I was ready to settle in and get ready for the NFL Draft, and then the Rams went and messed the whole thing up! The Rams trading up shuffles the entire deck, and the domino effect could be felt well into the third round. Let’s see what I can make out of this mess.
1. St. Louis Rams:
The new home in LA and a promising rookie campaign from Todd Gurley means there is a lot to look forward to. You only move up as much as the Rams did if you’re picking the guy who is going to run your team for the foreseeable future. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a rookie.
Pick: Jared Goff QB (California)
Of the two top rated QB’s in the draft Goff is the one that is more NFL ready right this second. Coming from a larger school and bigger program means he’ll be better acclimated to the environment he’ll be walking into.
2. Cleveland Browns:
The acquisition of RG3 doesn’t change the need for this team to have a franchise QB. What it does though is give them some time and flexibility with what they do when they do draft a QB here.
Pick: Carson Wentz QB (North Dakota State)
As far as measurable this guy is everything you could ask for, he’s just not polished entirely. The good thing is that if RG3 rounds into form he won’t need to play. The bad news is that being drafted this high will create a QB controversy right away.
3. San Diego Chargers:
I don’t know that I’ve seen a team with so many problems come to light so quickly as it did with the Chargers. The potential move to LA certainly didn’t do the team any favors. The team could go a lot of different ways with this pick, and the dominoes could fall very differently depending on what they do.
Pick: Jalen Ramsey FS (Florida State)
Ramsey is a freakish athlete that could play corner in a pinch. With how most teams like to attack with a passing game he might just be too good to pass up.
4. Dallas Cowboys:
At least with the Cowboys you know exactly what went wrong last year. With Tunsil falling, this is the perfect spot for the Cowboys to trade down and land some extra picks. Assuming that trade doesn’t happen, or Ramsey is still on the board, then they will go either CB or RB with their top pick.
Pick: Ezekiel Elliott RB (Ohio State)Elliot has everything you’d want and expect of a back going to the NFL. Size, speed, and agility, he is touted to be stellar at the next level.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jags had their top pick from a year ago go down before he even took a snap at the NFL level. Here is hoping that doesn’t happen twice. The team really needs a corner, but taking one here might be a stretch.
Pick: Joey Bosa DE (Ohio State)
Bosa is the type of guy that reminds you of J.J. Watt. If you can’t get a corner, getting a guy that forces the QB to get rid of the ball quicker might be just enough to help the team.
6. Baltimore Ravens:
The Ravens went from the Super Bowl to the basement real quick. It was a depletion of talent across the board and this team needs to build from its interior out to be competitive once again.
Pick: Laremy Tunsil OT (Ole Miss)
The team seems to need the most help along the O-Line and Tunsil is the best tackle in the draft. This is more of a safe pick than a splash pick, but Tunsil can come in and start Week 1 without any worries.
7. San Francisco 49ers:
There is a definite changing of the guard in San Fran and it could end up meaning a new quarterback too. If the 49ers trade Colin Kaepernick expect them to draft a QB here. However, with Colin still on the roster a QB here would be a reach.
Pick: Laquon Treadwell WR (Ole Miss)
Treadwell is supposed to be that game changing wide receiver and the 49ers need someone to throw the ball to desperately. Barring a mega move or signing in free agency, I expect them to take a WR here.
8. Miami Dolphins:
Wasn’t this team supposed to be pushing the Patriots for the division crown?! Poor play and some bad bounces had this team floundering from the start. The team could use some help in a few key areas, including their offensive line.
Pick: Ronnie Stanley OT (Notre Dame)
Stanley should have come out last year, but decided to stick around for another championship shot. He is still a bit of a project, but is a natural fit as a tackle in the NFL. Plus, a year or two of conditioning will do wonders for his abilities to handle all comers.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers :
Winston certainly did his part at fixing the troubled Bucs, but there is still a long way to go. The team needs help on the defensive side of the ball in a hurry.
Pick: Eli Apple CB (Ohio St)
Apple is coming off of a stellar combine that showcased him as an elite corner coming into the draft. The team could use a pair of top-notch corners to help allow their defensive line a little more time to get to the QB.
10. New York Giants:
The Giants were among the biggest free agent spenders this year, dumping millions to help a struggling defense. With all that cash spent on that side of the ball expect the team to address the other weak spot of their roster for the past few years, their offensive line.
Pick: Jack Conklin OT (Michigan State)
Conklin did himself a huge favour at the draft by posting monster numbers at the combine. Perhaps a bit raw he has all the physical tools to be a stellar tackle in the NFL.
11. Chicago Bears:
The Bears seem to be a team in constant transition and this year is no exception. Many teams have found success by fortifying their trenches, and I expect Chicago to take a cue.
