These are always fun. If the 2016 NFL Draft were to occur again, after the front offices could see how the season played out, where would Goff be? Or Wentz? Or Prescott?
Let’s see how much better your team could have looked in hindsight.
- Rams: QB Dak Prescott (was QB Jared Goff)
Of course there is a significant difference in productivity between the offensive lines of the Cowboys and the Rams, but having Prescott in Los Angeles would have produced at least 3000 passing yards. Prescott performed well enough to keep Romo sidelined, whereas Goff failed to outplay Case Keenum. Prescott was never even considered a first round pick, but he obviously should have been.
- Eagles: QB Carson Wentz (was Wentz)
Wentz is the man the Eagles will begin to build their offense around. He showed great signs of excellence, and now a top priority for the Eagles should be to give him targets better than Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham, which isn’t all that difficult.
- Chargers: DE Joey Bosa (was Bosa)
Bosa recorded 10.5 sacks in what will likely be a Defensive Rookie of the Year Award-winning first year for the Ohio State alumnus. If the Chargers can lock down Melvin Ingram, this San Diego front-seven could begin to wreak havoc in the AFC West as players like Denzel Perryman and Joshua Perry continue to develop.
- Cowboys: RB Ezekiel Elliott (was Elliott)
It’s incredible to think that the general assumption was that the Cowboys would improve their secondary by selecting Jalen Ramsey with the fourth pick in the draft. Elliott could have been snatched up by the Ravens or the Giants, both who could have become division winners because of the selection. For now, Dallas has their workhorse.
- Jaguars: CB Jalen Ramsey (was Ramsey)
With the exception of a few weak outings toward the beginning of the season, Ramsey was a
shutdown corner for the Jaguars. He finished with the sixth-best completion percentage allowed in the NFL among corners (53 percent) and he showed signs of a franchise player after just 16 professional games. Also by drafting corner in the first round in 2016, it allows the Jaguars front office to target the trenches this time around as they hope Alabama’s Jonathan Allen slides outside the top-three.
- Ravens: OT Jack Conklin (was OT Ronnie Stanley)
This pick might have been rushed by Ozzie Newsome once the infamous Laremy Tunsil video was discovered. Stanley was by no means a bad draft pick — the 2016 NFL Draft consisted of myriad productive blockers — and he should continue to make holes for Kenneth Dixon in the coming seasons, but Conklin had the best showings among rookie tackles this season.
- 49ers: QB Jared Goff (was DL DeForest Buckner)
Chip Kelly may still have his job if the 49ers could have acquired their quarterback of the future in the 2016 NFL Draft. Goff is a passer that San Francisco could successfully build around.
- Titans: OT Ronnie Stanley (was OT Jack Conklin)
Conklin was impressive in his first year and will continue to hold down the right tackle spot, but with the Ravens snagging him in the re-draft, the Titans will have to settle for Stanley instead.
- Bears: DE Yannick Ngakoue (was LB Leonard Floyd)
The phenomenal play coming from Akiem Hicks this season helped cover up the often terrible play from Floyd. He does have a high ceiling and recorded seven sacks, but Floyd easily was one of the most inconsistent pass rushers this season and at times was more of a liability than an outside linebacker. High ceiling, low floor, too much inconsistency for a team that was in desperate need of pass rush. Ngakoue finished with eight sacks and was much more dependable.
- Giants: LB Deion Jones (was CB Eli Apple)
The Giants defense alone earned them a wildcard spot and their 11 wins, even with poor linebacker play. Jonathan Casillas is a hardworking special teamer but not a man whose play deserves a starting role, and while B.J. Goodson was a good find in the fourth round, he does not stick out as the answer at the mike-backer position. Insert Jones, leading rookie tackler (108 tackles) and rookie of the year finalist.
- Buccaneers: CB Vernon Hargreaves (was Hargreaves)
The Brent Grimes-Hargreaves tandem was a dangerous one, and Hargreaves is the player the Buccaneers correctly chose to build their secondary around. Hargreaves is a player with great energy too and is a tremendous teammate. The safety position could use some work, but it’s safe to say that Tampa Bay has the best corner duo in the division.
- Saints: DL Sheldon Rankins (was Rankins)
Keanu Neal would be a great replacement for the underwhelming Jairus Byrd, but Vonn Bell’s play showed enough potential to force the Saints to go with Rankins in a re-draft. In a division featuring a couple of mobile quarterbacks as well as Devonta Freeman and potentially Leonard Fournette as a Panther places heavy focus on run defense.
- Dolphins: OG Laremy Tunsil (was Tunsil)
This was the perfect pick for the Dolphins. The versatility from Tunsil is what’s so valuable, especially since Branden Albert’s time in Miami could be over. He played left guard this season but could slide down a spot if Albert leaves in 2017.
- Raiders: S Karl Joseph (was Joseph)
With all of the offseason additions in 2016, the Raiders defense was quite underwhelming. Some fans may wish that the team spent more draft focus on corners since Sean Smith was at times a major disappointment. With that being said, T.J. Carrie took a big step forward with his play this season and Joseph assumed the starting role at safety alongside Reggie Nelson. The defense still needs some work, but a hard-hitting strong safety is a good place to start.
- Browns: C/G Cody Whitehair (was WR Corey Coleman)
Especially now with Terrelle Pryor establishing himself as a serious threat at wide receiver, basically any other position would have produced a more positive outcome for Cleveland. The injuries at quarterback need to be halted before they bring their “next big star” in for the 2017 season, and although it’s not an overly exciting pick, Whitehair’s ability to play guard and center helps an extremely weak interior line.
