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Stichter: Last Minute First Round NFL Mock Draft

As we are closing in on the NFL Draft everyone is wondering which teams are going to draft who, who will make the big trades, who will slide, and what pick is going to make you scratch your head. Well this is probably going to be wrong about all that but it can certainly give you some good insight about what you may want to expect while you are watching tonight.

*Keep in mind the first round is only 31 selections this year after the Patriots had theirs vacated.

1. Los Angeles Rams (from Tennessee): Jared Goff, QB, California

The Rams traded away what will soon likely become a whole lot of starters for the Titans, which means they know and have a lot of faith that Goff is their guy for the future.

Jared Goff is the most NFL ready quarterback in the draft, and is more used to playing on the bigger stages than North Dakota State quarterback, Carson Wentz; which automatically makes him a better fit for the atmosphere of LA.

Goff needs to add some more meat to his bones if he wants to stay healthy, because with a small frame and far from perfect offensive line he might not last long.

With the remaining picks they have (which is not many), the Rams definitely need to focus on finding some protection for their new franchise quarterback in Jared Goff.

Jared Goff California Golden Bears

2. Philadelphia Eagles (from Cleveland): Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State  

Who would have thought up until just a few months ago a team would trade away so many coveted picks to move up to the second pick to select a player out of North Dakota State? If you said you called it then congratulations, because you are either Carson Wentz’s mom or a liar.

With Goff off the board the pick is pretty simple for the Eagles here.

Wentz is built like an NFL quarterback, fairly tall with a sturdy frame. Wentz also played in an NFL-style system at NDSU, unlike other quarterbacks in the draft, particularly Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, which is the main reason he is falling on many draft boards after being one of the top prospects early on in the draft process.

So after pissing off Sam Bradford, shipping off some high picks to Cleveland, and making a gutsy call on a quarterback with the second pick, the Eagles are pretty much claiming that they are starting to rebuild their franchise, with Wentz kicking things off.

3. San Diego Chargers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

Perfect mock draft so far… Aaaaaaaaaaand it’s gone!

Tunsil has been the talk of the Chargers for months now, however as rumors fly around it is sounding more and more like Ronnie Stanley has moved into the top position for the Chargers.

Stanley is much less of a risk than Tunsil is, considering Tunsil has missed a handful of games due to an ongoing knee injury during his time at Ole Miss. The Chargers’ main issues in the past few seasons have been injuries along the offensive line, most recently offensive tackle King Dunlap, so it would make sense why history of injury would play a larger role in their decision making than most.

DeForest Buckner and Jalen Ramsey have also been heavily talked about in this position, and both are tremendous options if the Chargers are looking to go defense.

With both picks one and two essentially locked in, this is where the draft gets interesting.

4. Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State

The Cowboys desperately need pass rushers, however it is hard to see them passing on Ramsey in this spot.

Yes Bosa is on the board, however the Cowboys do not seem to be sold on him as many others are. Cornerback is another pressing need for them however, and Ramsey has been the top rated corner in this draft since about November.

Ramsey is an uber-athletic corner, with instincts to recognize routes well and provide quality help against the run.

Ramsey isn’t a ball hawk, as he recorded only two interceptions in his time at Florida State, and that is something he will need to improve upon in order to become an elite corner at the next level.

The Cowboys are one of the few teams in the history of the NFL that have received the number four overall pick, yet are in a win now mentality, and Ramsey will help them do just that.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA

The Jaguars have something going for them for once, and it can be improved upon by drafting Jack.

Jack is the most athletic linebacker in the draft, and a very similar prospect to Carolina’s Shaq Thompson from last season. The Jags have a dire need for a linebacker with defensive star of the past few seasons, Paul Posluzny, getting up there in age, and Jack is the most likely candidate currently to fill that need.

Jack is extremely fast which allows him to close off the side lines and pursue quicker skill position players that other linebackers may not be able to keep up with. His speed also allowed him to play running back in addition to obviously playing linebacker during his time at UCLA.

If you have heard anything about Myles Jack during the draft process however, it was probably regarding his knee.

A knee injury kept Jack out for the majority of the season last year at UCLA, and has dropped Jack’s stock quite a bit on some teams’ draft boards, while not moving an inch on others. This means that in tonight’s draft Jack could very well go top five, however could also wind up sliding into the teens, but all it takes is one team to believe in him and that team could very well be the Jags.

