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“I think having the No. 1 overall pick gives us options,” Titans GM Jon Robinson said in February. “We certainly don’t want to be in this position next year. But we would like to capitalize on it and try to make an impact on the roster, whether we pick an impact player or whether we acquire more picks via trade.”
Which will it be?
The answer depends on what a team might be willing to offer to land the No. 1 pick. With that in mind, before jumping into this week’s mock, let’s take a look at what the other teams in the top 10 (plus Los Angeles) might be thinking regarding the draft’s top spot ... and what it would take to land it.
Cleveland Browns: Why would the Browns make the move up to No. 1? To prevent another team from having the chance. Say Cleveland is 100% locked in on one (but not both) of Carson Wentz or Jared Goff. With teams like San Francisco and Los Angeles lurking, the only way to ensure that the Titans don’t dump their pick elsewhere—a move that would likely take a QB off the board before the Browns pick—is to jump from 2 to 1. Probably a long shot ... but possible. Here's how that trade would look:
Browns get: Nos. 1 and 64, take Carson Wentz
Titans get: Nos. 2 and 32, plus a 2017 third, take Laremy Tunsil
San Diego Chargers: As with most teams in the top 10, the more likely play here is a trade down. If Laremy Tunsil or Jalen Ramsey gets to No. 3, the Chargers may choose to stay put and pick (Myles Jack, DeForest Buckner and Joey Bosa also could have that impact). There is not any one specific fit that would point to a move from that third slot up to the top.
Chargers get: No. 1, take Laremy Tunsil
Titans get: Nos. 3 and 35 plus a 2017 third, take Jalen Ramsey
Dallas Cowboys: Never count out Jerry Jones. The Cowboys appear to be sitting in a decent spot at No 4, though, where they will have a shot at at least two of Ramsey, Jack, Buckner, Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott. And there also is the possibility that Dallas could use its fourth pick on Wentz, Goff or even Paxton Lynch as future replacement for Tony Romo. Given all those choices, it would be stunning if the Cowboys made a move with Tennessee.
Cowboys get: No. 1, take Carson Wentz
Titans get: Nos. 4 and 34 plus a 2017 second, take Myles Jack
Jacksonville Jaguars: In a previous mock, I pitched a scenario that had Jacksonville trading up with San Diego to ensure it landed Ramsey, Jack or Bosa. (Buckner is an option, too, but I’d rank him below that trio when it comes to fitting the Jaguars’ defense). If Cleveland does not go with a QB at No. 2, there is a very realistic chance that at least three of the top four picks are defensive players. Such an outcome would leave the Jaguars choosing between players they don’t need (QBs, RBs, arguably OTs), reaching a bit on an edge player (Shaq Lawson) or cornerback (Vernon Hargreaves) or drafting a prospect in Buckner whose role would be very similar to that of high-priced free agent Malik Jackson. Rather than cross their fingers, the Jaguars could get aggressive.
Jaguars get: No. 1, take Jalen Ramsey
Titans get: Nos. 5 and 38 plus a 2017 second, take DeForest Buckner
Baltimore Ravens: The Jaguars’ pick at No. 5 is where I would draw a line in terms of trade value for the Titans—any team from No. 6 down wanting that top pick probably would have to surrender a 2017 first-rounder, as well. Perhaps the Jaguars also would, but there at least is a perceived appeal to staying in the top five. With that in mind, it's tough to envision a Ravens front office that places an emphasis on pick volume coughing up multiple first-rounders to get on the No. 1 line. Consider it far more likely that Baltimore: a) moves up a spot or two, if it sets its sights on a defender; or b) trades out of the top 10.
Ravens get: No. 1, take Laremy Tunsil
Titans get: Nos. 6 plus a 2017 first, take DeForest Buckner
San Francisco 49ers: An obvious candidate to trade up, at least if we’re assuming that Colin Kaepernick winds up in Denver. Should that happen, the 49ers could set their sights on taking a QB in Round 1, and waiting until pick No. 7 would be excruciating. Giving up multiple first-round picks is a painful thought for any franchise, but if a gamble like that brings in a franchise quarterback, it’s worth it.
