With 41 of the Top 50 and 58 of the Top 100 free agents already signed in a flurry of moves at the start of free agency, the focus of many team’s draft strategy can be inferred and therefore it is finally time for the first mock draft of the season.
1. Tennessee Titans – Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State
While old school thinking in the draft community always leans to size over skill guys, today’s NFL and its emphasis on the passing game begin to alter that thinking. Besides, Ramsey is the best player in this draft regardless of position so why not.
2. Cleveland Browns – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Even if they do manage to land Kaepernick in trade, the Browns desperately need a solid piece to build around and hope for the future. Wentz will need a year but should be the starter by 2017.
3. San Diego Chargers – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
No one is more ecstatic by the Titans drafting Ramsey as San Diego, as they get their LT of the future to help preserve Phillip Rivers’ career,
4. Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Bosa looked phenomenal at his Pro Day this week, running in the 4.7 range in the 40 and flying through the drills. The Cowboys still need multiple DEs and Bosa is a nice start.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
This choice comes down between Jack and DE/DT DeForest Buckner, but I think they lean toward Jack after the big Malik Jackson signing.
6. Baltimore Ravens – DeForest Buckner, DE/DT, Oregon
Buckner has drawn comparisons to the Cardinals Calais Campbell with his height, pass rush and long arms. The Ravens hope he is all that and more.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Jared Goff, QB, California
I don’t expect the Niners to have too much competition to trade up from 7 for Goff, but if they do they should have more than enough ammo. Chip Kelly gets the West Coast signal caller to develop behind Gabbert
8. Philadelphia Eagles – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
The Eagles have already traded DeMarco Murray and are shopping Ryan Matthews. Pederson gets his new bellcow back in Elliot,
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
The Bucs added to the pass rush with Robert Ayers and the secondary with Brent Grimes (and his outspoken wife). I could see them go either way here (DE or CB) but Hargreaves is the best prospect on the board.
10. New York Giants – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The Giants are all-in on 2016 and get an immediate starter at LT in Stanley. That should push Flowers, last year’s 1st round pick, back to his better position at RT.
11. Chicago Bears – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
The Bears are looking to add pass rush after locking up their ILB spots in free agency. Floyd is a beast off the edge and will pair nicely with Lamar Houston at OLB.
12. New Orleans Saints – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Gone is the long-haired Rob Ryan at DC so the Saints might actually try to stop the run for a change. Robinson plugs right into the Saints DL and helps that cause.
13. Miami Dolphins – Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Even with the signing of Mario Williams and the return of Cameron Wake from injury, the Dolphins could use some help rushing the passer and add the flashy Dodd to do just that.
14. Oakland Raiders – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
The Raiders have really improved their team and could be in contention for the division title. Protecting the QB Carr is a good way to make that happen.
15. Los Angeles Rams – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
The Rams continue to miss on early round WRs, with Quick and Austin both still trying to find their way. But Treadwell seems like much more of a sure thing than either of those did.
16. Detroit Lions – Victor Butler, DT, LA Tech
Butler was a beast at the Senior Bowl and really drew the eyes of the Lions front office. Butler could be what Haloti Ngata wasn’t last year in Detroit.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
The Falcons really focused on their defense in free agency and try to solve their OL problems with the powerful Decker.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
The Colts lost Jerrell Freeman to the Bears in free agency and don’t have an in-house replacement. Lee provides more speed and cover skills to that defense.
19. Buffalo Bills – Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
The Bills need a solid tackling machine inside to properly run Rex’s offense. Ragland fits that bill to a tee.
20. New York Jets – Noah Spence, OLB/DE, Eastern Kentucky
The Jets take the chance on the troubled Spence as the solution to their speed rush problem.
21. Washington Redskins – Mackenzie Alexander, CB, Clemson
The Skins had success with 1 Clemson CB in Breeland and go back to that well with Alexander.
22. Houston Texans – Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
Bell is an extremely smart player and is ready to be the QB of the defense from Day 1.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
The Vikings rebuilt their OL in free agency and now look to add weapons for Bridgewater. Doctson could be a #1 WR with his special ability to adjust to the ball in flight.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Coleman has flown under the draft radar a bit, having not participated in any post season games or the Combine. But the Bengals need a strong compliment for AJ Green and Colman is a solid choice.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
The Steelers corners were their Achilles heel last season and the physical Apple is a perfect fit in Black and Yellow.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
Ifedi has been rising up draft boards since his knee proved healthy at Aggie Pro Day. Ifedi can instantly replace Russell Okung or compliment him of the right side if he returns.
27. Green Bay Packers – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
The Packers must replace BJ Raji (unless he resigns) and find an almost mirror image in Rankins.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Keanu Neal, SS, Florida
Perhaps no single prospect has risen more than Neal, who began this season with a 3rd Day grade and now is being selected in the 1st round. Many scouts compare Neal to Earl Thomas.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Shaq Lawson, OLB, Clemson
The Cards are thrilled to see Lawson here. Concerns about his true pass rushing skills might make that a possibility.
30. Carolina Panthers – Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
The Panthers make it 6 OTs selected in the 1st round with the pass blocking Spriggs. He likely starts from Day 1.
31. Denver Broncos – Robert Nkemdiche, DE/DT, Ole Miss
The Broncos took a chance on OLB Shane Ray after a failed drug test at the Combine. This year they take a chance on Robert Nkemdiche and make sure he stays on the bottom floor of the team hotels.