The very top of the NFL draft came into focus in recent weeks with the mega-trades that secured the top overall pick for the Los Angeles Rams and the second choice for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Rams are widely expected to select Cal’s Jared Goff, which would leave the Eagles almost certain to take fellow quarterback Carson Wentz of North Dakota State.
Things get interesting from there.
The San Diego Chargers, with the third pick, would be left to choose between Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey. If the Chargers go with Ramsey, the Dallas Cowboys would have to decide between pass-rusher Joey Bosa and his former Ohio State teammate, tailback Ezekiel Elliott, at No. 4.
Here’s one view of how things could unfold Thursday night, with a reminder that the New England Patriots are without a first-round pick due to their Deflategate penalties.
1. Los Angeles Rams (from Tennessee)
Jared Goff, QB, Cal
The Rams choose Goff over Carson Wentz and cross their fingers they picked the right quarterback.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (from Cleveland)
Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Sam Bradford isn’t exactly pleased about Philadelphia’s trade up, but the Eagles seem to believe that Wentz will be a standout eventually.
3. San Diego Chargers
Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State
Ramsey or Laremy Tunsil? The Chargers go with the versatile defensive back who appears capable of being an NFL star at either cornerback or safety.
4. Dallas Cowboys
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Dallas needs a pass-rusher more than it needs a centerpiece runner or a future replacement for Tony Romo at quarterback.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
This draft is so deep with defensive linemen, and Jacksonville gets one of the best ones available.
6. Baltimore Ravens
Laremy Tunsil, T, Mississippi
Tunsil likely would have been the No. 1 overall selection in this draft if the Titans hadn’t traded the pick. Now he drops a bit and the Ravens benefit from that.
7. San Francisco 49ers
Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Is this too early for Lynch? Some talent evaluators would say so. But the 49ers need a quarterback of the future. And with Goff and Wentz coming off the board immediately, the chances of Lynch being selected very early have increased.
8. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia and Miami)
Ronnie Stanley, T, Notre Dame
Some teams seem convinced that Stanley is on equal footing with Tunsil or is an even better prospect. He could begin his NFL career at right tackle in Cleveland before eventually succeeding Joe Thomas at left tackle.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Tampa makes it two cornerbacks in the top 10.
10. New York Giants
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
He falls out of the top five because of concerns over the durability of his knee but he doesn’t drop out of the top 10.
11. Chicago Bears
Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
Ezekiel Elliott is an option here but Chicago chooses to address its defense.
12. New Orleans Saints
Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
There has been speculation about the Saints considering Paxton Lynch as a potential future successor to Drew Brees. But New Orleans probably would be well served to focus on upgrading its defense.
13. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia)
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
If the draft’s top running back gets past Dallas and Chicago, he makes sense for Miami.
14. Oakland Raiders
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Oakland improves its secondary with a very good cornerback.
15. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles)
Jack Conklin, T, Michigan State
Tennessee probably would have taken Tunsil if it had kept the No. 1 pick. The Titans still get an offensive tackle after their move down to 15th and added picks in the process.
16. Detroit Lions
Taylor Decker, T, Ohio State
Detroit makes it four offensive tackles in the first half of the opening round.
17. Atlanta Falcons
Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Atlanta needs to get better on defense, and Lee is a versatile player who could fill a variety of roles.
18. Indianapolis Colts
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
He’s a defensive playmaker who would give the Colts a pass-rushing presence they will need as Robert Mathis gets older.
19. Buffalo Bills
Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Mississippi
There are major questions about Nkemdiche’s off-field issues following his hotel-room incident that led to him being suspended from the Sugar Bowl. But there is plenty of talent there, and the Bills have shown a propensity to take such risks on talented but troubled players.
20. New York Jets
Kevin Dodd, DE/LB, Clemson
The Jets make it two Clemson defenders in a span of three picks. It’s possible this choice could be a quarterback. But could the Jets get someone at this point in the draft more ready to play for them than the Geno Smith or Bryce Petty?
21. Washington Redskins
Jarran Reed, DT/DE, Alabama
The Redskins get a run-stopping presence for their defensive front.
22. Houston Texans
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi
The wide receivers begin coming off the board.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
The Vikings provide some help for their quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.
24. Cincinnati Bengals
Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Cincinnati bolsters the position after the free-agent losses of wideouts Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers
Will Jackson, CB, Houston
Pittsburgh gets a speedy cornerback capable of being a significant immediate contributor.
26. Seattle Seahawks
A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Seattle re-establishes some of the depth along its defensive front.
27. Green Bay Packers
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Green Bay gets an excellent interior linebacker and can put Clay Matthews back on the perimeter of the defense.
28. Kansas City Chiefs
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
The wide receivers are popular in the second half of the opening round.
29. Arizona Cardinals
Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
There are questions about Spence after his exit from Ohio State following two failed drug tests. But he potentially would provide another productive pass-rusher for an Arizona defense that already added Chandler Jones this offseason.
30. Carolina Panthers
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Carolina, after removing the franchise tag from Josh Norman and watching him sign with the Redskins, gets a cornerback of considerable promise.
31. Denver Broncos
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Denver gets its quarterback of the future, and perhaps of the present.