Nearly two years after the 2016 NFL Draft, it may be a bit too early to re-draft and change how things went. Some players who look to be stars can still see their careers end quickly, while those who have started slowly still have time to turn it around. But as we start really getting into talk about the 2018 NFL Draft, why not throw it back not even two years to a draft that saw some of the league's current stars officially find a new home.
The only real ground rule for this re-do is that there's no trades other than what happened in real life. For example, the Jets won't trade up from the 20th overall pick to acquire Carson Wentz, but the Eagles - who did trade up in real life for the star quarterback - will have the second overall pick. Also, there will only be 31 picks in this draft because there were 31 in real life as a result of Deflategate. I think the Patriots might consider drafting Jacoby Brissett with a first here just so they could do the Phillip Dorsett trade again, but who knows with Bill Belichick?
Are you ready to play what-if about some of your favorite teams? Let's do it!
31 Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California
Old Pick: Jared Goff, QB, California
We start our list with what is likely a controversial decision in suggesting the Rams forgo Carson Wentz or Jalen Ramsey to still draft Jared Goff. Why? First, the Rams traded up a fortune to get this pick in the first place, so I get the feeling they'd be fine doing it again given the step forward Goff took in 2017. Second, if the Rams are able to go back into the future, they'd likely make the decision to get rid of Jeff Fisher quicker.
Third, and this might be the most important, the debate between Carson Wentz and Jared Goff does not have a clear winner at this point.
If Wentz was Peyton Manning and Goff was Ryan Leaf, there's a different decision to be made, but we're going with Goff here.
30 Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Old Pick: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
So if the Rams are sticking with Jared Goff, I think it's fair to say the Eagles will stick with Carson Wentz. There will be that one NFL fan out there who claims Wentz isn't truly valuable to the Eagles because they made the Super Bowl without him, but that's an argument we're not even going to touch. Wentz is still growing as a player and still makes a rookie mistake or two, but don't tell me he didn't look like an MVP candidate out there this season.
Because both the Rams and Eagles are satisfied with trading up for their quarterbacks, why should we change anything here? It's just too bad Wentz-Goff may not be the yearly rivalry the way Brady-Manning was, but there's still time!
29 San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Old Pick: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The first three picks in this re-draft are all the same as the actual picks. Are we playing it safe? Well, would the Chargers really take Jalen Ramsey over Joey Bosa? Ezekiel Elliott is a no because the Chargers would have spent back-to-back first-round picks on running backs (Melvin Gordon was a first-rounder, remember?) and Bosa has been a major hit for the Bolts that it would be wrong to split the two up.
No, I'm not saying Bosa is a better player than Jalen Ramsey, although comparing them is a bit tough given they play completely different positions. However, Bosa has 23 sacks in two years, will only be 23 next season, and seems to be the guy for the Chargers. We're fine with keeping him here.
28 Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Old Pick: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Four picks, no changes at all. But seriously, can you blame us? If the NFL doesn't suspend Elliott only because Roger Goodell wanted to give off the impression that he has any type of power and judgement, Dallas makes the playoffs and may even challenge the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East crown.
Though Elliott has still had flashes of immaturity on the field, the Ohio State product has been dominant in his first two seasons and the Cowboys would be insane to pass drafting him again.
Say what you want about the domestic violence incident, but we don't know all the facts and it became clear in the case's final weeks that too many details were gray. What's not gray is that the Cowboys are taking Ezekiel Elliott once more in the NFL Draft.
27 Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Old Pick: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Five straight picks without a change? Through two seasons, none of these five teams have gone wrong and that's especially true with the Jaguars and Jalen Ramsey. Don't believe me? I'm sure you watched the Jaguars' improbable run to the AFC Championship Game and how dominant Ramsey was along the way, shutting down top receivers like an elite cornerback and drilling players with the intensity of a safety or linebacker.
It's way, way too early to say if any of these five are going to the Hall of Fame in 15-20 years, but I don't think it's wrong to say these five have landed in the right spots and shown why they went in the first round. Now, as for the rest of this draft class? Well...
26 Baltimore Ravens: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
Old Pick: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Our first change and it comes with one of the 2016 NFL Draft's more dynamic players. I actually really like Ronnie Stanley and thought he had a good rookie season, but sophomore struggles and watching how pitiful Baltimore's offense has been in recent years makes this an easy pick.
