By: Zach Metkler, The Burgh Blog Writer
(Photo from Wikipedia)
After months of anticipation, it is finally almost here: the NFL Draft. Tomorrow night, one of the biggest events of the NFL offseason will begin at 8 PM in Chicago for everyone to see what players their team will select. For those of you that follow my articles, I have been making mock drafts for the Steelers for a while now. On this, the eve before the NFL Draft, I decided to change things up a little bit. After much time, research, and analysis, I created a full two-round NFL mock draft (with my Steelers picks featured with further analysis), depicting what I believe will happen starting tomorrow night in Chicago.
So without further ado…
Los Angeles, you are on the clock.
- Los Angeles Rams—Jared Goff, QB, Cal (6’4”, 210 lbs.)
The Rams made the mega-trade deal of the century when they moved up to the #1 spot. Reports have surfaced that Goff is their guy. Would step in Week 1 and has all the traits you look for in a starting quarterback in today’s NFL: smart, physical, tough. Really a no brainer here.
- Philadelphia Eagles—Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (6’5”, 231 lbs.)
After the Rams trade, the Eagles quickly followed in making their move and with Goff off the board, it is likely that they will take Wentz. Even with all of the trade drama going around with Sam Bradford, he is still entrenched as the starter, which will give Wentz time to sit and develop before taking over the reigns.
- San Diego Chargers—Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss (6’5”, 305 lbs.)
Even though the Titans and the Browns walked away with a boatload of picks, the Chargers are the real winners of the trades now that they can go in any direction they want and the best long-term pick in my eyes is Tunsil. He provides an upgrade to either tackle positions on what has been an extremely disappointing Chargers offensive line. An argument can be made to draft Ramsey but Tunsil is far and away the best tackle prospect in this class and the defensive backs have depth this year.
- Dallas Cowboys—Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State (6’1” 202 lbs.)
With the 4th pick, the Cowboys now have the opportunity to draft arguably the best player in this draft class in Ramsey. With Ramsey’s versatility, size, and athleticism, the Cowboys can plug him anywhere along their secondary and he will make an instant impact next to last years first round draft pick Byron Jones.
- Jacksonville Jaguars—Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (6’1”, 245 lbs.)
Last year, the Jaguars used their first round pick to select Dante Fowler, but he remains unproven after missing his rookie year due to a torn ACL. With Paul Posluszny coming to the end of his career, Jack would inject this defense with some much needed athleticism, youth, and playmaking ability. Even with Jack’s knee being a question mark at this point, he could solve some of the problems Jacksonville currently has on defense.
- Baltimore Ravens—Joey Bosa, DE/OLB, Ohio State (6’5”, 275 lbs.)
After reaching for receiver Breshad Perriman in last years draft, GM Ozzie Newsome will reportedly take the “best player available” approach this year, which will land them the versatile Joey Bosa. With Suggs and Dumervil nearing the end of their careers, Bosa could be the next player in the line of great Ravens pass-rushers. With the ability to play as a stand-up edge defender or with his hand in the dirt, Bosa would help the Ravens get back on track in the AFC North.
- San Francisco 49ers—DeForest Buckner, DE/OLB, Oregon (6’7”, 290 lbs.)
The 49ers are in desperate need of help in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Adding the player with potentially the most upside in this class would go a long way in helping the 49ers right the ship. Buckner is a physical specimen that could step in day 1 and provide the team with an impact edge defender with the ability to slide inside if necessary.
- Cleveland Browns—Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State (6’6”, 318 lbs.)
The Browns were probably the most disappointing team during this years free agency. After losing both Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz, the Browns need quality and depth along their offensive line. Conklin provides them with a player who could immediately start at right tackle and could be their long-term answer to left tackle after future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas walks away. This has the potential to be one of the smartest picks in recent Browns draft history.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Ronnie Staley, OT, Notre Dame (6’6”, 315 lbs.)
Just like the Browns, the Buccaneers are in need of an upgrade at the right tackle position. With Staley being the best available tackle left on the board, this pick comes as a no brainer to allow the team to continue their offensive progression. They could also look to take a cornerback here, but Staley provides them with the best value and immediate impact.
- New York Giants—Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia (6’6”, 244 lbs.)
The Giants put a lot of money into their defense this offseason, but there is still much work to be done, specifically with addressing the need for long-term pass-rushing help. Floyd could provide the team with the ability to get after the quarterback on passing situations while learning behind Jason Pierre-Paul, who is currently only on a 1-year deal. Floyd could be the long-term answer the team needs to help improve the defense even further.
