By HAYES RULE (@Rule0021)
Featured photo credit goes to tallahassee.com.
1. Los Angeles Rams (from Tennessee Titans): Jared Goff, QB, California
I’m not one to believe rumors two or three weeks out from the draft -- they’re often smokescreens cloudier than a college dorm room on April 20 -- but this one seems to be true. Adam Schefter reported the Rams moved up in order to draft Cal quarterback Jared Goff even though Los Angeles had reportedly been favoring Carson Wentz.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (from Cleveland Browns): Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
But Wentz won’t wait long for his name to be called. Go ahead and let the Eagles write his name on the card. Philadelphia would not have traded five picks (Nos. 8, 77, 100; 2017 first and 2018 second) to grab an offensive tackle or cornerback. Doug Pederson, a former NFL quarterback, replaces Chip Kelly as head coach and will want to bring in his own signal caller.
Not convinced yet? Sam Bradford has also requested to be traded. Something tells me that’s not because he’s sick of Philly Cheesesteaks.
3. San Diego Chargers: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Jalen Ramsey is the best player in this draft, and I’m not afraid to show it. The Chargers are dealt with a dilemma – a pretty good one at that – in deciding between Ramsey and Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil. San Diego’s offensive line has resembled Swiss cheese in recent years, and at this point in Philip Rivers’ career, protecting the quarterback should become a priority.
But… Ramsey. With the NFL becoming more and more pass-oriented, the Chargers need to strengthen their secondary, specifically at safety with the departure of Eric Weddle. Throw Ramsey into the strong safety position and watch him become the next Ed Reed. In the end, it boils down to whether the Chargers want to improve the offense or defense, but I don’t think they can pass on Ramsey’s game-changing abilities.
4. Dallas Cowboys: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Tunsil would be tantalizing at No. 4 for Jerry’s boys, but can Dallas pass on a defensive talent for a right tackle? I doubt the Cowboys would add to their biggest strength. Buckner, who is gaining steam approaching the draft, would pair well with DeMarcus Lawrence in building the Cowboys’ front seven.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB/RB, UCLA
Jack is the type of defensive player David Caldwell dreams about at night -- versatile. Putting the former Bruin next to Telvin Smith would create a lethal duo for years to come.
6. Baltimore Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Leave it up to Ozzie Newsome to brainwash all the other general managers in the league.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
I never thought I’d say this about any team other than the Browns, but the 49ers could essentially use help at nearly every position. If Trent Baalke smartens up (big “if”), he won’t pass up the opportunity to add Joey “Love Sosa” Bosa to San Francisco’s defensive front.
8. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles from Miami Dolphins): Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State
Will the Browns learn from their Trent Richardson mistake? Probably not, but in this case that may not be bad. Cleveland could use this selection on a plethora of different players, but expect them to go with the best player available -- and that’s Ezekiel Elliot. Unless Jimmy Haslam takes advice from another homeless man…
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia
Floyd has been one of the highest risers on draft boards recently. But that’s not surprising – he’s an athletic, 6-foot-6 pass-rusher off the edge. He would be more of a hybrid in Tampa Bay’s system, but the Bucs need help in the front seven to build an improving defense.
10. New York Giants: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Will the Giants ever fix their offensive line woes? Maybe if they run through the six with Ronnie Stanley… New York could plug the Irishman into the right tackle position, opposite of last year’s first-round selection, Ereck Flowers.
11. Chicago Bears: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Vernon Hargreaves and Kyle Fuller as the foundation of the new Bears’ secondary?
Chicago couldn’t go wrong with any defensive player at this juncture, as it should continue to simply add talent on the defensive side of the ball.
12. New Orleans Saints: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Do you know whom the Saints currently have slotted to start at defensive end across from Cameron Jordan? Bobby Richardson, an undrafted free agent last year. New Orleans ranked 31st in the league last year in rushing yards allowed and 25th in sacks.
13. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles): Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Person: “Hayes, what positions do the Dolphins need to address in the draft this year?”
Me: “Well, they could use some guards. Oh, and an entire defense.”
Doable, right? That unreachable goal begins with Eli Apple, who has become a popular pick for Miami at No. 13. The 6-foot-1, long-armed, 4.40 40-yard dashing Buckeye will fit well in Miami across from the newly-acquired Byron Maxwell.
14. Oakland Raiders: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
The Raiders have taken a step forward because of recent draft success and have hope for the first time in a LONG time. Oakland grabbed a prospect out of Tuscaloosa last year (Amari Cooper) and will go back to the well this year to fill a void at mike linebacker.
15. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams): Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Tennessee make out of the Rams trade like a bandit, as it still grabs an elite tackle on top of the additional picks it can use to rebuild. Conklin, who many have as a top 10 selection, will be a vital piece to keeping franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota healthy. Last year’s second overall selection was hit more times than Rocky against Apollo Creed.