49ers get: Nos. 1 and 140, take Jared Goff
Titans get: Nos. 7 and 68 plus a 2017 first, take Ronnie Stanley
Philadelphia Eagles: From 13 to 8 to 1? The Eagles would be in unprecedented territory if they pulled off that sequence. Given that they do not have a second-round pick this year, the odds are better that they go from 13 to 8 to ... somewhere back out of the top 10, trading down to recoup their missing Round 2 selection. That said, The MMQB’s Peter King speculated this week that Philadelphia could actually be the team to chase Tennessee’s spot up top, perhaps for one of those aforementioned quarterbacks. Sam Bradford’s 2017 cap hit ($22.5 million) makes him a likely cut, presuming he does not earn his way into a long-term extension; Chase Daniel’s $21 million deal can all but come off the books ($1 million guaranteed) for the 2018 season.
Eagles get: No. 1 and 140, take Jared Goff
Titans get: Nos. 8, 77, 100 plus a 2017 first, take Ronnie Stanley
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers obviously do not need a quarterback, but they desperately could use some help in the secondary. Enter Ramsey as a possible carrot dangling out in front of their Round 1 plans. The price tag to trade from No. 9 to No. 1 would be massive, so the Bucs’ front office would have to be fully convinced that Ramsey not only would bring an immediate impact to their defense but is, respective to the other names that could be there at 9, a significant step up. Perhaps it is...but I still don’t see this one happening.
Buccaneers get: No. 1, take Jalen Ramsey
Titans get: Nos. 9 and 39 plus a 2017 first, take Vernon Hargreaves
New York Giants: Even in the midst of an off-season that has seen GM Jerry Reese throw caution to the wind, trading up to No. 1 would be a bit cuckoo bananas. Yes, Tunsil, Ramsey or Jack would all stand as significant upgrades to New York's current roster—Tunsil could kick 2015 first-rounder Ereck Flowers to the right side; Ramsey could slot in either at CB or as Landon Collins’s running mate at safety; Jack brings a level of athleticism to the linebacker spot that is nonexistent among those currently there. But it would cost the Giants a small fortune.
Giants get: No. 1, take Laremy Tunsil
Titans get: Nos. 10 and 40, plus a 2017 first and third, take Shaq Lawson
Bonus! Los Angeles Rams: The Rams were on the other side of the coin when they flipped pick No. 2 to Washington for three first-rounders (including No. 6 that year) and a second-rounder. If the price tag to get to No. 1 this year is in a similar ballpark, Tennessee probably can just go ahead and pick. The buzz on the 2016 quarterbacks in general does not match the Andrew Luck-Robert Griffin III fervor. Should Los Angeles have hope of a 14-spot jump, it would have to believe its three top-50 picks this year at least could get the ball rolling. How desperate is this franchise for a new quarterback?
Rams get: No. 1, take Jared Goff
Titans get: Nos. 15, 43 and 45, plus a 2017 first and third, take Jack Conklin
The above scenarios all revolve around a potential trade of the No. 1 pick. This week’s mock does keep every team in its designated Round 1 spot, but there are some other major shifts.
In past weeks, I’ve sent a quarterback (Goff) to San Francisco at No. 7. While that is entirely possible, locking in on it at this point seems premature—the 49ers still have Colin Kaepernick, for one, but also seem to like Blaine Gabbert and have ample needs at other spots. Swapping out Goff at No. 7 for a different player sends ripples through the rest of Round 1.
The same theory came to mind at a handful of other spots in the bottom half, like Philadelphia, Detroit, Indianapolis, Buffalo and Washington. Past mocks have focused on one or two specific players or positions for those teams, but what if those lines of thinking were way off base?
