PFF head-to-head Mock Draft: Wentz to Rams at No. 1
With the Los Angeles Rams trading up for the No. 1 overall pick — a move predicted four weeks ago by Cris Collinsworth — the NFL draft dominoes will fall in an entirely new way in just a couple of weeks. Until then, senior analysts Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo are here to mock draft the entire first round against each other.
PFF mock drafts are all about pairing good players with the proper scheme fit, and as always, this is based on what the analysts would do as the GM of each team, not necessarily a prediction of what they think will happen.
Let’s get started:
1. Monson: Los Angeles Rams – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
The Rams just traded the farm to move to No. 1, and if it was me, I’d be picking Wentz. I’m in love with his upside, and I think you can mask his flaws early while taking advantage of what he does well. Wentz had a higher grade per snap figure than Goff this past season.
2. Palazzolo: Cleveland Browns – Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Cleveland gets the best QB in the draft. Whether moving in the pocket, making throws under pressure, or working through his reads, Goff is the most NFL-ready quarterback, and there’s still room to grow for the true junior. If you’d like a more in-depth QB debate from Sam and me, check out our Goff vs. Wentz discussion here.
3. Monson: San Diego Chargers – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
I think Buckner may be the best player in the draft, and I’d easily take him No. 1 overall. With the QBs going 1-2, San Diego adds some real impact to their D-line and gets a whole lot better.
4. Palazzolo: Dallas Cowboys – Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
The Cowboys benefit most from the blockbuster Rams-Titans trade, as Ramsey falls to No. 4 and they add another versatile defender on the back end. He could develop into a great press man corner, but at the very least, he can move around, excel in zone, and play like a linebacker against the run.
5. Monson: Jacksonville Jaguars – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Similar to Bucker, I think Bosa is as good as any player in this draft. The talk that he’s a little overrated is crazy. Even if he’s maxed out, he will be an instant force in the NFL and should be a versatile addition to the Jags front.
6. Palazzolo: Baltimore Ravens – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Bosa would have been a great fit, but with him off the board, the Ravens grab the best coverage linebacker in the draft and slot him into the middle of their defense to replace Daryl Smith.
7. Monson: San Francisco 49ers – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
This isn’t an ideal scenario for the 49ers, but Tunsil is a player people were talking about No.1 overall before the Titans-Rams trade. He can start at RT from Day 1 and has the skills to become one of the league’s best tackles.
8. Palazzolo: Philadelphia Eagles – Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
The Eagles may look hard at Ezekiel Elliott here, but adding depth in the secondary with a scheme-diverse Hargreaves is the way to go. His 2014 season was outstanding, and even with a step back in 2015, he can move as well as any cornerback and play any coverage.
9. Monson: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Jackson may be the best pure corner in the draft when it is all said and done. He has the ideal size and speed profile NFL teams covet, and one of the best coverage grades in the nation this past season.
10. Palazzolo: New York Giants – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
The Giants have loaded up on the defensive line this offseason, but there’s still room for Rankins as an interior penetrator who can move up and down the line of scrimmage. His two-year grading was as good as it got among interior defensive linemen.
11. Monson: Chicago Bears – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The Bears need O-line help, and Stanley is the next best available. He is impressive in pass protection and should have the skills to improve as a run-blocker at the next level.
12. Palazzolo: New Orleans Saints – Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Jones has perhaps the most upside of any defensive lineman in the draft. He posted our No. 2 grade as a pass-rusher, and he still has work to do to improve his down-to-down technique and effort. His strength and burst make him an every-down player.
13. Monson: Miami Dolphins – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
The Dolphins halt Elliott’s unexpected slide and gets one of the best RB prospects in years, giving them a player they can use on all three downs instead of just run plays.
14. Palazzolo: Oakland Raiders – Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
One of the best pure man corners in the draft, Alexander adds a different look to an Oakland secondary that has two long corners in Sean Smith and David Amerson and now adds the shifty Alexander.
15. Monson: Tennessee Titans – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
The Titans pick up a haul and select an OT in Conklin that may be a better fit from day one. Taylor Lewan has been a good tackle, and the problem spot is on the right side. Conklin should be a road grader in the run game from Day 1, and his struggles in pass protection have been wildly overstated — he averaged just 12.5 total pressures allowed over the last two seasons, one of the best rates in the country.
