This draft is weird.
I mean, to some extent, they all have something weird about them. But this one is definitely unique.
This draft has an extra large 2nd round. It begins somewhere in the middle of the 1st round, and it extends well into round 3. Talent evaluators often lament that there aren’t 32 1st round grades on the board, but usually it at least gets a good chunk into the 20s before the premature start of the 2nd round. This year it starts much earlier, and it lasts a lot longer. It’s a great year to have extra picks in 2nd and 3rd rounds, not so great a year to be drafting in the latter half of the 1st.
It’s a draft with incredible defensive line depth, especially in the interior. Offensive tackle looks pretty great with a strong top and a few depth guys that won’t be forced inside to guard. Cornerback is a good group. Wide receiver is interesting in that it is devoid of top talents, but has a deep class of potential gems.
And then we have the quarterbacks. The top of the draft will be considered a tale of two QBs, but to me, this draft is the tale of three QBs: Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Paxton Lynch.
First, Goff. To me, Goff is clearly the best prospect of the three. While he lacks the jaw-dropping physical traits, he brings Matt Ryan caliber athleticism to the table. Which is to say: good throwing ability at all levels of the field, enough arm to throw to the boundaries, and good anticipation. Where Goff lacks is in raw strength and size. He’s awfully skinny (weighed in at the same 215 lbs as Teddy Bridgewater, but on a frame two inches taller), and could use some added strength to generate better throwing power.
Wentz is a complete wildcard. His positives have been stated many times in various draft writeups, but his shortcomings tend to get glossed over, and they pop on video the more you start watching for them. On tape, Wentz does not get deep into his progressions, often hitting a wall when the first read isn’t there. He rarely throws with anticipation, more often throwing after the receiver has made his break. Wentz also was the worst of the group under pressure, with his completion percentage dropping down to 42% (Goff under pressure was 50%, Lynch was 55%). That stat also speaks to a lack of anticipation, not knowing where to go with his hot reads. How much of that is a lack of QB guru coaching at the FCS level, and how much of that is innate? It’s really hard to predict anything about Wentz with any certainty. I can’t remember the last time a QB that required so much projection was taken in the top 10. It’s easy to see what scouts like, as he has a big and powerful body that isn’t even maxed out yet, and his arm talent is beyond critique. As hard as it is to justify a top 10 pick for such a project, it’s equally hard to argue against the notion that the opportunity cost of passing on that kind of specimen may be sky high.
Lynch is a player who has snuck up my board a bit. His flaw, as I’ve repeated a few times here, is his horrible footwork. Most of the rest of his problems - inconsistent accuracy, throwing power that doesn’t always seem to live up to his physical traits - stem from throwing from a bad foundation. Lynch shows excellent anticipation, comfort throwing from an unclean pocket (which appears in the stat sheet on that completion % under pressure), throws deep with excellent touch, and really is probably the best deep passer of this draft class (though not as elite at it as Goff is as a medium-range passer). My grade for Lynch has climbed into the low 1st round. I got there by comparing him to other 2nd round QB prospects. Excluding Derek Carr, who never should have made it into round 2, the round 2 QBs of the last 3 years have been Jimmy Garoppolo, Geno Smith, and Brock Osweiler. If that’s the caliber of prospect that a round 2 grade belongs on, then I think that pushes Lynch into round 1.
That brings us to the question of: which QB’s flaws are the most easily correctable? I think Goff should be able to work himself up to 220 lbs. Another once rail-skinny 6’4” QB, Tom Brady, is a comparable here, as Brady weighed 211 at his combine and bulked up to 225 lbs, and had improved throwing power to show for it. Brady’s transformation is on the unusual side, but Goff doesn’t have quite as far to go.
Now, for the second most correctable QB, that’s where things get interesting, because I’m not so sure that the answer isn’t Paxton Lynch. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a pair of QBs in Blake Bortles and Derek Carr, guys coming from schools in mid-major conferences (shut up) who needed NFL-caliber coaching to rebuild their footwork fundamentals, and started finding success once they did. Developing anticipation and the ability to progress through reads is tougher sledding. Coming from the FCS, the “what kind of coaching did he have?” question resonates even more strongly with Wentz, but the problem still seems a harder one to surmount. Lynch feels like a sports car with flat tires, while Wentz feels like the bug-riddled F-35 jet. No doubt the jet can go faster and do more damage, but only if the flaws don't keep it permanently grounded.
