Tonight the 2016 NFL Draft gets underway in Chicago. If the pre-draft moves are any indication of how this year’s draft will play out the 2016 draft might be one of the most surprising and unpredictable drafts in recent memory. Both top two picks have already changed hands and most of the top ten teams have giant holes to fill all over the roster. Here is our stab at how the 1st round will unfold.
1. L. A. Rams – Jared Goff QB, Cal – Once the Rams traded up to grab the first overall pick it was obvious a quarterback would be taken. The Rams have offensive talent such as Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin but have been unstable under center. Goff is a better fit for the Rams than Wentz so expect the Cal product to be the first player off the board tomorrow in Chicago.
2. Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz QB, NDSU – Again it would be a shock if a quarterback is not selected by the Eagles here and all signs suggest it will be Wentz. Despite some injury concerns Philly will look to Wentz to be their quarterback of the future. There is a reason Sam Bradford is demanding to be traded and that reason is Carson Wentz.
3. San Diego Chargers – Laremy Tunsil OT, Ole Miss – After the first two picks things get interesting. The Chargers will hop on the former consensus number one pick Tunsil. Tunsil will bolster protection for Phillip RIvers and has a chance to be a dominant starter as a rookie. Tunsil is a no brainer type pick at three.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliot RB, Ohio State – Jerry Jones loves to make a splash with his picks. Elliot would provide that juice. Despite signing Lamar Miller in free agency the Cowboys will bring Elliot aboard.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Joey Bosa DE, Ohio State – Back to back Buckeyes here as the Jags look to bolster their pass rush. The Broncos showed how important getting to the passer is in this league in the Super Bowl. Bosa would instantly improve the Jaguars sack total in 2016. Despite rumors Bosa’s stock might have been falling a bit he still goes at #5.
6. Baltimore Ravens – Myles Jack LB, UCLA – Despite concerns about Jack’s knee the Ravens will be happy to scoop up the athletic linebacker. The Ravens would love for Jack to be their next “Ray Lewis” dominant type linebacker, although they have holes to fill on the offensive line as well.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Ronnie Stanley, OT Notre Dame – Another team with multiple holes to fill all over the field. The Niners choose to strengthen their offensive line and take the big tackle out of Notre Dame. Stanley is big and athletic and can even be plugged in at guard if needed. This would be a solid pick for the 49ers at seven.
8. Cleveland Browns – DeForest Buckner DE, Oregon – Buckner slides to eight and the Browns actually draft smart and take the best player on the board. Again the Browns have so many holes that this one makes total sense. This pick will be in before Ronnie Stanley is done hugging Roger Goodell.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jalen Ramsey DB, FSU – The Bucs grab another player who many slated as a top five pick. Supposedly teams’ evaluation of Ramsey is extremely varied and he might get lost in the shuffle in the first 8 picks. The Bucs get good value here and scoop him up at eight.
10. New York Giants – Jack Conklin OT, Michigan St. – Word out of New York is the Giants are targeting a tackle in the first round. With Stanley gone the G-men will select Conklin, who they are also high on, with the tenth pick of the draft.
11. Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson DE, Clemson – Last year defensive minded head coach John Fox went offense and took WR Kevin White in the first round. You can bet the Bears will be addressing the defensive side of the ball in the 2016 draft. They start to do so by taking the powerful and speedy Lawson.
12. New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Lankins DT, Louisville – The Saints tab the 6-1 300 pounder to solidify the middle of their defense. Lankins is stout against the run and will surprise you with his quickness when rushing the passer. Lankins would be a solid pick for the Saints at twelve and would anchor a defense that struggled in 2015.
13. Miami Dolphins – Vernon Hargreaves CB, Florida – Miami is a team that could be looking to trade up tonight, but there aren’t any takers look for them to draft Hargreaves. Hargreaves is the best true cover corner in the draft and does offer decent size at 204 pounds.
14. Oakland Raiders – William Jackson CB, Houston – The Raiders come so close to stealing Hargreaves but settle for the speedy Jackson. Jackson might not have the elite covers skills Hargreaves possesses but he is a bit more aggressive and has good length at 6’0″ for a corner.
15. Tennessee Titans – Taylor Decker OT, Ohio State – The run on tackles continues with Decker at the 15 spot. A tall tackle with a nasty streak who will be a nice addition to the Titans line in 2016. Just a tough football player who was the Big Ten Lineman of the Year in 2015.