Thomas likely isn't going to put up the numbers he has with Drew Brees as his quarterback, but he'd be an upgrade over the Mike Wallaces or Breshad Perrimans of the world.
If the Ravens entered next season with an offense of Joe Flacco, Alex Collins, Michael Thomas, and potentially Benjamin Watson, they'd likely be frontrunners to win the AFC North. That's how good Michael Thomas has proven to be and that's why Baltimore takes him over Stanley.
25 San Francisco 49ers: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Old Pick: DeForest Buckner, DE/DT, Oregon
Another change? DeForest Buckner is really growing into a quality defensive tackle - many argued he was one of the biggest Pro Bowl snubs this past season - but the 49ers adding an offensive lineman here is an interesting decision. San Francisco gave up 43 sacks this season, tied for tenth-most in the league and among the teams who we normally talk about as having bad offensive lines - Indianapolis, Green Bay, Cleveland, etc... Not good!
With that said, let's add Conklin to the mix as the guy who is going to protect Jimmy Garoppolo so he doesn't turn into Andrew Luck or David Carr. The 'keep Jimmy G upright' movement is underway and Conklin is the one who is going to do that job. Or, he could protect Colin Kaepernick - oh wait, that boat has sailed.
24 Tennessee Titans: Deion Jones, LB, LSU
Old Pick: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Conklin is off the board, so the Titans have to go in another direction. With how disappointing the Titans' defense has been, why not add a linebacker who can also play like a safety? Jones could move Tennessee up from being a middle of the pack defense - a ranking they should not be with all their talent - and really shine under new Titans coach Mike Vrabel, himself a linebacker back in the day.
As we get deeper into this re-draft, we start coming across some interesting what-if possibilities. Would the Titans be alright with taking a game-changing linebacker over a fantastic offensive lineman who can keep Marcus Mariota upright? It's because of the game-changing part that results in the Titans going with Jones over Ronnie Stanley.
23 Chicago Bears: Leonard Floyd, DE, Georgia
Old Pick: Leonard Floyd, DE, Georgia
I don't know how you can replace Floyd if you're the Bears, not with how bright he's shined in the transition period the team is currently going through. Floyd was on pace to top his rookie season numbers before a broken collarbone ended his season in November and should return strong next season. Even if Floyd hasn't been at quite a Pro Bowl level, I think the Bears are pleased enough with his development that they'd draft him again if given the chance.
Some Bears fans might suggest Dak Prescott in this spot even if that wold mean not taking Mitchell Trubisky, but that'd be counterproductive.
Besides, do you really see the Bears taking a quarterback in the first round after Jay Cutler just had one of his better seasons in 2015? I didn't think so.
22 New York Giants: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Old Pick: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Eli Apple had a strong rookie season for the Giants, but his downfall this year and added character concerns take him away from this spot. In fact, Apple may even be out of the first round entirely because he's become two of the worst words you can bestow on any athlete: a cancer and a distraction. We feel for Apple as he deals with personal issues, but that doesn't change he is no longer going to the Giants here.
Instead, the Giants add some offensive line help in the form of Ronnie Stanley. New York had added Ereck Flowers in the 2015 NFL Draft, but we know how that's turned out and Stanley was a valued prospect who could help keep Eli Manning from getting sacked. That's more than enough to keep Stanley in the top ten.
21 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyreek Hill, WR, West Alabama
Old Pick: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
We spoke about Apple's character concerns, but I think the Buccaneers would be alright with drafting Hill given that he's stayed out of trouble since coming to the NFL two years ago. That's not to say we approve of domestic violence - and that doesn't mean we think the Buccaneers would be perfectly alright with what happened in the past - but Hill isn't a repeat offender and he's avoided any sort of legal issues since being drafted by Kansas City. That's enough for us.
If that reasoning isn't enough for you, things are what they are. Hill made a mistake, but he's made the best of things. On that note, Hill teaming up with Jameis Winston would be beyond fun to watch, especially if Dirk Koetter made Hill into an offensive weapon the way the Chiefs have.
20 New Orleans Saints: DeForest Buckner, DE/DT, Oregon
Old Pick: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Because Buckner didn't go to the 49ers, he winds up going to the Saints here instead of Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. New Orleans might feel compelled to draft someone like Sterling Shepard or Will Fuller because they no longer have Michael Thomas, but the priority for the Saints was always improving that dismal defense and adding players who can make tackles and do the basics. Because Buckner can do exactly that, the Saints push offense to the side for a bit and take the former Oregon star.
