By Peyton Gallaher
Let me preface this with a few things you should expect:
- This is where I think teams should go not where they will go. (I’m fully aware Henry may not even got in the first round and the Browns will most likely pick another QB to ruin)
- I’m no genius, but I have watched a lot of college and pro football in my short 16 years of life. No I don’t have the experience or resources of Mel Kiper Jr., but I have watched tons of games and loads of film. If you’re looking for Kiper, he’s not here.
- I don’t think QBs, particularly in this class, are worth much. At least, not worth as much as they are valued on draft day.
- I like good football players. Numbers and measurables have their place, but ultimately it comes down to who can really play football.
- None of us have any idea how free agency will play out so that could change where teams decide to pull the trigger in the draft. Take everything with a grain of salt.
With that said, let’s get started.
1. Tennessee Titans – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
You have heard this in probably every mock you have read so far. I apologize for that but it’s a move that really clicks for Tennessee. Ideally, the Titans trade back. There is no immediate need for them to pick at this spot. However, if they don’t trade back, I think Tunsil is the pick at number one.
Exceptionally quick feet and an extremely long arms set him apart from the other offensive linemen in this class. Despite other needs in the secondary and in the backfield, I think it would makes sense to make a pick that would be purely focused on protecting Marcus Mariota.
Last year, the line couldn’t effectively protect Mariota, resulting in a few stints that saw the fledgling star miss time with knee injuries. When you play against JJ Watt twice a year you better have good tackles and Tunsil could be an instant fix in that respect.
Besides, it would be nice to have a hefty insurance policy for young star quarterback.
2. Cleveland Browns – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio St.
Bosa doesn’t have the versatility or raw athleticism of Robert Nkemdiche, but he has got juice and a propensity to stick with plays and make tackles down field.
In addition to his pure football skill, he is home grown, attending Ohio State. Fans would love that. The Browns have one of the highest paid defensive units in the league, but they were 27th in total defense last season.
Bosa gives Cleveland the opportunity to have two elite defensive ends with Paul Kruger on the other side and would be an instant pick-me-up to a unit that let Cleveland down all last year.
3. San Diego Chargers – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota St.
If you’re drafting for need, the clear issue is up front on the o-line. However, Phillip Rivers is aging rapidly and I don’t think San Diego plans on picking this high again for quite some time. That means it is time to find a franchise QB. If this is the thinking of the front office in San Diego, the best guy available is Carson Wentz.
The FCS wonder kid is a reincarnation of Arizona Carson Palmer, except he’s not 36. Great footwork and insane accuracy on the deep ball make Wentz the best QB on the board. The Chargers could follow the Aaron Rodgers plan and mold Wentz for the future.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
I don’t quite understand what about 6-foot-4 inch, 240 pound Heisman winning monster scares people from Henry. Personally, I think he’s got the potential to be an incredible bell cow back in the league.
His strength, marathon-like endurance, determination, and stupendously quick open-field cutting set him above the rest of the backs in the class for me. It was clear that the Dallas offense severely missed Demarco Murray last year. If Darren McFadden can run for 1,000 yards behind that line imagine what Henry could do.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Robert Nkemdiche, DE/DT, Ole Miss
The Jags injected youth into the offense via the draft, spending five first and second round picks on that side of the ball (Blake Bortles, Luke Joeckel, Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, and T.J. Yeldon) over the past four drafts. The youth movement worked as the Jags offense was the surprise of the league in 2015.
In last year’s draft, however, the Jags went with defense early, adding Dante Fowler with the third overall pick. Fowler missed the entire season with an ACL tear he sustained at rookie minicamp but still has a ton of promise. The Jags defense can add another huge piece at this point by taking the best player in this draft.
Quite frankly, Nkemdiche is a freak. He’s long, strong, fast, quick as a cat, and has an expansive array of moves that he used to annihilate offensive linemen throughout his three year career at Ole Miss. He would be the 1st overall pick without a shadow of a doubt if it weren’t for his off-the-field issues. Jacksonville could get an absolute steal with the fifth pick.
