It's amazing how little people around the league know about this pick. We polled our league contacts, and about a third think it'll be Jalen Ramsey; a third believes a tackle will be the pick; and a final third gave DeForest Buckner the nod. The Chargers have done a great job of keeping their intentions silent - or, it's completely possible that they don't even know what they're going to do yet, though according to Britt McHenry, they've nailed it down to one player.
I'm more confident with every other pick in this mock draft. I'm at a loss here. Nothing would surprise me at this point, and I actually slotted Ronnie Stanley here for two hours. However, right now, at 3:45 p.m., I'm going to move back to DeForest Buckner, whom I mocked to San Diego the night before. FOX Sports' Alex Marvez has reported that Stanley will not be the pick.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Jalen Ramsey, CB/S - The Chargers lost Eric Weddle, and Jalen Ramsey, perhaps the best player in this draft, would be a great replacement.
2. Laremy Tunsil, OT - Tunsil could be the pick here, too. Many have Stanley slotted here, but Marvez has reported that Stanley won't be the pick.
Pick change; previously Ronnie Stanley, OT
Rd. 1, Pk. 5
Joey Bosa, DE/3-4OLB, Ohio State
The Jaguars are going to focus on upgrading their defense this offseason. I've had them drafting Myles Jack for a while, and I believe they will go that route - unless Joey Bosa happens to be available. Jacksonville has a weak edge rush, even with Dante Fowler set to return. The team has to add personnel to improve its ability to get to the quarterback, as that will perhaps allow it to finally be truly competitive against the Colts (when Andrew Luck is healthy).
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Myles Jack, LB - Jack would be a huge upgrade over the declining Paul Posluszny, and the knee isn't a concern for some teams.
2. DeForest Buckner, DE - I wouldn't count on Buckner here either, but I think the other two choices are more likely.
The Bears make sense for Shaq Lawson; with the disgruntled Willie Young entering his contract season, Chicago will have to find a pass-rushing complement for Pernell McPhee, and the explosive Lawson seems like a great fit. I had Lawson mocked later in February and March updates because teams had concerns about his shoulder, but he has been cleared by everyone we've spoken to.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB - The Bears tried to sign C.J. Anderson in free agency. That's a huge sign that running back remains a need for the team.
2. Jarran Reed, DE/DT - Tony Pauline reported that the Bears would consider Reed at No. 11, but I think there will be better players available.
Pick change; previously Ezekiel Elliott, RB
Rd. 1, Pk. 29
Robert Nkemdiche, DT/DE/3-4DE, Ole Miss
Some teams won't take Robert Nkemdiche, no matter what round it is, as they've completely taken him off their board. That's not the case for the Cardinals. I'm told he's an option here at No. 29. Arizona has taken chances on players with character concerns before, and it has paid off. Nkemdiche could be next, and he would further bolster the pass rush.
The Cardinals wanted to address the center position entering free agency, but that never happened. As it turns out, one of the top players available at this juncture would help fill that need, further bolstering Carson Palmer's protection.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Ryan Kelly, C - If Kelly somehow falls, he's the likely pick at No. 29.
2. Cody Whitehair, G/C - A backup option in case Kelly isn't available.
Pick change; previously Ryan Kelly, C
Rd. 1, Pk. 30
Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
It seems like every mock draft on the planet has the Panthers drafting Kevin Dodd. It's a pick that makes a ton of sense, as the Panthers may not have Charles Johnson beyond 2016. Dodd would be the best player available in this scenario.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Laquon Treadwell, WR - Treadwell could fall because of his awful 4.64 40. If so, he won't drop past Carolina.
2. William Jackson, CB - Here's another spot for Jackson, as the Panthers desperately need a cornerback in the wake of Josh Norman's departure.
With Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory serving four-game suspensions and being another incident away from a much longer sentence, the Cowboys almost have to address their pass rush early. They could be interested in Noah Spence and his superb athleticism.
Pick change; previously Kevin Dodd, DE
Rd. 2, Pk. 9
Jonathan Bullard, DE/DT/3-4DE, Florida
The Giants addressed their offensive line in the first round. They can work on the other side of the trenches here, as they need an interior pass-rusher.
Rd. 2, Pk. 15
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE/3-4OLB, Oklahoma State
Emmanuel Ogbah fits the Bill Parcells-Bill Belichick prototype almost perfectly for a defensive end. The Lions need a player at that position, so I imagine they'd love to land Ogbah in the middle of Round 2.
Pick change; previously Vonn Bell, S
Rd. 3, Pk. 2
Carl Nassib, DE/3-4DE, Penn State
Pick a position, any position. The Browns need help there. The defensive line could use some help, and Carl Nassib fits the range as a mid-third-rounder.
Pick change; previously Connor Cook, QB
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Shilique Calhoun, DE/3-4OLB, Michigan State
The Chargers spent a second-round pick on Jeremiah Attaochu recently, but they'll have to use an early choice on another rush linebacker soon, given that Melvin Ingram will be hitting free agency soon.
The Cardinals traded for Chandler Jones, but they could still use more talent on the edge.
Rd. 6, Pk. 33
James Cowser, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Southern Utah
Here's more pass-rushing depth for the Ravens, who will need more young blood on the edge.
Rd. 6, Pk. 34
Romeo Okwara, DE, Notre Dame
The Lions don't have the greatest depth at defensive end, so they could address the positon a few rounds earlier than this.
Rd. 6, Pk. 38
Ufomba Kamalu, DE, Miami
Another defensive tackle, and one who fits the Bill Belichick prototype perfectly.
Rd. 6, Pk. 39
Alex McCalister, DE/3-4OLB, Florida
Seattle continues to improve its pass rush. Brandon Mebane signed with the Chargers this offseason, but he needed to be upgraded anyway. The Seahawks need someone better on the edge in addition to an interior rusher.
Rd. 7, Pk. 1
Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern
The Titans could take another defensive lineman to bolster their depth up front, which has to be done.
It sounds like Cleveland is settled on taking the best player in the 2017 NFL Draft, which is Myles Garrett. He has been the consensus best player all year and and has been No. 1 on my big board since the start of the 2017 NFL Draft process. I think the Browns are wise to take him and not reach for a lesser player.
In 2016, Garrett totaled 33 tackles, 15 for a loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Against UCLA in the 2016 season opener, he collected three tackles, 1.5 for a loss and one sack going against a quality left tackle in Conor McDermott. Garrett is lightning fast off the edge with natural strength to bull rush offensive tackles. He is a freakish athlete with the potential to be one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.
Immediately after arriving at Texas A&M, Garrett began dominating college football. The 6-foot-4, 272-pounder took the game by storm in 2014 as he was an impact-making defender for the Aggies from Day 1. The fast and athletic Garrett was a force on the edge as a quarterback hunter. He had 11.5 sacks as well with 53 tackles and 14 for a loss. That sack total broke the NCAA freshman record previously set by Jadeveon Clowney.
In 2015, Garrett kept it going, racking up 59 tackles with 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, two passes batted and an interception. He has blinding speed off the edge and is a natural pass-rusher. Garrett could be the best prospect in college football and could have been in the running for the No. 1-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft if he had been able to declare.
A general manager told me the 49ers are desperate to trade down, and I think they have a shot at doing it. If the 49ers stay here, I've heard that the top candidates are Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams and Marshon Lattimore. While I know lot of teams that graded Thomas as a mid- to late first-rounder, there are enough teams that like him in the top 10 that he should go high.
WalterFootball.com was the first to report that Thomas intended to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. The junior enjoyed an excellent 2016 season as a big presence on the edge of the Stanford defense. On the year, he had 62 tackles with 15 for a loss, eight sacks and one forced fumble. Sources from seven NFL teams told me that they graded Thomas a mid- to late first-rounder. Two teams said they had Thomas in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft, but there are enough teams in the top 10 that like him that he should go that high.
Thomas has good speed off the edge with strength and physicality. Teams feel that the 6-foot-2, 273-pounder fits best as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense. Many sources said that Thomas is a bit of a tweener and doesn't have a great fit in a 3-4 defense. He probably would play outside linebacker if drafted into a 3-4 scheme. Teams really like Thomas off the field as well.
With Gareon Conley's off-the-field issue, I'm not sure there is a corner who Philadelphia would value at No. 14. Thus, the Eagles could change course and add a pass-rusher. Here's an edge rusher they've hosted who could rush across from Brandon Graham.
In 2016, Barnett recorded 56 tackles with 19 for a loss, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles, five passes broken up and one interception. Sources view Barnett as a smooth pass-rusher who has some natural pass-rushing skills for the pros. Barnett can fight his way through blocks and close on the quarterback. The best traits that Barnett illustrates are an ability to sink his hips and dip under tackles to get leverage in chasing down the quarterback.
