Re-Drafting the 2016 NFL Draft
We're almost a full year away from the 2016 NFL draft, meaning it's time to look back at how teams and players performed in their first calendar year of being a professional. While the old adage rings true that it takes years to fully evaluate a draft class, teams are undoubtedly looking back to the 2016 class and wishing they could change some decisions. Players who performed well in their first-year compared to those who have injury concerns or utterly failed to make an impact are much more valuable considering their production versus their salary.
While the old adage rings true that it takes years to fully evaluate a draft class, teams are undoubtedly looking back to the 2016 class and wishing they could change some decisions. Players who performed well in their first year compared to those who have injury concerns or utterly failed to make an impact are much more valuable considering their production versus their salary.
Looking less at pre-draft rankings and hype and more on performance and what actually happened on the field, some of the names who rise and fall will be surprising. But that's what happens when players make the big transition to the NFL. As we continue to look back at this class in another year and three more after that, these re-drafts will evolve.
The encouraging sign for a sizable chunk of teams is that their re-drafted selection stayed the same. That shows the scouting department nailed their assessment of the player and internal need and that the player properly delivered in their first season. For those teams that took a player who fell out of this re-draft completely, they’ll be hoping for a sophomore jump in performance.
There were only 31 first round picks in the 2016 NFL Draft with the New England Patriots' first round selection being revoked as part of the deflate-gate scandal.
1. Los Angeles Rams
Original Selection: Jared Goff, QB
Re-draft selection: Dak Prescott, QB
When the Los Angeles Rams made the decision to trade two first-round, two second-round and two third-round picks in exchange for the 2016 No. 1 overall pick and two Day 3 picks, Jeff Fisher and company certainly had hopes that quarterback Jared Goff would keep them employed for a long time as Goff was oozing with talent.
One year later, after seeing the performance of the quarterback class, there's no way Goff would have gone first overall again. Goff turned in one of the worst rookie seasons in NFL history, while fourth-rounder Dak Prescott easily bested the rest of the class.
Some of that certainly had to do with their respective situations, as the Rams' offensive scheme was flawed and predictable before Goff's arrival, while their surrounding talent was one of the worst in the league. Comparing what Goff had around him to Prescott's Cowboys makes the Rams' surrounding cast look like a high school team, and that affected both of their performances. But that doesn't fully excuse Goff's struggles with his accuracy and troubles reacting to pressure—two strengths of his at Cal.
One season into this class, Prescott has shown more poise, accuracy and playmaking ability than any other signal-caller in the class. The Rams would surely be more confident in their future in this re-draft, which isn't to say Goff is doomed, but it is a testament to how well Prescott performed when isolating his play from the Cowboys' offensive talent.
New head coach Sean McVay looks like a good candidate to rehabilitate Goff considering his work in Washington, but it's not an ideal situation to rehabilitate a second-year quarterback.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
Original selection: Carson Wentz, QB
Re-draft selection: Carson Wentz, QB
Like the Rams, the Philadelphia Eagles gave up so much via trade to acquire a quarterback, they'd be forced into taking one again to justify the assets moved despite better overall players being on the board. The Eagles said they'd have been happy with either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff, prompting them to make the trade up, and they have their choice of either in this re-draft. But one year in, Wentz would still be the pick for the Eagles.
Wentz had a terrible second half of the season after the Eagles offensive line broke down with injuries, and his passing mechanics reverted back to his collegiate days. His hot start to 2016 showed that in a simplified offense he can consistently make good decisions and get rid of the ball quickly. When head coach Doug Pederson expanded the playbook to avoid predictability, Wentz regressed and his receiving core failed to help as expected.
That all being said, Wentz recognizes pressure and extends plays well, which is a building block for his development. His early success showed that his passing motion can improve, and if it does, Wentz should be an average to slightly above-average starting quarterback. With a strong enough set of playmakers and defense, the Eagles can be competitive for a long time with that caliber of quarterback.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
Original selection: Joey Bosa, DE
Re-draft selection: Joey Bosa, DE
The best overall defensive prospect prior to the 2016 draft proved to be the best overall player in his rookie season, meaning the Los Angeles Chargers would sprint to the podium to select Joey Bosa once again in a re-draft.
