Round 1's grades for 2016 NFL draft

Eric Edholm

CHICAGO – One player's social media accounts dominated discussion. Jerry Jones couldn't pass up on a potential star running back. And Denver may have found its quarterback not named Sam Bradford. It was a wild first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night.

Here's a look at the 31 picks, with knee-jerk reactions and grades:

1) Los Angeles Rams: QB Jared Goff – This pick has been in pretty much since the Rams moved up dramatically from No. 15 to 1, even if they kept the mystery going for a few weeks. Goff is a rhythm passer who has spent three years in the “Bear Raid” offense, and there will be a transition to more of a pro system with a first-year passing coordinator and a second-year QB coach. Patience, Rams fans.

Grade: B

Jared Goff goes from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. (AP)
Jared Goff goes from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. (AP)

2) Philadelphia Eagles: QB Carson Wentz – The impressive Wentz won two titles as a starter at the FCS level and has everything you want in a quarterback physically. He also is a mature, grounded person, and that will serve him well in a tough town. There's a crowd at QB with the Eagles, but if he's the best man for the job it will all sort out in time. It's a long road from Fargo to Philly, but if there's ever a town that can embrace the underdog … Grade: B

3) San Diego Chargers: DL/LB Joey Bosa – Yes, linebacker. In the 3-4 scheme, Bosa will stand up and attack the quarterback from two feet instead of the two-point stance he rushed from all through high school and at Ohio State. He's a hard-charging, athletic and instinctive rusher, but the pick is odd considering the Chargers' rushers: Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu and Kyle Emmanuel. Bosa's laid-back attitude will work well in sleepy San Diego, but passing on Jalen Ramsey feels foolish. Grade: C+

4) Dallas Cowboys: RB Ezekiel Elliott – Presented a situation they might not have expected given the pick before, the Cowboys still took the player that team owner Jerry Jones has been rumored to be in love with for months. There was an internal debate over which player fit best here, but the Cowboys now have the most well-rounded RB prospect in years operating behind the league's best offensive line. Good luck with that, NFC East. This could help extend Tony Romo's career a year or two. Again, no Ramsey? Grade: B+

5) Jacksonville Jaguars: DB Jalen Ramsey – This is a dream scenario for GM Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley, who now have upgraded their defense with a Day 1 impact defender. Ramsey is expected to play corner and nickel, and he also can impact special teams. What an unbelievable stroke of luck for the Jaguars, who hope to match their explosive offense with a competitive defense. Grade: A

6) Baltimore Ravens: OL Ronnie Stanley – The Ravens had Stanley graded above Ole Miss' Laremy Tunsil for some time now, so while the pick might be shocking to some. The athletic, smart Stanley can be a Day 1 starter at right tackle, which was a need, and take over for Eugene Monroe down the road. With Stanley and John Urschel, if nothing else the Ravens have perhaps the most intelligent offensive line in the NFL.

Grade: B

7) San Francisco 49ers: DL DeForest Buckner – Chip Kelly and especially defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro (with whom Buckner is extremely tight) signed off on this pick early, and though there were other options for the team, this was a no-brainer. For the second straight year, the 49ers select an Oregon 5-technique, and this one was even better than 2015 first-rounder Arik Armstead. Buckner should be a star who can play a high volume of snaps and wreck blocking schemes. Grade: A-

8) Tennessee Titans: OL Jack Conklin ‐ The Titans did a lot of work on Laremy Tunsil and were roundly rumored to have been considering him with the first pick had they stayed put and not made a monster deal with the Rams. Now they trade up from No. 15, armed with plenty of ammo, to get … Conklin? This is wild. Perhaps the poorly timed video posted on a social media account belonging to Tunsil had some effect, but the Titans like the old-school grit of Conklin, who gives the Titans two gnarly anchors to protect Marcus Mariota and gear up the run game with DeMarco Murray. This is the exotic smashmouth they want to run. Grade: B-

9. Chicago Bears: LB Leonard Floyd – The Bears leapfrogged the Giants, who were looking hard at some of the same players they were, including Floyd, so the move made sense from that perspective. But be suspicious of Floyd, who can be overpowered in the run game, is very lean and is in need of some pass-rush development. However, he has sky-high potential to hound the Aaron Rodgers of the world. A classic boom-bust pick. Grade: C

10. New York Giants: CB Eli Apple – Apple to the Big Apple. How about that? This is a surprise – not to see another Buckeye in the top 10 but to see a grabby, flawed corner who rated well below several others still available on other teams' boards. The Giants have starters in Janoris Jenkins and (we assume) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the outside, and Apple might not be a great fit in the nickel. Confusing. Grade: C-

