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NFL Mock Draft 1.0
It’s that time of the year when everyone has a mock draft, and I figured it was time for me to get in on the fun. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a scout or anything close to it. I tried to go through and match team needs to which player would be a good fit. Even the experts don’t normally get most of the first round correct. This mock is all to my untrained eye and will most likely fall apart the first time there’s a trade.
1. Tennessee Titans – Laremy Tunsil, OT from Ole Miss
The Titans are in a unique position at the number one spot because the clearly do not need a quarterback. While Jalen Ramsey is tempting here, Tennessee can’t pass on what they hope will be a bookend left tackle to help protect franchise QB Marcus Mariota. In most drafts, there would be a clear cut number one QB that the Titans could leverage to trade down. That is still possible, but not likely. Any pick but Tunsil or Ramsey would be a surprise.
2. Cleveland Browns – Carson Wentz, QB from North Dakota State
Whether it’s been by design or not, the Browns have gotten significantly worse after free agency. They lost four very good players, leading some to speculate that new Head Coach Hue Jackson and company will be re-building from the ground up. The Browns have holes absolutely everywhere, but they could draft Wentz and have incumbent QB Josh McCown start in 2016. Wentz could spend the season learning before taking over in 2017.
3. San Diego Chargers – Ronnie Stanley, OT from Notre Dame
This is a bit of a reach, and the Chargers will also take a very long look at Ramsey. San Diego saw their offense decimated by injury in 2015, and will hope to shore up left tackle to keep QB Philip Rivers upright in the later stages of his career. After adding WR Travis Benjamin, San Diego needs the offensive line to step up to maximize his home run hitting ability while WR Keenan Allen works the intermediate game.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliot, RB from Ohio State
Simply put, the Cowboys are not a 4-12 team. They have too much talent on both sides of the ball. QB Tony Romo was injured way too much, which means most think Dallas will look at QB here. However, the Cowboys need to go back to the 2014 formula. Run the ball, then run some more to help Romo get through the season. Dallas showed interest in Lamar Miller and Doug Martin in free agency, meaning they want to upgrade on RB Darren McFadden. Elliot will be a star from Day 1 behind this offensive line.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Ramsey, S from Florida State
If the first four picks truly fall like this, Jacksonville may shove people out of the way to get to the podium. The Jaguars spent some serious cash in free agency to upgrade their defense, and this will be the next step. They added DL Malik Jackson, CB Prince Amukamara and FS Tashaun Gibson. Ramsey has the skills to play CB or S, which is why the Jags would still feel comfortable taking him even in light of the Gibson signing. Look for LB Myles Jack to be the pick here if Ramsey is gone.
6. Baltimore Ravens – Joey Bosa, DE from Ohio State
The Ravens almost never pick this early, and have some glaring needs. GM Ozzie Newsome will be happy to take a player to help replace Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. The secondary is also in need of help, but a good pass rush will help cover up that weakness. It will be very interesting to see where the Ravens go with this pick. They are a prime candidate to trade down as well.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Myles Jack, LB from UCLA
There seems to be a chance that Head Coach Chip Kelly will either have QB Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin to work with. If this is the case come draft time, Jack would be a dynamic playmaker to put into the 49er defense. This is another team that has a lot of rebuilding to do. Jack does have some medical concerns, but the 49ers could afford to have him miss some time in 2016 if needed.
8. Philadelphia Eagles – DeForest Buckner, DE from Oregon
Philly really needs upgrades at offensive line, WR and RB, but all options for those positions are slight reaches at this point. In the process of cleaning up after Chip Kelly, the Eagles will be happy to find Buckner still available. He and Fletcher Cox will form a formidable tandem from the DL. WR Laquon Treadwell will also be an option here, although it could be argued neither he or Jordan Matthews possess true number one WR skill sets.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Shaq Lawson, DE from Clemson
Tampa needs help at almost every level of the defense, but finished tied for the fourth fewest sacks in the NFL with 27. Lawson will be able to help that facet immediately and is the best pass rusher available at this point. The Bucs could also look at CB Vernon Hargreaves, but even the best CB prospect will have issues if the front seven can’t consistently get home to the QB.