- Lions: LB Leonard Floyd (was OT Taylor Decker)
Ezekiel Ansah had two sacks on Russell Wilson in the wildcard game, just as many as he had in the entire regular season. The pass rush generated by the Lions front-seven was nonexistent, and although Decker was a very good asset on the offensive line, having Floyd as an edge rusher would have been more effective in the long run.
- Falcons: S Keanu Neal (was Neal)
A defensive tackle like Chris Jones would have been a great add for Atlanta’s defensive front, but Neal bolstered the Falcons’ secondary immediately and it showed in the stats. He recorded 106 tackles, and among rookies was second to only his teammate Jones. Continuing to invest in their young defense is a move that will pay dividends throughout the next few seasons.
- Colts: DE Noah Spence (was C Kelly)
This defense does not look like one that is going to be back in the playoffs anytime soon. The secondary was obliterated constantly, but that was caused by the weak pass rush. Hopefully the Colts go heavy on the defensive front in the 2017 draft, because it only takes an average defense with Andrew Luck to win the AFC South.
- Bills: DL DeForest Buckner (was DE Shaq Lawson)
This one is more difficult because the sample size was minute for Lawson, but Buckner and his 73 tackles would have done much more than Lawson’s 13 this season. The Bills allowed the fourth most rushing yards in the league this season, but unfortunately that void may not be filled in the 2017 Draft with their evident quarterback issues appropriately attracting more attention.
- Jets: OLB Emmanuel Ogbah (was OLB Darron Lee)
The Jets need a pass-rushing outside linebacker, whereas Lee serves more as a pass-coverage linebacker. The Jets should invest in what is a very strong 2017 defensive back class, setting the pass rush back at least another year pending a large free agent signing like Melvin Ingram.
- Texans: WR Will Fuller (was Fuller)
Fans need to understand that this was Brock Osweiler’s first full season as a quarterback. Criticize the Texans’ front office for establishing unreasonably high expectations for the young quarterback, but thinking Osweiler would lead Houston to a playoff victory in his first season is unfair. The smart move would be to continue to invest in the offensive line and in his receiving targets, and if in two seasons they have yet to win double-digit games, then maybe find a new quarterback. For 2017, focus should be placed on the offensive line and an inside-backer in the middle rounds.
- Redskins: DL Chris Jones (was WR Josh Doctson)
Washington’s defensive line needs some work, and according to Pro Football Focus, from Week 9 and on, only Rams DT Aaron Donald earned a higher pass-rushing grade than Jones among interior players. Doctson only caught two balls all season, but that was covered up by the strong emergence of Jamison Crowder.
- Vikings: RB Jordan Howard (was WR Laquon Treadwell)
Back in April, this was a very smart pick for the Vikings. GIve Teddy Bridgewater a big target to maximize the offense’s efficiency, making this team look less and less like a one and done playoff team. Then Bridgewater went down, as did Adrian Peterson. Without injuries, Treadwell would have been a good pick for this season. With that being said, if the Vikings had instead invested in a workhorse running back to back up their star similar to what the Titans did with Derrick Henry, especially with Peterson aging, the Vikings may not have ever lost playoff hopes. Treadwell should pay off in 2017 however.
- Bengals: WR Michael Thomas (was CB William Jackson III)
Tyler Boyd had a sizeable role in Cincinnati’s offense, but Thomas would have been much more effective. The scouting reports before the draft described Thomas as the most NFL-ready in his class, and that proved be true as Thomas recorded 92 catches, the second-most by a rookie in NFL history.
- Steelers: CB Artie Burns (was Burns)
The Steelers’ secondary improved drastically throughout the regular season, along with the play of former Miami corner Burns. He has great size and length to go along with outstanding ball awareness allows the Steelers to rely on the aged William Gay less and less. The Steelers will be glad they drafted Burns as they continue with their playoff run.
- Broncos: OT Taylor Decker (was QB Paxton Lynch)
This may be the most questionable pick of the first round in hindsight. It appears as if the Broncos will choose to develop Trevor Siemian instead of their first round pick, which could have in turn been used to at least improve one position on the offensive line. Tackle or guard, it doesn’t matter, the Broncos could use any sort of line help it can get.
- Packers: ILB Reggie Ragland (was DL Kenny Clark)
Jake Ryan has really come on as a productive inside backer for the Packers, but they run a 3-4 and only have one reliable middle linebacker. Ragland would have served very well as the leader of the defense this season, and perhaps could have helped turn around their defensive struggles before Week 11. Green Bay should be looking into the same position for 2017.
- 49ers: WR Tyreek Hill (was G Joshua Garnett)
The 49ers offense definitely could have utilized a playmaker like Hill this season. Jeremy Kerley is worthy of a starting role on an NFL offense, but not as the featured receiver. Hill would have boosted an offense who was last in the league in receiving yards and 31st in total offense.
- Cardinals: ILB/S Su’a Cravens (was DL Robert Nkemdiche)
This Cardinals defense was susceptible to both poor safety play as well as poor inside linebacker play. Insert the player who is capable of filling both voids. Arizona would have certainly loved to utilize the versatility Cravens brings to a defense. The Cardinals should look for a mike-backer early in the 2017 NFL Draft.
- Panthers: CB Eli Apple (was DL Vernon Butler)
James Bradberry was a tremendous second-round find, but he is still inexperienced and there is little to no depth behind him. Apple slid down noticeably in the re-draft and would pair up well with Bradberry in a pass-heavy division.
- Seahawks: G Joe Thuney (was OL Germain Ifedi)
Thuney simply was a better find at guard for the Patriots than Ifedi was. The Seahawks will have to continue to invest picks on their offensive line next season.
Jackson Haskins is an NFL writer for DYSTNow.com, you can follow him on Twitter @JacksonHaskins1.