Mel Kiper wrote:
Welcome to another draft season. I've been ranking this class officially on the site since May, but I know many of you don't consider draft season officially underway until mock drafts start popping up.http://espn.go.com/nfl/insider/story/_/ ... t-2016-nfl
A few reminders at this (very) early stage in the game. For one, NFL personnel folks are still really early in their evaluations. Nobody has a draft board yet, and we still have postseason all-star games, combine testing, medicals and individual workouts to get through. Drafting for need isn't a great idea in most cases -- GMs really do mean it most of the time when they say, "We took the best player available" -- and I'm especially leery of making need the big issue here. Every team has at least a dozen roster moves to make (and for some, twice that), and there's also free agency. "Need" isn't a clear term yet. Lastly, there could still be an underclassmen or two who decides to jump into the draft. That said, off we go.
A player with an asterisk next to his name has a year of eligibility remaining. Two asterisks implies two years.
1. Tennessee Titans
*Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio St.
Getting the best defensive lineman in any draft really transcends need. Every team wants great D-linemen, and Bosa has the upside of a star. He's a dominant pass-rusher who piled up 51.0 tackles for loss over three seasons despite running into a steady supply of double-teams, and he's also outstanding against the run. You can move him around on the line at will. The son of a former first-round pick, he comes in ready to contribute.
2. Cleveland Browns
*Jared Goff, QB, Cal
It goes without saying the Browns need to take a hard look at quarterbacks, and Hue Jackson should have the chance to start fresh with someone other than Johnny Manziel. Goff has tremendous talent and upside. He has shown off an NFL arm since he arrived at Cal and has a great mind for the game. He has also shown how resilient he can be, growing with and leading that team at Cal, which would be a great trait in Cleveland.
3. San Diego Chargers
*Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Ken Whisenhunt is back at offensive coordinator for the Chargers, and the immediate need for this team is going to be figuring out a way to keep Philip Rivers upright. Injuries have decimated the Chargers' offensive line, and adding Tunsil means they get an immediate starter. This kid is a flat-out gifted left tackle prospect, the kind of player who could go No. 1 overall to Tennessee. Get him here and you'll be pleased.
4. Dallas Cowboys
DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
It's rare to find a team picking No. 4 overall that can genuinely say, "We're in win-now mode." But the Cowboys get a healthy Tony Romo back, so that's a fair statement. If Greg Hardy isn't back, Buckner is a great fit. You get a 6-foot-7, 290-pound defensive end who can put a tackle on skates right into his own quarterback. The No. 1 thing you love about Buckner: major motor. He plays hard. He could have been taken relatively early last year, but came back and put an exclamation point on it.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
*Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida St.
The best player available here, Ramsey is a great corner or a great safety, a fit in any secondary given his skill set and incredible athleticism. Those athlete credentials? Well, consider that he's long-jumping at roughly an Olympic level in, essentially, a second sport that he really can't commit to full-time. A worthy top-five talent in the secondary.
6. Baltimore Ravens
*Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
In another year Stanley would be worthy to be the first offensive tackle taken, but Tunsil gets the nod in this class. Stanley was a gifted but inconsistent player last year, and he decided to go back, which is going to work out well for him. This year, the talent is still obvious, and he was better technically, and it showed. Baltimore can't pass on a potential left tackle with Stanley's upside here given the state of the O-line, not to mention with Joe Flacco coming back from an injury.
7. San Francisco 49ers
*Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
This is a spot where you can see the quarterback position coming into play -- or a number of positions given what happened to this roster over the past 12 months -- but if the 49ers decide to build around a QB currently on the roster with the hopes of being more competitive in 2016 (something starting a rookie QB won't help) then Treadwell could really help the offense. He has a ton of experience as a true No. 1 and against top defenses, and brings size, hands, physicality and potential for early returns.
8. Miami Dolphins
*Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Lawson led college football in tackles for loss with 25.5, and Miami should add another edge-rusher because Olivier Vernon is about to become extremely expensive if he can even be kept around as an unrestricted free agent. Lawson is just extremely consistent in his ability to beat tackles and make plays.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
*Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
This is just a truly gifted cover man, with the ability to press or play off and really just mirror a pass-catcher all over the place. He's been doing it since he arrived in Gainesville. The Bucs do have a need at cornerback, but there isn't a team in the NFL that wouldn't want this kind of talent on the roster.
10. New York Giants
*Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
I'll hear for the 100th time that the Giants don't draft linebackers in the first round. I'll point out that this is a good year to consider it, not just because they've had far too many draft misses in recent years, but because Jack isn't your classic downhill run-stuffer -- the guy can flat-out cover, and he epitomizes what teams need at least one of in 2016. He's a special talent and should be on their board.
11. Chicago Bears
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
The Bears have a tradition of great linebackers in the middle, from Dick Butkus to Mike Singletary to Brian Urlacher (who is coming for my hair). Ragland can be the next one, and not only can he be an immediate starter in the middle, he can do so with some system familiarity coming out of Nick Saban's 3-4 defense.
12. New Orleans Saints
*A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama
The Saints really need to add another versatile defensive lineman, and Robinson fits the bill. In fact, the 6-foot-3, 313-pounder is an immediate starter who combines great awareness and strength to make plays and hold the point in the run game, as well as the ability to push the pocket. There isn't a place where the Saints can go wrong adding talent on defense.
13. Philadelphia Eagles
*Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
Whether Nkemdiche is a great fit in Philly depends a little bit on what kind of system the new coaching staff will want to run, but with Cedric Thornton an unrestricted free agent, they'd be wise to add another talented piece to the D-line puzzle to take some pressure off Fletcher Cox, who has turned into an absolute star. Nkemdiche has that potential -- he's a top-5 talent, really -- but will need to maintain his focus off the field.
14. Oakland Raiders
*Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan St.
The Raiders have their quarterback of the future, but they could also lose a pair of tackles in free agency, and even then they'd be wise to get some immediate insurance out of the draft. Conklin has been a steady force on the MSU line for three years and is great at limiting pressure and also getting after it in the run game.
15. Los Angeles Rams
*Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
The Rams are arguably at square one at the QB position, which is a shame given the talent elsewhere on the roster. Do I think Lynch is a Week 1 starter? Absolutely not. Do I think he has significant upside and would be a potential starter in Year 2 with a roster still on the rise? Sure. St. Louis will have their eyes open in free agency and the trade market for immediate help, but Lynch could be the future.