Barnett racked up 69 tackles with 12.5 for a loss and 10 sacks in 2015. He notched 10 sacks alongside 72 tackles with 20.5 tackles for a loss as a freshman. Barnett (6-3, 259) is a solid run defender with room for improvement.
Some years of bad moves by former general manager Ryan Grigson, like trading a first-round pick for Trent Richardson and blowing one on Bjoern Werner, are coming back to bite Indianapolis. The Colts have a ton of needs on their talent-deficient roster, including edge rusher, running back, cornerback, defensive line, linebacker, and more offensive line talent. The defense is in horrible shape, so Indianapolis could take the best defensive player available regardless of position. McKinley isn't the best player available, as I know some teams that graded him in the mid-rounds, but the Colts have shown a ton of interest in him, including general manager Chris Ballard spending a lot of time with McKinley.
McKinley is a pass-rushing specialist who enjoyed a breakout senior season. In 2016, he racked up 61 tackles with 18 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes batted. It was a big improvement over his junior year when he recorded 35 tackles with 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes broken up. McKinley was a backup as a sophomore, but had 2.5 sacks.
For the NFL, the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder's body type would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He could play right defensive end in 4-3 scheme, but would have to be rotated regularly and could struggle to defend against the run. In college, McKinley had a high motor, but he would get destroyed against the run regularly. He also lacks pass-rushing moves, is very tight, and is a one-trick pony speed rusher. Thus, I think he has some bust potential.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Charles Harris, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Missouri
I think Miami wants to find an edge rusher most of all, and Harris would be a fit for the organization as a speed rusher who also has great football character. The Dolphins also could use a linebacker upgrade, so if Harris off the board, I think Jarrad Davis is their Plan B. Miami wants smart defenders with great football character, and both Harris and Davis fit those criteria perfectly.
Harris started off the 2016 season with underwhelming performances against West Virginia and Eastern Michigan, totaling five tackles in those games. However, he exploded versus Georgia with three sacks and seven tackles. In November, Harris grew red hot, racking up 4.5 sacks over two games. He totaled 61 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, two passes batted and two forced fumbles on the year.
Harris is a speedy edge rusher who broke out in 2015 with 56 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and two forced fumbles. He was a backup as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and notched two sacks. The 6-foot-3, 253-pound Harris is a fast edge rusher who puts a lot of heat on the quarterback. He is very similar to Vic Beasley and Shane Ray.
If Obi Melifonwu is available I think the Saints would be ecstatic and run the card up there. There is a good chance, however, that Melifonwu will be off the board. The Saints could use another edge rusher upgrade. Here's an end to pair with Cam Jordan. From what I've heard the Saints love Charlton, so I don't think they would pass on him. That being said, you can't rule out a quarterback.
Entering the 2016 season, Charlton flashed for Michigan but was mainly a backup and also was used inside at tackle. In 2016 though, he racked up 9.5 sacks, 43 tackles and 13 tackles for a loss as the bookend defensive end with the stout Chris Wormley. The 6-foot-6, 277-pounder Charlton is athletic with versatile size and length to be a base end in a 4-3 defense or a standup linebacker in a 3-4.
Charlton is fast, explosive and has serious upside to develop in the NFL. Teams feel he could go top-10 and should go in the top half of the first round.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Demarcus Walker, DE/3-4OLB, Florida State
The Panthers grab an edge rusher to groom behind Julius Peppers.
In 2016, Walker totaled 68 tackles with those 16 sacks, 21.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and two passes batted. He caught fire in the second half against Ole Miss to record 4.5 sacks and help lead Florida State to a huge comeback win over the Rebels.
The 6-foot-3, 280-pounder broke out in 2015 with 10.5 sacks, 15.5 tackles for a loss, five passes broken up and 58 tackles. He was a tough edge rusher for the Seminoles. Sources told me that they were projecting Walker to the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft prior to him announcing he would return for his senior year.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Chris Wormley, DT/DE/3-4DE, Michigan
The Ravens get their replacement for Timmy Jernigan.
Wormley notched 40 tackles with nine for a loss and six sacks in 2016. His pass rush looked improved as a senior. Michigan had a tough defense in 2015 led by a tremendous defensive line, and Wormley was the Wolverines' leading defensive end. He recorded 43 tackles with 6.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss on the year.
At 6-foot-5, 297 pounds, Wormley has versatile size to play in a either a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense. In a 3-4, he would be a five-technique defensive end. In a 4-3, he could play tackle, end or both. Wormley needs to continue to develop his pass-rushing moves.
Kpassagnon notched 45 tackles with 21.5 for a loss, 11 sacks, one forced fumble and a pass batted in 2016. He totaled 33 tackles with 6.5 sacks, 9.5 tackles for a loss, two blocked kicks and a forced fumble the year before.
Evaluators believe that the 6-foot-6, 280-pounder is raw and has great size, but the skill set is there with a lot of upside to develop. Sources say that Kpassagnon is a perfect fit as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense and they see him as a second-day talent.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Jordan Willis, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Kansas State
Tampa Bay could target some more edge rush. Here's a player who can rush from the outside and give the Bucs a young tandem with Noah Spence.
Willis caused a lot of disruption and negative plays for his defense in an impressive senior year. In 2016, he totaled 11.5 sacks, 52 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss, three passes batted and three forced fumbles. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder had a respectable week at the Senior Bowl that confirmed his second-day potential for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Willis has good strength to set the edge in rush defense and pass-rushing skills off the edge. He could be a defensive end in a 4-3 or an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State
The Patriots traded for Kony Ealy, but they could use a third edge rusher to go with Ealy and Trey Flowers. New England has also shown interest in Rivers, who could play a Jamie Collins-type role in the team's defense.
Rivers (6-4, 248) ran fast times at the combine and showed some athleticism. As a senior, he totaled 58 tackles with 19.5 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks, one forced fumble and one pass batted. Rivers showed his pass-rush skills with eight sacks as a junior and 13 as a sophomore.
The Bengals grab another edge rusher for their defense.
During the fall, there was a good amount of hype about Smoot as a few ESPN draft analysts projected him among the top-10 prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft. In speaking with multiple NFL teams, they say they initially graded Smoot as a late first-rounder before lowering him into the middle region of Day 2. Smoot totaled 56 tackles and 15 for a loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass batted in 2016.
Sources say that Smoot is very athletic and explosive off the edge. However, they feel the 6-foot-2, 255-pounder, despite being strong for his size, is more disruptive than productive, and that could be the case for him in the NFL. They believe Smoot is the kind of player who will place a lot of pressure on the quarterback, but net only a few sacks. Starting across from Jihad Ward in 2015, Smoot had a strong junior season as he totaled eight sacks with 15 tackles for a loss, 40 tackles, two passes batted and three forced fumbles.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Tim Williams, OLB/DE/3-4OLB, Alabama
The Ravens could use some more young edge-rushing talent after cutting Elvis Dumervil. They've shown interest in the talented, but troubled, Williams.
In 2016, Williams totaled nine sacks, 16 tackles for a loss, 31 tackles, two forced fumbles and a pass batted. He put steady pressure on the quarterback all season. Sources, however, have told me that they have massive off-the-field concerns with Williams. He failed numerous drug tests at Alabama, and some sources say that he has Randy Gregory-like issues with substance abuse. Multiple teams think Williams could slide, and they won't take him in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft even though he is a definite first-round talent. It could end up causing him to slide to Day 2 like Gregory.
The 6-foot-3, 244-pounder came on really strong as a pass-rushing force to close out the 2015 season and help the Crimson Tide win a National Championship. He totaled 10.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss and 19 tackles on the year. It will be interesting to see if Williams can develop into an every-down defender. There is no doubt that he is a fast edge rusher with a nose for the quarterback.
The Falcons could use a base end to go on the other side from Vic Beasley.
In 2016, Hall collected 50 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass batted. He had some good games for the Aggies, but wasn't consistent with his pass-rush production. The senior (6-5, 265) was solid against the run, however.
Hall looked poised to break out in 2015 after picking up an impressive four sacks against Louisville in Week 1. It turned out, however, that the performance was an anomaly, as the junior finished the year with a total of 54 tackles with 12.5 for a loss, seven sacks and two forced fumbles. Despite seeing great pass-rushing opportunities playing across from Myles Garrett, Hall wasn't consistent.
The Steelers could use an edge rusher, and Phillips could be a steal.
