01. St. Louis Rams — QB Jared Goff, California
No shocker here. The Rams have had 9 straight losing seasons, the longest in the NFL. It’s remarkable how little they improved themselves despite robbing the Skins blind with the 2012 draft trade. Goff will need a lot of help on offense, but the defense should help him keep games close. Goff is readier than any QB in this draft to play.
02. Philadelphia Eagles — QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
No shocker here either. The Eagles have spent a ton of money on quarterbacks the last month or so, signing Sam Bradford and Chase Daniels. Now they will spend more on Wentz. I doubt he starts to begin the season, but as soon as Bradford struggles — and he always struggles sooner or later — the fans will start calling for Wentz, bypassing Daniels completely. Bradford wants out. This pick could go very well for Philly in a few years, but it could also go bad quickly.
03. San Diego Chargers — DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
Okay, now the 2016 NFL Draft finally gets going. Now we have some suspense… And the Chargers select pass rusher Joey Bosa. He’s got a great motor and is ferocious off the edge and getting to the quarterback. He’s not particularly swift, but he works hard and he works all the time. He’s best used as a DE in a 4-3 defense. We’ll have to see how the Chargers use him. If he’s going to be in a 3-4 defense, he will need to gain weight. If the Chargers are smart, they will move him all over the place.
04. Dallas Cowboys — Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
Okay, this isn’t a shocker, but it is still big news. The Cowboys have Darren McFadden, who rushed for over 1000 yards last season, but is very injury-prone. They also have Alfred Morris, who ran for over 1000 yards three straight seasons with the Redskins, but dropped off a cliff in 2015. Elliott is a stud who will start immediately and become a major weapon in the Dallas offense. He can run, he can block, he can catch the ball. He does it all. I thought Dallas had bigger needs on defense, but there is no doubt that Elliott is a major talent and a 3-down back. He has no medical issues.
05. Jacksonville Jaguars — DB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
Solid pick by the Jags. Their defense is atrocious and needs help everywhere. I had Ramsey as the best defensive player in the draft and, arguably, the best overall player in this draft. Ramsey isn’t a finished product, but his athleticism, talent, physical attributes and instincts to be a great player. To me, he’s not really a safety, he’s more of a press cornerback and I hope the Jags use him that way.
06. Baltimore Ravens — LT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
A very solid pick for the Ravens, who have a major need at LT due to Eugene Monroe’s injuries and lack of domination. Stanley commits too many penalties and isn’t the most consistent, but he has great talent and potential. I would have taken Laremy Tunsil here, but I do know some teams, a few, prefer Stanely. This isn’t a terrible pick, but I prefer Tunsil. On the other hand, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has a great track record.
07. San Francisco 49ers — DE DeForest Bucker, Oregon
I like this pick for the Niners. Obviously, they could have used Tunsil, but they don’t trust him because of the character issues that keep popping up with him. Buckner is a sack artist and the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. He’s a solid run defender who needs to improve his leverage and could be helped with a lot of coaching. He’s athletic and active and should really upgrade the defensive line in a year or two. He’s scheme versatile and that’s in high demand these days.
08. Tennessee Titans — LT Jack Conklin, Michigan State
The Titans trade back up into the top ten, allowing the Browns to move down again, to 15, and accumulate more picks. Smart move for both teams. An upgrade on the offensive line is precisely what the Titans need. Tennessee had a terrible offensive line in 2015 and must improve it to protect QB Marcus Mariota. I don’t know if the Titans will move Taylor Lewan to right tackle or use Conklin at right tackle, but it’s an upgrade either way. Obviously, the character questions around Tunsil have destroyed his draft stock. I wonder how far he will fall.
09. Chicago Bears — OLB Leonard Floyd, Georgia
The Bears traded up two spots to get Leonard Floyd, who has been rocketing up draft boards the last two weeks. I like Floyd, but I think this is a bit rich for him. I don’t think he’s a great pass rusher and I just haven’t seen that from him yet. You don’t take an OLB at this spot unless he can get to the QB. I think he’s a bit under-powered and he gets overwhelmed at the point of attack. He has considerable potential, but he needs coaching and he needs to build strength. I think this is over-drafting, but I guess we’ll find out.
