The McDawson Mock: 2016 Draft-Day Procrastination Edition
Well, we really cut it close this year. I’ll openly admit that I had no idea the draft started today until…Monday? So for anyone that was hoping that special guest Alec Dawson and I would make good on our promise of doing this year’s first round mock in podcast form, sorry–we just plain ran out of time.
Anyway, the NFL draft kicks off tonight in Chicago, and the first two picks seem to be pretty well decided now thanks to two massively huge pre-draft trades. Will there be more moves? Probably, but for the purposes of this mock, we didn’t account for any trades that haven’t already happened. Will there be quarterbacks drafted in the first round who don’t deserve to be drafted in the first round? Probably, but…actually, never mind. Just keep reading; you’ll get there.
On to the picks!
No. 1: Los Angeles Rams (via Titans) — Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Sean McGoey: No surprises here. If you’re trading up to No. 1, you’re trading up for a quarterback, and Goff is the most pro-ready quarterback of what seems like a kind of disappointing bunch. With the Rams moving to the bright lights of L.A., suffice it to say that there’s going to be a lot of pressure on Goff to deliver once he’s under center.
Also, it was super weird to type “Los Angeles Rams.” Just thought I should throw that out there.
No. 2: Philadelphia Eagles (via Browns) — Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Alec Dawson: What an insane last few weeks leading up to the draft. The Eagles gave up a TON of picks to land their QB of the future…and they are betting on Carson Wentz. The knock on Wentz is the competition level (he won two FCS national championships, but, you know, FCS), but his impressive showing at the Senior Bowl proved otherwise. With his athleticism and arm strength, Wentz could bring some joy back to Philly fans.
No. 3: San Diego Chargers — Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
SM: Maybe Wentz will bring joy to Philly fans (not sure if they’ve ever really experienced it), or maybe the insistence on burning every trace of the Kelly era and starting over by mortgaging the future on an FCS quarterback will irreparably damage the franchise for several years.
But that’s neither here nor there, because the Chargers are on the clock, and they are the big winners of the pre-draft trades. Tunsil was likely going first to Tennessee, but now the Chargers get probably the best (or at least the safest) player in this entire draft class at No. 3.
No. 4: Dallas Cowboys — Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State
AD: Comes down to Bosa or Ramsey here, too high for Elliott. Cowboys have quite a few needs and Ramsey should be able to help out the secondary. At 6–1/209, Ramsey follows the trend of bigger corners in the NFL. Once linked to the Titans at No. 1, there’s no way he falls out of the top-5. Too much talent for the Cowboys to pass up.
No. 5: Jacksonville Jaguars — Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
SM: Agreed that it’s too high for Zeke…but it’s Jerry, so who knows? Either way, the Jags have the kind of difficult choice at No. 5 that any team should want to have. Myles Jack or DeForest Buckner are also possibilities here, and you could see Tunsil or Ramsey if they slip just a hair, but Bosa is the man. He has a really elite motor as a defensive lineman, and the tape is outstanding–which matters so much more than his 40 time.
The only question here is how fast the Ravens sprint the Myles Jack pick to the podium, right? Jack and CJ Mosley together at linebacker is absolutely terrifying.
No. 6: Baltimore Ravens — Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
AD: Pretty damn fast.
This week, there have been talks of Jack slipping due to health concerns, but I don’t see it. On the field, I think Jack is the best player available in this draft. Two other UCLA linebackers, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, have done quite well in the NFL, but Jack is the real prize of that trio. Baltimore could return to their defensively dominant ways.
No. 7: San Francisco 49ers — Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
SM: And just like that, we go from one of the smartest picks in the first round to what is likely to be one of the dumbest.
Here’s a question: Are we sure Chip Kelly knows how to run an NFL team? The Niners probably need a QB, with Colin Kaepernick not looking long for the Bay Area, but the record of teams who have reached for the second tier of QBs in Round 1 in the last five years isn’t great. Ryan Tannehill has turned out pretty well, but need I remind you of EJ Manuel, Brandon Weeden, or the Jake Locker/Blaine Gabbert/Christian Ponder fiasco of 2011?
