Is Myles Garrett the guy for the job of fixing Cleveland’s pass rush?
By: Elias McMillan
The NFL Draft is a crap shoot and unlike last year, teams have not made a trade up into the top 5 for one particular player. That would make predicting the picks easier but instead I feel like I made a few guesses this year that might feel like reaches. I’m sure it can’t be as bad as anyone else’s Mock Draft. Anyway, Cleveland is on the clock…..
1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, OLB/DE, Texas A&M: This should be a no brainer for the Browns. Myles Garrett has been the projected as the number one pick in this draft early in the process. The Browns have had numerous high draft choices in round one in recent years but they’ve never had a chance to draft anyone as talented or anyone who can change their defense like Garrett could. Garrett is an athletic freak who can make plays behind the line of scrimmage. The combination of size and speed that he brings to the table is drawing comparisons to Julius Peppers and Jadeveon Clowney. Garrett out produced both of those guys in college. He will bring big time talent to a Browns defense that only had two players to get double-digit sack totals in a season in the last ten years.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: The 49ers could go a lot of different ways with this pick. They need defensive help but they also need a QB. I think the Niners will wait on a QB in later rounds. To get their defense back to where they once were only a short time ago, they need a player who can get to the QB. San Fran has spent recent top draft picks on the defensive line already but they are still missing the pass rush that they lost when Aldon Smith left the team. Solomon Thomas had a tremendous final season at Stanford where he looked unblockable at times. Thomas has a really quick first step and the way he penetrates the line of scrimmage really sets him apart from most pass rushers in this draft. Thomas would be a great fit as a pass rusher in San Fran’s 3-4 defense.
3. Chicago Bears – Jamal Adams, S, LSU: Jamal Adams is the most complete safety in this draft. He is great in the open field as a tackler and he can defend passes down the field. The Bears need plenty of defensive help. Adams would be a bad place to start.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama: The Jaguars have been trying to build up their defensive line for a while now. They’ve brought in multiple free agents to that unit recently. But I think that Jacksonville needs youth in that area. Allen was an absolute force inside at Alabama where he played at a high level for three years. The addition of Allen to what they already have on the defensive line could produce immediate results.
5. Tennessee Titans – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: Tennessee recently cut one of their veteran safeties and they can draft a replacement for him in round one. I like Malik Hooker’s game a lot. He isn’t the complete safety that Jamal Adams is but he is a ball hawk who can make plays when the ball is in his area consistently. Hooker needs to work on becoming more of a physical tackler but I don’t see defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau passing on him especially with Adams off the board.
6. New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: The Jets would get a steal here if the best corner in the draft is still available at pick number six. If you are looking to replace a player like Darrelle Revis, Lattimore would be a great place to start. Lattimore offers great speed and instincts, which make him look like a future all-pro. The Jets are in an interesting place right now because they’ve gotten rid of so many veterans in this offseason. They could really go anywhere with this pick. But getting Lattimore at six would be a steal.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: I didn’t really know where to go with this one. I’m betting that the Chargers are hoping for one of the top two safeties to drop down to them. If not, they will most likely trade down. If they don’t trade down, I have them drafting for need with a CB. Taking a corner here might be a reach but the Chargers secondary dealt with injuries last season and they need more depth. Humphrey was a great corner on a pretty good Alabama defense and he was able to be pretty durable during his college career. He will help a Chargers secondary that needs to get younger.
8. Carolina Panthers – Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin: In Super Bowl 50, Cam Newton got beat up. Then, during the 2016 regular season, Newton got even more beat up. You got to find a way to protect your franchise QB. Michael Oher is a great success story but he cannot be a starter on this offensive line. Carolina brought in Matt Kalil from Minnesota and they can draft a starting offensive tackle for the immediate future with this pick. Ryan Ramczyk comes from a school that seems to just breed great offensive linemen. Carolina could go with a RB or some defensive help here but I think they need to prioritize protecting their franchise QB.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Reuben Foster is an absolute thumper for a LB. He is a big time hitter and was the best player from a talented Alabama defense. The Bengals cut ties with veteran LB Rey Maualuga in the offseason and drafting Foster here would provide their defense with an instant replacement. Foster does has some red flags for some off the field stuff but I think he’s too good to drop out of the top ten.
10. Buffalo Bills – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: This might come as a shocker. Many think that Buffalo will be concerning a QB at pick 10. But I think they need to stick with Tyrod Taylor and draft him some weapons. I do like Clemson’s Mike Williams a lot but the Bills already have a receiver with a similar skill set and he just happens to be from Clemson as well. I think that small school product, Corey Davis, would complement Sammy Watkins better than Mike Williams. Davis is a streaky receiver with superb route running skills. He was very productive as a college player and he should be ready to provide Taylor with another target down the field to take the pressure off Watkins.
11. New Orleans Saints – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State: The Saints need all the defensive help. Bring in Gareon Conley from a deep and talented Ohio State secondary. New Orleans’ pass defense has ranked near the bottom in the league for a while now.
12. Cleveland Browns – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: If the Browns have two picks in round one, you better believe the second one will be a QB. You might expect me to vouch from Mitch Trubisky because he’s a Tarheel but actually, I don’t think he is the best QB in this draft. Trubisky needs a lot of work and he would probably be better off sitting in his rookie season. But Cleveland reportedly likes Trubisky a lot. For Trubisky, it’s all about his potential. Trubisky has a good arm, his athletic, and he played with a talented bunch of WR’s in college. Trubisky also only has one-year experience as a starter. I think Hue Jackson will love the opportunity to mold Trubisky into something but they will need to be patient and resist the temptation of throwing him to the lions in year one. But with Cleveland’s QB situation, Trubisky may have to get ready sooner than later.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech: Here’s a shocker. Arizona takes a QB for the future, as Carson Palmer’s time is almost up. Mahomes has a great arm that the pro scouts love. Much like Trubisky, Mahomes needs some pro coaching seasoning and Bruce Arians has a good track record with young QB’s.
Dalvin Cook did it all in the backfield at Florida State
14. Philadelphia Eagles – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: I don’t think Dalvin Cook is the best RB in the draft but he fits what the Eagles need at that position. Cook is in the mold of a Jamaal Charles type player and head coach Doug Pederson is very familiar with such a player from his time in Kansas City. Cook is a complete back as he can fill the role as a tradition RB but can also provide the QB with a pretty good target in the passing game. He will remind Eagles fans of a better version of Brian Westbrook.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple: With Robert Mathis retiring, the Colts need a talent on defense who can create pressure in the backfield. Haason Reddick has sky rocketed up draft boards after a great Senior Bowl. He was a player at Temple who improved each season and did whatever to help on the defensive side of the ball. He needs to bulk up some but with his small size, along with that comes great speed along the edges, which is key for a OLB in a 3-4 defense.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: This would be a dream come true for Baltimore. Mike Williams is arguably the best WR in the draft and the Ravens need a big time target for Joe Flacco. Williams isn’t going to blow the top off of defenses in the NFL with his speed but with his size and the way he attacks the football while in the air will make him an attractive prospect as a rookie. Williams is a playmaker when the ball is thrown his way and he could develop into the Ravens new number one target in the passing game sooner than later.
17. Washington – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Many believe that Leonard Fournette is a lock to be a top 10 pick or at least the first RB selected. I don’t have him in either category. Why? I like Fournette is going to be hurt a bit by the load he had to carry at LSU. He was basically their entire offense and he went through a lot of wear and tear in college. Despite that, I still think he is the best RB in the draft. He is a physical runner, he’s hard to tackle, and he has underrated speed. Washington has been waiting for a RB like him since Clinton Portis left town. Washington would rush to the podium if Fournette some how slips all the way down to pick 17.
18. Tennessee Titans – John Ross, WR, Washington: I’m not a big fan of John Ross but after going with defense with their first selection in round one, the Titans will be looking for a new target for their franchise QB. I’m not a big fan of Ross because of his durability issues. He is the fastest WR in the draft but I’m worried about his ability to stay healthy. Either way, Tennessee would be drafting a player with future number one receiver potential if he is able to stay healthy.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan: No prospect in this draft has been picked apart like Jabrill Peppers. Is he a player without a position? Is he too small to play safety? There are a lot of questions about Peppers. I like him as a prospect and I think he versatility in college was more about sacrifice and giving Michigan all he had to offer. As a safety, I think Peppers could develop into a Troy Polumalu type of player in the league. Despite his size, he is a pretty sure tackler. He is a playmaker as a “in the box” safety. And he can do special things with the ball in his hands, especially as a kick returner. Tampa could use a guy like Peppers on defense and special teams. It’s not like the Bucs have a sure starter at safety away. They will give Pepper a chance to silence his critics.
20. Denver Broncos – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: Many have the top TE prospect, O.J. Howard, going in the top 10. Howard is one of the most talented TE to come out of college in a while now but I don’t think the TE position is that valuable to take a guy that high in the draft. However, Howard would be a great fit for a Denver offense that needs to help whoever ends up as their QB. Howard was a game changer at Alabama and he played at his best in the biggest moments. He could play immediately in Denver.
21. Detroit Lions – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: Ziggy Ansah is the star DE on the Lions but he is coming off a majorly disappointing 2016 season. I think the Lions know that Ziggy can regain his form going forward but he would probably benefit from another talent lining up opposite of him on that defensive line. Derek Barnett was a big time player at Tennessee where he broke the school’s sack record previously held by Reggie White. Barnett didn’t blow scouts away at the combine but his game film speaks for himself. The guy is relentless at getting after the QB and he could help improve Detroit’s sack total, which was 30th in the league last season.
22. Miami Dolphins – Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA: The Dolphins need to get younger at defensive end. Cameron Wake is still there but they need a replacement for Mario Williams who was let go in the offseason. I like Takk McKinley’s game a lot. The way he attacks offensive tackles with his explosiveness off the ball really stands out. There is a bit of an injury concern with him but I think he is good enough for Miami to take a chance with him at 22.
23. New York Giants – David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla): I feel like I mock a TE to the Giants almost every year I do this. The Giants seem to get by just fine without a dynamic TE on offense. I think in this part of the draft, NY will be looking for the best player available and that could be the TE out of Miami, Florida. Njoku is a crazy good athlete with great speed for his size. He will provide Eli Manning with a big fast target down the field.
24. Oakland Raiders – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: This selection just screams “Oakland Raiders”. How about this scenario: the Raiders convince Marshawn Lynch to come out of retirement and then they pair his thunder with the lightning of Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey was an electrifying player in college as a shifty RB that could do it all. The Raiders ran the ball well last season but their starter left for Minnesota. The combination of McCaffrey and maybe Lynch would mean that the Raiders would still have a running game to support QB David Carr but they would also have a more dynamic backfield with the rookie from Stanford.
DeShaun Watson is a winner and Houston needs a new signal caller.