16. Palazzolo: Detroit Lions – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Floyd added value with his work as an off-ball linebacker last year, so he can move around the defense, and his length and production gives him huge upside as an edge rusher. He’ll fit in nicely in the multiple-scheme defense the Lions are trying to build.
17. Monson: Atlanta Falcons – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Signing Mohamed Sanu, in my opinion, was an error in judgement. Coleman gives the Falcons the true complementary piece to Julio Jones they were looking for in free agency. His explosion and burst is second to none in this class.
18. Palazzolo: Indianapolis Colts – Shaq Lawson, OLB, Clemson
Edge rushing has been an issue for the Colts for a while, and Lawson should help in that department while providing a strong presence in the running game.
19. Monson: Buffalo Bills – Cody Whitehair, G/T, Kansas State
Conklin to the Bills is their dream scenario, but Whitehair isn’t far behind in terms of being an ideal fit. He should be a stud guard and he’s a guy who may well make a good tackle, too. The right side of that Buffalo line needs repair work at either spot.
20. Palazzolo: New York Jets – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Needs and value are just not matching up for the Jets in this scenario, as the top offensive tackles are off the board and a number of other “need” positions are better-suited to be taken later in the draft. Doctson is the best player on the board, and even with a loaded wide receiver corps, he is too much to pass up as a playmaker to ease the burden on Geno Smith or whoever the future signal-caller is in New York.
21. Monson: Washington Redskins – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
This D-line class is loaded, and Reed is the most polished run defender of the group. He reads the game exceptionally well and can move his man and make the play with fantastic regularity.
22. Palazzolo: Houston Texans – Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Shepard is one of the best route-runners in the draft, and the Texans need to load up on playmakers for new QB Brock Osweiler. Shepard does his best work from the slot, but he also tracks the deep ball well and he’ll be a nice complement to DeAndre Hopkins.
23. Monson: Minnesota Vikings – Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
Thomas is a lot of what people want Laquon Treadwell to be. He’s a big receiver who can make plays after the catch and fit well with Teddy Bridgewater’s skill-set by excelling in the short and intermediate game.
24. Palazzolo: Cincinnati Bengals – Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
I usually love Jarran Reed here as a fit, but the Bengals could use a designated edge rusher and Calhoun fits that description. He had the second-highest pass-rush grade in the nation in 2015, so while he still has work to do against the run, he steps in right away as a pass-rush specialist.
25. Monson: Pittsburgh Steelers – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Pittsburgh’s secondary is not in good shape, and Joseph is a versatile player who can excel playing multiple different coverages and alignments. He’s by far the best safety in the class, and the only one worth a first-round pick.
26. Palazzolo: Seattle Seahawks – Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Seattle struggled along the offensive line last season, particularly at center, so look for Kelly to start the rebuilding process up front.
27. Monson: Green Bay Packers – Andrew Billings, NT, Baylor
Green Bay’s defensive line needs somebody to help defensive end Mike Daniels get the job done. Billings works well on the move and can be a disruptive presence for the Packers against both the run and pass in the middle of that line.
28. Palazzolo: Kansas City Chiefs – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Few teams played more man coverage than the Chiefs last season, and that’s where Apple excels. He can press and play tight coverage as well as any CB in the class, he just has to learn to find the ball better to realize his potential.
29. Monson: Arizona Cardinals – Emmanuel Ogbah, DE/OLB, Oklahoma State
The Cardinals still need edge-rush help, even after trading for Chandler Jones, and they can get a player who may be best initially as a specialist in Ogbah. He notched 78 total pressures last season and can bring the heat for the Cardinals as part of a much-improved rotation.
30. Palazzolo: Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Bullard, DE/DT, Florida
The Panthers get a base defensive end who can play the run as well as any in the class (top grade in 2015) and he has potential to develop as an interior pass rusher.
31. Monson: Denver Broncos – Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
There are concerns with Nkemdiche, but I’m a big fan of his potential and upside. The Broncos can afford for him to be a sub-package guy initially, essentially replacing the lost-pass rush from Antonio Smith and Malik Jackson, while he learns the nuances of the game and improves versus the run.