We know you’ve been inundated with mock NFL drafts for months and we are mere hours away from the real deal! We are hoping to give you one more look (we promise the last) at a mock draft of the first round in which our writers weigh in on the picks. If you want more in depth discussion, the TFA writers recorded this mock draft live and it is available here. Fear not, the end of all the speculation and mock rookie drafting is coming to an end, so let TFA give you some last minute NFL rookie knowledge!
- Rams (Travis) – Jared Goff – QB – Cal
When the Rams traded up to the number one spot, it should have been immediately clear who was coming off the board. LA is not a city for kids from North Dakota. It’s a city for QBS like Jared Goff who are calm under pressure, in the pocket, and in a real FBS conference like the PAC-12. Jared Goff is by no means the next Andrew Luck, but he could easily be the next Matt Ryan. Goff’s quick release, solid footwork (for a spread QB) and touch to his passes makes him the best QB in this class. Scouts can get cute making fun of his small(er) hands and say he struggles with the deep ball at times, but really there’s not much to dislike with Goff. The Rams should, and will, take Goff with the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Eagles (Kevin) – Carson Wentz – QB – NDST
The Eagles traded gave up a haul to move up in a trade with the Browns in hopes to land their future franchise quarterback. With selecting Carson Wentz, they will acquire a quarterback who has a massive upside but does come with his own question marks. He has the body of your prototypical QB and has one of the strongest arms in the draft. He displayed great accuracy on short and intermediate routes but did struggle at times with his deep accuracy. For me, his best fit is in a West Coast Offense, which is exactly what the Doug Pederson will employ in Philly. He will likely sit for at least the first season behind Sam Bradford and possibly Chase Daniel which will allow him the time to get acclimated to the big leagues.
- Chargers (Anthony) – Laremy Tunsil – OT – Ole Miss
The Chargers could very easily go DB with Jalen Ramsey or even Pass Rusher with DeForest Buckner here as well, but we’ve seen it time and time again, if you can’t protect your QB and open up holes in the run game, you won’t be successful. In Tunsil, the Chargers are getting a guy that would have went first overall just a few weeks ago, giving them the most solid Tackle we’ve seen in a while, rating top 5 in pass efficiency and best overall run blocker by Pro Football Focus.
- Cowboys (Justin) – Jalen Ramsey – CB – FSU
The Cowboys are in a position they don’t often get to. They are in a position to take a top tier talent at almost any position. The Cowboys will choose to take the best player in the draft that will also make a huge difference in their team immediately. Ramsey has been rated as the top overall player in this draft by multiple high-level rankers and getting Ramsey here will be an amazing development thanks to the recent trade between LA and Tennessee.
- Jaguars (Kevin) – Myles Jack – LB – UCLA
The Jaguars will likely focus on improving their defense that was among the worst in the league last season. They need to look to improve their edge rushing after finishing 20th in the league with 36 sacks. Adding a player like Myles Jack into the mix will provide a nice lift to pair with former 2015 first-round pick Dante Fowler and free agent prize Malik Jackson. Jack is a versatile defender with plus speed and can terrorize offenses, although there is concerns with his knee that could limit his upside down the road.
- Ravens (Travis) – Joey Bosa – DE – Ohio St.
The Ravens have a few needs besides defensive end here, but Bosa is the best overall player left at this point. Without Terrell Suggs bringing the heat for much longer with the Ravens they’ll need another pass-rushing stud to star here soon. Joey Bosa can come in and contribute from day one. He may not be the explosive athlete we expected (given his combine numbers), but the work he does with his hands and overall consistent technique will win him some battles in the trenches at the next level.
- 49ers (Justin) – DeForest Buckner- DE – Oregon
The 49ers defense has been seriously depleted in recent years. Getting a top defensive lineman who hails from the Oregon Ducks makes sense, but should also make Chip Kelly happy. Buckner stands at an intimidating 6’ 7” 291 pounds and could be a force for years to come with some NFL coaching.
