Dissecting 2016 NFL Draft

On April 27, 2016, in NFL, by Stephen

I’ve been closely following the NFL draft for nearly 50 years and I’ve never seen a draft shaping up like this one.

To wit:

The projected first two picks may not even be among the top 20 players.

The best defensive player – if not the best overall player – could last until the middle rounds.

The game has gotten faster and more spread out yet the strength of the draft is interior defensive linemen.

There’s a running back who is the best overall prospect since Adrian Peterson yet hardly draws attention.

There’s a player considered by many to not only be the top cornerback prospect but also the No. 1 safety prospect – and he only intercepted three passes in his college career.

It’s a down year for wide receivers yet because of the outstanding defensive line depth, four or five could go in the first round.

I know, a lot to digest.

But barring totally unforeseen circumstances, Jared Goff is going first overall to the Rams and Carson Wentz is going next to the Eagles. Even in a quarterback-driven league like the NFL, the Rams and Eagles surrendered their futures to land these signal-callers. Goff and Wentz, though, don’t come with the same franchise-quarterback tags of last year’s two top picks, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Some team is going to reach, too, for Paxton Lynch in the first round maybe even Connor Cook, too.

This is what highly respected professional sports bettor Dave Malinsky wrote me when asked what he thought of the quarterback crop: “This is an amazing draft – not sure there is a single first round QB out there, and it could be has high as four getting picked. A lot of buyer’s remorse ahead.”

Some draft pundits and scouts considered Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith as the most talented player in the draft. Smith isn’t likely to go among the first three rounds, however. He blew out his left knee in the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl. It was a horrific injury with not only his anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament getting torn, but also damage to his peroneal nerve. It’s pretty much a given Smith won’t be ready to play this season. The really sad thing is it’s not a given that he’ll be able to play again.

That likely means Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey will be the first defensive player selected. He could go as high as No. 3. Ramsey started 41 games for Florida State playing both cornerback and safety. Yet he finished with only three interceptions. Sure opponents may not have passed too much in his direction, but just three interceptions plants a red flag in my mind.

I find the three best players in this year’s draft to be Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott – the most polished running back prospect since Peterson – Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa and Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Elliott could have been the No. 1 overall pick if the NFL hadn’t evolved into primarily a passing league boosted by skewed rules that give a big advantage to this style.

It’s a touch ironic that some teams are moving away from huge defensive linemen in favor of hybrid safety/linebackers to combat receiver speed when defensive line is the strongest area of this year’s draft. There is so much depth on the defensive line that many late first-round quality defensive linemen will spill into the second round. Wide receivers will be the beneficiary of this.

Unlike the past five drafts, there are no sure-fire, superstar wider receivers. Yet four or five could go in the first round due to the depth of the defensive linemen and the ping-pong way of scoring that has developed in the NFL where it’s not uncommon to see offenses using three and even four-wide receiver sets.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *