By JUSTIN BAXLEY (@JbClusterSports)
Photo credit goes to the San Diego Union Tribune.
It's one of my favorite series of nights of the year. Round one of the NFL draft is just hours away.
I am giving you my grade-A mock draft. Essentially, this is not whom I predict will be taken, but rather who should be taken -- outside of the top two spots.
1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California
The Rams gave up a king’s ransom to get here. The trade was similar to the deal they pulled off a few years ago with the Redskins, except this time I think they are on the losing end. Goff is probably the best quarterback prospect in terms of football IQ. I like him a lot actually. I just don't think any of these quarterbacks are top-pick worthy. Goff is coming from Cal, and the Rams just moved to Cali, so I guess it's not all bad. I never would have traded the picks to get here.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Wentz is an FCS guy. He is the prototypical quarterback. He is blah, blah, blah. I could ramble for days about why he is worthy of the hype he has received as well as the flip side of that argument. At the end of the day, this team traded all the way up for a shot at one of the two main quarterbacks. Here he is sitting in your lap. I would probably sit him for a year, but I doubt that happens with Bradford forcing his way out of the door as we speak. I would not have traded up for a quarterback in this draft.
3. San Diego Chargers: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
This is really where the draft gets fun. No. 3 basically changes the rest of the first round. There are quite a few solid options sitting here as the Chargers are in a spot where they can take the top offensive lineman or a game-changing cornerback/safety. That offensive line looked terrible last year, but they have already invested a lot of money in the two tackles spots. My gut says one thing, and my brain says another. I'm sticking with my gut. Also a name to watch out for: DeForest Buckner. In my mini-mock in January I said the Chargers should take him here…
4. Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, CB, FSU
Please. Please. Please. I need this to happen. I need my Cowboys to luck out. I need them to land a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. Look, I love Bosa. I love DeForest Buckner. I love Ezekiel Elliott. I just think that if the Cowboys have a chance to land the best player in this draft and arguably the most sure-fire guy, they have to.
"I would not have traded up for a quarterback in this draft."
Carson Wentz. Photo credit goes to sports101.com.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
I keep hearing “health concerns,” so he may fall hard on draft night. Jack can be dynamic when healthy. I am not as concerned about his injuries as guys like Todd McShay.
6. Baltimore Ravens - Joey Bosa DE Ohio State
Bi… Wait am I allowed to quote that song? No? Oops, sorry …. Some people love Bosa. I think he is a stud and will be great at this level. The Ravens luck out and land a sure-fire prospect. I promise Ozzie will not complain if he lands Bosa.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Some people actually have Stanley over Tunsil, mostly because of character and injury concerns with Tunsil. The 49ers need everything. I'm not sure they can make a “wrong” pick.
8. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
He may be the best back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson.Elliott is going to be a stud. The Browns get a sure-fire player here. I don't think he is the next Trent Richardson..
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Invest in Jameis with this pick. I get it, this team needs help on the defensive side of the ball -- a lot of help. I could see the Bucs going with a Florida prospect in Hargreaves or landing a steal in Buckner. I just think you have to give Jameis a guy who will be his protection for the next 10+ years.
"I am not as concerned about his injuries as guys like Todd McShay."
Myles Jack. Photo credit goes to sportsnaut.com.
10. New York Giants: Leonard Floyd, LB, UGA
As a UGA fan, I've had the chance to watch basically every down Floyd played in college. He is a beast. You can build around him. I can see him being the steal of the first round at No. 10.
11. Chicago Bears: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
He has risen fast up the draft boards. He could easily go top three, but based on needs, I don't see him being the best fit until here. Buckner will give the Bears a great pass rusher who will terrorize Bridgewater, Rodgers and Cousins for years to come.
12. New Orleans Saints: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
The Shaq Daddy. The Arch-Shaq-gel. When the Shaq goes marching in. I am going to show myself the door now…. Shaq Lawson is going to be a force in the NFL. I loved him at Clemson. I think he will do big things in NOLA.
13. Miami Dolphins: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
A shutdown corner is just what the doctor ordered for the Dolphins. I watched this guy a lot when he was at Florida, and I honestly think he is the best cornerback in this draft on the college level. I don't think he translates as well at the pro level because of his measurable -- he is short for a corner with T-Rex arms. I watched Brent Grimes be successful in Miami, and I think Hargreaves can do the same.
14. Oakland Raiders: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
I love what Oakland has done this offseason. They have added a ton of pieces. I think Ragland is their man. He will be a key in their defense from the word go.
"I can see him being the steal of the first round at No. 10."
Leonard Floyd. Photo credit goes to the AJC.
15. Tennessee Titans: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
If I am sitting here I'm a little disappointed that none of the offensive lineman dropped to me. Under these circumstances, I would take a cornerback here. I like Apple a lot. He can be plugged in right now and will make an impact. Although, if I am the general manager I am on the phones trying to move up for one of the offensive lineman-- maybe talking to the 49ers or the Bucs.
16. Detroit Lions: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
I originally had him slotted higher than this, which should tell you I am high on Rankins. I think, with the loss of Suh a couple years ago, the Lions need to seriously re-tool the defensive line. They lost Suh and his partner in crime, Nick Fairley. They weren't quite as potent last year at the position. Rankins may not be Suh, but he is a solid option here.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
If not for the season ending injury, people might be talking borderline top 10 for Joseph. Instead, he will probably fall out of the first round. Some team is about to get a true steal in the second round. Yet, if I am Thomas Dimitroff I am taking Joseph. He's the most complete safety in this draft class, plays the pass well and is a good run stopper from the safety slot.