- Chicago Bears—Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida (5’11”, 199 lbs.)
In 2014, the Bears drafted cornerback Kyle Fuller to help rebuild their secondary. Although Fuller is a long-term option at the position, the Bears secondary has been atrocious and they need a second cornerback to complement him. Hargreaves is not the most physically imposing cornerback in this years class, but he plays with great physicality, awareness, and ball skills.
- New Orleans Saints—Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville (6’1”, 303 lbs.)
The Saints defense was among the worst in the NFL last year. Much of this begins with their front seven, which was a disaster last year. Adding a player like Rankins not only adds a big body to their defensive line, but also gives them a player that can rush the passer and stuff the run as a great gap penetrator.
- Miami Dolphins—Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (6’0”, 225 lbs.)
After letting Lamar Miller walk in free agency, the Dolphins are in desperate need of running back help. They already have Jay Ajayi, but he is not considered to be a #1 option. Elliott falling to the Dolphins at #13 is a dream come true and gives them a feature back for years to come.
- Oakland Raiders—Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State (6’6”, 310 lbs.)
The Raiders have taken large strides in becoming a playoff contender because of their smart drafting in recent years. Although the team needs help at safety and inside linebacker, no players at those positions are truly worth the #14 pick. Jones, on the other hand, would provide the team with a player with great size and burst and has the potential to develop into a playmaker both inside and outside on the defensive line.
- Tennessee Titans—Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (6’7”, 315 lbs.)
After trading away the #1 pick, the Titans are in position to attack this draft anyway they see fit. This should start with their offensive line, as Byron Bell is clearly not the answer at right tackle, as he is better served as a backup swing tackle. Drafting a player that can step in and help protect last years first round quarterback Marcus Mariota. Decker is the best tackle available and would be able to step in from day 1 and replace Bell on the right side.
- Detroit Lions—Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama (6’4”, 297 lbs.)
The Lions have made it no secret that they love Kelly, which is great because he would fill an huge hole for the Lions on their offensive line. Kelly is a prospect that not many people are talking about (likely due to the fact that he plays center) but don’t be mistaken: he is a true first round talent. He would instantly help shore up the Lions interior offensive line.
- Atlanta Falcons—Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State (6’1”, 235 lbs.)
The Falcons need to add more speed and physicality to their linebacker group and Lee is a name that has been connected to the team since the beginning of the draft process. He would give the Falcons options both inside and outside, while giving them a player who has shown time and time again that he can effectively get after the quarterback
- Indianapolis Colts—Shaq Lawson, OLB, Clemson (6’3”, 270 lbs.)
Long-time pass-rusher Robert Mathis turned 35 in February and the team released Bjorn Werner earlier in the offseason. The Colts could use an infusion of youth all over their team and Lawson provides that while also providing tremendous value and character. This is a smarter pick than picking yet another offensive lineman.
- Buffalo Bills—Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama (6’3”, 313 lbs.)
The Bills released Mario Williams and could not re-sign Nigel Bradham this offseason. That leaves the team with two starting jobs that need filled along the defensive line. Reed’s best characteristic is his ability to stuff the run but as a pass-rusher, he leaves a lot to be desired. Either way, Rex Ryan needs defensive linemen, and Reed can help fortify a once great front seven.
- New York Jets—Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis (6’6”, 230 lbs.)
If you are a Jets fan and feel comfortable with Geno Smith and Bryce Petty comprising your quarterback depth chart, you need to reevaluate yourself. With Ryan Fitzpatrick remaining unsigned and the Jets not willing to give him the money he wants, they would be smart to select a quarterback early in this draft. Reports have surfaced that they love Lynch and would like to select him so if he is still available at #20 (and the Broncos haven’t traded up to snag him), look for the huge quarterback to be the new starting guy for the Jets.
- Washington Redskins—A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (6’3”, 312 lbs.)
The Redskins need to get younger across the defensive line with guys that can help rush the passer. Robinson has a ton of potential but consistency has been an issue. If he can learn to play hard every single play, he has the versatility and skills to be an All-Pro in the league due to his ability to be a true run stuffer and to get after the quarterback.
- Houston Texans—Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (6’2”, 210 lbs.)
Even after signing Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller, the Texans offense still has some work to do. Adding a receiving threat opposite of DeAndre Hopkins should be the main priority. Although Treadwell is not the fastest receiver in this class (as proven by his 4.63 40-yard dash), he is arguably the most complete receiver and has tape to defend his production at Ole Miss. The Texans have loved him throughout the draft process and the pick here makes sense (although a speedster like Will Fuller could also be an option).
