Were it not for Roger Goodell and the NFL’s Random Punishment Generator stripping the Patriots (first round) and Chiefs (third round) of early picks, this year's draft would have an even 100 selections over its opening two days.
Alas, the number of players to be picked in Rounds 1–3 stands at 98. And all we know for sure about how the proceedings will play out is that the Rams will take a quarterback at No. 1. Which quarterback that is remains something of a mystery, as does just about everything from there on down.
With just over a week to go until the draft begins, here’s a projection of how the first three rounds will go.
1. Carson Wentz
QB, North Dakota State
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2. Jared Goff
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3. DeForest Buckner
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4. Ezekiel Elliott
RB, Ohio State
Two quarterbacks and either Buckner or Tunsil landing at 1-2-3 is the ideal scenario for the Cowboys, who then could choose between Elliott, Ramsey, Myles Jack, Joey Bosa or a trade down. Nabbing Elliott would give their offense a shot to reach another level, with the likely Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite. • KING: How Rams' trade for top pick got done
5. Jalen Ramsey
CB/S, Florida State
There’s no reason to overthink this one. For the Jaguars to show meaningful improvement in 2016, and for Gus Bradley to stay out of the hot seat, the defense absolutely has to be better. Ramsey is the top defender in this draft. Jacksonville could envision him as its No. 1 cornerback or as a partner at safety for newcomer Tashuan Gipson. Either would move Bradley closer to his vision on that side of the ball.
6. Laremy Tunsil
There arguably are more problematic spots on Baltimore’s roster than the O-line. But with Tunsil sliding from his previous post at No. 1 to No.6, this is too good to pass up. Tunsil would allow the Ravens to stop worrying about Eugene Monroe’s injury issues and underwhelming play. Here’s your new franchise left tackle.
7. Myles Jack
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8. Ronnie Stanley
OT, Notre Dame
If the Browns’ new front office really is committed to tearing this thing down and building it back up, it has to start in the trenches. With Mitchell Schwartz in Kansas City and Joe Thomas planted on the trade block (with a contract that includes no more guaranteed money), the Browns land their 2016 right tackle and ’17 left tackle.
9. Joey Bosa
DE, Ohio State
It’s borderline stunning that Bosa could land in Tampa Bay without the Bucs moving up, but here we are. Unless the Bucs’ brass, for whatever reason, has Shaq Lawson as the higher-rated defensive end, this should be one of those race-to-the-podium type picks.
10. Vernon Hargreaves
11. Sheldon Rankins
Among the main reasons Rankins keeps surfacing as a top-12 option is that teams don’t have to play the "Does he fit the scheme?" game with him. He does, no matter what said scheme happens to be. For the Bears, it would be as a defensive end in their 3–4 with the ability to drop inside on four-man looks.
12. Laquon Treadwell
WR, Ole Miss
In the process of doing mock after mock, a few matches that are tough to ignore always emerge. This is one. Without question, the Saints must add defensive help in this draft. But they also still could use a true No. 1 receiver and, more importantly, a physical red-zone threat for QB Drew Brees.
13. Shaq Lawson
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14. William Jackson III
In signing Sean Smith and then drafting Jackson, the Raiders would have flipped their cornerback depth chart from an Achilles heel to a strength. Jackson has the size, length and wherewithal to be a shutdown outside defender.
15. Taylor Decker
OT, Ohio State
The Titans have too many needs to automatically assume that they will just take an offensive tackle here…and yet, with that said, this pick is a combo of fit and value. They’d be landing Decker at the start of his realistic draft range and could slot his ferocious run-blocking presence in on the right side so Taylor Lewan can take another crack on the left.
16. A’Shawn Robinson
Circling back here on a match made long ago, then deserted. A bevy of possibilities still exist for the Lions here, including Jack Conklin, Noah Spence and Reggie Ragland. Robinson, though, at worst is a help vs. the run and at best develops into a dominant, one-gapping monster in Teryl Austin’s scheme.
17. Leonard Floyd
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18. Jack Conklin
OT, Michigan State
A fairly quiet off-season means that the Colts could head into training camp with Denzelle Good penciled in at right tackle. They’re high on Good, but this would be a clear upgrade.