25. Houston Texans – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: I think Deshaun Watson is the best QB in this draft. But why do I have him as the third QB selected then? I know that many think that Watson doesn’t have the intangibles to make a quick transition into a NFL QB. But I choose to judge Watson as a QB by looking at his body of work while at Clemson. He won a lot of big games against some of the best defenses in the country. Many are concerned about Watson being a system QB or that he doesn’t have a big time arm or that he can’t pass in the pocket. But he was able to make all the throws and the plays while at Clemson and that has to count for something. He was definitely a better QB in college than Trubisky or Mahomes. He would be welcomed with open arms at QB-needy Houston.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama: Seattle went with offensive line in round one last year but that shouldn’t stop them from doing the same this year. That offensive line still ranked near the bottom in the league in allowed sacks. I think Cam Robinson can be plugged in as a future starting tackle for QB Russell Wilson.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt: When the Chiefs lost starting LB Derrick Johnson to injury late in the season, it hurt their run defense tremendously. Johnson is getting up there in age and the Chiefs need an insurance policy. Cunningham is one of the top LB prospects in the draft and he specifies at stopping the run. He would be a great fit in the middle of Kansas City’s already talented defense.
28. Dallas Cowboys – Kevin King, CB, Washington: Every year during draft season, I yell and scream about the Cowboys needing a pass rush. That remains a problem area for yet another offseason but I think the Cowboys have to account for losing 3 starters in their secondary. I would be okay if they went with a pass rusher that they really liked and that fit their system but it hard to find a true difference maker as a pass rusher when you are picking at the bottom of each round. Luckily for Dallas, this year’s draft is rich with talent in the secondary. For example, Washington’s Kevin King would provide a great combination of size and speed that would serve him well as a pro. King might of benefitted from the injury of teammate Sidney Jones who would have been a top 20 pick if he didn’t go down to an injury during the draft process. Regardless, King is talented on his own right and Dallas would be thrilled to take him at 28.
29. Green Bay Packers – Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky: I like I said for Carolina’s selection: You have to protect your franchise QB’s. The Packers lost their starting guard in free agency. Here, they can draft a replacement to play right away in Green Bay’s offense.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri: Once again, the Steelers are asking themselves if they can really count on James Harrison to be an effective starter at his age. Pittsburgh has stuck out recently with draft picks aiming to push Harrison out of the starting lineup but with Charles Harris, they might actually find success this time. Harris is a tremendous pass rusher off the edge and comes from a program that has produced some nice NFL products on the defensive side of the ball. Harris’ size and speed make him ideal for a 3-4 defense. He could be a nice fit for the future of Pittsburgh’s defense.
31. Atlanta Falcons – Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida: Atlanta hit the jackpot last season with their late selections at the LB position. They could really solidify that position with the selection of Davis. Jarrad Davis has a great motor and he hits like a truck. Run defense was a weakness for Atlanta and Davis could really help them immediately.
32. New Orleans Saints – Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: New Orleans’ defense is really bad. That need all the help they can get. I think I said the same thing at pick 11. Malik McDowell would be a nice addition to their defensive line. McDowell is a tall, athletic defensive lineman that could play multiple positions in New Orleans’ scheme.
- Cleveland Browns – Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
- San Francisco 49ers – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
- Chicago Bears – Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
- Los Angeles Rams – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
- Los Angeles Chargers – Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston
- New York Jets – Evan Engram, TE, Virginia Tech
- Carolina Panthers – Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
- Cincinnati Bengals – Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
- New Orleans Saints – TreDavious White, CB, LSU
- Philadelphia Eagles – Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
- Buffalo Bills – Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut
- Arizona Cardinals – Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
- Indianapolis Colts – Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
- Baltimore Ravens – T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
- Minnesota Vikings – Duke Riley, LB, LSU
- Washington – Budda Baker, S, Washington
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
- Denver Broncos – Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Charlotte
- Cleveland Browns – Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
- Detroit Lions – Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
- Miami Dolphins – Desmond King, S/CB, Iowa
- New York Giants – Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
- Oakland Raiders – Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
- Houston Texans – Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama
- Seattle Seahawks – Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
- Kansas City Chiefs – Jordan Willis, DE/OLB, Kansas State
- Dallas Cowboys – Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio
- Green Bay Packers – Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
- Atlanta Falcons – Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
64. Carolina Panthers – Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, Ohio State
By: Elias McMillan
After ending a season that saw them go 4-12, you would think that there wouldn’t be much optimism surrounding the Dallas Cowboys going into the offseason. But once you consider that the 2015 season was one of instances were a lot went wrong with injuries and etc., you could feel optimistic about the Cowboys having a great offseason to improve, get healthy, and be ready to compete in 2016. But months later after the season has ended and now on the eve of the 2016 campaign, I feel that the Cowboys really disappointed me this offseason. I do think that this team will compete in 2016 if they stay healthy but I was looking forward to seeing moves that would improve this team greatly. After the great success of the 2014 season, I feel that the blueprint was set for this team to not only just compete but to become title contenders. Going into 2016, I see Dallas as a team that isn’t on the cusp of being a contender but a team that will just “compete”.
I didn’t expect the Cowboys to be major players in free agency but the club did end up bringing a lot of players back that I didn’t expect back. Looking at the defensive secondary first, where I thought the Cowboys were preparing to move on from first round pick disappointment Morris Claiborne and free agent disappointment Brandon Carr. Claiborne was a free agent who they could have let walk and Carr was a candidate to be released due to his lack of production and his large cap number. Instead, Claiborne was brought back on a one-year deal and Carr took a pay cut to stay with the team. I didn’t hate these moves but I didn’t see them coming. And to Claiborne, Carr and the rest of the secondary’s credit, they can probably play a lot better football than what they’ve shown last season. That unit suffered through injuries (Scandrick) and an inconsistent pass rush. Going into this season, the secondary is a healthy, close group that will probably play better if the defensive front four is improved.
I totally understand why Greg Hardy was not brought back. He didn’t really handle himself well last season and he wasn’t the beast that he was in Carolina. But he does deserve a lot of credit for bringing out the most from line mate DeMarcus Lawrence. Hopefully, Lawrence can be the player that he was last season without Hardy. In terms of free agency, the defensive line was the only place where the Cowboys made any type of significant move. DT Cedric Thornton was brought in from Philadelphia and he should be an upgrade from Nick Hayden. Thornton and Tyrone Crawford should form a formable duo inside for this defense but defensive end still remains a major question mark. The Cowboys got word that Lawrence may be facing a suspension before the draft so that might affect their plans in April. Outside of Lawrence, the Cowboys were counting on Randy Gregory to have a solid offseason after a tough rookie season marred by injuries and suspensions. Also, the Cowboys brought in Benson Mayowa who seems like the forgotten man in the offseason. Mayowa was a restricted free agent but Oakland didn’t fight to keep him because their defense is going through a personnel change from 4-3 to 3-4. Mayowa showed some flashes as a Raider and the Cowboys are hoping he can truly flourish in a 4-3 defense as a pass rusher. The situation involving Lawrence and Gregory ends up taking a turn but I’ll hit on that later.
Jack Crawford and Kyle Wilber are underrated pieces but neither player is really great and I thought the Cowboys could aim to easily replace them both. Instead, they were both brought back on small mid level deals. I guess both players could prove to be valuable in terms of depth and on special teams. LB Rolando McClain was a starter for most of last season but he was a guy that I felt that you really couldn’t rely on. When McClain is at his best, he was a big part of the defense’s success. But with all of the big hits he provided, there were also a lot of plays where he would just miss, take a bad angle, or just tune out completely. LB’s are kinda like RB’s in the league currently in where it isn’t hard to get production out of a free agent for a year or so. For that reason, I didn’t expect McClain to be back but he was brought back on a one-year deal. My problem with that is that the team would be depending on an unreliable player to start again in 2016. And this guy doesn’t want to show up on time for mini camp or work out during the off-season reportedly. And when asked about it, the team gives a “family issues” excuse for him. The entire situation just seemed fishy from the beginning. Why would Jerry Jones want a guy like that back with his history of suspensions and just overall flakiness? Well, maybe the Cowboys can give him one more chance and draft his replacement in April. We’ll see.
On offense, the Cowboys were able to retain OG Ronald Leary, which will prove important for depth purposes. Last season, we saw how important in the backup QB position is. Since Dallas pretty much bottomed out because of that situation, I thought that finding a new, veteran with experience at backup QB would be a priority. The Cowboys did look but they clearly didn’t look hard enough. The one guy I knew would get called in was Matt Moore who is very familiar with head coach Jason Garrett and the Cowboys organization. Moore is up there in age but he is plenty experienced and would have been an upgrade from Kellen Moore, Matt Cassel, and Brandon Weeden. Moore visited with Dallas and left Valley Ranch without a deal. Days later he signs back with Miami. The backup QB situation is dire. Tony Romo is great and so is his offensive line. But he is 36 years old. Old QB’s tend to get injured playing in the NFL. Matt Moore should not of been able to leave Dallas without a deal. Instead now, the Cowboys are going to go forward with what they got, Kellen Moore and Jameill Showers. Two guys who are short on talent and experience. It is as if the organization didn’t think backup QB was an issue last season.
At running back, last season proved that with this offensive line, you could have success no matter who’s running the ball. Darren McFadden exceeded expectations in 2015 but I understand if the team didn’t want to fully count on lightning striking twice with him in 2016. Joseph Randle totally lost his mind and Lance Dunbar is a free agent who is coming off of an injury. I expected Dallas to bring someone in that the position. Alfred Morris signed on a two year and I felt that this could be a real underrated signing by Dallas. Morris is a veteran like McFadden but he is younger and probably has a lot more left in the tank. Plus, Lance Dunbar was brought back on a one-year deal. Dunbar was an important part of the passing game last season before he got hurt so I like that was brought back. With 3 veterans in the fold, I fully expected Dallas to take a younger RB in the draft but I definitely didn’t want one in the first round.
So, now lets talk about the draft where the Cowboys basically did everything I didn’t want them to. The player I wanted at pick #4 overall from day one was DE Joey Bosa. Not only he would have filled a need for Dallas but also his production in college warranted a high selection. Bosa goes to San Diego at #3 so there goes that plan. I never was on board with Jalen Ramsey because I didn’t see a fit for him on this defense. Especially since Dallas brought the entire secondary back in the offseason and they took a CB/S in the first round last year. I absolutely didn’t want a RB at #4 so I thought I would have found a team to trade down with. Shaq Lawson or Leonard Floyd could have been options in a trade down scenario where Dallas could have addressed the team’s greatest need. The Cowboys were in the position that they’re in this offseason because they’ve drafted so safely in recently history. Taking a RB that high in the first round is the opposite of drafting safely. It is a flashy, Hollywood draft pick and it doesn’t make much since to me. And if you listen to Jerry Jones and others who follow the team closely, it wouldn’t have mattered if my guy (Bosa) were available at #4. Ezekiel Elliott was the guy they wanted all along. RB wasn’t a big enough need to address with pick #4. There are plenty of examples in this league of how you can find young quality RB’s anywhere in the draft. Which is probably why they went ahead and took another RB in round 6. I understand the pluses of the Elliott pick. The Cowboys need to maximize the RB position to help Romo stay healthy and to return to the ball control style of football that we saw in 2014. But the Cowboys ran the ball pretty well last season without a young stud a RB. The Romo injury was the difference. So, maximizing the run game is more so to help Romo to stay healthy. Ok, I get that sort of. But then, they take it a step further and say that the ball control offense is going to help the defense stay fresh. I normally would agree with that situation but I don’t see enough talent on that side of the ball. Average talent that is resting up on the bench is still going to be average when they hit the field. Resting the defense will mean nothing if the talent level on that side of the football is not improved.