If you're making these rosters in Madden and do want to think the Saints go offense here, then feel free to put Shepard here. For us, we think Buckner is a safe pick for the Saints given their needs and they're fine making this pick.
19 Miami Dolphins: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Old Pick: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Perhaps our first stunner, would the Miami Dolphins really be alright with taking Myles Jack so high when there was no guarantee he'd even play in 2016? Seeing as Jack has played all 32 games since entering the league and really took a step forward this season, I think the Dolphins would be alright taking this risk. Jack likely wouldn't be a two-way player the way he was in UCLA and the way some think he'll still be for the Jaguars, but the ex-UCLA star has shown how dominant he can be on defense.
If the Dolphins draft Jack here, they avoid the Lawrence Timmons situation and add a quality defensive player.
Laremy Tunsil has been alright in his first two seasons and changed positions this year, so we'll see him later on. Spoilers!
18 Oakland Raiders: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Old Pick: Karl Joseph, S, Florida State
If you watched any Raiders games this year, you'd know Karl Joseph and Khalil Mack were really the only two consistent bright spots on Oakland's defense. Because Joseph has been exactly that, consistent, we're going to say the Raiders draft him again and avoid the temptation of someone like Jordan Howard who could fit a hole on day one. In the grand scheme of things, Joseph has been good enough to where the Raiders likely have a long-term playmaker in the secondary and, with a new coach coming to town in Jon Gruden, they should be alright with that.
And no, I don't think the Raiders would draft Dak Prescott here even with how bad Derek Carr was in 2017. Speaking of which, how is Carr a Pro Bowler?
17 Cleveland Browns: Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
Old Pick: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
So if the Raiders aren't going to draft Dak Prescott in this draft, why shouldn't the Cleveland Browns take advantage of the opportunity? (To clarify, if the Raiders are going to stick with Derek Carr, the Browns should take advantage.)
Cleveland still needs a quarterback and the projected first-rounders in this year's draft that seem likely to warrant any real consideration:
Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, and Baker Mayfield - all have issues either with their play or their personality. Draft Lamar Jackson!
Anyway, I don't think Prescott would have been as good in Cleveland, because the Cowboys have that excellent offensive line, but he'd certainly be better in Cleveland than DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler, or whoever they draft with the top pick this spring. Sorry to torture you, Browns fans!
16 Detroit Lions: Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Old Pick: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Not unlike the Titans, the Lions have to decide whether they want a defensive playmaker or an offensive lineman. Given how good Neal has been the past two seasons and how inconsistent Decker has been, the Lions are likely making the right choice by drafting Keanu Neal. One could suggest Jordan Howard here - and it's something we really thought about - but I just don't know if I can put Howard in Detroit after Ameer Abdullah had a solid rookie season.
As for Neal, the Lions would be adding a game-changing defensive back to a division which still has Aaron Rodgers and has seen the Vikings turn into a dangerous passing team as well. What could go wrong with this pick? Other than being in Detroit, of course.
15 Atlanta Falcons: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Old Pick: Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Since Tony Gonzalez retired after the 2013 season, Atlanta has really been in need of a tight end who can provide Matt Ryan with another dangerous weapon in the passing game. Hunter Henry can do exactly that in the same way he's accomplished such a feat with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers in the past two seasons - and without Antonio Gates around in red-zone situations, Henry would likely see more touches and get his fantasy football owners more points. What can go wrong?
Guys like Jacob Tamme and Austin Hooper have been adequate, but neither is Hunter Henry. If Atlanta is willing to pass up on a legitimate tight end who has the type of name that has you always say the first and last name, they deserved to blow a 28-3 leads.
14 Indianapolis Colts: Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana
Old Pick: Ryan Kelly, C, Duke
The Indianapolis Colts need a young running back. Marlon Mack may one day be that player and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Colts add someone this spring, but why not just add Jordan Howard? There's the element of the local kid staying home and Howard has obviously been a playmaker with the Chicago Bears, so we're going to appoint Howard as the heir apparent to Frank Gore in 2016 and hope he breaks out the way he did in Chicago.
But what about Andrew Luck, you ask?
With the Colts knowing what they know now, I think they'd take a quarterback in the second or third round, whether it be Jacoby Brissett or Paxton Lynch. But drafting one in the first round? Who are they taking?
