This will be my first, and final Mock for the first round of the draft. I also am not going to predict trades in this, as there’s no way of knowing, so I’ll just be going with the order as of Thursday, April 28 at 8am.
The top of the draft has been pretty crazy, yet pretty predictable by now. The top two picks have been traded for, almost solidifying of the notion that they will both be quarterbacks. The
St. Louis Los Angeles Rams have traded up from pick to #1 to select a quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles have also traded up, first from #13 to #8, and then from #8 to #2.
1. Los Angeles Rams (via Tennessee Titans): Jared Goff, QB, California
This pick makes a ton of sense, as Goff is the local kid who teams seem to like the most. He’s basically Derek Carr lite, but I can’t blame the Rams for going to get their guy, if that’s who they feel can take them to the next level. Goff will likely need some more weapons, or be highly dependent on Todd Gurley early, but could develop into the franchise QB that they thought Sam Bradford would be.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (via Cleveland Browns): Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Wentz has become this year’s media darling QB, and the hype train is rolling full steam ahead. The two time FCS National Champion has everything the NFL looks for in QBs: he’s big, he’s white, he can run, and he’s so full of toughness and grit that it bursts out of him. He’s got all of the tools needed to be an NFL quarterback, but this is a bit of a reach in my view. For what the Eagles gave up to get here, they better hope he turns out quicker than later.
3. San Diego Chargers: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Jalen Ramsey is my top player in this draft, and it was rumored that Tennessee was thinking about taking him at #1 before they traded down with Los Angeles. He’s a supreme athlete and an alpha dog, the biggest two things you look for in a top draft pick and a defensive back. The Chargers are a mess right now, and adding Ramsey would be the best bet to get things turned around.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
“Why take a runningback in the first round? You can find one in the late rounds.” First off, if you can find me a late round runningback that’s as good as Ezekiel Elliott, please show me. This kid is an elite talent and deserving of a top five pick. Secondly, Dallas is in a pretty unique situation here. They’re trying to get Tony Romo a championship before his window closes, and they don’t have as extreme of needs as most top five teams do. Elliott makes this OL, Romo and Dez Bryant better. Do it, @cowboys.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
In what is likely the final year of Gus Bradley being the Jaguars’ head coach if they don’t make the playoffs, Jack will give them a difference maker at linebacker and give them a lot more versatility in nickel and sub packages. He’s an elite athletic talent, and Jacksonville needs all of the talent that they can get on defense. Jack can excel in their 4-3 Under scheme.
6. Baltimore Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
This is a dream scenario for Baltimore, as the best offensive tackle prospect in this class falls to where they once thought there was no way he’d get to. Tunsil will replace Eugene Monroe at left tackle, and the Ravens will feel great about the blindside of Joe Flacco for years to come. Tunsil is ready to play right now, and is as can’t miss as there gets in this class. This would be a phenomenal value for Tunsil, as he was discussed as the first overall pick a couple weeks ago.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
This is a pick that could potentially be traded for, but Lynch will provide a beacon of light in the quarterback situation with Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert. Depending on what happens with Kap, Lynch could be a starter by sometime mid-2016 and provides electric upside. He’s a big kid who’s got some nice functional athleticism and a cannon arm. Lynch will be the new toy for Chip Kelly in ‘Frisco.
8. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia via Miami): DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon
Cleveland picks between DeForest Buckner and Joey Bosa here, and Buckner gets the call. The mammoth defensive end from the Ducks will provide Cleveland with another horse up front and the start of a huge roster rebuild in the Sadness Factory. He’s got long arms, but his lack of impressive athletic testing will keep him out of the top 5. Buckner is a nice value here.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The Buccaneers get their wish as probably the best 4-3 defensive end falls to them at #9. Bosa, the son and nephew of former 1st round defensive linemen will continue the legacy. The past two seasons he’s been the best defender on the field for the most talented team in the nation. Bosa will be a rock solid left end in the NFL, and that’s OK. My final comp is that he’s a mix of Michael Bennett and Chris Long.