6. Baltimore Ravens: Joey Bosa, DE/OLB, Ohio State

The Ravens have a tough decision at this spot between the two best players in the draft, Bosa and Tunsil, both whom serve one of the major needs for Baltimore, but the coin flip says Bosa.

It is impossible to know what goes down in an NFL team’s war room, unless obviously you are in the war room in which case you won’t be reading this article, but if it comes down between Bosa and Tunsil no one is going to be complaining in there.

Bosa is the best edge rusher the draft has to offer, and with both Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs close to retirement age, Bosa could start playing into the rotation now before completely taking over within the next few years.

Even though many like to compare Bosa to JJ Watt, the better comparison would be to former Raven’s and current Brown’s pass rusher Paul Kruger. He is aggressive, hard to block, and has a slow 40-yard dash time but makes up for it with power and ferocity.

In the case that Bosa is off the board and the Ravens are sold on taking a pass rusher, look for Georgia’s Leonard Floyd to sneak up to number six here.

Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome might just soil his pants if both Bosa and Tunsil are on the board at the Ravens’ selection, but know for sure he won’t soil the pick.

Joey Bosa.jpg

7. San Francisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

Defensive stud vs Tunsil once again, and once again it is the defensive stud taking the cake.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to know that the top Oregon prospect is obviously one of the favorite players for a team coached by former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, but Buckner serves as a lot more than just another Duck. Paired up with former teammate, Arik Armstead along the defensive line, Buckner and Armstead would recreate the wrecking machine they had at Oregon up front for the 49ers.

Buckner could very well go as high as number three to the Chargers, however it is hard to believe he would fall past this selection.

Standing at an enormous 6’7’’, Buckner is a monster up on the line of scrimmage, and certainly an intimidating presence if you are the one trying to get a pass off. His large frame makes him the ideal 3-4 defensive end, and also allows him to bat down passes much easier than typical defensive linemen.

Buckner is an absolute beast up front and the 49ers will be lucky if they can snag him in tonight’s draft.

8. Cleveland Browns (from Miami through Philadelphia): Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

Finally Tunsil has stopped sliding!

The highly talented tackle from Ole Miss finds a landing spot in the same place he most likely would have had Philly not traded picks with Cleveland.

Cleveland would be very happy to draft Tunsil, however if he is available here do not be surprised if the pick is traded to Tennessee, a team that desperately needs offensive line help and is looking to move back up into the top 10.

If Cleveland does keep the pick then Tunsil is still probably the name being read by Roger Goodell when he reaches the podium.

Last season there were talks of Cleveland trading 8-time Pro Bowl left tackle, Joe Thomas, and with those talks possibly resuming again this season, the Browns sure would need to find a replacement and they may not find anyone better than Tunsil.

Over a three year span of starting at left tackle for Mississippi, Tunsil gave up just two sacks… that is absolutely insane. There may be some questions lurking about his durability, but who cares about little red flags when you have a guy that has only given up two sacks throughout his collegiate career.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Leonard Floyd, DE, Georgia

There have been lots of people talking about Leonard Floyd to the Giants, however he may not even fall far enough for them to get him.

The Buccaneers had one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL last year, despite having one of the best in the game in Gerald McCoy. Floyd immediately helps bolster the Bucs front four by adding depth and athleticism along the edge.

Floyd brings speed coming off the edge, and although lacked in production at Georgia, has tremendous potential as an edge rusher in the NFL. Some are even comparing him to Aldon Smith, that is the ‘good at football’ Aldon Smith, not the ‘make a bomb threat in an airport, own a lot of assault weapons, and smoke a lot of drugs’ Aldon Smith.

Two other names to look out for here are Jack Conklin and Sheldon Rankins.

10. New York Giants: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

The Giants LOVE Leonard Floyd and Jack Conklin, however they absolutely, positively, cannot in the name of all that is good and holy, pass on Ezekiel Elliott if he falls all the way to 10.

Elliott is good. Really good. Scary good. The kind of good that you can build an entire offense around. So having him paired with the best receiver in the nation would be a lot of fun for viewers, and a lot of whoop ass for defenders.