So in round 2, lets improve the talent on the defensive side of the football with a pass rusher or an impact linebacker that could replace Rolando McClain soon. They take LB Jaylon Smith who if healthy, would have been a top 10 pick overall. Instead, Smith suffered a serious knee injury and will probably miss the entire 2016 season. I get if the Cowboys see Smith as that top-10 prospect that will be a big time player for the team in the future. But the defense needs help sooner rather than later. Because of the smart draft decisions from recent years, the Cowboys have a realistic window to become title contenders. But with the first two selections from this draft, the Cowboys completely failed at maximizing those selections. And the Smith selection looks even worst now that McClain will miss more than half of the season due to suspension. Jaylon Smith might turn into an All-Star but how does that help Dallas in 2016? We cannot count on having impact players next year. We should be trying to field that best team possible as soon as possible. Thinking about the next season before this one starts is a loser’s mentality.
The Cowboys did address the front four in the 3rd and 4th rounds but how can we expect those picks to turn into major pieces this season? Dallas even took the QB that I didn’t want them to take. Dak Prescott was a great college QB at Mississippi State but if you watched him against top defenses in the SEC, you saw that he is limited by his arm strength and his decision-making under pressure. I didn’t feel great about Prescott’s pro prospects going into the draft and now I’ll get to see that process first hand as Dallas did indeed draft him.
After the draft, we’ve learned about how the Cowboys defense would be missing multiple players due to suspensions. DeMarcus Lawrence will miss the first 4 games after his appeal was denied. I don’t think Lawrence’s violation of the substance abuse policy was marijuana related so I’m not overly worried about him. Though, not having him for the first month of the season will hurt big time. Another DE, Randy Gregory, is also facing multiple suspensions. Gregory has a history with marijuana issues, which allowed him to fall into the Cowboys lap in the second round of the 2015 draft in the first place. Gregory was suspended last season for a violation and he was facing another 4 game suspension for this upcoming season. Last week, Gregory checked himself into rehab as he failed another drug test and is facing an even longer suspension now. Rolando McClain will also face a lengthy suspension this season. The entire situation is just frustrating. I think Lawrence might be able to bounce back from this but I don’t feel great about the other two. With Gregory’s history, I think it might be safe to say that his Cowboys career could be over. I completely understand why the Cowboys took a risk on Gregory in the first place. The defense needs quality pass rushers and they still do especially now. I don’t understand why the Cowboys took a chance on bringing back a guy like McClain though. And then they draft a potential replacement for him that cant play until next season? I just don’t like it at all. We could have and should have just allowed McClain to walk away. But instead now, our depth at LB behind Sean Lee looks mighty weak.
With the talent of the offensive side of the ball, I think the Cowboys will be fine on that side of the football. Getting back a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will pay huge dividends. If the great depth at RB paired with the offensive line does it job, Dallas will have one of the top offenses in football. But I’m afraid that this wont be enough to make this team into title contenders. A lot of people are saying how in 2014, the Cowboys had a worst defensive situation and they still got so close from making the NFC Championship. Well as a fan, I don’t want to “come close” anymore. “Coming close” is no longer a goal. Tony Romo is 36 years old and this team needs to maximize its chances right now. In 2016. We can’t just use 2014 as an example of success because it wasn’t. It was a great season but it ended in failure. We lost. How can we be a better team in 2016. I think the offense will be at the level. Maybe. But look at the recent champions and contenders. You can have a flashy offense but if you don’t have a defense that can create stops, you are not going to be a contender. I feel that there were several decisions this offseason that will keep this team from being a contender in 2016. And its frustrating to me because this team needs to maximize the years that Tony Romo has left. I feel that this team has done the opposite this offseason. If Romo can survive the season, I still think that this Cowboys team can win the NFC East. But anything past that, anything in terms of making the ultimate goal, remains a huge question mark.
Is Ezekiel Elliott really worth a top 5 pick?
By: Elias McMillan
1. Washington: (Team Needs: DE (3-4), CB, S, RB, OLB (3-4), C, NT) – WR wasn’t a need position for Washington entering this draft but they took Josh Doctson with their first selection. Doctson might prove to be a smart selection as the team might be preparing for life without DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garcon. Love the selection of Su’a Cravens who will play that “tweener” position of Safety/Linebacker. CB Kendall Fuller is a steal in the third round. Fuller has a great NFL pedigree and he probably should have been drafted sooner if there weren’t questions about his health. I feel like Washington missed out on opportunities to address the positions on the line of scrimmage. They needed offensive and defensive line help. Plus, I think they should have drafted someone to help with the pass rush. But their top three selections are pretty strong. Grade: B
2. New York Giants: (Team Needs: CB, LB (4-3), OT, WR, S) – CB Eli Apple will help this secondary that was the worst in football a season ago. But the Apple pick at 10th overall is a bit of a reach. I had Apple going closer to the second round. I absolutely love the second round pick of WR Sterling Shepard. Shepard is a speedster and a playmaker in the slot. He’ll do big things in this offense and he might help push Victor Cruz completely off the roster eventually. Safety Darian Thompson was another smart pick for the Giants. They need all the help they can find in the secondary. The fifth round selection of RB Paul Perkins was strange to me because the Giants backfield is already kinda loaded. The Giants didn’t draft for any offensive line help but they still did a decent job. Grade: B-
3. Philadelphia Eagles: (Team Needs: CB, RB, OG, LB) – Wow. I don’t have much positive things to say about this draft for the Eagles. You don’t trade up to the top of the draft for a QB especially when you already have money invested in your veteran starter and when you signed one of the top backups in free agency. I also have to mention that this was not a great draft for QBs. Carson Wentz will have the chance to prove that he is the QB for the future but coming out of a FCS school and with the QB situation in Philadelphia, he’ll have a long climb to the top. I like that they addressed the interior of their offensive line in the third round. But they should have taken a RB earlier. I think Jalen Mills in the seventh round could be a steal that will help out in the secondary. Grade: C-
4. Dallas Cowboys: (Team Needs: DE, DT, OLB (4-3), CB, S, QB, WR, RB) – Ezekiel Elliott might eventually be one the best RB’s in the league but in today’s NFL, you don’t take RB’s in the top five of the draft. Ever. If the Cowboys wanted to build towards being a contender, they needed to address their god-awful pass rush situation in the first or second round. They did neither. The Elliott will prove to be very important. The Cowboys should be able to unleash a power running game that will help the offense become very efficient and at the same time take the pressure off of their 36-year-old starting QB. But in terms of contending for championships, a power running game really isn’t that important. Having players at the line of scrimmage on defense is much more important. So in 2016, we could see a great Cowboys offense but we also could see a team that wont contend for a title without the players needed on defense on the line the scrimmage. In the second round, they took LB Jaylon Smith who is one of the best prospects in this draft. The problem with that pick is that Smith is coming off of a massive knee injury and will probably not suit up at all in 2016. I don’t think this Cowboys defense can afford to wait a year to get am impact player on that defense. I like that they thought that a LB was a need position but it would have been better if they took someone who could have helped them this season. DT Maliek Collins might be my favorite pick of the bunch as an inside pass rusher. I absolutely hated the Dak Prescott pick. I’ve seen Prescott play numerous times and I don’t see a future backup QB. I see someone who needs a ton of work as a passer and with a similar skill set as a Tim Tebow. He was the one QB I didn’t want Dallas to take. DE Charles Tapper might become a rotational guy, as a pass rusher but again, this position should have been focused on earlier in the draft. To end the draft, they took a TE who hasn’t played football in years. There are some qualities to this draft class for Dallas but there are just too many things that I don’t like. Grade: D
Georgia’s Leonard Floyd is a pass rusher in a wide receiver’s body.
