2016 NFL Draft: Best and Worst Picks From Day One
The first round of the 2016 NFL Draft came and went with some big names not getting selected on Thursday night. While some solid talent leaks into the second round, the 31 teams that got picks in round one actually ended up doing a stellar job, overall.
There were some great picks, there were some bad picks and there were some interesting trades. Did everyone get the best player available or the position addressed they needed the most? Definitely not, but some teams did better than others.
Let’s see what stood out the most as we grade the best and worst picks of day one:
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (4th)
Hats off to Jerry Jones and co. for throwing caution to the wind and investing in a stud running back. Elliott is undoubtedly the total package, as he has the strength, size and toughness to handle the rigors of a full workload, as well as the soft hands and athleticism to do more than asked as a play-maker out of the backfield.
Dallas could have used a defensive back or pass rusher for sure, but after seeing their offense crater with DeMarco Murray’s departure last year, they were wise enough to admit their own gaffe. Elliott is a risk this high – as any running back would be – but this is a commitment to being a smash mouth offense. Tony Romo gets some pressure taken off him and just like that, Dallas is an offense to fear again coming out of the NFC East.
Laremy Tunsil, OT, Miami Dolphins (13th)
Tunsil is a troubled talent due to some social media garbage, but he was arguably the top tackle in the entire draft and easily one of the best overall prospects. He has some image work to do, but Miami needed to brush up their o-line a bit, and they got what really could be the steal of round one.
Tunsil’s character has been called into question, but his talent and skill-set is not. The best part is Miami doesn’t even require him on the left side yet, which means he’s a luxury and could also kick inside. Their rushing game needs that extra tenacity and he’ll be out to prove he was worth it after falling from a potential #1 pick to the middle of the first round.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings (23rd)
Treadwell had been widely regarded as the most polished and complete receiver in this draft, yet he watched as three wideouts got taken ahead of him. That, and a would-be top-10 talent slid all the way to 23 overall.
— Laquon Treadwell (@SuccessfulQuon) April 29, 2016
Talent and need win out here, though, as Treadwell is an amazing receiver on the ball, who brings good size and catch radius to the table. He does lack elite deep speed, but runs great routes and attacks every ball that comes his way. Minnesota badly needed a take charge wide receiver with Mike Wallace leaving town, too. Some will suggest Treadwell doesn’t have the speed to be a difference-maker, but 40 times don’t tell the whole picture. He’s a game-changer and should be a huge problem for NFC North foes down the road if Teddy Bridgewater can just develop.
Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos (26th)
Once seen as a potential #1 pick, Lynch endured a free fall until the Broncos traded up to nab him. He wasn’t as exciting of a prospect as Jared Goff or Carson Wentz, but the gap arguably was never all that wide.
Lynch doesn’t get enough credit for the impressive run he had at Memphis, while he brings a strong package of size, arm strength and athleticism to the table. Denver loves big quarterbacks and had a huge hole with Peyton Manning retiring and Brock Osweiler leaving town. It feels like this was their plan all along and filling a key hole with what looks to be an NFL-caliber starter feels like a big hit.
Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Arizona Cardinals (29th)
Some had Arizona pegged as a team looking for their quarterback of the future or an edge rusher, but Carson Palmer is still a top level passer and a trade for Chandler Jones has eased pass rush concerns.
— Bruce Arians (@BruceArians) April 29, 2016
But not up the gut. Not only do the Cardinals slowly repair their defensive line here, but they get a free falling top-10 talent in Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche obviously has had some off field trouble and could ultimately be a bad pick based on risk, but the value here is tough to ignore. Arizona improves a position of strength, gets better depth and also drafts a game-changing talent. Nice work for a team that was in the NFC title game a year ago.
Joey Bosa, OLB, San Diego Chargers (3rd)
Okay, this one is interesting. This is not to say Bosa isn’t a heck of a talent and it’s also not to say the Bolts weren’t going after a need. He can really get after the quarterback and they badly need help in the pass rush.
Bosa as a stand-up outside linebacker on the edge of a 3-4 base defense, though? It’s a questionable idea, to say the least. Bosa is terrific in pursuit, but he does not look like a guy who is going to handle his own in coverage in the next level, nor does he have the athleticism or fluidity you normally see out of a quality 3-4 edge rusher.
This isn’t a bad pick, so much as it may be a horrible fit. Bosa is built to compete in the trenches with a hand in the dirt, working as an end in a 4-3 base defense. That could be proven wrong, but it’s also worth pointing out the Chargers badly needed a stud safety after letting Eric Weddle go and they also could have used a stud offensive tackle. They bypass other needs and top shelf talents for a guy who is good, but may not be a fit. We’ll see.
Karl Joseph, S, Oakland Raiders (14th)
Can you say reach? Joseph is absolutely a standout talent and arguably the second best safety in this draft class, but few had him as a first round lock – let alone a top-15 pick. Oakland gonna Oakland, but Joseph has a knee issue and could be a question mark for 2016.
That being said, he’s a hammer in the defensive backfield, so we can see why the Raiders would be enticed – especially with Charles Woodson retiring. The problem is they probably could have traded down or even had a real chance at getting him in round two.
Artie Burns, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers (24th)
We can’t knock the Steelers for going after need here, but many had Burns as a day two or even day three prospect. This is a classic reach for a guy who brings major upside to the table, but may not be the safest of selections.
Artie Burns posted just three above-average pass coverage grades in 2015 and had a negative overall grade. #SteelersDraft
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 29, 2016
Pittsburgh’s pass defense was atrocious last year and they need help at both corner and safety, but there were sexier picks to be made. Kendall Fuller is one corner in particular that would have made more sense as far as stability and polish are concerned. The Steelers took a shot here at a position of need, it just so happens that may have missed.
Joshua Garnett, OG, San Francisco 49ers (28th)
I’m all for “getting your guy”, but Chip Kelly and co. traded back into the first round to get a guard. On top of that, he wasn’t even necessarily the best guard available. The 49ers probably could have saved some picks and just waited to get their guy in round two. He could go a long way in building Kelly’s o-line into what he needs it to be, but it was arguably an unnecessary trade up and an obvious reach.
The best part of some of these reaches or flat out bad picks is that a bunch of terrific talent leaks into round two. Myles Jack is without a doubt the biggest name to fall out of round one, as the top-5 talent has major knee concerns and has yet to hear his name called.
Joining Jack are first round prospects like Reggie Ragland, A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, Emmanuel Ogbah and Derrick Henry, among others.
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