Even after a contract holdout that may have led to a hamstring injury, Bosa logged 10.5 sacks in just 12 games. It's scary to think he'll have a full offseason and training camp to improve as he turns 22 years old this summer. The explosive defensive end is a legitimate foundational piece and should have been the top pick last year, barring the exorbitant trade pieces given up by the Rams and Eagles in an effort to get a quarterback.
Even if the Chargers were tempted to go in another direction or had to if Bosa was off the board, they'd have another great option in left tackle Laremy Tunsil. The Chargers don't need a running back or cornerback, as recent investments have worked out well for them. The other consideration in a Bosa-less scenario would be to take Jalen Ramsey as a safety, a position he excelled at in college.
But they get their original pick in this situation, and it will benefit them for the next decade as they look to build around him. Already the unit has benefitted from his presence, and the re-signing of rush linebacker Melvin Ingram will maintain continuity with personnel. Adding another impact defensive lineman or a safety early in 2017 will help complete the unit.
4. Dallas Cowboys
Original selection: Ezekiel Elliott
Re-draft selection: Ezekiel Elliott
The Dallas Cowboys had the rare luxury of adding a premium talent with the fourth overall pick despite having a playoff-caliber roster. They made a difficult but the correct choice when they went with Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. The other consideration was for cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who had a great rookie season as well, but Elliott was more of a difference-maker, fully maximizing the Cowboys offensive line and helping Dak Prescott transition to the NFL.
Elliott led the NFL in yards by over 300 yards, leading to a Pro Bowl nod and first-team All-Pro honors in his first season. He's explosive yet incredibly consistent in every phase, proving to be a rare player at the position. Even as running backs have been devalued, elite backs are still major assets, while it's the average backs who are more replaceable than ever before.
Had the Cowboys gone with Ramsey, the position would've benefitted in terms of having a long-term stalwart at the position. Ramsey was a great rookie but hasn't yet proved to be a playmaker like Marcus Peters. With the Cowboys defense mitigating the position with their scheme, it would've been a heavy investment into a cover corner.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Original selection: Jalen Ramsey, CB
Re-draft selection: Jalen Ramsey, CB
The Jacksonville Jaguars' first-round picks have struggled to deliver in the last decade, but the team sure seemed to nail it with Jalen Ramsey. The versatile defensive back had just one year of full-time corner experience at Florida State, and it showed at times early in his rookie season, but he developed throughout 2016 into one of the best young corners in the league. Finishing 23rd in the NFL1000 cornerback rankings, Ramsey was the no-brainer pick in this re-draft as he's starting to scratch his potential.
Where Ramsey can continue to improve is forcing turnovers. His 14 passes defensed is a good number, but with only two interceptions, he's more of a coverage corner instead of the transcendent playmaker. While this won't affect whether he was worth this pick as we look back again in future years, it could hold him out of the truly elite category of Hall of Fame-type producers.
But the Jaguars won't complain if that's the type of argument to have regarding Ramsey. With A.J. Bouye on board, the Jaguars have the best young corner tandem in the NFL. The combined length and physicality of the two will give problems to the rest of the AFC South for the next handful of years.
6. Baltimore Ravens
Original selection: Ronnie Stanley, OT
Re-draft selection: Laremy Tunsil, OT
In the wake of a shocking video of Laremy Tunsil in a gas mask, the consensus best offensive tackle prospect since Tyron Smith in 2011 fell to 12th overall. Had teams been given more time to gather information and get away from their initial reactions, Tunsil would've been drafted higher than lesser players, and the first team that desperately needed a tackle was the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens are surely happy with original pick Ronnie Stanley, who finished as the 19th-best tackle in NFL1000. The pass-blocking tackle had a good rookie debut, but Tunsil has better movement ability and entered the league as a more refined technician. A year in Miami at left guard wasn't ideal, but Tunsil was respectable at a position that didn't fit his strengths nearly as well.
But the Dolphins view Tunsil so highly they traded Branden Albert for a late-round pick, and the Ravens would've gotten even better value for Tunsil as his rookie season wouldn't have been spent at guard. Remember, Tunsil entered the league with All-Pro expectations, while Stanley was more of a solid but not spectacular prospect. One year in, that still looks fair to say.