10. New York Giants: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
A year after the Giants take an overrated tackle at #8, they do it again at #10. Conklin was an under-recruited tackle who has developed into a pretty good offensive tackle. However, moving forward he’s a bit limited. He should likely play guard or right tackle in the NFL. Conklin’s technique can be a bit rough, but he’s a nasty S.O.B. He’ll fit in with the Giants, but I think he’s going to go higher than he should.
11. Chicago Bears: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
The Bears have beefed up their front seven through free agency, so here they supplement the secondary to help Vic Fangio’s defense. Jackson is a bit of a reach at this point, but he’s a much better fit for Chicago’s scheme than the other corners behind Ramsey. He’s a high upside guy, and if he can contribute year one, Chicago’s defense could get scary good scary fast.
12. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Sheldon Rankins is the best three techinique in this draft, and will be a huge building block moving forward for the massive rebuild on the Saints defense. He’ll provide them as a disruptor in the middle and allow Stephone Anthony to run freely to make plays. The Saints have a ton of needs defensively, and Rankins is a very good start to fixing that issue.
13. Miami Dolphins: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
This one makes too much sense for the Dolphins. They lost Brent Grimes in free agency, so they replace him with a former five star recruit from in state. Hargreaves III has some size limitations, but he’s very technically sound and his tenacity will make up for some of the size issues. He’s great in off man, and will be a very, very good CB2 for the Dolphins.
14. Oakland Raiders: Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State
Chris Jones is a bit of an enigma. He’s a former super recruit (weird how that keeps coming up), but he runs a bit hot and cold. His true freshman campaign was stellar, however since then he’s been leaving coaches and fans wanting a little more. If Jones can keep his motor running a little higher more consistently for the Raiders, this defensive front can become flat out scary. With the free agency additions, the Raiders could be in the catbird’s seat in the AFC West.
15. Tennessee Titans: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
While I would prefer Taylor Decker of Ohio State here, Stanley finds his landing spot with the Titans, who were considering Laremy Tunsil at #1 before they traded down. Stanley is a little more finesse than nasty, but with his size and the length at left tackle, he’s worth the choice here in the middle of the 1st round. It will be interesting to see what the Titans would do with Taylor Lewan, their current left tackle, in this situation.
16. Detroit Lions: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
This has been a bit of a run of offensive tackles, as four come off the board in the top half of the first round. Decker is a nasty run blocker and an intimidating presence. I think you make him prove he can’t play left tackle first, but he could be a solid starter there. Lions fans have wanted to move Riley Reiff inside for a few years, this allows that to happen.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Shaq Lawson, once thought to be a top 10 talent, has fallen a bit due to some health issues. He could be an option for the Bears at #11, but the Falcons are fortunate to have the best remaining defensive end fall to them at #17. Lawson would be an instant upgrade at end, and allow Vic Beasley to move to Sam linebacker. Lawson would be a Day 1 impact player at Leo for the Falcons in Dan Quinn’s scheme.
18. Indianapolis Colts: Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State
The Colts have taken a step back after reaching the AFC title game in 2014. The paramount concern needs to be protecting Andrew Luck, after he was pretty severely injured last season. He’s been hit more times than any quarterback in the league since his debut, and the Colts need to remedy that. Whitehair can play all three interior offensive line positions, and would be an instant upgrade in helping keep Luck upright.
19. Buffalo Bills: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Rex loves his defense. Rex loves heavy hitters. Rex will love Reggie Ragland. The captain of the crimson tide’s dominant defense this past season, Ragland lowers the boom on opposing ball carriers. He’ll be the David Harris of this defense, the Mike linebacker in the middle to make all of the calls. Ragland is also a little underrated in coverage, and an excellent blitzer. Oh, Rex likes to blitz. A lot.
20. New York Jets: A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama
The Jets lost out on Damon Harrison in free agency, so they restock their DL with the big man from Tuscaloosa. Robinson will fit well in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 scheme, as he’s got the long arms and size to be a good two-gapper. He doesn’t provide a ton of pass rush, but in the Jets’ scheme he won’t be asked to do that. He’s been mocked as high as 12, so this is a nice value for the Jets.