6. Baltimore Ravens – Jalen Ramsey, S/CB, Florida St.
Let’s get this out of the way. Ramsey is a safety at the next level. Can he play cornerback? Of course he can; that’s just a testament to his athleticism. However, he’s best suited roaming the defensive backfield as a safety.
He has incredible hands and a feared shoulder when it comes to run support. Great back-end speed and top-of-the-line playmaking add to an awesome skill set for the Seminole standout. He could be Ed Reed 2.0.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Mackenzie Alexander, CB, Clemson
The easy pick is to just move on from Colin Kaepernick and pick a guy like Jared Goff, but I don’t think they would have brought in Chip Kelly if they intended on doing this.
In that case, Alexander is the definition of lock down. In three years at Clemson, he conceded less than 5 TDs to opposing receivers which makes me think that, contrary to popular belief, he’s the best cover corner in the draft.
He’s more than able to tackle well outside of the secondary which adds some shine to his stock. His wingspan is massive for his 5-foot-11 inch frame and that allows him to make plays in coverage that other corners simply cannot. The defensive backfield of the 49ers, though it was riddled with injury, was atrocious last year. Alexander could fix that right up and could really help a defense in limbo get back to being the cream of the crop.
8. Miami Dolphins – DeForest Buckner, DE/DT, Oregon
On paper, the Dolphins have one of the better rosters in football. Obviously that did not translate to the field as they pick in the top 10 for the third time in the last five years.
You can look around the Dolphins and see promise literally everywhere. Adam Gase is hopefully the solution to the Dolphins perennial underperformance, but the opportunity to add more elite talent makes Miami salivate.
Beware of the bust known as Dion Jordan, but DeForest Buckner’s incredible talent gives the Dolphins an opportunity to complete a horrifying pass rush featuring Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, and of course Buckner. That’s enough to make even Belichick sneer a bit (as if he wasn’t already doing so).
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Laquan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Let’s just give Jameis Winston another toy. Treadwell has Dez Bryant like potential. The jump ball skills, insanely strong hands, and massive shiftiness with the ball all remind me of Bryant. With Vincent Jackson aging this could give the Bucs a nasty 1-2 punch with Mike Evans.
10. New York Giants – Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio St.
The Giants have a few choices here. They could have a go at improving the defensive front with Jason Pierre Paul’s sudden decline in digits and production. They could add to an o-line that showed promise last year, although it constantly looked incomplete. They could even attack that glaring gap at safety. So when I say they should pick a running back, it won’t make sense immediately, but let me explain.
Rashad Jennings is good but not great and definitely not a long term fix. Zeke is multi-dimensional and combines the power of Andre Williams, the up and down running of Jennings, and the pass catching of Shane Vereen into one 6-foot-0, 225 pound package. Not to mention he’s the best pass protecting back I have ever seen coming out of college. Ezekiel Elliot could bring balance to an offense that was too one dimensional at times last season.
11. Chicago Bears – Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
This one is interesting. The clear pick, assuming they resign Alshon Jeffrey, is middle linebacker but it comes down to personal opinion when trying to identify the best prospect. Most people think Myles Jack should be the pick here because of his pure skill and talent, but I think Reggie Ragland is far and away the best football player at this position.
A bashing run-stopper and a decent cover man, Ragland has set himself apart from the field by sheer willpower. He’s just got a Chicago feel about him. He also proved at the Senior Bowl that he could play outside linebacker as well. Doesn’t that remind you Mike Singletary?
12. New Orleans Saints – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Sean Payton is back and with him is Drew Brees, so this pick must be spent on the defense.
Last year, New Orleans had was the worst defense I have ever seen. I mean it was bad enough to make you wonder if any members of “The Dome Patrol” could be re-signed.
Everything needs help but especially the secondary where Brandon Browner and Jairus Byrd were liabilities. Kenny Vaccaro is something to look forward to and adding the cover skills of Hargreaves to the mix ensures a sunny future in NOLA.
13. Philadelphia Eagles – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Corey Coleman has speed that will make you do a double take. He’s got the unparalleled ability to take the top off of any defense, and new coach Doug Pederson loves guys like that.
