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2016 NFL First Round Draft Grades

By Adam Fornwalt

After the top two picks were traded before the draft even started, the 2016 NFL draft was going to go down as one to remember. Add a Laremy Tunsil gas mask/bong smoking video along with even more trades and you have one heck of a first night. Let’s take a look at the grades each team received from the first round.

Chicago Bears: Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia (9th overall) – He’s the most versatile player in this draft and fits in the Bears’ 3-4 scheme, but trading up to grab him at nine is a reach. His sack production dipped in 2015 and struggles against larger offensive lines. He’ll need to add some weight and won’t provide much production right away. GRADE: C+

Cincinnati Bengals: William Jackson III, CB, Houston (24th overall) – The Bengals needed secondary help and they got just that in Jackson. He’ll slot in where Dre Kirkpatrick was last season and can learn from veterans like Pacman Jones and Leon Hall. With the big name wide receivers gone this was the next best move, and if they address that need on day two this pick looks even better. Grade: B+

Buffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson (19th overall) – I had Lawson going much higher than this, so this is a steal for Rex Ryan and the Bills. He’ll help ease the blow of losing Mario Williams in free agency and will be compete for some starts this season. There are some injury concerns, but Lawson should excel in Buffalo. Grade: A-

Denver Broncos: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis (26th overall) – Sources around the league had a feeling Lynch would go in the first round, but his landing spot was the big unknown. With the Cowboys hot on their heels, the Broncos managed to go up and get their future starting quarterback Thursday night. The Broncos had other needs and Lynch won’t start right away, but Mark Sanchez will only get you to a certain point. Grade: B

Cleveland Browns: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor (15th overall) – The Browns were the first team to take a receiver, trading down to 15 to get their pick. I like the move down, but not who they selected here. With Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwill on the board, Coleman would have been my third option. He’s faster than Doctson and Treadwill and you can’t argue with the 20 touchdowns he caught this season. I just think a bigger target (Coleman is barley 5-foot-11) would help RG3 out more. GRADE: C+

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida (11th overall) – As I stated in my mock draft on Thursday, the Bucs’ needed help in the secondary. They allowed 70% of the opposing teams passes to be completed last season and lost many close games because of it. Hargreaves is very talented and trading down with the Bears to get an additional fourth-round pick is an added bonus. GRADE: A-

Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama (18th overall) – The Achilles heel of the Colts last season was the offensive line, and they started to address that on Thursday. Kelly can play multiple spots on the line and is considered a “safe pick” here at 18, but at this point safe is exactly what Andrew Luck needs. GRADE B

Arizona Cardinals: Rob Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss – Anytime you have to question whether or not a player is 100% focused on football, that could lead to serious problems. Nkemdiche is flamboyant and often times a handful to deal with, but Arizona is a good home for him. Head coach Bruce Arians is a no nonsense coach would will keep him in check and develop his raw talent. It’s a big risk, but it’s one worth taking. GRADE: B

San Diego Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State – After Goff and Wentz were off the board the rest of the draft became a mystery. The Chargers could have gone many ways with this pick, but elected to grab Bosa in order to bolster their defense. He’s a menace to deal with (6-foot-5, 269 pounds) and was considered by many to be the best player in this draft Great selection by the bolts. GRADE: A-

Kansas City Chiefs: N/A (traded out of the first-round)

Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State (4th overall) – A prime example of taking the “best available player”, Elliot is the complete package at running back that the Cowboys need. They still have other major needs to address, particularly on defense, but in the end the talent here was just too great for Jerry Jones to pass up. GRADE: B+

Miami Dolphins: Laremy Tunsil, OL, Ole Miss (13th overall) – This pick will either go down as the steal of the night or worst selection in the draft. Tunsil already had character and injury questions coming into the draft, but the social media “hacking” and allegations of receiving money while at college could prove to be a career killer. He has the talent, but that talent will only get you so far. GRADE: C

Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (2nd overall) – Philadelphia gave up a lot to get Wentz, and that plays a big factor into the grade for this pick. He has all the tools and look of an NFL quarterback, but a small sample size and injury questions puts some doubts as to whether he’s worthy of such a high selection. A year or two on the sidelines will do him well. GRADE: B

Atlanta Falcons: Keanu Neal, S, Florida (17th overall) – The Falcons addressed a need by drafting Neal here, but I can’t help but think they were hoping Karl Joseph would fall to them here. The former Florida Gator is a step slower than most receivers, but makes up for it with his strength and football knowledge. I like the pick, but Atlanta could have moved down and still selected him later on. GRADE: B-

New York Giants Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (10th overall) – I have a similar mindset with this pick as I did with Atlanta’s. The Giants were hoping one of the elite lineman fell to them here, but were instead left with a free falling Tunsel. Apple will be a solid NFL player, but they could have traded back and gotten him later on while picking up additional picks. GRADE: C+

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State (5th overall) – The Jaguars are going to be very good next season, and they just got even better with the selection of Ramsey here. He’s the perfect fit for a Gus Bradley defensive, can play safety or corner, and will have a chip on his shoulder being overlooked by San Diego and Dallas. The Jaguars will be a top 15 defense next season. GRADE: A

Detroit Lions: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State (16th overall) – It’s never a sexy pick taking an offensive lineman in the first-round, but the Lions need to protect Matthew Stafford if they want to win games next season. He’ll more than likely start right away on a line that’s given up 90 sacks in the past two seasons. Detroit has more holes to fill, but this was a good start for the new Lions regime. GRADE: B+