- Browns (Anthony) – Ronnie Stanley – OT – Notre Dame
The Browns have a ton of needs, so the options here are endless. I’m of the thought process that you build from the ground up, and the losses of Alex Mack and Geoff Schwartz to free agency may hurt more than any other losses they’ve incurred. Here at the 8th pick, they’re able to make up for those losses by taking a guy who could come in and start at RT right away, and even takeover for Joe Thomas one day.
- Bucs (Travis) – Vernon Hargreaves – CB – Florida
If the Buccaneers can’t get the offensive lineman they want in this spot (or via trade) I think Hargreaves goes here. Hargreaves isn’t the athletic specimen that Ramsey is, but he’s a play-maker with game-changing lock-down abilities. He’s a true outside corner in technique and ability. The only issue may be his size against the Dez Bryants of the NFL. Beyond that, when looking at Vernon Hargreaves snap by snap, he deserves top 15 consideration. He covers, makes the right reads on WRs and even helps out in the run game immensely. This should be an easy pick for the Bucs here.
- Giants (Kevin) – Ezekiel Elliot – RB – Ohio St.
I could easily see the Giants go in a number of different directions here with this pick, I just can’t imagine they would pass on the best running back in this class. The Giants finished 18th in the league in rushing with two-headed monster of Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams. This move would open up their offense and force teams to play honest football with the threat of Zeke Elliot.
- Bears (Anthony) – Leonard Floyd – OLB – Georgia
The Bears have no greater need than pass rusher, and the addition of Floyd will help immediately. With Floyd, they get arguably the most athletic pass rusher in this draft, with a wicked first step and the ability to play inside or out, hand in the dirt or standing up, it’s no surprise that this guy has been “flying up the draft boards” leading up to the draft.
- Saints (Justin) – Sheldon Rankins – DL – Louisville
The Saints have an all around weak defense that needs strengthened from the inside out, making Rankins the right pick for their team. Rankins checks in as a high-end pass-rushing asset that will fit their 4-3 defense well. Rankins has the tools to be a great run stuffer and can pass rush as well. His only knock is his size but his playmaking ability can be the jolt this defense needs to begin retooling.
- Dolphins (Anthony) – Kevin Dodd – DE – Clemson
It’s always tough to pick for your own favorite team as the classic over-thinking comes into play often. CB is a very obvious need here, and I did consider a guy like Eli Apple, but ultimately felt adding some pass rush talent would be the best option. The Phins lost Vernon and Shelby this offseason and have two aging starters in Cameron Wake and Mario Williams, so the addition of Clemson DE Kevin Dodd will be a welcome sight in South Beach. Often overlooked as part of a rock solid Clemson defensive line, I think Dodd possesses that rare size and athleticism that makes a pass rusher great in this league. Once he masters the position, he will be a force.
- Raiders (Justin) – Shaq Lawson – DE – Clemson
After getting out from behind last year’s Clemson stand out Vic Beasley, Lawson was finally able to start last season and made a great impression with his expanded opportunity. Between him, Kevin Dodd, and Deshaun Watson, the Clemson Tigers had a formidable defense that took them all the way to the national championship game. Lawson projects as a OLB in a 3-4 scheme but could be utilized as a base end in a 4-3. His run stuffing ability had teams scheming away from him and this will be highly useful to the Raiders.
- Titans(Travis) – Jack Conklin – OT – Michigan St.
It’s no secret that the Titans could use some help on the offensive line. They gave up way too many sacks on Marcus Mariota, and then barely opened wide enough holes in the run game for even Dexter McCluster to fit through. If the Titans truly want to be “exotic smash mouth” in style, Conklin could be their man. He moves defenders off their spot consistently in the run game while holding his own to manipulate pass rushers path to the QB as well. If the Titans don’t trade up or down again, I would love Conklin here.
- Lions (Kevin) – Josh Doctson – WR – TCU
With Calvin Johnson retiring the Lions are in need of a big body red-zone target to fill the shoes of Megatron. Now, I’m by no means saying Josh Doctson has the ability to replace Megatron, but it should at the very least ease the pain.
- Falcons (Travis) – Darron Lee – OLB – Ohio St.
The Falcons could use some help at linebacker outside of Upshaw and maybe Worrilow. Darron Lee would bring some flexibility to what their defense can do on every down. He may not be the best cover LB for his speed (with a nasty 4.47-second 40), but what he brings in both pass rushing & run stuffing can bring an element to the Falcons defense that they haven’t had for quite some time. If he learns some better coverage skills, especially in man assignments, he may never come off the field. He’s an instant IDP fantasy stud & real life NFL starter if drafted here.
- Colts (Anthony) – Taylor Decker – OT – Ohio St.
Anyone who saw a Colts game last year could see that they’re in desperate need of help on that offensive line. While I don’t agree with reaching for need, it’s almost a necessity for the Colts at this spot, and in Decker they get a rock solid Tackle that could anchor the right side of that line. At 6’7” 310 pounds, he’s got the perfect size you’re looking for in the tackle position, and while he’s not up there with the top 3 as far as talent, he has plenty of potential to be a long-time RT that could eventually move over to the LT position.
- Bills (Kevin) – Reggie Ragland – ILB – Alabama
Reggie Ragland is a versatile player who can play strong-side linebacker for Rex Ryan in his 3-4 defense. Ragland is a run stuffer who plays with a raw aggression. He improved his pass rushing ability which will allow Rex to move him around. The Bills finished last season 19th against the run and 14th against the pass, so continuing to build that defense has to be the focus for the Bills heading into the draft, and what better way to start that process then adding the heat-seeking missile Reggie Ragland.
- Jets (Justin) – Noah Spence – DE – Eastern Kentucky
The Jets are always up for a defensive playmaker and Spence is just what the doctor ordered for a team in need of an edge rusher. He’s a top 10 player and the best pure pass rusher in this class, but will likely fall on draft day due to off-the-field issues that lead this former 5-star recruit from Ohio State to a permanent Big 10 ban after testing positive for banned substances.
- Redskins (Travis) – Robert Nkemdiche – DL – Washington
Nkemdiche may not be an exact scheme fit here. He is also labeled by some to be a “red flag” player, but really, he shouldn’t go any lower than this. The Redskins need better defensive line play, and given Nkemdiche’s ability to destroy offenses, they could be a force with a pick like this. If they put Ryan Kerrigan and Nkemdiche on the same side of the field, they would force defenses to completely shift their game plan. In sub-packages he could be a faster, leaner, longer option on the inside. This is probably the best fit that doesn’t fit perfectly inside the first round to me.
- Texans (Kevin) – Corey Coleman – WR – Baylor
The Texans invested heavily into their offense during free agency after adding Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller, and Jeff Allen. There defense was among the best in the league, so adding another weapon for Osweiler will be key in his development. Corey Coleman is an explosive player who has the ability to be a strong WR1 for many years to come. DeAndre Hopkins may appreciate the help as well.
- Vikings (Anthony) – Laquon Treadwell – WR – Ole Miss
While fantasy owners are likely not happy with where Treadwell ends up here, Vikings fans must be ecstatic! I’m still very much in the mindset that Treadwell is the best WR in this draft. If he falls this far due to a 40 yard dash, the Vikings will finally get themselves that game-changing number 1 WR they’ve been looking for.
- Bengals (Justin) – Sterling Shepard – WR – Oklahoma
The Bengals have a major need at wide receiver so it’s no surprise that they went with a wide receiver here. Free agent signing Brandon LaFell is a stopgap player who isn’t as dependable as the polished Shepard will be. Shepard is arguably the best route runner in this draft class which will allow him to contribute immediately. He should slide into the slot and begin working the middle of the field right where Sanu left off. It’s not unreasonable that Shepard could wind up with the 2nd or 3rd most receptions on the Bengals in his rookie season with as many targets available with the vacancy left by Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.
- Steelers (Travis) – Eli Apple – CB – Ohio St.
The Steelers grew tired last year watching Antwon Blake get burnt on big play after big play. They let him walk and now he’s a Titan. Their defensive back end has struggled to find its identity since the retirement of the great Troy Polamalu. Eli Apple won’t help fix their safety situation, but his ability to win in close man coverage situations is exactly what the Steelers need to stop the bleeding when it comes down to crunch time. He has the athletic profile and cover ability to go before this pick, but would be a no-brainer for the Steelers here.
- Seahawks (Anthony) – Chris Jones – DT – Mississippi St.
The loss of Brandon Mebane should not be overlooked for the Seahawks, so the addition of a top tier DT would be the ideal scenario late in the first round. With Chris Jones sitting on the board at the 26 spot, I ran my draft card up to the “commissioner” to make the pick. Jones’ work ethic and motor have come into question, but Pete Carroll is a master as getting the most out of his players. With Jones, the ‘hawks get a guy with elite strength and length and the ability to play anywhere on the d-line, and being versatile is everything in that Seahawks defense.
- Packers (Justin) – A’Shawn Robinson – DT – Alabama
The Packers pick was narrowed down for them with the surprising retirement of All-Pro BJ Raji. This makes my selection of Robinson fairly easy after he fell this far. The former 5-star recruit was a key contributor in Alabama’s 3rd best rated defense in 2015. Robinson is a polished run defender who has solid pass rushing skills as well. His potential is high and he should be able to contribute from day one in the Packers defense.
- Chiefs (Kevin) – Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis
The Chiefs are without a ton of needs, outside of maybe DB, but the Chiefs have shown in the past that they will take a player regardless of their perceived needs. They tend to draft with an eye on the future rather than their immediate needs, like they did a few year’s ago taking Dee Ford despite already having Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. With Alex Smith getting older the time is now to draft a QB to groom behind the veteran. If Lynch is still on the board look for the Chiefs to lock up their future franchise QB.
- Cardinals (Travis) – Vernon Butler – DT – LA Tech
The Cardinals are so close to competing for a Super Bowl. One aspect of their game that clearly needed improving late in the playoffs was solid defensive line play. They already went out and grabbed Chandler Jones from the Patriots. If they snag the massive Vernon Butler their line would be completely transformed. He doesn’t rank near the absolute top in any one stat and he struggles with inconsistency when his first move fails in the run or passing game. However, with his 35+ inch arms & 6’4″, 325 pound frame he would complete a star-studded defensive line for the Cardinals. If he doesn’t go here, he’ll be gone soon thereafter.
- Panthers (Kevin) – William Jackson III – DB – Houston
In the wake of Josh Norman getting his Franchise Tag removed, the Panthers certainly have a glaring hole to fill. Adding a player like William Jackson will provide the boost the team needs. Jackson III is solid in man coverage and as shown the ability to play zone which is what the Panthers run the most.
- Broncos (Anthony) – Jarran Reed – DL – Alabama
I was very tempted to go with Michigan St. QB Connor Cook here, and it seems that most Broncos fans are actually leaning towards Cook here at the 31st pick in the draft. That’d be such a colossal reach though, that I couldn’t do it. Especially not with a dominant Alabama DT still on the board in Jarran Reed. Now, Elway did find himself a steal later in the draft with Malik Jackson, so maybe he tries his luck again this year, but why pass up a guy like Reed? With Jarran the Broncos will get a fierce competitor who can chew up double teams, excel at finding the ball and is versatile enough to play anywhere on the line. Reed could fill in immediately.
Not get enough of our writers’ view on the NFL 2016 draft? Look no further than our draft specials airing on Rabble TV here both tonight and tomorrow ! Let the drafting begin!