Mock Draft 3.0: QB Carson Wentz lands with Jets at No. 20
Steve Palazzolo shares his latest mock draft, with several names shuffling following Senior Bowl action.
Mock Draft 3.0: QB Carson Wentz lands with Jets at No. 20
Fresh off the plane from Mobile, the draft landscape has undergone a few changes and we’re here to document them with Mock Draft 3.0. Our evaluation process is ever-changing, as we dive deeper into each prospect and add context to our every-down grading from the fall. A week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl won’t have a massive impact on most prospects, but it was a good opportunity for a few players for whom we have little data to make an impression, while some of our other top-graded players built on strong in-season showings to shine among their peers.
As always, this mock is based around what I would do for each team — not necessarily the buzz and hype we are hearing around the NFL.
- Tennessee Titans: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Not much has changed in our evaluations at the top of the draft, so Bosa remains the pick for the Titans. He topped all edge rushers with a +56.6 pass rush grade in 2014, dwarfing that of a number of other first-rounders, and came back this season to rank second overall at +44.1. Throw in the top run defense mark each of the last two seasons, and you have a complete player capable of playing the edge in a 4-3 and likely doing damage at defensive end in a 3-4 if need be.
- Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
The quarterback class lacks the heavy hitters at the top, but Goff has put together two strong years, grading as the No. 5 Power-5 quarterback a year ago and the top-graded quarterback this past season. He handled pressure extremely well behind a subpar offensive line while grading well when throwing to all areas of the field.
- San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Buckner remains the choice at number three for the Chargers as he’s a great fit for their 3-4 scheme. He rarely came off the field for Oregon, leading all interior defensive linemen with 951 snaps and playing over 100 snaps in two different games. Even with the heavy workload, he used his length to lead the nation with a +42.8 pass rush grade while ranking eighth against the run at +29.1.
- Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
The first switch in draft strategy from the last iteration, the Cowboys go with Ramsey here to add even more versatility to their secondary. Last year’s first rounder, Byron Jones, played a number of roles, and Ramsey can do the same at the various cornerback positions or even safety. Most impressive about his game is that he grading second overall this season as an outside corner while ranking seventh overall last year as a slot/safety hybrid.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
With Ramsey off the board, the Jaguars go with the best pass rusher available in Calhoun. He led the nation with a +45.9 pass rush grade last season after ranking fifth in 2014 at +38.5. While playing the run isn’t his strong suit, he’s not useless in that department and slotting into Jacksonville’s LEO role that emphasizes getting after the quarterback should ease some of those concerns. Last year’s first-round pick, Dante Fowler, can play more of a base defensive end role with Calhoun at LEO and Jacksonville should see a big improvement in their pass rush.
- Baltimore Ravens: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Baltimore was depleted in the secondary the last two seasons, but Treadwell’s playmaking ability is too much to pass up. He has the size to win the downfield battle against cornerbacks, and QB Joe Flacco is known for giving his receivers plenty of those opportunities. Treadwell can also make guys miss after the catch, as indicated by his 17 forced missed tackles that tied for 13th in the country.
- San Francisco 49ers: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
We’re not yet comfortable with the rest of the quarterback class to pair one with the 49ers at this point, but Doctson adds a strong piece for any future signal caller. He can make plays outside his frame, something he did quite a bit at TCU, but he’s also proficient at creating separation and making plays down the field (ranked sixth in nation in deep passing yards with 553 despite playing in only 10 games). He was the nation’s top-graded WR at +26.9 before going down to injury in Week 11.
- Miami Dolphins: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Hargreaves was outstanding in 2014, our best cornerback in the nation, but he took a step back in 2015. Still, he’s sound fundamentally and can play a variety of coverages while staying with even the shiftiest of receivers. Not that division rivals should dictate draft picks, but he’s a good fit to match with the Patriots’ receiving corps. He’s sure to run into concerns about his size, and perhaps his speed, during the process, but few other cornerbacks can match his two-year body of work on the field in our system.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
Senior Bowl alert! During his time in Mobile, Spence established himself as the most explosive pass rusher, giving offensive tackles headaches all week. We have limited data on Spence, but he showed well in his two FBS games last season (+6.2) and he added six pressures in the Senior Bowl as well as a number of wins in one-on-ones and team drills throughout the week. The big questions for Spence are off the field as he started his career at Ohio State and landed at Eastern Kentucky after numerous issues. If a team is comfortable with the off-field questions, Spence is a first-round talent and an immediate boost to the Bucs’ pass rush.
