NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Carson Wentz Goes #1

Who doesn’t love reading a mock draft? The NFL Draft is only a few days away, and we’ve already seen a big shake-up at the top of the board. The Rams and the Eagles have both moved up to the top 2 picks. This is almost certainly to take a QB each, and I believe the top 3 QB’s will all be top 10 picks. This more reflects how desperate teams are for that franchise player, not really that any of the 3 are that overwhelmingly good. This draft will be hard to predict because there really aren’t any surefire prospects. Any player has some flaw you can pick out. Having said all that, this is my best guess to the first round.


1. Los Angeles Rams(from Tennessee Titans) – Carson Wentz, QB from North Dakota State

The Rams didn’t move up without knowing exactly who they want to take, and Carson Wentz is the pick. Wentz has all the tools and work ethic to go with it. While there is a limited body of work, Wentz ran a pro style offense and is very good in the play action passing game. His strengths will mesh well with the power run game the Rams will run with RB Todd Gurley. Los Angeles will need to address the WR position later on to help Wentz develop.


2. Philadelphia Eagles(from Cleveland Browns) – Jared Goff, QB from California

The Eagles and new Head Coach Doug Pederson also must know who they’ll be taking, or may be fine taking Goff or Wentz. Goff may need a year to develop, but his quick release and accuracy will serve him well under Pederson. Goff is good on the move, allowing him to shift the pocket and still get the ball out. The Eagles are in a reload year, and Goff may find the field after the season is lost. QB Sam Bradford will most likely not be an Eagle by the end of draft weekend.


3. San Diego Chargers – DeForest Buckner, DL from Oregon

The Chargers are a prime candidate to trade out of this slot for a team looking to land Jalen Ramsey. If they make their own pick, Buckner fills a prime need. San Diego finished 24th in sacks in 2015, and need a disruptive force to get to the opposing QB. Only giving up 236 passing yards per game means the secondary is actually not bad, as tempting as Ramsey might be. I believe it’ll be Buckner or trade.


4. Dallas Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliot, RB from Ohio State

The Cowboys will have all sorts of options here, but the backfield is still unsettled. The Cowboys play in a weak division, and are only one season removed from a deep playoff run. Dallas did show interest in Lamar Miller and Doug Martin in free agency, meaning they want to upgrade on RB Darren McFadden. They settled for Alfred Morris, but he is just another guy. Elliot will be a star from Day 1 behind this offensive line, and will also help keep QB Tony Romo upright all season.


5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Ramsey, S from Florida State

This is one pick that hasn’t changed, and I stand by my original write up- 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 – Laremy Tunsil, OT from Ole Miss

It’s pretty surprising Tunsil could be drafted this late, but it’s completely possible given the trades at the top of the draft. The Ravens could easily get a ransom for this pick if Tunsil is sitting here, because there isn’t much to not like about Tunsil. He’s an excellent prospect at a premium position. Baltimore grabs a potential All-Pro to protect QB Joe Flacco‘s blindside. Tunsil will also help a lethargic running game.


7. San Francisco 49ers – Paxton Lynch, QB from Memphis

It’s hard to see QB Colin Kaepernick on this roster as we come closer to the draft, providing the draft with the first big surprise. While Lynch has his weaknesses, what he does well should be a good fit with Head Coach Chip Kelly. He can move well out of the pocket and run downfield a bit. He isn’t a dual threat guy in the traditional sense, but he’ll provide enough of a running threat to keep defenses honest. The road will be bumpy the first year or so, but Lynch could be the best QB of the draft.


8. Cleveland Browns(Originally Philadelphia) – Ronnie Stanley, OT from Notre Dame

Cleveland is starting from scratch, and they need to build the offensive line to get anything accomplished. Head Coach Hue Jackson has a QB to help with the rebuild in Robert Griffin III, but needs to find a way to protect him. Stanley is athletic and will be a nice fit while Jackson accumulates weapons over the course of the next couple of years.


9.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joey Bosa, DE from Ohio State

Tampa needs help at almost every level of the defense, but finished tied for the fourth fewest sacks in the NFL with 27. Bosa is quite the get here at number 9, having been mocked within the top 6 for months now. The Bucs will be thrilled to see him fall this far down. They might be wise to leave Bosa as a defensive end; he isn’t fluid enough to stand up and play an outside linebacker role.


10. New York Giants – Myles Jack, LB from UCLA

The Giants totally re-vamped their defense in free agency, but it won’t stop them from continuing the rebuild on that side of the ball. Jack does have some medical issues, but that’s the only reason he is still available. Jack is an explosive playmaker when he is fully healthy, and will give the Giants a much needed boost at the second level of that defense. They could also go WR if they really feel the need to find a secondary weapon for Eli Manning to partner with Odell Beckham.


11. Chicago Bears – Leonard Floyd, LB from Georgia

The Bears finished middle of the pack in sacks in 2015, and could use a shot in the arm on defense. Enter Floyd, who could help get to the opposing quarterback and stop the run. He is quite tall for a linebacker, but still retains the athleticism needed for the position. He may spend a year or two in specialty packages, but that doesn’t mean he can’t impact the game immediately.


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. Some teams may knock him for being too small. 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. WR Laquon Treadwell could be tempting here as well, but the defensive need is too great to pass up.


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. He is prone to giving up big plays, but is worth the gamble at this spot.


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.  DE Shaq Lawson could form a devastating trio to go along with Irvin and Khalil Mack if Oakland chose to go that route.


15. Tennessee Titans(Originally Los Angeles) – Jack Conklin, OT from Michigan State

Tennessee will be ecstatic to still get an offensive tackle to protect Marcus Mariota while getting a bevy of picks to help rebuild this team. Conklin is a starter from a blue blood program, and could turn into a mauler to help DeMarco Murray and the run game. There is some concern of whether Conklin will stick at tackle, but he is a very good pick even if he winds up inside.


16. Detroit Lions – Shaq Lawson, DE from Clemson

Detroit has needs all over the place, but will choose to go with a pass rush partner for Ziggy Ansah. Lawson can penetrate enough to really be effective against the run as well. The Lions need secondary help, but any player here may be a bit of a reach. If they decide to go the cornerback route, look for William Jackson III to be the pick.


17. Atlanta Falcons – Darron Lee, LB from Ohio State

This is another pick that hasn’t changed for me, as the Falcons really need a playmaker in the front seven. 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. We all saw just how bad the Colts were without Luck last season. They need an RB behind Frank Gore, but with Elliot off the board will wait until later in the draft.


19. Buffalo Bills – Laquon Treadwell, WR from Ole Miss

Many expect the Bills to go defense here, and there have even been rumors that they are looking to move up in the draft for a QB. Tyrod Taylor seemingly showed he can be a starter, and the Bills will wind up giving him a secondary weapon behind Sammy Watkins. Questions abound about how Treadwell will transition to the NFL, but he won’t have to be the #1 guy in the offense. Buffalo really needs another threat on the outside to maximize their run and play action game.


20. New York Jets -William Jackson III, CB from Houston

New York is loaded along the defensive line and could use an edge rusher, but Jackson is a good fit in the secondary. He is aggressive and is rising fast up the draft board as we get closer to actual draft day. Having a great secondary would free up Head Coach Todd Bowles to have his front seven come with all types of blitzes. Jackson is very willing in run support. Also, Jackson 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. He will help free up other defensive players to make plays as well. 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. There are some who think Doctson is the best WR in the draft, and Houston may have a steal at 22. 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. He should be a big help in the return game as he learns the NFL.


24. Cincinnati Bengals – Jarran Reed, DT from Alabama

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 Reed to pair with DT Geno Atkins in the middle. While Reed is not exceptionally talented as a pass rusher, he can still help the Bengals have a dominant front four.


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, and most likely would have been a top 10 pick if he hadn’t had off field issues involving drugs.


26. Seattle Seahawks – Ryan Kelly, C from Alabama

Seattle needs to start drafting actual offensive lineman instead of trying to turn guys who played defense to offense. After trading Max Unger to the Saints for Jimmy Graham last off-season, the Seahawks find his replacement in Kelly. A 3 year starter at Alabama says a lot. His combine stats don’t stand out, but the game film does. He will be a huge help for Thomas Rawls and the Seahawks offense as a whole.


27. Green Bay Packers – Mackensie Alexander, CB from Clemson

The Packers are mostly set on offense with the return of Jordy Nelson, and will use their first round pick to inject more youth in the secondary. Green Bay had a good pass defense in 2015, but you can’t have enough good corners in today’s NFL. Alexander has some questions surrounding his production and some teams think he’s a bit too cocky. This late in the first round is a good spot to gamble, and Alexander has the tools to be one of the best from this draft class.


28. Kansas City Chiefs -Kevin Dodd, DE from Clemson

Kansas City could use a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball, but no WR available in this slot makes sense for what Alex Smith is good at. The Chiefs will be carried by their defense again in 2016, and Dodd will be a huge part of the pass rush. Tamba Hali is getting older, and Justin Houston had off-season surgery. Dodd brings energy and tenacity, and will be able to refine his technique with the Chiefs. He could be a dark horse for 8-10 sacks in his rookie season if he lands here.


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. He brings good size and aggressiveness while playing the ball in the air. Apple has the potential to form a formidable duo with CB Patrick Peterson.


30. Carolina Panthers – Karl Joseph, S from West Virginia

The Panthers are coming off of losing Josh Norman, but no corner screams to be taken here. Carolina does need an impact safety, and Joseph is arguably the best in this class. There are some concerns about his frame because he plays with a reckless style. An NFL weight program can help him address that, and Joseph is also raved about as a leader. He’ll fit into the Carolina secondary from Day 1.


31. Denver Broncos -Josh Garnett, OG from Stanford

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. Garnett will have to be worked with as a pass blocker, but comes into the NFL as a nasty run blocker. That is most important in Head Coach Gary Kubiak‘s scheme. Garnett should be a starter from training camp on.

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