7. San Francisco 49ers
Original selection: DeForest Buckner, DT
Re-draft selection: Tyreek Hill, WR
The best value of the 2016 draft due to an ugly off-field incident that led to his dismissal at Oklahoma State and being pushed into the fifth round, Tyreek Hill wouldn't have lasted nearly as long had the NFL known what he was capable of on the field. The explosive speedster torched defenses and special teams alike en route to a Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro nomination. That's worth a top-10 pick.
The San Francisco 49ers would've been perfect for Hill, especially while it was still Chip Kelly's show. The head coach would've loved Hill's skill set, as Hill is a legitimate stud receiver who can rotate to running back. The read-options that would've taken place with Colin Kaepernick and Hill would've been fascinating as defenses scrambled to contain each runner. Unfortunately, that never happened, and both Kelly and Kaepernick are gone, but Hill's still a star in Kansas City.
Not to be confused with a gadget player, Hill was analyzed by NFL.com's Matt Harmon, who took an in-depth look at Hill's production and found that he's already a standout receiver. For a team so desperately lacking offensive firepower, taking Hill to jump-start their scoring over a solid but not elite defensive tackle in DeForest Buckner would be the best decision in a re-draft.
8. Tennessee Titans
Original selection: Jack Conklin, OT
Re-draft selection: Jack Conklin, OT
It's abnormal to see a right tackle taken so highly, but this was a situation where Jack Conklin was perfectly made for the Tennessee Titans. Conklin had a great rookie season despite up-and-down tape at Michigan State, in part because of the Titans' offensive balance and also because of the help the team had around Conklin to avoid his being on an island too often. Because the Titans line is so good around Conklin, it wasn't a problem to allocate a back or tight end on his hip to alleviate pressure.
Conklin finished the season ranked highly by every metric, including Pro Football Focus and the NFL1000 series, the latter of which he was the 12th-best tackle. With his nasty, road-grading style, the Titans were the dream landing spot for Conklin to succeed, and the bookend tandem of he and Taylor Lewan left opponents worn down on Sundays and in the ice bath on Mondays. Some could argue that left tackle Ronnie Stanley is a more talented individual, but he wouldn't fit the scheme nearly as well, and moving Lewan to right tackle would have been suboptimal.
Where Conklin can improve is in pass protection, specifically his ability to get his hands up quickly and retreat to protect the arc of the pocket for Marcus Mariota. The transition to the right side made Conklin look a bit clunky at times, which isn't surprising as his muscle memory had to be reworked. But even with that being said, there's no need to change this pick in retrospect.
9. Chicago Bears
Original selection: Leonard Floyd, LB
Re-draft selection: Michael Thomas, WR
The Chicago Bears had hopes that their free-agency splurge in 2016, coupled with a strong draft, would be enough for a playoff run, but the team fell flat on its face, largely due to injuries. 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd was slow to come out of the gate, but he did find his footing midway through and ended up with a respectable seven sacks. No one should blame them for taking Floyd, who looks like a nice starting edge for them, but in a re-draft, it's unlikely he'd be the pick if the board fell like this.
Floyd's going to be 25 by the time the season kicks off, and this team is a long way from contending. While he showed improvement, the Bears had the opportunity to get a premier, legitimate star at receiver and take an edge-rusher with the No. 3 overall pick this year. Ohio State's Michael Thomas would be the easy decision at No. 9 in this re-draft.
Thomas finished as the 14th-best receiver in the NFL1000 season grades as he led all rookies by over 300 receiving yards. He has all of the tools to be a low-tier No. 1 receiver, including polished route-running, terrific hands, the ability to win jump balls and creating after the catch. He's a better receiver than any prospect in this year's class at all, meaning that at the ninth pick last year, he would've been a steal for the Bears.
Instead, the Bears' receiver depth chart is filled with "what if?" types who have struggled with injuries and consistency. Quarterback Mike Glennon needs an alpha receiver, and even if Kevin White can bounce back, Thomas, White and Cameron Meredith would've been a terrific starting point to rebuild this offense around.
10. New York Giants
Original selection: Eli Apple, CB
Re-draft selection: Leonard Floyd, LB
The New York Giants received flak for taking cornerback Eli Apple 10th overall last year as it seemed to be overkill as both Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were stars at the position, but with Leonard Floyd going one pick prior, the Giants made the call and ended up with one of the league's best cornerback trio. In this re-draft, where both are available, the Giants get the guy they really wanted in Floyd.
