NFL Draft – First Round Predictor

28 April 2016

Written by: Peter Distefano

Peter Di Stefano analyses each teams potential first round selections for the NFL Draft.

With the NFL Draft only a day away we take a close look at the players likely to be drafted in the first round according to each teams primary requirements.


Pick 1. Los Angeles Rams 

Jared Goff – Quarterback, University of California

The Rams traded up to pick one securing what they hope will be their franchise quarterback, similarly to the Washington Redskins in 2012 who moved up to draft Robert Griffin III. During his college career Goff amassed over 12,000 passing yards, a 3-1 touchdown-interception ratio and a passer rating of 144.


Pick 2. Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz – Quarterback, North Dakota University

The Eagles traded with the Cleveland Browns for pick two. Starting quarterback Sam Bradford is on the verge of leaving, meaning the Eagles are very likely to select a quarterback. Wentz has shown excellent athleticism, movability in the pocket and good arm strength.


Pick 3. San Diego Chargers

Laremy Tunsil – Offensive Tackle, University of Mississippi

San Diego had a number of injuries on their offensive line in 2015. In a division with elite edge rushers such as Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Justin Houston, the Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers would be well served protecting his blindside. In his 28 college starts he only allowed two sacks.


Pick 4. Dallas Cowboys

Joey Bosa – Defensive End, Ohio State University

The Cowboys have lost edge rushers DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory for the first four games after violating the NFL drug policy. Bosa’s college career saw him accumulate 26 sacks and 51 tackles for a loss. He frequently combatted double teams to allow teammates to make plays.


Pick 5. Jacksonville Jaguars

Jalen Ramsey – Free Safety, Florida State University

The Jaguars require depth and competition at the cornerback position. Ramsey is listed as a free safety, but he can play as a perimeter cornerback or as the nickel.


Pick 6. Baltimore Ravens

Myles Jack – Outside Linebacker, University of California, Los Angeles

A cornerback would likely be the Ravens first pick if Jalen Ramsey dropped to pick six. Alternatively the addition of an explosive edge rusher with good coverage skills makes Jack an enticing prospect for an ageing linebacker core.


Pick 7. San Francisco 49ers

Paxton Lynch – Quarterback, University of Memphis

The uncertainty surrounding Colin Kaepernick means that the 49ers desperately need a quarterback. Lynch produced a solid junior season in college, throwing 28 touchdowns and only allowing four interceptions at a completion rate of 69.1%.


Pick 8. Cleveland Browns

Ronnie Stanley – Offensive Tackle, University of Notre Dame

The loss of centre Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwarz has depleted the Browns offensive line. With the addition of Robert Griffin III at quarterback, the Browns will want to protect their prize recruit. Stanley is capable of playing at both right and left tackle.


Pick 9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vernon Hargreaves III – Cornerback, University of Florida

The Buccaneers have a struggling secondary that requires immediate help. Hargreaves has shown excellent coverage skills in both man-to-man and zone schemes. In his three-years with the Gators he recorded a total of 10 interceptions.


Pick 10. New York Giants

Darron Lee – Outside Linebacker, Ohio State University

The Giants have strengthened their defensive line and secondary in free agency, but have a very weak linebacking core. Lee has excellent speed which makes him a threat in space, either playing coverage or blitzing.


Pick 11. Chicago Bears

Jack Conklin – Offensive Tackle, Michigan State University

Jay Cutler had one of his most consistent seasons, adding pass protection will aid an improving Bears offence. Conklin started 40 straight games for the Spartans at left tackle and will be invaluable protecting Cutler’s blindside.


Pick 12. New Orleans Saints

DeForest Buckner – Defensive End, Oregon University

The Saints need edge rush support for Cameron Jordan who was the only threat last season. Buckner had an outstanding 2015; despite being frequently double teamed, he managed 83 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks.


Pick 13. Miami Dolphins

Ezekiel Elliot – Running Back, Ohio State University

The decision between a running back and cornerback becomes easy with Elliot the best option. In his 40 game college career Elliot amassed 3,961 yards at 6.69 yards per carry and he scored 43 touchdowns.


Pick 14. Oakland Raiders

Taylor Decker – Offensive Tackle, Ohio State University

The addition of Kelechi Osemele was a huge coup for the Raiders, however ensuring that Derek Carr is protected will be their primary concern. Decker started 41 straight games for the Buckeyes and is capable of playing on both the right and left side of the formation.


