The first round of the 2016 NFL Draft is going to be a complete circus. We have three quarterbacks who could go in the top 10, three truly elite non-quarterback prospects and a big chunk of first round prospects who could fall anywhere in the first 31 picks.
It creates an exciting draft for the casual fan, but a nerve-wracking experience for the diehard who has no idea what their team will do in the first round.
For the Philadelphia Eagles, they are in a very rare position. They have a roster that can contend, but will pick 8th overall in the first round. They don’t have to make a big jump to trade up into the top 3. They also can stay put and take a top 10 prospect or possibly one of the three quarterbacks that falls to them. They could also trade back with a quarterback needy team like the Rams if they so choose.
I recently finished scouting all the prospects I felt had first round potential on paper. I gave 21 first round grades while scouting close to 200 prospects I thought at some point could have first round potential or at least received first round buzz at some point. Keep in mind that this first round big board is based on the best fits(but not needs) for the Philadelphia Eagles. Also, I do not believe running backs have first round value so Ezekiel Elliot did not make my first round rankings.
FIRST ROUND BIG BOARD
1)Laremy Tunsil OT/Ole Miss- I don’t like play comparisons because people take them way too literally, but Tunsil has a very good chance to be another Jason Peters. He’s a physically dominating left tackle with outstanding movement skills for his size. I scouted several defensive ends that went up against Tunsil and none of them did much against Tunsil. There aren’t many left tackles that Tunsil wouldn’t immediately be an upgrade over right now.
2)Jalen Ramsey DB/Florida State- I can’t remember a defensive back I liked more than Ramsey coming out. He’s 6’1, 209 with elite movement skills. He’s one of the most sure tacklers in this draft and his coverage skills are outstanding for this stage of his career. He can thrive at safety or corner from day one.
3)Myles Jack LB/UCLA- Jack being ranked third shows how great both Tunsil and Ramsey really are. Jack is a 240 pound linebacker who hates like a true middle linebacker, blitzes like an edge rusher but runs like a slot corner. You can put this kid anywhere and he will thrive.
4)Jack Conklin RT/OG/Michigan State- This seems insanely high for a prospect who probably shouldn’t play left tackle at the next level. In my defense, right tackle is almost equal with left tackle these days. Keep in mind Von Miller primarily rushes from that side and there are several more elite pass rushers that attack opposite the blind side. Conklin is a physically imposing blocker who can come right in and start at either right tackle or guard. He’s dominant in the run game and plenty athletic and skilled to protect his side in the pass game. Put on the tape against Oregon and you see him absolutely dominate DeForest Buckner, a potential top 10 pick.
5)Jason Spriggs OT/Indiana- I was really surprised by how much I liked Spriggs. I think he’s another Lane Johnson in the making. Not quite as athletic, but really good quickness times(4.44 short shuttle) and very similar frame. He maintains good leverage against quicker edge rushers and has the frame to put up about 15-20 pounds without losing his outstanding movement skills.
6)Paxton Lynch QB/Memphis- Easily my top quarterback in this draft class since November. He has all the frame and measurables you want in a franchise quarterback. He’s a good athlete, has big hands and goes through his progressions quickly. The biggest knock on him is that he comes from a spread offense, but he isn’t a one read and go type of quarterback like Brett Hundley was. He’s more like Derek Carr in that he comes from a simplistic offense, but he isn’t a simplistic type of quarterback. He elevated a really bad Memphis team and led them to a stunning upset on the road against a really good Ole Miss team and put up 44 points in the process. He throws the best deep ball in this class with great velocity and accuracy and is more NFL ready than people give him credit for.
7)William Jackson CB/Houston- Jackson is a pure outside corner. He isn’t overly quick, but has great deep speed, is a tremendous athlete and finds the ball quickly. He loves the big hit, but it will lead to some missed tackles, dumb penalties and potentially some injuries down the road so he has to be careful there. He’s at his best when he has safety help over the top so he can utilize his instincts, read the quarterbacks eyes and jump routes.
8)Vernon Hargraeves CB/Florida- Very similar to Jackson with a few aspects that grade him slightly lower. Hargraeves is two inches shorter, his arms are one inch shorter, he’s a little slower and his hands are smaller. Other than that the two are very similar. Great ball skills, jump routes, can press or play off and can win any jump ball with any wide out. Both guys can flat out jump out of the building. As far as corner rankings go it’s Ramsey #1 and then Jackson is 2a and Hargraeves is 2b.
9)Joey Bosa DE/Ohio State- Bosa was a dominant defensive end at Ohio State and that lead to some misguided evaluations. He isn’t overly explosive like a typical top 10 prospect on the edge. His quickness and violent hands are where he wins. This is why I like him in a defense where he can rush from the inside and outside while also running a lot of stunts. The lack of elite explosion probably limits him from putting up Von Miller or Justin Houston type numbers, but he’ll be a consider 10-15 sack producer and that’s why I have him in the top 10 as opposed to having him up there with Ramsey, Jack and Tunsil.