- Minnesota Vikings—Josh Doctson, WR, TCU (6’2”, 195 lbs.)
The Vikings need to give Teddy Bridgewater targets in the passing game. Doctson is considered by many to be the #2 receiver in this class and has shown the ability to use his height to his advantage by being able to consistently high point balls and win contested passes. The Vikings need a playmaker to help take the pressure off of Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson and Doctson very well could be that player.
- Cincinnati Bengals—Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame (6’0”, 184 lbs.)
Just like the Texans, the Bengals are in need of a #2 receiver opposite of A.J. Green, who has never had a true #2 complement. Both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu attempted to be that player for the Bengals, but left during the offseason. Fuller is a deep threat with the ability to blow the top off of a defense. With Andy Dalton coming back healthy this season, a player like Fuller can be the difference between truly making a run at a Super Bowl and yet another first round playoff loss.
- Pittsburgh Steelers—William Jackson III, CB, Houston (6’1”, 195 lbs.)
The Steelers are in desperate need of cornerback help, with William Gay, Ross Cockrell, and Senquez Golson being the only “viable” options on the roster. The team needs a true #1 corner that can consistently and effectively face opposing #1 receivers. Of all the cornerbacks in this class, the Steelers have given Jackson the most attention. He boasts the elite athleticism and ball skill you look for in a top cornerback and would provide an immediate upgrade to the Steelers secondary. If he is still available at #25, look for the Steelers to sprint up to the podium to make their selection.
- Seattle Seahawks—Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss (6’3”, 296 lbs.)
The Seahawks need to address defensive tackle after losing Brandon Mebane in free agency and potentially losing Jordan Hill after the 2016 season. This late in the first round, the Seahawks will likely be looking for versatile defensive line help due to the depth in this years class. Nkemdiche comes with plenty of baggage, but he was once considered a surefire top 5 pick. He could come in from day 1 and make an impact on the defense and for a team that is a yearly Super Bowl contender, that is truly impressive.
- Green Bay Packers—Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama (6’2”, 252 lbs.)
GM Ted Thompson has shown a love of Alabama defenders in recent years, and that trend could continue this year with Ragland. Beyond being a for ‘Bama defender, he fills the biggest need for the Packers and is the top inside linebacker in this class. He would likely step in from day 1 and be the teams guy between Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Nick Perry. That is a win-win for everyone except opposing quarterbacks in the NFC North.
- Kansas City Chiefs—Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech (6’3”, 309 lbs.)
An argument can be made that the Chiefs more pressing need is to find a corner to replace Sean Smith, who left in free agency, and complement last years first rounder Marcus Peters. Adding a player with great value like Butler at this point in the draft is too much to pass up on, as he would add to an already great Chiefs front seven and has the versatility to give DC Bob Sutton many options to terrorize opposing offenses.
- Arizona Cardinals— Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (6’1”, 200 lbs.)
The Cardinals have needed a complement to Patrick Peterson for some time now and after losing Rashad Johnson to free agency, the team is also lacking solid depth. Apple is an aggressive corner with great length and athleticism. He has been a little too handsy at times during his college career. With that being said, he has great potential as a #2 for the Cardinals defense and would fill a huge need for the team.
- Carolina Panthers—Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson (5’10”, 195 lbs.)
Heading into the offseason, no one thought that cornerback would be the Panthers top priority in the draft. After the abrupt departure of Josh Norman, the team is left with only Bene Benwikere as a solid option. With a player like Alexander still left on the board, the Panthers could snag up a player that could instantly fill the void left by Norman. What’s even better is that Alexander has drawn extensive comparisons to Norman throughout the draft process. Not a bad choice here.
- Denver Broncos—Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State (6’4”, 309 lbs.)
With quarterback being a huge need but Lynch already being off the board, the Broncos will likely look to help shore up their offensive line that is lacking in depth. Although they signed Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson in free agency, they still need help finding players that can contribute. Whitehair has the versatility to play guard, tackle, and center, with his most likely position being guard. He has widely been viewed as the safest offensive line pick this year and with his versatility, the Broncos could end up with one of the top picks of the first round. 2nd Round
- Cleveland Browns—Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State (6’3”, 210 lbs.)
After addressing the offensive line in the first round, the Browns need play makers to be targets for whomever ends up being the next quarterback in Cleveland. Thomas has been an under the radar player but has a big body and the ability to win in space due to his deceptive quickness.
