5 best picks from Day 1 of the NFL draft
After months of waiting, we finally got to see the various first-round strategies around the NFL. Everything from trades to off-field issues altered the perceived landscape of Round 1. Let’s take a look at the five best selections amid all the action:
1. DeForest Buckner, DE, San Francisco 49ers
Our No. 2 player falling to No. 7 overall is a massive win for the 49ers as they reunite Buckner with his former Oregon teammate and last year’s first-round pick, Arik Armstead. Buckner is a classic 3-4 defensive end, capable of disrupting against the run and creating pressure from the interior. He was our top-graded interior defensive lineman in the nation last year at +73.0 overall, including the top pass rushing grade (+43.8) and No. 8 mark against the run in the draft class (+29.1). His only weakness is dealing with power at the point of attack, but it doesn’t negate his ability to shed blocks and use his wide tackle radius to make plays in the running game. The 49ers got one of the best value picks in the draft.
2. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
My pre-draft mock had the Jaguars trading up to get Ramsey at No. 3 overall but they got their man anyway at No. 5. Our top-graded cornerback is a defensive chess piece, capable of playing in the slot, outside, or even at free safety. Ultimately, the Jaguars would love to see Ramsey play on the outside and develop into one of the top corners in the league — and he has the size and athleticism to do it — but even if he doesn’t reach those heights, he’s at the very least an excellent slot cornerback and zone defender. In Jacksonville’s scheme, he can kick inside to the slot to provide linebacker-like defense (led all CBs in run defense in 2015) while providing great range in their zone concepts. His best comparison is a Green-Bay version of Charles Woodson that brings value to all phases of the defense.
3. Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
After mocking Coleman to the Browns at No. 8 overall in my final mock, this pick is an obvious winner after the Browns were able to move back and still get the top receiver on our board. Coleman creates separation better than any receiver in the class, dynamic off the line of scrimmage and lethal on short passes that he can turn into big gains at any time. His deep speed is dangerous for opposing cornerbacks, but he complements it with excellent ball skills. Coleman’s all-around ability allows him to win at any level on the field, a big reason he posted a gaudy 4.88 yards per route last season before a subpar quarterback situation hurt his production. If he can fix his drop issues (10 last season), Coleman will be a mid-round steal for the Browns.
4. William Jackson III, CB, Cincinnati Bengals
Our No. 2 cornerback coming off the board at No. 24 overall is a great haul for Cincinnati as they continue to add depth to their secondary. Jackson III has great potential with his 6-foot frame and sub-4.4 speed as well as excellent movement skills and he finished with the No. 2 coverage grade in the draft class last season. He can play any coverage, capable of running with receivers in man and closing on the ball in zone, and perhaps the most intriguing part of his game is the room for improvement combined with already-impressive production. If he can tie up some technique issues, we’re looking at one of the best pure corners in the draft in a few years.
5. Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins
Washington’s versatile receiving corps elevated Kirk Cousins into one of the best statistical quarterbacks in the NFL last year and Doctson adds yet another element to their passing game. His body control is unmatched in the class as he regularly makes downfield catches over cornerbacks and those skills made him one of the most productive deep receivers in the nation last year (553 deep yards ranked sixth in the nation despite missing the last few weeks). Doctson finished with the top receiving grade in the class at +28.9 and his ability to separate and make contested catches is the best combination in the draft.