How all 31 first-round picks fit with their new teams
Analyst Jordan Plocher takes a look at the scheme and team fits for all 31 first-rounders following the 2016 NFL draft.
How all 31 first-round picks fit with their new teams
How does every pick of the 2016 draft’s first round fit in with his new team? We solicited the help of the PFF analysis team in explaining the scheme and team fits for all 31 first-rounders:
1. Los Angeles Rams: QB Jared Goff
Goff will step in as the instant starter in Los Angeles. The Rams offense will still heavily rely on Todd Gurley and the running game, which will make life easier for Goff as rookie, and they will likely use a steady diet of play-action in the passing game (Rams QB Nick Foles had the third-highest play-action rate in the NFL last season). All rookie quarterbacks struggle a bit when they enter the NFL, but Goff is tremendous under pressure and has a quick release, which should help him make his transition easier. Goff’s ability to set his feet quickly and throw with anticipation and accuracy into tight windows should lead to immediate NFL success for him, and a more dangerous and productive offense for the Rams.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: QB Carson Wentz
It seems likely that the Eagles will sit Wentz for a year while a veteran – likely Sam Bradford or Chase Daniel — starts. Wentz has all of the physical tools of a starting NFL quarterback, and that is where his future lies. However, the jump from FCS quarterback to starting NFL quarterback is understandably large, so a year watching and learning should be just what Wentz needs.
3. San Diego Chargers: DE/OLB Joey Bosa
Bosa was our top-graded edge defender in the class this year. He is a very good player in all phases of defense as he is stout against the run and is able to consistently generate pressure in pass defense. Bosa will likely play defensive end on early downs, lining up over or outside of the offensive tackle, while being a movable piece in passing situations. He can rush the edge from the defensive end spot as well as kick inside and create interior pressure in certain packages if the Chargers wish it.
4. Dallas Cowboys: RB Ezekiel Elliott
The Cowboys drafted Elliott this high to be their bell-cow back. The Cowboys have invested a ton of resources in their offensive line, which is now arguably the best in the league. Elliott should see immediate opportunities and production behind them and their outside zone-based blocking scheme. He has the quickness to excel in this one-cut-and-go system, but he provides much more of a power element than Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle did, meaning Dallas fans can expect a lot more yards after contact (Elliott led the nation in yards after contact per attempts in the 2016 class). Elliott can stay on the field all three downs, as he is an excellent pass protector and hopefully can help keep Romo healthy.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Jalen Ramsey
Jacksonville has been looking to upgrade its defense, and Ramsey was one of the best options the team could have hoped for. He played a versatile role in college moving around from safety to the slot, and ultimately to an outside corner. Ramsey will most likely stick to the outside in Jacksonville, where they will use his length and athleticism against top receivers in their scheme. He has the ability to play at the line of scrimmage and will be able to take advantage of playing with vision when he is not in man defense. Although Ramsey has the ability to play slot corner, the Jaguars are likely trying to mold him into a Richard Sherman role.
6. Baltimore Ravens: LT Ronnie Stanley
The Ravens’ pickup of Stanley is interesting from a scheme perspective. Baltimore’s run game last year featured the outside zone run on a league-high 64 percent of all run plays. Playing tackle in an outside zone scheme takes athleticism and quickness, and Stanley can struggle at times showing this on film. But while it will take a period of adjustment for Stanley in the running game, he should be able to step in immediately as an above average pass protector for Flacco.
7. San Francisco 49ers: DL DeForest Buckner
Buckner is an ideal defensive end in the 49ers’ 3-4 scheme, and excels when lined up over a tackle. He has the length at the position that Niners GM Trent Baalke covets, as witnessed by last year’s first-round pick Arik Armstead. Buckner is one of the few elite players in this draft, and the 49ers were lucky to get him at No. 7. He graded well against the run and pass last year at Oregon and only truly struggled against some double teams. Buckner should be an immediate starter and could easily end up being the 49ers most productive defensive lineman.
