First Round Draft Grades and Thoughts

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California’s Jared Goff poses for photos with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Los Angeles Rams as the first pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) Charles Rex Arbogast AP

Here are 69 thoughts on the NFL Draft’s first round. 

#1. Rams Jared Goff (QB)

1. The Rams on offense had the WORST red zone passing efficiency last year.

2. If Goff makes a difference, look out: STL was 2nd in RZ rush efficiency.

3. Goff needs to utilize sound decision making and accuracy to make that difference, but the rushing ability of the Rams will help him immensely.

4. The Rams defense ranked 3rd in red zone conversion rate, so Goff should be in plenty of competitive games so long as he avoids turnovers.

5. Last year the Rams played 5 games decided by 3 or fewer points (5th most in the NFL).

#2. Eagles Carson Wentz (QB)

6. It’s hard to say when we’ll get to see Wentz, but apparently if Sam Bradford gets his way, it will be even sooner than previously expected.

7. I’d love to see Wentz develop some on the bench and really learn the offense before getting forced into starting immediately, though getting Cleveland at home in week 1 is as soft a start as a team could hope for.

8. Pundits closely compare Wentz to Newton, but keep in mind, even with a great defense in Carolina, Newton’s dynamic build and abilities didn’t lead his team to a playoff win in any of his first 3 seasons. Newton ran the ball a lot as a young player and did not get his TD:INT ratio under control until year 3.

#3. Chargers Joey Bosa (DE)

9. The Chargers defense ranked 25th in pass rush efficiency and 32nd vs the run, so they certainly have a need on the defensive line. But there are a ton of question marks about where he’ll fit in the Chargers 3-4 scheme due to his size.

10. Last 3 DEs drafted in top 3:

2014 Jadeveon Clowney

2013 Dion Jordan

2009 Tyson Jackson

#4. Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott (RB)

11. This is one of the most fascinating picks in the entire round. In today’s NFL, passing efficiency is 4 times more correlated to winning than rushing efficiency, but Dallas is a city where that has been proven irrelevant. Ball control and playing keep away while producing in the red zone kept the bad defense fresh and rested while exhausting the opponent by the 4th quarter.

12. Tony Romo won’t live forever, he’s 36 and has broken his collar bone multiple times the last few years. Last year, Dallas had the #3 red zone run success rate DESPITE no Romo and with Darren McFadden as RB1.

13. No Romo meant #30 in red zone pass success rate, so it was impressive that they were still #3 in the run. Add Ezekiel Elliott to Romo, and Zeke should be TD machine behind their O-Line.

14. Zeke should be what Jerry Jones wanted Felix Jones to be, on steroids.

15. Top 5 RBs drafted since 2002:

2012 Trent Richardson

2008 Darren McFadden

2006 Reggie Bush

2005 Ronnie Brown

2005 Cedric Benson

2005 Cadillac Williams

#5. Jaguars Jalen Ramsey (CB)

16. Gus Bradley has to love him dropping to 5. Between FA, this pick, last year’s #1 actually playing, and scheme development, I think JAC’s D turns the corner in 2016.

17. Highest SPARQ score and highest PFF grade of any cornerback in the 2016 NFL Draft.

18. With Dante Fowler coming back this year, the additions of Malik Jackson and Prince Amukamara, Gus Bradley has to be licking his chops to get to work with this defense.

#6. Ravens Ronnie Stanley (OT)

19. Little known stat about Joe Flacco last year – he had the WORST yards in air rating of any QB in the NFL. He received a ton of yardage in the pass game from yards after the catch, but he was not throwing downfield often.

20. His offensive line ranked just 21st in pass protection efficiency and the run game was below average.

#7. 49ers DeForest Buckner (DE)

21. Yet another Pac-12 guy for Chip Kelly, from Oregon no less. So he’ll be familiar with the Chip Kelly issues the defense faces.

22. In his 3 years in the NFL, his defense has spent the most time on the field per game of any team.

23. You can’t argue that coming from Oregon will prepare him for that, however – Chip Kelly had Casey Matthews, Taylor Hart, Kiko Alonso, Patrick Chung and Walter Thurmond. None excelled or graded well for Kelly.

#8. Titans Jack Conklin (OT)

24. Draft Day Trade Result: Browns got the better deal in NFL Draft trade w Titans by getting 34.3 draft points and only losing 23.1

25. I loved how the Titans fleeced the Rams from a value perspective earlier this month, and they added a key piece toward helping keep Mariota upright moving forward. Zero complaints.

