Draft boards and projections all around the NFL are about to get shaken up with the NFL Scouting Combine ongoing. As of now, we have a pretty good grasp on what the teams' needs are, for now. So, let's take this last chance to do a mock draft before everything changes.
Laremy Tunsil (OT, Ole Miss)
There are a few "Blue Chip" players in this draft, and Tunsil offers the best combination of value and need. He is the top tackle in this draft, and probably by a big enough margin over whoever would be available at the top of the second round to warrant this pick. This is about protecting Marcus Mariota, but we're not going to pretend that a rookie tackle is going to solve their woes, they always struggle, but Tunsil's upside is impossible to ignore.
Joey Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
There are three reasons why this isn't a quarterback. First, the Browns very well could address this need in free agency before the draft. Second, none of the quarterbacks in this draft are franchise saviors. There isn't an Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston, or Marcus Mariota to be found. Third, their defense needs shoring up, and Bosa is one of the top two all-around defenders in this draft.
Jalen Ramsey (DB, Florida State)
Is Ramesy a corner? Is he a safety? Honestly, I like him best at safety, but his versatility is one of his strong points. A good (great) safety can be transformative for a defense, and with Weddle likely out in San Diego, that is a big hole to fill. Ramsey has range, cover ability and ball skills. They could go defensive line here, but there will be potentially great linemen available in the second, there won't be a DB like Ramsey.
Carson Wentz (QB, North Dakota State)
Honestly, this is a reach to me, but with Ramsey off the board (reportedly the Cowboys' top target as of this writing) as well as Bosa, this is their best option. Yes, Myles Jack, Noah Spence, and Jaylon Smith are, or could be fantastic players. But they didn't win a game without Tony Romo. With Romo getting offseason surgery to have a metal plate installed to try and keep his collar bone from breaking again, it's time to start thinking about the future. Wentz is a high-upside QB who did nothing but dominate the FCS. Taking him to learn behind Romo is an ideal plan, and he presents the possibility of winning a game if (when) Tony goes down (again).
Vernon Hargreaves III (CB, Florida)
The Jags' secondary is not good. They're really very not good, and the organization is probably hoping for Ramsey to fall this far, but it didn't happen. And that's okay because Hargreaves is a good consolation prize. He doesn't have Ramsey's All-World athleticism, but he is a feisty run defender with the feet, hips, and instincts to be the cover corner Jacksonville needs.
Myles Jack (OLB, UCLA)
The once feared Baltimore defense is disintegrating before our eyes. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have retired, Haloti Ngata was traded to the Lions, Terrell Suggs is aging, and a pair of second-round linebacker busts in Courtney Upshaw and Arthur Brown have severely hampered the Ravens' ability to reload. Jack is a phenomenal athlete who's range in conjunction with CJ Mosley could eventually let Baltimore adopt something like the Denver Broncos defense, with a pair of rangy linebackers allowing for five-man rushes.
DeForest Buckner (DL, Oregon)
In his lone attempt at being a GM in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly confirmed for the world that he loves his Ducks. He recruited Buckner and paired him with Arik Armstead in Oregon, and now he gets to do the same thing again. Buckner fits the defensive personnel (such as it is) already in San Francisco. If Kelly wants to run a similar style of defense, Buckner and Armstead would once again make an imposing set of bookends.
Ronnie Stanley (OT, Notre Dame)
The Dolphins are still trying to rebuild an offensive line that was blown up by the bullying scandal years ago. While Stanley probably won't provide an immediate fix, he should help to solidify the left side of their line and can mature into a very good left tackle.
Kevin Dodd (DE, Clemson)
Kevin Dodd has been the "other" pass rusher across from Shaq Lawson, however, he is still very productive, and appears to have more "NFL" traits. He has the length, first step, bend, hands, and power that NFL teams look for. Mike Smith prizes the ability to stop the run and pressure quarterbacks to create opportunities for turnovers. Dodd should fit in with what he wants to do on defense.
10. New York Giants
Andrew Billings (DT, Baylor)
I was very tempted to go with Noah Spence or Jaylon Smith here. Very tempted. However, the question is "How much risk is Jerry Reese willing to accept?" Until we know more about Smith's knee and Spence's off-field issues, I'm hard-pressed to say that the talent outweighs the risk. Assuming either are clean, having to decide between a pair of potential perennial All-Pro's is a great problem to have.
