With the 2016 NFL draft declaration deadline having come and gone on Jan. 18, we now have a solidified picture of the prospects who will be hoping to gain entry into the pros come April.
There are only 31 selections in the first round this year because the New England Patriots lost a first-round pick as part of their Deflategate penalties.
The following draft order is predicated on the Panthers winning Super Bowl 50 and selecting last on April 28. Look it over, and then we'll break down the top prospects jockeying for the title of first-overall pick in 2016.
|2016 NFL Draft First-Round Order|
|3||San Diego Chargers|
|7||San Francisco 49ers|
|9||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|10||New York Giants|
|12||New Orleans Saints|
|15||Los Angeles Rams|
|20||New York Jets|
|27||Green Bay Packers|
|28||Kansas City Chiefs|
Top Prospects Contending for No. 1 Pick
Assuming that the Tennessee Titans do not choose to trade their No. 1 overall pick, there are a few things we know about their selection.
For instance, after drafting Marcus Mariota in 2015, we can assume that California quarterback Jared Goff will not hear his name called by Tennessee this year.
Unless rumors emerge about the Titans engaging in trade talks, here are three players who fit the profile of the team's positional needs, namely offensive tackle, running back and defensive back.
Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil is getting first-overall pick billing in his own right, but the fact that the tackle-needy Titans wound up with the first overall pick makes Tunsil an even more likely choice for the projection.
CBS Sports ranks Tunsil as the top offensive lineman in the class and the No. 2 prospect overall behind Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa.
"On the field, Tunsil is a nimble big man with a rare athletic skill set for the position, showing above-average balance and flexibility to easily bend, handle speed and absorb power at the point of attack," CBS Sports' Dane Brugler writes.
Tunsil struggled with injuries throughout his college career, being unable to play a full season for the Rebels. He also started just five games in 2015, missing the season's first seven contests due to suspension.
However, he's a gifted athlete and the type of player that the Titans desperately need to invest in to protect their franchise quarterback.
The Titans could go another direction with this selection—or trade it away. Charlie Campbell of Walter Football indicated on Jan. 25 this was a strong possibility:
However, if Tennessee stays where it is, this pick makes sense for both sides.
Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
As Campbell noted in the aforementioned tweet, the Titans' current line of thinking is that they could trade down and still land Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey a few spots below the No. 1 pick.
However, as the narrative of the draft continues to change and take shape between now and April, it's possible Ramsey's stock could rise enough to make him a legitimate consideration for the Titans at No. 1 if they don't like their trade options.
Defensive back is certainly a big need for Tennessee. Perrish Cox can man the slot and Jason McCourty is under contract through the 2017 season, per Spotrac, but Tennessee could benefit from a strong outside corner. Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Coty Sensabaugh aren't going to get the job done.
Ramsey fits that bill and more; he's a talented and versatile enough player to also move into a hybrid safety role for the Titans, having lined up at free safety for the Seminoles.
"He has above-average anticipation, vision and instincts, seeing the field extremely well with uncanny awareness and timing to create turnovers and get his hands on the ball," writes Brugler.
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
While defensive end isn't as much of an exigency for the Titans as the offensive line or secondary, Bosa is a prospect who's hard to pass up at No. 1, as he could make their front seven virtually unstoppable.
Tennessee's front seven did just fine in 2015 as the unit totaled 39 sacks and forced 15 fumbles.
With Dick LeBeau taking over as the team's defensive coordinator for the 2016 season, it seems reasonable to assume that the Titans will continue building a 3-4 defense rather than going back to a 4-3, which they ran pre-Ray Horton.
Bosa may be a better fit as a 4-3 defensive end, but he could also be a strong 3-4 rush linebacker for the right team.
Brugler writes that Bosa is "active on stunts with experience lining up inside and outside—a proven threat anywhere in the front seven."
While it's a less likely option for the Titans' move at No. 1, don't rule Bosa and his pass-rushing prowess out.