10. New York Giants — CB Eli Apple, Ohio State
This is a bit early for Apple. [Third Buckeye in the top 10. How did Ohio State not win the championship last year?] I like Apple and think he deserved to go in the mid-to-late first round, but I wouldn’t have grabbed him in the top ten. He’s got good size and speed so there are no problems athletically. He’s very inconsistent, his technique is poor and he is not a good tackler. He’s versatile, though, so teams like him for that. He’s not a great playmaker, but the Giants had one of the worst pass defenses in NFL history last year and need all the help they can get when it comes to stopping the passing game.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida
I had the Bucs taking Hargreaves at 9 so this is not a shock. Hargreaves doesn’t have ideal size or speed, but his film is better than his measurables. He can play zone or press coverage and he played well against very high competition. He was better early in college than his last season, but I like Hargreaves better than Apple, who went one pick before him.
12. New Orleans Saints — DL Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
A big lineman should help the Saints immediately, since New Orleans is terrible on that side of the ball and need help absolutely everywhere. He’s a 300-pounder with scheme versatility who can rush the passer and be stout against the run. I like his motor and attitude, things the Saints defense really need. Solid pick.
13. Miami Dolphins — LT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
So, Tunsil falls about 10 spaces and loses millions of dollars. If he can keep his head on straight and stay healthy, he’s a stud left tackle in the classic mode. When you watch him in games you see everything you want to see from an NFL left tackle. He’s got great hands, long arms, is powerful, quick on his feet and can re-direct. Brandon Albert will be 32 soon and Tunsil will be an excellent replacement — if he can handle the money, fame and free time of the NFL. The character questions about this dude are real, otherwise he wouldn’t have fallen this far because he’s a top 5 pick.
14. Oakland Raiders — S Karl Joseph, West Virginia
I would never have taken Joseph this high, but I do think he’s the best safety in the draft class, assuming you don’t think Jalen Ramsey is a safety. [I don’t.] Joseph is a hard-hitter and very competitive. He’s go the fire and desire you want in a safety. He can play center field or in man coverage. He has some durability issues. I see him starting early because he’s so competitive and is a hard worker.
15. Cleveland Browns — WR Corey Coleman, Baylor
A rare speed burner who can take the top off defenses. He can get quick separation and is a real playmakers. He’s not a great route-runner and he has a tendency to drop the ball over the middle. He’s not a big guy so you might think he’s a natural slot receiver, but those drops over the middle complicate that. If he can beat press coverage he can still be a very good outside receiver. He will also help immediately as a punt returner. Unfortunately, for Coleman, he’s going to a glorified expansion team.
16. Detroit Lions — OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State
He’s the next tackle on the board and the pick makes sense because Matthew Stafford was sacked almost 90 times the last two seasons. He’s a 3-year starter who lacks arm length and isn’t a great athlete. He’s a very good run blocker, though and he seems more like a right tackle than a left tackle to me, since his pass protection can get a bit leaky. I wouldn’t have drafted him this high, but the Lions have a real need.
17. Atlanta Falcons — S Keanu Neal, Florida
Terrific athlete who can really run and jump like a maniac. He’s not good in man-to-man coverage, but he hits like a ton of bricks and can really support the run. He looks great in games who clearly loves to play football. He’s a good kid, too, with no character concerns. In a year or two he should be the leader of the Atlanta defense. This guy is a tackling machine.
18. Indianapolis Colts — C Ryan Kelly, Alabama
You don’t often see a center taken this high, but he’s a rare talent on the interior of the line. He can play center and both guard positions, so his versatility is valuable. Good pass protector with an 80″ wingspan and a smart guy who can direct the entire line. The Colts have had a terrible offensive line for years and last year it destroyed their season — and almost Andrew Luck. Kelly immediately upgrades not only the center position, but the entire line. He will start immediately.
