With the end of the NFL season in sight, it is time to focus on one of the better stages of the offseason: The NFL Draft. If your favorite team did not make, or caught an early exit from the playoffs, more than likely GMs and scouts are already working day and night on a plan to improve their team’s fortune. We take a look at the teams in the draft with the top 10 picks and project what the team needs and who they could draft.
#1. Tennessee Titans
Pick: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
When you have the #1 pick of the NFL draft that typically means you need help at the quarterback position or help all over the field. In the Titans case, they need help all across the board on offense, other than the aforementioned quarterback spot. A great place to start is by grabbing the best Left Tackle in the draft to protect the face of the franchise in Marcus Mariota.
Yes, Tennessee does have Taylor Lewan and he is a solid player but he is best suited playing at the Right Tackle spot. When you give up 105 QB hits and a league high 54 sacks and your QB has to miss playing time because of that, you need to make that change to maximize not only the talent on the line, but give a guy like Mariota more time to work with.
#2. Cleveland Browns
Pick: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Like Tennessee, the Browns need help across the board on offense and defense. Cleveland ranked one of the worst in every major stat on both sides of the ball so any kind of pick will be an instant upgrade. However, with the addition of Hue Jackson at head coach and Johnny Manziel apparently heading out the door (Jackson doesn’t want him around), it would only make too much sense to draft the best signal caller in Jared Goff.
The highly touted prospect has drawn comparisons to another Cal QB in Aaron Rodgers and as crazy as it may sound, that isn’t a far-fetched statement after throwing for 4,252 yards and 37 TD passes. Goff can make every throw you want in an NFL pocket passer and has the mental capacity to bring life into a lifeless offense (which is Cleveland).
Pairing him with Hue Jackson is a great start to turning around a horrific offense.
#3. San Diego Chargers
Pick: Joey Bosa, DE/OLB, Ohio State
A tackle here would have been ideal for San Diego but since I had Tunsil going #1, I’ll put Joey Bosa here instead. The Chargers run a 3-4 defense but Bosa has the kind of versatility that could have him playing both DE and the pass rushing 3-4 OLB position. Bosa can bring an immediate impact to a defense that ranked 24th in sacks and 27th against the run and wasn’t very good at producing turnovers. This would also make sense because Melvin Ingram not only had a tough time staying healthy, he is entering a contract year.
#4. Dallas Cowboys
Pick: Jalen Ramsey, S/CB, Florida State
It’s no secret that the Cowboys have been having issues in the secondary for some time now. They addressed it with their first round pick in 2015 by picking the versatile Byron Jones. While Jones enjoyed a pretty good rookie season, there are still holes to be filled. Orlando Scandrick is coming off a knee injury, Mo Claiborne is a free agent, Brandon Carr could be a cap casualty, and Dallas still needs that playmaker at safety. Enter Jalen Ramsey, regarded by some as one of the more talented and versatile players in the draft.
He can play either the Cornerback or Safety spot and bring an immediate impact on a defense that went from 2nd in forced turnovers (2014) to the worst in 2015. Like Jones, Ramsey can line up all over the field and make a difference. He can also get after the Quarterback on blitzes and is pretty good against the run. A talent like this is hard to pass up.
#5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Protect your investment. What I mean by that is if you have a young franchise QB, you should have a young franchise Left Tackle to protect him.
At this point in the draft, Ronnie Stanley is the best at his position and can help stabilize a line that gave up 51 sacks. Luke Joeckel was supposed to be that cornerstone left tackle but has been underwhelming to say the least. Moving him around on the line could help but he isn’t suited to be a left tackle. With Stanley, Jacksonville would be getting one of the better (if not the best) pass protectors in the draft.
#6. Baltimore Ravens
Pick: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
I almost went with a pass catcher here because the Ravens need to start thinking about life after Steve Smith soon. On the other hand, when your defense is dead last in interceptions (6 during the season), it makes addressing the secondary the #1 priority.
Vernon Hargreaves III has been considered the best cover corner in this draft since he stepped foot at Florida. Although he had a rough finish to the season, he was still arguably the best shut down corner in the nation. He will bring much-needed help to this secondary.
#7. San Francisco 49ers
Pick: DeForest Buckner, DE/DT, Oregon
The first season without Jim Harbaugh saw the 49ers defense ranked near the bottom of the NFL in sacks and run defense (29th in both) last season. With that being said, Buckner would be a nice fit in the 49ers 3-4 defense. At his size (6’7, 290) and his ability to rush the passer and to stop the run, he would be an instant upgrade to the defense. He’s drawn comparisons to Calais Campbell; I wouldn’t be surprised to see him match his productivity in the long run.
#8. Miami Dolphins
Pick: Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA
Myles Jack is one of the most talented players in this draft after playing both ways at UCLA as a running back and linebacker. Before his knee injury, Jack might have been a top-5 pick in this draft and even so, there is still a chance he can be.
The Dolphins need help behind the front line of their defense and drafting Jack will add talent and depth to a much-needed spot.
Although he can play all 3 LB spots, he is better fitted playing on the outside where he can rush the passer, cover running backs and tight ends, and even some receivers. He is that talented and can be a playmaker in a defense that needs more.
#9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
In a division with QBs like Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan, you can never have enough pass rushers, but the Bucs really don’t seem to have enough of them. Gerald McCoy led the team with 8.5 sacks and Jacquies Smith was second with 7. Other than those two, there wasn’t much of a pass rush.
Shaq Lawson is arguably the best pass rusher in this draft class who is also capable of making plays in the back field versus the run. Before his injury against Oklahoma, Lawson was making a living in the backfield, he was doing the same against an also pretty good Alabama offensive line in the championship game.
#10. New York Giants
Pick: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Ranked last in pass defense and 25th in yards per attempt, the Giants also might be losing their best cover corner in Prince Amukamara due to free agency. The quickest way to not only replace, but upgrade from him is to draft the shutdown corner out of Clemson. Mackensie Alexander had a great season for the Tigers before re-injuring his hamstring in the title game against Alabama. Alexander will bring swagger and an immediate impact to a defense that is in need of a true #1 cornerback.