With the draft being only hours away, its only fitting that we present you with the Pressing Coverage Mock Draft. Let’s get started.
1) Los Angeles Rams (Trade with Tennessee): Jared Goff, QB, California
So what you’re telling me is that the Rams’ front office doesn’t really think that Case Keenum is the answer after all? Can’t say that I saw this one coming. The Rams are clear that they are confident enough in their current team to believe that they are a quarterback from winning the division. And I agree, while yes it seems like you are taking a gamble like the Redskins did on RG3 (hindsight is 20/20), but if Goff can stay healthy unlike previous Rams quarterbacks…watch out for Los Angeles in the coming seasons. I choose Goff over Wentz, because Goff has more starting experience than Wentz (started 37 games vs. Wentz’s season and a half).
2) Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
I rarely like to hop on a player hype train when I haven’t seen them play a lot first hand and that is another reason why I have Goff going first. I only watched Wentz for a total of 2 halves during his career. A half against Jacksonville State in the FCS championship game, and a half against Illinois State in 2014. Him and Goff are really close in my eyes, and I believe that Wentz would’ve gone first if nobody traded for the top two picks and it was still Tennessee and Cleveland. I think Goff is the better QB at the moment, but Wentz is built to play in the NFL. He’s got a big build, like Big Ben and Joe Flacco, and he can play in the mother-lovin’ cold.
3) San Diego Chargers: Laremy Tunsil, T, Ole Miss
You absolutely have to protect the quarterback. Whether it be Phillip Rivers or a younger quarterback in the future season, if you want consistent good play then you have to start with the big guys up front. Laremy has been said to have footwork as good as a “ballerina” and has scouts drooling over him. While there is a lot of pressure to draft a defensive player here, San Diego will get Brandon Flowers back alongside rising young corner Jason Verrett. For that reason I have them taking Tunsil. (But I reeeeeeeeeeeally like Buckner here also).
4) Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Similar to their pick last year, Dallas continues to bolster their secondary. Bryon Jones turned out to be a versatile weapon that switched back and forth between free safety and corner. Jones is supposed to slide into the free safety position in a more permanent role next season, Morris Claiborne is coming back for at least one more year, but I think that may be for depth chart purposes and to make Ramsey’s transition into the starting job an easier one. Ramsey saw time at both corner and safety while at FSU, so if the secondary gets kneecapped again this season, then Ramsey would be a great utility player to have. Scouts have been heralding Ramsey as one of the top, if not the top prospect in this year’s draft and Dallas steals him with the fourth pick.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Coming off a year that saw young QB Blake Bortles finish the season tied for second in the league in TD passes, along with young WR Allen Robinson finishing the season tied for first in total TD receptions, so the offense in Jax is on the right path. The next step? Start creating problems for other offenses. Last year the Jags lost their first round pick to a torn ACL very early in the training camp season, but Fowler is set to come back this season, and I can imagine that the coaching staff and front office in Jacksonville would be very elated to see a play maker like jack, along with the return (and start) of Dante Fowler, to create havoc up front on Sundays.
6) Baltimore Ravens: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
I flipped a coin on who would go at 5 to the Jags, it went Jack’s way, and as a result the Ravens get what appears to be the steal of the draft. Baltimore needs help on the defensive line SO. BAD. I originally thought that Baltimore would trade down, and yes the hype around Bosa has died down since the start of the college football season, but he is a FORCE up front. I believe Ozzie would take a liking to a guy that is used to playing in a hostile atmosphere (because everyone hates Ohio State) and falls right in line with their needs.
7) San Francisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
This year is one of the deepest in terms of defensive lineman available, and Buckner is the most versatile of all of the D-lineman in this draft. He has shown his ability to slide inside and stop the run and then immediately slide back out to the outside on passing downs. He has a great first step off of the line, and he is the best player available. This is too high for Laquan Treadwell, so they wait to address the offense until later rounds *cough cough Conner Cook*.
8) Cleveland Browns: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The first nine picks could go so many ways, I don’t feel like a team is really sold on any one prospect in particular…well because there’s no knowing if said prospect will be available, so I have them taking Stanley to protect whoever is going to be lining up under center for Believeland. If they truly are in the market for a quarterback in later rounds, then you want to be sure that in the future said player is comfortable and is able to get solid protection. That all starts with Stanley, who I can easily see this franchise building a stronger O-line around.
9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Mock him all you want on his “smaller than ideal” frame, VH3 has the best sense of coverage than any other corner left in this draft. This may sound redundant, but he just knows how to play corner well. He reads the quarterback’s eyes and is also able to anticipate the routes that the receivers run. He has a natural sense for when the receiver is about to break on a cutback, or try a double step on him. If you aren’t sold on how well he will be able to cover NFL receivers, just watch his game against Amari Cooper in 2014. Then watch what Cooper did when he wasn’t being covered by Hargreaves.
