This is it. Today is the day. The first round of the 2016 NFL Draft begins tonight. With tons of rumors swirling on the last few days before the draft, many are not sure how tonight will go. Here is my attempt at how things will actually go tonight. Let’s go.
(1) Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
The Rams know who they are taking by now. Many people believe it is Goff, and I agree with them. We know the Rams want a quarterback that will be able to come in and start right away, and Goff is the most pro ready quarterback in this draft.
(2) Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
The Eagles traded up knowing they would get one of the top two quarterbacks, and although it’s very possible that Jared Goff fits the Eagles’ scheme better, I think the Eagles actually want Wentz more. They know they have Bradford and Chase Daniel signed, and Wentz will be able to sit behind them for a while to gain experience.
(3) San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon
The Chargers believe they have spent enough money on the offensive tackle position. They think that their guys will be healthy this year. So, the Bolts turn to the defensive side of the ball. They desperately need some more pass rush on this team, and Buckner can rush the passer from off the edge or in the defensive tackle position.
(4) Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
It is very tough to figure out who the Cowboys want to take with this pick. A lot of analysts very much expect the Cowboys to take Ezekiel Elliott with this pick. While that would make their offense that much more powerful, the signing of Alfred Morris feels like they think they’re set at running back, or at least set enough not to take a running back with the fourth overall pick. They go grab the best defensive player in this draft, who has great ball skills and instincts to play either corner or safety.
(5) Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
It seems like the Jags would have to move to the Chargers spot in order to get Ramsey, and I wouldn’t rule that out as a possibility. But, let’s assume they stay at their spot. The Jags were lacking at pass rusher last season, and adding Bosa creates a very nice front. Bosa and last year’s first round pick Dante Fowler can rush off the edge while they slide newly signed free agent Malik Jackson inside.
(6) Baltimore Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi
The Ravens will stick to their draft strategy and grab the best player available. Yes, they don’t absolutely need to draft a tackle here, but Tunsil’s potential is something that Ozzie Newsome does not pass up here. He can play right tackle for a while and be moved over to the left side whenever the Ravens need him to.
(7) San Francisco 49ers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The big question surrounding the 49ers is whether or not they will trade away Colin Kaepernick. Personally, he fits their system well and should stay. With that being said, the Niners need to get younger and more physical on the offensive line again in order to find success in the run game. Stanley has excellent run blocking ability and would be a great fit in Kelly’s system.
(8) Miami Dolphins (from Browns): Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
The buzz is that Cleveland is shopping the 8th pick in order to get a couple more picks in this draft. Miami is one of Elliott’s suitors, but the fact that the Bears love Elliott (according to Elliott) forces Miami to move up ahead of them. Elliott fills a big need for Miami and adds a weapon for Ryan Tannehill to work with.
(9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Leonard Floyd is still climbing up draft boards, and one rumor is that he could go as high as 5th to the Jags. That seems a bit of a stretch, but here at nine is where he can go, and I think the Bucs jump at the chance to get a top pass rusher in this draft. Yes, they do have a need at corner, but the addition of Brent Grimes might solve that problem in the short term. A pass rusher with Floyd’s potential is rare in this draft, and the Bucs grab him over a corner.
(10) New York Giants: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
The Giants have a few needs they could address with this pick. Linebacker would be a great position to fill here, but the buzz is that Myles Jack is off their draft board. Instead, they opt to grab a guy who will be able to protect Eli Manning and play on either side of the offensive line.
(11) Chicago Bears: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Under Vic Fangio, the Bears have shown a steady improvement on defense. Now, with the help they’ve added the last two seasons to their front seven, another cornerback would suit the Bears well. Hargreaves has all the tools to play outside. His ball skills and toughness are second to none in this draft. Even though he is a little smaller than what teams look for, he will make up for it with his intangibles.
(12) New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
This has felt like a perfect match from the beginning. Everyone knows that the Saints need serious help on defense, especially on the line and in the secondary. With the rest of the corners in round one containing some question marks, the Saints decide to go with a defensive tackle that has great pass rushing ability. He will take pressure off of Cam Jordan on the outside.
(13) Cleveland Browns (from Dolphins): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
The fall of Myles Jack ends right here. The Browns do need help elsewhere, but they decide that with all the picks they’ve acquired, they will take a chance here that Jack’s knee will heal enough for him to be a solid middle linebacker in this league. If he can return to form, there might not be a more athletic and versatile player out there.
(14) Oakland Raiders: Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Mississippi
This is another gamble. Nkemdiche has his share of off the field issues, but the Raiders are building a core group out in Oakland. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, the Raiders feel they have a core that can win over a locker room. If that is in fact the case, then they could right the ship for Nkemdiche and get him to play to his potential. He has all the talent to be a true game wrecker on the defensive line, and would be a great addition to that defense.