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Vernon Hargreaves III – Seriously, this is too perfect. The Tampa kid comes up, and it fills a huge need. The Bucs' best corner by the end of the season was Sterling Moore, so that tells you what you need. Hargreaves likely would have been the pick at No. 9 had they not traded down, so they add the Bears' fourth-rounder and still get their guy. Hargreaves is a great cover corner who is small but highly instinctive. Grade: A-

12. New Orleans Saints: DL Sheldon Rankins – Some semblance of normalcy returns to the draft. Rankins was a player the Saints were connected with for months now, and it makes a ton of sense. Even with the Nick Fairley signing, that was not enough to solve their issue at the 3-technique. Rankins is an explosive interior rusher who can have an immediate impact in a few different spots, and he's a high-character player, which has been an area of focus for the Saints the past two seasons. Grade: A-

13. Miami Dolphins: OL Laremy Tunsil – The fall ends, mercifully. GM Mike Tannenbaum is not scared to make a wave in the draft, and he lands a player whose poorly timed Twitter hack might have caused his slide from the first pick to outside the top dozen. He's an athletic tackle, and it's not a glaring need with Branden Albert at left tackle, but 2014 first-rounder Ja'Wuan James might be tried inside if Tunsil impresses. Right now, he has to rebuild his image, but he's an exceptional talent. Grade: A-

14. Oakland Raiders: S Karl Joseph – Instead of taking Myles Jack and his balky knee, the Raiders went with another medical concern in Joseph, who suffered a torn ACL after three games a year ago. But in those games, and in his Mountaineers career, Joseph established himself as an intense, instinctive hammer of a safety who has great ball skills and is a vocal leader. A classic Al Davis pick (reach?), even if he's been gone for years. The expectation was for Joseph to go later. Grade: C+

Corey Coleman (AP)
Corey Coleman (AP)

15. Cleveland Browns: WR Corey Coleman –

The Browns' new regime has had a hard time hiding its love for Coleman, maybe the most explosive receiver in this draft. Fans might get nervous about hearing another Baylor receiver is coming to town, but there is almost no character concern about Coleman, who has overcome a lot in his life. He needs a quarterback, but maybe he and (former Baylor) QB Robert Griffin III can connect on some bombs. Coleman has great speed; drops have been his biggest bugaboo. Grade: B+

16. Detroit Lions: OL Taylor Decker – With the top three tackles off the board here, the Lions probably felt lucky to get Decker, even if we have him ranked a little lower. Still, he could step in right away – at right tackle (Michael Ola?), as an eventual replacement for Riley Reiff or at guard. He fits the mold of new GM Bob Quinn, who spent most of his career with the Patriots: tough, hard-nosed, durable and smart. Decker is a throwback. Grade: C+

17. Atlanta Falcons: SS Keanu Neal – We knew the Falcons liked him. We didn't know they liked him this much. Neal is a pile driver of a hitter – almost to the point where some scouts feared for his long-term safety. “Kiki” had grades all over the board from NFL evaluators; for as much athletic ability as he has, he also has limitations in coverage. Still, head coach Dan Quinn has a Kam Chancellor-esque enforcer in his secondary now. Grade: C

18. Indianapolis Colts: C Ryan Kelly – All along, the narrative was that the Colts needed a tackle, but the truth was the interior was the weakest spot. Kelly is a smart, tough, battle-tested, respected pivot who will be a great match mentally for Andrew Luck. A history of knee injuries for Kelly scared off a few teams, but he was universally praised for his strong virtues. A few ugly games aside, he's as solid as there is on the interior in this draft. Grade: B

19. Buffalo Bills: DL Shaq Lawson – As Rob and Rex Ryan continue transforming their defense more to the 3-4 schemes they've long used – separately and now together – Lawson is an important piece to the mix. He can get after the passer and should provide good support against the run, too. The Bills likely feel lucky he fell into their laps. Lawson might not be special, but he has potential to be a good player for a while. Grade: B+

20. New York Jets: LB Darron Lee – Almost a nickel safety-sized player, Lee is fast and highly athletic to match up with tight ends (um, New England perhaps?) and backs (say, Shady McCoy) right away. He's a good fit on a defense that has a lot of bulk up front, which should keep Lee clean from having to stack and shed linebackers, which is not his strength. Expect Lee to play at one of the inside spots in the Jets' 3-4 scheme, but he has versatility.