21. Washington Redskins: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Washington will continue to beef up their defensive front, especially after the losses of Jason Hatcher and Terrence Knighton. Billings has freak strength, and is a pretty good athlete for someone 300+ pounds. Another bonus, he’ll only be 20 on draft day, so you can get multiple contracts out of him. He’ll add needed reinforcement along the Redskins front, and they’ll need it to win the division again.
22. Houston Texans: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Back to back Baylor Bears in this scenario, as Coleman will provide new Texans QB Brock Osweiler with another downfield threat to pair with Nuk Hopkins. He needs a bit of refinement coming out of the Baylor offense, but if he continues to be half of the lethal downfield threat he was in Waco, he’ll be well worth this selection. The home state kid stays in Texas.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Josh Doctson, WR, Texas Christian
This seems to be the one for sure pick aside from the quarterbacks in the first round. General Manager Rick Spielman hasn’t made much of a secret that he really likes Doctson. The jump-ball specialist will be a very welcomed addition for Teddy Bridgewater, who struggled throwing touchdowns last season. Doctson and Stefon Diggs would be a nice combination for years to come in Minnesota.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
Thus ends the slip of Leonard Floyd, the ultra versatile linebacker from the Bulldogs. Not a true off ball linebacker, yet not a true edge defender, Floyd wore many hats in Athens, however he’ll play the Sam linebacker position in Cincinnati. The Bengals have needed an athletic upgrade in their linebacking corps for a while, so Floyd will be a nice addition for Head Coach Marvin Lewis.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech
The Steelers look to beef up their defensive front, and find the replacement for Casey Hampton that they’ve been looking for since he left. Butler provides some plus athleticism for a man his size, yet still possesses the strength and girth to play a nose tackle position. The 323 pounder will clog rushing lanes, while providing more pass rush than the typical nose tackle in their scheme.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
It was wither between Jason Spriggs of Indiana, and Bob Nkemdiche. The Seahawks have made it no secret that they prefer and covet athletes along the defensive line. Nkemdiche, the former #1 recruit in the nation, has no shortage of explosive athleticism, running a sub 5.0 40 yard dash at 294 pounds. His valleys are low, but his peaks are very high, and in a situation like Seattle, his role will be simplified a bit, and will allow him to prosper.
27. Green Bay Packers: Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama
The Packers enjoy the luxury of picking whoever falls to them, as Jarran Reed could be picked well in front of this and no one would have any real issue with it. Reed can play nose or five technique for the Packers, who need more talent along the defensive line. Some people will want Noah Spence here, but Ted Thompson will go with a defensive lineman, I’d almost put money on it.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA
The Chiefs were a better team last year than many thought they would be, eventually losing to the Patriots. Kenny Clark is a great value here, as he could go as high as 21 and no one would think much of it. Clark can play all along the defensive front for Kansas City, who will be looking to reload their defensive line. Clark can fill Mike DeVito’s role, and the beat will go on for the Chiefs.
29. Arizona Cardinals: Noah Spence, EDGE, Eastern Kentucky
The Cardinals need pass rushing help, and there isn’t a better option at this juncture than Spence, who is a real good value at the end of the first round. Before the combine, Spence was thought of as a potential top ten pick, but word on the street is that if you run a 4.80 in compression shorts, you become worse as a football player. The Cardinals will pray on the stupidity of other teams, and continue to give opposing quarterbacks nightmares.
30. Carolina Panthers: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
The Panthers let go of Josh Norman, in case you haven’t watched the news for the past week. So they’ll be looking to bring in some help in the secondary. Enter Eli Apple, the redshirt sophomore from Ohio State. He’s six foot and two hundred pounds, and he can run. He’s not a great tackler, and needs to be coached up a bit technique wise, but Apple is a high upside, low risk pick for the Panthers, who will be looking to get back to the Super Bowl.
31. Denver Broncos: Christian Hackenburg, QB, Penn State
The Broncos are going to do something weird at the end of the first round, I just have a feeling. This pick won’t be a quarterback if they’re able to trade for Bradford or Kaepernick. But if those deals don’t get done, don’t be surprised to see John Elway take a chance on a quarterback at the end of the first round. Hackenburg has all of the tools you need, but he needs a big time coaching job. Teams are going to outsmart themselves trying to find quarterbacks.