No. 8: Cleveland Browns (via Eagles) — Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
AD: The Browns were supposed to make a Browns pick and take Lynch! I guess they will go BPA instead?
Elliott is one of the best RB prospects to come out in quite some time and Cleveland needs some new threats for their offense. Could go offensive line here but that’s no fun.
No. 9: Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
SM: Not to mention that picking an O-lineman (presumably Ronnie Stanley?) would likely mean a Joe Thomas trade. I’m not sure I’m ready for a world in which he’s not toiling away in obscurity for the Browns.
To Tampa, though: You’ve heard all the knocks on Hargreaves before. He’s 5–10. He has short arms. Blah, blah, blah. Now for the real deal: He’s an incredibly gifted cover corner who plays bigger than he is, and he’s the kind of tough, smart player that every NFL coach wishes he had 53 of. The Bucs need secondary help bad — this is where they get it.
No. 10: New York Giants — Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
AD: I really want to stop the Buckner drop madness caused by the Lynch pick, but the Giants have bigger needs to fill. Eli Manning still needs better protection and Stanley fits the bill. Great size and long arms; the big guy from Notre Dame would start right away for the G-Men.
No. 11: Chicago Bears — DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
SM: Don’t worry, I’ll stop the Buckner drop here — no matter how much I’d love for Buckner to slip to New Orleans at 12, it’s not going to happen. He’s a terrifyingly athletic pass rusher who should be able to make an impact early on. Assuming that teams act somewhat rationally and Buckner is gone, Georgia’s Leonard Floyd is probably the pick, with Stanley and Michigan State’s Jack Conklin in play if Da Bears want to go offense.
Alright, we intentionally chose an order where neither of us are making picks for our own favorite teams. Please don’t hurt my Saints, but know that if you do, I’ll seek my revenge later on in the round.
No. 12: New Orleans Saints — Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
AD: Not sure how excited you’re gonna be for this one, but damn, that Saints line really stunk it up last year, ranking 31st in both passing and rushing defense. They need some help, fast. Shaq Lawson is still available and that might be a sexier pick, but Rankins is stout in the interior.
How you feeling, bud?
No. 13: Miami Dolphins — Eli Apple, CB, Ohio St.
SM: Couldn’t be happier. I agree 100% with your assessment of the Saints’ defense, and I happen to love Rankins–though I sneakily wouldn’t mind a trade down to snag a few extra picks and target, say, Mackensie Alexander or William Jackson III to shore up cornerback.
Speaking of cornerbacks, the Dolphins may have traded for Byron Maxwell, but to say that he was not the answer for Philly last year would be very generous. Miami still needs another corner, and Apple is one of those tall corners (6–1) that teams love so much these days.
No. 14: Oakland Raiders — Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
AD: The Raiders can’t be too happy that three defensive backs go before 14, but Floyd fell right into their laps. Another young pass rusher to pair with Khalil Mack? Sign me up. Floyd is physically ridiculous. While not having the 4.4 speed Al Davis would’ve coveted, a 4.6 40-yard dash at 6–6/244 is going to create some problems for QBs this season.
No. 15: Tennessee Titans (via Rams) — Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
SM: Don’t look now, but the Raiders are putting together a pretty strong young team; Floyd and Mack as a pass-rushing tandem is kind of terrifying.
Meanwhile, the Titans make a big move to protect Marcus Mariota. They were likely going to take Laremy Tunsil at No. 1, but the haul they got for accepting Conklin as a consolation prize is more than worth it. He’s a tough-SOB type who could play right tackle from Day 1.