As well as Apple played, it's likely they could have gotten a similar player who could have played as the nickel later in the draft. Even a slight drop-off would be acceptable as the Giants would massively improve their off-ball linebacker situation with Floyd supplanting Devon Kennard as a starter. His 6'6", 244-pound frame would have fit at strong-side linebacker perfectly, and his pass-rushing skills are good enough to bank on an improvement.
Unlike for the Bears, Floyd's age is less of a concern as the Giants are built to win right now. At 25 this year, he would fit the three- to five-year window that the rest of the team is on, whereas the Bears don't have a definitive compete window like that in their rebuild.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Original selection: Vernon Hargreaves, CB
Re-draft selection: Taylor Decker, OT
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Vernon Hargreaves 11th overall, they doubled down on their bet that undersized cornerbacks can still be pillars of the secondary. Veteran Brent Grimes was a terrific pickup, and he played lights-out in a corner-friendly scheme. But Hargreaves, supposed to be the most pro-ready corner of the class, struggled to make an impact as expected.
Despite landing in the perfect spot to accentuate his strengths, Hargreaves couldn't produce big plays. He had just one interception, one forced fumble and 10 passes defensed. That's simply not good enough out of an off-ball corner with his size limitation and his first-round status.
Instead, the Buccaneers would pounce on the opportunity to get a franchise left tackle in Taylor Decker. Decker was arguably the best rookie tackle in 2016 and would have allowed the Buccaneers to move incumbent Donovan Smith to his more natural position at left guard. Quarterback Jameis Winston certainly wouldn't have complained that the team upgraded the 31st-graded left tackle in Smith to the 13th-best in the NFL1000 ranks.
12. New Orleans Saints
Original selection: Sheldon Rankins, DT
Re-draft selection: Deion Jones, LB
The only thing better than landing the best player at his position in a draft is stealing him away from a divisional foe, and that's exactly what the New Orleans Saints would do if they could get a do-over at No. 11 overall in the 2016 class.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins had a nice but injury-shortened rookie campaign, but there's no question that linebacker Deion Jones was more impactful and would've solved a huge question mark in the middle of the Saints defense. The former second-round pick notched over 100 total tackles, three interceptions and 11 passes defensed as a rookie.
With 2015 first-round pick Stephone Anthony still finding his way on the defense, the Saints have built more depth in the unit. If he can improve his diagnostic ability, this defense could've had one of the most explosive linebacker units featuring Jones, Anthony and free-agent pickup A.J. Klein. Alas, without Jones and Anthony's future in question, it's still a need for the Saints.
If the Saints couldn't pick Jones in a re-draft, an edge or corner still would've been a better pick than Rankins for this defense. The lack of pass rush from their ends and turnovers from corners have plagued this unit for years. While Rankins is a fine player who helps, there was better talent on the board all around.
13. Miami Dolphins
Original selection: Laremy Tunsil, OT
Re-draft selection: Noah Spence, DE
One of a handful of teams who got lucky with how the board fell, the Miami Dolphins wasted no time last year to take advantage of Laremy Tunsil's availability with the 12th overall pick. But in a re-draft, Tunsil is gone, and the Dolphins have to look elsewhere to add talent. It's a difficult decision considering how many holes the team has on its roster, but getting a legitimate pass-rusher across from Cameron Wake would be the priority here.
Noah Spence had a fantastic draft season last year, then fell to the second round unexpectedly despite some analysts believing he'd go in the top 10 after the Senior Bowl. He produced 5.5 sacks as a rotational player with a torn labrum for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's safe to say he should've gone in the first round after all.
Spence finished 2016 as the 19th-graded 4-3 defensive end in NFL1000 last year, just a handful of spots behind Wake and former Dolphins end Olivier Vernon. What's more interesting is the Dolphins actually passed on Spence in the second round after trading up for cornerback Xavien Howard, who finished 110th among corners in NFL1000. Spence went one pick behind Howard.
14. Oakland Raiders
Original selection: Karl Joseph, S
Re-draft selection: DeForest Buckner, DT
The Oakland Raiders had the right idea to add to their defense in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft, but with how the board fell, they ended up taking a solid but far from a star safety in Karl Joseph. Considering the value of non-elite safeties, the Raiders overpaid for Joseph unless he becomes one of the more productive safeties in terms of turnovers. They won't complain as long as he's solid, but in this scenario, a better, more impactful player is on the board.
