28 April 2016

2016 NFL Draft: 1st Round Grades

You and I have been counting down the days to the 2016 NFL Draft and here we are for the second straight year in Chicago. I'll be providing live coverage and grades of each and every 1st Round selection tonight so keep it here all night long.

1. Rams (from TEN) - Jared Goff, QB, California
We all know how important it is for a team to have a franchise quarterback and it has been a long time for this Rams franchise since the last time they had one. Plus, they had to make a splash in their debut season in Los Angeles. That said, they took a big risk on trading away a lot of picks to take a quarterback that I am not convinced will be a franchise quarterback. Plus, I'm not sold that Goff is the superior quarterback prospect to Carson Wentz. With Goff there is certainly plenty to like and he can be the answer under for this franchise, there is just too much risk here in my opinion.
Grade: C

2. Eagles (from CLE) - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Just like with St. Louis, I really didn't love the Eagles selling the farm in order to trade up for a guy that isn't a lock to be a franchise quarterback, especially since they've already invested in Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. So I don't love the pick, although I do like Wentz more than I like Goff. Yes he has to make that big jump from North Dakota State to the NFL but he has much of the tools that you like to see out of potential franchise quarterbacks and he played in a pro-style offense in Fargo.
Grade: C+

3. Chargers - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
I do like Bosa and I think he will turn into a pretty good NFL player but I don't love this pick for the Chargers. First off, Bosa doesn't fill as big of a need as some of the other top prospects available, and I think that Jalen Ramsey would have been a better pick considering I think he's the superior prospect and fills a bigger need. Also, what position will Bosa play in San Diego's 3-4 defense? He looks to me to be a prototypical 4-3 end but I don't know if he is big enough to be a 3-4 end or shifty and athletic enough to be an outside linebacker.
Grade: C

4. Cowboys - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Whoa, who doesn't love the running back in the top four? Now I do like Elliott a lot and he has got the skills to be a terrific running back in the NFL, plus he will fill a need as I'm not sure the Cowboys would be totally pleased to have Darren McFadden and Alf Morris as the running back tandem. But you're taking him over Jalen Ramsey, who is a superior prospect in my opinion and would fill a bigger need in the secondary? I don't love that.
Grade: B-

5. Jaguars - Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
The Jaguars took almost no time to take Ramsey and it is easy to see why. First of all even with a former defensive coordinator as their head coach, their defenses have been awful in recent years. Second, Jacksonville had needs at both safety and cornerback and depending on how they want to use Ramsey, he should be able to fill either role. And third, he is, in my opinion, the top defensive player in this draft. He looks like a star defensive back, especially at safety, and his athleticism will make him a factor wherever he plays.
Grade: A

6. Ravens - Ronnie Stanley, T, Notre Dame
I think the Ravens would have done better by taking Laremy Tunsil considering I think he's the better prospect but this is still a very solid pick. Eugene Monroe is an injury hazard at left tackle these days so the Ravens need to have some insurance for him. Stanley probably won't be all that great if you put him at right tackle but he is a terrific pass protector and his length, athleticism and agility are what you like to see from the position.
Grade: B

7. 49ers - DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon
Hey, an Oregon players gets selected by a former Oregon coach! This draft pick makes more sense that just that familiarity between Chip Kelly and Buckner as he will fill a big need along the San Francisco defensive line. The 49ers were one of the worst teams in sacking opposing quarterbacks last season and they struggled to fill the void left by the retired Justin Smith as well as by Ray McDonald. Buckner is your prototypical five technique lineman and should make an immediate impact.
Grade: A

8. Titans (from CLE via MIA & PHI) - Jack Conklin, T, Michigan State
I don't like this move by Tennessee to trade up for Conklin. Conklin was probably going to be gone by 15 and he will fill a need at right tackle opposite Taylor Lewan but he will ultimately be limited to the right side considering that he's not athletic nor quick enough to play on the left side in my opinion. He will be a good right tackle or a very good guard but I have not gotten the hype behind him. And besides, nobody should try to claim that he's a better prospect than Laremy Tunsil.
Grade: D+

9. Bears (from TB) - Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
Chicago made the move ahead of the Giants to take Floyd when I was thinking that they were moving up to take the sliding Laremy Tunsil. New York was reportedly a fan of Floyd so that makes some sense. Floyd is basically limited to playing linebacker because of his lack of size but he should excel as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme like the one the Bears employ thanks to his length and athleticism, although his struggles against the run may limit him. Chicago needs more personnel for that defense so this makes sense.
Grade: B

