Don't count out the Jets to draft a quarterback
1:03 | NFL
Don't count out the Jets to draft a quarterback
Monday April 18th, 2016

Get all of Don Banks’s columns as soon as they’re published. Download the new Sports Illustrated app (iOS or Android) and personalize your experience by following your favorite teams and SI writers.

The blockbuster trade the Rams and Titans swung last week dramatically shook up the top of the draft’s first round and figures to again put the top-rated quarterbacks center stage when the festivities open in Chicago on the night of April 28. But if there was an obvious non-winner in the deal that put the relocated Rams in position to deliver a new star to the star-obsessed Los Angeles market, it was Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, who had been the presumed favorite to go first overall to Tennessee.

Instead, about two months worth of projection went up in smoke just two weeks prior to the draft, and now one of the secondary questions in the first round is how low Laremy will go. Some have him sliding comfortably into San Diego’s No. 3 slot, but I’ve got his wait taking twice that long, with Baltimore stopping his slide at No. 6. That’ll cost him some salary, but the Ravens have been a first-class organization, and Baltimore seems poised to make 2016 a bounce-back season.

The 20 most intriguing games of the 2016 NFL season

What once seemed fairly clear at the top of this draft is now wonderfully murky. As it should be, given the intrigue and melodrama that surrounds almost everything associated with the NFL these days. Forget everything you thought you knew in this mock draft season, because the storylines have just been substantially reset. Here’s my second attempt at mocking out the first round, with the picking now just 10 days away.

BURKE: Team-by-team draft needs | Player rankings by position

  • 1
    1Carson Wentz
    QB, North Dakota State
    The Rams intend to keep us in suspense about which quarterback they prefer, for strategic reasons. But I’m going with Wentz, who has the size and physicality that Jeff Fisher favors, and we know from history the Rams’ coach isn’t afraid of drafting a small-school passer with tons of upside (see Steve McNair in Houston, circa 1995). Plus I just like the idea of an iconic showbiz name like Carson being the new face of the Rams as they return to Tinseltown.

  • 2
    2Jared Goff
    QB, Cal
    I’m still not convinced the Browns will take a quarterback at No. 2. They could opt for Florida State cornerback-safety Jalen Ramsey or maybe even look to deal out of this slot. But I am convinced Cleveland favors Goff over Wentz. Here’s where it gets tricky: The Rams may want to give Cleveland the impression that they’re open to picking either quarterback, just to see if the Browns will offer anything to trade up to No. 1 and land Goff. Then the Rams can have their cake and eat it, too, taking Wentz at No. 2 and recouping some of the draft bounty they shipped to Tennessee.

  • 3
    3Jalen Ramsey
    CB/S, Florida State
    Many seem to think San Diego will be the team that benefits from Laremy Tunsil not going at No. 1 now that the Titans traded with the Rams. But the Chargers have poured a lot of money into their offensive line, and Ramsey is too tempting as an elite and versatile talent in the secondary. Getting the highest-graded player on its board at No. 3 is a pretty appealing scenario for San Diego.

  • 4
    4Myles Jack
    LB, UCLA
    Would the Cowboys consider moving up to No. 2 to select Goff, or perhaps opt to stay put and hope he falls to them? Jerry Jones reportedly “loved” what he saw of Goff at a private workout on Saturday, so you can’t rule out Dallas making that kind of splash. But the odds are probably still heavily against it, and in Jack the Cowboys would be adding an athletic and instinctive playmaker to a defense that doesn’t have nearly enough of those.

  • 5
    5Joey Bosa
    DE, Ohio State
    Jaguars coach Gus Bradley gets to add a proven pass rusher to a defense that ranked 24th in yards per game in 2015 but figures to be substantially improved this season. Just as Jacksonville was hoping, the draft’s top two quarterbacks getting pushed to Nos. 1 and 2 delivers defensive help to their doorstep.