- New York Giants: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Ogbah graded right behind Bosa and Calhoun as a pass rusher (+35.1) after picking up 11 sacks, 16 hits, and 42 hurries on 428 rushes. He’s not as strong against the run but he has the length to get better in that area. He’ll add some much-needed youth to the Giants’ pass rush.
- Chicago Bears: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
While most mock drafts have Tunsil as a lock top-10 pick, a limited sample size in our grading, as well as my own personal de-valuing of the left tackle position have him dropping to No. 11. The Bears were one of the worst pass-blocking units in the league last year and Tunsil allowed only five pressures on 225 attempts while showing good athleticism in the run game (+12.1).
- New Orleans Saints: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Jones is getting little hype with such a deep crop of interior defensive linemen, but he brings incredible upside after a strong quietly strong 2015 that saw him finish with the fourth-best grade among interior defensive linemen at +54.7 and second as a pass rusher at +35.0. Ignore the two sacks, he was a disruptor inside and he’ll immediately help one of the worst interior pass rushes in the league.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
With so many coverage issues at linebacker last season, Jack is an immediate upgrade as he brings a versatile presence to the back-7. His +15.0 coverage grade led the nation in 2014 and he’s been solid against the run at +11.9 over the last two years.
- Oakland Raiders: Robert Nkemdiche, DT/DE, Ole Miss
After struggling against the run last season Nkemdiche improved in that area last season while still grading as one of the nation’s best pass rushers at +23.4 (No. 8 among interior defensive linemen). He is not a great fit as an every-down player on the interior, but he’s capable of playing early downs on the edge while kicking inside to rush in nickel and dime situations, very similar to recently-retired Justin Tuck.
- Los Angeles Rams: Leontee Carroo, WR, Rutgers
Before going down to injury, Carroo was outstanding at Senior Bowl practice, standing out above the rest of the wide receivers. His on-field production was just as impressive last season as he graded at +15.0 as a receiver on only 363 snaps. His 4.11 yards per route led all FBS receivers, just above Doctson’s mark of 4.03.
- Detroit Lions: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Offensive line help is on the way in Stanley, who graded at +9.6 as a pass rusher and +9.3 in the run game. He can struggle with power in the run game at times, but he moves well and surrendered only 13 pressures on 458 attempts this season. He can step right into Detroit’s revolving door at right tackle while potentially pushing LT Riley Reiff out the door in the coming years.
- Atlanta Falcons: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
The last two mock drafts saw the Falcons take a much-needed offensive weapon to ease the burden on WR Julio Jones, but Lawson wasn’t on the board in either case and his ability to play defensive end in Atlanta’s scheme is too much to pass up. He’ll pair with last year’s Clemson first round edge defender, Vic Beasley, as the Falcons continues to search for pass-rush consistency. Lawson was a breakout candidate coming into the season after an excellent 329 snaps in 2014 (+16.0) and he lived up to the hype at +42.5 overall while ranking second among edge defenders against the run and 19th as a pass rusher.
- Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Any help along the defensive front is needed and Billings has posted a two-year grade of +80.2 on 1,511 snaps. He can move around along the defensive line, though his best fit may be at nose tackle where his +47.1 run defense can shine.
- Buffalo Bills: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Another pick that remains the same, Conklin fits the mauling, run blocking profile that head coach Rex Ryan his looking for. He’s ranked fourth as a run blocker each of the last two years and he finished 2015 with only 11 pressures surrendered on 416 attempts.
- New York Jets: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Okay, this is where it gets interesting. Wentz is projected to go much higher, and the hype for him is quite real at either No. 2 to the Browns or four to the Cowboys, but I’m less inclined to hand the keys to the franchise just yet. A couple years of sitting will do Wentz well, and yes he’d have that luxury in Dallas, but there are too many good players to pass up for them at the top. Wentz was as advertised at the Senior Bowl – good size, arm strength, athleticism – and all of his positives and negatives were evident in person just as they are in the film room. He has the big arm to play in a vertical passing system, driving the ball down the field, but that will be paired with some questionable decision-making, perhaps expected for a QB with so little experience. For that reason, I’m much more likely to take a chance on his talent at this part of the draft, and the Jets are a great fit for him to sit and develop.
