After months of speculation, hard work and anxiousness, the prestigious first round of the 2016 NFL Draft has concluded. The round took us through an abundance of twists and turns that were often unpredictable. It didn't take long for things to get interesting, and I expect the second and third rounds to be just as exciting, if not more.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags fill a huge need at cornerback. Jalen Ramsey was regarded as one of the best players in the 2016 Draft. Ramsey enters the scene and becomes a Pro-Bowl cornerback for years to come. He's a fiery competitor, has a nose for the ball and retains the prototype frame for a press cover corner. The kid is different, and I know they are extremely happy down in Jacksonville.
Indianapolis Colts: Indianapolis Colt's GM Ryan Grigson says Alabama center Ryan Kelly was their target "for months". The Colts offensive line is extremely limited, so Kelly at No. 18 is a great pick. Kelly is scheme diverse, and can play a variety of different positions along the line. He's an exceptionally tough player and can lock out against scrappy nose tackles. He has all the intangibles and tools to be successful starter down the road. "He's as good a center prospect as I've seen in years." -- Mike Mayock
Oakland Raiders: With Charles Woodson retiring, the Raider's secondary is definitely taking a big blow. However, Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie comes through with another stud draft selection to replace the future Hall of Famer. Many people believe West Virginia safety Karl Joseph is a bit rich at No. 14, but his talent undeniable. Joseph is a heat-seeking missile and plays with high effort. He has impressive ball skills, and the ability to come down and cover the slot. The former Mountaineer is on the small side (5'10", 205 lbs), but was a team captain and competes with heart.
New York Giants: To say the least, New York dropped the ball on this one. With Vernon Hargreaves III, William Jackson III, and Mackensie Alexander all still on the board, the Giants take CB Eli Apple from Ohio State. Apple, in my mind, had a ton of help up front at OSU. He possesses marginal reactionary skills, he's slow to get his head round on deep throws, and the tape his hot and cold, altogether things I don't want to see if I'm taking you at No. 10. I do like his size and physicality, but I don't believe Apple is a top-10 pick.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers attempted to fix, or at least help their secondary with the selection of Miami cornerback, Artie Burns. While he does show flashes of being worth a first round pick, Burns is just too raw a prospect and his tape is not impressive. He often looks lazy on film, shows little bend and is too leggy. Teams do, however, see a foundation they can build on and like his high-end athleticism. His mom died midway through the season (could be a factor in disappointing tape), his dad is in prison and he has a child, so I'm rooting for him.
What about the San Francisco 49ers?
I have the 49ers marked as a win. They solidified their defensive line by drafting Oregon DE DeForest Buckner. The former Chip Kelly recruit utilizes his exceedingly rare combination of length, strength and athleticism to disrupt offenses. Schematically, Buckner is snug fit. He has the versatility to scoot inside to play nose tackle and plug the A gap, but also the range to kick outside and play the four and five technique. His 67 total defensive pressures in 2015 were nine more than any other up-the-middle defender. Buckner plays with outstanding leverage and is very stout at the point of attack. He fits the mold of a prototypical 34 defensive end and will appropriate nicely with his former teammate, Arik Armstead.
San Francisco also traded up back into the first from no. 37. They gave up a fourth (105) and sixth (178) this year to jump eight spots and grab Stanford OG, Joshua Garnett. Garnett's father played for the 49ers and it sounded as if Joshua wanted to as well. Garnett showcases power in the run game, takes good angles to second level blocks and has tree trunks for limbs. The future doctor wins blocks in tight spaces and works with above-par hand usage. Trent Baalke calls Joshua Garnett, "the best run-blocking offensive lineman, interior guy in the entire draft."