By J. J. Hipps
Blues guitarist by trade; self-appointed NFL draft guru come Springtime.
The NFL draft is by far the most exciting event in the NFL off-season. It’s filled with drama and antici………pation, as Dr. Frank N. Furter would put it. Like any fervent fanatical, I go all in. I watch the game film, I watch the NFL Combine, and there is rarely a moment that my television is not tuned in to ESPN. So I am here to bestow upon you my predictions for the first round of the NFL draft. I’ve chosen a handful of teams to discuss my reasoning behind their selection.
The Cowboys have fourth pick in this year’s draft and they are in a great spot to bolster their defensive line. They should have their choice of the top two pass rushers in this year’s draft and I believe they’ll go with Joey Bosa from Ohio State. He can come in and immediately be a starter and huge contributor, and considering that Greg Hardy is gone and Randy Gregory will begin the season suspended, they will need his help.
The Cleveland Browns are always an intriguing team come draft time. They are typically picking early and in recent years have had multiple first round picks. Unfortunately, they don’t get much out of their picks and usually end up with busts. But with new head coach Hue Jackson, I think they’ve finally begun to change their luck. At the eighth spot I have the Cleveland Browns selecting Ezekiel Elliott, half-back, Ohio State. The Browns have a lot of needs and I don’t particularly believe that a running back is high on the needs list, but I think it’s time to start drafting the best available player. And that happens to be Elliott.
I’m going to skip all the way down to pick twenty-one. Washington has filled their biggest need by signing cornerback Josh Norman to a huge contract. Hopefully that works out for them but they don’t have the best luck with big free agent signings. Washington’s next biggest need has to be on the defensive front and lucky for them, Jarran Reed is still available in my draft. Reed is a massive frame at 6’3’’ and 307 lbs. He has the potential to become a dominant run stopper which is exactly what Washington needs. They ranked very near the bottom in rushing defense last season and need to change that if they plan on making the playoffs again this year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are my early favorite to win the Super Bowl next year. Their offense has the opportunity to be on the the most dynamic offenses in NFL history, but they need help stopping the pass on defense. If they can improve in that area, I say they’ll easily get to the AFC Championship game. I see Pittsburgh selecting the best cornerback available. That’s William Jackson III out of Houston. Jackson is long and lean, with great speed. He has the potential to be a shut down corner within a few years in the Steelers system.
Lastly, let’s discuss Carolina’s pick. They are my hometown team after all. As you all know, the Panthers came very close to winning it all last year and they have a great opportunity to get back there again this upcoming season. But the road to a second straight Super Bowl appearance begins with a solid draft. They lost a key player in Josh Norman to Washington and drafting a cornerback wouldn’t be a bad idea, but there aren’t any worth reaching for at this point, and the Panthers did sign Brandon Boykin as a free agent. It’s also worth noting that Dave Gettleman, GM of the Panthers, believes in building from the inside out. That means he probably wants a defensive end. I have them drafting Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State. He definitely looks the part and can play in either 4-3 or 3-4 defensive schemes. He will need some time to develop into a great pass rusher, but adding depth at that position early is always wise.
I’m excited to see which predictions match up with reality this year.
NFL Mock Draft
- Los Angeles Rams — Jared Goff, QB, California
- Philadelphia Eagles — Carson Wentz, QB, NDSU
- San Diego Chargers — Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
- Dallas Cowboys — Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
- Jacksonville Jaguars — Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA
- Baltimore Ravens — Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
- San Francisco 49ers — Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
- Cleveland Browns — Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
- New York Giants — Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
- Chicago Bears — Deforest Buckner, DE, Oregon
- New Orleans Saints — Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
- Miami Dolphins — Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
- Oakland Raiders — Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
- Tennessee Titans — Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
- Detroit Lions — Sheldon Rakins, DT, Louisville
- Atlanta Falcons — Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
- Indianapolis Colts — Germain Ifedi, OG, Texas A&M
- Buffalo Bills — A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
- New York Jets — Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
- Washington Redskins — Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
- Houston Texans — Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
- Minnesota Vikings — Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
- Cincinnati Bengals — Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
- Pittsburgh Steelers — William Jackson III, CB, Houston
- Seattle Seahawks — Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford
- Green Bay Packers — Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
- Kansas City Chiefs — Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
- Arizona Cardinals — Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
- Carolina Panthers — Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
- Denver Broncos — Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Tune into the NLF draft beginning at 8 p.m. on April 28 on ESPN & NFL Network. Tweet your thoughts to @jjhipps
© The Lenoir Voice, 2016
On Twitter: @lenoirvoice