It’s officially that time of year: the NFL Draft is upon us. And in addition to mocking the hell out of the current class of draft-eligible players, it also doubles as a great time to go back and take a look at the 2016 Draft. If you gave every team a re-do, knowing what they know now, how much different would the draft order look? Considering the first overall pick barely got on the field and the third and fourth picks were college teammates who set the league on fire, probably quite a bit. Let’s take a look, starting with the Los Angeles Kroenkes…
1. Rams select Joey Bosa (Actual Pick: Jared Goff)
The key to winning in the NFL is hitting on high draft picks when you have them. Quarterbacks taken at the top of the draft bust out more than any other position. Dak Prescott had a great rookie year, but we shouldn’t forget one RG3, who now can’t even sit on the Browns IR. He’s about two weeks away from being inducted into the bust Hall of Fame. So we may be in the minority here, but we’re not sure if either Carson Wentz or Prescott are worth the haul that the Rams gave up for this pick, despite the importance of the position. They might as well just pick up a stud at an important position and call it a day. No one looks at Joey Bosa’s face and sees a stud, but you watch him on the field and you can’t help but see a one-man wrecking crew that you can plug and play for the next decade.
2. Eagles select Carson Wentz (Actual Pick: Wentz)
This is a tough one. Is Wentz going to be a franchise quarterback? It depends on which half of the season you watched. You also have to wonder if Prescott truly is the better quarterback, or if playing behind that behemoth of an offensive line with Elliott at his side beefed up his stats. The smart money says the Eagles stick with Wentz, although the smart money also says you don’t take as the second overall pick a QB from North Dakota State whose team gets better without him on the field in the first place.
3. Chargers select Ezekiel Elliott (Actual Pick: Bosa)
Obviously Bosa was a huge get and will be the face of the Chargers’ defense for a good long while. You have to assume they would take him again if he was available. But Joey with the Big Nose went first overall in this scenario, and you can’t be upset by Ezekiel Elliott unless you’re an opposing defense or the shirt he butchered for the draft.
4. Cowboys select Dak Prescott (Actual Pick: Elliott)
So the Cowboys butcher draft picks and personnel moves for years and years and then have a franchise QB drop into their lap in the fourth round? Seriously, fuck them. But you still have to give Jerry Jones (and family) credit for pulling the trigger, and you have to assume they would take him again here even if Zeke Elliott were still on the board. Sure, there are questions about how great Prescott would be on a different team, but that isn’t the point. They know he’s good on their team and that’s all that matters. Hell, there are still people out there who think Tom Brady is a creation of Bill Belichick, but that doesn’t take any of the shine off their five Lombardi trophies.
5. Jaguars select Jack Conklin (Actual Pick: Jalen Ramsey)
The Jaguars just traded for Brandon Albert, who hasn’t played a full season since 2011. He’s also now holding out, which feels like something that would happen in a TV show about football that nobody buys. They’re desperate for help along the offensive line, and Conklin is an anchor. He’s like the kid in middle school who is next up to do their solo in chorus class and just stares at the teacher, and the teacher moves along. Conklin doesn’t move for anybody, and you need that on the left side of the line.
6. Ravens select Laremy Tunsil (Actual Pick: Ronnie Stanley)
Stanley may end up being a good lineman, but Tunsil is the real deal. He dropped in the draft because of a video of him smoking weed through a gas mask. Which should have raised his stock because it’s brilliant. He should have been drafted higher because of his ingenuity and commitment to the game. Snoop Dogg would have traded Martha Stewart to pick up Tunsil.
7. 49ers select Jalen Ramsey (Actual Pick: DeForest Buckner)
The 49ers suck real, real bad. No one pick would change that, but a solid safety could be the building block of a defense that could. The safety is becoming what the middle linebacker used to be: the signal caller, the tackler, the man who says “you’re a bitch, sack up, and tell her you want to be exclusive.” Ramsey may never be Troy Polamalu, but really, who can be? There may never be that combination of leadership, tackling ability and luscious hair ever again.
8. Titans select Ronnie Stanley (Actual Pick: Conklin)
This is a need pick all the way: the Titans love Conklin, but Stanley will do. They need to do everything they can to protect Marcus Mariota. Maybe they should have Allstate insure him so they can be sure he’s in good hands. Stanley had an injury-shortened rookie season, but he looked good in flashes, and they need someone to protect Mariota, AKA the one player they can’t risk losing.
9. Bears select Leonard Floyd (Actual Pick: Floyd)
It was a great pick at the time, and it’s still a great pick. He’s a ferocious pass rusher who plays with a high motor. Too bad he plays for a horrible team and might also be the best quarterback on the roster, but still. If the Bears could truly go back, they probably wouldn’t have traded up to get Floyd. More likely they would trade down and accumulate picks because their cupboard is as empty as the area where Bill Belichick’s heart is supposed to be.
10. Giants select Eli Apple (Actual Pick: Apple)
A lot of people freaked out about Apple being picked before Vernon Hargreaves, but the kid fits in nicely with that defense and does exactly what Steve Spagnuolo asks him to do. He could end up being a really good Giant for a long time. If nothing else, we got some glorious stories about his mother. If Eli showed as much tenacity on the field as his mom does in the blogosphere, he would be long gone by number 10.
11. Bucs select Vernon Hargreaves III (Actual Pick: Hargreaves)
Hargreaves may end up being the best corner in this draft. The Bucs continue to look good on offense, and they just need to keep repairing the defense that has seemingly been declining every year since they won the Super Bowl. In a related story, shouldn’t we all want the Bucs to win the Super Bowl so we get to watch Jon Gruden talk about the victory like a guy giving a speech at his ex-wife’s wedding?
12. Saints select DeForest Buckner (Actual Pick: Sheldon Rankins)
The Saints might as well not put a defense on the field. The greatest show on turf is followed up by the most laissez faire defense most of us have ever seen. It’s like watching a parent at a park whose kid is a nightmare, and they just say “kids will be kids.” That’s how the Saints treat opposing offenses. Buckner would try to change that culture, at least more than Rankins did…
13. Dolphins select Tyreek Hill (Actual Pick: Laremy Tunsil)
14. Raiders select Karl Joseph (Actual Pick: Joseph)
Nice solid mid-first round pick. Keep building up that defense and let Derek Carr take you all the way to the top. Now the key will be making sure that none of the players the Raiders pick enjoy gambling/prostitution/alcohol/drugs/fun.
15. Browns select Trent Richardson again (Actual Pick: Corey Coleman)
The Browns don’t care that it’s against the rules: they just really want to waste another high pick on Trent Richardson.
In reality, they would probably just waste the pick on Jared Goff anyway, so what’s the difference?