2016 MOCK DRAFT
1. Los Angeles Rams - QB Jared Goff
There have been conflicting reports on which QB the Rams are targeting since they made the trade with the Titans, but those reports seem to be leaning Goff as we come down the stretch. More importantly, Goff is, to my eyes, the considerably better prospect.
Alternate option: They could go Wentz, as earlier reports insisted would be the case. It’s almost impossible to imagine them going anywhere besides QB with this trade-up.
2. Philadelphia Eagles - QB Carson Wentz
One thing that will work to Carson Wentz’s favor is the Doug Pederson offense. Wentz’s deep accuracy is one of his bigger shortcomings, which Pederson’s offense won’t really press him into doing a lot (Pederson’s probably just happy to have a QB that throws more than 5 yards downfield - oh Alex Smith, we love you so). Wentz also has that deceptive white boy mobility that Alex Smith brought to the table for Pederson.
Alternate option: The pick is a QB, but they’re at the mercy of Los Angeles’s pick. If LA takes Wentz, then the Eagles happily snap up Goff.
3. San Diego Chargers - OT Laremy Tunsil
Rivers and the passing game are still the backbone of this team, and OT has long been an Achilles heel. The team spent the #11 pick in 2013 on DJ Fluker, only to have him turn out to be a guard instead of a tackle. They did well in acquiring Joe Barksdale and moving him to RT, but King Dunlap is the incumbent left tackle, who has struggled mightily with injury, and is merely “good” when on the field. Tunsil would help the Chargers protect Rivers and get the most out of his final years.
Alternate option: Their defense led the league in terrible last year, and there are some elite defender prospects to choose from. Jalen Ramsey and DeForest Buckner would seem to be the most obvious fits.
4. Dallas Cowboys - DE Joey Bosa
This pick and the next one could easily flip-flop. I have Dallas leaning towards Bosa due to the vacuum that currently exists at DE on their roster. Greg Hardy is gone, and both Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence will start the season serving 4-game suspensions for drug offenses (and, in turn, will both be at risk for a season long suspension on the next offense - a particular worry for Gregory, who failed a drug test at the NFL Combine a year ago, making this officially a pattern).
Alternate option: Jalen Ramsey would be hard to pass up if not for the team’s DE depth chart imploding. There’s talk that they could really love Ezekiel Elliott too, which I would normally discount, but, Jerry.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - DB Jalen Ramsey
Jacksonville has had Myles Jack or Bosa penciled in all spring, but with the QB trades, they find themselves with more potential options. Ramsey would give Gus Bradley's defense the playmaker missing in their secondary, and would allow the team to maintain strong run support while in nickel personnel.
Alternate option: Bosa and Jack both are scheme fits for this D, so Jacksonville will have no problem finding someone they like to pull the trigger on.
6. Baltimore Ravens - LB Myles Jack
Like Ramsey, Jack is a hybrid player that suits the new world of nickel-as-base defenses. His tape is almost beyond anything but the most half-hearted of critique. The question is, how much of the talk about his knee is smokescreening, and how much is actual smoke? An oft-repeated anonymous league source referred to Jack’s knee as a ”time bomb”. The concern is less about his immediate recovery as it is a few years down the line. Some have pointed out that the concerns are similar to ones that were held for players like Anthony Munoz, who went on to a Hall of Fame career. Others point to Jonathan Vilma, a Pro Bowl career cut short. Jack’s draft stock could go a lot of different ways, based entirely on the feelings of the medical staff of each specific would-be draft landing spot.
Alternate option: If Tunsil makes it past the Chargers at #3, he’s likely still on the board at #6, as the Cowboys won’t draft a tackle, and the Jaguars defensive needs justify them going with an elite defender over an elite offensive tackle. If Bosa makes it down here, he’s a possibility. There’s even a chance Ronnie Stanley could climb this high.
7. San Francisco 49ers - DE DeForest Buckner
With their Goff dreams shattered, SF at least finds itself in a position where the draft board value should align with their biggest other weaknesses. Though the departures of Pat Willis and Chris Borland got the most attention, the losses that the 49ers most struggled to replace were in the trenches. Anthony Davis created a void at offensive right tackle, and the twin losses of Justin Smith (to retirement) and Ray McDonald (to the criminal justice system) brought down the strong defensive line that the rest of the defense was built around. Arik Armstead looks like the first half of the solution, and his college teammate DeForest Buckner would fit in nicely as the other half. Buckner is huge (6-7, 291) and while he’s not fast enough to be an edge rusher in a 4-3, he’s exactly the kind of wrecking ball the 49ers defense lost in Justin Smith.