8. Tennessee Titans: OT Jack Conklin
The Titans have stated that they view Taylor Lewan as a left tackle, so Conklin is expected to play right tackle. Conklin is a strong and punishing run-blocker who should excel immediately in the Titans’ gap and inside-zone schemes. In pass protection, Conklin shows great skill set using his hands and length, but his stiffness at times and vulnerability in space will be exposed early in his career against faster more athletic defensive ends. Still he had one of the better pass-blocking grades in the nation while at Michigan State.
9. Chicago Bears: OLB Leonard Floyd
Floyd will play an outside linebacker role for Chicago and should immediately help improve the Bears’ pass rush. Floyd can win inside and has burst around the edge, so he will need some freedom to use his athleticism in passing situations. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has given freedom to rushers before, notably with Aldon Smith in San Francisco. Floyd can be used in a similar role, but will have to develop his run defense to utilize more strength and leverage. Passing situations are where Floyd will shine, particularly if he is paired with Pernell McPhee, who can slide across the line on passing downs.
10. New York Giants: CB Eli Apple
Apple was a very good press-man corner at Ohio State and excelled at matching good receivers. He will play the outside corner role for New York, but will need some development unless the Giants change their scheme for him. Apple does not have a great feel for zone coverages yet and will need to work to develop that to be a good all-around corner. If the Giants let him play press-man coverage and work the schemes around him, then he can step in right away and have a positive impact on passing situations. Due to his style of play, it is unlikely he will turn into a corner who makes a ton of interceptions. Instead, Apple will be valuable if he can eliminate threats and deter throws.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Vernon Hargreaves III
Hargreaves had the most fluid movement in off-coverage of all the corners in this draft class. Although he lost at the point of attack more than he would have liked this past season, he still graded pretty well and never deterred from his aggressive style of play. He will need to limit some of his gambling ways, but Hargreaves gives Tampa Bay the possibility of having a playmaking corner without any scheme adjustments. Hargreaves also has the ability to bump inside in sub packages and play slot corner, which only adds to his versatility and value.
12. New Orleans Saints: DT Sheldon Rankins
Rankins will slot in at defensive tackle for a team in need of a big defensive upgrade, and has the ability to play in a gap or head-up in run defense. Rankins will also be valuable in passing situations, as he can create interior pressure to help collapse the pocket. He can move up and down the defensive line if the Saints so choose, and can help create some exciting rush packages for New Orleans.
13. Miami Dolphins: LT Laremy Tunsil
Tunsil unexpectedly dropped to the Dolphins, where he will play for new head coach Adam Gase and offensive line coach Chris Foerster. Both coaches have a background with the outside-zone blocking scheme, but Tunsil does not have much experience running the outside zone as he was asked to block down in a gap scheme and a simplistic inside-zone scheme at Ole Miss. This could be a huge adjustment for most players, but Tunsil’s mix of athleticism and talent should make the transition easy. Where Tunsil may struggle is in pass blocking, as he was not asked to pass protect on a lot of 5-step-drop passes. While Tunsil is very athletic, pass blocking takes skill development and experience, so the Dolphins could experience some growing pains with his pass protection.
14. Oakland Raiders: S Karl Joseph
Joseph was the best safety in this draft class, and he has a chance to do multiple things well for the Raiders. Joseph can cover one-on-one as well as play deep defense, and is a willing and solid hitter. Early on in his career, Oakland will likely limit his role to more of a box-style safety to simplify things for him until he is comfortable with the entire playbook. If Joseph is able to pick things up quickly, then expect him to be used in versatile ways to take advantage of his ability.
15. Cleveland Browns: WR Corey Coleman
Coleman is an instant injection of speed and playmaking ability to an offense that sorely needed both. He can play both outside and inside in the slot. The Browns will also try to get him the ball quickly in screens to take advantage of his instant acceleration and elusiveness. Coleman should be a starter as soon as he gets to Cleveland.