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was a stud for the 49ers last season despite little help around him, racking up 77 tackles and six sacks. But he falls in this mock as other teams are more set at the position, and with the 49ers' move to a 4-3 front creating a bit of a logjam with Armstead and Buckner, he falls despite the talent.
Pairing Buckner with Khalil Mack and Dan Williams would be a handful for every offensive line, especially if Mario Edwards Jr. can fully recover from his hip injury. He'd immediately supplant Justin Ellis and Darius Latham in the rotation and may have kept the Raiders from blowing their second-round pick on Jihad Ward.
15. Cleveland Browns
Original selection: Corey Coleman, WR
Re-draft selection: Jared Goff, QB
The Cleveland Browns did well to trade down and avoid passing on an opportunity to gather significant assets, but the execution on the first part of their bounty for moving from No. 2 to No. 8 and then No. 15 was flawed because of who they picked. Wide receiver Corey Coleman was a reach despite being an athletic freak, as he lacks the polish and size to be more than a developing player early in his career. It's not surprising the 194-pounder played in just 10 games, catching 33 passes for only 413 yards and three touchdowns.
The Browns never had the chance to select Jared Goff, but they do in this re-draft. A much better situation for Goff than what the Rams have given him, Goff would've had a solid offensive line, great running game, a No. 1 receiver in Terrelle Pryor and a good tight end in Gary Barnidge. Even after losing Pryor, the Browns signed Kenny Britt, beefed up their offensive line and could get Josh Gordon back in 2017. They're a great situation for a young quarterback.
Head coach Hue Jackson preferred Goff to Carson Wentz, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, and would've likely stayed put had the Rams wanted Wentz instead. Jackson was more likely to build the offense around his strengths, which is exactly what the Rams didn't do for Goff—featuring deep passes and mixing in slants and comebacks to highlight his timing and accuracy.
16. Detroit Lions
Original selection: Taylor Decker, OT
Re-draft selection: Eli Apple, CB
The Detroit Lions were a big winner in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft, snagging a vital piece of their offensive foundation in Taylor Decker. He was maligned by some because he was more of a run-blocker than a perfect pass protector, but those concerns proved to be less true as Decker proved to be above-average there as well. Problem is, in a re-draft, there's no way other teams would allow Decker to still be on the board.
The defense would then be the Lions' priority, although Ronnie Stanley has a good argument for going here. Eli Apple is the ideal fit across from star cornerback Darius Slay and would supplant Nevin Lawson as a starter, giving the Lions more depth and a high-end starting duo. Apple took some time to hit his stride in 2016, but by the end of the year, he became a stud.
With Apple in tow, the Lions could then focus on shoring up needs on both sides of the trenches. Detroit's flawed roster makes this a pick that'll be easy to debate, but Apple's upside and the positional value at corner pushed him slightly over the field.
17. Atlanta Falcons
Original selection: Keanu Neal, S
Re-draft selection: Keanu Neal, S
It's clear the Atlanta Falcons had a clear objective in the 2016 NFL draft, which was to add speed and playmaking in the back seven of their defense. It worked and nearly won them a Super Bowl in their first year after. The first of two catalysts, with the other being linebacker Deion Jones, was Keanu Neal.
The hard-hitting safety was exactly what head coach Dan Quinn needed to spark this defense. Neal is perfect in the Cover 3 scheme with his tackling prowess and mental processing speed. He gets to the perfect spot right on time in almost every instance.
There aren't many holes left on the Falcons roster due to this impressive class. In this re-draft, the Falcons lost Jones to the Saints already, which would be an enormous loss, but it'd be an easy decision to pick Neal again.
18. Indianapolis Colts
Original selection: Ryan Kelly, C
Re-draft selection: Ryan Kelly, C
The state of the Indianapolis Colts offensive line garners a great amount of attention, but the team is well set at two of their three interior positions. Jack Mewhort and Ryan Kelly were one of the best center/left guard combinations last year, with Mewhort ranking 13th among guards and Kelly third in the NFL1000 grades. With Anthony Castonzo in tow, Le'Raven Clark just drafted and the team being high on Joe Haeg and Denzelle Good as options, the Colts are close to being set within the unit.