If Jordan Matthews is to be the number one receiver, as he should be, Coleman could be the alternate deep threat on play action that would make secondaries quake. Matthews just doesn’t have that top end speed that Coleman possess. The o-line needs help also, but Pederson has a knack for making offensive lines work like he did last year in Kansas City.
14. Oakland Raiders – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Jack is super talented, and that’s a certainty. The only question is how he will bounce back from an early season ACL and meniscus tear that sidelined him for all of the 2015-16 campaign.
When he was healthy, Jack was athletic enough to play running back for the Bruins as well as start at MLB. With the Raiders brandishing one of the best young rosters in football, head coach Jack Del Rio could create an unfair pass rush of Khalil Mack and Myles Jack. It even comes with a catchy name, “the Jack and Mack show”.
15. Los Angeles Rams- Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
It is clear Los Angeles needs to find a quarterback, but I think they can address this in free agency with guys like Kirk Cousins and Brock Osweiler hitting the market. That said, this new QB needs someone to throw to.
You can argue that Doctson is the number two receiver in the class, and he makes sense here. Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, and Stedman Bailey are all part of a decent nucleus, but the receiving core for the Rams lacks the showtime element that great Rams teams have had.
Doctson, despite a nagging wrist injury that hampered his last season at TCU, may be the most polished and well-rounded receiving option in the 2016 draft. Los Angeles could use that next season in the Coliseum.
16. Detroit Lions – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The offensive line was a joke last year in Detroit giving up 48 sacks. Without Calvin Johnson out there to bail out the offense, the run game must step up in 2016-17.
Stanley is the best o-line prospect left on the board at this point and despite how raw he is, there is a ton of potential. Stanley is not a finished product by any stretch, but he could blossom into one of the best tackles in the league. His run blocking needs help but his quickness is so rare amongst tackles that he could be a huge asset going forward.
17. Atlanta Falcons- A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Robinson should be picked higher but because of the circumstance Robinson slides right into Atlanta’s lap. He maybe the strongest player in the first round but brings rare agility for a guy his size. Despite getting lost in the shuffle in one of the best defensive fronts college football has ever see, I believe he will be a good, maybe great pro. If everything goes to plan, he could be a thinner clone of Vince Wilfork.
18. Indianapolis Colts- Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Smith would have easily been a top 10 pick if it weren’t for a horrible knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl, his last college football game. Smith has energy and a nose for the ball that cannot be found in this draft.
The Colts have had a quite honestly flat defense for years now, and when Luck went down this season, it really showed. Smith is a high-risk, high-reward pick. However, if this pick pans out, it could easily be the steal of the draft for the Colts.
19. Buffalo Bills – Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Rex Ryan and newly appointed assistant head coach Rob Ryan will likely be trying to fill the void left by All-Pro defensive lineman Mario Williams as it is expected that the Bills will cut ties with him to conserve cap space.
In this case, Clark makes a lot of sense. He plays with great pad level, can really get after the quarterback, and plug holes in the run game. The unique skill set that Kenny has makes him an intriguing prospect, but the combine could help or hurt his stock greatly.
20. New York Jets – Darron Lee, LB, Ohio St.
Lee is hands down the most versatile player in this draft. He’s got a mix of coverage skills, ability to dominate in run support, pass rushing, and playmaking that no one else in this draft has. It’s as if a corner, safety, and middle linebacker were meshed into one poor man’s Von Miller.
The Jets have a ton of young talent and Lee could really help a linebacker core that was easily the weak spot in an otherwise strong defensive unit last year. On top of that, Todd Bowles loved guys like this during his stint as defensive coordinator in Arizona.
*21. That Team in Washington – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
The team in Washington featured a great pass rush but not much else in 2015. Lawson is a double edged sword at defensive end. He’s a relentless pass rusher and running backs fear him as well. He often found his way into mesh points at Clemson, and I see no difference at the next level.
22. Houston Texans – Jared Goff, QB, California
If you weren’t sure the Texans needed a quarterback going into the playoffs, you figured it out really quickly. The Kansas City Chiefs ate Brian Hoyer alive, forcing four interceptions and a pair of fumbles.
Bill O’Brien has always been quarterback whisperer of sorts, and Goff would fit his pro-style system nicely. The only real thing that scares me about Goff was his inconsistent decision-making at the college level. If that can be fixed, he could be a Pro Bowl caliber QB.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio St.