10) New York Giants: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
They brought back Jason Pierre-Paul, added corner Janoris Jenkins, Keenan Robinson and Jasper Brinkley at linebacker, so you may find it odd that I have the Giants taking another defensive player. I could see them taking Taylor Decker, from Ohio State, here but I think the Giants can hold off on helping their offense for just a little bit longer. Rankins is more than capable of taking on a couple of blockers at once, he has very good lateral quickness and is able to get around blockers in ways that a big man like him shouldn’t be able to, and he also plays with good effort on every single down. A quality that scouts wished other prospects in this draft had more of.
11) Chicago Bears: Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky
Da Bears need help on defense desperately. Other than the fact that they play in the same division as Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson, Chicago will get to see how good Kevin White, their first round WR draftee, really is and he’ll still get Alshon Jeffery opposite of him so I don’t think that it will be any thing other than a offensive lineman if it is offense. While Spence had his troubles off of the field in the past, the Bears are willing to take a gamble here if it means that they can make A-Rodge’s life a little bit tougher.
12) New Orleans Saints: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
The Saints ranked last in almost all defensive categories, and near the bottom in the ones that they didn’t finish last in. Robinson can play nose tackle, or slide over and play defensive tackle, allowing him to use his athletic ability in multiple ways on the line of scrimmage. Also if you hadn’t noticed, the guy looks like somebody combined Kimbo Slice, and The Mountain from Game of Thrones, told said individual to be good at football, and out came Robinson. He has the size to disrupt NFL level offensive lineman and he is the savior that the Saints’ defense needs.
13) Miami Dolphins: Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State
Yes I have the internet’s favorite prospect outside of the top ten. My beef with having a running back go high in the first round (other than Todd Gurley) is that when it comes down to it, in today’s NFL, the running back position cannot control as much of the game as other positions can. That being said, the Fins just lost Lamar Miller to the Houston Texans, and they decide to draft the best player available on the board. Zeke can be a difference maker for Miami this upcoming season. Not only would he be able to take some pressure off of Ryan Tannehill by providing again providing the Fins with a solid running game, but he’d also be able to literally take pressure off of him by blocking defenders. Elliot is the best blocker in this running back class and I don’t expect him to last long in this draft.
14) Oakland Raiders: Mackenzie Alexander, CB, Clemson
I don’t know what it is about Alexander in black and silver, but this just seems like such a good fit in my head. He’s able to read wide receivers and quarterbacks very well, and he can play physical with those bigger receivers in the NFL. He may be criticized for his size, but he’s the exact same height as Darelle Revis, so I’m putting that argument on the shelf. Another knock against him may be his lack of interceptions, but you also have to realize that QB’s almost never threw a pass in his direction.
15) Tennessee Titans (Trade with the Rams): Laquan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Do you go with the position that provides the future of your franchise with protection, or do you opt to give him a number one target to throw to through the start of his career? I’m going with the latter on this one, solely because of how deep the draft is at offensive lineman and the relative needs of the other teams between now and the first pick of the second round. TE Delanie Walker isn’t getting any younger, and the Titans will still be able to snag a solid offensive lineman in the second. Treadwell is the best blocker of the top receivers in this draft, he also has shown that he is the best receiver at playing through contact. By that I mean he is tougher to bring down than the other projected 1st round wide receivers.
16) Detroit Lions: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
I’m not ready to phone it in with this pick and say that the Lions draft a receiver to replace Megatron. Nobody can replace Megatron. In order to alleviate some pressure off the ends of the defensive line, Detroit selects this lineman out of the heart of Dixie. They need someone that can disrupt the opposing team’s offense 3 downs in a row, and Reed can deliver.
17) Atlanta Falcons: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Lee has seen his stock rise over the weeks following the NFL combine. He’s got a natural ability to find the ball, and uses his athleticism to deliver hits despite initially being on the other side of the field. I can’t imagine a defensive minded coach like Dan Quinn passing on a prospect with such a high ceiling.
18) Indianapolis Colts: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Andrew Luck is about to get paid, and we all know it. If the Colts organization expects consistent play from Luck (and health) then they need to absolutely provide him with a better offensive line. Yes the needs on defense are just as alarming, but if I’m the Colts, I’m making sure that Andrew Luck has a long, healthy, prosperous career in a Colts uniform.
19) Buffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
The Bills go shopping for Mario Williams’ replacement and select Lawson to step into his shoes. Lawson could easily be taken before this, considering that of all the prospects, Lawson, may end up having the largest hype train of this year’s draft (second to my beloved Leonard Floyd).
20) New York Jets: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
In my mind, Leonard Floyd has the best first step of any pass rusher in this draft. Hands. Down. He’s one of my favorite prospects to watch in this year’s draft. The Jets have almost all of the pieces on defense in order to make a nigh-unstoppable juggernaut, all that is missing is a good outside linebacker. Enter Leonard Floyd who has the potential to be a difference maker right off the bat.
21) Washington Redskins: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
This should be the pick that Washington makes, but let’s be real here, who knows what that front office is doing these days? Probably praying that Kirk Cousins keeps developing. Anyways, this pick helps fill one of the biggest needs the Redskins have going into next season. Billings can be a wrecking ball for opposing offensive lines and the anchor for the future of that defensive unit.
