OVERVIEW: The shakeup of the first round could have a dramatic impact on the draft if the Los Angeles Rams don’t take Jared Goff with the first pick. If they take Carson Wentz, there’s no telling what could happen because the word out of Cleveland is that they prefer Wentz and, if he’s still there, there is no reason to trade out of the spot. If he is gone, there’s no saying how much the organization likes Goff and whether they would make the move to get him.
We are also projecting a trade that fits perfectly on the draft value chart, as San Francisco trades the seventh pick of the draft to Tennessee and receives the 15th and 45th pick (the 14th pick of the second round) in return.
1. Los Angeles (from Tennessee) – Jared Goff, QB, Cal. The Rams made the big move to take a quarterback and the current rumor is that G.M. Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher fell in love with Goff’s workout in miserable weather conditions. The team needs to hit on this pick because they gave up a king’s ransom to get him. A case can be made for both – Fisher earned his coaching stripes with a small-college QB (Steve McNair) before – but, for now, we’re going with Goff as the choice here.
2. Cleveland – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State. There is still some question as to whether the Browns would prefer Wentz or Goff (they’ve made the wrong decision before), but the Rams will make their decision for them. Wentz’s stock is on the rise and Robert Griffin III is a stop-gap solution at best. If the Browns are ever going to be respectable, they need to have a QB that can get the job done, not draft busts like Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel.
3. San Diego – Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State. This will be a tough decision, because the Chargers need help up front and Laremy Tunsil is the best offensive tackle in the draft. But, we feel Ramsey is the best athlete in the draft and, while he has the skill to be a top cornerback, he could be a pre-eminent safety, which the Chargers need after allowing Eric Weddle to leave via free agency.
4. Dallas – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State. The Cowboys have made a lot of risky picks in recent years because Jerry Jones just doesn’t seem to understand that there is a risk in risk/reward players. Bosa is a relentless attacker who loves the game and will be an instant hit in Dallas, which Jerruh could use right now.
5. Jacksonville – Myles Jack, ILB, UCLA. If he gets full medical clearance from the Jags, he could be the final piece of the puzzle for a defense that was at the bottom of the league all year. With the signing of DE Malik Jackson and safety Tashaun Gipson, not to mention the anticipated return of Dante Fowler, Jack could make the Jags a team to watch in 2015 because their offense was good enough last year and improvements on the defensive side could make them a legitimate threat
6. Baltimore – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss. This one could also go the way of defensive end DeForest Buckner, but the Ravens have a history of taking the best player available and, prior to the Rams-Titans trade, Tunsil was viewed as the top pick. Eugene Monroe has been a huge disappointment as injuries have marred his Ravens career and he could become a post-draft cap casualty as the Ravens open up more money and replace him with the potential left side bookend for the next decade.
PROJECTED TRADE: 7. Tennessee (from San Francisco) – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame. The Titans complete their draft fleecing of the Rams by trading the first-round pick and one of the two second-round picks they acquired to get back in the top 10 to take the offensive lineman they need and were going to use on Tunsil. Stanley has been compared favorably to D’Brickashaw Ferguson and could allow Tennessee to move former first-rounder Taylor Lewan to right tackle to better protect Marcus Mariota, who was beaten up last season.
8. Philadelphia (from Miami) – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon. If Stanley is still on the board, he could be hard to pass up. The same may be true for running back Ezekiel Elliott following the trade of DeMarco Murray. But with a new coaching regime in town, the Eagles need to accentuate their strengths. Philly lost DE Cedric Thornton to Dallas and lining up Buckner opposite Fletcher Cox could give the Eagles defense a building block to construct the new-look team around in the post-Chip Kelly era.
9. Tampa Bay – Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida State. The Bucs are in a pass-happy division and, after getting rid of Darrelle Revis and Aqib Talib the past couple of years, the Bucs had one of the worst groups of corners in the league in 2015 – not good when you play Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan six times a year.
10. New York Giants – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State. The Giants cut Will Beatty and have done nothing in free agency to give themselves a long-term solution. This could be a spot where teams would consider trying to trade up, but the Giants need to protect Eli Manning and this has become a priority. Running back Ezekiel Elliott will get a long look here, but keeping Eli upright is the top priority.
11. Chicago – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson. This is a question that will give us an insight into what direction John Fox is going with the Bears. Having addressed linebacker in free agency, a defensive lineman is the likely landing spot for a pick and this is one of the better D-line classes in recent memory. We like Lawson as a fit, but Fox and Vic Fangio could go with a handful of different linemen here.
12. New Orleans – Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State. The Saints have been completely overhauling their linebacker corps. The only thing missing is a young playmaker to mix into the group. 2015 starters David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber are gone and, while they’ve dabbled in free agency, the Saints need playmakers to get the team back in the playoff picture.
13. Miami (from Philadelphia) – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. The Dolphins will be crossing their fingers that this scenario happens. He’ll need to make it past the NFC East contingent in the way, and the Dolphins would love nothing more than to see him roll into South Beach after Lamar Miller got away in free agency. Miami has addressed its other major needs in free agency and the trade market and, if Elliott falls to them, it’s an offseason windfall.
14. Oakland – Reggie Ragland, MLB, Alabama. The Raiders have been aggressive in the offseason addressing their defense and adding an inside presence like Ragland to replace the pedestrian Curtis Lofton would make a huge difference. This could come down to Ragland or a cornerback, but with the potential of having Ragland, Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin attacking quarterbacks, the Raiders could be scary.
PROJECTED TRADE: 15. San Francisco (from Tennessee via Los Angeles) – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis. The 49ers have made it clear that the new Chip Kelly regime doesn’t see Colin Kaepernick as a piece of their future and nobody views Blaine Gabbert as a long-term solution. Kelly once again misses out on a Pac-10 QB he wants, but Lynch has a big upside and has been a rising prospect ever since the Combine. Dropping down a few spots, adding a second-round pick and landing their QB of the future instead of reaching for him with the seventh pick is a good move. It’s a trade that makes too much sense for both teams involved.