1. Chicago Bears: (Team Needs: OLB (3-4), ILB, DE (3-4), CB, WR) – The Bears had the most solid of a draft out of anyone. Leonard Floyd could be the future pass rusher that this 3-4 defense needs. Cody Whitehair was one of the top guards in the draft and he’ll help this offensive line right away. I felt that DE Jonathan Bullard could have gone in the first round. The Bears were able to get him in round three. He will be a great interior defender against the run or the pass. LB Nick Kwiatkoski is a tough tackler who will help the middle of the defense. I also liked the selection of a couple of small school products. CB Deiondre’ Hall is a playmaker in the secondary and WR Daniel Braverman could have a future in the league as a slot receiver. The Bears pretty much hit all of their needs and drafted quality players. Grade: A
2. Minnesota Vikings: (Team Needs: WR, DE (4-3), LB, DT) – Minnesota really lucked out and maybe gotten the best receiver in the draft. Laquon Treadwell really legitimizes the WR core in Minnesota and will definitely help the progression of QB Teddy Bridgewater. I thought CB Mackensie Alexander was good enough to be a first rounder but Minnesota stopped his fall in the late second round. I thought that the Vikings needed to address the inside linebacker position and Kentrell Brothers will definitely help that department. There wont be a more interesting rookie than WR Moritz Boehringer from Germany. I think Minnesota missed out on addressing the DE position but they still did a solid job with this draft. Grade: B+
3. Detroit Lions: (Team Needs: WR, DE (4-3), DT, LB, S, CB) – The Lions were very conservative with this draft class. Addressing the offensive line is never a bad thing and Detroit did so with all three positions early in the draft. In the second round, they got a steal out of DT A’Shawn Robinson who will definitely help Detroit stop the run. There is a lot of buzz surrounding safety Miles Killebrew and it’s not just because of his awesome name. Killebrew is a heat-seeking missile as a tackler and he’ll definitely make his mark as a special teamer. Considering Calvin Johnson retired, I’m disappointed that they didn’t address the WR position. Also, Detroit didn’t look to draft an edge rusher to put across from Ziggy Ansah. Grade: B
4. Green Bay Packers: (Team Needs: WR, NT, DE (3-4), ILB, CB) – The Packers needed a B.J. Raji replacement and they made of gotten it in first round pick DT Kenny Clark. I like the second round pick of OT Jason Spriggs. He’ll provide some much needed depth on that offensive line. I don’t know if Blake Martinez is the middle linebacker the Packers need as a starter. I see Martinez more as a special teams contributor. The Packers pretty much hit most of their needs except for in the secondary. Nothing really jumps out about this draft class. I think Kenny Clark will be a good one though. Grade: C
1. New Orleans Saints: (Team Needs: DE (4-3), DT, CB, OG, WR) – DT Sheldon Rankins is a huge disruptor and will be a great fit for the Saints. WR Michael Thomas should serve as an eventual replacement to Marques Colston. Thomas, much like Colston, is a big possession receiver that will be a nice complement to Brandin Cooks. Safety Vonn Bell is a pick that was needed once you consider how bad the Saints secondary has been. The Saints addressed all of their need areas on defense. Which is really their entire defense. I think they should of brought in some offensive line help. Grade: B
Vernon Hargreaves will be a fan favorite in his hometown of Tampa Bay.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (Team Needs: OT, DE, LB (4-3), CB, S) – The Buccaneers got the kid they wanted all along in the first round in Tampa native, Vernon Hargreaves. Hargreaves might be the best “pure” corner in this draft. Tampa needed DE help but I’m not sure if they’ll get it out from Noah Spence. Spence is a dynamic pass rusher but he needs to get bigger to play in a 4-3. Everyone is criticizing Tampa decision to trade back up into the second round for a kicker. But kickers are not important until you need them. Roberto Aguayo will definitely get the opportunity to prove that he’s worth it. Tampa did a decent job at hitting all of their need areas. Grade: B-
3. Atlanta Falcons: (Team Needs: DE (4-3), WR, LB, TE, S) – Atlanta was dead last in the league again this past season in sacks. So, I can’t understand why they passed on Shaq Lawson for a safety. Keanu Neal is a good player but Atlanta had greater needs and the pick was a reach. I really like LB Deion Jones though. Jones has all the skills that a linebacker needs in a 4-3 defense. Atlanta waited until the seventh round to take a receiver and they released Roddy White earlier this offseason. TE Austin Hooper might prove to be a smart selection as the Falcons are still looking for that big TE target since Tony Gonzalez retired. Nothing too spectacular from this draft class though. Grade: C
4. Carolina Panthers: (Team Needs: WR, OT, RB, DE, CB, S) – It’s hard to criticize Carolina’s draft because they were drafting at the bottom of each round. But they pretty much did their own thing and ignored some of their obvious need areas. Carolina has enough quality defensive tackles but they took another one in the first round. CB Josh Norman was shockingly let go weeks ago so, I understand if Carolina was going to draft a CB. But they drafted three of them when they could have addressed other needs. Just a very strange draft for the reigning NFC Champs. Grade: C-
1. Seattle Seahawks: (Team Needs: C, OG, OT, RB, DT, DE (4-3), LB) – I got to pat myself on the back again for correctly predicting Seattle’s first round pick. Germain Ifedi’s versatility will help the Seattle offensive line. DT Jarran Reed probably could have been a first rounder but Seattle was able to get him in the second round. Reed will prove to be a great pick for Seattle who needs some fresh body’s to replace those who they lost in free agency. Seattle loaded up at RB with the selections of C.J. Prosise in the third round and Alex Collins in the fifth. I like Nick Vannett as a TE prospect because of his great size. I’m glad Seattle understood how serious the situation is on their offensive line. They did a good job addressing that area. I think Seattle should have addressed the edge rusher and inside linebacker positions. But overall, they had a productive draft weekend. Grade: B+
2. San Francisco 49ers: (Team Needs: WR, RB, OT, ILB, OLB (3-4), DE (3-4), CB) – San Francisco had a boatload of picks and they made the most out of them. After taking an Oregon defensive tackle last season, they repeated the action this year. DeForest Buckner along with fellow Duck, Arik Armstead, will form a good duo on the 49ers defensive line. Trading back in for an offensive lineman is weird but so is Chip Kelly. Joshua Garnett was one of the top guards in the draft and the 49ers definitely need the help on the offensive line. I’m a fan of CB Rashard Robinson who is one of the most athletic corners in the draft. DE Ronald Blair is a quality pick in the fifth round. Blair is a big body who will fit well inside on the defensive line. I like the 49ers final pick because his name is “Prince Charles”. Grade: B-
Jared Goff is Hollywood’s newest leading man.
3. Los Angeles Rams: (Team Needs: QB, WR, DE (4-3), LB, CB, S) – Considering what the Rams gave up to get to the top of the draft, they really couldn’t draft anyone of significance in the later rounds. But they still did okay. Jared Goff isn’t the best player in the draft but the Rams needed to take him number one because they have a talented roster and they’ve been a QB away from being contenders for a while now. Goff isn’t the top player in this draft but he is the best passer. TE Tyler Higbee probably would have gone before the fourth round if it wasn’t for some legal issues but he might be a guy that Goff can look to in the passing game early in his career. WR Pharoh Cooper is an underrated prospect that might have a chance at making the roster. The Rams should have done more to address their defense in this draft. Grade: C
4. Arizona Cardinals: (Team Needs: C, DE (3-4), OLB (3-4), OT, CB) – Arizona’s draft was completely underwhelming. Maybe just because I don’t recognize a lot of the names. In the first round, they took a chance on DT Robert Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche isnt a risk because of his on the field work but if he can just stay out of trouble, he’ll be a great player in this league. Nkemdiche probably should have gone in the top half of the draft. Arizona addressed the secondary with three picks in the draft and I believe that was needed. Guard Even Boehm might be a replacement to Jonathan Cooper who was traded away months ago. Grade: C-
Shaq Lawson will be able to use his pass rushing skills in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense in Buffalo.
By: Elias McMillan
1. Buffalo Bills: (Team Needs: DE (3-4), OLB (3-4), QB, WR, CB, LB) – I absolutely love Rex Ryan’s draft class for the second season in a row as Bills head coach. DE Shaq Lawson can be the pass rusher in a 3-4 that this defense needs. Reggie Ragland is one of the top tacklers in the draft and Buffalo was able to draft him in Round 2. Adolphus Washington’s athleticism makes him a great fit up front in this 3-4 defense. QB Cardale Jones was one of my favorite prospects in this draft. He didn’t have a great final season at Ohio State but he probably has the strongest arm of any QB in this draft. He could be able to push hard for the back up position at QB in camp. In the 6th round, they got WR Kolby Listenbee who is one of the fastest receivers in the draft. Buffalo also pretty much addressed all of their needs. Grade: A
2. Miami Dolphins: (Team Needs: OT, OG, CB, DE (4-3), DT, S, RB, WR) – Miami may have gotten the steal of the draft in OT Laremy Tunsil. There are some character issues with Tunsil maybe. Well, I wouldn’t say “character issues”. More like “acting like a dummy issues”. But with the bizarre way his draft stock fell all in one night while costing him millions of dollars, Miami will be getting a talented player who is eager to show that he is worth it. They drafted for secondary help in CB Xavien Howard but I feel that they could have gotten a better player a pick 38. RB Kenyan Drake is a reach in the third round. He kind of a one-trick pony in how he is like a poor man’s Darren Sproles. Miami should have addressed the RB position earlier. Thomas Duarte could be a steal in the seventh round if he can stay fast while bulking up to many play TE. Grade: B-
3. New York Jets: (Team Needs: OT, QB, ILB, OLB (3-4), CB, TE) – LB Darron Lee is a heck of player and he’ll do well in this 3-4 defense as an inside tackler or someone who can rush from the outside and make plays in the backfield. A lot of Jets fans didn’t like the Christian Hackenberg pick but his skill set matches what the Jets need at QB. Hackenberg has issues with being a “statue” at QB and holding on to the ball too long but once he figures it out, fans will see that he has one of the better arms out of the QB’s in this draft class. I didn’t see Georgia’s Jordan Jenkins as a dynamic pass rusher coming off from this draft but he’ll provide solid depth. The Jets hit most of their need areas but I feel like they could have done better in the later rounds. Especially with addressing the secondary. Grade: C
4. New England Patriots: (Team Needs: DE, OG, OT, WR, LB, CB, RB) – This was not a strong draft by the Patriots. It makes it worst that they didn’t have a first round pick. I’m a big fan of CB Cyrus Jones though. He doesn’t offer much size but he is as tough as they come and usually covers receivers tough in man-to-man situations. They addressed the offense line but they didn’t draft a tackle. I have no idea why they took a QB in the third round. WR Malcolm Mitchell could develop as a great special teams player. Grade: C-
Tyler Boyd is a talent that could rise quick in Cincinnati.