10. Giants - Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
I know that some folks were higher on Apple than I was (I had him more as a late first rounder) but him in the top ten? And over Vernon Hargreaves III? Apple is an athletic and a physical corner that should excel in press coverage and he has ideal size as well but my concern with him is that with his style of play, he seems like he will be a penalty machine at the next level. You can never have too many corners in today's NFL but you can't sell me on Apple over Hargreaves.
Grade: D

11. Buccaneers (from CHI) - Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
So Tampa Bay was able to move back in the draft, picked up an extra pick, and were ultimately able to take a guy that many thought they would target with the ninth pick. Hargreaves is the top cornerback in this draft and he will help fill a big hole in the Buccaneers defense. He did get burned a couple of times by either being too aggressive or falling asleep but his ball skills are terrific and his aggression will pay off for him at times.
Grade: A-

12. Saints - Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Many have linked Rankins and the Saints together during the pre-draft process and it makes sense considering how atrocious their defense has been and how bad their lines have been in recent years. Rankins has played in different defensive schemes during his time at Louisville and he is an excellent pass rusher despite being relatively undersized (you could think of him as a poor man's Aaron Donald). He also should be good enough against the run.
Grade: A-

13. Dolphins (from PHI) - Laremy Tunsil, T, Ole Miss
It really was insane that it appears that some old video of Tunsil smoking marijuana (marijuana!) posted to his hacked Twitter account helped cause what was once the prospective top overall pick to fall to 13 but hey, at least he didn't punch out somebody. This is a total steal here for the Dolphins even as they don't have a need at tackle with Brandon Albert and newly-acquired Jermon Bushrod set in place (although Albert does have injury issues). Tunsil has got the skills to be a Pro Bowl player at left tackle.
Grade: A

14. Raiders - Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
What?! I like Joseph as a safety and I think that he can be a pretty solid free safety at the next level thanks to some nice ball skills but this is way too early for him. I understand that safety is a big need for the Raiders even after signing Reggie Nelson and an impact player there for them could go a long way for Oakland having a playoff-caliber defense. But Joseph was at best an early second round prospect in my opinion.
Grade: D

15. Browns (from STL via TEN) - Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Cleveland had needs all over the roster including at receiver as Travis Benjamin signed with the Chargers in free agency while Josh Gordon is the ultimate question mark. This does seem a little early to me and the biggest concern for me with Coleman is that he didn't run any kind of NFL routes at Baylor but I don't have many qualms with him going before Laquon Treadwell. Coleman is terrific with the ball after the catch and he is a very good deep threat. Plus you got that Baylor connection with Robert Griffin III.
Grade: B

16. Lions - Taylor Decker, T, Ohio State
Detroit had one of the worst offensive lines in the league last season, allowing too many sacks of quarterback Matthew Stafford while struggling to create much in terms of running lanes. They needed an upgrade at right tackle while left tackle Riley Rieff is a free agent after next season. Decker may not have the length that you like to see from a blindside tackle but he has got the power and the agility to excel in the run game on the right side. A fine pick.
Grade: B

17. Falcons - Keanu Neal, S, Florida
I guess that this is the draft where teams are going to reach on safeties. Neal isn't a terrible player by any stretch and he has got the versatility to either play at safety or to also get some reps at linebacker, which is a big need for the Falcons. He is a big hitter and has ideal size for a safety but he was, in my humble opinion, a second-round prospect in this draft and don't forget that there are much better linebackers still available.
Grade: C-

18. Colts - Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
You know, it really is pretty crazy that Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has consistently failed to build much in terms of an offensive line in front of Andrew Luck and it really hurt them last year. This may be the sign of them turning their blocking around considering it has been years since they had quality play from the center position. Kelly has the skill-set to contribute right away thanks to his toughness, agility and intelligence.
Grade: B

19. Bills - Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
We all know where Rex Ryan focuses his attention as a head coach and with his connections to Clemson University, he should enjoy this selection. Lawson will be a good fit for Ryan's scheme and we all know that the Bills need some help with rushing the passer as they declined greatly in that aspect last season. Lawson plays with a terrific motor and is good against both the pass and the run. This is a very nice value for Buffalo.
Grade: B+

20. Jets - Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
A very solid selection for the Jets here because the linebacker position is a pretty big need for them. They struggled to get much from their inside linebackers last season despite playing behind a great defensive line and they could sorely use a playmaker. Lee may be raw but he is certainly a playmaker thanks to his athleticism and his instincts. He should make for a nice fit in Todd Bowles's defensive scheme. He may not be Myles Jack (and I do like Reggie Ragland more too) but he's a solid player.
Grade: B+

