2016 NFL Draft: Who Will Go #1?
We’re seven days into April, which means the clock is ticking for the Tennessee Titans. For the second year in a row the Titans sit atop the NFL with the #1 pick going into the yearly draft.
The difference? This time they don’t know what they want to do.
The decision was made easy last year, as the Titans needed a franchise quarterback and there was Marcus Mariota, waiting to be plucked off the board. This year’s class is less enticing as a whole, and arguably isn’t nearly as top-heavy.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t talent to be had at the top spot, but with no need for another passer, Tennessee could be very open to the idea of trading down. It’d likely take a king’s ransom to make a deal happen, but it’s on the table.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the five most likely scenarios with the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft:
Titans Pick Jalen Ramsey
There are some experts who think Ramsey is best suited as a cornerback, and others who suggest he’s only elite if he’s a safety. It obviously depends what side you stand on in that argument, but neither side can argue that picking a defensive back #1 overall is a bit of a reach.
Ramsey is a top shelf talent, no doubt, but is he really worth the first pick in the draft? It’s arguable both ways, but what isn’t arguable is that Tennessee could use a game-changing safety or just a talented defensive back in general to use how they see fit. Reports suggest the Titans are high on Ramsey and if they can’t get the right trade for this top pick, he could be the first player off the board.
Titans Pick Joey Bosa
Tennessee doesn’t really seem to be infatuated with Bosa, but draft guru Tony Pauline alluded to Bosa still being in the mix last month. Of course, Bosa is regarded as a risk due to his hard partying lifestyle away from the field, as well as a down 2015 campaign.
There is also some chatter about a lack of a true position at the next level. Bosa’s 40 time wasn’t great and it’s worth wondering what he’d look like standing up in a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker.
That’d probably be more realistic than sliding him in as a defensive end in Tennessee’s 3-4, where he doesn’t seem like a fit. His ideal setting is in a base 4-3 with his hand in the dirt, or shedding some weight and trying outside linebacker with the Titans.
The big question will be whether or not the Titans try to fit a square peg into a round hole or go elsewhere with this pick. There is no denying Bosa is an elite pass rusher (13.5 sacks in 2014) but if he’s not a fit, the Titans could be making a grave mistake.
Titans Pick Laremy Tunsil
This is the most logical pick, as Tennessee continues to need work on their shaky offensive line. They just traded for stud running back DeMarco Murray and have a franchise quarterback in Mariota to protect, so they’ll want both run-blocking and pass protection at a very high level.
There are some who don’t believe in Tunsil’s ability to run block consistently, but there has never been any doubt about his size and athleticism on the outside. He fills a needs for the Titans and is easily one of the best prospects – if not the best – in this year’s crop. Need and talent combine to make him the most likely pick if the Titans stand pat at the top spot.
49ers Trade Up For Carson Wentz
Of course, the Titans don’t really want to stick at the first spot. The #1 pick is normally used for franchise passers and Tennessee both doesn’t want to over-pay a player they’re reaching for, or miss out on a sweet package deal to ship the pick to someone else.
San Francisco has to be one of the top contenders to make a trade, especially since Colin Kaepernick trade talks won’t die and Chip Kelly just tried to trade all of the Eagles in the world for Marcus Mariota last year.
If Kelly has a choice here, he’ll send a new deal to Tennessee to move up and go get Carson Wentz, who has the size, arm, poise and athleticism to thrive in Kelly’s up-tempo system. It’s that, or sit back and hope Jared Goff lasts to pick seven.
Kelly knows the Browns want Wentz and if he wants a rookie quarterback he can work with, he needs to go all in and trade up to get Wentz, who just might be the draft’s top quarterback prospect.
Eagles Trade Up For Jared Goff
There’s also the Eagles and the admiration for Goff, who has all of the same positive attributes Wentz does, but faced stiffer competition at California. Goff is more proven and possibly more polished in some aspects, and he also looks like a fit for new head coach Doug Pederson in Philly.
The Eagles are one spot behind the Niners, so they know if they stand pat they’re probably hurting their chances of getting either Wentz or Goff. It’s unknown who they actually prefer, so it’s entirely plausible to leave both as possibilities if they move up. The point is they don’t have a long-term answer under center and they need one. It’d be worth it to trade up and get the guy they covet.
Ultimately, a trade feels destined to come. Tennessee has more than one hole and as good as Ramsey, Bosa and Tunsil are, none of them feel like franchise game-changers to the point where they’re worth a #1 pick. Wentz and Goff might be, and someone is going to offer a deal too good to pass up. Once the Titans trade down, they still might even have a shot at one of these three guys, too.
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