10)DeForest Buckner DT/DE/Oregon- Another prospect with some strange general evaluations. Because of his frame(6’7, 291) he gets labeled as a 5-tech, but I like him a lot more in a 1-gap attacking scheme. He’s a pure penetrator and rusher, not a clogger. I’d love him in a defense like Jim Schwartz’s where he can be moved around and attack from different spots.
11)Robert Nkemdiche DT/Ole Miss- Not a first round fit on every team’s big board, for character and fits issues, but he has to be on the Eagles board. He’s perfect for Schwartz’s one-gap scheme. Nkemdiche has a quick first step and makes his living in the opponent’s backfield. He has such a good strength/quickness combo that he consistently was double and triple teamed and still remained high productive. If he gets drafted by a team where he isn’t the best or even second best DL on the roster he is going to post some big numbers right away.
12)A’Shawn Robinson DT/Alabama- I’ve read a few articles questioning his effort, but I saw zero evidence of that on film. He is a powerful tackle that commands double teams and opens things up for his linemates. He’s so powerful already and at 6’3, 307 pounds he has the frame to get even stronger. I believe he can have a Albert Haynesworth like impact in a Jim Schwartz defense.
13)Emmanuel Ogbah DE/Oklahoma State- Good edge rusher because of his quick first step(1.59 10 yard split), long arms(35 1/2) and surprisingly strong frame for his speed(6’4, 273). He’s not overly quick, which hurts him when he doesn’t win right off the snap, but he’s so active that his motor gives him a chance on longer plays and he always keeps his arms up trying to disrupt throwing lanes. He was matched up against Laremy Tunsil in the bowl game and based on the tapes I’ve seen, nobody has played Tunsil tougher even though he didn’t win that matchup.
14)Josh Doctson WR/TCU- The only things I don’t like with Doctson are his measuarables, though that’s really nitpicking. He’s 6’2 202 pounds with hands just under 10 inches and arms under 32 inches long. Everything else about his game screams #1 receiver. He has good speed speed, great quickness, rare body control and a 41 inch vertical leap. He can separate with speed and/or quickness and even if he is covered well he can still make the boundary catch or leap over the defender.
15)Corey Coleman WR/Baylor- The ultimate separate wide out in this draft with elite athleticism to boot. He’s slightly undersized at 5’11, 194, but he put up monster numbers at Baylor despite the fact he was the focal point of every defense that faces him and his offense didn’t do a great job of moving him around. They didn’t have to because he consistently got open.
16)Shaq Lawson DE/Clemson- Lawson reminded me a lot of Vinny Curry. Curry was a little bit quicker, but their frames and speed are very similar. Neither player is overly explosive, but they are very physical ends with a ton of already developed pass rush moves. Lawson is an active player who is outstanding against the run including against Ronnie Stanley where he got consistent push from a projected first round left tackle.
17)Jared Goff QB/California- I have three major concerns with Goff. Number one, he is 6’4, 210 pounds which make me believe durability will be a major concern. Two, he has 9.0 inch hands, which spells trouble with protecting the football and throwing with appropriate velocity in bad weather conditions. The third is arm strength, though he doesn’t have an overly weak arm, it’s a little bit less than you’d want in a first round quarterback. Outside of that there is a lot to love in his game. He is mobile, throws well in the run, has a very quick release and is accurate all over the field. His college offense was very Mike Leach-esque, but I see no reason why his skills won’t translate to the next level. It just may take some time to adjust to a pro-style offense and to add much needed bulk to his frame.
18)LaQuon Treadwell WR/Ole Miss- Everyone overreacted to his workout numbers after he had an average vertical leap and a pretty slow 40, but that isn’t really his game. He has above average quickness and is a very physical wide receiver. He’s like a bigger and even more physical version of DeAndre Hopkins. He catches everything that is in his path and he will run you over after the catch. He isn’t a deep threat and he won’t be known as a jump ball receiver, but he is going to catch a ton of balls and is always a threat after the catch because of how poor defensive backs tackle these days and because of how strong he is.
19)Sterling Shepard WR/Oklahoma- Maybe the most underrated prospect in this draft. He gets labeled as a return man and slot receiver, but he really is a complete wide out. He is the best route runner in this class, is an outstanding athlete and has a good speed/quickness combo. He reminds me a little bit of Jeremy Maclin. Not an overly physical receiver, but he gets a ton of separation on quicker routes, but can also take the top off a defense.
20)Noah Spence DE/Eastern Kentucky- Explosive edge rusher who will force the quarterback to step up into the pocket often, which can be very valuable for a defense that has an elite interior rusher like the Eagles do with Fletcher Cox.
21)Carson Wentz QB/North Dakota State- I was really close to giving Wentz a second round grade, but his arm strength and overall accuracy really improved in both the Senior Bowl and his pro day. His tape by itself would grade him in the second round. You like his potential, but he had issues with leading his receivers on deep balls and his accuracy was very inconsistent. He also doesn’t go through his progressions as well as you’d like a first round prospect to. You see a lot of one read and go plays on tape. Maybe that’s by design, but it’s still an issue going forward. With Wentz, I think you have a bigger version of Alex Smith coming out. Good athlete, throws well on the run, but his deep ball accuracy and velocity is an issue. I think you get good value if you take him late in the first, but it’s a huge risk to take him very early on day one.