1. Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California – Los Angeles gets the new face of the franchise with the first overall selection. They gave up a lot to get here, and Goff is the choice to step in immediately and lead them in their new home.
2. Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State – The Rams selection is just fine with the Eagles, who get the player they covet at number two. Wentz might not be ready to start on week one, which is just fine with Doug Pederson. After Sam Bradford’s trade demands, who Wentz will be backing up when the season begins is up in the air.
3. Chargers: Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State – With their pick of any player outside the two quarterbacks, there is suddenly rumbling that San Diego is looking hard at Ronnie Stanley here. Ramsey fills a need in the secondary and will create just as many plays while the ball is in the air as a pass rusher would beforehand.
4. Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State – Dallas no longer has the quandary of selecting a quarterback here, so now the question becomes whether they will be the first team to look towards Ezekiel Elliott. Last off-season’s quest for Adrian Peterson leaves no doubt they covet a star running back. In the end, Bosa becomes the first Ohio Stater off the board and becomes the scariest pass rusher the Cowboys have had since Demarcus Ware.
5. Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA – There are more questions surfacing about Jack’s recovery from his knee injury and his future outlook. It will come down to a team-by-team appraisal, and if Jacksonville clears him, they’ll be happy to add a dynamic defender to all the talent they’re stockpiling on offense.
6. Ravens: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon – Baltimore seems bent on upgrading the pass rush this draft and if Bosa is off the board Buckner becomes the best way to do it. A year after Arik Armstead went to the 49ers, towering Oregon defensive lineman are becoming the norm in the first round.
7. 49ers: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi – Chip Kelly began his tenure in Philadelphia by selecting Lane Johnson fourth overall. He should be happy to find the player many thought would be the first off the board to Tennessee falling into his lap at seventh.
8. Browns: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame – As mentioned above, some teams are higher on Stanley than Tunsil. If the Browns are one of those, then that trade with the Eagles worked out pretty darn well. If they aren’t, they could always trade further down. Keep an eye on this spot as the first potential landing spot for Paxton Lynch as well.
9. Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida – The Buccaneers still have this pick. Hargreaves is still ultra-talented, not to mention local. It’s a match made in heaven. The best team in the NFC South just lost the division’s best cornerback. Now the worst team will have one that might be the best in the draft.
10. Giants: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State – The Giants aren’t the most-discussed landing spot for Elliott, but if he makes it past the Cowboys he may simply be too good to pass up. Besides, if you want more help blocking for Eli, Elliott fills that role as well as any running back you could find. No remaining players at need spots – tackle, wide receiver – stack up to the talent and impact Elliott provides.
11. Bears: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia – The Bears are also a major player for Elliott, but with the running back off the board they look to Floyd, who is flying up draft boards and mock drafts around the country. It’s about time the Bears were associated with some star linebackers again, and Floyd has the athleticism to make that happen.
12. Saints: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson – There are rumors the Saints were exploring trade options for the number one pick before the Rams took it. If that’s the case and their reasoning was to move for a quarterback, Paxton Lynch could be another possibility here. Lawson immediately upgrades a defense and pass rush that are in desperate need of it, however.
13. Dolphins: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State – Another team potentially sad to see Elliott go in the top ten, and another team that will content itself with one of the draft’s late risers. The Dolphins have a need at cornerback, and already dropped from eighth to 13th in the draft to work on filling it by acquiring Byron Maxwell. Apple will shore up the opposite side and give Miami a big corner in Maxwell’s mold.
14. Raiders: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville – The Raiders don’t immediately need help on the inside of their defensive line, but Rankins represents a kind of defensive tackle they don’t currently have: nimble and able to quickly get after the passer. Expect the Raiders to pick the best talent available to them, and in this draft, defensive line is where that talent is stocked.
15. Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State – The Titans will have done pretty well for themselves to still address offensive tackle here and take the load of picks the Rams gave them to the bank. Conklin is ready to step in and play from day one, and pretty great value in this draft.
16. Lions: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson – The Lions could look for help along the offensive line here, but the first round is much more loaded on the defensive side of the line, and that’s where they’ll turn for help, making Dodd the second Clemson edge-rusher to go off the board in the first. Replacing Calvin Johnson (yeah, right) with their choice of any available wide receiver will also be tempting.
