Rd. 1, Pk. 6
Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State
This would be Baltimore's dream scenario. Jalen Ramsey is the team's top target at No. 6 overall, which makes sense, considering he's the top defensive back and the secondary needs to be upgraded. Ramsey can play either cornerback or safety, and Baltimore has to improve both areas, particularly the former.
Pick change; previously Laquon Treadwell, WR
Rd. 1, Pk. 8
Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Miami's secondary is a mess, as everyone took note in the Monday night loss to the Giants. The front office will have to find help at both cornerback and safety, and the former can be addressed here via the top pure cornerback in the 2016 NFL Draft. The opinions on Hargreaves are mixed - one team in the top 10 that needs a corner won't draft him - but perhaps the Dolphins will like him enough to pull the trigger at No. 8.
Carolina's defense has obviously been terrific this season, and even Charles Tillman played well across from Josh Norman before he got hurt. That will be a problem going forward, however, as Tillman will be a 35-year-old free agent in March.
Rd. 2, Pk. 8
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Buccaneers might have the weakest group of cornerbacks in the NFL. Alterraun Verner has been an abomination this season, while Johnthan Banks has only been marginally better, but only by default. This is an area that absolutely must be addressed this offseason.
Pick change; previously Eli Apple, CB
Rd. 2, Pk. 22
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
The Redskins obviously have to address their secondary. There's a hole at one of the cornerback positions across from Bashaud Breeland.
Pick change; previously William Jackson, CB
Rd. 3, Pk. 19
Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State
Vontae Davis had a down year for the Colts, yet he was the team's top cornerback. That's how dire things are at the position for Indianapolis.
Pick change; previously Braxton Miller, WR
Rd. 3, Pk. 20
William Jackson, CB, Houston
I never thought I'd be writing that the Jets would need a cornerback after they signed Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie last offseason, but the latter struggled mightily, showing major signs of regression.
Pick change; previously Zack Sanchez, CB
Rd. 3, Pk. 24
Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma
Pacman Jones was terrific this past season, but with he and Leon Hall both older than 30, the Bengals will have to find some young blood at cornerback.
Pick change; previously Deion Jones, LB
Rd. 3, Pk. 26
Artie Burns, CB, Miami
Pittsburgh's secondary is horrible right now, but there's lots of potential with that unit if the team can find a No. 1 corner to play across from Ross Cockrell.
The Jaguars need to improve their offensive line and pass defense. If Jacksonville goes with a defensive back, they will have to decide if they want a true corner like Hargreaves who can play off-man, press-man, or zone. Or Jacksonville could go with a press-man corner like Jalen Ramsey.
In 2015, Hargreaves had a total of 33 tackles, four pass broken up, four interceptions and a forced fumble - off Leonard Fournette. Hargreaves was having a good season before slumping late in the year. Sources have felt that Hargreaves can get bumped around and out-physicaled along with giving up some ground to deep speed. He could stand to improve on that in the NFL.
Overall, Hargreaves was a true cover corner during his collegiate career. He totaled 50 tackles, three interceptions and 13 passes broken up in 2014. Hargreaves went toe to toe with Amari Cooper that season and held his own. Both players showcased their elite skills and proved to be top prospects for the NFL. Cooper made some catches over Hargreaves, but unlike other defensive backs, Cooper wasn't getting separation or burning the Gator cover corner.
The 5-foot-11, 192-pound Hargreaves has natural cover skills to run with wideouts and not allow separation. Sources have said that Hargreaves is a star off the field as well as a good teammate, worker and citizen. As a true freshman in 2013, he recorded interceptions in his first three college games while totaling 11 pass breakups and 38 tackles for the year.
Rd. 1, Pk. 6
Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State
The Ravens are supposedly hot for Ramsey. Considering they haven't found a true replacement for Ed Reed, perhaps Ozzie Newsome believes that Ramsey could be kind of impact player for them.
Sources with multiple playoff teams have told me they have given Ramsey a second-round grade. They say that they feel that Ramsey is more special at safety and prefer him there to cornerback. A few teams picking in the top 10 told me they have Ramsey in the top 10 on their board, so while opinions vary among evaluators, it only takes one team to fall in love and there are teams out there. Ramsey spent 2015 at cornerback and totaled 50 tackles, 10 passes broken up, zero interceptions and a fumble returned for a touchdown there.
Ramsey showed that he can be a press-man corner, but isn't great in off-man or zone. He struggles to prevent separation from speed receivers and sudden route-runners. The game tapes against South Florida and Miami, among others, illustrate those issues. Ramsey's okay to go against a big receiver like Brandon Marshall, but he will get eaten up by a small, fast receiver like T.Y. Hilton. Teams feel Ramsey is a big press-man corner like the Seahawks use.