21. Texans (from WAS) - Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Fuller has been somebody that I have connected the dots to the Texans for a few weeks now and it makes sense. First of all, the team really could use a receiving threat opposite DeAndre Hopkins and second, Fuller is the kind of receiver that can excel with the strong-armed Brock Osweiler. He doesn't have natural hands and he will drop some passes but he has terrific speed and he showed an ability to go up and fight for the football in the air.
Grade: A-

22. Washington (from HOU) - Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
I thought that this pick was going to be defense all the way with either a linebacker or a defensive tackle and I really don't see the need here at the receiver position in Washington. Doctson does give Kirk Cousins a bigger receiving threat and he has both terrific hands and very good body control. Now I do understand that Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson will be free agents next offseason but still, where is the help for that terrible run defense?
Grade: C-

23. Vikings - Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
A few months ago, nobody would have expected Treadwell to be the fourth receiver taken but amid concerns about his speed and fears that he may be just a possession receiver in the NFL. But there are many tremendous possession receivers in the league and you know that Teddy Bridgewater would love to have one to throw to opposite of Stefon Diggs. He is a natural receiver and he does a great job of getting after that football even in tight coverage.
Grade: A-

24. Bengals - William Jackson III, CB, Houston
The Bengals had themselves a nice cornerback pairing of Leon Hall and Pacman Jones but while Jones will return to Cincinnati next year, Hall is still a free agent. That's a big vacancy for them and thus it makes sense that they target one of the top cornerbacks in this draft. Jackson is not the best tackling corner I have ever seen but teams love corners of his size that can run like he can. He also has very good ball skills and he played in both press and zone coverages.
Grade: B

25. Steelers - Artie Burns, CB, Miami
Both of the Steelers' starting cornerbacks were free agents this offseason but only one of them will return next season as Brandon Boykin signed in Carolina. This may be a little early for Burns and I preferred Mackenzie Alexander but I could see why a team would be intrigued by this Hurricane. After all, he is a sensational athlete with the length and speed that makes secondary coaches drool but his tape at Miami was pretty average. He will need a lot of polish to make it in the NFL.
Grade: C-

26. Broncos (from SEA) - Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Eventually, the Broncos were going to have to add a quarterback not named Mark Sanchez and thus, many thought it would come in this draft. And with Lynch available this late in the first round, it made plenty of sense for the team to trade up ahead of teams like Kansas City and Arizona to take him. Lynch is not going to be able to play right away, he needs too much work as he lacks much experience in playing in anything like an NFL offense. But the talent is clearly there.
Grade: A-

27. Packers - Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Was so ready for the Packers to take Myles Jack here but alas, they went with another UCLA product. And while there are better tackles on the board, including the Alabama duo of Jarron Reed and A'Shawn Robinson, Clark does help fill a void left by the retiring B.J. Raji. Clark is terrific with stuffing the run and he uses his wrestling background to generate leverage on opposing linemen. He doesn't turn 21 until October so he may not be an immediate contributor, however.
Grade: B-

28. 49ers (from KC) - Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford
Who would have thought that the 49ers would have traded back into the first round and not take a quarterback and instead take a guard? Chip Kelly is certainly not conventional. San Francisco lost guard Alex Boone in free agency and so there was a need at the position, and Zane Beadles probably wasn't going to be the answer, plus they were not good running the football last year. Garnett's strengths all come in the running game so that will help but he can really struggle in pass protection.
Grade: C

29. Cardinals - Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
Remember when Nkemdiche was the Ole Miss product with the character concerns? Bruce Arians and the Cardinals have taken chances on guys with some question marks in the past and they have been able to make it work. This is a great pick but only if Nkemdiche wants it because his tape at times was inconsistent in Oxford. He has got the talent to be a true force in the passing game and he should help replace Darnell Dockett on their defensive line.
Grade: A-

30. Panthers - Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
I mean, it's not like the Panthers have a big need at offensive tackle or at cornerback. That said, it is a nice value pick and there is some need here considering that Kawann Short will be a free agent next offseason. Butler can certainly make an impact in stuffing the run at the next level with his strength and athleticism but just not right away since he is raw and needs more reps. What will be interesting to see is if he develops any kind of pass rush.
Grade: B-

31. Seahawks (from DEN) - Germain Ifedi, G/T, Texas A&M
This is actual a match I predicted in my final mock draft, so there's that. There is no question that the Seahawks need help on their offensive line at both guard and tackle and Ifedi may be able to play either position. Ifedi is a terrific athlete and he has got the physical tools that will make a scout drool. He is pretty raw and probably should have stayed in school another year but if there is any coach that should be able to get the most out of him, Tom Cable should be it.
Grade: B

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