No. 16: Detroit Lions — Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
AD: The Lions need some depth on the defensive line, and while tackle might be more of a need than end, Lawson is tough to pass up here. He immediately makes the Lions scary rushing the passer again. Across from Ezekiel Ansah, Lawson would round out a defensive line looking to make a statement this year.
No. 17: Atlanta Falcons — Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
SM: Linebacker is the top position of need for Atlanta, and Lee fits the bill really well. He’s speedy enough to grow into an effective coverage linebacker, and he’s an outstanding blitzer. Lawson’s also in play here, assuming that the Lions don’t take him.
No. 18: Indianapolis Colts — Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
AD: Andrew Luck has had a tough tough time in the NFL when it comes to getting hit. With a hole at right tackle, the Colts could call Decker’s name on Thursday night. Decker blocked pretty well for Elliott at Ohio State, and I believe he could do the same for Andrew Luck.
No. 19: Buffalo Bills — Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
SM: I’m going bold and cornering the market on insane QB picks here. Besides, the Browns made two straight non-terrible decisions (trading down and taking Elliott), so I feel like the Bills have to do something dumb to restore balance to the universe.
Peter King has been reporting that the Bills are interested in Hackenberg here, and while I don’t love Peter King, this is too juicy to pass up. Of course, they could also do something reasonable like draft Reggie Ragland.
No. 20: New York Jets — Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky
AD: The Jets really want to take a QB, but with four off the board already at 20, they will have to look to later rounds. Tons of value here taking Spence, who transferred from Ohio State after some off-the-field issues. The kid just sent his last twenty drug tests to all 32 NFL teams; he’s good to go.
No. 21: Washington — Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
SM: Could it be that They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named make two straight intelligent first-round picks? You thought I was crazy for giving them Brandon Scherff at 5 last year, but that’s turned out pretty well so far — he’s going to have a very long career.
You know who else is going to have a long career? Reggie Ragland. He’s surprisingly versatile, a certified Bad Motherfucker, and should probably go 10 picks higher.
No. 22: Houston Texans — Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
AD: So begins the run on wide receivers. It’s not necessarily the best class of wideouts, with every prospect being somewhat incomplete, but there’s still some potential there. Crazy to think that Treadwell isn’t going first (and no, I’m not trying to set something up), but Fuller is a great deep threat to complement the criminally underrated DeAndre Hopkins.
Speed kills…and it also moves you up in the draft.
No. 23: Minnesota Vikings — Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
SM: Crazy to think that we live in a world where DeAndre Hopkins is somehow underrated.
Anyway, you weren’t trying to set something up, but it doesn’t matter — it just happened to set up perfectly. Not all that long ago, we were talking about Treadwell as a potential top-5 pick; instead he falls to the back half of the first round, in large part due to disappointing 40 times. He’s not a burner, but that’s not a problem, because he’s a big receiver (6–2, 221) who will complement the shifty Stefon Diggs well (and because Teddy Bridgewater isn’t actually that great at throwing deep). Minnesota gets a guy who may not be a workout warrior, but he’s a football player.
No. 24: Cincinnati Bengals — Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
AD: And just like that, three wide receivers are off the board in a row. Doctson shows true big-play ability and when you watch the tape, he always goes up after the ball. His jump-ball ability makes him a great red-zone threat, and the Bengals won’t have any problem lining him up across A.J. Green.
No. 25: Pittsburgh Steelers — William Jackson III, CB, Houston
SM: It’s hard to imagine the Steelers going in any other direction besides DB here. They’d probably prefer if Eli Apple slipped a bit, but they’ll settle for a 6-foot corner with 4.37 speed in the 40. It will come in handy with some outstanding receivers on the schedule this year: Brandon Marshall, Jarvis Landry, Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr., and that Green/Doctson tandem you just mentioned.
Now we get to one of those wildcard teams that could go in a lot of different directions. I know what I would do if I were them, so let’s find out…
No. 26: Seattle Seahawks — Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
AD: Without the off-the-field concerns, Nkemdiche would be considered in the top 10. I’d probably still make this pick based solely on marijuana legality, but it also makes football sense for the Seahawks. Russell Wilson continues to run around with some subpar protection, but the value here is on the defensive side of the ball.
Last season, the Seattle defense allowed the fewest points in the NFL, but they lost Bruce Irvin and Brandon Mebane to free agency. Seattle has taken some guys with character concerns before, so Nkemdiche will be a fine fit.
No. 27: Green Bay Packers — A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
SM: That’s exactly what I would have done if I was Seattle. An anonymous NFC exec actually said that Baylor’s Shawn Oakman was “the better kid” — I sure hope that was before Oakman was arrested and charged with sexual assault (although even if it was, I still have a lot of thoughts about calling someone a bad person because they like marijuana–that’s for another time). Nkemdiche is the kind of talent that you take a chance on and hope that you’re putting him in a position to succeed.
Speaking of talented defensive tackles falling a bit in the draft, how did we let A’Shawn Robinson get this far? His stock has slid a little lately, but he’s still in play as high as, say, No. 12 to the Saints. This is such a classic Packers pick–grabbing a guy with great college pedigree at the back of the first round. Considering their love for Alabama players, if Robinson is off the board, his linemate Jarran Reed is probably next on the list.
No. 28: Kansas City Chiefs — Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
AD: Go. Hitch. Post. Slant. Those are Coleman’s four routes — and he runs them very, very fast. Coleman doesn’t necessarily have the size that Kansas City is looking to pair up with Jeremy Maclin, but he makes big plays all day. With this pick, the Chiefs are far and beyond the fastest team in the NFL.
Corner could be in play here too, but the selection is a bit thin at this point.
No. 29: New England Patriots — Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
SM: Just kidding. But while we’re talking about Ryan Kelly…
No. 29: Arizona Cardinals — Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
SM: The Cardinals keep building up their offensive line with a guy who plays one of the least sexy positions in football, but is ready to be one of the best centers in football. Kelly has drawn comparisons to Ryan Kalil, who’s entering his 10th NFL season as one of the top centers in the game, not just for how he plays, but for his football IQ and leadership abilities. At the end of the day, Kelly might have a longer NFL career than anyone else that goes in the first round.
No. 30: Carolina Panthers — Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
AD: After losing the Super Bowl, it actually feels like Carolina has more needs than the typical NFC champ. They might be pressed to go with corner after letting go of Josh Norman last week, or an offensive lineman to keep Cam off his butt, but here they grab the best pass rusher left in this draft. Dodd teaming up with Kony Ealy, Star Lotulelei, and Kawann Short gives Carolina a solid front for years to come. BPA all the way.
No 31: Denver Broncos — Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State
SM: As tempting as it is to close out the first round with yet anotherquarterback, let’s make a more reasonable pick here.
The defending Super Bowl champions lost a ton of players to free agency–including basically an entire offensive line. While they’ve rebuilt the tackle positions with Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson, guard still needs some serious work. In steps Cody Whitehair, who should be able to play early (which is good, because he might have to).
SM: Okay, that’s it–another first round in the books. How many do you think we got right this time?
AD: I think we will probably do well in the middle of the round, but maybe we let players like Buckner fall too far. Lots of teams will be wheeling and dealing throughout the draft, so expect some crazy trades if somebody like Myles Jack does indeed drop.
Overall, I like our picks, how does eight sound?
SM: I’m feeling pretty optimistic, so I’ll say 10. But unlike last year, when I was on fire early, I think you’re going to come out ahead of me. I feel like I made 100% of the crazy speculative picks, which I’m totally fine with.
Maybe next year, we’ll be organized enough to make the pod happen?
AD: We totally should.
SM: True, but that doesn’t mean we will. I guess I’ll set up a calendar notification a year in advance or something like that, so it doesn’t sneak up on me again.
-Sean McGoey and Alec Dawson