Kelly was a fantastic pick for the Colts and an obvious one leading up to the draft. He's one of the most athletic centers in the NFL and was immediately a considerable positive in the Colts' zone scheme. He's also one of the most well-rounded centers as well, lacking a major weakness in his repertoire.
This is one of the final picks in this re-draft that didn't change, showing how well the Colts did to get their guy in the middle of the first round. With so many needs on the defensive side of the ball, the Colts will continue to reap the benefits from one of former general manager Ryan Grigson's best picks.
19. Buffalo Bills
Original selection: Shaq Lawson, DE
Re-draft selection: Chris Jones, DT
Injuries derailed former Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson's rookie year with Buffalo, as his shoulder and knee both required surgery. He played just 237 defensive snaps and, with only one start last year, is a wild card for the Bills defensive front. If they could get a redo, they'd surely try to get someone healthier and able to impact their defense in 2016, especially considering the coaching staff was replaced.
Instead, Chris Jones from Mississippi State would've been a good mix of value and upside for the front four. Jones finished the year with 28 tackles and two sacks in limited action, but he flashed high upside in his opportunities. Unlike Lawson, Jones broke into a talented rotation, prompting the Chiefs to let Dontari Poe to walk in free agency.
Jones finished the year 18th among 3-4 defensive ends in NFL1000 despite playing 534 snaps. His explosive first step puts immense pressure on interior linemen, and in Buffalo's 4-3 front, he'd continue to have the upper hand, even more than he does as a 3-4 end. His length and speed will lead to an interior pass-rushing role, which the Bills sorely need next to Marcell Dareus.
20. New York Jets
Original selection: Darron Lee, LB
Re-draft selection: Darron Lee, LB
New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles was in a difficult position prior to the 2016 NFL draft. Coming off a good season where quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick won over the locker room and helped the team get to a 9-7 finish, the team felt they were stuck and had to bring Fitzpatrick back despite his mediocre play. The only leverage play the Jets made was to draft Christian Hackenberg in the second round, which could go down as one of the worst picks in recent history.
But in the first round, the Jets only had a chance at drafting Paxton Lynch. The Jets didn't think they'd need a quarterback as quickly as they did, leading to Darron Lee being the pick. And that decision was the correct one.
Bowles runs a unique 3-4 front where the linebackers are more coverage players than blitzers, making Lee a perfect fit. He was limited to 13 games and nine starts, but his speed and ability to play in space or in man coverage are rare for the position. As he settles in more, Lee has the upside to become a valuable matchup piece that few other defenses have to use in critical situations.
21. Houston Texans
Original selection: Will Fuller, WR
Re-draft selection: Paxton Lynch, QB
It's hard to criticize the Houston Texans' decision to draft Will Fuller too much, considering he finished third in rookie receiving yards and sixth in receptions, but the pick was made with the projection that Brock Osweiler would be an average quarterback. Instead, Osweiler was a train wreck to the point that the team moved a second-round pick just to dump his salary, which opened cap space that the team has done nothing with. This rendered Fuller as an overdrafted weapon with spotty hands instead of the explosive downfield threat that a decent quarterback would maximize.
In a re-draft, the pick has to be Paxton Lynch. The former Memphis Tigers quarterback struggled to see the field behind Trevor Siemian, which is concerning in itself, and didn't look ready to start in the three games he earned action in. But at least with Lynch in the fold, the Texans would've had a developmental choice better than Tom Savage, and the team wouldn't have to worry about reaching on a lesser signal-caller in this upcoming class.
The reality right now is that Savage looked like another Brandon Weeden for Bill O'Brien, and sitting with the 25th pick in the 2017 draft, there's little chance one of the four best quarterbacks falls to Houston's pick—and they're without a 2018 second-rounder already. Having Lynch as main competition with the expectation to start, barring a veteran signing, would help this regime have more confidence in the future.
22. Washington Redskins
Original selection: Josh Doctson, WR
Re-draft selection: Sheldon Rankins, DT
One of the more shocking picks in the first round of the 2016 draft was courtesy of the Washington Redskins. No one expected them to go wide receiver, considering the team's deep depth chart at the position and lack of talent in the defensive front seven. Nevertheless, with the contract situations of both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson looming over the franchise, they selected the highly talented Josh Doctson.
