongside Kenny Golladay.  

Overall, this year’s draft could be one for the ages, with loads of talented players ready to take on the league.  Mark your calendar for Thursday, April 29 through Saturday, May 1, and see if your team can take the next step toward a championship.