- Washington Redskins: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Ragland was one of a number of standouts in Alabama’s front-7, strong against both the run (+13.2) and in coverage (+9.8) while successfully blitzing and rushing off the edge at times (+7.7). With one of the worst inside linebacker situations in the NFL, Washington will be watching all of the linebacker prospects very closely. Taking a chance on Jaylon Smith would not be out of the question here.
- Houston Texans: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
The nation’s best all-around running back, Elliott brings the total package. He exhibits the sharp cutting necessary for a zone blocking running system, but he’s equally adept at getting downhill and running through contact as he was often asked to do at Ohio State. He’s a good fit for Houston’s diverse running attack and when you add in his +13.0 blocking grade that led the nation as well as a +3.1 grade in the pass game, Elliott brings many dimensions to an NFL offense.
- Minnesota Vikings: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
The last two mocks saw the Vikings taking Carroo, but with him off the board, they take Coleman who adds a similar intermediate and deep dimension to the offense. Coleman was incredibly productive in Baylor’s offense before quarterback attrition slowed him down, finishing with 3.98 yards per route (fourth in nation) and a +20.6 receiving grade.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Bullard, DE/DT, Florida
Alabama DT Jarran Reed was the pick in the last two mock drafts, and I’d love to give the Bengals a nose tackle here, but with Bullard still on the board there’s too much production and versatility to pass up. He can play base defensive end while sprinkling inside at times, bringing excellent play against the run as he led all interior defensive linemen at +50.5 in 2015. He’s not as productive as you’d like as a pass rusher, but he did improve to +7.7 last season.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Su’a Cravens, S/LB, USC
Just as was the case in the first mock, Cravens goes to Pittsburgh where the inevitable Troy Polamalu comparisons will start. Cravens played mostly linebacker at USC, often lining up over the slot or setting the edge in the running game. He’s not afraid to take on blocks, as evidenced by his +23.6 grade against the run the last two years, but he’s also shown well in coverage (+20.7) and as a pass rusher (+8.8).
- Seattle Seahawks: Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
Seattle adds in interior penetrator in Day who ranked fourth among interior defensive linemen as a pass rusher and sixth in the run game in 2015. He also showed the ability to line up and beat offensive tackles off the edge during Senior Bowl week, only adding to his value as a disruptor.
- Green Bay Packers: Sheldon Rankins, DT/DE, Louisville
After two productive weeks and an excellent showing during Senior Bowl week, Rankins earns the nod for Green Bay. He may seem redundant to current DE/DT, Mike Daniels, but Rankins is good enough to play all along the line, either head up on offensive linemen (where he may quietly perform better) or shooting a gap. He graded at +55.4 last season to rank second in the nation and was similarly-productive at +42.3 in 2015.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Smith’s recovery from a bowl game injury is still a concern and until more information checks out, he’s more of a back-end first round or early second round player in my mock. The talent is there as he’s extremely athletic and adept at playing in coverage (+11.0 last two seasons) while showing great improvement against the run (-0.8 in 2014 to +19.0 in 2015). He’s can also shoot gaps and take on running backs as a pass rusher, something he didn’t get to do as often in 2015, but graded at +8.2 to rank 10th in the nation in 2014.
- Arizona Cardinals: Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
Arizona gets help in the trenches where Johnson has shown well against the run, finishing third in the nation at +36.4 last year. He’s capable of winning quickly off the snap with quick hands and he added seven sacks, two hits, and 14 hurries as a pass rusher, good for a +8.8 grade. Jarran Reed is another possibility here as a similarly productive, yet different style of player.
- Denver Broncos: Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State
The defensive tackles continue to come off the board as Washington debuts in our mock draft after a strong showing at the Senior Bowl. Denver reached the Super Bowl off the strength of a strong defense and loaded defensive line, and with DT Malik Jackson potentially hitting free agency, Washington provides an interior pass rush presence after finishing third among interior defensive linemen at +32.5.
- Carolina Panthers: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
This pick stays the same. Carolina has invested in the wide receiver position in each of the last two drafts in Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, but Shepard brings a different dynamic compared to the big guys on the outside. Shepard’s route running makes Carolina’s offense even more dangerous as he picked up 974 yards from the slot while ranking second in the nation with a +27.8 receiving grade.
*No first round pick for the New England Patriots