Here's the latest mock:
11Laremy TunsilOT, Ole MissAll that talk just now about considering alternate draft paths starts down at pick No. 7. Five of the top six (Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner) are tough to move out of that range, and Tunsil long has been the Titans’s predicted selection.
22Carson WentzQB, North Dakota StateThe trade rumors are not limited to the No. 1 pick. The NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein tweeted this week that there is “more [and] more smoke around Cleveland being willing to deal” this pick and wait on a QB. With the roster’s wide-ranging needs, that move would not be a shock. But if the Browns do want a quarterback, they can get one here.
33Jalen RamseyCB/S, Florida StateThe Chargers would boast one of the deepest secondaries in football if they make this pick. There is more of a need at safety, alongside Dwight Lowery, but Ramsey’s all-around skill-set would allow San Diego to use him as needed.
44Myles JackLB, UCLAJack is not a flawless prospect (who is?)—there’s the knee injury, for starters, plus his somewhat limited size and physicality. What he is, though, is the ideal remedy to battle modern NFL offenses: a three-down linebacker who can cover from the slot or even safety spots.
55Joey BosaDE, Ohio StateI mentioned in the trade talks above that I would consider Ramsey, Jack and Bosa the three main targets for Jacksonville. One of those three remains. Bosa and Dante Fowler off the edge, with Malik Jackson inside, would be tough.
66DeForest BucknerDE, OregonThe Ravens are young up front—Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Carl Davis, Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore all are draft picks from between 2013–15. There should be improvement through experience. But there is not a dominant player like what Buckner can become.
77Ronnie StanleyOT, Notre DameOK, so here's the promised big change. Is it feasible that San Francisco takes a QB? Of course. Is it a sure thing? Not even close. This is one option if they don’t. Stanley could start at right tackle now, replace Joe Staley eventually, and his quick feet would make him a strong fit for Chip Kelly’s scheme.
88Vernon HargreavesCB, FloridaStanley has been one of the favorite choices here, along with Ezekiel Elliott. And should the board fall like this, Jared Goff very well could be the call. The Eagles are hardly set at cornerback, though, and this is about the range where that position should start to see some love.
99Shaq LawsonDE, ClemsonLawson is one of the 2016 draft’s Rorschach tests. What do you see: a raw pass rusher who can be molded into an All-Pro or an end with capped potential on third downs? It says here that Lawson is more of the former, hence his fit with DE-needy Tampa Bay.
1010Leonard FloydOLB, GeorgiaThe closer we creep to the draft, the more likely it seems that Floyd is a top-20 pick. There just are not many 6’ 6”, 245-pound, pass-rushing linebackers out there. Of course, that’s also part of the problem. Is he a break-the-mold type? He might be.
1111ezekiel elliottRB, Ohio StateThis pick, as well as the Rams’ choice at 15, are matches I could see happening via a trade up. Chicago does have Jeremy Langford, but it has sought out more RB help this off-season. Elliott would raise the bar as a clear No. 1.
1212Laquon TreadwellWR, Ole MissIf the Saints want a defensive boost, there are are lot of different ways they can take this pick. But I can’t shake the feeling that Sean Payton and co., would jump at the chance to take the physically imposing Treadwell.
1313William Jackson IIICB, HoustonWhether or not Byron Maxwell regains his footing as a Dolphin, pairing Maxwell with Jackson would give the secondary two long, 6-foot tall corners—a coveted combination that can be difficult to find.
1414Sheldon RankinsDT, LouisvilleThe Raiders boast a couple big boys up front, in Justin Ellis and Dan Williams, plus 280-pounder Mario Edwards. What they still could use is another interior pass rusher to pull some attention away from Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. Rankins can be a star.
1515jared goffQB, Cal
Go ahead and assume this will take a trade—should Goff make it past San Francisco at 7, every team from Philadelphia to L.A., to Denver could be interested in the Cal QB. But it's arguably the Rams who need him most of all.