  • 6
    6Laremy Tunsil
    OT, Mississippi
    Like defensive lineman Leonard Williams surprisingly lasting until the Jets at No. 6 in last year’s draft, Tunsil slides a bit this year, and the Ravens are the big winners in this scenario. Tunsil’s arrival means Baltimore doesn’t have to rely on oft-injured Eugene Monroe at left tackle.
  • 7
    7DeForest Buckner
    DE, Oregon
    If Goff gets past the Browns and Cowboys, his fall would likely end here with the 49ers. But if there is no quarterback worth its No. 7 pick, San Francisco could do much worse than finding Buckner waiting for them. Chip Kelly loves him some former Ducks, and Buckner would team up with ex-Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead, last year’s first-round pick.

  • 8
    8Ezekiel Elliott
    RB, Ohio State
    The Eagles are high on Elliott’s potential for instant impact as a rookie, and I’d be shocked if he’s not their pick, even with Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley still available to address a need position. And Philly likely knows that if it passes on Elliott, chances are good he’ll be facing the Eagles twice a year with the Giants, who select two picks later.

  • 9
    9Shaq Lawson
    DE, Clemson
    The Bucs have to find help for their anemic pass rush and not let the likes of Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan play against them six times per season with a painfully clean pocket. Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is the other possibility, but a better pass rush usually contributes to better pass coverage, and not the other way around.

  • 10
    10Ronnie Stanley
    OT, Notre Dame
    Stanley is a consensus top-10 talent who could start from day one at the blind side tackle slot, allowing New York to move last year’s first-round pick, Ereck Flowers, to right tackle. The Giants obviously are in win-now mode, and they know they have succeeded in the past when both their lines are top-notch units.

  • 11
    11Leonard Floyd
    OLB, Georgia
    Floyd’s athleticism and upside are obvious, and the Bears crave someone who can be a disruptive edge-rush presence as they continue to build their 3–4 defensive front. Floyd’s potential and Chicago’s need for more pass pressure trumps their interest in talents like Hargreaves and Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin.

  • 12
    12Sheldon Rankins
    DT, Louisville
    The Saints’ defense was abysmal once again in 2015, ranking 31st overall and getting gouged through the air. Rankins is the best defensive tackle in a DT-rich draft, and he has pass rushing skills that would fit perfectly in the 4–3 scheme that will be run by new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.

  • 13
    13Vernon Hargreaves
    CB, Florida
    Miami enjoys some draft-night fortuity and sees the top-rated cornerback fall to its lucky No. 13 slot. With Brent Grimes let go last month, the Dolphins now have their starter opposite ex-Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell.

  • 14
    14William Jackson III
    CB, Houston
    The Raiders have done such solid work in free agency and recent drafts that they don’t have to reach for anyone at No. 14 to fill a need. They’ve got a number of good options here that range from trading down to selecting another playmaking receiver in Mississippi’s Laquon Treadwell, or perhaps buttressing the offensive line with Conklin. But adding Jackson’s size and athleticism to the cornerback depth chart works just fine too in the pass-happy NFL.

  • 15
    15Jack Conklin
    OT, Michigan State
    The draft-pick-rich Titans could still be on the move back up into the top 10 if they choose to target Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley as their long-term answer at left tackle. But if they stay put, taking Conklin would allow them to leave Taylor Lewan on the left side and plug Conklin in as a day one starter at right tackle.

  • 16
    16Taylor Decker
    OT, Ohio State
    The need at right tackle wins out over getting more pass rush help or perhaps a space-eating defensive tackle prospect. To have a chance in the newly competitive NFC North, Matthew Stafford must be upright and undisturbed as much as possible.

  • 17
    17Darron Lee
    LB, Ohio State
    Lee gives the Falcons a versatile and polished player who can stay on the field for all three downs and does most everything well enough to upgrade Atlanta’s defense. Taking a defensive tackle to aid a run defense that was gouged for 20 touchdowns last season makes sense as well, but Lee adds the pass rush potential the Falcons sorely lack.

  • 18
    18Ryan Kelly
    C, Alabama
    Fix the offensive line and the Colts may go a long way toward ensuring quarterback Andrew Luck never has to endure another inconsistent, injury-shortened season like he did in 2015. Kelly is the draft’s finest center prospect, but he could play early at any of the line’s three interior positions.
  • 19
    19Noah Spence​
    DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky
    The well-chronicled off-field issues that Spence has will make some people in the Bills’ organization nervous about this pick, but as he did in last year’s draft, Rex Ryan has shown he’s willing to take chances if the talent level is high enough. Spence has edge-rush skills the Bills desperately need coming off their dismal 21-sack showing last season.

