2. Eagles (from Cleveland Browns) – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State: Unlike Jared Goff, Wentz joins Philly as a No. 3 quarterback, at least initially, behind veterans Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel. Regardless, the Eagles paid a heavy ransom to get into position for Wentz, so they obviously view him as the franchise face of the future, perhaps the near future if Bradford forces his way out of town and Wentz proves he’s ready for the jump from the Football Championship Subdivision to the pros. Wentz will be groomed by two former NFL quarterbacks, new coach Doug Pederson — he started in 1999 until then-rookie Donovan McNabb was ready to play — and offensive coordinator Frank Reich. Wentz also inherits a pretty good offense as the Eagles feature a solid group of blockers, a pair of effective tight ends (Zach Ertz and Brent Celek), dangerous-when-healthy RBs Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles plus a pair of promising young wideouts in Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor, last year’s first rounder.
1. Los Angeles Rams (from Tennessee Titans) – Jared Goff, QB, California: The prolific passer from the Bay Area is officially tabbed as the newest leading man in Hollywood. Luckily for Goff, he will inherit a fine supporting cast, and reigning offensive rookie of the year Todd Gurley will probably merit at least a co-starring role aside Goff for several years to come. Slot receiver Tavon Austin is another nice player who can take a 5-yard slant the distance. Coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead have built a potentially dominant defense and a coalescing offensive line that has been steadily stocked in the past two drafts. The only piece that may be missing right now for Goff, who is arguably the most pro-ready passer in this draft, is a downfield receiving threat who can force defenses from loading up to shut down Gurley.
3. San Diego Chargers – Joey Bosa, DE/OLB, Ohio State: And mock drafts around the nation go up in flames. Bosa will have to convert to outside linebacker in San Diego’s 3-4 scheme, but he consistently showed the kind of athleticism in pre-draft workouts that would suggest he can handle the transition. He should form a nice tandem on the edge with Melvin Ingram while adding juice to a pass rush that compiled only 32 sacks in 2015, ranking in the bottom quarter of the league. Bosa, whom many considered the best player coming out when the pre-draft process began, is a high-revving player who should also be highly effective at stopping the run.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State: This tells you how much Dallas missed 2014 rushing champ DeMarco Murray last year. Despite having proven RBs Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris in-house, the Cowboys opt for Elliott, the consensus top back of the draft. He averaged nearly 7 yards per carry during his three-year career with the Buckeyes and posted 1,800-plus yards the past two seasons. But that’s not all. He’s got 55 catches over the past two seasons and is an excellent pass protector. Now this three-down stud will be lining up behind what is arguably the NFL’s best offensive line. QB Tony Romo, 36, couldn’t ask for a better addition to help him break the Cowboys’ two-decade Super Bowl drought.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State: He’s got a very good claim he’s the best defender in this draft. Ramsey joins a Jags defense that allowed the most points in the AFC (448) in 2015. A former tracker star with freakish athletic ability, Ramsey has the versatility to guard anyone from slot receivers to tight ends. He can play press coverage or deep safety. The only knock on him was a modest ability to turn the ball over as he had just three interceptions in three years with the Seminoles. He told me during a pre-draft interview he wants to play throughout the secondary and would also like the opportunity to return kicks to provide him additional opportunities to get his hands on the ball.
6. Baltimore Ravens – Ronnie Stanley, T, Notre Dame: He becomes this franchise’s highest pick in 16 years since RB Jamal Lewis was taken fifth overall in 2000. GM Ozzie Newsome can only hope Stanley can have an impact similar to another member of those Super Bowl Ravens, Hall-of-Fame LT Jonathan Ogden. Stanley, a former basketball player, has excellent feet and should quickly establish himself as Joe Flacco’s new bodyguard, something that should certainly appeal to the quarterback as he recovers from ACL surgery. Stanley’s arrival could well mean incumbent LT Eugene Monroe will switch positions if he doesn’t end up switching teams.
7. San Francisco 49ers – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon: Appropriate that the first pick of the Chip Kelly era is a Duck. Buckner is probably an even better prospect than once-and-future teammate Arik Armstead, also a defensive end whom the Niners took in the first round a year ago. Buckner, who’s used to the five-technique position he played in Oregon’s 3-4 defense, is an excellent run stuffer, effective pass rusher and can also use his 6-7 frame to bat down plenty of passes at the line of scrimmage.
8. Titans (from Miami Dolphins via Eagles and Browns) – Jack Conklin, T, Michigan State: The two most active teams in this draft from a trade perspective, Tennessee and Cleveland, do a deal among themselves as the Titans, once owners of the No. 1 pick, get back into the top 10. And new GM Jon Robinson accomplishes his mandate from ownership: find a way to better protect franchise QB Marcus Mariota, who suffered a pair of knee injuries as a rookie that cost him playing time. Conklin is a mauler who’s likely to anchor the right side of the O-line while former first rounder Taylor Lewan remains on Mariota’s blind side. Conklin should also greatly enhance the run blocking for an offense that expects to establish better balance after acquiring RB DeMarco Murray last month. The Titans’ ground game ranked 25th in 2015.
