Just The West 2016 Final Mock Draft
[dropcap]It’s Draft Day Eve so I’ve put more time to consider my picks for this year’s Final Just The West Mock Draft. Last year, I actually got more picks right versus ESPN Draft guru Mel Kiper so I’ll be very intrigued to see how my mock draft stacks up against the experts this year. — J.W.[/dropcap]
1. Rams — Jared Goff QB California***
Jared Goff has been strongly linked to the Rams for the top pick. Not only is he the highest rated quarterback on my board but he’s probably the most NFL ready between him and Carson Wentz which is important when you consider he’ll most likely be starting sooner than later in this scenario. Goff exhibits pocket presence and is still young enough to fill into his skinny frame. With the move to Los Angeles, the Rams now have a franchise quarterback to move forward within the NFC West.
2. Eagles — Carson Wentz QB North Dakota State
Carson Wentz has better tangibles than Goff but needs far more coaching as he adjusts to a pro style offense. Not a problem in this situation where he’ll be groomed by a quarterback-centric staff with Sam Bradford (hopefully) and Chase Daniels atop the depth chart to hold the reigns until his time is ready. Wentz’s strong arm and surprising athleticism gives him a higher ceiling than Goff — if he ever realizes his potential.
3. Chargers — DeForest Buckner DE Oregon
I was tempted to put Laremy Tunsil at this slot but with already $20M+ invested at the tackle position, the Chargers opt to go for the prototypical 3–4 defensive end. DeForest Buckner is a Pro Football Focus favorite and was one of college football’s most active linemen in the country.
4. Cowboys — Ezekiel Elliot RB Ohio State
The Cowboys haven’t had a top-five selection in ages but they’re not your typical lottery team — they’re in win-now mode. Despite an amazing offensive line, the Cowboys paid the price last season with lackluster running back play. F*ck that, I’m getting the best running back prospect with scouting reports that compare Elliot to the likes of Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley. It’s a defensive line heavy draft so I’ll address the front seven later.
5. Jaguars — Jalen Ramsey CB/S Florida State
The Jaguars invested heavily in their pass rush with last year’s top pick DE Dexter Fowler returning from injury and DT Marlin Jackson acquired via free agency. Jaguars’ HC Gus Bradley would love to replicate his former Seahawks’ Legion of Boom by drafting this year’s top defensive back. Ramsey is a versatile playmaker in the mold of Cardinals’ DB Tyrann Mathieu.
6. Ravens — Laremy Tunsil OT Ole Miss
Laremy Tunsil — once projected as the top overall pick — slides here because of the earlier draft trades and the Ravens are thrilled to nab this blue chip prospect. The Ravens lost one of their better OL in Kelechi Osemele earlier this offseason. Tunsil is an athletic tackle prospect with ideal footwork.
7. 49ers — Ronnie Stanley OT Notre Dame***
The 49ers could seriously look at a quarterback like Paxton Lynch but it’s just too much of a reach in value at this point. Instead, I’m opting for Ronnie Stanley to bolster a revamped 49ers’ line. Stanley has all the tangibles needed to be groomed into an elite left tackle and will already be able to contribute on the right side after the 49ers struggled to replace Anthony Davis with Eric Pears last season.
8. Browns — Jack Conklin OT Michigan State
Jack Conklin has been rising up draft boards in recent weeks thanks to his physicality with a high floor to contribute immediately on either side of the line. Considered by some as the safer tackle prospect, Conklin would be a great building block for the new Browns front office after letting RT Mitchell Schwartz and C Alex Mack leave in free agency. Given their current quarterback situation with Robert Griffin III slated to start the season, they’ll probably need to keep him healthy.
9. Buccanneers — Joey Bosa DE Ohio State
Joey Bosa falls here in this scenario and the Buccaneers are thrilled to pick him up as an ideal 4–3 DE prospect to bolster their pass rush. Bosa may never be a double-digit sack producer but his active motor will be a major asset along the defensive line. Bosa can be lined up all around the field in J.J. Watt fashion.