16. Detroit Lions – Laquon Treadwell WR, Ole Miss – The Lions take Treadwell to replace the recently retired Calvin Johnson. Treadwell has great size at 6-1 221 pounds and has excellent hands much like the departed Johnson. This pick will excite the fan base and makes sense for the Lions.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Leonard Floyd OLB, Georgia – A pure pass rusher with a quick burst and great closing speed. Floyd could be a bit of a project and there are injury concerns because of his lean frame. The upside outweigh the concerns here and the Falcons keep the Georgia Bulldog home with the 17th pick.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Noah Spence OLB, Eastern Kentucky – If not for Spence’s off the field issues he would likely be a top ten pick. Spence has great burst and agility off the edge and would be a welcome addition to an aging linebacker corp in Indy.
19. Buffalo Bills – Reggie Ragland LB, Alabama – You have to think Rex Ryan and the Bills go defense here at 19. Ragland would be a solid pick in this spot. Ragland would be one of the top defensive players available here and he would be a welcome addition to a group of linebackers that were barely average in 2015.
20. New York Jets – Paxton Lynch QB, Memphis – If it weren’t for the Browns the Jets might be known as the franchise with the historically worst quarterback situation in the NFL. The new regime in New York with attempt to make Paxton Lynch the quarterback of the future with the 20th selection of round one.
21. Washington Redskins – Jarran Reed NT, Alabama – Another member of the Crimson Tide goes as the Redskins select Reed to anchor the middle of their defense. Reed is a powerful defender who is adept at absorbing and shedding blockers.
22. Houston Texans – Josh Doctson WR, TCU – The Texans will go wide receiver here as they need someone to compliment DeAndre Hopkins. Doctson staying in Texas would be a good fit although you could also see fellow Big 12 wideout Corey Coleman taken here as well.
23. Minnesota Vikings – William Fuller WR, Notre Dame – There will be a run on wide receivers in the first round so this group of four or five can really be interchangeable based on which team likes which receiver. With that said I fully expect the VIkings to take a wideout in the first round and Fuller, whose stock has been rising, would be a great get at 23.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Corey Coleman WR, Baylor – The explosive Coleman is the last of wide receivers taken in the first round when he goes to the Bengals at 24. Coleman gives Cincy a lethal one-two punch along with A.J. Green and is a more than suitable replacement for the free agency loss of Mohammed Sanu.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Karl Joseph S, West Virginia – Word is the Steelers are very high on the hard hitting safety from West Virginia and will select the top rated safety with their first pick. The Steelers need help in the secondary and Joseph’s all around play and reputation as a tough, gritty player is a perfect fit for Pittsburgh.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Robert Nkemdiche DE/DT, Ole Miss – The Seahawks have holes to fill along both lines, which is never a good situation. They could very easily go with an offensive lineman here but choose to take a risk with Nkemdiche. The Ole Miss product has had a multitude of off the field issues but the Seahawks have a history of taking players like Nkemdiche. Seattle will look for Nkemdiche to help offset the loss of Bruce Irvin to free agency.
27. Green Bay Packers – Andrew Billings DT, Baylor – The Packers need a replacement for B.J. Raji and Billings well, fits the bill. Billings will fill the hole in the middle of the Packers defense and is a load to handle at 6′ 1″ and 311 pounds. Billings is a high motor guy who will fit in perfectly in Green Bay.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Eli Apple CB, Ohio State – The Chiefs will take the tall and athletic Apple at 27. Apple, an early entry, has good size and his game might transfer to the NFL the best out of the three corners taken in the first round.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Kelly C, Alabama – The Cards have a void at Center so they will be very happy when the number one center in the draft is still available at 29. They will gobble up Kelly in this spot and secure a franchise center for years to come.
30. Carolina Panthers – Derrick Henry RB, Alabama – The thought by many here is the Panthers could go secondary in round one, especially after losing Josh Norman but with the top three corners off the board the Panthers will look to make a statement and grab the Heisman trophy winner in the first. Jonathan Stewart has been productive but isn’t getting any younger so this pick makes sense at 30.
31. Denver Broncos – Connor Cook QB, Michigan State – Anyone following football knows Denver’s most glaring hole right now is at the quarterback position. While Cook may seem like a stretch here Cook does possess perfect prototypical size for an NFL quarterback and Mark Sanchez clearly is not the future in Denver.