10. New York Giants – Laquon Treadwell, WR from Ole Miss
The Giants totally re-vamped their defense in free agency, and this will lead them to taking what they hope will be a secondary receiving weapon to go along with WR Odell Beckham. There are quite a few people who have concerns if Treadwell can be a number one in the NFL, but he doesn’t have to be with Beckham to play with. QB Eli Manning is not getting younger, and New York needs to put more weapons around him.
11. Chicago Bears – Jared Goff, QB from California
This pick may seem a bit odd, but let’s look at some facts. Incumbent QB Jay Cutler will be 32 coming into the season. He’s never been the perfect fit in Chicago, which included rumors of being on the trade block last season. After this year, his dead cap space goes down to $2 million. The Bears need help on both offensive and defensive lines, but the chance to grab Cutler’s successor is too good to pass up.
12. New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Rankins, DT from Louisville
Only the Philadelphia Eagles finished last year giving up more rushing yards. The Saints are in need of playmakers everywhere defensively, and Rankins is one of the best run stoppers in the draft. Rankins is also growing as a pass rusher. New Orleans will continue to transition to a more run-centric offense as QB Drew Brees ages, making it more important than ever for the defense to improve.
13. Miami Dolphins – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB from Florida
Miami would be very happy to see Hargreaves at number 13, seeing as how they just released veteran CB Brent Grimes. The Dolphins could use an upgrade at any linebacker spot, but the cornerback position is the highest priority. Miami finished in the bottom third of the league in passing yards. Hargreaves will go a long way to shoring up this weakness.
14. Oakland Raiders – Reggie Ragland, LB from Alabama
The Raiders went the free agency route to improve their defense as well. Even though they added CB Sean Smith and LB Bruce Irvin, they still need a playmaker in middle. Oakland could use a RB to push Latavius Murray, but that can easily be found later in the draft. Defensive improvement coupled with another year of growth from QB Derek Carr and WR Amari Cooper could see a playoff berth as soon as this season.
15. Los Angeles Rams – Paxton Lynch, QB from Memphis
The Rams cannot take the next step as a franchise until they get even average play from the QB position. They have a total stud in RB Todd Gurley and an above average defense. While Lynch is an exciting prospect, he probably needs at least one season to adjust to life in the NFL. There will be a lot of pressure to play Lynch right away in Los Angeles. Lynch’s strength of the screen and short passing game could mesh well with the players the Rams have right now.
16. Detroit Lions – Jack Conklin, OT from Michigan State
The Lions have a lot of needs defensively, but the offense is also in a state of flux with WR Calvin Johnson retiring. Detroit brought in WR Marvin Jones to try and help fill the void and protecting QB Matthew Stafford becomes an even greater priority. Conklin will also be a huge help to the run game, which RB Ameer Abdullah will enjoy.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Darron Lee, LB from Ohio State
Lee has range and can run, which is becoming more and more valuable from today’s NFL linebacker. Atlanta needs a splash player to help LB Vic Beasly. The safety position is a need, but there isn’t one to take in this slot. Another positive is Lee does not have the normal wear and tear for a linebacker coming into the league, as he did not play the position at Ohio State until 2014.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Taylor Decker, OT from Ohio State
The Colts desperately need to upgrade their offensive line. There are questions about how high the ceiling is for Decker, but the Colts can start him at guard if they need to. QB Andrew Luck is the franchise right now. If Indy can’t keep him upright, they have zero chance to succeed in the very improved AFC South. LB Leonard Floyd may get a look here, but Indy would be foolish to pass on the chance to improve the offensive line.
19. Buffalo Bills – Leonard Floyd, LB from Georgia
Floyd won’t have to wait very long to hear his name called, as Buffalo needs upgrades at virtually every linebacker spot. Buffalo finished well in most defensive ranks. Head Coach Rex Ryan will always play the same way. He leans on a strong run game and excellent defense. The Bills could look for a secondary WR to pair with WR Sammy Watkins, but a defensive playmaker is the safe bet here.
20. New York Jets – Mackensie Alexander, CB from Clemson
New York is loaded along the defensive line and could use an edge rusher, but Alexander represents the better fit at number 20. Alexander is a smaller CB, but excelled in man to man coverage while in college. Having a great secondary would free up Head Coach Todd Bowles to have his front seven come with all types of blitzes. Also, Alexander will have a great mentor in CB Darrelle Revis.