22) Dallas Cowboys (Trade with Houston Texans): Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Is there a little bit of bias here with my ties to the DFW area? Oh absolutely. With that being said, that doesn’t make the Cowboys’ need for a solid #2 alongside Dez Bryant any less alarming. And if Jerry Jones is truly in a “we have to win now” mindset, then don’t be surprised if he makes this move. Doctson fits the mold of the receiver that Dallas likes. Tall frame, good threat when the ball is in the air, and Doctson has the best body control of any receiver in this draft when going after the ball. Terrance Newman hasn’t been able to take over a game, or really get much degree of separation whenever Dez isn’t on the field. Slide him back into the slot, let Dez be Dez, and allow Doctson to go up and get it when Dez can’t…and you have yourself quite the air attack.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
I don’t think that the Vikings take the best receiver available. Instead they take the player that can fit the best into their current system, compliment blooming Stefon Diggs, and can give Teddy Bridgewater a reliable option to go to. Thomas needs to refine his route running and his ability to create separation. However, he does have the ideal build and frame of an NFL wide receiver. He has good hands, and has the ability to win in contact situations. He doesn’t have to be a workhorse receiver with Adrian Peterson still on the team, and he can be a good pairing with Diggs’ speed.
24) Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
After losing both Mohamad Sanu and Marvin Jones to free agency, the Bengals need to add a third option for Andy Dalton to throw to. AJ Green and Tyler Eifert are already a good dynamic scoring duo, but the Bengals still need to add one more option if they want to keep defenses on their toes. Coleman can be that dynamic third option. He’s got exceptional acceleration and once he gets the ball in his hands he can be as dangerous a player as any. He won’t be taking Green’s spot for top dog, but his particular set of skills gives defenses another thing to plan for and worry about.
25) Pittsburgh Steelers: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Steel city stand up! Don’t let his smaller school status fool you, WJ3 may have had the most productive season of all of the cornerbacks in the draft this year. He recorded 43 tackles and 5 interceptions throughout 12 games…so ya that’s not bad. The Burgh desperately needs help in the secondary. Their pass rush really stepped up (to my surprise) and the offense did outstanding things, but if the Steelers can shore up their swiss cheese secondary, then they will be an even bigger force to reckon with in the AFC.
26) Seattle Seahawks: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
This past season Russell Wilson was sacked a career high 45 times last season. The defense, if healthy, will be solid as usual. If they wanted to add depth to their defensive line this class is deep enough to where they can still grab quality talent at the position in the second round. However, playing quarterback is a lot harder whenever you are scrambling for your life every other play. Considering how the defenses of the other playoff teams in the NFC are looking these days, the Seahwaks need to be able to buy Wilson those crucial extra seconds in the pocket if they want to get back to the Super Bowl.
27) Greenbay Packers: Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
That’s it, the Packers just won the draft. This is every NFC North team’s nightmare scenario come true. Ragland is so versatile, whether it be stopping the run or covering and chasing down receivers across the middle of the field, RR was born to make tackles. As a (huge) bonus, this means Clay Matthews no longer has to play inside linebacker and can switch back to his dream job of sacking quarterbacks. Green Bay needed help on the offensive side of the field near the end of the season, but a lot of that was due to attrition, so for that reason I have them stealing Ragland at 27.
Kansas City Chiefs: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Before his injury Joseph was playing his way into a top tier pick. However, before the halfway point in the season he suffered an ACL injury and had to miss the rest of the season. Joseph was able to fly around the field, roaming up and down, laying ball carriers out wherever he went.
Arizona Cardinals: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
While yes I do have Lynch slipping a little bit, the Cardinals don’t pass up the chance to snag Carson Palmer’s replacement. Who knows how many years Palmer has left, and coming off of back to back late season injuries it may be better to draft a replacement sooner rather than later.
Carolina Panthers: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
For the panthers, the defense doesn’t have much of any glaring holes to fill, so it makes sense for them to go the offensive route. Even though league MVP Cam Newton put up historic numbers last season and helped guide the Panthers to the Super Bowl, it was their offense that fell short in the biggest game of the season. In all fairness, that Denver defense was the best in the league, but Carolina had several chances to win the game. What Carolina needed most in that game was a #1 receiver. With Kelvin Benjamin out with a torn ACL all season, they lacked a true vertical threat.
31) Denver Broncos: Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
The rich continue to get richer, and the rest of the NFL’s offensive lines continue to curse under their breath. Yes there are character concerns about Nkemdiche, about his recent substance violations, as well as concerns about his work ethic. However, you put him in that locker room and we’ll see just how long those concerns hold up. With the leadership of veterans like Demarcus Ware and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, I can’t see Nkemdiche not turning into a motivated player that lives up to his potential during his rookie season.
Feature image provided by: Marianne O’Leary, www.flickr.com/photos/marianne_oleary/5668477546