The 2016 NFL Draft is less than a week away now, and the buzz surrounding one of the hugely momentous event of the NFL calendar is reaching fever pitch. Teams are finalising their draft boards and completing their final pre-draft meeting with the array of prospects hoping their dreams will come true next week.
This years draft has already made major headlines with the huge trades of the top two picks, something that has not happened since 1997. The Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles have already said they will use their first and second picks to select a quarterback, with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz the two prospects who are very likely to be selected.
At this present moment it seems every pick in the top ten is up for grabs if the right offer is made, and teams with positions of needs are feeling worried the player they want will not be available by the time their on the clock. This could mean this final week before the draft seems a lot more trades, but at this present moment let’s take a look at who each team is likely to choose when they are on the clock next Thursday night in my opinion as purely an NFL fan and in no way an expert.
#1st Overall Pick: Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff – Quarterback – California
Jared Goff was a three year standout quarterback at Cal-Berkeley, improving both personally and helping his team over his three years as starter. He led the team to it’s first winning season (7-5) since 2011.
An average combine performance was tempered by a very good pro day workout, and his stock has been steadily rising since the draft process started. He and Carson Wentz have separated themselves from other prospects, and many feel the Rams are a good QB away from becoming a play-off team.
The general consensus between draft experts is that Goff is the better immediate prospect, but Wentz may have a slightly better upside potential in the coming seasons. For this reason I think the Rams won’t be able to pass on Goff, who will energize the team in their move to L.A and can immediately challenge Nick Foles and Case Keenum for the starting role come the season opener.
Goff in action for the Cal Golden Bears. He could immediately improve Rams to a potential play-off side. Photo copyright USA Today Sports.
#2nd Overall Pick: Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz – Quarterback – North Dakota State
Carson Wentz has become a major talking point of this years draft class, after a standout career at North Dakota State. As a fifth year senior he led the Bison to his second FCS National Championship, despite missing the majority of the season with a broken wrist.
This has not deterred NFL personnel from declaring he is one of the top two QB’s in this draft class, along with Goff. The debate has been running for weeks as to who should be selected with the first pick, and seemingly both players are garnering equal backing to be the first name commissioner Roger Goodell calls.
Wentz is considered to have more longer term potential, but a major knock on him has been the level of competition he has faced at FCS level. Many NFL experts believe he will need some time to adjust to the huge leap from FCS standard to the NFL. This is why I think Goff will be selected first. But Philadelphia may end up the perfect place for Wentz.
The Eagles have signed Sam Bradford and Chase Daniels to lucrative contracts, therefore Wentz will have the opportunity to sit behind these players without huge pressure to be the day one starter. Whilst Bradford is said to be requesting a trade after the Eagles made this trade earlier this week, Wentz could still learn and develop behind Daniels. This is a win-win situation for both sides and could prove to be a very smart trade by the Eagles in several years time.
Wentz impressed in his final two seasons at NDSU, and would provide huge insurance for the Eagles at the QB position for the future. Photo copyright Mike Stone/Associated Press.
#3rd Overall Pick: San Diego Chargers – Laremy Tunsil – Tackle – Ole Miss
After the two blockbuster trades, the San Diego Chargers will likely be fielding calls for the third overall selection in the coming week. If the Chargers remain with the third pick it’s likely the team will fill a major position by selecting the premier tackle in this draft, Laremy Tunsil.
This is a very sensible pick from the Chargers, who need to rebuild the offensive line to protect Philip Rivers. He is widely predicted to be a premier left tackle and potential Pro Bowler in the coming years once he’s made the transition to the NFL.
Tunsil had a standout career at Ole Miss, and tackle is a position that usually is the safest position to draft from the college ranks. Tunsil has cemented himself as one of the best overall players in this draft, and with the first two picks almost certain to be QB’s, the Chargers will have acquired a steal by selecting a player of Tunsil’s quality with the third overall pick.
Tunsil solidified himself as the top tackle in this year’s draft, and will likely be an immediate starter for the Chargers. Photo copyright Aaron M Sprecher/NFL.
#4th Overall Pick: Dallas Cowboys – Jalen Ramsey – Defensive Back – Florida State
The Dallas Cowboys are rumoured to have been eyeing running back Ezekiel Elliot with this fourth overall pick, but the more sensible move is to select defensive back Jalen Ramsey from Florida State.
Ramsey is the best defensive player available this year, and is extremely versatile. Many teams in the NFL are unsure whether he will transition into a cornerback or safety at the next level, and was successful playing linebacker for portions of his three year Florida State career.
Some have question marks on how Ramsey will adjust to the NFL, especially against quicker change of direction agile wide receivers. These are only small concerns however, and he is the second best player overall this year amongst most experts and NFL personnel.
For the Cowboys this selection will be a case of picking the best player available, something that could very well prove to be a major building block towards the Cowboys returning to play-off contention after a poor 4-12 season. The team have a very good offensive line and Tony Romo returns from injury at QB, and Ramsey could prove to be an immediate impact player in Dallas.
Jalen Ramsey was the first true freshman since Deion Sanders to play in the secondary at FSU. Will he come close to Sanders achievements in the NFL? Photo copyright USA Today Sports.
#5th Overall Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack – Linebacker – UCLA
The Jacksonville Jaguars have proved in free agency their intentions are to become a very good football team, and fast. The amount of money they spent in free agency significantly improved their team and they are building a very talented young roster for the future.
Fitting with this new direction will be whoever they select with this fifth selection, most likely to be UCLA linebacker Myles Jack. He is one of the most athletic players in this draft class, and proved to be a weapon both on offense and defense whilst at UCLA.
The only major concern on Jack is his recovery a season ending knee injury, which is not progressing as quickly as some NFL personnel would like. A medical re-check a few weeks ago produced mixed results, with teams split on whether they were happy with his results or whether they deemed them a red flag.