Alternate option: Myles Jack could be to the elder NaVorro Bowman what the younger Bowman was to Patrick Willis. The offensive tackles are also in play here, as the team still needs to replace Anthony Davis on the right side.
8. Cleveland Browns - OLB Leonard Floyd
In trying to project the Browns, I'm expecting them to overrate someone whose measurables score higher than his tape. That gets us Leonard Floyd, whose athletic measurables have been described only slightly exaggeratedly as "off the charts". He's a high potential player, and at least one analytics-based projection that we civilians have access to - FO's SackSEER - ranks him highly, so there's some basis in imagining Cleveland's internal analytics might see him the same way.
Alternate option: Ronnie Stanley is a strong consideration here, as he would step in and fill the void left by Mitchell Schwartz - and potentially replace Joe Thomas, who the team has seemed interested in eventually moving. If Buckner is still on the board, Cleveland has a 3-4 of their own in need of a wrecking ball at DE.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - OT Ronnie Stanley
Stanley is getting more and more love as a realistic top 10 pick, with footwork that makes him a true LT. Tampa played rookie right tackle Donovan Smith on the left side, where he struggled. Stanley would give them a real LT and let the massive bodied Smith move out to RT and bump Gosder Cherius from the lineup. Protecting less fat Jameis Winston should be a priority.
Alternate option: Seemingly everyone has Vernon Hargreaves in this spot. But the Bucs acquired Brent Grimes, and they don’t seem ready yet to give up on Alterraun Verner and Jonathan Banks. I’m also not a fan of short, short-armed cornerbacks with a top 10 pick.
10. New York Giants - OT Jack Conklin
One year ago, the Giants drafted an OT at this exact same #10 spot. And they find themselves still in need of a tackle. As I said in last year’s mock draft: "I don't really love any of the offensive tackles… [Flowers] doesn't have top notch pass protection technique at this stage, and may project to the right side.” Well, the Giants found him terrible in pass protection on the left side, and are strongly rumored to be looking to draft a new left tackle and move Flowers to the right side that he belonged at to start with. Conklin is a much more promising prospect than Flowers was. He’s strong, gritty, and though he lacks the elite quickness of a true franchise LT, he’s a lot better than the scrubs the Giants have been lining up there.
Alternate option: If Stanley is still on the board, the Giants jump on him. A slipping Myles Jack could be in play. This might be where Ezekiel Elliott starts factoring in, too.
11. Chicago Bears - DT Sheldon Rankins
The Bears needed a 3-4 DE for Vic Fangio's defense so badly that they signed abuser Ray McDonald when he was jettisoned from the 49ers franchise that the two had previously been paired together. The McDonald signing backfired, and the need remains. Rankins would fit.
Alternate option: Shaq Lawson seems to come up a lot around the Bears, though he’s lighter than Rankins and would seem to be a less obvious fit for Fangio - unless they project him to be a stand-up OLB instead. The Bears don’t have a dominant pass rushing OLB, but they have a few capable of generating some sacks. An edge rushing stand-up OLB like Leonard Floyd could get added to that mix, but it feels more like the need is on the line to help the edge rushers they already have.
12. New Orleans Saints - CB Vernon Hargreaves
CB is a perpetual need in New Orleans, who look past any height concerns with Hargreaves. Dennis Allen took over as defensive coordinator for the Saints during last season. At Allen’s last DC gig (Broncos 2011, the Tebow playoff year), the defense was a simple Cover 2 base that played bend-don’t-break and relied on the strength of their defensive front (specifically Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil), and used some shorter cornerbacks (Andre Goodman, rookie Chris Harris) alongside a 33-year-old Champ Bailey.
Alternate option: I’ve seen some suggest this is where Paxton Lynch starts factoring in, given that Drew Brees is 37 years old. There’s also no franchise in the NFL that likes spending 1st round picks on defensive linemen like the New Orleans Saints, and there’s a few interior linemen that could merit consideration.
13. Miami Dolphins - RB Ezekiel Elliott
When the Dolphins say they're happy with their barren RB depth chart, don't believe them. It’s been suggested that the Dolphins could try to move up the board to get Elliott, but I’m putting Elliott right here. I think running back is one of the hardest positions to project from college to the NFL, to the point that I hardly even try anymore. Elliott feels like a similar player to former teammate Carlos Hyde, except slightly lighter and considerably faster. He’s a hard-nosed runner who is solid enough in pass protection to be an immediate NFL contributor.