13 Buffalo Bills: Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Maryland
Old Pick: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Shaq Lawson has been a bust in Buffalo for the most part and I wouldn't be surprised if the team tries to offload him this offseason the way they did some of the previous regime's previous draft picks. Instead, we're going to give the Bills a gift in the form of Yannick Ngakoue, another pass-rusher who has put up great numbers for the Jaguars in the past two years. Would you have foreseen Ngakoue recording 12 sacks this season and 20 in his first two campaigns?
Again, there's an argument for the Bills to take a quarterback here, but who are they taking? This goes with any and all of the following teams: the only quarterback worth taking is Jacoby Brissett and at this point, is he really worth a first-round pick?
12 New York Jets: Will Fuller V, WR, Notre Dame
Old Pick: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Right here is why I put that disclaimer in the intro. I'm not the type of person to give the team I support the best player in the draft by pushing him down until my team picks. I'm an objective person, you see, and that's why I think the Jets would go with Will Fuller V in this spot.
Though I personally prefer Sterling Shepard to Fuller, I think the latter might fit more of the Jets' offensive scheme and would be a fair complement to the likes of Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa. Fuller has emerged as a major red zone target and that may also help his case with a Jets team that still struggles to score, even if they wind up misunderstanding what "red zone threat" exactly means.
11 Houston Texans: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Old Pick: Will Fuller V, WR, Notre Dame
So if the Texans can't get Will Fuller V, they'll still decide on taking a wide receiver in the form of Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard. Why not? Houston is still going to wind up with Deshaun Watson as their quarterback and we saw how well Fuller was playing with the ex-Clemson star as his signal-caller this season, so Shepard should fit just as well in Houston. Again, why not?
If the Jets were to take Shepard with the previous pick, I do think the Texans would still go for Fuller here. The priority should be getting offensive weapons for Watson - and protecting him from another torn ACL - and either wide receiver would work here. Good thing it's the Texans who have Watson and not the Browns, yeah?
10 Washington Redskins: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Old Pick: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
What? No, the picture used has nothing to do with the infamous bong mask video that, for some reason, made Tunsil slip past the top ten. We only have Tunsil going so far here because more and more teams decided to stray away from offensive linemen and go for skill players on both sides of the ball, which is their decision and has nothing to do with the former Ole Miss lineman - who, if we're being fair, has stayed out of trouble since that bong video leaked barely minutes before the draft began.
Washington could draft Corey Coleman here because, as we'll discuss later, he hasn't been terrible in Cleveland. But keeping your quarterback standing up straight is always important, especially when you have someone like Kirk Cousins, so Mr. Tunsil is going to Washington.
9 Minnesota Vikings: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Old Pick: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
And with Tunsil going off the board to Washington, the Vikings have to shrug and take Taylor Decker. This is not the ideal pick for them and in real life, they may trade down to get assets; but, with the rule for this article being no trading out of your spot unless that was the order in real life (i.e. the Rams' pick), the Vikings add another offensive lineman to make sure whoever is behind center doesn't get hurt. Given that one of your options is Sam Bradford, that may be a smart choice.
Minnesota might have considered Corey Coleman here, but Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have done more than enough in the past two seasons to where drafting a first-rounder who eventually winds up not playing is silly. Sorry, Laquon.
8 Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Old Pick: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Finally, Corey Coleman goes off the board! As I've pointed out before, Coleman is not a bad receiver - he just has had a bit of injury trouble. Don't believe me?
Coleman’s quarterbacks in 2016 were Robert Griffin III (who Coleman caught 14 passes for 165 yards from), Josh McCown (10-of-22, but 161 yards and all three touchdowns), and Cody Kessler (9-of-19, 87 yards).
Part of why Coleman struggled in 2017 is because he had DeShone Kizer and his 21 interceptions throwing him the ball, but what would happen if the Baylor product was instead catching balls from Andy Dalton?
And yes, we partially did this because it'd be such pain for Browns fans if a player they're already calling a bust instead became a star in Cincinnati. Sorry!
7 Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin Byard, S, Middle Tennessee
Old Pick: Artie Burns, CB, Miami
I really like Artie Burns and think he has a future in this league, don't get me wrong. But have you watched Kevin Byard play? Byard is growing into a dominant safety for the Titans and was crucial in helping Tennessee to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 this past season.
Some of Pittsburgh's best seasons have come with a safety like Byard in the secondary and while he's no Troy Polamalu, he might be enough to help the Steelers finally get over the hump.