Green Bay Packers: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA (27th overall) – With fellow Bruin Myles Jack still on the board at 27, I would have liked to have seen Green Bay take a shot at him here. If the Packers wanted a safer pick, both Reggie Ragland and Jarran Reed were both left without a team on Thursday night. Instead, they decided to go with Kenny Clark, who even at 27 is a bit of a reach. Nevertheless, they needed help on the defensive line with B.J. Raji retiring and Clark gives them that. GRADE: C+

Carolina Panthers: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech (30th overall) – The Super Bowl runner-ups decided that the best way to address the loss of Josh Norman was to add pressure up front, and they did just that by selecting Butler here. Questions about his motor and pass-rushing ability allowed him to slip this far, but learning next to Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short will be a great experience for him. The need for a corner still lingers which lowers the grade for me on this pick. GRADE: B

New England Patriots – N/A (first round pick forfeited)

Washington Redskins – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU (22nd overall) – Taking a receiver here is a bit of a luxury pick for the Redskins considering they need help on defense. I believe the signing of Josh Norman, however allows them some leeway here. They get what many felt is the best overall wide-out in the draft with Doctson and receive a sixth-round pick for swapping spots with the Texans. Solid work here by Dan Snyder. GRADE: B+

Oakland Raiders: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia (14th overall) – Had he been healthy, you could make the argument Karl Joseph would have been a Top 10 pick. Many are comparing him to former Colts’ safety Bob Sanders and I’d have to agree with that comparison. When he’s on the field, Joseph will make the Raiders secondary a force to be wrecking with on Sundays. He’s the quintessential Raider. GRADE: B+

Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal (1st overall) – The number one overall pick in the draft will have his work cut out for him on day one, as he will be expected to start in week one. Goff is a California kid and the bright L.A. lights won’t phase him, but the NFL runs at a much faster pace than college. The Rams gave up a lot to get him and are in desperate need of a franchise quarterback (sorry Nick Foles). It’s put up or shut up time out west. GRADE: B

Baltimore Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame (6th overall) – Even before the Tunsil drama began to arise Thursday night, many teams around the league felt like Ronnie Stanley was the better player of the two. It was evident by Joe Flacco’s torn ACL that the Ravens needed to address the offensive line, and by grabbing Stanley they add much needed protection to his blind side. Grade: B+

New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville (12th overall) – Rankins is the perfect fit for the Saints. He can provide pressure against the run and the pass, both of which they desperately need heading into next season. He’s a bit undersized at 6-foot-1, but uses his quickness to overcome this. He’ll be a welcomed addition in New Orleans and should start right away. GRADE: B+

Seattle Seahawks: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M (31st overall) – The Seahawks moved down to 31 after swapping picks the Broncos and will receive a third-round pick they can use on Friday. I’m always a fan of teams moving down to stock picks, but the Ifedi selection still seems like a reach. He’s a raw talent with upside and size that just did not really fit the scheme at Texas A&M. If offensive line coach Tom Cable can tap into that raw talent, he could end up being a good find for Seattle. Grade: C+

Pittsburgh Steelers: Artie Burns, CB, Miami (25th overall) – The Steelers addressed a huge need here by drafting Burns, one of the better corners in this draft. He’s coverage is considered “grabby” at times and needs to be careful to not attract penalties at the next level. He’s a good fit for their zone heavy system and should develop into a solid player for the Steel City. GRADE: B-

Houston Texans: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame (21st overall) – Speed, speed, and more speed. The Texans flipped spots with the Redskins in order to get the Notre Dame speedster, who should develop into a solid option opposite of DeAndre Hopkins. He’ll have to cut back on the amount of passes he drops, but should be able to do this being that he isn’t the number one target in the offensive. GRADE: B

Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OL, Michigan State (8th overall) – The Titans jumped out of the hot seat weeks ago, giving the first overall pick in the draft to the Los Angeles Rams. They would then decide to move back up on Thursday, swapping picks with the Browns as well as giving up a 2016 third and 2017 second round pick in order to take Conklin here. You’d have to think the pick here would’ve been Tunsil as he was graded higher, but the character issues still proved to be too much this high. Conklin will step in and help protect Marcus Mariotta right away, but how they use the rest of their picks from Rams will determine their final grade from me. GRADE: B+

Minnesota Vikings: Laquan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss – Teddy Bridgewater needed a target to go opposite of Stefon Diggs and Treadwell is exactly that. He’s physicality and athleticism make him hard to beat on jump balls, providing the strength to Diggs’ speed. No complaints about this selection. GRADE: A

San Francisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon (7th overall), Joshua Garnett, OL, Stanford (28th) – The 49ers were the only team with two first-round picks, traded back in late to grab the Chiefs pick at 28. The Buckner selection makes a ton of sense to me; he’s a physical freak (6-foot7, 291 pounds), from Oregon (and therefore a Chip Kelly guy), and will fit perfectly into their 3-4 defense. GRADE: A

The Garnett selection is where they lose me. He’s the best interior run-blocker in this draft, but was very underwhelming at times last season. He was by far the biggest reach of the night as a projected late second rounder. To give up a 2nd, 4th, and 6th round pick to get him baffles me. GRADE: D+

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