Just like that, day one of the 2016 NFL Draft has come and gone in front of our very eyes. Leading up to the draft, there was a lot of hype that it could prove to be one of the most exciting drafts in recent memory; it did not disappoint in that regard.
Atop the draft we saw QBs go 1-2 in Jared Goff and Carson Wentz respectively, as expected. The draft essentially started with the Chargers at 3 where they took Joey Bosa in what, by most, was considered to be a surprising move. The Cowboys followed suit with their selection Ezekiel Elliott at 4 which was expected by some. Jalen Ramsey rounded out the top 5 as he heads to Jacksonville.
In what proved to be the most surprising turn of events in the first round, we saw Laremy Tunsil fall out of the top 10 after a photo surfaced of him smoking out of gas-mask. He fell all the way to Miami which could prove to be the biggest steal of the draft. Teammates Laquon Treadwell and Robert Nkemdiche are others guys who fell to the end of the 1st round – other guys I consider to be huge steals as you’ll see below.
Heading into day two some great talent remains on the board – particularly on the defensive side of the ball as Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith fell out of the 1st round. Both LBs considered to be top 5 prospects based on talent alone. However, knee concerns scared teams off as they talented players will be on the board at the start of day two.
Winner: Ohio State
The Buckeyes were poised to break the record (6) for most 1st round picks in one year. While they fell one short of the record, the Buckeyes still dominated the early stages of the 1st round as they made up a quarter of the picks in the top 20. Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott got the party started as they went consecutive in the 3-4 slots. Eli Apple joined them in the top 10 marking the first time since 2010 that a team compiled 3 first round picks. Taylor Decker and Darron Lee would round out Ohio State’s 1st round draft class as they tallied 5 on the day. Guys like Vonn Bell and Michael Thomas will go on day 2.
Top 5 prospects such as Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith slipped due to injury. While Smith was expected to fall out of the 1st round, Jack was typically a projected top 10 pick in most mocks. In the day or two leading up to the draft, he saw a small slip in stock that had him in the 14-20 range, but falling out of the 1st was not expected. Another 1st round guy to slip into the 2nd round was Alabama’s Reggie Ragland.
WR, Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings (23rd – Minnesota Vikings)
My top receiver in the draft slipped due to a poor 40 time and concerns about his speed. Forget that. Treadwell is a straight up baller. He’s a scrappy receiver and among the best blockers I’ve ever seen at the position. Has a knack for the ball and is great when it’s in the air.
The fit in Minnesota isn’t the best, but he’ll provide a great weapon for Teddy Bridgewater in the short game and will even be able to stretch the field a bit from time-to-time. We’re going to look back on this draft in a couple years and question why Treadwell slipped into the mid 20s.
OT, Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (13th – Miami Dolphins)
We knew a guy like Laremy Tunsil had potential to fall in the draft. After the infamous picture of him smoking marijuana through a gas mask surfaced, that drew even more flags from teams and led to the complete removal of him on some boards. Regardless, he remained my top overall prospect on my personal big board and watching him fall was complete blasphemy.
Tunsil finally went off the board in the middle of the 1st round as the Miami Dolphins proved to be the team willing to take the risk. Tunsil carries tremendous upside as a franchise left tackle and could prove to be well worth the risk and the 13th pick.
DL, Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (29th – Arizona Cardinals)
Yet another Ole Miss Rebel proves to be a steal in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Nkemdiche is arguably the most gifted defensive linemen in this year’s draft – #10 overall prospect on my big board but slipped due to character concerns.
Nkemdiche finds himself in an ideal situation with the Arizona Cardinals who are going to provide him with the correct atmosphere where he can succeed and block out the negativity. Has tremendous potential to be a great all-around defensive linemen under a coach like Bruce Arians.
G, Joshua Garnett, Stanford (28th – San Francisco 49ers)
When the news broke that the 49ers decided to trade up back into the 1st round, I was very intrigued to see who they would select. It turned out to be a bad trade. Not necessarily a bad pick as I’m higher on Garnett than most, but Chip Kelly didn’t need to give up 3 picks for him.
Garnett is an intelligent interior linemen who could play a solid decade in the NFL. However, he shouldn’t have been selected over a guy like Cody Whitehair. Kelly didn’t do himself any favors during his 1st draft day as the 49ers head coach.
LB, Leonard Floyd, Georgia (9th – Chicago Bears)
Floyd is a guy who soared up draft boards in the few days leading up to the draft. His combination of size, athleticism and potential as a pass rusher proved to be enticing to teams. Regardless, I remained one of the biggest Floyd haters.
As if my views on Floyd weren’t harsh enough, Chicago’s move to trade into the top 10 to snag Floyd solidified this selection as an ever bigger reach. While Floyd does in fact carry some potential as a pass rusher, his production in college would lead you to believe otherwise. I don’t believe he has the frame nor the strength to excel at the next level. Reportedly he has added some wait, but even on film his intangibles and awareness are questionable. Vic Fangio has the ability to develop any defensive player into a star – but I’m not sure that’s the case with Floyd.
LB, Darron Lee, Ohio State (20th – New York Jets)
While this was the ranged that Darron Lee was heavily mocked and projected in, I don’t like the pick for 2 reasons. First off, Lee is a guy I think carries tremendous potential as a bust. Secondly, I really don’t like the scheme fit either.
Todd Bowles can serve as a great mentor and coach for Lee which may salvage his career. However, watching him on tape he surely has a flash to him and ability to make big plays. What also stands out to me is his lack of strength and physicality. He’s just not a good ‘football player’ Lee was carried into the 1st round by a great showing at the combine and his excellent athleticism – that doesn’t always translate well at the next level. The last defensive player selected in the 1st round by the Jets? Vernon Gholston.
CB, Eli Apple, Ohio State (10th – New York Giants)
As if his mom referring to Michael Irvin as one of the all-time great running backs wasn’t bad enough, Eli Apple was the biggest reach of the 1st round in the 2016 NFL Draft. While I like his skill-set and upside, he had no business in the top over other corners such as Vernon Hargreaves or William Jackson.
The height/weight/speed specimen out of Ohio State saw a soaring rise in draft stock after a great performance at the combine. He proved himself as a reliable #1 corner in Columbus this past season. However, the 6’1” Apple is very raw as an outside corner. Luckily, he’ll have guys like Jenkins and DRC to sit behind. I think he can be groomed into a solid #2 corner – not worth a top 10 pick, however.
S, Keanu Neal, Florida (17th – Atlanta Falcons)
While he was a guy I had mocked to the Falcons (in the 2nd round) I was pretty surprised to see Dan Quinn and co. reach for him to kickoff the 2nd half of the first round. Neal was a guy who saw his stock ascend leading up to the draft, but he surely wasn’t expected to go this high let alone in the 1st.
Neal is a great football player, no doubt about it, but the Falcons probably could’ve held out and got him in the 2nd, or even traded up in the 2nd while getting another defensive piece at this slot.