But I can't make that assumption just yet.
Andrew Billings is a player who checks almost every "Giants" box. He is young, not turning 21 until March, he is explosively powerful -- the Giants love strong linemen --, he has a non-stop motor, is disruptive and productive as both a run stopper and a pass rusher, and is (by every account I've read) a good teammate. The Giants prize character and work ethic, and Billings has those in spades to go with tremendous physical talent. He and Johnathan Hankins would be a force on the inside of the defensive line, and provide the kind of pressure up the middle that offenses struggle to cope with (see: the Panthers' defense). Billings occasionally loses track of the ball or runs himself out of a play. However, Baylor is hardly known for their defense, and the Giants added a pair of defensive line coaches who have produced very good -- and disciplined -- players.
11. Chicago Bears
Noah Spence (OLB, EKU)
John Fox and Vic Fangio are overjoyed by Reese's reticence and sprint to the podium to take Spence. Both have experience with talented edge rushers who also have off-field issues (Von Miller and Aldon Smith). Spence also happens to fit perfectly into the kind of defense Fox and Fangio want to build in Chicago.
Shaq Lawson (DE/OLB, Clemson)
It's still a bit up in the air as to what Lawson will be in the NFL. However, whether he is a defensive end or an outside linebacker, the Saints can use either. Their defense has been horrid for a while and Lawson's ability to stop the run and get pressure on the passer should help them improve.
Jared Goff (QB, California)
The Eagles' offseason spending seems to be setting them up for an offensive draft, which is smart after Chip Kelly effectively gutted their offense of ... all of their playmakers. A quarterback here would make sense if they don't get one in free agency, and Goff is the best one available. Goff is largely pro-ready and is expected to "wow" teams when he gets on the white board.
14. Oakland Raiders
Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Ohio State)
The Raiders are tempted to solidify the back end of their defense here with Mackensie Alexander or Eli Apple, but with the AFC West seemingly ripe for the taking, they get Derek Carr another potentially elite weapon in Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott is a well-rounded running back who does everything well and never has to come off the field.
15. Los Angeles Rams
Laquon Treadwell (WR, Ole Miss)
The Rams have needed a true No. 1 wide receiver for a long time now, and they finally get one. Treadwell might drop because of questions regarding his speed, but he plays like a nastier version of Hakeem Nicks. They still need somebody to throw him the ball, but Treadwell is more highly rated than any of the available quarterbacks. There should -- well, maybe could -- be a good value there in the second round.
16. Detroit Lions
Jack Conklin (OT, Michigan State)
The Lions were hoping and praying that Treadwell would fall just a bit further and help make the loss of Calvin Johnson hurt a bit less, but it just wasn't to be. Instead, they get somebody to push Riley Reiff to the right side and hopefully improve Matt Stafford's protection and the Lions' run blocking.
17. Atlanta Falcons
Darron Lee (OLB, Ohio State)
Dan Quinn helped to build one of the most consistently great defenses in the NFL in Seattle, and while a big part of that was putting defenders in position to succeed, another part is getting athletes and turning them loose. Lee is one of the most athletic -- and confident -- defenders in the draft. Adept at playing the run, rushing the passer, and covering the middle of the field, Lee can help the Falcons' defense in a variety of ways.
A'Shawn Robinson (DT, Alabama)
The Colts' defense was bad against the pass and the rush and has been for a while now. They have struggled mightily to rebuild Bill Polian's speedy defense in the more smash-mouth Baltimore mold. Robinson is still developing, but he is already a vocal leader and powerful player with an edge.
19. Buffalo Bills
Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame)
With the talent already on the roster and the arrival of Rex Ryan, the Bills' defense was expected to be one of the best in the league. What they got, however, was an identity crisis as Ryan tried to adapt his exotic blitz-based defense to the Bills' more traditional 4-3 personnel. Jaylon Smith could, should, go much higher if his prognosis is promising. However, without knowing the future, Ryan's 3-4 based concepts should help to protect Smith, and Ryan has never been shy about taking a risk on a defensive player.