  • 20
    20Paxton Lynch
    QB, Memphis
    This is the right fit of draft value and need for the Jets and Lynch to make a marriage of it. Ryan Fitzpatrick gets signed at some point, but he’s still a short-term option. Unless the Jets really believe they can entrust the future to Geno Smith—and I don’t think that’s the case—investing in Lynch’s intriguing upside would be a shrewd move. He’ll have the time he needs to develop under offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, and the Jets might finally have their long-sought franchise QB.

  • 21
    21Jarran Reed
    DT, Alabama
    Washington’s 31st-ranked run defense was woeful last season, and that front has to get more physical and aggressive. That makes Reed an obvious candidate to land in D.C., although options such as Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings and Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland are likely on the radar screen as well.

  • 22
    22Josh Doctson
    WR, TCU
    Baylor’s Corey Coleman would add more pure speed to the Texans’ receiving corps, but Doctson’s blend of size, speed and the ability to go up and win the contested ball makes him an ideal complement opposite No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

  • 23
    23Laquon Treadwell​
    WR, Mississippi
    The Vikings’ strong off-season work continues when they find the draft’s top-rated receiver waiting for them in the bottom third of the round. Treadwell isn’t the ideal deep threat, but he’s an ideal possession receiver who knows how to find the football in a crowd and will greatly aid Teddy Bridgewater’s game in the red zone.

  • 24
    24Corey Coleman
    WR, Baylor
    The Bengals find their speed threat in Coleman, helping offset the loss of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency. Coleman has a skill set very different from Andy Dalton’s other two favorite targets, A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. He has struggled at times with drops, but he can take the top off a defense with his straight-line burst.

  • 25
    25Eli Apple​
    CB, Ohio State
    This just in: The Steelers need help at cornerback. Apple has the size and coverage chops to play right away in the NFL, and the Steelers won’t hesitate to pick themselves some first-round fruit at a position they haven’t addressed that high in almost two decades.

  • 26
    26Andrew Billings
    DT, Baylor
    Offensive tackle is the more obvious position of need for Seattle with Russell Okung’s departure, but I don’t see any prospect who isn’t at least a slight reach at No. 26 (not that the Seahawks always go conventional in the first round anyway). Billings is an athletic and stout presence in the defensive interior, and he’s one of the highest-rated players left in the round.

  • 27
    27Reggie Ragland
    LB, Alabama
    While a replacement for the departed B.J. Raji seems imperative in this draft, this year’s defensive tackle crop goes deep. The Packers also could use a tackling machine at inside linebacker, given the plan to move Clay Matthews back to his outside spot, and Ragland plays with intensity and an enforcer’s mentality.

  • 28
    28Kevin Dodd
    DE, Clemson
    If there’s a cornerback here the Chiefs feel strongly about, that’s the natural pick given the loss of veteran cover man Sean Smith to Oakland in free agency. But Justin Houston’s knee injury and Tamba Hali’s age could nudge the Chiefs toward taking the best available pass rusher.

  • 29
    29Robert Nkemdiche
    DT, Mississippi
    The Cardinals could use help at free safety, but the temptation of a talent like Nkemdiche strikes me as the kind of move Bruce Arians and Steve Keim would be willing to gamble on. Arizona has gone down the path of drafting a character risk in recent years and been rewarded for the faith it showed (see Tyrann Mathieu).

  • 30
    30Karl Joseph
    S, West Virginia
    Joseph is a rising prospect who figures to wind up somewhere in the lower reaches of the first round by the time April 28 rolls around. He adds physicality and coverage skills to the Panthers’ secondary.

  • 31
    31Chris Jones
    DT, Mississippi State
    If they’re getting nervous on the quarterback front, the Broncos could make Michigan State’s Connor Cook the fourth passer to crack the first round. But John Elway doesn’t flinch much these days, and his track record in Denver is to go for defense in the first round. Jones carries a first-round grade and adds another weapon to a defensive line that lost Malik Jackson in free agency.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.