(15) Tennessee Titans: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
With more offensive linemen off the board than they assumed, the Titans grab the last guy on the top tier to provide more protection for Marcus Mariota. Decker is a very good player in pass protection as well as run blocking. His hand placement and balance are very solid, and odds are he would play right tackle with Taylor Lewan playing on the left side.
(16) Detroit Lions: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
The Lions decide not to reach for the next offensive tackle, and instead switch their focus to the defensive line. Haloti Ngata won’t be around forever, and finding his replacement is a priority in Detroit. Enter Jarran Reed, the defensive tackle who does so many things well. He can anchor this defensive line in the middle. He is a great hole plugger in the run game and might need double teaming, freeing up Ziggy Ansah outside.
(17) Atlanta Falcons: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
The Falcons will of course look to keep building up the defense under head coach Dan Quinn. They do have some options with this pick, but adding a tackling machine with top notch speed is too much to pass. Darron Lee (yes I’ve said this a lot of times) looks nearly identical to Ryan Shazier, and he will thrive in Atlanta.
(18) Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
The motto of this draft better be “Protect Andrew Luck” for the Colts. They can’t afford to lose him for bug chunks of time. With all of the first tier tackles gone, the Colts add Ryan Kelly, a guy who can play center or even guard. His versatility and strength will prove valuable for the Colts for years to come.
(19) Buffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Mario Williams was a big loss for this Bills front four. For them to get back to being near the top of the league in sacks and pressures, they need someone who can rush the passer. Shaq Lawson might just be the safest edge rusher pick in the draft.
(20) New York Jets: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
The Ryan Fitzpatrick situation is at a stand still. With neither side budging, the Jets now need a solution at quarterback. Lynch has the arm and athleticism to thrive in the NFL, and with weapons like Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, he might just be able to start day one.
(21) Washington Redskins: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
The Redskins would definitely like to fix their run defense from last year, a unit that finished 26th in the league. Vernon Butler has the ability to plug up holes and defend the run at a high level. He can turn the unit around.
(22) Houston Texans: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
The Texans will look for someone to complement DeAndre Hopkins on the outside, and why not get someone with great speed and run after the catch ability. That is exactly what Corey Coleman brings to the table. Brock Osweiler continues to get weapons.
(23) Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi
Unless serious value shows up on the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings will take a receiver. Treadwell has all the makings of a number one receiver. He has the best hands and jump ball winning ability in this class, and his slow 40s don’t bother me. He looks like the best receiver in this class.
(24) Cincinnati Bengals: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
They’re flying off the board now. The Bengals obviously need to find a second receiver to take some pressure off of AJ Green. Doctson’s route running and hands provide a nice complement to AJ Green’s deep threat ability.
(25) Pittsburgh Steelers: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
There are some very obvious needs for teams in this draft, and the Steelers needing secondary help is near the top of that list. William Jackson has the speed and coverage skills to play in the NFL, and with the top receiver talent in the AFC, the Steelers need someone who can line up with them.
(26) Seattle Seahawks: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
This is where it starts to get interesting. I could definitely see the Seahawks trading out of the first round because they do not like what they see, or because the talent they want will still be there in round two. But, if they stay, look for them to address the offensive line. Ifedi is a strong pass blocker who will be able to help keep Russell Wilson upright and help out the run game.
(27) Green Bay Packers: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Another team who may very well trade out of the first round, the Packers instead stick with this spot and take Ragland, a guy who can finally solve the issue of their defense. He has the instincts to be a triple digit tackling machine, who will help out the run defense as well as be all over the field. Best of all, Clay Matthews gets to move back outside. Hear that? It’s offensive lines and QBs panicking.
(28) Kansas City Chiefs: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
It’s hard to know where the Chiefs are looking. They could easily grab someone like Eli Apple or Artie Burns here, but they decide to find a pass rusher who can take over for the aging Tamba Hali. The Chiefs saw their division rivals win the Super Bowl, and they were absolutely loaded with pass rushers. The Chiefs take the same approach.
(29) Arizona Cardinals: Noah Spence, EDGE, Eastern Kentucky
His off the field concerns have caused his slip, but that doesn’t mean he lacks the talent and ability. The Cardinals will take a shot at that ability with the chance to pair him up with Chandler Jones to rush the passer. Suddenly, the Cardinals looked more balanced on defense.
(30) Carolina Panthers: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
There was speculation that Carolina would take a corner even with Josh Norman on their roster. Now that he left for the Redskins, they must take a corner. Eli Apple has the stature and cover abilities to be a number one corner, and the pass rush that the Panthers have should help him out a bit in coverage.
(31) Denver Broncos: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
The Broncos need a quarterback. It’s that simple. With Osweiler and Manning gone and only Mark Sanchez signed on, it’s priority number one. Sanchez can be serviceable for a short time, but they need someone to wait in the wings. Cook has the arm talent to be a solid starter, and having Denver’s defense and a good run game should help him progress even more.
Enjoy the first round everyone! I know I will!