Ramsey (6-1, 204) was one of Florida State's best defenders in 2014 as a safety, notching a lot of clutch tackles. He totaled 79 stops, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 12 passes broken up, two interceptions and two forced fumbles on the year. As a freshman in 2013, Ramsey started on the Seminoles' National Championship team at safety and cornerback. He recorded 49 tackles and an interception that season.
Pick change; previously Leonard Floyd, OLB
Rd. 1, Pk. 21
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Redskins grab a No. 1 corner to replace DeAngelo Hall. Fuller could be one of the steals of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Some sources have said that if Fuller had stayed healthy and played like he did in 2014, he would be the top cornerback prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft. Because of that, don't be surprised if the junior steadily rises in the lead up to the draft. Some scouts have told me they graded Fuller higher than Vernon Hargreaves or Jalen Ramsey.
Fuller had a rough start to 2015 when he was beaten by Michael Thomas for a touchdown, but aside from that play, Fuller was solid against a very talented Ohio State team. He only ended up playing in two games before going out for the year due to knee surgery. Fuller recorded seven tackles, one sack and a pass broken up in his shortened season.
Fuller played at a very high level in 2014, racking up 17 passes broken up, two interceptions, 50 tackles and 4.5 tackles for a loss. He shut down East Carolina's Justin Hardy in their matchup. Pittsburgh's Tyler Boyd was a challenge for Fuller, but Fuller held his own.
The younger brother of Bears' 2014 NFL Draft first-round pick Kyle Fuller, Kendall Fuller saw the field immediately as a freshman. He was a Freshman All-American and the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. Fuller is quick and instinctive, just like his older brother. Kendall Fuller had six interceptions and 58 tackles in his debut season.
Rd. 1, Pk. 25
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
The Steelers have to upgrade their cornerbacks and get a replacement for William Gay.
In 2015, Apple recorded one interception, eight passes broken up and 33 tackles. He had some coverage lapses early on, but played better to close out the year. Apple has a good skill set and lots of upside to develop. He was very impressive for the Buckeyes in 2014 down the stretch of their title run, recording 53 tackles with three interceptions and 10 passes broken up on the year. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Apple looks like he has No. 1-corner potential.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
James Bradberry, CB, Samford
The Titans want to upgrade their secondary at cornerback and safety. This pick addresses the latter.
Jaquiski Tartt represented Samford at the Senior Bowl last year, and this year, it was Bradberry. The 6-foot-3, 236-pounder has a NFL skill set with size and speed. The senior recorded 45 tackles with 11 passes broken up and two interceptions in 2015. He had two interceptions in his junior, sophomore and freshman years.
Bradberry's steady play earned him an invitation to Mobile, and he had a respectable week. Bradberry has prototypical size for the next level and could fit as a press-man cornerback or a safety; the latter is probably more likely.
Rd. 2, Pk. 10
William Jackson, CB, Houston
Chicago could stand to improve its secondary. Adding some corner upgrades would make sense, and sources said that the Bears liked Jackson.
Jackson recorded 43 tackles, five interceptions and 23 passes broken up in 2015. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder has excellent height and length, but also has a tall, lanky frame that he needs to fill out for the NFL.
Over the past two seasons, Jackson was a steady defender for Houston. He recorded two interceptions, 37 tackles and 10 passes broken up in 2014. The previous year, he had one pick, 35 tackles and seven passes batted.
Across from Malcolm Butler, the Patriots could use an upgrade over Bradley Fletcher.
Even though some have hyped Alexander as a first-rounder, sources from multiple teams have told me they have Alexander graded as third- or fourth-round pick. Another team told me they have him as a second-rounder.
NFL evaluators say that Alexander (5-11, 195) is a little stiff and view him as a nickel corner. For Clemson, Alexander was a cover corner who had a quality 2015 season. The redshirt sophomore totaled 23 tackles with five passes broken up and zero interceptions on the season. In 2014, he had 21 tackles, six passes broken up and zero interceptions.
Rd. 3, Pk. 4
Artie Burns, CB, Miami
The Cowboys could use more talent on the inside of their defensive line.
Burns turned in an impressive junior season with six interceptions, 36 tackles and five passes broken up. As a sophomore in 2014, he had 40 tackles, six breakups and zero interceptions.
Burns lost his mother suddenly during his junior year. With his father incarcerated, Burns (6-0, 197) has custody of his younger brothers and his own son to support. Thus, he entered the 2016 NFL Draft. Sources say that he is grading out on the second day and like his skill set.
The Bucs continue to build up their pass defense. They need multiple corners this offseason.
In 2015, Sanchez totaled 45 tackles, seven interceptions and seven passes broken up. The junior has ball skills and can make big plays, but he can be a gambler, which led to a few games in 2015 during which he had some issues in coverage.
Sanchez was awful in 2013 as a freshman, and teams constantly picked on him for big plays, but he was vastly improved in 2014 for the Sooners. Sanchez was an all-conference pick that year and held up well when teams targeted him. He had 43 tackles with six interceptions and eight passes broken on the season. As a freshman, Sanchez picked off two passes and batted away 13. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder could stand to fill out his frame.