In 2016, Phillips recorded 56 tackles with 20 tackles for a loss, nine sacks and one forced fumble. Some sources absolutely love Phillips, but others are lukewarm on him. The teams that love Phillips (6-3, 237) say he is super athletic and twitchy. They feel that his speed and athleticism are very similar to Leonard Floyd. Like Floyd at Georgia, Phillips can struggle somewhat on run downs. However, they feel that he is a very gifted, natural pass-rushing talent. They see him as a potential early rounder. As one could expect, the teams that aren't in love with Phillips don't see him as a high pick.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Carl Lawson, DE/3-4OLB, Auburn
The Chargers could take some defensive end depth with Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu entering free agency next year.
Lawson totaled 30 tackles with 12.5 for a loss, nine sacks and one forced fumble in 2016. In 2015, he seemed to give Laremy Tunsil more trouble than Myles Garrett did. If Lawson hadn't missed half of that season with an injury, he could have had a huge year. He totaled 17 tackles and one sack in his seven games. Lawson missed all of the 2014 season, and as a freshman, he had 20 tackles with four sacks.
Lawson is fast off the edge with some natural strength to fight blockers. The 6-foot-2, 261-pounder has a lot of upside, but his lack of durability is a huge negative. He has the talent to be a first-rounder, but his health is a big question mark.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic
The Cardinals could add multiple defensive linemen since Calais Campbell left in free agency and Robert Nkemdiche struggled as a rookie.
Hendrickson was one of the stars of the East-West Shrine with a strong week of practice. He did well in the pass-rushing one-on-ones and notched a lot of wins. In 2016, Hendrickson totaled 51 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes batted. He had 13.5 sacks as a junior.
Hendrickson could be a mid-round sleeper. Sources have said they graded him in the early rounds of Day 3, but sneaking into the second day is possible. Hendrickson had an impressive combine performance.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Garrett Sickels, DE/3-4OLB, Penn State
Here's an understudy for veterans Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo.
Sickels (6-3, 261) decided to skip his senior season at Penn State and enter the 2017 NFL Draft. The junior recorded 47 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks in 2016. The previous season, he had 35 tackles with five tackles for a loss and three sacks playing on the other side from Carl Nassib. Sickels would probably fit best in the NFL as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio
The Cowboys grab some more pass-rushing competition.
Every year, there are some small-school prospects who get exposure at the college all-star games, and Basham took advantage with an impressive Senior Bowl. The 6-foot-3, 259-pounder has the quickness to be an edge rusher in the NFL and has athletic upside to develop.
As a senior, Basham recorded 50 tackles with 16 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks and two passes broken up. He put together some modest sack production as a junior (5.5), sophomore (4) and freshman (7.5). Basham ended his career with totals of 40 tackles for a loss, 28.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.
I'm not buying the Ezekiel Elliott buzz here. I see the temptation in drafting the best running back prospect since 2007 (more on him in a bit) to fill out the offense, but I think as long as Romo stays healthy (and lets be real, if he isn’t healthy they aren’t going anywhere anyway) the offense will be totally fine with all of those weapons and a mid-round better value running back. The defense however is the main issue. Any of the top defensive players in this class are options here as they really could use help on all three levels. They’ve got some key worthwhile pieces like Byron Jones, Rolando McClain, Demarcus Lawrence, and Tyrone Crawford, but really everyone else on the defense is just average at best and no real young pieces to build on. So best defensive player available should be the pick here, and that is the incredible Joey Bosa. I think Bosa is an absolute superstar in the making I couldn’t be any higher on this guy. He’s right up there with Ramsey in my eyes as the top prospect in this class. You just can’t teach his production and motor. His broad jump, 3 cone drill, and 20 yard shuttle, maybe the three best judges of a pass rusher, were all best in the class and beyond elite. He has INCREDIBLE hands and really just top notch skills all around. The biggest knock on him was his average 40 time but it really was not even that bad at all and also is not a very telling stat for defensive lineman anyway. Joey Bosa may very well be the best player in the class and throwing him on a Dline opposite of Demarcus Lawrence and with Cedric Thornton and Tyrone Crawford in the middle is a scary proposition for the rest of the league. Making this pick even more likely, Demarcus Lawrence might be facing a suspension now as well, and Jerry Jones recently said that the teams number one need is pass rusher along the defensive line. Enter Joey Bosa and cue the fear of NFC east rivals.