#9. Bears Leonard Floyd (OLB)

26. Draft Day Trade Result: Bucs got the better deal in NFL Draft trade w Bears by getting 24.2 draft points and losing 20.6.

27. Bears defense was 31st in total efficiency and 31st against the run last year. Let’s see what Fangio does w Leonard Floyd.

#10. Giants Eli Apple (CB)

#11. Buccaneers Vernon Hargreaves (CB)

28. Draft Day Trade Result: Bucs got the better deal in NFL Draft trade w Bears by getting 24.2 draft points and losing 20.6.

29. After 1 DB was taken in the top 11 each year the last 3 years, 3 were taken in top 11 this year.

#12. Saints Sheldon Rankins (DT)

#13. Dolphins Laremy Tunsil (OT)

30. Happy to see the Dolphins get to take the shot on Tunsil, because the city deserves better than what the team has been bringing in for them in years past.

31. Building at the lines (Suh in the past and Mario Williams this offseason) shows their plan to help improve the overall ability of both the defense and offense.

#14. Raiders Karl Joseph (S)

32. I love this pick to the Raiders, and I’ve actually been quite impressed by the moves in Oakland.

33. Sean Smith, Bruce Irvin in free agency, and now Joseph in the draft can immediately make a difference on a defense that was starting to make a statement with Khalil Mack, and good things are happening for Raider Nation (ranked 9 th in yds/pass allowed and 15 th in rush efficiency).

#15. Browns Corey Coleman (WR)

34. Draft Day Trade Result: Browns got the better deal in NFL Draft trade w Titans by getting 34.3 draft points and losing 23.1

35. Browns get a boatload of picks and still get their #1 player at biggest position of need. Impressive.

36. Orchestrating multiple trades, first with the Eagles, then with the Titans, the Browns walk away with an extra 1, two extra 2s, three extra 3s. They effectively have two drafts through the next 4 rounds in 2017.

37. As far as Coleman, we saw what Hue Jackson was able to do to players like Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu – as they signed huge contracts in the offseason, primarily because of Hue’s creativity.

38. I can’t wait to see how he maximizes Coleman, but without any help at WR (as of now), defenses will absolutely be focused on stopping Coleman.

#16. Lions Taylor Decker (OT)

39. After Jim Bob Cooter took over play calling, DET became BEST red zone offense in NFL. 66% of RZ plays were successful. Car (#2) was 52%, NFL avg=43%.

40. Decker should provide even more protection and blocking to help the line, but the key will be how does the loss of Calvin Johnson affect coverages inside the 20?

#17. Falcons Keanu Neal (SS)

41. Both former Seahawks DCs turned HCs (Dan Quinn & Gus Bradley) beefed up secondary in round 1. Knew how much it helped in Seattle.

#18. Colts Ryan Kelly (C)

42. Pretty solid record for true centers when drafted in the first round:

2015 Erving

2013 Frederick

2010 Pouncey

2009 Mack

2009 Wood

2006 Mangold

#19. Bills Shaq Lawson (DE)

43. Bills D moved from #1 in pass rush efficiency in 2014 to #31 last year under Rex Ryan.

44. Rex betting Shaq Lawson will help turn that around.

#20. Jets Darron Lee (OLB)

#21. Texans Will Fuller (WR)

45. Draft Day Trade Result: Redskins got the better deal in NFL Draft trade w Texans by getting 16.6 draft points & losing 15.2.

46. Brock Osweiler had the NFL’s WORST passer rating on deep passes last year. Deep speed from Will Fuller, can Osweiler hit him? We’ll see.

#22. Redskins Josh Doctson (WR)

47. Draft Day Trade Result: Redskins got the better deal in NFL Draft trade w Texans by getting 16.6 draft points losing 15.2.

48. While both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson may be gone from the Redskins by 2017, this move should help immediately to really provide a measuring stick for Kirk Cousins while he’s playing under the franchise tag. Can he get the job done with a ridiculous receiving corps including TE Jordan Reed, or was he a one-year wonder in 2015?

49. Regardless, Doctson should be a productive (and potentially stud) WR in Washington for years to come.

50. GM Scott McCloughan continues to shine – he added the best available CB; drafted potentially best WR prospect less than 1 week apart. Likely will build around the secondary and young WR rather than aging, vet WRs so it won’t shock me if he avoids overpaying to retain Garcon & Jackson next year.

#23. Vikings Laquon Treadwell (WR)

51. Vikings called RUN on 68% of 1st down play calls from wk 11 onward. 68%! NFL avg was 51%. They had better let Teddy Bridgewater throw more with Treadwell now in the mix.

52. And, Treadwell is, according to Mike Zimmer, the best blocking WR he’s ever seen, which is high praise.

53. His catch radius will help with some of the deeper balls Teddy has thrown of late – Bridgewater went 33/80 (41%) with 3 TDs and 8 INTs on deep passes last year, for a rating of 51. Of planned 2016 starting QBs, only Brock Osweiler was worse.

#24. Bengals William Jackson III (CB)

54. Excellent move knowing division rival Steelers wanted and needed a CB as well, and they nabbed the better graded one just before Pittsburgh settled for Burns.

55. He was PFF’s #2 graded CB.

#25. Steelers Artie Burns (CB)

56. Their defense cannot afford to miss on this first round pick at their biggest need position. While ranking 5 th in run defense efficiency and 7 th in pass rush efficiency, the defense ranked just 15th in overall pass efficiency, showing that the secondary was a big problem for them.

57. Below is a list of all the DBs the Steelers have drafted since 2004. It’s an atrocious list of failure after failure.

Rd 2 Senquez Golson

Rd 4 Doran Grant

Rd 7 Gerod Holliman

Rd 5 Shaquille Richardson

Rd 4 Shamarko Thomas

Rd 5 Terry Hawthorne

Rd 7 Terrence Frederick

Rd 3 Curtis Brown

Rd 4 Cortez Allen

Rd 5 Crezdon Butler

Rd 3 Keenan Lewis

Rd 5 Joe Burnett

Rd 6 Ryan Mundy

Rd 5 William Gay

Rd 3 Anthony Smith

Rd 2 Bryant McFadden

Rd 2 Ricardo Colclough

#26. Broncos Paxton Lynch (QB)

58. Draft Day Trade Result: Seahawks got the better deal in NFL Draft trade w Broncos by getting 18.4 draft points & losing 13.9.

59. Even with Paxton Lynch’s contract, the Broncos move from 7th MOST cap to QB in 2015 to ~6th LEAST cap to QB in 2016. More flexibility.

60. In today’s NFL world of overhyping & over paying quarterbacks, with coaches and GMs losing jobs when they lack a “franchise” talent, it was refreshing to see Elway and the Broncos this offseason approach the QB position. Not willing to overpay, and not desperate to go crazy, they let their groomed option leave the building and quietly grabbed a potential better fit at 26th in the draft, after multiple QBs were already drafted. It was a tremendous understanding of discipline, team building and roster construction.

61. The Cowboys coveted Lynch in the late first round, and reportedly had a deal in place to snag him but Denver leapfrogged them.

62. This also gets into team building and will be fascinating to watch play out. I’m a huge proponent of getting a young, cheap QB in (on a 5 year contract in the 1st round) and spending your money at other positions. It worked wonders for Seattle and Baltimore in 2 of the last 4 Super Bowls.

63. Lynch’s mobility could work wonders with the Gary Kubiak offense.

64. FYI, if Lynch does win the starting job, Denver has the toughest strength of schedule in weeks 1-3 of any NFL team.

#27. Packers Kenny Clark (DT)

#28. 49ers Joshua Garnett (OG)

65. Draft Day Trade Result: Chiefs got the better deal in NFL Draft trade w 49ers by getting 18.2 draft points & losing 13.4.

#29. Cardinals Robert Nkemdiche (DT)

66. Most guys love playing for Bruce Arians. We’ll see if Nkemdiche is one of them. Tyrann Mathieu should be a solid influence. With Larry Fitzgerald setting the tone on offense, they have a great workplace environment out in the desert. If he can possibly be anything like the force that DarnellDockett was, coupling him with DE Chandler Jones could produce even more points for the high flying Bruce Arians’ offense in Arizona.

#30. Panthers Vernon Butler (DT)

67. Despite the Panthers theoretically being more desperate at CB, they didn’t force anything and grabbed their best available on defense. CB may (and should) be coming in later rounds, but they believe Butler can make plays, and a solid pass rush helps out the secondary.

#31. Seahawks Germain Ifedi (OG)

68. Draft Day Trade Result: Seahawks got the better deal in NFL Draft trade w Broncos by getting 18.4 draft points & losing 13.9.

69. Seattle’s pass protection ranked 30th in the NFL last year and has been bad for a few years: Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013 & spent $28M of cap on O-Line, most in NFL. In 2016 SEA allocating just $8.8M to O-Line, least in NFL. This speaks to them having to spend $10M more on Wilson for his new deal, so the only place to find cheap offensive line talent is in the draft.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.