Pick: A’shawn Robinson DT (Alabama)
Robinson is a great fit as a DT at the next level and has a rare combination of size, speed, and power. While helping stuff the run game for the Vikings is going to be key, Robinson will be most valuable as a pass rusher up the middle.
12. New Orleans Saints:
The Saints have struggled a lot this past season, and it looks like those woes might continue. Sean Payton has always been a guy about splashy offensive plays, but it might be time for some defensive attackers.
Pick: Noah Spence DE (Eastern Kentucky)
Spence didn’t show well at the combine, but his tape is spectacular. Getting him at 12 would have been a steal prior to the poor showing. Still his instincts and leadership are likely what this team covets the most.
13. Philadelphia Eagles:
Now that Chip Kelly is elsewhere, be ready for a far more predictable off-season. The team is looking to rebuild, and that means they will want a QB that can fill in for Bradshaw sooner, rather than later.
Pick: Paxton Lynch QB (Memphis)
Lynch fits the ideal QB mold as far as height, and has good anticipation and vision down the field. The knock on Lynch is that he’s too lean, and needs to add a lot of weight to fill out his 6’ 7” frame to take the abuse of the NFL. If one of the top two QB’s manage to slip this far the Rams will take one of them here.
14. Oakland Raiders:
The Raiders made a big lead forward this year and the team is hoping that just one more solid draft will do the trick. With the makeup of their division and how poor they were against the pass last year, you can understand why this team covets a corner.
Pick: DeForest Buckner DE (Oregon)
Buckner is the perfect build and people thought he could have been a top 20 pick last year. He opted to stay in school as he promised his family he’d earn his degree. It’s hard to imagine a better character guy and a better guy to produce an immediate impact.
15. Tennessee Titans:
This team still needs help just about everywhere, and the second overall pick from last year didn’t seem to fix everything (imagine that). In an ideal world I’m sure the team would rather trade down and take multiple picks, but since there isn’t a clear cut winner for first overall pick, the Titans are going to get stuck.
Pick: Vernon Hargreaves CB (Florida)
Hargreaves is the second corner on most people’s boards and the Raiders would be pleased as punch if he falls this far. On the smaller side, Hargreaves, has great speed and good ball awareness and should help cover deep threat receivers.
16. Detroit Lions:
The Lions lost of a lot of the defensive players that made them such a force the year before, and losing Megatron is going to hurt a lot on the offensive side of the ball. With that said, this team will likely take the best player they have on their draft board as the team lacks quality and depth at virtually all positions.
Pick: Myles Jack OLB (UCLA)
While Jack is a little small at 6’ 1”, he is one of the more gifted players coming into the draft. He is coming off an injury, but the favorable report still has him going in the first round.
17. Atlanta Falcons:
The Falcons looked markedly better this past year with a new defensive minded head coach. I really expect the team to keep on trying to build that side of the ball through the draft.
Pick: Jaylon Smith LB (Notre Dame)
Smith was a top 5 pick heading into the season before a late injury cost him bowl game appearances. His medical clearance is still pending, but he is a true difference maker when healthy.
18. Indianapolis Colts:
The Colts were supposed to run away with their division and then everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. This team needs a ton of help, particularly on defense.
Pick: Darron Lee LB (Ohio State)
Lee could actually play safety in the NFL, but I actually see him being used as a linebacker in passing situations, while the team tries to figure out how to keep him on the field as a three-down player. He was constantly asked to play in space at Ohio, but often was around the line of scrimmage and is a solid tackler. It’s his versatility that makes him a perfect fit for Atlanta.
19. Buffalo Bills:
Rex Ryan did a lot of things well in Buffalo this past year, but he did fail to make the playoffs and the team’s offense looked slow at times, despite the addition of LeSean McCoy. The team could use another option outside of Sammy Watkins to help out their young QB.
Pick: Cory Coleman WR (Baylor)
Coleman is small at 5’ 11”, but he is strong with amazing burst. He did not run at the combine, but provided he put up solid running numbers at his pro day. He is the type of player that can not only contribute of offense, but also on special teams.
20. New York Jets:
The end of last season was heartbreaking for Jets fans, as the ends of most seasons are. Still, there were a lot of positives to build on. The team has good offensive balance and a solid defensive front and secondary, but the linebackers could use some improvements.
Pick: Reggie Ragland LB (Alabama)
Ragland is a run stuffer that can still give this team a pass rush up the middle. While a little undersized at 6’ 1” he’s got amazing instincts and aggression coupled with a high football IQ.
21. Washington Redskins:
Perhaps no one was more surprised with the division win than the Redskins themselves. So much so that they totally forgot they had a playoff game the next week. The team saw immediate dividends in investing in their offensive line, and expect them to keep up the trend in the trenches.