- Tennessee Titans—Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor (6’0”, 201 lbs.)
After getting their new right tackle in the first round, the will Titans look to shore up their secondary in the second round by selecting a athletic, ball hawking corner. Howard provides that, though will need to continue developing to reach his full potential.
- Dallas Cowboys—Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (6’2”, 242 lbs.)
Cowboys Czar Jerry Jones recently made comments that if he had his way, Elliott would be his running back of choice. Henry is not a bad second option due to his bruising running style to pair with the Cowboys power run offense.
- San Diego Chargers—Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor (6’1”, 310 lbs.)
The Chargers allowed 4.8 yards per carry last season. The need a impact player up front to help correct this issue. Billings is a stout player with deceptive athleticism, which makes him a threat against both the pass and run.
- Baltimore Ravens—Artie Burns, CB, Miami (6’0”, 193 lbs.)
After selecting Bosa in the first round, the Ravens will look to continue rebuilding their defense by selecting a athletic playmaker to complement Jimmy Smith. Burns is not yet the sum of his parts, but he has the great upside that the Ravens currently need.
- San Francisco 49ers—Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State (6’4, 217 lbs.)
The 49ers quarterback situation is in flux right now with Colin Kaepernick and the team being mutually unhappy with each other. They love Cook and he likely would not make it to the third round with the Broncos still in search of a quarterback.
- Jacksonville Jaguars—Kevin Dodd, DE/OLB, Clemson (6’4”, 275 lbs.)
As previously mentioned, the Jaguars need to continue to add talent to their defense. After selecting Jack in the first round, the team would be smart to draft a player like Dodd to add another solid pass-rusher to the team.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida (6’3”, 283 lbs.)
Even though the team signed Robert Ayers this offseason, they still need players to develop as long-term options. Bullard (like so many other defensive linemen in this class) can play both inside and outside for the Buccaneers.
- New York Giants—Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State (6’1”, 201 lbs.)
Odell Beckham Jr. can’t be expected to carry the offense by himself forever. Adding a big, athletic receiver to complement him would benefit the team. Miller fits that mold perfectly.
- Chicago Bears—Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana (6’6”, 301 lbs.)
The Bears need more than just Charles Leno as the undisputed left tackle. Spriggs has tremendous athleticism and vision as a nature fit for the left tackle spot. After selecting a cornerback in the first round, the Bears have almost no choice but to address the offensive line in the second round.
- Miami Dolphins—Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech (6’0”, 197 lbs.)
Arguably their biggest need, the Dolphins need to replace 2 starting spots at cornerback. They essentially stole Elliott in the first round and will look to do the same in the second round by selecting Fuller, who when healthy is considered to be a late first round draft pick.
- Tennessee Titans—Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh (6’2”, 197 lbs.)
The Titans need to add more legitimate playmakers for Mariota to help him continue developing. Boyd is arguably the best route runner in this class and sucks up almost any ball thrown in his direction. He is deceptively shifty with the ball in his hands and would be a nice addition to the Titans offense.
- Oakland Raiders—Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State (5’11”, 205 lbs.)
The Raiders signed Reggie Nelson to replace Charles Woodson during the offseason, but he is far from a long-term option. Adding a rangy safety like Bell would give the Raiders a player who plays with great vision and awareness who could be develop into their starter for years to come.
- Tennessee Titans—Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford (6’4”, 312 lbs.)
Loaded with draft picks, the Titans can go any route they would like. Garnett would provide an upgrade to their interior offensive line and would plow the way as a pulling guard for newly signed DeMarco Murray.
- Detroit Lions—Emmanuel Ogbah, DE/OLB, Oklahoma State (6’3”, 275 lbs.)
The Lions need depth along the defensive line and with their pass-rushers. Ogbah gives the team both, as he has the ability to play as a stand up pass-rusher or with his hands in the dirt as a defensive end. The Lions could kill 2 birds with 1 stone with this pick and give them some much needed depth.
- New Orleans Saints—Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State (6’1”, 196 lbs.)
The Saints have lost both Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston in the past year. If they expect to keep Drew Brees performing at a high level, they need to give him playmakers. Higgins has cooled off since the college season ended but he has the size and skills to complement Brandin Cooks.
- Indianapolis Colts—Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame (6’4”, 299 lbs.)
The Colts need offensive line help. Period. Head Coach Chuck Pagano has stressed that they need to improve their interior offensive line and Martin has the potential to become a stud in the NFL. Although the team would rather draft Kelly, they would likely be willing to settle for a player with the potential that Martin has.
