Prospect fits for 3 teams that could draft No. 1
As the NFL season winds down, some teams are looking ahead to the playoff battle, while others are looking farther ahead to the 2016 NFL draft.
We’re taking a look at three teams poised to secure the No. 1 overall pick, and which prospects would be a great fit if they are to land it.
Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, California QB, +43.0
With Johnny Manziel getting the nod as the starter this week, and likely for the remainder of the season, the Browns are aiming to get a four game run to see what they have in him. That’s probably not enough time even if he does impress though, and the Browns could find themselves in the perfect position to select the next in a long line of potential franchise quarterbacks. They have other needs, and could go with a playmaker at wide receiver, but this is a franchise that has been crying out for a franchise quarterback since its return to Cleveland, and they simply can’t pass up a top talent at number one overall.
Memphis’ Paxton Lynch would get some consideration here too, but based on our grades he is a step behind Goff. Cal’s signal-caller was our fourth-highest graded quarterback in 2015 and is the top prospect at the position heading into the draft. He didn’t have a great supporting cast — with an offensive line that had four players with a grade below -10.0 — but he made the most out of it, grading positively on the 160 drop backs where he was under pressure. He has the downfield arm that NFL teams look for, throwing for 1,403 yards and nine touchdowns on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield. He might not be the slam-dunk prospect the next two players we’ll talk about are, but he’s the best player at a position of major need for the Browns.
Tennessee Titans: Joey Bosa, Ohio State DE, +66.7
The Titans have just one player with a positive grade on their offensive line this season, but if they find themselves at the top of the draft then they might find it tough to go offensive line with two premier defensive talents on the board. They have talent on the defensive line in defensive end Jurrell Casey (+26.1) and on the edge of their defense in linebacker Brian Orakpo (+6.5), but that shouldn’t prevent them from going defense with the top overall pick. Close as it is, Bosa would be the bigger need for that defense.
A lot of people point to his seven sacks as a lack of production, but that simply isn’t the case. On top of those seven sacks he’s registered 21 quarterback hits and 41 hurries, and has been an absolute nightmare for opposing offensive linemen in the past two seasons. Our highest-graded edge defender both this year and last, his blend of size and power has been too much for most offensive tackles to deal with. He also offers some versatility, and has been used inside on the Ohio State defense — something which offers some possibility in sub-package defense for whoever drafts him early in the first round.
San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner, Oregon DE, +67.7
With questions about quarterback Philip Rivers’ future, the Chargers are definitely a candidate to draft a quarterback if they have the top pick. But if they look to address needs on defense, their first look should be to the defensive line. In Kendall Reyes (-20.7), the San Diego Chargers currently have our lowest graded 3-4 defensive end in the NFL in 2015. Corey Liuget (-1.8) is better, but still comes in only 38th out of the 58 players with enough qualifying snaps at the position. Thankfully for the Chargers, there is the perfect player to change their fortunes up front available in this year’s draft, and he’s likely to come off the board very quickly.
DeForest Buckner has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Oregon Ducks at times, standing out well above Arik Armstead who went in the first round of last year’s draft. This season, Buckner has been unblockable at times, with a big year as a pass rusher as he racked up 11 sacks, 14 hits and 38 quarterback hurries. His dominance wasn’t limited to his work as a pass rusher though, as he stood out against the run too, with 32 of his 46 solo tackles resulting in a defensive stop and giving him a run stop percentage of 9.8. Most impressive about Buckner was that he did it against top opposition — getting the better of Stanford’s Joshua Garrett, widely regarded as the top interior prospect in this year’s draft.