Pick: Ryan Kelly C (Alabama)
Kelly is one of the few pure centers to be graded in the first round by anyone in recent history. The team could use a center, and Kelly is the best one in the draft by a mile. The thing is he’s 6’5”, and that is actually a little too tall by NFL standards for a center. He plays with low leverage, so I’m sure Kirk Cousins will be able to see over him. I think?!
22. Houston Texans:
The Texans need a lot of help, but it’s mainly on offense. I know they need a QB, but since the top three are gone taking one here is a reach. With that said, the best running back on the board hasn’t been touched.
Pick: Derrick Henry RB (Alabama)
Henry is a big bruiser who isn’t going to run away from a ton of people, but will run them over. He has great burst and should prove useful in short yardage plays.
23. Minnesota Vikings:
Can the just Vikings draft all kickers? After a heartbreaking loss the team has to reevaluate how they can improve. The offensive line was the one area I thought they could really use some help.
Pick: Taylor Decker OT (Ohio State)
Decker is a very large man, and that goes a long way on its own. He is able to use his length to help deal with the pass rush, and he can move people well when run blocking. His weakness is his strength, or height rather. Being as tall as he is, his pad level is often too high; meaning players with better leverage will win the battle. This really hurts down around the goal line.
24. Cincinnati Bengals:
The Bengals continue to do well, but can’t get over the hump. The team seems to have good depth in all aspects of the game, so really it comes down to who do they see as the best player left.
Pick: Kevin Dodd DE (Clemson)
Dodd is large enough that you could either ask him to gain weight and play as a tackle, or lose a bit and play as a true end in the NFL. He lacks true skills as a pass rusher, but given the run happy ways of the AFC North he can stuff the run regardless
25. Pittsburgh Steelers:
The Steelers exceeded a lot of expectations, in thanks to a solid offensive showing. The steel curtain is still a long way off from championship contention, and the team has many needs on defensive side of the ball.
Pick: Mackensie Alexander CB (Clemson)
A little small but full of speed, Alexander, might be a bit of a project and may have a tough time handling some of the larger wide receivers one-on-one. With that said, his speed allows him to cover in space and he is very fluid, and reacts to balls well, especially when matched up in single coverage in space.
26. Seattle Seahawks:
The Seahawks clearly have some work to do as the core of what has made them so successful continues to diminish with each passing year. The team will likely continue to try and become more like the Saints used to be.
Pick: Will Fuller WR (Notre Dame)
Fuller’s name has been rising on a lot of draft boards and the mock drafts are finally starting to catch up. A burner, yes, but Fuller can contribute in a variety of ways underneath and in the special teams game too. Stephon Diggs was a revelation last year. Fuller could be one too.
27. Green Bay Packers:
The Packers road into the playoffs on the arm of Aaron Rodgers. The team needs help on both sides of the ball, so this might just be a case of best player as there are so many needs.
Pick: Jarran Reed DT (Alabama)
Reed is very much a replacement for B.J. Raji as a run stuffer and a guy who can provide a push from the interior. He won’t chase well and may have some conditioning issues, but he could cement the defensive line for years to come.
28. Kansas City Chiefs:
Andy Reid is doing amazing things without superstars in Kansas. It’s kind of astounding. The team continues to play well defensively, but may lose some of their punch with some key free agent departures. Expect the team to try and fill some of those holes.
Pick: Robert Nkemdiche DT (Ole Miss)
Nkemdiche is above average in terms of speed and power, which means he is versatile and a guy who can be on the field all the time. That is just the sort of player that fits into the rotation of the KC defense.
29. Arizona Cardinals:
The Cardinals had a fantastic year, and the team is firing on all cylinders. They can do no wrong with this pick as there are few weaknesses to their roster.
Pick: Leonard Floyd LB (Georgia)
Floyd has all the size that you’d want from a linebacker, and the team may even consider having him play as an end in some passing downs. He should be able to add pass rush and help support the run defense as a three-down player in the Cardinals’ system.
30. Carolina Panthers:
The Panthers are coming off a banner year, and are not losing anyone that is really worth mentioning. The team will find the player that is the best fit for what they do.
Pick: Sheldon Rankins DT (Louisville)
Rankins is a fantastic physical presence that can eat up blockers, which fits well with how the Panthers like to use their linebackers. He lacks ability as a pass-rusher, but he can start as a two-down player right now on most NFL teams.
31. Denver Broncos:
The Broncos are going to have a tough time repeating, but they got Peyton Manning another ring. Now it’s time to help protect whoever they have taking snaps this year.
Pick: German Ifedi OG (Texas A&M)
Ifedi sets up better as a pass blocker than a mauler, and given what the Broncos are all about that sets up well. It might be a stretch to use this pick on a guard, but many scouts have him as first-round talent and I don’t think he’ll be around at this point in the second round.