20. New York Jets
Taylor Decker (OT, Indiana)
The Jets need to find a right tackle, and might even need a left tackle if they have to cut D'Brickashaw Ferguson to create the cap room to sign Muhammad Wilkerson to a long-term deal. The big Ohio State tackle can play either side and is used to playing on the biggest stages.
Ryan Kelly (C, Alabama)
Washington is busy trying to work out a deal with Kirk Cousins, so I'm going to give them a player to help solidify their rebuilding offensive line. Kelly is a legitimate NFL starter and helped pave the way for Derrick Henry's Heisman Trophy campaign. Big, strong, athletic, and intelligent, Kelly is just about everything you could want in a center.
22. Houston Texans
Christian Hackenberg (QB, Penn State)
Based on the last two years of Hackenberg's college career, this is almost certainly a reach. However, based on the last time he was coached by Houston head coach Bill O'Brien, this is likely a steal. Tall, stout, and with a massively strong arm, Hackenberg looks like a prototypical NFL quarterback. However, he has also been remarkably inconsistent since O'Brien was forced out of Penn State and left for the NFL. Was it the roster, the scheme, the coaching, the extreme turbulence surrounding the program that led to Hackenberg's inconsistencies? Or was it the player himself?
Corey Coleman (WR, Baylor)
The Vikings could go for Kansas State's Cody Whitehair here, and that would probably be a great pick. However, they are taking the opportunity to add an explosive playmaker to spring their other weapons. Stefon Diggs led the Vikings with 52 catches for 720 yards and four touchdowns. That's just not good enough.
Jarran Reed (DT, Alabama)
The Bengals could lose both of their secondary receivers to free agency, as well as safety George Iloka. If either of those things happen, this pick would likely change. But as it stands now, the Bengals are getting a big, powerful defensive tackle to command and control double teams and free up Geno Atkins inside.
Eli Apple (CB, Ohio State)
The Steelers generally like drafting front seven players in the first round of the draft, but first they need Bud Dupree to get on track. Apple is a long, athletic corner who should help to give that front seven more time to work. The Steelers let their defense as a whole decline recently. Apple will help to rebuild and rejuvenate the back end.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)
The Seahawks could lose edge rusher Bruce Irvin to free agency, and could use a similar player to help their pass rush. Floyd is an interesting player who was a rush linebacker before this past year but has shown the ability to drop in coverage and be a "complete" linebacker. He is thin, but his length and quickness could intrigue the Seahawks, who have a habit of finding a role for unique defenders.
Reggie Ragland (ILB, Alabama)
Ragland's stock could depend heavily on his Combine performance. He measured 6-1 and weighed 259 pounds at the Senior Bowl, and had a lackluster week of practice. He was attempting to show that he could have upside as an edge rusher, but he played well as an inside linebacker for 'Bama. The Packers need a middle linebacker, and if Ragland is here, he should be the pick.
Jason Spriggs (OT, Indiana)
Eric Fisher has thus far been a bust as the first overall pick of the 2013 draft and lost his job as the starting left tackle last season. Spriggs might not be able to step in and secure Alex Smith's blindside, but once he can overcome his tendency to lunge, he has the prototypical build and athleticism for an NFL tackle.
Hunter Henry (TE, Arkansas)
Arizona was probably hoping that an edge rusher would slip this far but it didn't happen, so instead they get an option for Carson Palmer. The Cards have struggled at the tight end position and Henry is the best one in the class. He has dependable hands and the ability to play in-line or split out wide. Combined with David Johnson and Arizona's deep weapons, their offense would be even more of a nightmare to try and contain.
30. Carolina Panthers
Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Ole Miss)
This is a long way for a player who has -- arguably -- more raw talent than anyone else in the draft. However, lingering questions about his off-field character and on-field production (or lack thereof) dropped Nkemdiche down the draft board. The Panthers could really use an offensive tackle, but Nkemdiche presents too much potential upside to ignore. If this pick pays off, the Panthers would have the most devastating defensive tackle rotation in the NFL.
31. Denver Broncos
Cody Whitehair (OG, Kansas State)
Peyton Manning declined badly in 2015, but an offensive line that needs help all over could be ushering him into retirement. Whitehair is being told that some teams think he could play any interior line spot, even all five OL positions, he will be able to find a home and help that Denver offensive line.