For now the Jags are developing quickly and with this pick they can afford to take a risk on a player such as Jack. He has bucket loads of potential and fills a position of need for the team also. If the Jags are happy with his recovery then they would be fools not to select him with this pick, as he would immediately upgrade a key position on the defense for this franchise.
Myles Jack excelled in two and a bit years at UCLA, and once fully recovered from his knee injury could become a high level linebacker for the Jags in the NFL. Photo copyright Jae C.Hong/Associated Press.
#6th Overall Pick: Baltimore Ravens – Joey Bosa – Defensive End – Ohio State
The Baltimore Ravens suffered an uncharacteristic 5-11 season after numerous years of making the play-offs. This is the earliest selection the franchise has had since the 2000 Draft, and the Ravens will want to draft an immediate starter to help their roster.
The Ravens and GM Ozzie Newsome are famed for their policy of draft the best available player over positional needs, but this year they can select a player that can do both. Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa is a very good player who excelled in three years with the Buckeyes.
The Ravens have two very good pass rushers in Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, but both are close to the end of their careers and an injection of youth at the position will do the team a world of good. There are no glaring red flags with Bosa and in tandem with two long term Pro Bowlers such as Suggs and Dumervil this will be a pass rush every NFL team will fear.
Joey Bosa showed his talents consistently at Ohio State, and looks likely to translate his skills into a successful NFL career. Photo copyright Darron Cummings/Associated Press.
7th Overall Pick: San Francisco 49ers – Paxton Lynch – Quarterback -Memphis
The 49ers have suffered a lot since narrowly losing Superbowl 47 in 2013, with the team embroiled in a public conundrum whether to move on from quarterback Colin Kaepernick or not. It seems Kaepernick himself is ready to move on from San Francisco, but despite many links to other franchises the organization have not been able to find a trade partner for him.
With such uncertainty at the most valuable position on the roster the 49ers will look to address this in this draft. With only Blaine Gabbert at backup, the position needs to be improved if the franchise want to return to a winning season. With this in mind and the early run on signal callers at the beginning of this draft, I sense the 49ers will nab the best available QB before Cleveland get’s the chance to one pick later.
Early in the draft process Memphis QB Paxton Lynch was considered on a similar par to Goff and Wentz, but has slipped now to a clear third best QB in this class. Whilst the team may wait and select a player such as Christian Hackenberg or Connor Cook in the second round, they need a potential immediate starter as insurance and Lynch is the perfect player to provide this.
Paxton Lynch was at one point with some draft experts considered the best QB prospect in this class. He can provide immediate insurance for the 49ers. Photo copyright USA Today Sports.
8th Overall Pick: Cleveland Browns – DeForest Buckner – Defensive End -Oregon
The Cleveland Browns have made the majority of headlines this off-season, as they have adapted a completely new approach under the “Moneyball” philosophy that has worked so well in Baseball. The team has been completely gutted as they have accumulated draft picks to the point they now have a league high 12 picks this year, including six in the top 100.
With so many glaring needs for this team it would be sensible for the organization to adopt a best available player mantra, and based on this they will select DeForest Buckner from Oregon. He is up there with Bosa as the best pass rusher in this draft, and has been a projected top six pick for the majority of this draft process.
Some have questioned if he will transition well to the NFL, but this has not stopped many still declaring him a top six pick.If the Browns are able to select him with the eighth pick it would be a steal of a first move for the franchise as it’s enters a completely new era.
Buckner has some concerns in how he will translate to the NFL, however for the Browns he would be a steal if he’s still available with the eighth pick. Photo Copyright Ryan Kang/Associated Press.
9th Overall Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vernon Hargreaves – Cornerback – Florida
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have developed an exciting young offense led by Jameis Winston. On one side of the ball the team are a formidable proposition, but to become a play-off contender they will need to add some youth to their defense.
With this in mind and the top pass rushers such as Bosa and Buckner off the board I think the team will add a future starting cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. The local man has developed into a top tier prospect at the University of Florida and was considered a potential top five selection earlier in the draft process.
The trades for QB’s have reduced his stock, and for him to fall to Tampa with the ninth pick will be one they will be very excited to make. For Hargreaves the opportunity to join a rising football team and get to stay in the state of Florida ensures this pick will provide plenty of excitement for both parties. Watch out for Hargreaves to make an impact in the coming years for the Bucs.
Could Florida prospect Vernon Hargreaves be taking his talents to nearby Tampa come Thursday night? Photo copyright Butch Gill/Associated Press.
10th Overall Pick: New York Giants – Ronnie Stanley – Tackle – Notre Dame
The New York Giants have a lot of the pieces needed to be a play-off team. They have good offensive weapons, but a major area of need for the franchise is on the offensive line. Giants QB Eli Manning can only show his tremendous throwing skills when he has the time to make the throws.
After using their first round pick last year on Ereck Flowers, this year the franchise will once again add a young player to the offensive line. Tackle Ronnie Stanley is one of the premier O-linemen in this draft aside from Tunsil, and would instantly provide competition to start week one in New York.
There have been some question marks surrounding his technique and how it adjusts to the NFL level, but with a need on the offensive line they could instantly counter this by selecting Stanley, who has the potential to be an NFL starter for the next ten years.
Ronnie Stanley has the potential to be a very good offensive linemen in the NFL for the next ten years, but will the Giants select him? Photo Copyright Rick Scuteri/Associated Press.
That wraps up Part 1 of my NFL mock draft. Whether any of these predictions became fact next Thursday, only time will tell. I would like to thank you for reading and any comments would be greatly appreciated. Watch out for Part 2 of my mock draft, looking at picks 11-20, which will be posted on here in the next few days.