Alternate option: The best CBs on the board would be strong candidates, as the Dolphins let Brent Grimes walk. They spent big money on their next overpaid underperforming free agent, Byron Maxwell, but still need to find someone on the other side to ensure Jamar Taylor doesn’t get on the field anymore.
14. Oakland Raiders - DT Chris Jones
The Raiders found a gem in former Cardinals nose tackle Dan Williams, who became a more scheme-diverse player in Jack Del Rio’s defense, and saw his production soar. Chris Jones would give them another scheme-diverse interior linemen to line up along side the larger Williams. In Del Rio’s Jaguar terms, Jones would make a Marcus Stroud next to Williams’ John Henderson.
Alternate option: Corners like Eli Apple and William Jackson III would make sense, as the Raiders now have a good pair of corners in Sean Smith and David Amerson, but a complete disaster beyond those two. Also, I’ve left every WR on the board so far, and though the Raiders got good milage out of Michael Crabtree last year, there’s little doubt that they could add a some youth and explosion here, and find a deep threat to line up across from Amari Cooper.
15. Tennessee Titans - CB William Jackson III
It’s somewhere around here, or maybe slightly earlier, where mock drafts are going to start crumbling. Many GMs have spoken and said the same thing: the caliber of player around this point in the draft is in the same tier as the guys you’ll find deep into the 2nd round. This is the point where individual teams will see the talent pool very differently from each other, and predictions will start turning to sh*t. I expect Tennessee isn’t targeting anyone specific, given their willingness to move down the board, and will just sit back and see who falls to them (though there’s always a chance they do jump back up). The Titans seem to always be losing corners in free agency, to the point that they were relying on Perrish Cox last year. With the draft’s CB value placing a few draftable players in this spot, it makes sense for Tennessee to consider them.
Alternate option: Eli Apple and Mackensie Alexander are another pair of cornerbacks also in this ballpark. They could also draft OT Taylor Decker and establish the Taylor Twins with the team’s reigning Taylor tackle, Taylor Lewan.
16. Detroit Lions - WR Corey Coleman
Really I wanted to label this pick “F*ck, I don’t know”. I’m confident that the Lions will at least give exceedingly strong consideration to taking a wide receiver, as their offense is predicated on Matt Stafford throwing the ball an absurd number of times, and Megatron is no longer there to catch the largest share. So I feel good that WR is the most likely option. The question is, which one? And you could legitimately come up with 4 different names for who the top WR of the draft is. They’re all really low round 1, high round 2 kind of talents. Laquon Treadmill is tempting as he has the size that Detroit’s current WR depth chart (Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, some other f*ckin guys) doesn’t, but slow straight line speed doesn’t work on that Ford Field indoor turf. I’m leaning towards Coleman, even though he lacks the ideal height. He’s fast and can create separation, and he fits in a high volume passing attack.
Alternate option: Any of the other top receivers! Also, offensive tackle is a big need, and while my mock has the #2 and #3 tackles going early, things could shake out where one or both are still on the board down here.
17. Atlanta Falcons - WR Josh Doctson
Now we’re taking some receivers off the board. The Falcons haven’t been the same since the decline of Roddy White, and like the Lions, they need more WR talent for their high-volume passing attack. This is an offense that likes tall receivers (the departed White and Harry Douglas, along with Julio Jones and new addition Mohamed Sanu, are all 6-0 or taller), so I’m leaning towards Doctson, whose best NFL comparison is probably Roddy White.
Alternate option: Other receivers might be an option, but I don’t feel like any of them fit as well as Doctson. Linebacker is a better alternative, as the Falcons are not good there, and this is the point where linebackers start showing up on the value board. Reggie Ragland, Darron Lee, maybe Leonard Floyd if he’s still on the board.
18. Indianapolis Colts - C Ryan Kelly
This might be a bit high, but the Colts offensive line situation is so dire that it can’t be ignored. I expect the Colts to take the best available offensive linemen, and Kelly is arguably that. With the unofficial Colts depth chart listing G/T Jack Mewhort at RT, that leaves the three interior positions as the Colts’ biggest needs, and Kelly along with some more depth draft picks could help address that. Joe Philbin is the team’s new offensive line coach, which is the role Philbin filled in college and then in Green Bay on his way up before Peter Principling to Dolphins head coach. Indy has struggled to develop linemen, which they hope Philbin can turn around. There’s little doubt that they’ll spend this draft giving him some pieces to work with.
