You will notice a few of these projections are the same as my last mock draft. That is because they make sense… for now. Less than five percent of you are actually reading this introduction. Thank you to those who are. These “projections” will change frequently.
1. Tennessee Titans - FSU DB Jalen Ramsey - Everyone is mocking Laremy Tunsil here. I understand the argument. I don’t consider Taylor Lewan a bad player. You can with Lewan, but the Titans cannot win with the same center and left guard combination as 2015. Those spots need to be upgraded more than tackle. However, making the case for adding quality offensive linemen, regardless of position, is a solid one. Now for Ramsey, let’s run down the checklist. Quality cornerback, check. Long and aggressive, check. Freak athlete, check. Truly versatile, check. He can be a true difference maker.
2. Cleveland Browns - North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz - Free agency and trades will dictate which teams still have quarterback needs, and as of now more teams need quarterbacks than passers available. I can see why people really like Wentz. He presents all of the buzzwords at the position and I love that he’s willing to test single coverage downfield to allow his receiver to win one on one. However, I cannot look past his tendency to freeze, hitting pause in the pocket.
3. San Diego Chargers - Ole Miss T Laremy Tunsil - Philip Rivers has displayed functional mobility and an ability to win in a confined pocket. Common thought would be that Rivers’ ability to succeed in such a situation would continue to decline with age. This entire offense would improve with a better offensive line. Tunsil has an aggressive demeanor to go along with his strength and footwork.
4. Dallas Cowboys - Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott - But positional value says no running backs in the first-round? I believe Elliott is a foundation piece of an NFL offense and shines in every phase of the position. Elliott converts three yard gains into seven yard gains and might be the best blocking ball carrier we have seen. And behind the Cowboys’ offensive line? Have mercy.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - UCLA LB Myles Jack - I consider Jack the top prospect in this draft class. Jack can play like a 260 lbs power linebacker or display the agility a 230 lbs coverage specialist. He moves differently than most players at the position. Linebackers tend to play better when working behind a talented defensive line, an area where Jacksonville will continue to add talent.
6. Baltimore Ravens - Ohio State EDGE Joey Bosa - We know what Bosa brings: A pass rusher who understands his limitations and uses his explosion and power to his advantage to work through offensive linemen. He is not a bender and the real question will be, “What is Bosa’s ceiling?” For that reason, Bosa could drop a little further than this. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are both on the wrong side of 30, and Courtney Upshaw is a JAG and a free agent.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Cal QB Jared Goff - Again, the quarterback carousel will be more clear after free agency and trades. “Chip Kelly’s offense” does not require a mobile quarterback. It does require a quarterback who recognizes open receivers and gets them the football as quickly as possible.
8. Miami Dolphins - Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves - Hargreaves’ 2015 season did not match 2014, but it was far from bad or even average. I was a big Jamar Taylor fan out of Boise State, but he has not played well. Unless the team really believes in young corners Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett as full time starters, expect them to address this position early. Based on his NFL Combine, Hargreaves is just behind Jalen Ramsey in terms of athleticism.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Clemson EDGE Shaq Lawson - We know all about what Lawson and Clemson’s defensive line did this year. Lawson produced a great matchup against Ronnie Stanley this season, winning on some occasions and losing on others. He has flashes speed, power and pass rushing awareness with a variety of moves.
10. New York Giants - Oregon DL DeForest Buckner - I’m not completely sold on Buckner’s pass rushing success early on. However, I am sold on Buckner's individual traits that can result in a powerful pass rusher. Let me explain. Buckner has desired size and length. He is not slow off the football. He has strength in his hands and uses length. All of these show up as a run defender. Once he shows urgency and intent to play behind the line of scrimmage and shed against the pass, he can be a huge factor on a defense. The Giants might see a Justin Tuck comparison here.
11. Chicago Bears - Notre Dame T Ronnie Stanley - I actually liked Charles Leno Jr. coming out of Boise State as a late rounder, and he is best served as a utility offensive lineman on an NFL roster. Early in his head coaching career with the Panthers, John Fox made an investment at left in Jordan Gross. If Stanley is on the board, he needs to do the same here.
12. New Orleans Saints - Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell - Brandin Cooks, while good, is a complimentary piece of a passing game. As is Willie Snead. The Saints lack a physical element to their passing game (don’t bring up Brandon Coleman) and Treadwell shines in this area, using his size and strength both before and after the catch.
13. Philadelphia Eagles - Stanford G Joshua Garnett - I’ve been on a few local Philadelphia programs in recent weeks. One question I received was “outside of guard, what position is the biggest need.” It was difficult to answer. To me, that shows how much the Eagles need to upgrade the position, arguably at both guard spots. Garnett can be a powerful blocker and will draw the “good teammate” label.
14. Oakland Raiders - Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander - I can see why a lot of people like Alexander. In fact, many love his game. Hate it or love it, corner is now a position of size and stature. It can be difficult to find sub 5’10” corner who successfully plays the ball in contested situations. Jason Verrett was one, and Alexander needs to follow that path.
15. Los Angeles Rams - Memphis QB Paxton Lynch - With Les Snead and Jeff Fisher reportedly on the verge of signing contract extensions (Relationships!), the team MUST invest in the quarterback position. Outside of Sean Mannion, who the team took far too early, the Rams have passed on other opportunities to draft a quarterback. Lynch needs time to learn in the NFL after coming out of a rock step and release or bail offense.
16. Detroit Lions - Alabama DL A’Shawn Robinson - The NFL already likes and will continue to like Robinson’s projection more than I do. I see a big, stout run defender who does not offer very much as an upfield disruptor or pass rusher. Maybe he can be Michael Brockers, but I see adequate to above average run defenders signed every year off the street. The Lions do need help along the interior, and as you have read, it can greatly impact linebacker success.