16. Detroit – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss. The Lions could probably trade back and still land Treadwell. They added Marvin Jones in free agency, but replacing Calvin Johnson is impossible to do and would be a lot of pressure on Treadwell. Defensive tackle is a possibility, but the Lions may look there in the second round given the depth of the draft class.
17. Atlanta – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia. Dan Quinn is desperate to improve the ratty defense he inherited. He added a couple of veterans – Sean Weatherspoon and Courtney Upshaw – in free agency, but will need a young playmaker to help build around in the long-term. Defensive line will get serious consideration, but Floyd could make the most immediate impact.
18. Indianapolis – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State. The Colts have tried to improve the offensive line over the last few years with extremely limited success. Decker is a steady player who could improve the O-line considerably and give Andrew Luck the protection he needs for the Colts to return to being the top dog in the AFC South.
19. Buffalo – Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson. The Bills cut Mario Williams because of his huge contract but have done nothing yet to give Rex Ryan’s little brother something to play with. The Bills have had one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL the last few years and they can’t afford to take a big backward step. Dodd is a raw prospect, but with the right teaching could develop quickly and keep the Bills with one of the game’s dominant defensive fronts.
20. New York Jets – Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M. The Jets have addressed several needs in free agency, but had to act on the fly to address left tackle. They didn’t seem to be expecting that ironman D’Brickashaw Ferguson was going to retire and quickly swung a deal with Denver to get veteran Ryan Clady. However, Clady has missed 30 games over the last three years – The Brick missed one snap in 10 years – and, while we think this may be a bit of a reach at No. 20, the Jets need insurance because Clady is far from a guarantee to stay healthy.
21. Washington – A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama. The Redskins’ playoff run included contributions from a lot of players. One of them was Terrance Knighton, who came to Washington on a one-year deal and left to New England in free agency. Robinson is a massive player who has football smarts and can play the five-technique in the middle of the Redskins defensive front and can make an immediate impact. His biggest plus may be that he didn’t turn 21 until last month, giving Washington a lot of time to develop him into a budding star.
22. Houston – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor. The Texans have a star in DeAndre Hopkins taking defenders deep. Adding the fastest wide receiver in the draft to put on the other side would give the new-look Texans offense that has already added Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller a shot at helping the offense catch up to a defense that has been good enough to get Houston to the playoffs.
23. Minnesota – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU. The Vikings are very young at the wide receiver position – slot receiver Jarius Wright is the vested veteran. If Teddy Bridgewater is going to improve, he is going to need a deep threat that can keep defenses honest and provide a big play-option that is missing in Minnesota. Adrian Peterson may be entering his last season as a Viking, so getting weapons for Bridgewater is a must. If you’re looking for a wild card, perhaps defensive linemen like Sheldon Rankins or Jarran Reed could get consideration, but the Vikings’ need at wide receiver is obvious and Teddy needs a deep threat weapon as the Vikings move indoors for the next 30 to 40 years.
24. Cincinnati – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame. The Bengals lost both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency and need a receiver to take some of the heat off A.J. Green. The Bengals ignored wide receiver in free agency (unless you count aging veteran Brandon LaFell) and they need to prevent constant double teams on Green to keep the Bengals offense diverse and wide open. If they had lost just one wide receiver, they could look elsewhere. Now they can’t. Fuller drops a lot of passes, but he has a lot of talent.
25. Pittsburgh – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State. The Steelers tend to build through the draft and had some of the worst cornerbacks in the league last year. They were consistently burned over the top and, while they re-signed William Gay, they are coming into 2016 shorthanded and do what Pittsburgh does – pick quality players to fill the voids when they arise.
26. Seattle – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama. The Seahawks have lost a lot of defensive talent over the last couple of season. While Reed isn’t a replacement per se for Brandon Mebane, the Seahawks need to replenish the defensive side of the football if they want to remain a Super Bowl contender and Reed can give them an infusion of disruptive young talent.
27. Green Bay – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville. B.J. Raji is taking a year off and the Packers need a nose tackle who can replace him. He has very good feet for a big man and would likely step in immediately into a starting role, which is what the Packers need to do if they’re going to get their division title back away from Minnesota.
28. Kansas City – William Jackson, CB Houston. The Chiefs didn’t expect to lose Sean Smith to free agency and could team Jackson with 2015 first-round pick Marcus Peters to build a tandem that will be together until the start of the next decade. There are different positions the Chiefs could go in, but this is the one that could help cement their chance to knock Denver off its perch and, with Smith gone, that is a position that they need to replace.
29. Arizona – Noah Spence, OLB/DE, Eastern Kentucky. If you went strictly on talent, Spence would be long since gone by this pick. But, numerous off-field issues have dropped his stock. The Cardinals have the offense to get the job done, but adding Spence to go along with Chandler Jones, whom they traded for, the Cardinals defense could become almost instantly oppressive. If Spence checks out with the coaching staff, he’s a potential steal if he gets his head right.
30. Carolina – Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State. Jared Allen retired and Charles Johnson was brought back on a greatly reduced contract, signaling that Johnson may be following Allen out of Carolina earlier than later. Ogbah can give the Panthers a pass rush they need on the edge and keep the defense as strong as it was in 2015 when the Panthers ran roughshod over the NFC.
31. Denver – Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State. The Broncos could go in several directions here and could trade the pick away to stockpile more, but the need at guard is pronounced with the release of Louis Vasquez and the loss of Evan Mathis to free agency. When you have the last pick of the first round and can get the best player at a position, you take advantage of it.