Pick 15. Tennessee Titans

Sheldon Rankins – Defensive Tackle, University of Louisville

Finding an offensive tackle would be the Titans’ highest priority. By this stage of the first round the top tackles may be taken, meaning finding a 4-technique defensive lineman would be the next priority. Rankins fills this requirement; he is capable of rushing from the interior and edge of the formation and impressed with 58 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and six sacks in his final year.


Pick 16. Detroit Lions

Shaq Lawson – Defensive End, Clemson University

Lawson is excellent at setting the edge and stopping the run and getting off blocks to sack the quarterback. He will provide a formidable combination with Ezekiel Ansah.


Pick 17. Atlanta Falcons

A’Shawn Robinson – Defensive Tackle, University of Alabama

The Falcons have little depth at defensive tackle, and Robinson provides movability across the defensive line from the interior to the edge. He started all 15 games as a junior in 2015, finishing with 46 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.


Pick 18. Indianapolis Colts

Jaylon Smith – Outside Linebacker, University of Notre Dame

The serious knee injury that Smith suffered in 2015 will impact where he will be selected. Smith is versatile; he can play on every down, stop the run and match receivers in coverage. The Colts would be taking a gamble with his current injury but he is a playmaker.


Pick 19. Buffalo Bills

Robert Nkemdiche – Defensive Tackle, University of Mississippi

The Bills require defensive line depth and Nkemdiche will fit nicely into Rex Ryan’s scheme capable of anchoring and taking on two blocks while stopping the run.


Pick 20. New York Jets

Leonard Floyd – Outside Linebacker, University of Georgia

Floyd has very good speed and athleticism and will complement a stout Jets defensive line. In 2015, he recorded 74 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and four sacks.


Pick 21. Washington Redskins

Jarran Reed – Defensive Tackle, University of Alabama

The Redskins lack depth along the defensive line, and Reed is powerful and can combat double-teams. He also has the size and strength to anchor the defensive line.


Pick 22. Houston Texans

Vernon Butler – Defensive Tackle, Louisiana Tech University

Butler can play all along the defensive line and is capable of playing the double team and against the run. In 2015, he had 48 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and four sacks.


Pick 23. Minnesota Vikings

Laquon Treadwell – Wide Receive, University of Mississippi

Treadwell is a strong receiver and will provide quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with a legitimate outside threat. Treadwell had his best season in 2015, leading the SEC in receiving with 82 catches for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns.


Pick 24. Cincinnati Bengals

Josh Doctson – Wide Receiver, Texas Christian University

Doctson is a tall receiver that can stretch the field, which will help the play-action pass and running game. He has exceptional leaping ability and magnetic hands.


Pick 25. Pittsburgh Steelers

Eli Apple – Cornerback, Ohio State University

The Steelers desperately need a cornerback, and Apple is good in man coverage and can matchup against the big receivers in the league. In 2015 he finished with eight passes defended, 33 tackles, two tackles for loss and one interception.


Pick 26. Seattle Seahawks

Jason Spriggs – Offensive Tackle, University of Indiana

The offensive line at the Seahawks has been depleted the last few seasons. Spriggs showed good pass protection at college but was formidable as a run blocker with his mobility and quickness.


Pick 27. Green Bay Packers

Reggie Ragland – Inside Linebacker, University of Alabama

The Packers would ideally like to move Clay Matthews back to the outside. Ragland is a strong north-south run blocker that will help a struggling run defence, and he led the Crimson Tide defence to the 2015 National Championship.


Pick 28. Kansas City Chiefs

Noah Spence – Defensive End, University of Eastern Kentucky

The loss of premier edge rusher Justin Houston will need to be replaced. Noah Spence has a very good speed rush; he can play on either side of the formation with either his hand on the ground or standing up.


Pick 29. Arizona Cardinals

Kevin Dodd – Defensive End, Clemson University

The Cardinals will continue to improve their pass rush the inclusion of Chandler Jones was the first step, drafting Kevin Dodd will be the second. He finished the 2015 season with 23.5 tackles for loss and 12.0 sacks.


Pick 30. Carolina Panthers

Emmanuel Ogbah – Defensive End, Oklahoma State University

Ogbah provides the Panthers with depth on the edge, he has very good speed to get around blockers and can get off blocks to stop the run. His body size and athleticism is pro-ready.


Pick 31. Denver Broncos

Connor Cook – Quarterback, Michigan State University

Cook led the Spartans to the final four where they were beaten comprehensively by National Champions Alabama. Cook is a gunslinger with good arm strength and can fit the ball into tight zones.


Peter DiStefanoThumb


Peter Di Stefano is a third year Bachelor of Journalism (sport) student and a staff writer with upstart. You can follow him on twitter @PJD_1990