Stefon Diggs emerged last year, but it is clear that his presence won’t be enough to get Minnesota over the hump in a division that features Green Bay. Miller would provide explosiveness to a passing game that can be defined as “meh” at best.
His hand strength and upside have a lot of scouts drooling. Considering he was playing quarterback at an extremely high level only two years ago, makes me think he has a very high ceiling moving forward.
24. Cincinnati Bengals- Von Bell, S, Ohio St.
Despite massive improvement in the tail end the season, the Bengals would be hard-pressed to find a better player than Von Bell to help out in 2016. They won’t be able to return everyone on that vaunted 2015 defense and adding youth will give you an opportunity to jettison some cap space.
Bell had nine interceptions in his college career. But the striking number is the 42 games played in over his three years as a Buckeye. That level of experience is a rare commodity in this day and age. Bell is also best pure cover safety in the class. The run support part of Bell’s game needs help but there is a workable foundation there.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio St.
The Steelers have spent picks on the front-seven the past couple of years landing Ryan Shazier, Jarvis Jones, and Bud Dupree with their last three first round picks. Now, as that group convalesces and starts to reap results, it’s time for the Steelers to turn their attention to the secondary.
You can’t find a replacement for Troy Polamalu at this spot, but Apple is a shutdown corner with tremendous ball skills and could really sure up a shaky and aging second level.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
With Cliff Avril’s and Brandon Mebane’s impeding free agency, it has become important for Seattle to add some depth in the trenches.
Jarran Reed, at times this year, showed flashes of brilliance for the Tide as they rolled on for another national title. Reed is another guy that got covered up in the greatness of that front but he’s rangy, tough, and really knows how to win individual battles especially when defending the run.
He’s a bit top heavy and he plays a little high, but with a few corrections Reed could be an excellent addition for the vaunted Seattle front.
27. Green Bay Packers – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio St.
Green Bay’s offensive line really struggled last year at times to protect Aaron Rodgers. This disappointing line play could have contributed to what many would consider a disappointing season in TitleTown USA.
Decker is, and not to be cliché, nasty. He really attacks downhill in the run game and he smothers pass rushers. He can be, at times, a bit overly aggressive, but sometimes an o-line needs that.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
If it’s any indication of good this guy is, they called Joseph “Crazy Eight” in college.
I love this guy. He flies around, hits like a nuclear powered jack hammer, and find ways to create turnovers as well as anyone in this bunch of prospects. The only reason Joseph slides this far is the fact that he’s a bit undersized at 5 feet 11 and he’s coming off an ACL tear.
With that said, Joseph could fill a void in the Chiefs secondary as they have Eric Berry, Sean Smith, and Ron Parker slated to hit free agency.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Frostee Rucker and company are very good as a unit, but there is always room for improvement and Dodd can provide that. He’s got insane acceleration off the line and is a very persistent pass rusher with a full array of spin and swim moves. Dodd’s strength is also very impressive.
30. Carolina Panthers – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan St.
For the most part, the Panthers were solid upfront…until they ran into the Broncos defense and were they were absolutely embarrassed.
Cam Newton can make a lot of offensive lines look better than they actually are, but under the barrage he endured during Super Bowl 50, no quarterback can be efficient.
Michael Oher, all respect to him, will not get it done if the Panthers are looking to return to Super Bowl. Conklin can be the piece that makes it all work in Carolina.
31. Denver Broncos – Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
The Baylor big-man is a black hole in the middle of the defensive line. Malik Jackson is going to fetch a hefty price tag in free agency and Billings could be an upgrade for cheap.
He’s super strong and regularly threw centers and guards around like rag dolls in his three years at Baylor. The opportunity to draft Billings should make Wade Phillips salivate.
The one knock on Billings is his lack of speed, but if there is a position outside of kicker you can get away with lack of speed, it defensive tackle, and he’s got so many other skills that this pick makes sense here.
Still In the mix:
Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Malik Collins, DT, Nebraska
Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma
Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
*Writer’s note: I call them “That Team in Washington” because of the offensive nature of their nickname.