1: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi
- He’s the best offensive tackle prospect I’ve ever seen come out of college football, and he’s still only a 21-year-old. I personally would like to take players at creator positions over preventer positions early on in the draft, as they have more of an impact on plays as an individual, but Tunsil’s developed enough already that the promise of landing a top-10 left tackle for a couple years on a rookie contract makes him worth the first overall pick in this class. That and the potential that he could still be playing for you in 2030.
- When Tunsil came back from suspension, for an NCAA rule not a real law, he had to go head-to-head with the top two returning pass-rushers in the SEC. He shutdown Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett and Auburn’s Carl Lawson. He only allowed two sacks in his college career.
- With the way the Tennessee Titans are built, I think it would be a mistake for them to not draft Tunsil. Marcus Mariota was the second overall pick last season and his problem throughout college, other than his deep ball calibration, was sack-fumbles. They started Jeremiah Poutasi, a 21-year-old guard prospect, at right tackle last year. That was in a division where J.J. Watt goes toe-to-toe with the right tackle twice for 60 minutes. Take Tunsil, play he and Taylor Lewan as bookends in some order and kick Poutasi inside. You just upgraded two or three positions with one selection and protected your franchise player. Congrats.
2: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
- People make jokes about Myles Jack’s production, but in the running game, defenders should be forcing the ball to other players. The best result for a run defense is for a running back to cut back into the teeth of a defense and get bottled up in the backfield. That’s a team effort, not an individual effort. If you look at linebackers who produce a lot of tackles in the NFL, the harsh reality is that they’re making those tackles four or five yards down the field, as running backs chose their lane as the path of least resistance.
- He played damn near everything at UCLA. He was the offensive and defensive freshman of the year for the Pac-12 after playing running back and linebacker for the Bruins. He also played roles which were similar to a 3-4 outside linebacker and a strong safety. He’s incredibly athletic. Honestly, if Jack and Jaylon Smith really wanted to play 3-4 outside linebacker, they’d be in the top-four of this draft class. I can’t tell if he’s the re-release of Bobby Wagner or the deluxe edition.
- Jack’s dealing with a reported meniscus issue. His camp is already taking videos of him jumping out of the gym while he recovers. He was unable to workout at the combine, so we’ll wait on his pro day. As long as he’s healthy enough to play in 2016, I wouldn’t worry about his injury much.
3: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
- In terms of immediate impact, I don’t think anyone in this class can match up with Ezekiel Elliott. He’s been NFL-ready for two seasons and is an all-around running back. On the NFL Network broadcast of the combine, his head coach, Urban Meyer, brought up his blocking ability, noting how he sprung Braxton Miller on that Virginia Tech spin move highlight that went viral. He blocks well in the run game, which you can see on those isolation quarterback runs, in pass protection and can catch the ball. He doesn’t have a true flaw.
- Follow me down this path of thinking. Why don’t we draft running backs high anymore? It’s the longevity of the position on the relative scale of everyone else. What if your window was closing, though? Would Elliott be your top overall player? The Dallas Cowboys just put a plate in Tony Romo to prolong his career a couple more seasons. In all likelihood, Romo will be out of the league before Elliott signs an extension. Behind that offensive line, he could be a 1,500-yard back immediately. If Dallas wants to strike when the iron is hot, Elliott may be their best move.
- Todd Gurley rose late in the process when the “he’s a running back” narrative started to fade away. I think the same will happen with Elliott.
4: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
- I don’t really understand why people want him at safety. He’s really talented at blitzing as a defensive back, but are you going to have him at the line of scrimmage or in the slot at the next level? He knows how to use the sideline as his teammate so well that I can’t see why you’d want to play him in space like that.
- He’s the long, top-end speed cornerback that teams have been dreaming of for a while. He’s a press-man defense’s dream, but don’t try to play him in the slot or in off coverage often. I still think that Marcus Peters was a better prospect coming out of Washington last season, but Ramsey is pretty clearly a top-six pick in this draft class.
- The Antonio Cromartie comparison holds up as far as I’m concerned.
5: Joey Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
- There’s really three types of successful edge defenders. There are the ones who can bend around you, the ones who can just bull rush through you and the longer, technical ones who just wear you down. Joey Bosa is in the third category, and that’s perfectly fine. He’s a technician who wins with length and inside moves, almost like Jadeveon Clowney with a little less juice. I was surprised that he had a below average length at the combine, but he’s so firm with his strength that he wins the battle to get inside hands naturally, to the point that his arms appear longer than they really are.
- At 269 pounds, he only fits one role: 4-3 defensive end. That’s perfectly fine. He’s not the guy you want dropping back into coverage as a 3-4 outside linebacker, and he’s too light to play on the interior defensive line outside of pressure packages. He’s still very good as a traditional left defensive end.
- It’s hard to imagine Bosa failing as a football talent. Some in South Florida may be worried that he will be like his father and uncle, two Miami Dolphins first-round picks who each only played three season in the NFL, but I don’t see this Bosa costing Dan Marino a Lombardi Trophy. He needs the right home, but he’s a very safe on-field talent. People seem to forget about his suspension at Ohio State, but as long as he’s clean off the field, I’d take him early in this draft class.
6: Sheldon Rankins, DL, Louisville
- For one-gap defensive linemen, the speed and power in a penetrator’s first two steps has more of an impact on a play-to-play basis than any other trait. Sheldon Rankins is very good in that aspect, which I saw firsthand in one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl. Rankins’ combine was another check mark, as he scored in the 95th percentile of the vertical jump and the 98th percentile of the broad jump for defensive tackles, per Mock Draftable.
- Rankins has counter moves to his speed. In Mobile, his first rep in one-on-ones was always the same: destroying a guy off the line of scrimmage. On their second go around, that lineman would typically over-correct, leading to a counter off of his direct move, usually a spin. He knows how to play games with his athleticism as an interior defensive lineman. Give me that. Every time.
- He’s probably going to be looked at as a 3-technique defensive tackle-only at the next level, which is fine, but don’t forget that a lot of 3-4 defensive essentially play their linemen like a 4-3 under defense. For example, the Green Bay Packers’ Mike Daniels is a 3-technique player who is listed as a 3-4 defensive end on the roster. Usually, they play a 5-technique defensive end opposite of Daniels’ side with either a nose tackle or nose guard between them, like the Seattle-Jacksonville-Atlanta interior defensive linemen line up in their 4-3 under.