Grade: B+

21. Houston Texans: WR Will Fuller – The Texans flipped a 2017 sixth-rounder to slide up a spot and guarantee they got the speed option they wanted. There were more complete receivers on the board, such as Laquon Treadwell and Josh Doctson, but the Texans wanted a vertical threat to complement DeAndre Hopkins. Now, with Hopkins, Fuller and Lamar Miller, the Texans have game-changing playmakers. Helps out Brock Osweiler tremendously. Grade: B-

22. Washington Redskins: WR Josh Doctson – Taking the receiver some thought the Texans should have taken, the Redskins add a pick and get a competitive bigger wideout to add to their till. Kirk Cousins now has a middle-of-the-field playmaker whose leaping ability will help with some of the off-target throws the Redskins have lived with. Doctson and Jordan Reed can work the middle, and DeSean Jackson has ownership on the deep routes. The Redskins' offense is evolving. Grade: B+

23. Minnesota Vikings: WR Laquon Treadwell – This makes too much sense. Teddy Bridgewater doesn't need a deep threat -- he needs a chain mover, and a physical one, such as Treadwell. This is an inspired choice that could reshape the Vikings' offense. He'll be a great No. 1 option in the red zone and is also the best blocking receiver in the draft by a mile. A great choice at this point of the draft. Grade: A-

24. Cincinnati Bengals: CB William Jackson III – The Bengals have invested a lot in their secondary – that's three first-rounders at the position in four years – but also lost a starting safety in the offseason. Depth is important, and the long-limbed playmaker Jackson is an interesting study who broke out last season by leading the NCAA in passes defended and was a star in the bowl game win against Florida State. It's a good value pick, and the Bengals show great patience in drafting for need a year in advance for the second straight year. Grade: B

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Artie Burns – Our least favorite pick to this point of the draft. Yes, Burns is a long-armed press corner with passion and he has overcome a lot in his life to get to this level. But there are teams that have stamped fourth-round grades on Burns, and he might not ever be better than a solid No. 3 corner. There were many better options here – perhaps in the front seven.

Grade: D+

Paxton Lynch (AP)
Paxton Lynch (AP)

26. Denver Broncos: QB Paxton Lynch – The Broncos traded up aggressively for the second straight year to get their guy. Lynch will not be starting Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, and he might not be ready to be the guy until 2017. But he has a fascinating mix of two players – Brock Osweiler's size and Colin Kaepernick's arm and some of his athletic traits – that the team has been connected with in the past. Lynch is a project but one who could pay off tremendously once he acclimates to Gary Kubiak's offense. Grade: B

27. Green Bay Packers: DL Kenny Clark: The Packers have a history of taking front-seven defenders in the first round, and Clark helps right away. He adds a big body in the middle, which Green Bay needed after B.J. Raji said he's taking a hiatus from the NFL. Clark is an aggressive tackle whose effort won't be questioned. It doesn't solve Green Bay's inside linebacker issues – and the Packers did pass on Reggie Ragland to take Clark – but Clark does provide immediate help to the middle of the defense. Grade: B-

28. San Francisco 49ers: OL Joshua Garnett – So the 49ers moved up to this spot to take a passionate, smart, physical run-blocking guard. Sorry, but we're not jazzed. Garnett is one of the more fun players to talk football with – he's driven and intelligent – and he could start Day 1 at either guard spot. But does he fit with Chip Kelly's preference for lighter-footed offensive linemen? Garnett isn't a total slug, but he might have to take Kelly's renowned health regimen seriously to shape his body better. Grade: C-

29. Arizona Cardinals: DL Robert Nkemdiche – Nkemdiche was the top high school recruit in the country, dominated at times in the SEC, and could be a steal for the Cardinals near the end of the first round. It's reminiscent of the Tyrann Mathieu pick, which paid off in a big way for the Cardinals. Like Mathieu, Nkemdiche slipped in the draft due to off-field red flags. The most troubling incident was when he fell out of the fourth-floor hotel window. But the Cardinals are betting on his talent, which is massive. Grade: B

30. Carolina Panthers: DT Vernon Butler – GM Dave Gettleman's true colors are showing. He likes to build from the inside out, which was clear by letting Josh Norman walk and was very clear by taking Butler at a position of need. Carolina is stocked at defensive tackle with Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, but Butler's arrival protects the team against either one leaving via free agency after the 2016 season. At 323 pounds, have no illusion: Butler is not playing another position. He could be very good in time. Grade: B-

31. Seattle Seahawks: OL Germain Ifedi – Trading down five spots, the Seahawks got the player they wanted at No. 25. That's always great from a value perspective, and Ifedi has top-15 ability. It didn't always come to fruition at College Station, and it's unclear where Ifedi's best position will be after he struggled at times at left tackle. The Seahawks, as they usually do, gamble on a talent that other teams might not have rated quite as high. Grade: C+

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