Here is what I wrote about the previous pick of Andrew Billings: "(He) went out and ran as fast at the combine as I expected after watching the tape. He is one of those rare DLs who gets tired at the end of games, not because he's out of shape but because he chases more plays sideline to sideline than any DL you will watch. I don't believe the second round talk on him at all. This is their Brandon Mebane in Gus Bradley's system. No way are they going to invest in Malik Jackson then leave Roy Miller or Abry Jones next to him so that guards and tight ends can chip on him all game and make him the most overpaid player in the league. Billings is easily the best defensive lineman in the draft and a no-brainer pick here."
Don't ask me why he is being downgraded so much, but I suspect the answer is that the NFL draft has become very similar to the NBA draft in recent years, where teams who actually need to get as many guys as possible who are developed and ready to play, take extremely raw, developmental players instead. Then in five years, you look back and see that they are picking in the top 16 again after three out of four years picking in the top 16. I like what Jacksonville is going, but I don't like this pick at all. Here is what I wrote about Buckner in the original mock of him to the Cowboys in round 2:
"Remember the Zeke Elliott pick. This is not a good draft for the Cowboys to make logical picks. They will be high-fiving and talking about stealing Buckner, but I think this is actually high for him. Watch the tape from 2013 and compare his play to Armstead. Buckner is big but unathletic, and unlike Calais Campbell who he is compared to, the additional weight will just make him slower and less flexible. One of the most over-rated players we've seen in the draft since Clowney."
** Previous Pick ** NT Andrew Billings.
This decision likely comes down to a cornerback or a pass rusher. Ideally, the Dolphins are definitely yet another team that is praying for Vernon Hargreaves to fall this low, but that just isn’t in the cards in this particular mock and with no other cornerback likely worthwhile at this juncture the Dolphins go with Lawson, the best pass rusher available on the board. Olivier Vernon got his MASSIVE contract (and rightfully so) to go play in New York this offseason and that is the signing that everyone knows and talks about. But, another big underrated departure from Miami this offseason was Derrick Shelby. Sure, when looking at the Miami depth chart and seeing Cameron Wake on one side with Mario Williams manning the other one might not see this as a huge need, but given Wake’s age and extensive injury history and Williams’ recent decline and attitude problems this clearly is a large need. Maybe not right away as the Dolphins are likely banking on these guys performing at least for one more season, but definitely long term. Shaq Lawson led the nation this past season with 24.5 TFL’s which is just a freakish number. To put that number into perspective former teammate and top 10 pick Vic Beasley never had more than 22.5 in a season. Lawson had near the top of the list times in the 40 yard dash and 20 yard shuttles amongst his position at 4.70 seconds and 4.21 seconds respectively, showcasing his elite level physical tools. Great motor early in games even though he does seem to slow down as the games wear on due to fatigue so he might need some conditioning work. Not an elite bender around the edge but converts speed to power really well and has excellent hands. He’s got a tremendously high ceiling and has the production to back it up as well. Sleeper pick that I’m surprised I haven’t seen more of, Darron Lee. Linebacker is a huge need for the Dolphins as well.
NFL.com Comparison: Sharrif Floyd
My Comparison: Sheldon Richardson
Exceptional build. Carries no bad weight and has outstanding thickness and power through his rear, thighs and calves. Plus movement skills and runs like a defensive end. Has reactive explosiveness for expanded range as tackler near line of scrimmage. Wrap up finisher who won't allow running backs out of his grasp. Plays with good lateral quickness and can win the race across the face of blockers. Played stronger at point of attack this year. Proved he could penetrate and 2-gap. Showed noticeable improvement as pass rusher this season. Has a decent spin move as pass rusher and plays with the power to force his way through a guard's shoulder and into the backfield. Improved quarterback pressures from 13 to 26 this year.
Considered the top-rated prospect in the nation when he signed with Ole Miss, the 3-technique tackle is considered one of the key cogs in turning around the Ole Miss program. His talent and frame are worthy of an early selection, but his lack of high-end production and character concerns could cause him to slide. With that said, he has the talent to be an impact starter in the league.
