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NFL Draft Preview; Predicting the top ten picks

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Hype and speculation are rapidly building ahead of this week's NFL Draft, with the top college prospects waiting to see where they will land. The recent trade of the number one overall pick by the Titans to the Rams has certainly thrown a spanner in the works, and many teams will have had to adjust their approach with the knowledge that the Rams will likely take a quarterback with the first overall pick.

The Eagles and Browns swapping places in the first round also looks a likely move by Philadelphia to get a quarterback at number two overall.

The draft always throws up surprise picks in the first round and it is near to impossible to predict to a pin where each prospect will go, but, based on teams needs, their previous draft strategies and the talent available, here is an insight into who the top ten picks could be on April 28.


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1. Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles needs a quarterback badly and they will get a potential franchise one here; the only debate is over which one, Carson Wentz or Jared Goff. The Rams engaged in a blockbuster trade with the Titans to get the number one pick, giving up multiple draft picks in the process, and there is no way they would do this without having a clear idea of who they want to draft.

Both guys have high-end potential but Goff is more NFL ready carrying fewer concerns about adjusting to the higher level of competition and can contribute immediately. He can make all the throws required of him and has ample pocket presence and enough mobility to be successful.

The pick: Jared Goff QB, Cal

2. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles enter a new era under Doug Pederson and having purged most of the pieces brought in by previous head coach Chip Kelly. They are in need of a running back but the trade with the Browns is not one they will have made with anything but a quarterback in mind. Sam Bradford has obviously not convinced Pederson and his frail body may have caught up with him one too many times.

With Jared Goff off the board, the obvious pick here is Carson Wentz, a prototypically-built quarterback with good arm strength and excellent athletic traits. Wentz played in a pro style offense in college and although he may sit for a while in his first season he can be the long-term solution for the Eagles.

The pick: Carson Wentz QB, North Dakota State

3. San Diego Chargers 

San Diego needs a lot of help all over the field and is in a position to take the best player available if they so choose. The drafts highest graded prospect, lineman Laremy Tunsil, would be a good selection here but it has been the defense that has really hindered them of late, and, having lost two key members of their secondary in free agency the Chargers should look to shore up that area. Jalen Ramsey is a versatile defender, capable of playing both safety and cornerback, who possesses elite athleticism, size, and ball skills. He is also an excellent tackler with the potential to be a disruptive all pro level defender and would contribute immediately. 

The pick: Jalen Ramsey CB, Florida State

4. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys always draw a lot of media attention and draft day is no exception to that rule especially with Jerry Jones calling the shots. They have a number of needs including running back and various defensive positions, but, as a team, they were poor at getting to opposing quarterbacks last year ranking 27th in the league in sacks so expect a pass rusher to go off the board here.

Joey Bosa, who had 26 sacks in his college career, has exceptional hands and the athleticism to generate regular penetration. He might not be as dominant in the pros but he certainly will get to the quarterback and help the Dallas defense be more productive. 

The pick: Joey Bosa DE, Ohio State

5. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have a quarterback and made a splash in free agency but still have a lot of needs, no bigger than along the offensive line. The Jaguars gave up 51 sacks last year, the fourth most in the league and need to do a better job of protecting Blake Bortles. With arguably the best player in the draft still on the board in lineman Laremy Tunsil, there should be no hesitations in handing in the card with his name on it.

Tunsil did not allow a single sack in his six starts last season, he has an exceptional technique with strong hands, quick feet, and excellent length. There is little doubt that he will translate to at least a pro bowl level tackle in the NFL and will act as a cornerstone of the Jaguars line for a long time provided he stays healthy. 

The pick: Laremy Tunsil OT, Ole Miss 

6. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are needy on defense especially at linebacker and in the secondary in a division filled with elite wide receiver talent. With Jalen Ramsey off the board they could look to cornerback's Vernon Hargreaves, Eli Apple or Mackenzie Alexander, but, with injuries and free agency losses at the linebacker position they might need help here more urgently.

UCLA's Myles Jack would fit their needs perfectly as he can play from day one at a high level, he is exceptionally athletic and fast which is necessary for coverage in their division and can rush the passer using his edge speed. Jack can be a huge asset in many defensive sub-packages due to his versatility and athletic ability- he even played safety and running back at times in college. 

The pick: Myles Jack OLB, UCLA

7. San Francisco 49ers

This is one of the more open and unpredictable picks as there are so many holes on the roster and there still remains potential for them to trade Colin Kaepernick before the draft. Either way, quarterback is a need for the 49ers but with the top two prospects gone would they be willing to reach for Paxton Lynch or Connor Cook at number seven?

It seems unlikely as neither man is even guaranteed to start over the 49ers incumbents and they could instead choose to protect the quarterbacks they do have by drafting an offensive lineman. Jack Conklin, Taylor Decker, and Ronnie Stanley all have first round grades on them but Stanley is the most well-rounded player who would help shore up a leaky line that gave up the second-most sacks in the NFL in 2015. Stanley gave up only two sacks on 750 plays last year and has excellent hands, length and the flexibility to move easily with rushes. 

The pick: Ronnie Stanley OT, Notre Dame

8. Cleveland Browns

The Browns got a lot from the Eagles in exchange for the number two pick and as such can address needs all over their roster in the next two drafts. They need offensive line help but it is in the trenches on the defensive side that they are lacking the most quality and with ample high-end prospects at the position they can get a productive player here.

DeForest Buckner out of Oregon is an athletic player with burst and is excellent against the run and has the ability to rush the passer. Buckner is a high motor player who is simply dominant at times and will translate to a pro bowl level in the NFL.

The pick: DeForest Buckner DT, Oregon

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Coming off a year in which they had the number one pick in the draft the Bucs are in a position to build around their young quarterback, Jameis Winston. They already have some nice offensive pieces and could use some help on defense, especially in the secondary as only four teams gave up more passing touchdowns in 2015.

The best remaining defensive back would be cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and the former Florida Gator would be an excellent addition to the thin Tampa Bay secondary unit. He is an elite athlete with explosive traits that saw him set combine leading marks in the broad jump and vertical jump, this explosive leaping ability allows him to go up and get balls over receivers more than most cornerbacks are able to. Hargreaves can operate in press, off and zone coverage equally well and his competitiveness is a bright point for any team. 

The pick: Vernon Hargreaves CB, Florida

10.  New York Giants

The Giants made splashes in free agency adding talent all over their roster and eliminating some needs in the draft, namely defensive end where they tied up Jason Pierre-Paul and landed Olivier Vernon. Linebacker is a big need but with Myles Jack off the board and Jaylon Smith carrying big injury worries amongst other concerns, they may address that in the latter rounds.

Another area of concern is wide receiver where they need to add a reliable target opposite Odell Beckham Jr. Corey Coleman and Laquon Treadwell are the class leaders at the position and either one would be a nice addition to the Giants receiving corps but, as Coleman is a similar type of player to Beckham, they could opt with Treadwell here.

Treadwell is a big bodied receiver who plays faster than his 4.63 seconds 40-yard dash suggests and competes well in the air. He has good hands, runs routes well and is excellent at going up and getting balls over defenders. Overall, Treadwell would add a different kind of option for Eli Manning and the offense and will contribute ably from day one. 

The pick: Laquon Treadwell WR, Ole Miss

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dallas Cowboys
San Diego Chargers
San Francisco 49ers
Philadelphia Eagles
NFL Draft
New York Giants
Baltimore Ravens
Los Angeles Rams
Jacksonville Jaguars
Cleveland Browns
Los Angeles Rams

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