16. Detroit Lions: OT Taylor Decker
Ohio State employed multiple run schemes, and as a result the label of “Jack of all trades, master of none” could probably be applied to Decker’s game. However, Detroit’s run game featured a gap-scheme the majority of the time, and that should fit Decker’s physical skill-set. Decker’s pass-blocking is a concern, as he was not asked to do a lot of 5-step, dropback, pro-style pass protection at Ohio State, and he didn’t grade particularly well in that area. Decker will be competing for starting spots with free-agent acquisition Geoff Schwartz at right tackle and the Lions’ current starting left tackle Riley Reiff.
17. Atlanta Falcons: S Keanu Neal
Neal was a safety at Florida who is expected to be used similarly to Seattle’s Kam Chancellor (coached by Falcons head coach Dan Quinn when he was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator) in the Falcons’ scheme. Neal is a striker who has hit-or-miss tendencies that will need to be cleaned up. He should be limited to the box and avoid man-deep defense snaps early in his career. Neal had 16 missed tackles last year, and Atlanta will be hoping he becomes more consistent to increase his ability to affect games.
18. Indianapolis Colts: C Ryan Kelly
Indianapolis was a heavy gap-blocking run team last season, and while Kelly was largely blocking on zone runs at Alabama, he is such a good run blocker that he should quickly excel in any scheme. Kelly is an immediate upgrade at center for the Colts, and if he is able to stay healthy he should anchor the Colts offensive line for years to come.
19. Buffalo Bills: DE Shaq Lawson
Lawson is a very well-rounded defender who can make an immediate impact in the running game. He is powerful and has the ability to play well with leverage against tight ends and tackles. Although Lawson does not have the speed off the edge that many teams covet, he can create pressure with power and effort. He can play the run or the pass and also has the ability to drop into coverage and move well in space. He should play significant snaps as a rookie.
20. New York Jets: LB Darron Lee
Lee is an extremely athletic linebacker who has a lot of potential. Lee’s play at Ohio State did not entirely reflect his talent, however, as he graded as the 27th-best linebacker in the class and needs to better translate his talent into on-field production. Jets head coach Todd Bowles likes having an athletic second-level defender he can use as a chess piece in passing situations, and the Jets will be hoping Lee develops into just that. Lee’s athleticism shows up best when he is asked to blitz or pass rush, and Bowles will likely make sure he is asked to do this often in the Jets’ high-pressure scheme.
21. Houston Texans: WR Will Fuller
The Texans’ defense has clearly been more impressive than their offense, and they have looked to really upgrade the offensive side of the ball this offseason. They gave a large sum of money to Brock Osweiler to be their quarterback and then picked Fuller in the first round to give him another target. The Texans are hoping that Fuller’s speed will complement the skill set of DeAndre Hopkins by giving them a pure deep threat. Last season Fuller totaled 708 yards and 10 touchdowns on passes traveling 20 yards or further. Fuller’s deep speed could help to create space for Hopkins to operate by drawing the attention of at least one of the opposing safeties.
22. Washington Redskins: WR Josh Doctson
Doctson brings an ability to win in the slot at a high rate as well as the ability to leap over cornerbacks at the catch point on deep outside passes. Doctson finished second in the class in yards per route run (4.07) and should provide instant offense for the Redskins.
