NFL free agency: How the Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins signings shake up the draft
New teams for the top receivers in free agency have an impact on a handful of teams early in the draft
Allen Robinson is expected to sign with the Chicago Bears and Sammy Watkins will land in Kansas City with the Chiefs, two large dominoes set to fall on the free-agent wide receiver market that'll impact plans in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Let's pinpoint the winners and losers of Robinson signing in Chicago, and the Chiefs acquiring Watkins.
Bears -- I'm in the minority thinking SMU wideout Courtland Sutton would've been worthy of the Bears' No. 8 overall selection, but he'd be the only wideout I'd pick that early in this draft. In essence, there's Sutton, then a handful of quality second-round pass-catchers. Now, with Robinson in the mix, Chicago can go defense -- potentially linebacker -- or add to their offensive line in front of Trubisky, who's another clear winner in Robinson signing with the Bears.
Chiefs -- Patrick Mahomes has a huge arm and operated an Air Raid system at Texas Tech. With Watkins and Tyreek Hill -- not to mention ultra-athletic Travis Kelce -- he's set up wonderfully to take the reins as Kansas City's starting quarterback in a system now with the personnel to accentuate his talents. Watkins has averaged a hefty 15.9 yards per catch on his 192 career receptions. He's undoubtedly a field-stretcher. Have fun, opposing safeties.
Ravens -- While Robinson or Watkins would've been nice additions for the receiver-needy Ravens, with the Bears and Chiefs adding the top free-agent wide receivers, the Ravens find themselves in a position at No. 16 overall in which they may very well have the pick of the litter at the pass-catcher spot.
Cowboys -- Dallas is obviously in the receiver market -- particularly of the downfield-threat variety. Now that the Bears are seemingly out of said market in the draft, there's a better chance a prospect like Calvin Ridley will be available when the Cowboys go on the clock at No. 19 overall.
Rams -- As it turns out, the Rams ultimately traded cornerback E.J. Gaines and a 2018 second-round selection for a one-year rental of Watkins. Not great. While Watkins wasn't a super-consistent performer in 2017, he was a big-play option for Jared Goff and drew coverage away from the likes of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
Tyreek Hill -- Yes, there's a logical argument that Hill could be fit into the winners portion of this article. However, as a player set to make $704,000 in 2018 and $797,000 in the last year of his rookie deal, Hill would've likely preferred to garner more targets as the defacto No. 1 wideout in Kansas City to beef up his resume heading into free agency. Watkins' presence could help Hill. But there simply won't be as many targets to go around, and Watkins is more of a traditional wide receiver.
Kevin White -- Remember him? You know, Chicago's first-round pick in the 2015 draft who has battled a myriad of injuries, only has 21 catches and 193 yards in his NFL career and has yet to reel in a touchdown as a professional. Yeah ... him. He's not suddenly in danger of being cut with a fully-guaranteed $5.2 million cap hit in 2018, but he's clearly -- at the very best -- Chicago's No. 2 wideout heading into his contract year. Less targets equals less production equals less money in free agency.
Top Receiver Prospects -- The aforementioned Sutton and Ridley along with receivers like James Washington, D.J. Moore, and Anthony Miller all moved down the draft board with the Bears addressing their No. 1 receiver spot in free agency.
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