The NFL draft can make or break teams, GM's willing to make a leap of faith with a monster trade might end up on the other end of the chopping block. But of course no risk, no reward.
Every year NFL teams are tasked with balancing team needs and available draft pick and players they can use as trade chips. Making the right choices during the draft can turn a franchise completely around, a few drafts in a row can create dominant powerhouses for years to come. But making mistakes can cost you with years of shame and garbage begs , see Cleveland Browns.
This mock draft is my opinion based on team needs , on which direction each of the teams in the first round might head in this years draft. These players dominated their respective levels of play and now are looking to prove themselves they can make the leap to the next level and be a viable piece to a franchise looking to contend. The possibility of trades will not be included on this list.
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31 Tennessee Titans - Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Having drafted their hopeful franchise quarterback in last year's draft, the Titans have to look to add talent somewhere else. Picking the wrong player this time around could be crippling for the franchise. So barring a trade, as they've expressed interest in doing, the Titans choose to invest in protection for their quarterback for many years to come. Tunsil was dominant in college going up against the best pass rushers in the nation, so he is a no-brainer to be taken at No 1.
30 Cleveland Browns - Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Cleveland is on a terrible streak of drafting the wrong QBs. That ends this year. The Browns find their guy in Jared Goff who finally will bring stability to the QB position for a franchise in dire need of one. Goff will most likely be a day 1 starter and hopefully lead this QB cursed franchise out of the abyss. While the team signed Robert Griffin III, they surely can't be thinking of putting all their eggs in that basket. They need as much talent as possible at the QB position and they'll have to secure their future come April 28.
29 San Diego Chargers - Myles Jack, MLB, UCLA
There are many glaring needs for the Chargers in this draft, but with a middle of the pack defense, the Chargers will look to upgrade the defensive side of the ball. By drafting Myles Jack they get possibly the most versatile player in the draft. Jack is quick to diagnose a play and make the tackle, and his lateral quickness will help tremendously in pass coverage. The interior linebacking positions have been forgotten in recent years, but the emergence of Luke Kuechly should bring ILBs to the forefront again.
28 Dallas Cowboys - Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
With Tony Romo coming back from injury the Cowboys will look to equip him with more weapons. By drafting Treadwell they are doing just that. Treadwell is touted to be the no.1 receiver in this years draft and its clear why. With a combination of size, strength and speed Treadwell will accompany Dez Bryant in terrorizing secondaries for the foreseeable future. The Cowboys can get right back to their 2014 form with Romo back. It's not the best year for QBs so drafting Romo's eventual replacement will have to wait.
27 Jacksonville Jaguars - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
When Bosa slides to no.5 the Jaguars do not hesitate to snatch Bosa who might be the best player in this year's draft. Jacksonville desperately needs help rushing the quarterback, and Bosa can help them accomplish that. With Fowler coming back from a season ending injury, the combination of him and Bosa can boost the Jaguars pass rush greatly. The Jags also have made some significant free agent signings and Bosa just may be the missing piece in turning the Jags into a respectable defense, and in turn, a respectable team.
26 Baltimore Ravens - Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame
Not many people thought the Ravens would be picking this high back in September, but here they are. They could salvage their horrible 2015 season by getting a blue chip defenive player. It was an unfortunate way to end a season for Jaylen Smith getting injured during a bowl game. Assuming his draft stock doesn't drop, the Ravens will grab a versatile linebacker. The winner of the Dick Butkus award has all the talent and potential to be a star in the NFL so the Ravens don't mind spending a high pick on him.
25 San Francisco 49ers - Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State
Chip Kelly can be very unpredictable, we all know that. And with the quarterback situation seems to be a mess in Cisco, the Niners can go in a few directions. With Goff off the board, the 49ers will look to address the QB position later. Ultimately, they'll choose to help out the defensive side of the ball by drafting the best cornerback in the draft. Ramsey is considered by many to be the most ready NFL corner out of college in a while. If Goff were to slip to them, the 49ers likely wouldn't hesitate to take a local QB, but Ramsey would make for a very nice consolation prize at no.7.
24 Philadelphia Eagles - A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Pairing up Cox, Logan, Curry with Robinson will give fits to NFL offenses. Robinson has the potential of being a three-down defensive tackle. He helped anchor Alabama's dominant defense, taking on double teams almost every play, and most the time beating those. The Eagles have again revamped their roster this offseason, essentially dumping any Chip Kelly signing last year. Perhaps they'll want to play it safe at the draft and take someone they can surround with veteran talent.
23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
With age and productivity being an issue with Vincent Jackson ,the Bucs are looking to add weapons for their new franchise quarterback. After terrorizing the college level with his 20 TDs in 2015 Coleman goes to the Bucs to help take off some pressure off Mike Evans and take the roofs off the defense. With Coleman fitting the speedster mold, he gives Winston a weapon to work with for years to come. Dirk Koetter will want a scary offense after taking the Bucs coaching job from Lovie Smith and this is a good way to get one.