The Saints could use a receiver to replace the declining Marques Colston.
Hall has excellent size to be an NFL cornerback and was very impressive at the Senior Bowl. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder is a physical corner who has some Richard Sherman bulldog to his game. Scouts say they love Hall's length and toughness. He really stood out for Northern Iowa as he had six interceptions as a senior. Northern Iowa didn't play a top program in 2015, so performing well against more talented receivers was critical for Hall.
Pick change; previously Will Redmond, CB
Rd. 3, Pk. 30
Will Redmond, CB, Missisippi State
The Cardinals were fortunate with how well Chris Johnson played before getting injured. Here's a back to pair with David Johnson for the future.
Redmond (6-0, 185) played well for the Bulldogs in 2015, making 25 tackles, two interceptions and one pass broken up before a season-ending injury due to a torn ACL. He is a tough corner who has the versatility to play on the outside or in the slot. In 2014, Redmond racked up 51 tackles with five passes broken up and three interceptions.
The Chargers could go a number of different ways with this pick. Joey Bosa is a popular pick here, but I don't see him as a scheme fit. I think Bosa is more of a 4-3 end. Buckner could also be the pick, but I think they will go in another direction. I've seen Ramsey compared to Charles Woodson, Patrick Peterson, Eric Berry, and Tyrann Mathieu. While those might all be big shoes to fill, there is no questioning his potential. His instincts and playmaking ability would probably be better suited to playing free safety in the NFL, but could also play corner. The Chargers need help all along their secondary and having a playmaker of this caliber is a no-brainer. With Weddle getting out of town, and with Flowers playing poorly, there is plenty of need.
This is the pick in the draft where things become much murkier. At first I thought LaQuan Treadwell would be the perfect pick to slot alongside Dez Bryant and give Tony Romo help. The Cowboys did well last year with their first two picks nabbing Randy Gregory and Byron Jones. Gregory didn't show much last year but the potential still is evident. Jones was a revelation and helped the Cowboys pass D finish 5th this year. The Cowboys are in win now mode. Hargreaves is a plug and play guy who has been a top 10 pick since his freshman year and yet I see him falling because of a few games that may not have been his best. To make him more impressive he played for two coaches during a time of transition for the Florida program and we never heard ANYTHING about this kid negatively. The Cowboys can shift Jones to Safety which seems to be where he will excel in the NFL and keep their pass D intact. Adding another WR, RB (or 2) and some defensive prospects in rounds 2-7 would put Dallas in VERY good position pending Romo's health to make a run next year at a championship.
The Dolphins could go with a linebacker such as Jaylon Smith or Myles Jack. However, both have injury concerns that need to be cleared up. Their offensive line should be back healthy with Ja'Waun James returning from injury. Alexander has been shooting up draft boards this fall. Alexander is similar to Hargreaves in that he is not the tallest corner, however, he can also help in zone or man. Alexander may not have the interception numbers like other corners in this class but the reason being that no one wanted to throw to his side of the field. Alexander has allowed only 2 touchdowns in about two years of playing. The Dolphins will hope to select their own lockdown corner and end their streak of missing out on defensive backs such as Jamar Taylor, Walt Aikens and Will Davis. Alexander should buck that trend.
The Raiders hit a home run with last years first round pick in Amari Cooper. The Raiders could use a new offensive tackle depending on what happens with Donald Penn and Austin Howard. However, for the time being their biggest need is at cornerback. The Raiders invested a first round pick in D.J. Hayden just a few years ago. this is looking like a huge mistake. Hayden has not been able to stay on the field and when he does is repeatedly burned on the outside and reduced to slot corner duties. David Amerson showed some life on the outside to end the year but he is not someone they can fully put all their faith in. Kendall Fuller suffered a major knee injury this year which is a disappointment considering he was so highly thought of to begin the year. Fuller seems to be a better prospect than his brother Kyle a recent first round pick of the Bears. Fuller excels in man or zone coverage, great hip flexibility, and outstanding ball awareness. One area he may struggle in is jamming receivers at the line because of his smaller size and handling bigger receivers on the outside one on one.
The Steelers have a very good offense that really does not need much help outside of depth picks. The defense is building in the right direction with two young pass rushers and a young upcoming defensive line. The secondary is where Pittsburgh is very weak. The Steelers did just draft Senquez Golson last year in the second round but he was put on IR this year. William Gay is a free agent who is their best corner but getting older, also Brandon Boykin is also a free agent. Tre'Davious White is the next in what has become a yearly factory of defensive backs coming out of LSU. White has the natural cover skills to excel on the outside right away in the NFL. White has the length and speed to keep up with most receivers in game today. One area he may struggle in his jamming receivers at the line and in run support since he only ways in around 175-180 pounds. However, in an NFL strength and conditioning program over time that should not be an issue and White will become next great corner out of LSU.