1616kevin doddDE, ClemsonDT and OT have been the popular calls at 16, including here—Taylor Decker was the choice in the last mock. The Lions also have a need at defensive end, opposite Ziggy Ansah. Dodd would take over that job from Day One, allowing Devin Taylor to be a pass-rush specialist.
1717darron leeLB, Ohio StateFor the Falcons to make any tangible progress on defense this season, they must be better—and quicker—at the second level. Either Lee or Reggie Ragland would work, but Lee has the rangier game.
1818mackensie alexanderCB, ClemsonAnother new pairing as far as these weekly mocks go, albeit one that (I think) makes a lot of sense, even after Patrick Robinson’s arrival. Robinson is best in the slot and actually could push out 30-year-old Darius Butler, whose contract is up after this season. Alexander is a lockdown option outside.
1919Noah spenceDE, Eastern Kentucky
The Bills definitely will consider one of myriad DT options here, as recent mocks have hinted. They also, at some point, must find another edge presence to help Jerry Hughes. Spence has top-10 potential, plus could work as a DE or as a 3–4 OLB.
2020jack conklinOT, Michigan State
The Jets might be willing to leapfrog a few teams should Spence linger into the back half of Round 1—they need a pass rusher, too. Nabbing Conklin instead, after trading for Ryan Clady, would solve just about all of their O-line issues.
21Ryan KellyC, AlabamaShould Washington trade back, Kelly would be close to a no-brainer. This is about the top end of his Round 1 range, yet still a reasonable spot. This franchise is a mess up the middle and Kelly has the look of a 10-year starter.
22Andrew billingsDT, BaylorAgain, let’s try not to assume anything. While it is easy enough to pair up Houston with a wide receiver, the fact is that its D-line is shy a starter. Billings can play from a variety of spots including five-tech, which is where Houston is thin.
23Josh DoctsonWR, TCUI’d expect a bit of a wide receiver run to start somewhere in this Houston-Minnesota-Cincinnati set of picks. In this mock, it's the Vikings who get it going in by nabbing Doctson, a tremendous fit for their emerging offense.
2424Michael ThomasWR, Ohio StateThe Bengals certainly will not complain if the draft rolls to pick 23 with Doctson and Thomas on the board. Thomas would give them a perfect No. 2 to rack up catches as defenses try to shut down A.J. Green.
25A’Shawn robinsonDT, AlabamaRobinson’s teammate Jarran Reed was in this slot last week, but Robinson carries more upside as a three-down player. He would see ample time over the nose, but there is absolutely no reason to limit him there.
2727Reggie RaglandLB, AlabamaRagland is a top-15 player on my board, so this matches Decker in the value category.That he just happens to play a position where the Packers need a proven playmaker is all the better.
2828Eli AppleCB, Ohio StateThe Chiefs lost a huge piece when Sean Smith left, then didn’t do anything in free agency to replace him. All signs point to them hunting DB help come draft time. The menacing, 6’ 0” Apple matches what this defense likes to do.
2929paxton lynchQB, MemphisWhy, hello there. The timing of this mock selection may make it seem like an overreaction to Bruce Arians saying that Lynch is “like Carson [Palmer],” but that is mere coincidence. In truth, Arizona has no choice but to plan for post-Palmer life ... and to do so sooner rather than later. Lynch needs time, but he would find no better spot to develop than here, behind Palmer and under Arians’s watch.
3030Corey colemanWR, BaylorWith Kelvin Benjamin returning, Devin Funchess coming back and tight end Greg Olsen still destroying defenses, the Panthers do not need a receiver. That does not necessarily mean they'll pass up one who could elevate their offense. Coleman has the means to shred single coverage.
3131Vernon ButlerDT, Louisiana TechSigning Jared Crick did help the Broncos restock their line a touch in the wake of Malik Jackson’s departure. But Crick is more of a contributor than an every-down player, in an ideal world. Butler, a versatile 320-pound wrecking ball, would provide that luxury.