9. Chicago Bears (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia: The draft’s hometown team jumps up two slots in a trade with Tampa Bay to snag Floyd, an athletic if slight (6-6, 244) pass rusher. Floyd has explosive moves and should nicely complement the Bears’ other outside backer, Pernell McPhee, a major free-agent acquisition a year ago who’s more stout against the run. But Floyd is the kind of pressure player who is imperative for a team that only had 35 sacks in 2015 and knows it must disrupt Aaron Rodgers to claw back to the top of the NFC North standings.
10. New York Giants – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State: Apple heads to the Big Apple in hopes of augmenting a defense that was the NFL’s worst against the pass in 2015. The Giants already had a pair of solid corners in veterans Dominique Rodgers Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins, one of their big-ticket free agent additions in March. But there wasn’t much depth behind those two, and it’s imperative to have three top-tier corners in a league where defenses spend two-thirds of the time in the nickel formation. Apple’s size (6-1, 199) should eventually allow him to man up against jumbo NFC East targets like Dez Bryant, Jordan Matthews, Pierre Garcon and maybe even Redskins tight end Jordan Reed.
11. Buccaneers (from Bears) – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida: The Bucs pick up a player who has great quickness and can instantly defend the slot, though Hargreaves’ height (5-10) could be a drawback in a division with towering pass catchers like Julio Jones, Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess and Coby Fleener. Still, he ought to have some leeway in that department as veteran Pro Bowl CB Brent Grimes is likely to draw many of those assignments in 2016.
12. New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville: The defense that allowed the most points (476) in the league last year gets immediate help on the line. Rankins is only 6-1, 299, but he’s very quick for an interior defender and can stop running backs in their tracks yet is slippery enough to get after quarterbacks — always a key attribute in a division with so many effective passers.
13. Dolphins (from Eagles) – Laremy Tunsil, T, Mississippi: Quite the draft night tumble for Tunsil, who was shown on Twitter taking a bong hit just minutes before the draft kicked off. Still, Miami decided his value — Tunsil was ranked as the No. 1 overall player in some quarters — was too good to pass up. He also seems like a bit of a luxury given high-priced Branden Albert plays left tackle and RT Ja’Wuan James was picked in the first round two years ago. Still, the Dolphins clearly remained true to their board and get a player who will protect QB Ryan Tannehill and should help a 23rd-ranked ground game.
14. Oakland Raiders – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia: Clearly the Silver & Black weren’t dissuaded by Joseph’s 2015 knee injury, which limited him to four games (he had five INTs in that small sample size). He’ll definitely be a welcome addition for a team that lost S Charles Woodson to retirement. And Joseph’s reckless abandon — he will sprint into the fray to clock a running back and will range from half a field away to break up a pass — despite his diminutive size (5-10, 205) will remind Raiders fans of former NFL defensive player of the year Bob Sanders.
15. Browns (from Rams via Titans) – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor: Finally, the latest franchise reboot under new executive VP of football operations Sashi Brown, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and coach Hue Jackson begins after the team dropped 14 spots from its original No. 2 slot. Coleman is a speedster who will replace departed Travis Benjamin while providing a nice deep threat for fellow Baylor alum Robert Griffin III. Coleman’s presence should also soften what is shaping up as another year without currently suspended WR Josh Gordon.
16. Detroit Lions –Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State: With WR Calvin Johnson retired, the Detroit offense is in need of a significant recalibration. That begins with adding Decker to a line that was partially responsible for the NFL’s worst rushing offense in 2015 and has allowed 89 sacks of QB Matthew Stafford over the past two seasons. Decker also provides a nasty streak on the field that should play well in Motown. He could immediately displace current LT Riley Reiff.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Keanu Neal, S, Florida: A rebuilding defense opts for secondary help, perhaps not shocking given second-year coach Dan Quinn spent so much time with the Legion of Boom in Seattle. Neal’s profile has been on the rise as the pre-draft process has played out. At 6 feet and 211 pounds, he could fill the hybrid safety/linebacker role that’s come into the vogue in recent years and give Atlanta the kind of playmaker it’s been lacking at the second and third levels.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama: With the top tackles off the board, GM Ryan Grigson opts to address the interior of an offensive line that has to be better in front of QB Andrew Luck. Kelly should not only ensure that Luck doesn’t take as many hits as he did during an injury-aborted 2015 season, but he’ll also be an asset to a ground game that hasn’t finished better than 20th since Luck, Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano arrived four years ago.
19. Buffalo Bills – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson: He essentially lives in opposing backfields, whether it’s bagging quarterbacks or chucking runners for losses. Lawson might have gone higher if not for a shoulder injury that may have affected his stock. Still, he’s a relentless player who should be a welcome replacement for departed Mario Williams, who never bought into Rex Ryan’s disappointing defense a year ago, and his play reflected it. (And is it any surprise that Ryan, whose son went to Clemson, picked a Tiger?)