Elliott brings an ideal combination of speed, strength, balance, and tenacity to the field when he has the ball, and has the ability to play through contact like it is nothing. He has great hands while receiving out of the back field, and the speed that most backs his size don’t have to cap off big runs.

Elliott will most likely be gone by this point (the Dolphins will likely trade up if someone else doesn’t take him), however if he is available the Giants would be stupid not to draft him.

Ezekiel Elliott

11. Chicago Bears: Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama

If the Bears put in what they were looking for in a player into eHarmony, up would pop Jarran Reed (I am so patenting a football eHarmony website for scouting, just you wait, it’ll catch on).

Jarran Reed is the best defensive lineman in this draft class at stuffing the run, and if he is paired up with Eddie Goldman along the Bears’ defensive line then they could wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

Some people may say, “Oh the Bears, they need a pass rusher.” Well sorry Bears’ fans because you need pretty much everything and the value just isn’t there right now for a pass rusher.

If Leonard Floyd is available then I wouldn’t be surprised to see him picked here, also watch out for Shaq Lawson if they do decide to go pass rusher.

12. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

New Orleans was one of the worst teams at rushing the quarterback and stopping the run last season; Sheldon Rankins is the best interior pass rushing prospect and also has a knack for disrupting the run.

New Orleans your problems are solved.

Rankins is a handful for opposing offensive linemen. For any mom out there reading this who doesn’t know what a handful is to opposing offensive linemen, think back to what taking care of your infant baby was like, now imagine that infant weighing close to 300 pounds and its goal in life is to get you out of the way, and your infant is extremely good at it. Scary no? This is Sheldon Rankins (this joke also would have worked a lot better with Robert Nkemdiche, but he didn’t fit into the first round).

Rankins is one of the few defensive tackles in this draft who is able to be an every down starter from day one, and that is exactly the kind of guy that the Saints could use.

Rumor has it that the Saints also like A’Shawn Robinson, but 12 is a little high for him, don’t be surprised however if they do take Paxton Lynch, Drew Brees is old after all.

13. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia): Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

The Dolphins have a pressing need at corner, and if they are not able to move up for Ezekiel Elliott then Eli Apple will most likely be the selection.

The Dolphins worked with Apple a lot over the draft process, and while Apple may not have quite the cover skills of some of the remaining corners such as William Jackson III or Vernon Hargreaves III, he has the measurables that Miami is looking for.

Apple is a much lengthier corner that NFL teams are starting to look for these days due to the increasing popularity of big receivers in the league.

Apple will be the pick if the Dolphins stay here, but make sure to keep your eye out for a trade to get Ezekiel Elliott.

14. Oakland Raiders: William Jackson III, CB, Houston

If you are the Oakland Raiders you draft corners out of Houston, it’s what you do.

This time it should workout though (unlike DJ Hayden), because William Jackson III is a beast.

One of the top three cover corners in the class WJ3 led the nation in passes deflected last season with 28. For those who don’t know if that is a lot, it is a lot.

Jackson has speed, cover skills, height, he is really the complete package and a great find to put opposite Sean Smith in the secondary for the Raiders.

15. Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

The Titans luck out in this mock, unfortunately for them mock drafts never work out and therefor Conklin most likely won’t be here when it is their turn to draft. Nevertheless we are going with this scenario!

The Titans need to protect Marcus Mariota, this is a fact. They gave up the second most sacks in the nation last year, and if they want Mariota to be their quarterback of the future then they need to either draft Conklin or develop some kind of Iron Man suit for him because otherwise he is going to be laying on his back most games.

Conklin is the best right tackle prospect in the draft, even though he can play both left and right, and would help anchor the line with youngster Taylor Lewan on the other side.

Conklin was one of the few players able to take Joey Bosa on one-on-one last season, and that right there should be enough information on him for any team to want to draft him.

Jack Conklin

16. Detroit Lions: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama

Kelly is the best prospect at center that the NFL has seen since Travis Frederick, granted there haven’t been that many but still, you get the point.

Kelly was the anchor for the best offensive line in the nation last season, and was one of the biggest factors that played into Derrick Henry’s Heisman win.

Both the Lions and the Colts love Kelly, oh and the Redskins like him too… and the Seahawks… Okay, so a lot of people really like Kelly, which means that if the Lions want him then they better take him now, there is no trading down with this one.

