Draft King Analysis|
April 6, 2016
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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There are just 22 days to go until the 2016 NFL Draft begins. At this point it feels a bit like a game of Mastermind near the top of the board -- I know the likely pieces in play, but not the order.
With a strong showing at his pro day last week, Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil appears to have helped his chances of being taken by the Tennessee Titans at #1 overall. There are also still rumblings about Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey and Ohio State DE/OLB Joey Bosa here being in the running as well, and from all indications nothing has been decided definitively by the team as of yet.
But, as of now, Tunsil sure looks like the front-runner to me.
All signs point to North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz going to the Cleveland Browns at #2. I've seen some speculation that the Browns might consider Tunsil should he not be taken with the first selection, but it's really hard to fathom Cleveland not going with a quarterback at this spot.
From there things get a bit jumbled, and it might be where you see some draft night trade-ups happen. Between Bosa, Ramsey, Oregon DE DeForest Buckner and UCLA LB Myles Jack, there are some top-level defensive talents who could be targeted on a trade-up move.
Before the 2011 NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, it was very difficult for salary cap reasons for teams to trade into, or out of, the top five. But that CBA changed everything, and raised the stakes to a large degree for teams hoping their most coveted player will fall to them.
Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott has really separated himself from the rest of the running back class, to be point where he could possibly go as high as #4 to the Cowboys. That would be a high spot for a running back to go by modern standards, with Trent Richardson (#3 overall pick by Cleveland in 2012) being the only RB to go in the top five from 2009-2015.
But Elliott is no ordinary running back, and it's an entirely plausible scenario. Due to a number of factors, including the talent that will be on the board for pick #4, I'm more on board with the notion of the Eagles targeting Elliott at #8 if he's there. Clearly they swapped first-round picks with Miami for a reason, and while it's possible that they could have a blockbuster offer in mind with the Titans to jump the Browns to get Wentz (and felt they needed better bait than the #13 pick), it seems more likely to me that they did so with other plans in mind.
At the same time, the Eagles moving from #13 to #8 puts them in line to make another jump on draft night, perhaps moving up to take a QB like Cal QB Jared Goff. Philadelphia is a particularly difficult team to gauge at this point.
Some adjustments I plan to make when I publish the latest revision to the Draft King 2016 NFL Mock Draft:
-UCLA LB Myles Jack to Jacksonville makes a great deal of sense, provided that he's actually on the board by the time the Jaguars pick at #5. If Baltimore wants Jack, they will likely have to trade up from #6 to get him.
-Eastern Kentucky DE/OLB Noah Spence will likely drop from the #12 slotting in the most recent mock. Probably was too high of a slotting despite his strong pro day performance. Unfortunately, he's still paying for past lapses in judgment from his days at Ohio State, and there are plenty of "EDGE" defenders with comparable perceived talent.
And while I could rant about how nonsensical the recreational drug policies under the current NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement are, the reality is that there is an understandable level of concern about players who have run into trouble in the past relative to substance use, particularly with the harsh suspensions that can come as a result of failed tests.
-In conjunction with fading Spence, I could see myself bumping Clemson DE/OLB Shaq Lawson and/or Georgia DE/OLB Leonard Floyd up the board. It's not like either New Orleans at #12 or Oakland at #14 are locked in to take a defensive lineman with top pass-rushing skills, but it sure makes sense for both teams.
-I plan to stick with my projection of Memphis QB Paxton Lynch to Chicago at #11. It can be easy to become too enamored with a particular player-to-team pairing when you're in the mock draft game, and as always what matters is not what I think a given team should do, but instead what I think is most likely that they will do.
But then I read a column like this one which makes a strong case for Lynch-to-Chicago, and I feel okay with sticking with that, at least barring new information or signings that could change things.
Mock drafts are like sand castles. As much careful thought goes into the planning and curation of them, the metaphoric tide of constant personnel change in the NFL makes them rather ethereal. What is logical today might not be so tomorrow. And, much like show rundowns from my days as a television news producer, you can never allow yourself to become too attached, as sudden change can abruptly alter everything.
If nothing else, it's part of what makes the whole process simultaneously maddening and fascinating.