17. Falcons: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State – The thought process and position are the same as our last mock draft, only the player is different. Lee is athletic enough to help the Falcons on every facet of defense, and Dan Quinn will make the best use of him. Make him the fourth Ohio State player to come off the board in the first round.
18. Colts: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State – Protecting Andrew Luck is still priority number one, and the Colts have to feel relieved if Decker is still here, as the number of tackles with a first round grade on them is much less this year than in 2015. They could still look for a pass rusher or run stuffer, but let’s keep that franchise quarterback upright.
19. Bills: Robert Nkedimche, DT, Mississippi – One of the drafts’ highest touted prospects a year ago, Nkedimche’s stock has fallen after character concerns and a lack of elite production. Still, he’s the kind of cog Rex Ryan wouldn’t hesitate to slot into his defensive machine, concerns notwithstanding.
20. Jets: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis – They still haven’t managed to come to terms with Ryan Fitzpatrick, leaving them with Geno Smith at quarterback. Ideally, Lynch wouldn’t have the franchise put on his shoulders from the start, and they could get a little more leverage in the Fitzpatrick negotiations. There’s still talent here on the defensive line, but the Jets already have a glut at the position.
21. Redskins: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama – Well, Josh Norman’s sudden signing put a rest to any immediate need for a cornerback. That leaves Washington free to have their pick of the ultra-talented defensive lineman remaining in the draft. Reed is as full of potential as any of them, and would help solidify their run at a second straight division title.
22. Texans: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor – A lot of things have changed since our last mock. The next few picks aren’t one of them. These teams and wide receivers all make perfect sense, as does the Texans kicking things off with Coleman, a burner to place opposite DeAndre Hopkins.
23. Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi – Treadwell, similarly, makes perfect sense in Minnesota, and gives Teddy Bridgewater the every-down possession target the offense needs to have when teams double down on stopping Adrian Peterson.
24. Bengals: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU – The Bengals position in the draft is perfectly timed to replace Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, which is fortunate, because otherwise they’d have to worry about reaching for need if they wanted to maintain the offensive momentum they built up last season.
25. Steelers: William Jackson III, CB, Houston – Jackson and the Steelers still seem like a perfect fit. Their front office has taken a keen interest in his workouts, they need help at the position, he’s one of the best players available. As long as Jackson is still on the board here, this pick seems set.
26. Seahawks: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State – The Seahawks need help along the offensive line. They need it more immediately at tackle, but Whitehair provides a pedigreed starter along the interior that will push the rest of the line to get better. Drafting a Wildcat worked out for them in 2015, when they took Tyler Lockett in the third round.
27. Packers: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama – Ragland racks up the tackles, and the Packers need someone besides Clay Thompson to start doing that on their defense. They’ve seen a linebacker exodus in recent seasons, with the most notable departure being A.J. Hawk. This is a case of need meets best player available.
28. Chiefs: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame – Adding Jeremy Maclin to the Chiefs’ offense in 2015 provided a much needed vertical dimension and, finally, some touchdowns from a wide receiver. Bringing Fuller in would help the good times keep rolling, and Andy Reid is no stranger to drafting receivers (including Maclin) in the first round. They could look towards the secondary, and at Mackensie Alexander here also.
29. Cardinals: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky – Does Spence – who transferred from Ohio State to Eastern Kentucky – count as an Ohio State player? If he does, the Buckeyes have just had their sixth player selected, tying Miami’s first round record set in 2004. If he doesn’t (and he doesn’t) they’ll have to hope Michael Thomas or Braxton Miller show up soon.
30. Panthers: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson – The state of cornerback has certainly changed quickly in Charlotte. Losing Josh Norman will do that. Fortunately for the Panthers, nabbing Alexander here would be some great value and give them a cornerback ready to step in and fill Norman’s spot in the lineup, if not necessarily his shoes.
31. Broncos: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama – Alas, Paxton Lynch wasn’t still on the board. For now, Broncos fans will have to content themselves with Mark Sanchez, and a fantastic defensive tackle. The tackle doesn’t even have to be Robinson, there are still so many great ones left we couldn’t even fit them all in the first round. Stay tuned.