If they decide to go defense, be on the lookout for Vernon Butler or Darron Lee.

17. Atlanta Falcons: Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State

Darron Lee is a very similar player to Myles Jack who is slotted to go number five, which may have you wondering “Why isn’t Darron Lee going that high then?”

Good question.

Lee is exactly what teams are looking for in a 4-3 outside linebacker right now, fast, really fast. He has closing speed to cut off the sidelines and get into the back field before you can say “Hey look, Darron Lee is in the backfield.”

Okay, so it should be more like “Hey look…” or maybe even just “Hey…”, no matter what though I am taking this joke way too far.

He plays well in coverage although there is certainly room for improvement there.

But the level of talent here and the fit he presents for the Falcons’ defense is like a match made in heaven.

18. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor

For a team looking to contend for a Super Bowl the Colts sure do seem a long ways away. About a defense, offensive line, and running back away, and we can only solve so many problems with this 18th pick.

Something you should now about Billings, he doesn’t skip meals. This kid was born to blow up offensive lines, and it would certainly be a good start to finding a nose tackle for the Colts.

Billings has a high motor and is surprisingly fast given his size. He is a bit on the shorter end but when you weigh about as much as an actual colt who cares?

If Ryan Kelly is available here then the Colts will draft him if not though, look to them to get Billings or trade down.

19. Buffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

Fun fact, Bills head coach Rex Ryan watched Lawson a lot, mainly because his son played at Clemson. No, that is not why Shaq Lawson is here in the mock, it is also because…

Fun fact #2, the Bills really need another defensive end after Mario Williams left. Okay that may not have been fun, but it was certainly a fact.

Shaq Lawson is the best edge rusher available and it would be a surprise to many if he even fell this far. Steal or not though, this is about as far as Lawson is going to fall come draft time.

20. New York Jets: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

The Jets are notorious for picking the best player available and hands down that player would be Hargreaves at selection number 20.

Hargreaves III is the arguably the best pure corner in this draft and was widely regarded as a top-10 possibly even top-5 selection until teams saw that he wasn’t able to reach the top shelf of the pantry. But short or not, Hargreaves can cover like no one else in the draft.

Getting a cover corner should already be a priority however for the Jets, as they lack serious depth behind Darelle Revis, and depth at corner never hurt anyone, especially if you are a team that faces Brady twice a year.

Maybe for once Jets’ fans won’t boo the draft (they will so boo, they always boo).

Vernon Hargreaves III

21. Washington Redskins: Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama

Washington needs a lot of help in a lot of different areas, so with this pick they need to select the biggest difference maker they can find on the defensive side of the ball, and that would be Reggie Ragland.

Even though according to “experts” the middle linebacker position is dying, it most definitely is not. Much like CJ Mosely coming out of Alabama, Reggie Ragland has the ability to be a starting middle linebacker right away, and he is the only player in this draft that you can say that about.

Ragland is most notorious for being able to stop the run, yet needs to improve his ability to cover in order to be a complete player at the next level.

In conclusion however, if Washington drafts Ragland, they won’t be sorry.

22. Houston Texans: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

And the onslaught of receivers begins!

After months of hearing how Laquon Treadwell would be the first receiver off the board, things have swung so fast in the other direction.

Fuller is one of the few receivers in the draft with both the speed and the hands to accommodate DeAndre Hopkins in the receiving core. Also after signing up-and-comer Brock Osweiler at quarterback, the Texans will certainly want to surround him with as many weapons as possible.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

Treadwell finally finds a home in Minnesota.

Treadwell was slow at the combine, but has the best hands out of any receiver in the draft. Since the Vikings have Stefon Diggs, and took their chances with speedy receiver, Cordarelle Patterson, they could use a large bodied, able handed receiver like Treadwell.

He is not going to be a deep threat, but any team looking at drafting Treadwell already knows that.

Treadwell will serve as a great redzone target for Teddy Bridgewater moving forward.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

Now this draft is starting to look more like the past two years.

Coleman, while a bit more raw of a talent than the other receivers looking to go in the first round, has big time play making ability.

It seemed like every pass he caught at Baylor went for a touchdown or big time yardage, and it showed in his stats as he was ninth in receiving yardage and first in receiving touchdowns with 20, that is three more than the next guy.