- Buffalo Bills—Shilique Calhoun, DE/OLB, Michigan State (6’4”, 251 lbs.)
Again, the Bills need help with their front seven by getting players that can get after the quarterback. Calhoun give the team good value in the second round and the potential to develop into a premier NFL pass-rusher.
- Atlanta Falcons—Keanu Neal, S, Florida (6’1”, 211 lbs.)
The Falcons need a thumping, playmaking safety like Neal to help their defense grow. Neal is one of the hardest hitters in this draft class and can be an impact rookie in the Falcons secondary.
- New York Jets—Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn (6’6”, 307 lbs.)
After selecting their potential long-term option at quarterback in the first round, the Jets will likely look to improve the offensive line that is responsible for protecting him. Coleman has the ability to play on either offensive tackle spot, but would likely find a home at right tackle by replacing Breno Giacomini.
- Houston Texans—Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas (6’5”, 250 lbs.)
By selecting Treadwell in the first round, the Texans made strides in improving their offense. They can continue this trend by selecting the best tight end in this class. Henry gives the Texans the full package, as he is an effective blocker and an exciting playmaker.
- Washington Redskins—Darian Thompson, S, Boise State (6’2”, 208 lbs.)
After adding a versatile defensive lineman in the first round, the Redskins will look to add stability to their secondary by adding ballhawking safety Darian Thompson. Thompson has some growing to do to become a more well-rounded player, but his takeaway skills are second to none in this class.
- Minnesota Vikings—Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M (6’6”, 324 lbs.)
Bridgewater needs players who can protect him on a regular basis. After giving him a nice target in the first round, the Vikings would be wise to select a player like Ifedi that does not have to be pressed into playing right away, but would provide an upgrade at tackle after this season.
- Cincinnati Bengals— Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA (6’2”, 310 lbs.)
Domato Peko is entering the final year of his contract with the team and there are no real options in place to replace him on the defensive line next to Geno Atkins. Clark is a strong lineman that could develop behind Peko for a year and explode onto the scene in his second season.
- Seattle Seahawks—Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech (6’5”, 316 lbs.)
The Seahawks offensive line has been in shambles for some time now. After watching Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy leave in free agency, the team needs to continue to bolster their offensive line. Clark is a bit raw but has the athleticism to play left tackle and could develop into a nice replacement for Okung.
- Green Bay Packers—T.J. Green, S, Clemson (6’2”, 209 lbs.)
The Packers are reportedly in love with Clemson’s T.J. Green, even though their secondary is in fine shape as it is. Green would fit in nicely next to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as Morgan Burnett’s future replacement.
- Pittsburgh Steelers—Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia (5’10”, 205 lbs.)
To go along with cornerback, the Steelers need a player to pair with Mike Mitchell at safety. With Joseph still on the board at this point, it would give the Steelers an instant upgrade at safety while providing tremendous value. Joseph and Mitchell would give the Steelers one of the hardest hitting duos in the league.
- Kansas City Chiefs—Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma (5’10”, 194 lbs.)
Last season, the Chiefs made a great move by signing Jeremy Maclin. The team still needs a viable #2 to pair with him and Shepard very well could be that player. He is an exciting player to watch and would give Alex Smith another weapon to use.
- New England Patriots—Devontae Booker, RB, Utah (5’11”, 219 lbs.)
The Patriots need a long-term option at running back and Booker feels like the type of player they would love. Powerful yet athletic, Booker could serve as the Patriots future at the running back position.
- New England Patriots—Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State (6’4”, 254 lbs.)
After trading Chandler Jones, the Patriots would be wise to replace him with a versatile player who can play in many different positions for their defense. Perry has the skill and work ethic to make an impact in coverage and while rushing the passer. He feels like a typical Patriots pick.
- Carolina Panthers—Su’a Cravens, S/LB, USC (6’1”, 225 lbs.)
Cravens is a player that the Panthers are reportedly obsessed with. If that’s the case and he is still on the board this late in the second round, look for the Panthers to select the multidimensional player to help their secondary and give them options elsewhere on defense.
- Denver Broncos—Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State (6’4”, 223 lbs.)
Finally, at the end of the second round, the Broncos get their quarterback. Hackenberg showed inconsistency during his time at Penn State but many coaches believe that this can be coached out of him. If so, the Broncos might have found their quarterback for the next decade.
Stay tuned tomorrow for my final 7-round Steelers mock draft just hours before the draft begins!
Check out my first five mock drafts here: