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NFL Mock Draft: Predicting a QB-heavy first two rounds

In Chris Burke’s latest mock draft, the Browns draft a quarterback yet again. Is it Carson Wentz or Jared Goff with the chance to turn the tide in Cleveland?  

Somehow, it always comes down to the quarterbacks.

The plan to go best player available in the draft is a noble one, but what if your franchise needs a quarterback ... and a quarterback is never the best player available? The resulting anguish threatens to shake up the draft board every year, and 2016 is no different.

Teams from No. 2 to No. 31 in the first-round order currently sit with significant questions under center. As a result, for the first time in a long while in these weekly mocks, the QBs start flying off the board early. It’s possible to win without excellence at the quarterback spot, as Denver proved last season, but that approach only works when paired with a totally dominant defense. The Browns don’t have that. Neither do the 49ers or the Rams (though the latter is closer).

Turning Cleveland’s focus off Jalen Ramsey to their potential franchise quarterback sets us off down a different path. What’s in store now? Let’s find out in this latest, two-round mock:

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1. Laremy Tunsil

OT, Ole Miss

Peter King mentioned this week that the Titans might a) trade down or b) take Jalen Ramsey here. Either would be perfectly acceptable options, provided the trade brings back an extra top-50 pick or two. But it’s still going to be very difficult to pass on Tunsil, who has the baseline goods to develop into a dominant All-Pro tackle.

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2. Carson Wentz

QB, North Dakota State

• KAPLAN: Wentz visits Gruden’s QB Camp

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3. Jalen Ramsey

CB/S, Florida State

The beauty of Ramsey’s game is that he legitimately could line up as a starter at cornerback or safety, or play a hybrid of the two. So the Chargers’ seemingly well-stocked CB spot (Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers, Casey Heyward) should not chase them away from what may be the draft’s best player.

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4. Myles Jack

LB, UCLA

What happens late next week at Jack’s combine medical recheck will determine where he falls on April 28. Bad news likely would portend a tumble down Round 1; an OK from the doctors would all but lock him into the top six. Dallas still has roster spots in need of a touch-up, but should feel positive enough about its RBs and DEs to nab Jack over Ezekiel Elliott and Joey Bosa.

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5. Joey Bosa

DE, Ohio State

The Jaguars will have to figure out how to employ the rest of their pieces, but a pass-rushing front with Bosa and Dante Fowler outside and Malik Jackson sliding inside to tackle would be formidable. Bosa actually offers some of the same elements as Jackson in quickness off the edge with power to test guards and centers.

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6. DeForest Buckner

DE, Oregon

When it comes to finding a perfect prospect-team fit in this draft, there are not a lot of better choices than this one. Buckner’s game is tailor-made for the Ravens’s 3–4 attack—a 3–4 attack, by the way, that could use more of a presence at DE.

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7. Jared Goff

QB, Cal

• NFL draft Big Board: Top 100 prospects

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8. Ezekiel Elliott

RB, Ohio State

Elliott is the best player on the board at this point, and that really can be the end of the discussion should Philadelphia add him to its Ryan Mathews/Darren Sproles backfield. Any of the next three selections about to come off the board would work for the Eagles, too, meaning this is a juicy spot for them.

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9. Vernon Hargreaves

CB, Florida

There is disagreement over Hargreaves’s stock (and over this cornerback class in general), at least as it stands relative to a high-Round 1 selection. Is he big enough to excel in the NFL? Fast enough? What if he has to play the slot? Weed out the talking points and there is enough to suggest Hargreaves can become a dynamic pro.

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10. Shaq Lawson

DE, Clemson

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11. Ronnie Stanley

OT, Notre Dame

Even amid negative chatter about Stanley’s work ethic, it’s still tough to envision him staying up on the board for long. His natural athleticism for the position is outstanding and, unlike Jack Conklin or Taylor Decker, he definitely projects as a left tackle. The Bears still have a hole at that spot.

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12. Laquon Treadwell

WR, Ole Miss

In Sean Payton’s tenure (not counting the 2012 season, during which he was suspended) the Saints have ranked in the top 10 in offense six times; it has happened on defense twice. The defense has to improve in ’16, but Payton’s proven path to success is through lighting up the scoreboard. Hence Treadwell, who would be a high-volume option for Drew Brees.

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13. William Jackson III

CB, Houston

• Podcast: Cowboys plans; Braverman, Westerman talk draft