We're only a few days into the official start of 2016 NFL season, but that hasn't stopped us from seeing some interesting developments in free agency. Depending on if a team drafts by need or best available, it could drastically change the ultimate landing spot for a player when their name is called. Based on the early transactions we've seen through the first few days, here are some prospects whose stock has been impacted by the early free agency trends.
Ezekiel Elliott: Considered by most to be the top running back in this class, Elliott could greatly benefit from some of the league's recent happenings. With some backs getting a decent chunk of change already, the option of paying someone of Elliott's caliber according to the rookie salary scale will certainly be enticing. There are also a few teams that are currently in need of running back within the top half of the first round including two that just swapped picks.
While he may not be their first option at number eight, the Eagles are now in need of a back after admitting defeat and trading DeMarco Murray after a disappointing 2015 season. Elliott has the ability to be that foundational back that they thought they had in Murray, so he at least has to be in the conversation. The Dolphins who swapped with the Eagles are also in need of a back. Picking at 13, the Dolphins may be intrigued by the Ohio State product after losing Lamar Miller in free agency. The Giants at 10 due to drafting best available player could also be an option. Regardless, I don't see Elliott falling past the 13th pick at this point. His stock on Play the Draft currently reflects that, but there is still some potential upside.
Defensive Linemen: If you've seen some of the deals some of the top defensive linemen have gotten in free agency, you'd understand why a team would love to find their guy who could potentially be an impact player at a low cost. The good news for those interested in addressing their line through the draft is this class is especially deep particularly at defensive tackle. With so many highly touted players in those areas, that leaves a few to slip through the cracks on PTD.
One that particularly intrigues me is Kamalei Correa out of Boise State. Despite lining up as a defensive end in college, Correa most likely will translate to an outside linebacker role in the pros. Along with the added versatility is his athleticism that certainly didn't disappoint at the combine. Correa's current price on PTD is reflective of an early third round pick, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if we hear his name called in the first round as buzz continues to grow.
Christian Hackenberg: Since the draft process started, Hackenberg has been linked to the Texans due to Bill O'Brien coaching him during his freshman year. However, that thinking came to a screeching halt when the team signed Brock Osweiler to a four year deal that shocked the football world. As a result, Hackenberg's stock on PTD has reflected that. On the day Osweiler signed, Hackenberg's stock checked in at $796,119 which reflected a price that hovered around the Texans second round pick. As of this writing, his stock is a little more than $742,000 which would be around the 25th pick of the second round.
The good news for Hackenberg is that teams still need quarterbacks so he could very well end up netting a positive return at his current price. He remains a very intriguing prospect to follow leading up to the draft.