I know he’s got character issues stemming from the multiple failed drug tests due to ecstasy use, but he’s just too dang talented. I always believe that talent really does trump character issues and boy does this guy have talent. A star at Ohio State early in his career before getting dismissed, he picked up right where he left off at Eastern Kentucky University with 11.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss. Great motor (I LOVE players with good motors clearly, something you just can’t teach), versatile as he’s played standing up and with his hand in the dirt, and he just knows how to get upfield and make plays. Extremely explosive as he finished near the top of the class with a 121 inch broad jump. He needs to get stronger and not be pushed around as often as he is but his character on the field is fantastic as he’s a hard working kid by all accounts. This seems too low even for a guy with his talent level, but the character concerns cause a slight fall. Tamba Hali and Dee Ford look like the starters for now in Kansas City which allows Spence to ease into things early on (Justin Houston is going to be out for a while if not the entire year which is a huge blow to Kansas City’s playoff hopes). But, with Tamba Hali turning 33 in the middle of the regular season and essentially on just a two year deal, an electric pass rusher might be a need yet again sooner rather than later. This is the perfect mix of value and future needs, while also fulfilling a specific and perfect role in the present as well. If he can stay out of trouble, this is highway robbery.
Wow. No one had this. Everyone we polled around the league had DeForest Buckner, Jalen Ramsey, Laremy Tunsil or Ronnie Stanley. No one we polled, and no mock-draft analyst predicted Bosa. I'm so shocked, I'm almost at a loss for words. Almost. Bosa should be a good player, but his fit in a 3-4 is pretty questionable, ......
Rd. 1, Pk. 7
DeForest Buckner, DE/3-4DE
In the two hours in which I changed my third pick to Ronnie Stanley, I wrote that one team that won because of San Diego's stupidity was the 49ers, because it allowed DeForest Buckner to fall into their laps. Excluding Tunsil, who is now scaring teams off because of some random picture, Buckner was the best player available. He also fills a huge need. The 49ers needed help on the defensive line to replace Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. They now have that with Buckner and his Oregon teammate Arik Armstead.
Speaking of Oregon, it's nice that Buckner has familiarity with Chip Kelly. I think it always helps when a prospect or free agent goes to a team where he's comfortable with the scheme and coaching, and that's the case here.
Rd. 1, Pk. 19
Shaq Lawson, DE/3-4OLB
Some teams told us that they had Shaq Lawson in the second round early on during the draft process. His shoulder was the concern, but once that medically checked out, it became apparent that he could be chosen as high as No. 11 to Chicago. With that in mind, the Bills are getting a steal. Lawson is an athletic freak, and he should fit in extremely well into Rex Ryan's defense. Ryan had to find an edge rusher to replace the lethargic Mario Williams, and Lawson figures to be an instant upgrade. The one concern is Lawson's attitude, but he's well worth the risk at No. 19 overall.
Rd. 1, Pk. 29
Robert Nkemdiche, DT/DE/3-4DE
If Robert Nkemdiche were totally clean off the field, he would've been a top-10 selection. There's no doubt about that. There were a lot of things wrong with him, however, and several teams told us that he was completely off their board.
That said, this is a great pick. The Cardinals were completely fine with his attitude, and that carries some weight because they've taken chances on players with character issues before like Dan Williams and Tyrann Mathieu. They panned out, and there's a good chance Nkemdiche will as well. If so, he's someone who could help put Arizona over the top.
Rd. 2, Pk. 1
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE/3-4OLB
I CHANGED MY MILLEN Grade
I said I'd give the Browns a Millen if they didn't take Myles Jack at No. 32. Well, OK, I guess I lied, but I'm still marking Cleveland down for not taking perhaps the best talent in the 2016 NFL Draft atop Round 2. The reason this is not a Millen is because I like Emmanuel Ogbah. However, I don't know about his scheme fit in a 3-4, so this is still pretty bad. I don't get why Cleveland didn't pick Jack.
Actually, you know what? I changed my mind. This is a Millen. The Browns are a losing franchise and needed a winner like Jack. This is a Millen.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Kevin Dodd, DE
This pick makes sense. Kevin Dodd was projected to go somewhere in the 30-35 range. Thus, the range is right, though I'd like this pick a lot more if Myles Jack wasn't on the board. At any rate, I wonder where the Titans will play Dodd. He can play both five-technique and outside linebacker. His versatility is definitely intriguing, and he should be a solid player for Tennessee.
Rd. 2, Pk. 8
Noah Spence, DE/3-4OLB
The Buccaneers have taken chances on players with character concerns before, and it has panned out for this new regime thus far, for the most part. Noah Spence fits into that theme. If he wasn't attached with any off-the-field issues, he would've been a top-10 pick. He's extremely talented, and he fits exactly what the Buccaneers needed. They were desperate for a pass-rusher, and Spence was the best player available who could fill that void.