The Bengals could certainly lose a big play guy across from AJ Green, and while they probably like Will Fuller better, Corey Coleman is more likely to be the pick unless they try to move up.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Keanu Neal, S, Florida

Keanu Neal has been drawing some comparisons to Kam Chancellor, enough said.

With both William Jackson III and Eli Apple off the board at this spot, Keanu Neal is the last remaining prospect of the three that are the most likely to land in Pittsburgh.

No doubts about it, Pittsburgh needs a corner; however, Neal plays well in coverage and he can hit… hard. Reminding you of any other Pittsburgh safeties, cough cough Troy Polamalu. He is also the only player to completely flatten Derrick Henry without even falling back a little.

He tackles well in the open field, and is ideal strong safety in the NFL; what more do you want?

26. Seattle Seahawks: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

Vernon Butler is a special player who slides simply because he didn’t come out of Alabama or Ohio State or some other big name school.

Butler has been drawing comparisons to Muhammad Wilkerson throughout the draft process, and if you are getting compared to one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL then this should be a steal for the Seahawks.

Butler is a disruptive force up front, both rushing the quarterback and stopping the run and should be a very special player on the next level.

Vernon Butler

27. Green Bay Packers: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA

The Packers two biggest needs are defensive line and middle linebacker, and since the only middle linebacker worth taking in the first two or three rounds is already off the board, Kenny Clark is the pick.

Packers fans should be bummed that Vernon Butler is off the board here but oh well, boo hoo, go join the club, I am sure that Browns fans there will comfort you.

I apologize, that was mean.

Just kidding, frankly I don’t care.

Kenny Clark is possibly the best pure nose tackle that is in this draft, and after losing BJ Raji, the Packers need another beef-cakes kind of guy along the defensive line.

There is some buzz that the Packers are looking to trade this pick and that is not surprising one bit. If Ragland isn’t here by the time they are on the board, then look for a team to move up for a quarterback or maybe a receiver that takes a bit of a slide.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

Possibly getting the best receiver in the draft with the 27th pick is a steal for the Chiefs, as in this pick practically isn’t even legal kind of steal.

Doctson has some of the best hands out of any receiver in the draft, however he is a tad on the slower side for a receiver and for some reason teams cannot tolerate a receiver running a 4.50 second 40-yard dash vs a 4.37 second 40-yard dash.

Regardless of speed, Kansas City needs a receiver to accommodate Jeremy Maclin, and Doctson may be the best this draft has to offer and certainly the best one available here.

29. Arizona Cardinals: TJ Green, S, Clemson

Most people think if the Cardinals draft a Clemson prospect it’d be Kevin Dodd or Mackensie Alexander, however the most likely scenario might actually be TJ Green.

TJ Green doesn’t have the ball skills of some of the other safeties in the draft, however after recording 95 tackles, 5.5 for a loss last season, as well as a blazing fast 40-yard dash time at the combine he has started to turn heads.

Also if any team is going to make a ballsy selection, it would totally be the Cardinals. Remember Deone Bucannon?

All in all, Arizona needs pass rushers and a safety. Noah Spence and Kevin Dodd would be the obvious choices here, and that is certainly how it may turn out, but what is a mock draft without a little fun?

30. Carolina Panthers: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

Carolina needs a long term solution at running back, considering the fact that Jonathan Stewart turns 30 this season and in general has never been that healthy to begin with. Derrick Henry is that solution.

Henry amassed almost 400 carries last season at Alabama, and led the nation in rushing yardage with over 2,200 yards and touchdowns with 28.

He is a high volume back that can take a lot of hits and look the least bit shaken, and that is what Carolina is looking for in a running back considering the amount of times they run the ball per game.

Derrick Henry

31. Denver Broncos: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

Karl Joseph needs to go in the first round, and honestly that is why he is here.

The Broncos need a lot of things, most of which have already been drafted, and therefor they are able to draft the best player available that is not a pass rusher which goes to Karl Joseph.

Joseph tore his ACL last season and will most likely miss around six weeks of the season recovering, however the Broncos are certainly a team that could spare some time for a safety.

Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook are certainly options as well if Denver is looking for their future quarterback here rather than in free agency.

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