19. Buffalo Bills — DE Shaq Lawson
A dynamic edge rusher who can really get after the QB. He plays hurt and has a great motor. He can move around the line a bit, so he’s versatile. I think this is a steal by the Bills since I had Lawson rated at around 12 in this draft. He had a shoulder injury and that must have scared some teams off. If he’s healthy, though, he’s a real talent [12.5 sacks last season] who led the nation in tackles for loss and should provide a real upgrade for Buffalo, who desperately need help with the pass rush.
20. New York Jets — OLB Darron Lee, Ohio State
He’s a pass rusher who was second on the team in sacks and tackles for loss to Joey Bosa. Runs like the wind and can chase from sideline to sideline. Not a great tackler and needs to gain size and strength, but his speed and instincts make him so dynamic. A very disruptive player behind the line of scrimmage. He can play in space very well, but I didn’t think he played as well in 2015 as he did in 2014. Still, Todd Bowles will know what to do with this kid.
21. Houston Texans — WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame
They traded up one spot with Washington to take a wideout, which is what they sorely need, having relied only on DeAndre Hopkins at WR last year. Will Fuller is a speed demon and the fact that the first two wideouts off the board were fast guys, but not necessarily the most productive, shows you what is valued in the NFL right now. Personally, I’d rather have Treadwell or Doctson, since Fuller doesn’t have great hands. He can take the top off a defense with his speed, but he’s not a great route-runner and I don’t think he’s the toughest guy around.
22. Washington Redskins — WR Josh Doctson, TCU
I like the pick. The Skins have a big need on the defensive line, but both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon will be free agents in 2017 and the team isn’t going to sign both of them. Doctson ran a 4.5 at the Combine, so he’s fast, but not a speed burner. However, he’s had back-to-back seasons with 1000+ yards and 10+ touchdowns so he’s very productive. He was hugely productive in college and has great character. He averaged 16.8 yards per catch in 2015, which is superb. He’s got long arms, great hands and wins when the ball is in the air. He looked like the most natural ball-catcher at the Combine. This is a smart pick by the Skins. They have an immediate need on the D-line, but the need at WR is going to be huge in 2017 and the Skins are preparing for that, as good teams do.
Taking the receiver some thought the Texans should have taken, the Redskins add a pick and get a competitive bigger wideout to add to their till. Kirk Cousins now has a middle-of-the-field playmaker whose leaping ability will help with some of the off-target throws the Redskins have lived with. Doctson and Jordan Reed can work the middle, and DeSean Jackson has ownership on the deep routes. The Redskins’ offense is evolving. Grade: B+
From Sports Illustrated:
Doctson has been one of the most productive receivers in the nation in the last two seasons, and on tape his talent backs up all those numbers. Doctson is especially strong when asked to compete with cornerbacks and safeties on 50/50 balls, and he combines size, strength and speed to be one of the class’s best talents at any position. Kirk Cousins just got himself a very good red-zone target and a perfect fit for Jay Gruden’s West Coast offense.
Here is Pro Football Focus on Josh Doctson:
After moving back a spot, Washington gets one of the draft’s best receivers in Doctson, whose +28.9 receiving grade led the nation in 2015. Doctson has incredible body control, making downfield catches over defenders with regularity and separating well in the intermediate game. TCU quarterbacks had a passer rating of 149.2 when targeting Doctson last year — the best in the nation — and he ranked third in the country with 17 catches on deep passes (20+ yards in air). His ball skills will give him a chance to become the most productive deep threat in the draft, even better than the faster Fuller. Doctson’s catch radius will make Redskins QB Kirk Cousins look even better and he adds yet another dimension to an already well-rounded passing game.
23. Minnesota Vikings — WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
A very good pick by the Vikings, who need more weapons on offense, more targets for Teddy Bridgewater. Not a fast guy and his bad time [4.63 in the 40] at his pro day hurt him. However, he led the SEC in receiving, he’s physical, makes tough catches and put up a lot of good numbers in college. The Vikings need to throw the ball down the field more often and Treadwell should help them do that. Treadwell needs to use his physicality to get off the line of scrimmage and create space out of his breaks. If he can do that, he will be a good producer for the Vikes.
24. Cincinnati Bengals — CB William Jackson III, Houston
The Bengals badly need another wideout, but three went in a row just before them and they couldn’t justify taking another one. He’s got good size and speed, but he needs to get stronger so he can support in the run and bang with bigger wideouts. He’s a good athlete who can make plays and led the NCAA in pass breakups. Very good ball skills, as good as any CB in the draft class. This probably wasn’t Cincy’s first choice, but it is a good pick with Adam Jones turning 32 and the Bengals having to defend that pass-happy Steelers offense twice a year.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers — CB Artie Burns, Miami
The Steelers gave up almost 4500 passing yards in 2015 so we knew they’d be looking for a cornerback. Burns is probably the best one left. He has a tendency to get penalties and gets beat deep too often, but I like his athleticism and ball skills and he’s an absolute speed demon. Athletically, there is nothing you want that Burns doesn’t have. All the measureables are there, but he needs a lot of coaching from Mike Tomlin & Co.
26. Denver Broncos — QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis
The Super Bowl champs have an obvious need at QB and they moved up, trading with the Seahawks, to get their guy before a team like Arizona could grab him. Lynch won’t be ready in 2016, that’s for sure, but if he’s developed properly, he could be their franchise QB in 2017 and for years to come. He’s 6’6″ and about 245 pounds, so the size is absolutely there and he’s a solid athlete, too. He can make plays with his feet, but is more liable to buy time to throw than just tuck and run. He has shown he can read defenses and make solid decisions, but he needs time to learn. He should definitely not be thrown into the fire in 2016.
27. Green Bay Packers — DT Kenny Clark, UCLA
BJ Raji is taking a year off from football so the team needs a large body in the middle. Clark is big in the middle and most everywhere else, too. He showed some ability to bull rush and get to the QB [6 sacks] this past season that we hadn’t seen before. He can push the pocket and be solid against the run with his size and brute strength. Moves well for a large man and could start immediately.
28. San Francisco 49ers — OG Joshua Garnett, Stanford
The Niners traded up with the Kansas City Chiefs to take the Outland Trophy winner. I don’t understand this. He’s not the best guard in the draft and who trades up in the first round to draft a guard. Garnett was a solid college player, but he can’t play tackle so this is a guy you take in the mid-to-late second round of the draft. This was a bad trade and a bad selection by the Niners. The 49ers gave up 53 sacks in 2015, but this was not the right guy to take. He’s a mauler and not a top pass protector.
29. Arizona Cardinals — DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
A great talent, among the most talented in this draft, but he comes with a host of personal and character issues. If he can turn his life around, he’s a steal for the Cardinals at this spot, but he’s known for surrounding himself with bad guys. Arizona must convince him to separate himself from those people in order to give his career a shot. He’s a 3-technique tackle who helped to turn around Ole Miss. This guy would have been a top 5 pick without the character concerns. He shows flashes of unbelievable ability, but must be more consistently productive and stop disappearing during games.
30. Carolina Panthers — DT Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
This guy is very athletic despite his gigantic size and he plays with great energy. He went to a small school, but he could have played at Alabama or LSU. He’s got long arms and outstanding athleticism that allows him to use his position and quickness to take advantage of unwary offensive linemen. His skills are a bit raw, but he can do a lot of things, he just needs coaching to refine his moves. He’s got a high ceiling.
31. Seattle Seahawks — OT Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
A gigantic man with huge upside who, I believe, will need to move inside to guard in the NFL. His technique is often sloppy and he doesn’t play with good leverage. He’s a very raw player, but the size and athleticism is impressive. Ifedi has a lot to learn, but if he can learn it, he’ll be a heck of an interior lineman for the Seahawks.