18. Indianapolis Colts: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Consistent. This is probably the adjective I would use to describe Decker. He isn't super flashy. He isn't the guy who is going to blow your socks off with his athletic ability. He is a three-year starter who does his job, and he does it well. The Colts just need help up front. This is the best guy available.
19. Buffalo Bills: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
He is the best defensive tackle against the run in this class. The Bills already have a solid line but could benefit from someone like Reed. They let Mario Williams leave. They re-tool with someone who will stuff the run.
20. New York Jets: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Lee probably won't fall this far. If he does, the Jets should seriously consider scooping him up. He is probably one of the top 15 players in the draft. He has a high ceiling and may very well turn out to be the best linebacker in this draft. I personally like his raw abilities. With some fine tuning he will be the guy who helps sure-up that Jets defense.
"Some team is about to get a true steal in the second round."
Karl Joseph. Photo credit goes to FOX Sports.
21. Washington Redskins: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
They add Josh Norman in free agency and now need a safety. Both Bell and Joseph will be on the board when they pick. Since I already gave the Falcons Joseph, the Skins land Bell. He's terrific in coverage and actually has the cover skills of a corner and could potentially play that position. Pairing Bell and Norman in that secondary is going to be a tough duo to throw at in the future.
22. Houston Texans: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
I don't think Corey Coleman is the best wideout in this draft. With that being said, he is the best fit for the Texans. In one word, you can describe Corey Coleman: FAST. He is ridiculously fast. Like, so fast. He and Nuk (Hopkins) will create the perfect pair for new quarterback Brock Osweiler.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Laquan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Teddy Bridgewater can send me a fruit basket. Treadwell is the best wideout in the class. Bridgewater has never had an elite option to throw toward, and in a couple years Treadwell could be top 15 in the league at his position. For now, he will just be the Vikings’ No. 1 option.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
A.J Green, meet your new best friend. These two are going to be cash money together. Doctson might be the best deep threat in the class. He will take some pressure off A.J and give Andy Dalton another solid option. The pairing will make some waves next season if Cincinnati lands him.
"In one word, you can describe Corey Coleman: FAST."
Corey Coleman. Photo credit goes to FOX Sports.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
His hype train has only just gotten rolling. Jackson is someone who might lead the league in pick-sixes. If he comes down with an interception, he will look to score. He has the ability to run with the wideouts in this league and will be a strong player for the Steelers for years to come.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
The biggest thing you see with Kelly is the fact that he is ready to go from day one. He is almost a sure-fire prospect. You will have a solid center from day one, and you can't ask for much more than that. Russell Wilson was sacked and attacked more last year than in his Super Bowl seasons. Give him a solid played up front, and the Seahawks should be gearing up for another title run.
27. Green Bay Packers: Artie Burns, CB, Miami
The measurables are good. He has the length and speed to play corner. He will compete for the starting gig immediately. His transition from college to pros should be pretty solid. He is not the best corner in this class, but he is the best available. The Packers need depth at this position. In a division with Alshon Jeffery, you need someone who can play him straight up. Burns might be that guy.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Alexander never intercepted a pass while playing at Clemson. I found that stat to be almost unbelievable. He just doesn't seem to have a nose for the ball like Ramsey or some of the others in this draft. Honestly, if I am the Chiefs, I am hoping someone else falls to me. I think Alexander is a second rounder -- maybe even middle of the second round. The Chiefs need a corner, and the only other person I truly considered taking at this spot was Will Fuller at wideout.
"You will have a solid center from day one, and you can't ask for much more than that."
Ryan Kelly. Photo credit goes to pigskinprospects.com.
29. Arizona Cardinals: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
If Lynch survives until this point in the draft, Bruce Arians will be jumping for joy. I think Lynch can sit a year while Palmer makes a run at the Super Bowl, giving him time to mature and learn. He also will need to be ready as Palmer’s health is a concern. At 6-foot-7, Lynch has the chance to be the best quarterback in the class. Sitting a year behind Palmer would be beneficial to him, as he sometimes doesn't locate the open player.
30. Carolina Panthers: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
I am tempted to go cornerback, but none of the top ones are on the board anymore. If Burns had been here, I might have taken him. Instead, the chance to upgrade the offensive line is a must. Mike Remmers did not play well at all last year at the offensive tackle spot. They need someone who can step in and be a starter now. The Panthers will be looking to get back to the Super Bowl. This is a luxury pick at this point. I think they should target someone like Kendall Fuller in the second round for their cornerback need.
31. Denver Broncos: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
I'm not panicking if I am John Elway when it comes to the quarterback position. None of the prospects at No. 31 are going to be ready to start at the beginning of the season. I would wait until round three or four on Brandon Allen to groom for the spot. Sanchez took the Jets to two AFC title games. I think he can do the same with the Broncos. Dodd fills the void at the defensive end spot and is arguably the best player available at this spot. Honestly, it's hard when the needs for this team don't fit with the board well at all. They need inside linebacker help, but Ragland is gone. They need an offensive guard, but none of the available players are worth a day-one pick. Defensive end is the only need with someone still high on the board.
Now let's see if my GM skills sway any of the actual GMs to change their minds.