21. Washington Redskins – Andrew Billings, DT from Baylor
The Redskins were another team that was just gouged on the ground in 2015, giving up over 122 yards rushing per game. Billings should have an immediate impact in defending the run. Washington could potentially take the second WR off the board here, but need the help defensively worse than anything. They’ll have to hope QB Kirk Cousins continues to play as well as he did at the end of 2015.
22. Houston Texans – Josh Doctson, WR from TCU
After going big in free agency, Houston will continue the offensive makeover early in the draft. QB Brock Osweiler, RB Lamar Miller and Pro Bowl WR DeAndre Hopkins will all get a secondary threat in Doctson. He isn’t a blazing speed guy, but Hopkins can stretch the field. The Texans won the AFC South last year with a totally subpar offense outside of Hopkins. Houston very clearly aims to change that this season.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Corey Coleman, WR from Baylor
The Vikings have many pieces in place, but WR is not one of them. QB Teddy Bridgewater very much needs a legitimate playmaker to go along with WR Stefon Diggs. All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson will continue to be the focal point of the offense. There are questions about his polish as a route runner, but he can do enough to help this offense Year 1.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Robert Nkemdiche, DT from Ole Miss
While the obvious need here is WR after the departure of Marvin Jones(Lions) and Mohamed Sanu(Falcons), the Bengals won’t reach for one if the top three are off the board. Having WR A.J. Green and TE Tyler Eifert allow them to grab Nkemdiche to pair with DT Geno Atkins in the middle. Cincinnati isn’t an organization that is scared off with any off field issues. Nkemdiche could help the Bengals have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Noah Spence, LB from Eastern Kentucky
Spence is a wild card in this draft. He could justifiably go very early, or later than this pick. Most have Pittsburgh taking a CB here. That is definitely a need, but the last dominant pass rusher they drafted was Lamar Woodley. The Steelers have long had the attitude of pass rush being more important than cornerback. Rookie LB Bud Dupree showed flashes last year, but may have a better future as a complimentary rusher instead of the primary. Spence has the ability to be a game changer.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Jason Spriggs, OT from Indiana
The offensive line is a big area of need coming into the 2016 season. QB Russell Wilson and WR Doug Baldwin took it to the next level in 2015. After seeing OT Russell Okung leave via free agency, Seattle is a good fit Spriggs. He was a four year starter and is balanced in run and pass blocking. The Seahawks need some help on the defensive side as well, but can wait until Round 2 to start.
27. Green Bay Packers – Hunter Henry, TE from Arkansas
QB Aaron Rodgers will be getting WR Jordy Nelson back after he tore his ACL in the preseason, and will also have a new TE to play with. Henry is a good run blocker as well, which Green Bay hopes will help RB Eddie Lacy back on track. At 6’5″, he will be a prime red zone target as well. The Packers offense will be almost impossible to bottle up if Henry can come in and contribute right away.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Will Fuller, WR from Notre Dame
The Chiefs need more speed on the outside, and Fuller can bring that element. He is a burner and had a reputation for the big play while in college. It may not be in the normal Kansas City offensive game plan to throw downfield. However, every offense has to have some type of deep threat. Otherwise the defense can play that much looser if they have no fear of getting burned for a long play. Fuller may take a year to adjust to the NFL, but the speed helps Day 1.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Eli Apple, CB from Ohio State
Arizona is clearly pushing for a Super Bowl title right now, and Apple can help in the secondary. He can be aggressive and has experience using the press technique. That’s a good fit for the Arizona defense and the mentality Head Coach Bruce Arians has. Apple has the potential to form a formidable duo with CB Patrick Peterson.
30. Carolina Panthers – Kevin Dodd, DE from Clemson
Dodd could very easily be gone at this point. Carolina will pounce if he is not, and Dodd can be an impact pass rusher right away. The Panthers also need help in the defensive backfield, but can find a corner or safety later. Dodd will be able to learn under DE Charles Johnson and will help make the Panthers defense a fearsome group in 2016.
31. Denver Broncos – Cody Whitehair, OG from Kansas State
As of this writing, the defending Super Bowl champs have Mark Sanchez as their would be starting QB. If that’s still the case, they could reach here for QB. Going under the assumption they have another QB come draft day, offensive line is the priority. Whitehair can be a starter on the interior of the line right away and help RB C.J. Anderson control the clock. Wade Phillips will find replacements for the defensive losses in the later rounds.
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