Alternate option: Taylor Decker is a strong candidate. If one of the other tackles slides, they would be targets. There’s a lot of value at defensive line at this point in the draft, and while the Colts have quite a few semi-decent defensive linemen, they don’t have anyone really awesome.
19. Buffalo Bills - OLB/DE Shaq Lawson
Lawson is the kind of hybrid defensive linemen that can be hard to slot into the base defense of certain teams, but who is a movable piece that would fit nicely in Rex Ryan’s shifting hybrid defensive fronts.
Alternate option: The linebackers on this roster are not great, so you could see a Darron Lee or Reggie Ragland or Shilque Calhoun factor in here.
20. New York Jets - OT Taylor Decker
As good as D’Brickashaw Ferguson has been over his career, his 2015 campaign suggests his retirement is addition by subtraction. Right tackle Breno Giacomini, however, was even worse. The Jets traded for Ryan Clady to fill Ferguson’s spot, and drafting Decker here would give them an answer at right tackle. Decker is tall (6-7) but with shorter arms (33 3/4”). He’s NFL ready as a run blocker though, and would be a major upgrade over Giacomini.
Alternate option: Cornerback opposite of Darrelle Revis remains a need - certainly can’t be counting on Dee Milliner to ever fill that spot, and Buster Skrine would be better back as a slot corner.
21. Washington Racial Slurs - LB Reggie Ragland
Few players have been as consistently mocked as Ragland to Washington. It’s a clear needs-meets-value case, as I’m looking at the Washington depth chart and I would not have been able to name one of these inside linebackers if you had a gun to my head. And they’re a 3-4 team so there’s two inside linebacker spots, 7 names on the chart between the two spots, and I swear Will Compton is the only name I have ever heard of. Most of them were street free agents or UDFAs. Ragland’s one of those guys that everyone kinda likes because he’s an outstanding football player, but not an elite athlete, much like Chris Borland a couple of years ago.
Alternate option: There’s not a spot on the defensive front seven that doesn’t need improvement, outside of maybe Ryan Kerrigan. So in this deep defensive line draft, there’s no shortage of directions Washington could go here. Much of their entire draft will probably be spent on the defensive front 7.
22. Cleveland Browns (projected trade from Houston Texans) - QB Paxton Lynch
I tend to avoid mocking trades, but come on, I couldn’t pass this one up. Cleveland sends pick #32 and pick #77 to Houston for the #22 pick. The trade makes sense for Houston, who are looking at receiver options opposite DeAndre Hopkins, and will have most of the same guys to choose from at #32 as they do at #22. Cleveland grabs Paxton Lynch here, which would probably be the first Browns pick #22 QB selection that I don’t hate. Lynch doesn’t help you in 2016, so you have to have a Plan A for this season, which the Browns have already committed to in the guaranteed money given to Robert Griffin III. Trading down from #2 and then more cheaply moving back up to #22 to select Lynch allows them to invest in a rookie QB at a much cheaper price tag. The irony is that I would probably characterize this as a reasonably good move overall, which dooms it from happening.
Alternate option: The alternative is Houston keeping the pick, so the options for the Texans would be the best wide receivers available. Which, again, is a real eye-of-the-beholder situation. Will Fuller has the blazing straight-line speed, which would appeal as a counterpart to Hopkins, perhaps the league’s best possession receiver at this point.
23. Minnesota Vikings - WR Laquon Treadwell
As good as he is, we may have to accept that Teddy Bridgewater is not likely to develop into a big down-the-field passer. What better landing spot, then, is there for the draft’s big-but-not-fast WR, Laquon Treadwell? Treadwell creates mismatches with his size, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage, and making things happen after the catch. He’s a good guy for beating the jam and catching 5 yard slants and turning them into first downs, which is the kind of passing attack that the Vikings have. Stefon Diggs has the wheels for whatever deep throws Bridgewater does muster up. Treadwell projects to be their chain mover.
Alternate option: Terence Newman turns 56 years old this October, and even though they have two recent first rounders (Rhodes, Waynes) and a free agent nickel corner (Munnerlyn), Newman still projects into the starting lineup. Newman, Rhodes, and Munnerlyn are all free agents after this year (Rhodes potentially staying if the Vikings pick up his option year), so cornerback could be an option, with Eli Apple and Mackensie Alexander still on the board here.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - OLB Noah Spence
I had a hard time figuring out where to put the kid that got kicked out of Ohio State for failing drug tests, but is arguably the best raw pass rusher of the draft… and then I got down to #24, the Cincinnati Bengals. If last year’s wildcard meltdown wasn’t enough to make the Bengals rethink their approach to acquiring troubled players, absolutely nothing will, and that gives us a home for Spence. Spence would need to add some bulk to be a hand-on-the-ground 4-3 DE, but he would factor in as a situational pass rusher at the beginning.