23. Minnesota Vikings: WR Laquon Treadwell
Treadwell is a large target who uses his frame to shield defenders from the ball at the catch point. He is more than willing to operate over the middle, and once he has the ball in his hands he is hard to bring down. He should provide a solid intermediate target for Bridgewater and make their offense better by Week 1.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: CB William Jackson III
Aside from Jalen Ramsey, Jackson is probably the best talent in the class at corner, and he can play a variety of ways. He is a good fit for the Cincinnati defense that likes mixing up how its corners play. Jackson will excel at press coverage initially, but can also play off and zone when asked by the Bengals. He should be able to compete right away at an outside corner spot for the Bengals.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Artie Burns
Burns has the prototypical frame and athleticism the NFL covets at outside cornerback. He can play man coverage and is even more adept when at the line of scrimmage in press and able to stick to a wide receivers hip. He still needs a little polish in man defense to take the next step, but he has a long way to go in zone. The Steelers played more zone coverage than any other team in the NFL last year, which makes this pick somewhat perplexing. If Pittsburgh is willing to adjust its scheme so that Burns can play more man-to-man coverage, it will go a long way toward adding to his value in the defense. If the Steelers continue their zone-heavy ways, then Burns may struggle early and will need time to develop.
26. Denver Broncos: QB Paxton Lynch
This is one of the better scheme-fit picks in the entire draft from a physical standpoint. Lynch is a very mobile quarterback who excels at throwing on roll outs, which perfectly matches what Gary Kubiak asks of his quarterback in that offense. Additionally, Lynch has the arm strength and deep accuracy to make the deep play-action passes that result in so many of that offense’s big plays. The Memphis offense wasn’t exactly the type that is going to prepare a quarterback to step in right away as a starter. That’s not to say that Lynch won’t start, but that the measure of Lynch’s immediate NFL success will be primarily determined by how quickly he can grasp an NFL offense mentally.
27. Green Bay Packers: DL Kenny Clark
Clark has the ability to move along the depleted defensive line in Green Bay, and can play wherever the Packers feel they need him. Most likely he will slot in at defensive end for the Packers and play outside the guard or over the tackle. Clark has the strength and ability to hold up against the run and be stout in the front of the defense. He also adds some pass-rush ability and with development can become a consistent three-down player.
28. San Francisco 49ers: G Joshua Garnett
The 49ers trading up to select Garnett was a surprise to many, but there’s reason to believe it could turn out to be an excellent decision by San Francisco. Garnett is head and shoulders the best run-blocking guard in this draft, and he is pro-ready after having played in an NFL blocking scheme at Stanford. He is quick enough to execute blocks on outside-zone plays and strong enough on gap-blocking plays, and he’ll be asked to do both in Chip Kelly’s offense. The negative on Garnett is his pass-blocking ability, but he will be protected in that area in Kelly’s offense, because his heavy use of play-action and quick passing plays will keep defensive linemen from teeing off on Garnett.
29. Arizona Cardinals: DL Robert Nkemdiche
The value of Nkemdiche is his pass-rush skill-set. He flashed in college as a player with the ability to win with bull-rush power as well as athleticism on the interior of a defense. His play was inconsistent, however, and he will need to develop his technique in Arizona to enable himself to win more often. Nkemdiche will likely be used as a designated pass-rusher in sub packages early in his career, while playing defensive end in base defense. Nkemdiche needs a lot of work in run defense and will do well to spend time learning the intricacies of it from the sideline. The more Nkemdiche is able to absorb coaching and develop more polish in his rush game, the faster the Cardinals will reap the benefits.
30. Carolina Panthers: DT Vernon Butler
Butler is in a similar mold to Kenny Clark, excelling at run defense and collapsing the pocket with power in passing situations. He can use some work in adding variety to his pass-rush game, but he will be a useful addition to the Panthers defense. Butler can play at either tackle spot on the defensive line for Carolina, with his best fit likely playing nose tackle in sub packages. He will be able to rotate in during passing situations and help keep the rest of the defensive line fresh.
31. Seattle Seahawks: OT Germain Ifedi
Ifedi is raw and will need a good deal of coaching up from Tom Cable to become a quality pass-protecting tackle in the NFL. There is a lot there for Cable to work with, as Ifedi’s size and foot quickness are not common among offensive lineman. Seattle is a big zone-blocking team, and Ifedi’s athleticism is ideal for that scheme. However, Ifedi didn’t have ample experience in pro-style blocking schemes at Texas A&M, and will therefore have a steep learning curve in the NFL.