22 New York Giants - DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
At 6-foot-7, 280 pounds with a combination of speed and athleticism Buckner has all the tools to be a dominant player in his position. The Giants finished last season with a total of 23 sacks, good for 3rd last in the league, so its almost a no-brainer picking Buckner to help that total. After the crazy free agency period the Giants had, this is a chance to add a productive young player at a lower price tag. It's high time the Giants rediscover what made them Super Bowl champions under Tom Coughlin; a scary pass rush.
21 Chicago Bears - Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Finding a potential replacement for Jay Cutler could be a possibility, but it's just not the best year for QBs. Drafting Billings gives the Bears a textbook nose tackle who fits perfect into Vic Fangio's scheme. Billings can take on double teams and control the gap. With goldman being the current starter, Billings can start by backing him up and maybe working into the starting lineup.
20 New Orleans Saints - Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
The Saints gave up the most yards per game and most points per game of any team in the league. Sean Payton's been given some job security in New Orleans and it's time he finds a solution for his defense. Hargreaves may not be as ready as Ramsey but his raw talent is stupendous. In college Hargreaves was tasked with covering the other teams number 1 WR often shutting them down. He can continue that success in the NFL.
19 Miami Dolphins - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The Dolphins traded down with the Eagles after acquiring Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso. Now it's time to address the o-line. Injuries on the offensive line decimated the Dolphins season Stanley can become a day one starter and can thrive in new head coach Adam Gase's spread scheme. By drafting Stanley the Dolphins give Tannehill the protection he greatly required last season. With a solid receiving core in place this year could be a make or break kind of year for Tannehill so why not help him out and protect him.
18 Oakland Raiders - Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
With the best defensive talent in the past decade already on the team and after a great free agency the Raiders will be looking to take a massive leap defensively and return to the days teams were afraid of playing the Raiders. Adding Shaq Lawson will solidify the pass rusher position and can help Oakland to finally end its playoff drought. The Raiders could also try to find weapons for Derek Carr, but this draft is deeper on the defensive side of the ball.
17 Los Angeles Rams - Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
With Foles and Keenum being as inconsistent as they have been and the team's relocation to Los Angeles, the Rams should look to find their solution at quarterback. Lynch is an intriguing option. At 6-foot-6, he possess the physical attributes but may need some time to adjust to the NFL. Lynch might start off as a backup to Foles or Keenum but if they continues to be so inconsistent, Lynch might get his shot sooner then later. The Rams need to do something to get the L.A. fans excited and sticking with the status quo at quarterback isn't an option.
16 Detroit Lions - Mackensie Alexander, DB, Clemson
With the two top corners off the board early, the Lions settle for 3rd best, if you can say that. Alexander has lots of potential and the combination of size and speed makes him a great fit for the Lions. The risk will pay off for the Lions as they get a corner that can shut down the opponent's best receiver. While the team has to look for Calvin Johnson's impossible-to-find replacement, they might as well take the best player on the board.
15 Atlanta Falcons - Emmanuel Ogbah, DE/DT, Oklahoma State
Sitting at dead last last year in quarterback sacks, the Falcons can't afford not to address the pass rushing position. Ogbah will become a day one starter and help the Falcons defense immensely. Him and Vic Beasley have the chance to become a great pass rushing duo. Dan Quinn said when he got to Atlanta that he wanted the Falcons to be a tough team to play against. Having a dominant young pass rush certainly would help him reach that goal.
14 Indianapolis Colts - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
With so many holes everywhere the Colts can make a pick by closing their eyes and pointing at a player. The Colts select potentially the best RB in the draft. Elliott will go on to help balance the Colts offense and even help out in the passing game due to his versatility. The Colts have been unable to establish a dominant running game for years. While part of it has been the lack of a dominant o-line, it's also because they have avoided looking for a long-term solution. It's time they address that with Elliott.
13 Buffalo Bills - Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss
Another team that is desperate for pass rushing help. Nkemdiche is a versatile player as he is able to play both the DT in a 3-4 and the end position in a 4-3. Rex Ryan loves versatility and Nkemdiche will provide the defensive minded coach with a talented pass rusher and hole stuffer. With Mario Williams now gone, it's a chance for the Bills to find players that will better fit their system. Surely, Rex Ryan will never get tired of adding pieces to his front seven.
12 New York Jets - Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky
With a dominant defensive line already in place, the Jets will be looking to maintain their dominant defense by adding a pass rusher. Spence will do just that. With a great first step off the line and high motor Spence will contribute to the Jets right away. The only thing that Spence will have to get over is the off field issues as he was kicked out of Ohio State for failing two drug tests. While he has his baggage, his potential will be too great for the Jets to pass on.