1. Cincinnati Bengals: (Team Needs: CB, WR, DE (4-3), LB, DT, S) – The Bengals had a strong draft and they get extra points from me for trolling Pittsburgh. The Steelers had their eye on CB William Jackson but Cincy took him from right under them. Cincinnati has drafted so many first round corners in recent history but they did lose guys at that position in the offseason. Jackson was one of my favorite corners in this draft and his talent will get him on the field quickly as a rookie. The Bengals needed a receiver and so I correctly mocked Pitt’s Tyler Boyd to them in the second round. Boyd should be able to rise up the depth chart quick while learning from vet A.J. Green. Nick Vigil was one of the better inside linebackers in this draft. DT Andrew Billings should have gone in the first round but there were questions about the health of his knee. Billings may not be healthy but once he gets to 100%, he’ll prove to be a great steal for the Bengals in the fourth round. I had OG Christian Westerman going in the second round and the Bengals were able to get him in the fifth. They should have drafted some defensive end help but even without that, this was a very solid draft class. Grade: A-
2. Pittsburgh Steelers: (Team Needs: CB, S, NT, OLB (3-4), WR) – It has been a while since the Steelers addressed the secondary so early and often in the draft but they did so this past weekend. I think CB Artie Burns was a reach in the first round but he provides a need and he is very talented. Safety Sean Davis is a bit undersized but he’ll be fine as long as he gets to the ball carrier in a hurry and makes plays. Javon Hargrave may be the nose tackle of the future for this defense and many within the organization were big fans of this pick. I like the selection of OT Jerald Hawkins because the Steelers lost a tackle in free agency and Hawkins probably should have been drafted sooner. I didn’t see OLB Travis Feeney as a 3-4 linebacker but his speed should make it easy for him to transition into a playmaker on defense or special teams. I love the final pick of LB Tyler Matakevich who was a heck of a player at Temple. Solid draft by the black & gold. Grade: B+
3. Cleveland Browns: (Team Needs: S, OLB (3-4), ILB, QB, OT, WR) – Cleveland drafted the most players but that’s not what makes a draft a success. It’s the quality of players and Cleveland did okay in that department as well. I don’t know if Corey Coleman is the top receiver in this draft and I thought Cleveland was done with short receivers but Coleman is an absolute playmaker that should make an immediate impact on this offense. The Browns also scored big at the top of the second and third rounds by drafting a couple pass rushers. Emmanuel Ogbah had a beastly final season at Oklahoma State and offers great speed off the edge. Carl Nassib is tall at 6’7 and led all of CFB in sacks last year. The Cody Kessler pick is a head scratcher though. They really focused on the WR position in the later rounds. And I like the final pick of LB Scooby Wright who could be the next Zach Thomas. Grade: B+
4. Baltimore Ravens: (Team Needs: OT, OG, RB, DE (3-4), OLB (3-4), CB, S, ILB) – Baltimore could have had the top offensive tackle in the draft. But because of the ongoing controversy they settled for Ronnie Stanley who is still pretty good in his own right. I love the draft picks of Kamalei Correa and Bronson Kaufusi. Both of those guys have a future in this league as 3-4 outside rushing linebackers. Getting RB Kenneth Dixon in the 4th round will prove to be a steal. Dixon may have a lot of miles on him but he is as tough of a runner as they come. I’m interested to see what they do with Navy’s Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds made his college career as a runner but they will see what he can offer as a receiver. Grade: B
If Myles Jack can be healthy, he’ll be the steal of the entire draft for Jacksonville.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: (Team Needs: DE, OLB (4-3), CB, OG, OT) -Talent wise, the Jaguars hit it out the park with this draft class. Jalen Ramsey fell to them at number 5 when it was said that he was going in the top 3. Ramsey will provide the help in the secondary that this team desperately needs. In the second round, they took LB Myles Jack who if was 100% healthy would have been a top ten pick. When Jack is ready him and Telvin Smith will form the fastest LB duo in the league. DT Sheldon Day was another steal in the 4th round for Jacksonville. The Jaguars also drafted three other defensive ends. If youre a Jacksonville fan, you have to feel good about the foundation being built on the defensive side of the ball. Grade: A
2. Tennessee Titans: (Team Needs: OT, OLB (3-4), ILB, CB, S, DT) – OT Jack Conklin was a good player for Tennessee to trade up for. He’ll help provide stability to that offensive line. The Titans took a young pass rusher in Kevin Dodd. I thought Dodd would be a better fit for a 4-3 but he’ll be fine as a pass rusher from the outside in this defense. I like the selection of DT Austin Johnson as well. RB Derrick Henry is talented but now Tennessee’s backfield is loaded. Not sure if they needed to take a RB so early. I feel that Tennessee should have addressed the secondary and the inside LB position sooner than they did. Grade: B
3. Houston Texans: (Team Needs: TE, WR, DE (3-4), OLB (3-4), C, S) – Houston was looking for help at WR opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. Taking WR Will Fuller in the first round seems like a reach to me. Fuller is one of the fastest players in the draft but he is a body catcher. I’m kinda more excited for third round pick Braxton Miller who has great hands and can do some special things in the open field. Center Nick Martin was a smart pick as the Texans lost their starting center in free agency. I find it interesting that the Texans didn’t address any of the pass rushing positions. DT D.J. Reader is a huge body that will learn a lot from Vince Wilfork. Grade: B-
4. Indianapolis Colts: (Team Needs: OT, RB, WR, ILB, OLB (3-4), CB, S) – Taking a center in the first round is almost always going to be viewed as a reach but it is an extremely safe pick for the Colts. They also got more offensive line help in the third round with the selection of OT Le’Raven Clark. I had Clark going early in the second round so I view this pick as a steal for Indy. Two of the noteworthy defensive picks were safety T.J. Green and DT Hassan Ridgeway. Both picks address needs but I don’t seem too impressed by those selections. Grade: C
Joey Bosa, the best pass rusher in the draft, will help maximize the front 7 in San Diego.
1. San Diego Chargers: (Team Needs: DE (3-4), OG, OT, WR, S, TE) – Despite already having solid starters at outside pass rusher, the Chargers took Joey Bosa at pick number 3 and I really didn’t see that coming. It’s a smart pick by San Diego as they can now maximize their pass rush on the inside and the outside. Bosa is versatile and good enough to make an difference rushing as an outside linebacker or as a inside defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Not sure if TE Hunter Henry was needed in the second round but he’ll be a solid backup to Antonio Gates. Though they did need to replace Ladarius Green. I like the picks of Max Tuerk and Donavon Clark who will address the interior of the offensive line. I think San Diego missed out of opportunities to address the secondary and the receiver position. Grade: B+
2. Oakland Raiders: (Team Needs: OT, WR, RB, DE (3-4), ILB, CB, DT) – There was a lot of buzz surrounding safety Karl Joseph before the draft but he certainly isn’t worth a top 15 pick. I think Joseph will do well in this defense but Oakland definitely reached on that pick. I liked the next two Oakland selections in Jihad Ward and Shilidue Calhoun. Ward is a great fit as a DE in a 3-4 and Calhoun will do well as a rushing outside linebacker. QB Connor Cook is a curious pick but he could push to be the number 2 QB on this team. I like speedy RB Deandre Washington from Texas Tech and OG Vadal Alexander is a heck of a value in the 7th round. Very solid draft by the Raiders. Grade: B
3. Kansas City Chiefs: (Team Needs: WR, S, CB, OLB (3-4), ILB, QB, OG, DT) – Kansas City did okay for a team that traded down a bunch. I like the second round pick of Chris Jones who should be a great fit on Kansas City’s defensive line. OG Parker Ehinger was a smart pick by the Chiefs who are looking for a starter at that position. I don’t think QB Kevin Hogan will be anything in the league but he was one of my favorite QB’s to watch at Stanford. The odds will be stacked against him but he is a great competitor. I like the sixth round pick of CB D.J. White. White has decent size for a CB and made a lot of plays at Georgia Tech. The Chiefs didn’t address many of their needs. I thought they could have taken a pass rushing outside linebacker or someone who plays safety. Grade: C
4. Denver Broncos: (Team Needs: QB, RB, OT, ILB, OG, TE) – I mocked QB Paxton Lynch to Denver and it was a pick that absolutely needed to happen. Lynch is very similar to Brock Osweiler and will have a great chance at winning the starting job in the pre season. RB Devontae Booker is one of the toughest runners in this draft and he’ll have a good chance at making this roster. I’m kind of shocked that Denver didn’t address the offensive tackle position of the inside linebacker position. Grade: C-
Thanks to trades by the Rams and the Eagles, this draft will really begin with the Chargers pick at #3.
By: Elias McMillan
This NFL Draft season has been a bit straining on me. Probably because my favorite team is picking in the top five and the stakes are high. At the end of the day, the draft is a crapshoot, which makes this year’s as polarizing as ever. So, here is what I see for the first two rounds in 2016. Thanks to a couple of pre-draft day trades, the first two picks are already taken care of. I’m still not used to saying “Los Angeles Rams” but they are on the clock…..
1. Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff, QB, California: The Rams could easily take the best defensive back in the draft with this first overall pick. But you don’t usually trade a boatload of picks to the top of the draft for a safety or cornerback. It is a far-gone conclusion that the Rams will take a QB here with the first overall pick that they gained in a trade with Tennessee. The Rams already have a talented roster and you could argue that they are a QB away from being a contender in the NFC. Bad news is that this draft class isn’t a strong one for QB’s. But with the trade being made, everyone knows that the new Los Angeles is shopping for a new face for this franchise. Jared Goff is probably the most NFL ready QB in this draft. The problem is that it isn’t a home run that he will eventually end up as the best QB in this draft. Goff went to Cal but he doesn’t compare to Aaron Rodgers. I see him more as a less talented Matt Ryan. And Goff wont have the weapons that Ryan has now as least for the beginning of his career. Goff has a pretty accurate arm and is very comfortable as a pocket passer. This draft pick will work out if the offensive line can protect him and if Todd Gurley can have continued success in the run game. But Goff is probably the most NFL-ready QB in this draft.
2. Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State: Even after signing starter Sam Bradford to a new deal and signing one of the top back ups in the league during free agency, Philadelphia felt that they had to trade up to get one of the top two QBs in this draft. I also must point out that this isn’t the draft to trade up for a QB. Before this trade, I didn’t have Wentz drafted in the top 16 selections. Wentz is a talented prospect but I don’t think he is worth a top 5 pick. Wentz comes from a small school but he has a big arm and big play capability. Wentz will be an interesting project going forward in his first couple years in the league. It is because of that “project” label that makes Philadelphia’s move to get him at second overall even more mind blowing. You don’t usually spend a pick that high on someone who may not be ready to start day one especially at the QB position. Good luck.
3. San Diego Chargers – Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State: Originally, I had Ramsey going at number two overall to the Browns. But because of the trade, the San Diego Chargers will rep the benefits. Because of the trades involving the top two spots in this draft, you could say that this draft really begins at pick number three. The Chargers will be thrilled to draft Ramsey and plug him in to the secondary spot left by Eric Weddle. Ramsey is the top defensive player in this draft. I think he is more suited to play safety in this league rather than corner but he is able to do both. Ramsey has a nose for the football and racked up a fair amount of tackles during his time at college. Ramsey prides himself at getting to the ball carrier quickly and making the play. Ramsey may not have gotten many interceptions in college but as a safety, he defends his area quite well. He’ll be a great fit in San Diego’s defense.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State: I think Joey Bosa is the best pass rusher and the best defensive lineman in this draft. I think San Diego will pass on him because he isn’t a fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker and he isn’t big enough to “just” be an interior lineman. However, Bosa has all of the tools that the Dallas Cowboys will be looking for in a starting defensive end for years to come. Bosa’s game isn’t flashy and his tape doesn’t jump up off the screen. His game is simple. But he is extremely good as what he does and that’s what made him an elite college player in the past two years. Bosa is a technician when rushing the passer and is really good at sheading blockers. His power and strength helps the entire defensive line as he was known to force double teams in college. I think people are caught up on the “safe” label that has been put upon him. Bosa might be the safest pick in the draft but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a dynamic player. As a 6’6 defensive end in a 4-3, the Cowboys will be able to plug him in day one and see an immediate impact.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida: The Jaguars desperately need a playmaker in the secondary. So in the second year in a row, I have Jacksonville selecting another player from the Florida Gators. Hargreaves has received plenty of high praise during this draft process and many believe him to be a better cover corner than Jalen Ramsey. That’s not a knock on Ramsey but Hargreaves should be much more prepared to play the position in the pros. Hargreaves has the speed and cover skills that defensive coaches will want out of their starting corners. He compares to another Florida Gator, Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns. Unlike Haden, Hargreaves is a bit larger as a player and he is going to have to figure out how to use that as an advantage in the NFL. But I think the Jags will make a slight reach and draft him at 5 unless they trade back. Jacksonville could go with Myles Jack here as well but they’ve already had to deal with injuries involving top prospects last season.