20. New York Jets – Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State: The Jets eschew a potential solution to their quarterback quandary — Memphis QB Paxton Lynch was available here — for Lee, a linebacker with tremendous range and athleticism. He’ll likely replace departed Demario Davis on the inside and learn alongside grizzled team captain David Harris, who’s begun to slow down after nine years in the league. Lee could also provide a nice solution for a team that’s forever trying to design ways to negate Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski.
21. Houston Texans (from Washington Redskins) – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame: Houston pops up one place, ensuring the acquisition of Fuller, who had the fastest 40 time (4.32 seconds) of any wideout at the scouting combine. He won’t necessarily catch a lot of passes in 2016, but Fuller will immediately stretch defenses, opening up space for Pro Bowl WR DeAndre Hopkins to operate while unloading run-heavy boxes for speedy RB Lamar Miller. But when Fuller does get behind the deep safety, new franchise QB Brock Osweiler has the arm to take advantage of his new burner.
22. Redskins (from Texans) – WR Josh Doctson, Texas Christian: It must be assumed the Redskins adhered to their board — and Doctson may indeed emerge as this draft’s best all-around receiver — to take the Horned Frogs standout instead of the linemen GM Scot McCloughan tends to favor. Doctson joins a receiving corps that already includes WRs DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Andre Roberts and TE Jordan Reed, so this offense could be even more explosive in 2016, though questions remain about the running game (not to mention the run defense).
23. Minnesota Vikings – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi: He should form a nice tandem with Stefon Diggs, who was Minnesota’s leading receiver as a rookie in 2015. However at 6-2, 221 pounds, Treadwell should be a far more formidable red-zone target, perhaps the best one the Vikings have had since Randy Moss was in his prime. Treadwell isn’t the swiftest player, but he runs good routes, has good hands and should elevate a passing game in a year when team brass is looking for QB Teddy Bridgewater to take the next step forward.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – William Jackson III, CB, Houston: How important are corners in the modern NFL? The Bengals have now taken one in the first round in three of the past five drafts. But Jackson was always around the ball last year, leading the nation with 23 pass break-ups. That kind of production will be vital in a division where the Steelers and Ravens are expected to throw frequently.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Artie Burns, CB, Miami (Fla.): It was pretty obvious Pittsburgh would take a corner after allowing the most passing yards in the AFC last year as well as 29 TDs through the air. Burns isn’t polished, but his upside is tantalizing. And at 6-feet and 193 pounds, he has the size to match up with bigger wideouts like A.J. Green when his ability catches up to his potential.
26. Denver Broncos (from Seattle Seahawks) – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis: GM John Elway vaulted up five spots to finally secure the presumed successor for Peyton Manning. At 6-7, 244 pounds, Lynch has size similar to departed Denver QB Brock Osweiler but is an even better athlete. Expect Lynch to marinate behind newly acquired veteran Mark Sanchez in the short run. But even when he is deemed ready to play — and his mobility makes him a great fit for Gary Kubiak’s offense, which often puts the quarterback on the move — Lynch won’t have to assume a huge burden on a defensively oriented team that also runs the ball well.
27. Green Bay Packers – Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA: The Pack haven’t featured a top-10 defense since they won the Super Bowl following the 2010 season. Clark provides some help for DE Mike Daniels on Green Bay’s three-man front, which lost NT B.J. Raji to retirement this offseason and only ranked 21st against the run last season.
28. 49ers (from Kansas City Chiefs) – Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford: The Niners pop back into Round 1 to pluck this draft’s first guard off the board. San Francisco scored the fewest points in the league last year and chooses to begin addressing that issue inside after losing G Alex Boone to free agency. Better interior blocking should only prove beneficial to RB Carlos Hyde and whomever new coach Chip Kelly settles on as his quarterback, which increasingly seems to be Colin Kaepernick.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Mississippi: Outstanding value considering his talent warranted a much higher selection. But off-field red flags and questions about his work ethic send Nkemdiche to Arizona, where he’ll find a coach, Bruce Arians, who believes in second chances and a new teammate, Tyrann Mathieu, who has benefited from exactly that philosophy. From a pure football perspective, Nkemdiche could be a devastating bookend to Pro Bowl DE Calais Campbell and may remind Cards fans of former stalwart Darnell Dockett if he harnesses his significant ability.
30. Carolina Panthers – Vernon Butler, DT, Louisana Tech: GM Dave Gettleman has professed his love for “hog mollies,” and Butler has transcendent size (6-4, 323) and ability for a defense that relies on its front seven. Butler also provides an insurance policy given starting DTs Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei will both soon require new contracts.
31. Seahawks (from Broncos) – Germain Ifedi, OL, Texas A&M: Seattle makes its first Round 1 selection since 2012, going with Ifedi, who could settle in at tackle or guard. Either way, the Seahawks had to replenish an O-line that has lost all five starters from the 2013 championship team over the past two offseasons. And with Tom Cable on hand as his position coach, it’s likely Ifedi’s talent will be maximized soon enough.
— Steve Kelly