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The Titans may find ample reasons to pass on Tunsil here, but a slight uptick in performance by Taylor Lewan is not one of them. A team needs two stalwart tackles, now more than ever, and Tunsil could be a generational talent. Plus, here is what Mike Mularkey said at the combine about Lewan when asked if the 2014 first-rounder could go to right tackle: “I think Taylor can play in a lot of places. He’s a very good football player. I could see that, if that was ever a scenario that came up.” Sounds like Tennessee might already be planning a move.
CB/S, Florida State
The Browns landing Colin Kaepernick wouldn’t necessarily rule them out of drafting a QB, but it would scream rather loudly that they do not plan to do so at pick No. 2. Not having a quarterback can shift a team’s draft board out of desperation, but the strength at the top of this class is on defense. Ramsey can be a legitimate game-changer.
DeForest Buckner had been the choice here of late, but I never really loved the idea. Why? Because it was going mostly off fit, as opposed to taking the best player (at least as I have them ranked). When a franchise is sitting in the top five, the goal should be to maximize talent and then scheme around it. Forget about a 3-4 or 4-3 front here—just get Bosa on the field and let him chase the quarterback.
With Bosa off the board, this pick boils down to three main options: Myles Jack, Ezekiel Elliott or trade down with a team that wants a quarterback. The Cowboys might be tempted by Elliott but letting DeMarco Murray walk and then getting 1,000 yards out of Darren McFadden helped back the theory that their O-line—not their starting RB—is the real star. Even with Rolando McClain returning, the Cowboys could find room to let Jack’s versatility shine.
With Tunsil, Ramsey, Bosa and Jack all off the board, this is a nightmare scenario for Jacksonville. The Jaguars are crossing their fingers a QB goes in the top four, so one of those top defenders is available here. (An interesting pitch from Twitter on this scenario: Jacksonville just takes a QB itself, then shops him later, sort of NBA draft style.) So, now what? Lawson? Buckner? Vernon Hargreaves? Pencil in the top outside pass rusher of the three.
Whereas the Jaguars would be mortified to see the top five fall like this, the Ravens would have to love finding Buckner at No. 6. They need an upgrade on their pass rush, but from the D-line as well as at OLB. Buckner produced 10.5 sacks last season at Oregon and is a natural fit as a 3-4 end.
Maybe all the recent drama ends with Colin Kaepernick deciding to give Chip Kelly’s offense a try. Put that on the “long shots” list for the moment, though. If Kelly can’t have Kaepernick, allowing him to handpick a new QB should be a priority. Goff’s game needs some refinement, but he is close to NFL-ready with the footwork to succeed in the 49ers’ new scheme.
OT, Notre Dame
It’s easy enough to drop Elliott at this spot—the Eagles likely had someone in mind when they moved up as part of their recent trade with Miami, and Elliott is a top-five talent in this class. But Stanley also won’t slip far behind this. Philadelphia has to make plans for Jason Peters’s eventual departure, whether it comes this year or in the near future.
Brent Grimes boosts an underwhelming cornerback core, but keep in mind that he’ll be 33 in July. Also don’t overlook how little else the Buccaneers have at the position, thanks to Alterraun Verner and Johnathan Banks’s collective struggles and the free agencies of Sterling Moore and Mike Jenkins. Hargreaves can become a No. 1 option outside; he's already a potential No. 2 with the footwork to slide down over the slot.
WR, Ole Miss
The Giants haven’t taken a Round 1 linebacker in more than three decades and they do not really prioritize running back as a premium need. Of course they usually don’t spend $200-plus million on their D-line so ... who knows. This could be the Elliott landing spot; it could be where Reggie Ragland or a pass-rushing LB like Noah Spence/Leonard Floyd land. This mock, it’s Treadwell, whose physical game would translate to the NFL and whose knack for blocking would help the rushing attack.
Plug holes through free agency, draft the best available player. That’s a ticket for success in the NFL when executed properly, as Chicago GM Ryan Pace appears to be doing. The Bears still have needs but they’re not in do-or-die territory anywhere. With Alexander, Spence and Elliott all there for the taking, they nab the potential lock-down corner.
Hau’oli Kikaha flashed noticeable upside last season and Cam Jordan was a 10-sack performer, but the Saints still need another pass rusher. Spence would leapfrog the likes of Obum Gwachum and Davis Tull on the depth chart, at once upgrading the New Orleans’ attack and giving it more chances to come in waves.
RB, Ohio State
Part of this is that, for as much as the Dolphins like Jay Ajayi, the offense could use an impact back to replace Lamar Miller. Part of it is that Elliott would be an utter theft at 13. Adam Gase loves to involve his running backs in the passing game, and Elliott is a brilliant three-down talent.
While Oakland has made great strides upgrading its front seven, it remains shy of a MIKE thumper—Curtis Lofton didn’t cut it there. Ragland has produced up and down workouts from the Senior Bowl through Alabama’s pro day, but his game-day skill working inside is undeniable.
QB, North Dakota State
At some point during our flurry of mocks, we’ll pitch a few trade proposals, one of which no doubt will include Los Angeles moving into the top 10 for Wentz. With that in mind, Wentz continues to be the call at 15. He has impressed repeatedly in press conference and interviews, and his game is ready made for an NFL staff to develop it.
OT, Ohio State
The Lions re-signed Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker, added Stefan Charles and tried to scoop up Akiem Hicks, too. They should still be in the market for a draftable DT, but have made far less progress solving their O-line dilemmas. Decker may not move Riley Reiff from left tackle. He would offer a permanent solution on the right side.
LB, Ohio State
Fallout from the early free-agency window has shifted some focus on the Giants’ No. 10 selection to Lee, a rangy playmaker who could thrive behind New York’s remade line. The Falcons have even more need for him. They are painfully shy of athleticism in the second level.
The Colts ranked 25th against the run last season, with blame to go around. David Parry and Henry Anderson, both 2015 draft picks, did provide some hope up front. Add in Robinson, a run-stuffer capable of lining up anywhere from nose to five-tech, and the Colts might be in business.
Rex Ryan covets interchangeable parts up front, players he can move around so as to vary the looks he’s giving an offense. Hence Rankins’s consistent presence in the 19 hole. The “undersized” 299-pound tackle butchered college linemen, from centers to guards to tackles.
Because he runs so light (244 pounds), the 6-foot-6 Floyd could slide if teams decide he is not capable of providing help outside of on third downs. Those with a little better vision will see a unique talent at an important position. Bank on the Jets, with creative defensive mind Todd Bowles patrolling the sidelines, to fall in the latter category.