6. Baltimore Ravens – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi: Laremy Tunsil was slated to be the first player picked in this draft by Tennessee before they traded away their 1st overall pick. Instead, Tunsil will take a free fall out of the top five of the draft and right in the lap of the Ravens. Baltimore needs a starting tackle opposite of Eugene Monroe and Tunsil has the skills to start this season on the right side. Tunsil will probably be groomed as the left tackle of the future for this Ravens offensive line. Tunsil is the prototype offensive lineman prospect as he has great size and the athletic ability to use that size effectively.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame: The 49ers will be looking for offensive line help in this draft if they are smart. They gave up a lot of sacks a season ago and their QB situation is sort of in the air. Regardless of who is behind center, they need to sure up that unit going forward as Joe Staley isn’t getting younger. Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley compares well to Laremy Tunsil and will probably go in the top ten of this year’s draft. Stanley’s a bit larger than Tunsil and as result; he isn’t quite the athlete Tunsil is. But that bigger body will make it tougher for edge rushers to get around and he’ll be load to deal with in run blocking situations.
8. Cleveland Browns – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA: Cleveland’s trade out of the second overall pick was a stroke of genius. If Myles Jack is able to drop down to pick number eight, it would make that move look even better. There are many people that believe that Jack is the top prospect in the entire draft. Jack is a versatile linebacker with top end speed and the ability to deliver huge hits to the ball carrier. Jack is your prototypical pro LB prospect. He has a high football IQ and can stick with defenders in pass coverage. The issue with Jack is his health concerns. There are reports out there that suggest that his knee injury makes him too risky of a pick in the top five where he belongs. There are other reports that suggest that the injuries are behind him and Jack will be ready to play on day one. All of this talk will affect his draft stock negatively, which will help him drop down to Cleveland at pick number eight. The Browns cut veteran LB Karlos Dansby a month ago because they wanted to get younger at that position. Drafting a player like Jack will be the ideal situation for this Browns defense going forward if Jack is indeed ready to play.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson: The Buccaneers need a new, young pass rusher to add another dynamic to an already talented defensive line. Lawson is probably the 2nd best edge rusher in this draft. Unlike Joey Bosa, Lawson isnt quite the technician when it comes to sheading blockers. Lawson’s game is using his superior athleticism and his speed to get the QB as soon as possible. Lawson’s size and speed around the edge will make him an attractive pick for teams needing a defensive end.
10. New York Giants – Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State: The Giants have had problems with finding an answer at LB for years now. Darron Lee will be a target for them at pick number ten because of his athleticism and his skill set, which fits a 4-3 defense. Lee maybe a little too small to play inside linebacker but on the outside he’ll be a great defender behind the line of scrimmage.
11. Chicago Bears – DeForest Buckner, DT, Oregon: Chicago has problems with stopping the run and getting to the QB. DeForest Buckner can help both issues at the defensive line. Buckner is an unique prospect with great size. Playing in a 3-4 defense, which he did at Oregon, will be ideal for him as he excels in one-on-one blocking situations. Also because of his unusual size, he will command attention from blockers on running downs, which will help linebackers find the ball carrier. Buckner is projected to go in the top ten but I think he’s a bit overrated. But his skills as a defensive end in a 3-4 defense will fit well in Chicago’s system.
12. New Orleans Saints – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama: The Saints desperately need to upgrade their defense in the secondary and at the line of scrimmage. I believe that having better play at the line of scrimmage will affect the secondary positively. So, I have the Saints taking A’Shawn Robinson, a run stuffing defensive tackle out of Alabama. Robinson is a huge load at 312 pounds and can be an anchor for a defensive line in a 3-4 defense. Robinson would provide a great force in the middle for this Saints defense, which would also help the linebackers make plays at a much quicker rate.
13. Miami Dolphins – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State: This would be a dream come true for Miami. Because of the situation at the RB position, Miami might be willing to trade up for Elliott who is the best RB in this draft. But I think Elliott will be available for Miami at pick number 13. Elliott is barely 6 foot but he plays bigger than he is. Elliott is a tough runner with underrated quickness. Miami lost their starting RB to free agency. Elliott would be able to come in and help this offense right away.
14. Oakland Raiders – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State: The Raiders resigned OT Donald Penn in the offseason. This was a surprising move to me because Penn is a aging veteran and he usually looks really, really bad when up against the top pass rushers in the league. Conklin is the next best OT available and he’ll help Oakland get younger on the offensive line while giving David Carr a blind side protector for years to come.
15. Tennessee Titans – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama: Tennessee probably wants an offensive tackle in the first round but because of the string of tackles that just went, they’ll be in a position to just take the best player available. Tennessee’s run defense was underwhelming in 2015. Reed is one of the best run defenders in this draft class. The Titans already have some great players on their defensive line. Reed would be able to fit right in and contribute immediately.
Detroit could go from Megatron to Mega-quon.
16. Detroit Lions – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi: With the retirement of Calvin Johnson, the Lions will be thrilled to take the first WR in this years draft. Laquon Treadwell isn’t a speedster at receiver but his physical presence on the field will attract a lot of attention from opposing defenses. Treadwell has the ability to be a dangerous red zone threat because he literally catches anything near him. His big size and athletic ability will make him a prototype number one receiver for this Lions offense.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson: It is a recurring theme for the Atlanta Falcons defense: they can’t consistently get to the QB. The Falcons ranked at the bottom of the league in sacks this past season so, in the first round they’ll look to Clemson again for another pass rusher. Last season, it was Vic Beasley. This year, they’ll select his former teammate Kevin Dodd. Dodd has the prototypical size and ability as a defense end that can set the edge.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State: With all the injuries that starting QB Andrew Luck had to deal with in the 2015, I think the Colts will be focusing on protecting him better this season. That campaign will start on draft night when they select the best offensive tackle available. Taylor Decker is one of the best lineman prospects to come out of Ohio State in a long time.
19. Buffalo Bills – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia: This was kind of news to me but Buffalo is dumping the 4-3 defense for Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense. So, the Bills will need to draft for some players that will fit that scheme. Buffalo doesn’t currently have many pass rushers that will fit in this defense. Georgia’s Leonard Floyd will be an ideal addition for this defense. Floyd is a skinny pass rusher who kinda looks like a wide receiver. It also doesn’t help that he wore the number 84 in college. Also like a WR, Floyd offers tremendous speed as a pass rusher. He might be the quickest to the QB in this entire draft but his skinny size will prevent him from being drafted higher. Floyd is suited to be an outside pass rusher in a 3-4 defense and he’ll be an attractive prospect for Buffalo at this selection.
20. New York Jets – William Jackson III, CB, Houston: The Jets will be tempted to go with a QB at this pick but instead they’ll replace one of their defensive starters. The Jets need a corner opposite of Darrelle Revis. Antonio Cromartie was brought back last season and he really wasn’t that good. I’ve been a fan of Houston’s William Jackson since the Peach Bowl. I was watching that Bowl to see how good Jalen Ramsey was but really, Jackson out played him. Jackson is a great ball defender and is a tough, physical player. Jackson could become a great corner in this league with the right coaching. He will definitely be an upgrade from Cromartie.
21. Washington – Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech: Washington didn’t defend the run very well last season and they’ve lost some players on that defensive line. Vernon Butler is a huge active, big bodied, defensive tackle that will help Washington get better against the run.
22. Houston Texans – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor: Corey Coleman maybe small but he can be a huge playmaker opposite from DeAndre Hopkins. Coleman is a speedster but he is also a tough customer who isnt afraid to catch ball in the middle of the defense. If Houston wants Brock Osweiler to be successful, they are gonna have to find him playmakers to get the ball to.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU: Minnesota can draft Doctson here and pair him with Stephon Diggs. With Diggs being the guy who can stretch the field, Doctson can be the big possession receiver to complement him. Doctson was such a reliable receiver in college and his skill set would allow him to do the same for Teddy Bridgewater.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida: I bet the Bengals will be targeting a receiver in the first round but I have Houston and Minnesota drafting away their potential targets. The rotational guys at defensive tackle opposite of Geno Atkins are starting to get up there in age. Jonathan Bullard has a future in this league as an inside disruptor in a 4-3 defense.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor: I feel like every draft season, the Pittsburgh fans pray for secondary help in the first round and they never get it. But hey, they didn’t get it last season and they were still oh so close from the AFC Championship game. This year, everyone has the feeling that the Steelers will be aiming to replace starting nose tackle Steve McLendon. Coach Mike Tomlin and the rest of the staff has made it known how much they like Andrew Billings from Baylor as the new Casey Hampton for this 3-4 defense. Having a top talent at that position is key for this defense so Billings maybe worth it at pick number 25. Billings is a huge force that might be the anchor for this defense for years to come.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Germain Ifedi, OG/OT, Texas A&M: Seattle’s offensive line was much discussed about during last season. Seattle is basically building up that unit from scratch this offseason and they’ll need to further address that area in the first round. Texas A&M has been cranking out impressive offensive line prospects recently and Ifedi could help Russell Wilson as a guard or as a right tackle.
27. Green Bay Packers – Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama: Green Bay needs to find an answer at inside linebacker so Clay Matthews can focus on being a terror as an edge rusher. Reggie Ragland could be just what the doctor order for the middle of this defense. Ragland is a serious run defender who delivers big hits consistently. The Alabama product could be the long-term answer at inside linebacker for the Pack.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State: Kansas City has a decent stable of running backs and they ran the ball well last season even when they lost Jamaal Charles to injury. But the Chiefs lost one of their starting guards in free agency and they need to find a replacement. They wont have to look far as one of the best guard prospects in this draft is within the state.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson: Mackensie Alexander proclaimed himself as the best corner in the draft at the combine. His confidence will serve him well in Arizona, as he will be joining a talented group in the secondary. Arizona needs a younger guy to eventually start opposite of Patrick Peterson.
30. Carolina Panthers – Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana: If you watched the Super Bowl, you know that the Panthers need to find a long-term answer at tackle. Spriggs was a apart of a productive offensive line in college and he is talented enough for the Panthers to consider him in the first round.
Paxton Lynch will remind Broncos fans of the QB that left them in free agency.
31. Denver Broncos – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis: Denver needs to create competition at the QB position going into this season. Mark Sanchez is experienced but he is still Mark Sanchez. Lynch could end up being as good as the two QB projected to go ahead of him in this draft. Lynch actually compares well to the guy he’ll be trying to replace in Denver, Brock Osweiler. Lynch is a tall athletic QB who can move around in the pocket and has an underrated arm. Lynch can throw a pretty decent deep ball but needs to improve his accuracy to have a better shot at making it as a pro. Denver has a decent supporting cast on offense so if Lynch can win the job in camp, he could have a productive rookie season as a Bronco.
32. Cleveland Browns – Keanu Neal, S, Florida: The Browns would like a receiver here but they also need to replace two starting safeties. Neal is as physical as they come in the secondary and would have the chance to be a starter sooner than later for the Browns.
33. Tennessee Titans – Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech: After not reaching for offensive line help in the first round, I have the Titans taking an offensive tackle here in the second round. Le’Raven Clark was a all-conference player through out his college career.
34. Dallas Cowboys – Su’a Cravens, OLB/S, Southern California: The Cowboys brought back Rolando McClain to start at linebacker. McClain might have some good football left but he is an injury prone, aging veteran. Dallas would be an injury away from seeing a serious drop off from talent at that position. I think Cravens in a 4-3 defense as a outside linebacker could be what Thomas Davis is for Carolina. Davis was also a “tweener” linebacker prospect who played safety in college. Cravens would work very well as a weak side linebacker in this defense because of his great speed and his experience in pass coverage.
35. San Diego Chargers – Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Mississippi: Nkemdiche should be a top ten pick in this draft but some teams are getting scared off by his recent arrest. If Nkemdiche can stay out of trouble, he will be a steal for the Chargers in the second round. Robert Nkemdiche would flourish as a DE in a 3-4 defense. He has crazy athletic ability for a guy his size and his pass rushing ability will command attention on the line of scrimmage.
Noah Spence could be the eventual replacement for Terrell Suggs in Baltimore.
36. Baltimore Ravens – Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky: Baltimore needs to draft an eventual replacement for Terrell Suggs. Spence was a great pass rusher at Ohio State before he got in trouble and had to finish his college career at Eastern Kentucky. That experience will make his draft stock fall a bit but he seems real mature in interviews now and he seems to have learned from his past mistakes. Spence could be an ideal pass rusher for anyone with a 3-4 defense.
37.San Francisco 49ers – Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State: The 49ers haven’t resigned Anquan Boldin yet so they have a big hole at the receiver position. Thomas is probably the best big receiver in this draft. His limited speed will prevent him from getting drafted earlier but his size will make him an ideal target in the redzone. The way he could overpower defensive backs could open up things for the other targets in this 49ers offense. Chip Kelly needs to find someone at receiver because it’s arguably the team’s weakest position.
38. Jacksonville Jaguars – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville: Rankins would be the best player available for Jacksonville at this point of the draft. Rankins could be a great inside pass rusher in Jacksonville’s 4-3 defense.
39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State: Tampa needs defensive back help. They signed veteran Brent Grimes but that isn’t enough. Apple has received first round consideration and would be a steal for the Bucs in the second round.
40. New York Giants – Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: Kendall Fuller will join his other siblings in the NFL this weekend. He has a great NFL bloodline and the Giants would be thrilled to take him in the second round. The Giants had the worst pass defense in the league last season and they already spent big money in the free agency to help the secondary. In the second round, they could find cheaper help in Fuller. Fuller maybe a bit injury prone already but he is an absolute gamer who loves to compete.
41. Chicago Bears – Shilique Calhoun, DE/OLB, Michigan State: Calhoun fits what the Bears need as a pass rusher in their 3-4 defense.
42. Miami Dolphins – Artie Burns, CB, Miami (FL): This would be a dream come true for the Miami native. After dumping Brent Grimes in the offseason, Miami will be looking for a replacement in the draft. Burns has a track background and offers tremendous speed at the corner position. His ability to stick with receivers will make him coveted at this point in the draft.
43. Tennessee Titans – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia: Tennessee let go Michael Griffin in the offseason and they might be looking for his successor in the draft. Karl Joseph might be criticized because of his size but he is one of the toughest guys in this draft. Joseph will make his living in the league as an enforcer against the run for the Titans defense. Joseph has a knack for getting to the ball carrier in a hurry and making him pay instantly.
44. Oakland Raiders – Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State: If the Raiders are making the transition into a 3-4 defense like I think they are, they will need some players to mix things up in the middle. Austin Johnson was an active big body at Penn State and he’ll make a nice addition in Oakland. Johnson is a pretty good run defender and he’ll do a good job at taking away blockers from the linebackers playing behind him.
45. Tennessee Titans – Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford: With the addition of DeMarco Murray, it would seem that Tennessee will be making a real effort at becoming a run heavy football team on offense this season. Stanford’s Joshua Garnett comes from a long tradition of good offensive lineman from that university. He’ll help this offensive line to become a force for this Tennessee offense.
46. Detroit Lions – Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State: Ogbah had a tremendous final season at Oklahoma State. The reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year offers size and speed off the edge that will make him very attractive to team in need of a traditional defensive end. I’m a bit worried about his athleticism and he seems to play a bit too stiff at times. But he was too good of a player for Detroit to pass him up in the second round.
47. New Orleans Saints – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame: Will Fuller was the fastest receiver at the combine and that will help his draft stock. Fuller will have the ability to stretch the field as a pro but his hands are very inconsistent. He is a body catcher who reminds me of Terrance Williams of the Cowboys. The Saints will be looking for a receiver to pair with Brandin Cooks and Fuller could be that player.
48. Indianapolis Colts – Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State: The Colts are in need of a safety. Vonn Bell offers physicality and underrated cover skills.
49. Buffalo Bills – Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State: The Bills found out last year that Tyrod Taylor was a decent player but he may not be good enough to take this offense over the top. Connor Cook is a traditional drop back QB but Michigan State passers has had a decent run in the league recently. Cook may be worth it for Buffalo in the second round to create competition and to make sure that E.J. Manuel never touches the field again.
50. Atlanta Falcons – Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas: I feel like I’ve mocked a TE to Atlanta ever since Tony Gonzalez retired. It probably wont happen again this draft but here I am again. Mocking the best TE in the draft to Atlanta. Very predictable.\
51. New York Jets – Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri: The Jets need to get younger at inside linebacker next to David Harris. Brothers is one of the best athletes in the draft and he excels at defending the run.
52. Houston Texans – Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama: Houston lost their starting center in free agency to a division rival. Kelly is the top center in the draft and he’ll provide stability for the Texans offensive line for years to come.
Derrick Henry is a literal monster playing running back.
53. Washington – Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama: Washington didn’t run the ball well last season and they didn’t bring back Alfred Morris. Washington might have a guy ready to start this season but drafting Henry here would add a different element to the Washington ground attack. Matt Jones could be the fast home run hitter in this rushing attack while the Heisman winner, Henry, could be the tough running red zone threat. Henry is an absolute freak of nature at RB. His size and athleticism will make him the second coming of LeGarrette Blount but maybe even better.
54. Minnesota Vikings – Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA: Minnesota could use an upgrade at defensive tackle next to Sharrif Floyd. Clark is just as large as Floyd and would help Minnesota improve their run defense, which ranked in the middle of the road in the league.
55. Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh: Cincinnati skipped on taking a receiver in the first round so I have them taking a flyer on the Pitt product in the second round. Tyler Boyd gets knocked for not having elite speed but the guy is an absolute playmaker and would fill the void left by the Bengals receivers that left the team via free agency. I think Boyd has the talent to eventually be the number two receiver behind A.J. Green in this offense.
56. Seattle Seahawks – Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State: The Seahawks lost some important pieces on their defensive front in the off season. They need to start the rebuilding process and they could start with this player out of Mississippi State. Chris Jones is a tall defensive tackle but his athleticism will allow him to flourish as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Jones is big enough to help stuff the run and is quick enough to get after the QB on passing downs.
57. Green Bay Packers – Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas: This might be a reach but the Packers need bodies on the defensive line to help replace B.J. Raji.
58. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jeremy Cash, S, Duke: Jeremy Cash was a stand out player at Ohio State before transferring to Duke. Duke used to be an awful football school but they’ve been a bit better than awful recently. Cash is apart of the reason why. The rangy safety plays a physical brand of football and he is able to make plays in the box and behind the line of scrimmage as a run defender. Cash would be an eventual upgrade to Shamarko Thomas in the secondary.
59. Kansas City Chiefs – Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State: The Chiefs lost some defensive linemen in free agency and they need to find replacements. Washington’s size and speed would fit him in perfectly as an end in Kansas City’s 3-4 defense.
60. New England Patriots – Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn: The Patriots offensive line was exposed in the playoffs against Denver. They may need to look for a new starter for the future. Shon Coleman’s story is amazing and he’ll probably be the only New England Patriot you will root for this year. Coleman is a cancer survivor who was able to beat the disease and become one of the top offensive line prospects in this draft.
Not sure if Carl Nassib can replace Chandler Jones’ production in New England but he did lead the nation in sacks last season.
61. New England Patriots – Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State: New England signed Chris Long in the off-season as someone who could replace Chandler Jones who was traded. Long’s best days are behind him and the Patriots need a young pass rusher. Nassib is tall at 6’7 and has a crazy long wingspan. He lead the nation in sacks last fall and he could be a target for a defense that really depends on having a top notch pass rush.
62. Carolina Panthers – Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU: The Panthers brought back Charles Johnson but he is getting a bit long in the tooth. Bronson Kaufusi is a athletic pass rusher with great speed out on the edge. He would be a rotational guy and maybe an eventual starter at DE for the Panthers. Plus, his name is Bronson and his nickname could be after one of my favorite rappers currently, “Action Bronson”.
63. Denver Broncos – Christian Westerman, OG, Arizona State: Denver signed its starting guard late into the offseason last year and it paid off. Evan Mathis wasn’t brought back so its time for Denver to draft his replacement and the starting guard of the future. Westerman is an all conference player who is one of the strongest players in the draft.
Five years ago, my MOCK draft had Cam Newton dabbing in the AFC South.
By: Elias McMillan
The 2011 NFL Draft might prove to be one of the best draft classes of all time based on overall talent. Almost half of the players taken in the first round have at least been to one Pro Bowl. The top two picks in that draft, QB Cam Newton and OLB Von Miller, will face off next weekend in Super Bowl 50. Coincidentally, I completed my very first NFL MOCK draft that year. Link: https://www.facebook.com/notes/10150228171096343/
Lets revisit my selections now just to see how much I could have screwed up the very landscape of certain NFL franchises, as we know them now.
1) Carolina Panthers
My Pick: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Actual Pick: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Off the bat, I’m off to a great start. Going into this draft, there were a lot of questions about Cam’s off the field issues and his actual talent on the field. Was Cam just another great running college QB? Was he just a one-year wonder? Can he make all of the throws? I thought that the question marks around his ability to be an accurate passer in the league would stop him from becoming the top pick in this draft. Patrick Peterson was being hyped as a mixture of Darrelle Revis and Deion Sanders. And with the state of the QB position in the NFC South (Good thing Josh Freeman didn’t pan out), I thought Carolina needed to combat that with an elite defender. Both Peterson and Newton ended up great players in this league but obviously, the Panthers made the correct choice.
2) Denver Broncos
My Pick: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Actual Pick: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
3) Buffalo Bills
My Pick: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
Actual Pick: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
So, I actually ended up flip-flopping these two next selections. The Broncos and the Bills both ended up with two of the top defenders in this draft. I wonder if Miller ended up a Bill, would they still be running a 3-4 defense in upstate New York. Marcell Dareus doesn’t get the attention that Von Miller gets but he is still a great player in this league in his own right.
4) Cincinnati Bengals
My Pick: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Actual Pick: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Ha! Here’s my first correct selection! It was a forgone conclusion that the Bengals were ready to move on from the Ochocinco/T.O. regime. Green has been killing it for the Bengals ever since. Great selection. An obvious home run.
5) Arizona Cardinals
My Pick: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Actual Pick: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Wow. What a massive bullet avoided by the Cardinals here. But what in the hell was I thinking having Gabbert picked over Cam Newton?!?! The knock on Gabbert going into this draft was how he was more “NFL ready” than Newton and a much more polish passer. This would have been an absolute disaster for Arizona who didn’t actually have the chance at Newton but instead got a really good player in Peterson who was my top pick in this draft.
6) Cleveland Browns (Traded to Atlanta Falcons)
My Pick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Actual Pick: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
So, I got the player correct at the six slot and Jones ended up being another great player in this league along with fellow WR A.J. Green. But I have to wonder what the hell Cleveland was thinking making this trade? I know that the draft picks they got in return ended up as nothing. I guess that’s why the Browns are the Browns. Julio Jones must wake up every morning thanking God that he isn’t a Cleveland Brown.
7) San Francisco 49ers
My Pick: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
Actual Pick: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
I knew that the 49ers would go defense with this pick but I got the wrong player. Nick Fairley was being hailed as the next Warren Sapp after his great performance in that National Title game. But ultimately, he wouldn’t have been a fit for Jim Harbaugh’s defense. Instead, San Fran went with Smith who was a great pass rusher for a few seasons before becoming a guy to just finds trouble off the field.
8) Tennessee Titans
My Pick: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Actual Pick: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Well, I knew that the Titans would have a QB penciled in at this pick. Could you imagine if Newton was still available at this selection? Talk about a potential franchise changer! No one really knew how good Newton would end up being but having him drop all the way down to 8 is just embarrassing on my part. Honestly, the evaluation of Locker wasn’t that far away from Newton’s. Locker was a great athlete in college who happened to play QB. Locker wasn’t nearly the player Newton was at Auburn and concussions pretty much shorten his playing career. But again, imagine how different the NFL would be today with Newton as a Titan? Tennessee would be contenders right now instead of dwelling in the AFC South basement.
9) Dallas Cowboys
My Pick: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Actual Pick: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Taking an offensive lineman seemed so boring to me at the time, I guess. The Cowboys needed to upgrade their pass rush opposite of DeMarcus Ware at the time. But they ended up making the wiser decision that ultimately ended up extending Tony Romo’s career. Smith is probably one of the best if not the best left tackle in football today while Quinn is an elite passer in this league as well.
10) Washington Redskins (Traded to Jacksonville Jaguars)
My Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
Actual Pick: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Gabbert is still in the league as a back up but its known that this plan didn’t work out for the Jags. Or for Washington. I cant tell you what they ended up doing with those extra picks from this trade. But both teams missed out on getting a pretty good defensive lineman.
11) Houston Texans
My Pick: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Actual Pick: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Considering that Watt is now the face of the franchise in Houston and the best defensive player in all of football, Houston made out pretty well with this selection. I mean, the Texans did need secondary help and Amukamara is one of the better defensive backs in football today. But the Texans obviously made the right choice here.
12) Minnesota Vikings
My Pick: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Actual Pick: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
Again, I was right on the position but wrong on the player. This was a shocking pick went it happened and it still kind of is. I don’t think anyone had Ponder as a first rounder before the draft. Ponder was a decent athlete in college but not on a level as a Newton or even a Locker. I was high on Ryan Mallett for this draft. He had the big arm that looked great on film. I didn’t think the character issues were a big deal but it turned out that those issues did seriously affect his rep around the league. Minnesota would have to wait longer to find its potential franchise QB.
13) Detroit Lions
My Pick: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Actual Pick: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
This was another shocking pick when it happened. Fairley along with Suh was destined to rule the line of scrimmage against the NFC North for years. Fairley and Suh did make up for a great defensive front for the Lions for a few seasons but both have left the team since then. If Tyron Smith was available at this pick, QB Matt Stafford might be even better than he already is right now.
14) St. Louis Rams
My Pick: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Actual Pick: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Here is an instance where I thought the Rams would pick based on need and not based on the best player available. The Rams didn’t value outside linebackers in a 4-3 defense at the time. Instead they wanted to get as many pass rushers as possible and that strategy worked out for them with the Quinn selection. Ayers has bounced around a few teams since this draft and has never been voted to the Pro Bowl. But in a strange twist, Quinn and Ayers are now teammates in St. Louis. Oops. I mean, Los Angeles. I’m going to have to get used to that eventually.
15) Miami Dolphins
My Pick: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Actual Pick: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida
Its hard to decide which selection would have been better for the Dolphins at 15. I wasn’t high on Mike Pouncey at all going into this draft. He had an awful final season at Florida without his brother and accounted for multiple muffed snaps. Ingram may not have been worth a top 15 pick but he is currently a decent runner in this league. Mike is one of the leaders on the offensive line for Miami. This was truly a toss up.
16) Jacksonville Jaguars (Traded to Washington)
My Pick: Cameron Jordan, DE, California
Actual Pick: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
After trading down with Jacksonville, Washington ended up with a decent defensive end in Kerrigan but they could have drafted a better player in Cameron Jordan. The Jordan pick for Jacksonville made sense to me at the time because the Jags already had his Cal teammate, Tyson Alualu. Clearly, I should have been Washington’s GM.
Imagine a world where J.J. Watt and Rob Gronkowski are teammates.
17) New England Patriots
My Pick: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Actual Pick: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Could you imagine Watt lasting all the down to the evil Patriots?!?! I wonder how that could have affected Watt’s likability and marketability around the league. He would have made the defense in New England instantly better and he would be hoisting a couple Super Bowl trophies instead of wasting his talents away in Houston. Of course Watt wasn’t there for the Pats at pick 17. Instead, they got some offensive line help with Nate Solder who is still a starter on that offensive line.
18) San Diego Chargers
My Pick: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Actual Pick: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Blah. Nothing to report here. Liuget is still in San Diego. They extended his contract so he must be okay. I thought they would go with some offensive line help for Phillip Rivers.
19) New York Giants
My Pick: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
Actual Pick: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
I don’t think I realized that Houston was a pass rushing linebacker who didn’t fit New York’s 4-3 defense. But he still would have significantly helped this Giants team that seemed to not have enough of pass rushers at one time. Taking Prince Amukamara worked out for them as well though.
20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
My Pick: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Actual Pick: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Da’Quan Bowers was hyped in this draft as a possible top five selection. But then, questions about his health dropped his stock and he ended up becoming a Buccaneer but not until the second round. Tampa did go defensive end at pick 20. Adrian Clayborn was an unstoppable force at Iowa but injuries have prevented that to be a reality at the pro level.
21) Kansas City Chiefs (Traded to Cleveland Browns)
My Pick: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Actual Pick: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Cleveland screws up again. At least Carimi is still in the league. Taylor had a decent rookie season but then, it all went downhill from there.
22) Indianapolis Colts
My Pick: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
Actual Pick: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
These two names link up again. Check out my selection for the Chargers at 18. Both are still starting for their respective teams.
23) Philadelphia Eagles
My Pick: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Actual Pick: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
Jimmy Smith is currently a decent corner in the NFL when healthy. Danny Watkins is currently a firefighter in Texas. That’s actually a cooler story than Smith’s. But my point, this didn’t pan out for Philly.
24) New Orleans Saints
My Pick: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri
Actual Pick: Cameron Jordan, DE, California
The Saints hit a home run with this pick, as Jordan is a top pass rusher in the NFL. Smith went earlier to the 49ers but either way, the Saints were gonna grab a great pass rusher. It really worked out for the Saints when you think about all the trouble Smith could of gotten in New Orleans.
25) Seattle Seahawks
My Pick: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Actual Pick: James Carpenter, OT, Alabama
Locker would have been a great story if taken by his hometown Seahawks but Seattle would have to wait a couple more years to find that athletic QB phenom. The pick of James Carpenter actually worked out for Seattle as he started on that offensive line during Seattle’s Super Bowl runs in the last two seasons.
26) Baltimore Ravens
My Pick: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL)
Actual Pick: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
I had the Ravens penciled in for some secondary help at pick 26. Brandon Harris was probably a bit over hyped going into this draft and I thought that his ties to “Da U” would be his road to the Baltimore Ravens. Instead, Baltimore got a better corner in Smith.
27) Atlanta Falcons (Traded to Cleveland, then Traded to Kansas City)
My Pick: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Actual Pick: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
This is a lot to digest because all of the trades. First, Atlanta got their guy in the top ten in Julio Jones but Kerrigan would have helped their struggling pass rush. Baldwin did not pan out at all for the Chiefs in Kansas City. And the Browns are still the Browns. Any questions?
28) New England Patriots (Traded to New Orleans Saints)
My Pick: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Actual Pick: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
The Saints finished out a great 2011 draft by trading back in the first round to land the best RB available. I already stated that the Pats needed offensive line help, which they actually got with their first selection.
29) Chicago Bears
My Pick: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida
Actual Pick: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The Bears did end up getting offensive line help but at a different position. I wasn’t big on Pouncey’s pro prospects, which was why I barely had him going in the first round. Pouncey did end up panning out in Miami while Carimi is still a starter for Jay Cutler’s offensive line in Chicago.
The Jets were going to get help for their defensive line at pick 30. It could have been Hayward who instead went to Pittsburgh at pick 31.
30) New York Jets
My Pick: Cameron Heyward, DT, Ohio State
Actual Pick: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
I knew that the Jets were looking for more help along that defensive line. Wilkerson and Heyward ended up pretty decent players in this league. Wilkerson just established his all-pro status before Heyward did but still, they are both really good at what they do.
31) Pittsburgh Steelers
My Pick: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Actual Pick: Cameron Heyward, DT, Ohio State
No loser here at this selection. The Steelers opted to find offensive line help later and instead took Heyward who really became a dominant player this past season.
32) Green Bay Packers
My Pick: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
Actual Pick: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
This pick was just a disaster for the Packers and myself. I told you earlier about Watkins’ new profession. But the actual selection, Sherrod, was doomed during his rookie season when he suffered a broken leg. He never could become the player that he was coming out from college after that injury. What a sad story to end the first round.
So, what is the moral of all of this? I think it is how myself and other draft forecasters really know nothing about anything when it comes to the draft. But its still fun to guess and speculate which is why I still do. Two biggest things to take away from here: Cam Newton as a Tennessee Titan and J.J. Watt as a New England Patriot. Man, that would have made things so different in the NFL currently.