The NFL Draft is on April 28 for this year. This is the event in which fans look forward to their team picking college athletes that will help make an immediate impact and shape the future landscape of the team. Below are my first round predictions for this year’s draft. Note that the New England Patriots do not own a first round pick this year due to their role in “Deflate Gate,” which does not seem to be going away anytime soon, but that’s a topic for a whole other article. Follow me on Twitter @S_Rogust93, I’ll be live tweeting during the draft giving opinions. Join the fun! Anyway, here are my predictions.
1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff (6’4″, 215 lbs), QB, California (Junior). Los Angeles made a trade with the Tennessee Titans, essentially giving away a king’s ransom of five draft picks for the next two years for this year’s #1 draft pick. The Rams are moving back to Los Angeles, so they need a new face of the franchise. Goff has great arm strength and has the ability to win games.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz (6’5″, 237 lbs), QB, North Dakota State (Senior). The Eagles also made the move up the draft board in order to take a future starting QB. The Eagles traded five draft picks over the next three years to the Cleveland Browns for the #2 draft pick. Although lacking arm strength, Wentz is the most all around QB in this year’s draft. However, with QB Sam Bradford on the roster, this gives Wentz one or two seasons to be groomed as the next starter.
3. San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner (6’7″, 291 lbs), DE, Oregon (Senior). Defense was a weak point for the Chargers last season. Buckner is the best overall defensive lineman in this year’s draft. Buckner’s presence will be a positive for San Diego’s defense.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey (6’1″, 209 lbs), CB, Florida State (Junior). The Cowboys could go QB or RB, but they have to fortify the defense. Ramsey will provide an upgrade to the Cowboy’s CB’s, who have been burned by the deep pass last season.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack (6’1, 245 lbs), OLB, UCLA (Junior). Jaguars have a lot of potential to become a serious playoff contender next season. The acquisition of Malik Jackson and the return of last year’s first round pick Dante Fowler doesn’t make the defensive line a necessity in the first round. Jack gives the Jaguars a legitimate starter at the linebacker position.
6. Baltimore Ravens: Laremy Tunsil (6’5″, 310 lbs), OT, Mississippi (Junior). Draft scouts ranked Tunsil the #1 overall player in this year’s draft. Due to the trade between the Titans and Rams, this prevents Tunsil from being the first player drafted. However, this a gift for the Ravens, whose offensive line needs to protect the QB and RB. Starting QB Joe Flacco and RB Justin Forsett were both lost to season ending injuries due to the ineffectiveness of the O-line. Tunsil solves this problem.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Ronnie Stanley (6’6″, 312 lbs), OT, Notre Dame (Senior). A strong offensive line was a key to the 49ers success a couple of seasons ago. Stanley helps bolster up the line and helps give Colin Kaepernick, or whoever the starter may be, more time in the pocket to make plays.
8. Cleveland Browns: Joey Bosa (6’5″, 269 lbs), DE, Ohio State (Junior). The Browns made a trade with the Eagles and stock piled on draft picks. Bosa is an explosive defensive lineman who pretty much fits anywhere on the line and even linebacker. Bosa is too great of a player for the Browns to pass up on.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves (5’10”, 204 lbs), CB, Florida (Junior). Tampa’s defense was pretty solid last season. Hargreaves is a great piece to bolster up the secondary.
10. New York Giants: Leonard Floyd (6’6″, 244 lbs), OLB, Georgia (Junior). Giants made a splash on defense this offseason, spending a total of $105 million in guaranteed money on free agents Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Janoris Jenkins. However, the Giants have not addressed the issue in finding an all-caliber starting linebacker. Giants need some speed in their defense. Floyd will gladly oblige and help get to the opposing QB
11. Chicago Bears: Reggie Ragland (6’1″, 247 lbs), ILB, Alabama (Senior). Ragland is notorious for stopping the run and putting him in the middle of the field will do wonders for the Bears.
12. New Orleans Saints: A’Shawn Robinson (6’4″, 307 lbs), DT, Alabama (Junior). A pure big man that can bolster up the interior of the defensive line. Saints were one of the worst defensive teams in the league last season, so Robinson will help on his end.
13. Miami Dolphins: Ezekiel Elliott (6’0″, 225 lbs), RB, Ohio State (Junior). Elliott is being billed as the most complete RB in this year’s draft class. After losing a disgruntled Lamar Miller to free agency, adding Elliott can help bring a new identity to Miami’s offense. Don’t be surprised if Miami trades up the draft board to secure Elliott on their team.
14. Oakland Raiders: William Jackson III (6’0”, 189 lbs), CB, Houston (Senior). After losing CB Charles Woodson to retirement, there is a gap in Oakland’s secondary. Jackson possesses the height and speed to run and make a play on the football, which is a great fit in today’s NFL.
15. Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin (6’6″, 308 lbs), OT, Michigan State (Junior). The Titans made out like bandits in the trade with the Rams. Although they are moving back 14 slots in the first round, they earn 5 of LA’s picks the next two drafts. Conklin helps bolster the offensive line, which was Tennessee’s plan from the get go to protect rising star QB Marcus Mariota. Conklin brings the O-line must needed strength.
16. Detroit Lions: Taylor Decker (6’7”, 310 lbs), OT, Ohio State (Senior). QB Matthew Stafford had trouble staying upright in the pocket. Although Decker is not at the same level as fellow O-lineman in this year’s draft as Tunsil, Stanley, and Conklin, he brings stability to the line, which is what Detroit needs.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Kevin Dodd (5’7″, 277 lbs), DE, Clemson (Junior). Dodd has the ability to get to the QB, so he’d be a great fit in a rushing QB division in the NFC South. Dodd will be able to cause problems for Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Jameis Winston.
18. Indianapolis Colts: Cody Whitehair (6’4″, 301 lbs), OG, Kansas State (Senior). The Colts offensive line was dreadful last season. The Colts had to go through five different QB’s after injuries to starter Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck, and Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehair helps protect Luck in the pocket so he’s not running for his life like he did last season.
19. Buffalo Bills: Robert Nkemdiche (6’3″, 294 lbs), DT, Mississippi (Junior). Nkemdiche helped turn around Mississippi’s program during his college tenure. Nkemdiche will fit well in Rex Ryan’s defensive minded scheme and bolster the defensive line after they cut ties with Mario Williams in the offseason.
20. New York Jets: Paxton Lynch (6’7″, 244 lbs), QB, Memphis (Junior). With the uncertainty of signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to a new contract, drafting Lynch will be a good safety blanket. His tall stature and athleticism makes him a dual threat QB of the future for the Jets.
21. Washington Redskins: Laquon Treadwell (6’2″, 221 lbs), WR, Mississippi (Junior). Treadwell is viewed as the top WR in a deep draft class. Treadwell brings QB Kirk Cousins a new vertical threat to throw to.
22. Houston Texans: Will Fuller (6’0″, 186 lbs), WR, Notre Dame (Junior). Texans need a complimentary WR for star DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller brings speed that can help break coverage on the deep pass
23. Minnesota Vikings: Corey Coleman (5’11”, 194 lbs), WR, Baylor (Junior). Coleman brings Teddy Bridgewater a new target. Coleman is one of the top playmakers in this draft, which will greatly benefit the Vikings’ passing game.
24. Cincinatti Bengals: Josh Doctson (6’2″, 202 lbs), WR, Texas Christian University (Senior). The Bengals lost both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu to free agency, leaving the Bengals with A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert in the passing game. Doctson height gives him the advantage against opposing secondary’s to go up and get the ball.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Eli Apple (6’1″, 199 lbs), CB, Ohio State (Sophomore). The Steelers greatest need is at cornerback. Apple has the size and strength to hold his own against physical receivers.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Le’Raven Clark (6’5″, 316 lbs), OT, Texas Tech (Senior). With the loss of Russell Okung to free agency, Seahawks need a suitable replacement on the offensive line. Clark has great foot quickness and arm length to stop the opposing defender.
27. Green Bay Packers: Sheldon Rankins (6’1″, 299 lbs), DT, Louisville (Senior). With the Packers losing long time defensive lineman B.J. Raji to retirement, Rankins is a powerful and quick edge rusher that can help get to the QB.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Andrew Billings (6’1″, 311 lbs), NT, Baylor (Junior). Billings’ outstanding strength gives the Chiefs a threat at the center of an already impressive defensive line.
29. Arizona Cardinals: Shaq Lawson (6’3″, 269 lbs), DE, Clemson (Junior). Lawson brings the Cardinals power and instincts to help set the tone on defense.
30. Carolina Panthers: Mackensie Alexander (5’10”, 190 lbs), CB, Clemson (Sophomore). Alexander is not at the prototypical height for a CB, but he helps his case with being tough in man coverage against receivers. Alexander helps bring depth to Carolina’s secondary, who just lost CB Josh Norman to the Redskins after rescinding his franchise tag, realizing they could not meet his financial demands.
31. Denver Broncos: Emmanuel Ogbah (6’4″, 273 lbs), DE, Oklahoma State (Junior). Some say the Broncos should go for a QB, but with a potential trade with the 49ers for QB Colin Kaepernick, they should bolster up their defensive line to solidify their stake in having the best defense in all of football. Ogbah brings power that will help against the run and has the potential to become a productive pass rusher.
WR: Wide Receiver
OT: Offensive Tackle
OG: Offensive Guard
DE: Defensive End
DT: Defensive Tackle
NT: Nose Tackle
ILB: Inside Linebacker
OLB: Outside Linebacker