10. Giants — Myles Jack OLB UCLA
Injury concerns be damned, Myles Jack is a sideline-to-sideline playmaker that would fit well in any scheme. The Giants typically don’t draft linebackers but given how tumultuous their defense was last year, they would be inclined to make an exception for Jack. Only time will tell as to how Jack’s injury history affects his long-term future in the NFL.
11. Bears — Leonard Floyd OLB/DE Georgia
Leonard Floyd is another high-rising draft prospect whose athleticism could actually translate him to become a better pass rusher in the pros versus his time in Georgia. The Bears need immediate help in the front seven and DC Vic Fangio would love to have a prospect like Floyd coming off the edge in his 3–4 scheme.
12. Saints — Darron Lee OLB Ohio State
With major needs everywhere in their defense, the Saints get front seven help after striking out on Junior Galette. Lee is a former quarterback and safety so it’s not one wonder why he’s considered one of the most athletic prospects in this draft. He is a great 4–3 OLB prospect whose speed and overall game will translate well.
13. Dolphins — Shaq Lawson DE Clemson
The Dolphins were rumored to be high on Ezekiel Elliot after losing starting running back Lamar Miller in free agency. In this scenario, the Dolphins nab another pass rusher to replace Olivier Vernon. Lawson was extremely productive both against the pass and run in college and should be a good all-around player in the NFL.
14. Raiders — Vernon Hargreaves III CB Miami (Fl.)
Vernon Hargreaves slips out of the top-10 because he doesn’t have ideal measurables in both height and arm length. Nonetheless, Hargreaves excels in man coverage and plays with a nasty streak that would bode well for a Raiders defense in need of immediate help in the secondary. One of the more consistent defensive backs in college, the Raiders would be thrilled should he land at this spot.
15. Titans — Taylor Decker OT Ohio State
It’s important that the Titans continue to invest in their franchise quarterback with better pass protection. Taylor Decker is a high floor tackle prospect that can slide to either side but will likely become a mainstay for the Titans at right tackle with Lewan Taylor slated to start on the left side. All in all, that’s potentially two bookend tackles protecting Marcus Mariota for a very long time.
16. Lions — Sheldon Rankins DT Louisville
The Lions’ defensive interior is getting long in the tooth and in need of an immediate upgrade since they lost Ndamukong Suh. Sheldon Rankins is the top defensive tackle in the draft with sneaky explosiveness which compliments nicely with Ziggy Ansah on the outside.
17. Falcons — Kevin Dodd DE Clemson
A bit raw in experience, Kevin Dodd reminds me of Seahawks’ Michael Bennett which is exactly the angle Falcons’ HC Dan Quinn is envisioning with this selection. Dodd already has the ideal NFL frame — he just needs to get coached up. Pairing Dodd with last year’s top pick Vic Beasley should be good building blocks for the defense.
18. Colts — Ryan Kelly C Alabama
The Colts don’t get cute with the pick — unlike years past — and draft the top center on the board to protect Andrew Luck. Kelly is a rare center prospect teams would have no problem selecting in the top half of the first round. It’s just no-nonsense selection.
19. Bills — Jarren Reed DT Alabama
Jarren Reed is the best run defender among defensive linemen in this draft class which would be perfect for Rex Ryan’s defense. I think he’s a safer prospect than his college teammate A’Shawn Robinson. The Bills could also get another pass rusher after letting Mario Williams go to the Miami Dolphins.
20. Jets — Paxton Lynch QB Memphis
Ryan Fitzpatrick remains unsigned and Geno Smith isn’t the answer at quarterback so this should not come as a surprise if you really think about it. Paxton Lynch has the same tangibles that scouts are raving about in Carson Wentz — but comes at half the draft day price. Similar to Wentz, Lynch is considered more of a project player as he translates his skills to the pro game.