Alternate option: After losing two receivers to free agency, they could look to dip into the group that’s available at this spot, which includes Will Fuller, Michael Thomas, and Sterling Shepard.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers - S Karl Joseph
This defense hasn’t yet replaced Troy Polamalu, and it’s sounding like teams aren’t afraid of taking the injured Joseph, even though his timeline for recovery could extend into the regular season. Before the injury, though, Joseph was far and away the top safety of the class (provided we’re categorizing Ramsey as a corner). He’s an imposing, destructive force, and a patient franchise like the Pittsburgh Steelers makes the most sense for his landing spot.
Alternate option: Cornerback is almost as bad a need as safety, and I still have Eli Apple and Mackensie Alexander on the board.
26. Seattle Seahawks - OG Cody Whitehair
Seattle takes the best offensive linemen left on the board here, no matter who it is. Since I have Kelly and Decker coming off the board before here, that means it’s Whitehair. He’s a college tackle moving inside to guard, and Seattle’s guards were so awful that there will be zero resistance to getting into the starting lineup.
Alternate option: If the best offensive lineman left on the board is someone other than Whitehair, then that guy.
27. Green Bay Packers - DT Andrew Billings
Billings has been a mock draft favorite for the Packers. But at this point in the draft, the interior defensive lineman pool is so deep that there are literally a half dozen names you could put here. I’m expecting Green Bay is looking at a nose tackle to replace B.J. Raji, and Billings is the fastest of the 310+ lb interior linemen.
Alternate option: Jarran Reed. A’Shawn Robinson. Vernon Butler. Jonathan Bullard. Robert Nkemdiche. Javon Hargrave. The list is endless at this point.
28. Kansas City Chiefs - CB Eli Apple
These two cornerbacks that I’ve been sliding down the list benefits Kansas City, who has the void of Sean Smith to fill. I give Apple to the Chiefs, as he’s the taller, longer corner in Smith’s mold, and a potential legitimate #1 CB.
Alternate option: Another corner, like Alexander, or one of the available wide receivers, like Will Fuller.
29. Arizona Cardinals - CB Mackensie Alexander
I really don’t feel great about anyone I try to slot in to this spot. Adding another cornerback seems the best of the available options, but Alexander doesn’t have the height that Bruce Arians likes. Alexander doesn’t have the size and length to deliver a good jam at the line, but he does well in press coverage by being able to quickly flip his hips to turn and move upfield, which helps his fit in this press-heavy defense.
Alternate option: If Eli Apple or William Jackson III were still on the board, that would make a much easier pick. Ditto for center Ryan Kelly, as the Cardinals badly need to address that spot.
30. Carolina Panthers - DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Jared Allen’s retirement opens up a roster spot at DE, but even including Allen, the pass rush from the edge has been disappointing in Carolina, with situational pass rusher Mario Addison leading the group with 6.0 sacks. Ogbah is a bit of a boom-or-bust type, which is how you get an edge rusher with Ogbah’s athleticism down at pick #30. Ogbah was highly inconsistent, but is the most potentially devastating pass rusher left on the board.
Alternate option: Kevin Dodd would be a safer pick for a 4-3 DE, but he’s also a lot less explosive, and it seems that the last thing the Panthers really need is another defensive end that can do everything OK but isn’t destructive. That guy’s already on the roster, more than once. Cornerback is also a glaring need with Norman’s departure, but with the last two picks in my mock taking cornerbacks, the remaining options would be reaching.
31. Denver Broncos - DE Vernon Butler
There’s a ton of defensive linemen who could go here to replace Malik Jackson, but I’m picking the massive, long-armed Butler. He’s got the size and length for some scheme versatility, and though he won’t provide the same pass rush as the leaner Malik Jackson, he’s an absolute wall at the end of the line.
Alternate option: Both of Alabama’s linemen, A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed, are in the picture. They could go for the draft’s top rated TE, Hunter Henry. Or, let’s say my Browns #22 trade doesn’t happen, and no one else trades to jump ahead of Denver. Then we could be looking at Paxton Lynch here.