Besides, we have to show Conference USA some love. How could you hate on the conference where Lane Kiffin is rolling through and winning games before he eventually returns to the NFL one day and wins a Super Bowl with the Cleveland Browns?
6 Denver Broncos: Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State
Old Pick: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Whoever is the Broncos' next quarterback - I keep saying it's going to be Kirk Cousins and something tells me I'll wind up being wrong - is going to need to avoid getting beaten into the ground. We saw how Peyton Manning was looking at the end of his tenure in Denver and part of that came from taking so many hits in his first few seasons with the Broncos, so it'd be wise that said new quarterback (Cousins) avoids such a fate.
With that said, we're going to give the Broncos a gift in the form of Cody Whitehair, knowing they can plug him in anywhere on the offensive line and see things work out. Oh, and Kirk Cousins is taking them to the Super Bowl, but you didn't hear that from me.
5 Green Bay Packers: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Old Pick: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
I know the Packers would have a lot to lose by drafting Smith here given his knee injury that kept him out for the entire 2016 season, but the risk would be worth the reward. Smith showed flashes of his old self this past season for the Cowboys and, with Mike Pettine arriving in Green Bay to turn the defense around, could become an All-Pro in that system. Pettine is a better defensive coordinator than people give him credit for because of his stint as Cleveland's head coach, but no one does well in Cleveland!
Green Bay has options, especially Derrick Henry if they wanted to take a running back, but I'm going with the idea of Jaylon Smith in green and yellow. Besides, it's not like Mike McCarthy will suffer any consequences if things don't work out...
4 San Francisco 49ers: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Old Pick: Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford
Because the 49ers missed out on DeForest Buckner earlier and still need to acquire a defensive lineman, we're going to be nice and give them Emmanuel Ogbah. Though Ogbah hasn't been elite in Cleveland to start his career, his numbers have been more than enough to represent a good choice for the Browns.
Given Ogbah would be playing in a division with inconsistent offensive line play, it's likely the Oklahoma State product could blossom into something special.
So with their first two draft picks, the 49ers land an excellent offensive line talent and someone who can make a difference on the defensive line. Add in the rest of their roster and I don't see how San Francisco isn't a Super Bowl option in 2018...in this world. The real world may be a different story
3 Arizona Cardinals: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Old Pick: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Don't worry, we didn't forget about Chris Jones! Of all the teams on this list, I really thought Arizona was most in need of Jones because there's not many realistic quarterback or wide receiver options to choose from with a first-round pick, they already swung and missed on a defensive tackle in the actual draft, and he fits what they were looking for in a defensive tackle. When you have those three parts of the equation all adding up, this is a no-brainer pick for me.
Yes, you could argue Jacoby Brissett here because of Palmer's retirement, but is that pick really worth it when you can get an impact defensive tackle in Jones on day one? I don't know if I can make that argument, so Jones is the pick.
2 Carolina Panthers: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Old Pick: Vernon Butler, DT, Lousiana Tech
We trade one Vernon for another as Louisiana Tech alum Vernon Butler (C-USA, baby!) gets passed up for Florida alum Vernon Hargreaves III. As Hargreaves took a step forward in 2017 en route to improving after a disappointing rookie season, we think he warrants the Panthers using a first-round pick on him. Josh Norman is in Washington, the Panthers could use more help in the secondary, and VH3 fits the bill.
Really, that's it. That's as simple a reasoning as we need for the Panthers to make a wise draft choice here - wait, would Dave Gettleman or Marty Hurney be making this pick? Oh, things aren't as simple then. I still think the Panthers would benefit from drafting Hargreaves, regardless of who the GM is. If you're a Panthers fan, you know why that's important.
1 Seattle Seahawks: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Old Pick: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
Our final pick of the first round sees the Seattle Seahawks go with a running back rather than offensive line help. Is this risky? Yes.
Would the Seahawks make this move if they knew they could get Henry?
Yes, they would, especially given that 2016 was the first season without Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks have yet to find an adequate replacement who can stay healthy. Maybe Thomas Rawls can do the job, maybe he can't.
Henry might be too much of a bruising running back to fit what I expect to be a new Seattle offense that focuses more on Russell Wilson and pass-catching running backs, but stranger things have happened. People thought Lynch would be a bust in Seattle and he's likely headed to Canton off those years alone.
What players did we leave off? Who do you want your team to draft with a second chance?
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