21. Redskins — Reggie Ragland ILB Alabama
Redskins’ GM Scot McCloughan pleasantly addressed the secondary last week with the acquisition of Josh Norman and continues to fortify the defense with a thumper in Reggie Ragland. Ragland doesn’t have the same athleticism as former McClouphan draft pick Patrick Willis but he should be a great building block in the middle of this defense.
22. Texans — Will Jackson III CB Houston
The Texans address the wide receiver position later and instead build on last year’s top pick, Kevin Johnson, to bolster back end of this defense. Jackson is a bigger defensive back prospect at 6'0" with excellent balls skills; was very productive in college.
23. Vikings — Josh Doctston WR TCU
Josh Doctson becomes the first receiver selected in the first round because the kid flat out made plays in traffic this year. Unlike Cordarrelle Patterson, Doctson is already an excellent route runner and should be another asset to pair with Stefon Diggs for Teddy Bridgewater.
24. Bengals — Eli Apple CB Ohio State
Everyone thinks the Bengals have to get another receiver after losing Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones via free agency but the Bengals always nab cornerbacks early in the first round. Adam Jones is already 32 years old so they’ll likely want to groom another prospect in the interim. Apple is a tall corner ideally suited to cover the opposition’s bigger receivers along the outside.
25. Steelers — Karl Joseph S West Virginia
The Steelers got lit up in coverage last year and look address the secondary early with an extremely productive safety in college whose draft stock has been trending upward in recent weeks. While Joseph is coming off an ACL injury, he’s a fierce hitter that flies all over the field and provides instant leadership.
26. Seahawks — Robert Nkemdiche DT Ole Miss***
Character concerns are an obvious red flag with Robert Nkemdiche but the Seahawks take the risk because he’s a top-10 talent. Brandon Mebane left via free agency to the San Diego Chargers while Jordan Hill has been hurt so it makes sense for the Seahawks to take a gamble on a prospect like Nkemdiche this late in the draft. The Seahawks could also use help on the offensive line in a major way after losing Russell Okung.
27. Packers -A’Shawn Robinson DT Alabama
The Packers always draft the trenches early and continue that trend with A’Shawn Robinson, an excellent prospect they can get coached up with B.J. Raji now retired. Robinson may not be as polished as his teammate Jarren Reed but he has more upside to become an ideal two-gapper for the Packers’ run defense.
28. Chiefs -Laquon Treadwell WR Ole Miss
Laquon Treadwell’s draft stock slides here due to concerns about his speed at the next level. I think this makes a bit more sense for the Chiefs to nab him because it’s not like Alex Smith and Co. attack down field anyways right? Treadwill is a great all around receiver that compliments well to what the Chiefs do with Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce. The value is just too good to pass up at this point.
29. Cardinals — Noah Spence DE/OLB Eastern Kentucky***
The Arizona Cardinal are all-in this season and double down with another pass rusher to join Chandler Jones on the revamping effort. Spence has questions marks with two failed drug tests in the past but has tried his best since to be accountable for his actions moving forward. A team like the Cardinals — who took a risk with Tyrann Mathieu — will likely roll the dice again on one of the more intriguing 3–4 draft prospects.
30. Panthers — Corey Coleman WR Baylor
I know the Panthers typically use their top pick to address the front seven but after watching Tedd Ginn Jr. drop several would-be touchdown catches this season, the Panthers need to upgrade the receiving corps for Cam Newton. Coleman has great straight line speed to draw coverages over the top and compliment perfectly with Kelvin Benjamin.
31. Broncos — Connor Cook QB Michigan State
As of now, the Broncos still have Mark Sanchez slated as their starting quarterback which is worrisome. Connor Cook is a four-year, battle-tested quarterback that comes from a pro-style offense. Honestly, he has all the tools needed to succeed at the next level but just hasn’t broken through yet — if he ever will.