16. Detroit Lions: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
The Lions continue to recover from the departures of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. After adding Haloti Ngata last offseason to alleviate the pain, Detroit adds a much younger talent who can rush the passer well from the interior.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Darron Lee, ILB Ohio State
We’ve reached year three of the Falcons’ defensive rebuilding process, and at least they’ve made progress. Although Atlanta was last in the league with a measly 19 sacks in 2015, it was near the middle of the pack in both rushing and passing yards allowed. Lee would be an upgrade at linebacker. Atlanta could certainly use a safety, but No. 17 is too early for Karl Joseph.
18. Indianapolis Colts: Taylor Decker, OT/G, Ohio State
Andrew Luck: “Hey, Mr. Grigson, I know I’m like the savior of the franchise and all, but do you think you could give me just a little protection? Just, like, two seconds?...”
Ryan Grigson: “No.”
Luck: “Ya know, my neck is starting to feel kind of sore…”
Grigson: “Ohhh, right away, Mr. Luck. Yes, yes, yes… right away.”
19. Buffalo Bills: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
The Bills were supposed to have one of the best defensive lines in the league going into last season, but Mario Williams fell off (and is now gone) and Kyle Williams continues to age himself. A large Buffalo contingent was present at Reed’s pro day, and the former member of the Crimson Tide knows Buffalo defensive line coach John Blake from high school.
20. New York Jets: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Why is Ryan Fitzpatrick still unsigned? I guess it must be a scenario like this or something…
But still… Fitzpatrick registered the best season of his career last year, passing for nearly 4,000 yards, 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The rapport between Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Brandon Marshall is strong, a duo that helped lead the Jets to a playoff appearance.
Regardless, Paxton Lynch won’t be passed up if he makes it to No. 20. Even if Fitzpatrick re-signs, Lynch can ride the pine for a year, learn the logistics of the NFL and perfect his hair-mustache-goatee trio.
21. Washington Redskins: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
The Redskins’ secondary experienced an unexpected upgrade with the addition of Josh Norman, and now it’s time for Washington to sure up its defensive front. The Redskins ranked 26th in rushing defense last year.
22. Houston Texans: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
It almost seems as if it’s a given Houston will select a wide receiver at No. 22, but unlike previous years, there is no true, undisputed top wide out. Will Fuller earns the nod because of his fit in the offense. His speed will complement DeAndre Hopkins extremely well, and the deep connection between Fuller and Brock Osweiler could be football porn.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Let the wide receiver run begin. Treadwell’s stock took a minor hit because of his slow 40 time (4.60), but he won’t slide far down the first round. I personally don’t love Treadwell, but Minnesota won’t pass on the opportunity to match him with some of its speedy receivers.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Holy offense. Well, other than Andy Dalton, of course. Marvin Jones left Cincinnati for the beautiful streets of Detroit, leaving a hole at wide receiver opposite A.J. Green for the Bengals. Coleman absolutely dominated the college scene this past season, registering 74 receptions for 1,363 yards and 20 touchdowns. He was on pace for 30 scores (he had none the final four games) before Baylor literally ran out of quarterbacks.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Pittsburgh, slowly but surely, is starting to rebuild its defense, but it needs to add a nose tackle early in the draft to place next to Cameron Heyward. Cornerback remains, as usual, a major need for the Steelers. But they never take one in the first round, so I’m just going to give up mocking one to them.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
If Seattle has a weak spot, it’s on the offensive line. Russell Wilson often has to pull way too many tricks out of his magical hat, running around like Johnny Manziel (except effectively) in the backfield before making a miraculous play. Maybe that’s been the Seahawks’ offensive plan all along… But expect them to make protecting Wilson a priority, and Ifedi does so.
27. Green Bay Packers: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
The Packers love selecting defensive players in the first round, and that will not change this year with pressing needs in the front seven. Spence -- an athletic pass-rusher -- comes with some off-field concerns that could keep him out of the first round, but his talent may just be too much for the Packers to pass on at No. 27. They brought him in for a visit.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Another Houston cornerback took a 747 up draft boards two years ago, and William Jackson could do the same in 2016. Kansas City will look to recover from losing Sean Smith this offseason, and Jackson would replace him well to play opposite last year’s first-round pick Marcus Peters.
29. Arizona Cardinals: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Arizona is good enough to have the luxury of taking a center in the first round. (Did I just call a center a “luxury”?) If Paxton Lynch is available as No. 29 approaches, Bruce Arians may pull out his hair while stressing for the signal caller to fall. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. Kelly will aid the Cardinals’ plea to continue to solidify the offensive line.
30. Carolina Panthers: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Carolina was weak at cornerback with Josh Norman on the roster, but with him gone it has one of the worst groups in the league. The Panthers current starters: Robert McClain, Bene Benwikere and Brandon Boykin. If they don’t take a corner very early, it’d be a major mistake.
31. Denver Broncos: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Denver brought Spriggs in for a private workout, and the need for an offensive lineman on the right side is evident. With Peyton Manning retiring, the need to protect an immobile quarterback may not be as pressing, but it’s still obviously a problem.
Here's to being completely wrong!