11 Washington Redskins - Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
The Redskins desperately need to help out Kirk Cousins by providing him with more weapons. Doctson was targeted 36.5% of the time in college, so he already possesses the ability and character of a lead receiver. As long as Doctson heals up from his season ending wrist injury he has the chance to build great chemistry with Cousins for time to come. The Redskins have gotten by with mediocre to average receivers but for Cousins to take that next step, he'll need better targets.
10 Houston Texans - Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
With the Texans having made a big commitment to Brock Osweiler, their previous need for a QB is gone and thus, they'll simply take possibly the best player available off the board, choosing Heismen trophy winner Derrick Henry. With Lamar Miller in town, Henry will likely back him up and form a dominant duo. With an impressive NFL ready frame and great vision he will bring balance to the offense. A team of Henry and Miller in the backfield will certainly take pressure off of Osweiler.
9 Minnesota Vikings - Darian Thompson, FS, Boise State
With Harrison Smith developing into a top tier safety under Mike Zimmer, the Vikings decide to pair him with the highest rated FS in the draft. Thompson is a ballhawk but not only that. Over his college career he recorded 19 interceptions, 242 tackles and 8.5 for a loss. Pairing him up with Smith will give the Vikings a great safety duo. Minnesota would also do some good in adding receiver help for Teddy Bridgewater, but pairing up Thompson and Smith will be too tempting to pass up.
8 Cincinnati Bengals - Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Cincinnati was loaded with weapons on the offense last season, but the Bengals might not have the capital to maintain all of them. The Bengals let Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones walk in free agency and thus will replace them with Will Fuller. With a similar build, Fuller will replace their production in the slot. He may not be as polished as all the other receivers in the draft, but don't sleep on Fuller, he will surprise you.
7 Pittsburgh Steelers - Eli Apple, DB, Ohio State
Although his last season for the Buckeyes was a hit to his stats, coaches all around the NCAA recognized Apple's ability to shut down the opposite team's best receiver. With the right coaching Apple can develop into a great corner in the NFL and Mike Tomlin will do just that. At this point in the draft, Apple would be a bit of a steal for the Steelers at no.25. The Steelers have lost a bit of their identity on defense and adding a talent like Apple will help them bounce back in the secondary.
6 Seattle Seahawks - Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
If you put on the playoff game between Seattle and Carolina, you will notice one glaring need, the offensive line. By drafting Jack Conklin the Seahawks get a versatile lineman who can be a day one started at either left or right tackle. Conklin possesses a top flight size and strength that will help him develop into a key piece along the Seahawks line. The need is even more glaring now with Russell Okung having left Seattle for the Super Bowl champion Broncos.
5 Green Bay Packers - Reggie Ragland, MLB, Alabama
The Clay Matthews experiment went as well as it could have, but the Packers draft Reggie Ragland and he will become the starter while Matthews will be moved back to his original OLB position. The winner of the SEC Defensive player of the year award is a perfect for the Packers' 3-4 scheme. Ragland possesses the perfect linebacker frame combined with his awareness and great play recognition he will make an immediate impact for the Packers Defense.
4 Kansas City - Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State
The Chiefs get lucky and have the top guard in the draft fall to them at 28. Whitehair is a very versatile lineman having played almost every position on the line through out his college career. With a high football IQ, Whitehair has a ceiling that can reach the All-Pro level. At this point in the draft, the Chiefs can add talent pretty much anywhere, but you can never have enough young talent on the offensive line. They'll want to do what they can to help Jamaal Charles bounce back from his torn ACL.
3 Arizona Cardinals - Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
At 6-foot-4, 325 pounds, Austin Johnson is a perfect fit for the Cardinals 3-4 scheme. Johnson has the quick burst for his size and the hand quickness to get off blocks. He commanded a double team almost on every play in college. If he can keep up his effort he has a chance to become a great player in the NFL level. Johnson would be walking into a very good situation, as the Cardinals have plenty of talent to surround Johnson.
2 30. Carolina Panthers - Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
With Jared Allen riding off into the sunset the Panthers look to replace his productivity. With a great reaction off the ball and massive strides, Calhoun beat a lot of tackles only using the speed rush. He will have to add more moves to his arsenal but with the raw talent in place he can be a contributor starting right away. Another possibility is the Panthers continuing to add talent at wide receiver, given how exposed they were in the Super Bowl without Kelvin Benjamin.
1 Denver Broncos - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
The defending Super Bowl champions lost Peyton Manning to retirement and Brock Osweiler to free agency. After those tough breaks, they'll get a big one with Carson Wentz falling all the way to them at no.31. Wentz has surpassed Goff on many scouts' rankings due to his prototypical size and arm strength. Wentz also scored a 40 on the Wonderlic test, the highest of all QBs at this year's combine. These are all characteristics Gary Kubiak would love in his next QB. This year's QB class isn't the strongest, but Wentz falling to 31 would be a huge break for the Broncos.
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