Unfortunately, Doctson has dealt with a unique Achilles injury and his future is clouded. Given a second chance, the Redskins would be the perfect fit for Sheldon Rankins, who falls 15 spots in a re-draft. The stout run defender with pass-rushing upside would be a natural replacement for Chris Baker, who was a major loss for the Redskins this offseason.
Rankins is a bit undersized and wins with quickness and leverage more than technical prowess right now, but big bodies who move that well are worth investing into. Even with Rankins in the fold, the Redskins would need another lineman, illustrating just how desperate they should be for talent in that unit.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Original selection: Laquon Treadwell, WR
Re-draft selection: Jordan Howard, RB
Very quietly, Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL last year in rushing yards behind Ezekiel Elliott, and he did it for a terrible Chicago Bears team. Howard benefitted from a good run-blocking line but did not have the quarterback play to create space. He's not an especially agile or creative back, but he maximizes every single touch he gets and leaves nothing on the bone.
Minnesota took a chance that wide receiver Laquon Treadwell would regain his 2014 form and wasn't the more limited version we saw in 2015 at Ole Miss, but nothing Treadwell showed as a rookie would indicate he'll be that explosive player again. With that in mind, the Vikings offense benefitted from Adam Thielen emerging as a legitimate playmaker at the same position, leaving the unit bereft of talent at running back once Adrian Peterson was lost for the year.
Howard's 1,313 yards and 5.2 yard-per-carry average would likely dip a little behind Minnesota's poor line, but his consistency would've been welcome in comparison to what Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata provided last season. Not to mention, the Vikings would be free to devote their early resources in 2017 to finish patching up the offensive line for Sam Bradford.
24. Cincinnati Bengals
Original selection: William Jackson III, CB
Re-draft selection: Derrick Henry, RB
As much attention as the 2017 running back draft class is getting, the 2016 crop was talented in its own right. In a re-draft, we'd see a third running back off the board in the top 31 picks as opposed to just one. Alabama tailback and current Tennessee Titans back Derrick Henry would become the true feature back in Cincinnati.
Incumbents Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard underwhelmed greatly in their first year without Hue Jackson as the offensive coordinator. Hill averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in 2016 after putting up an even less impressive 3.6 yards per carry in 2015. Bernard wasn't better, squeezing out only 3.7 yards per carry despite having an average offensive line.
Enter 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, who is a terrific, explosive back that showed as a backup in Tennessee that he has a bright future. Henry's size/speed combination is rare, and he averaged 4.5 yards per carry and another 10.5 yards per catch in 2016. Quarterback Andy Dalton needs as much help as possible, and Henry would have been a significant upgrade in the backfield.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers
Original selection: Artie Burns, CB
Re-draft selection: Yannick Ngakoue, OLB
The Pittsburgh Steelers weren't in a great position, holding a late first-round pick and needing immediate help at pass-rusher and defensive back, but they had the right idea and showed great internal planning with the development of Artie Burns.
The raw but physically gifted Burns was eased into the cornerback rotation, and by the end of the season, he had three interceptions and allowed William Gay to be more of a nickel corner. But given the opportunity to find more of a playmaker, the Steelers would nab the second-leading sack artist of the class.
Third-round pick Yannick Ngakoue is more of a specialist than a three-down player for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but even his tape at Maryland showed a talented pass-rusher. Ngakoue would have immediately supplanted Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats and even Bud Dupree on the Steelers depth chart, as his eight sacks would've led the team.
Pittsburgh will likely look to add another edge player to their roster early in the 2017 NFL draft, as James Harrison is still their best weapon at the position. The entire NFL missed on how effective Ngakoue is as a pass-rusher, somewhat overvaluing his mediocre and inconsistent run defense. The 6'2", 250-pounder could continue to see himself rise in these re-draft pieces over the next few seasons if he continues his production.
26. Denver Broncos
Original selection: Paxton Lynch, QB
Re-draft selection: Ronnie Stanley, OT
Talentwise, Ronnie Stanley shouldn't have fallen this far in this re-draft, but with other teams nailing their picks and having found other solutions to their left tackle needs in free agency, Stanley makes it to the Denver Broncos. With Paxton Lynch off the board already and seeing as the team likely isn't all that impressed with him so far, it would be an easy decision to pick Stanley. The duo of Donald Stephenson and Ty Sambrailo as left tackle depth is simply uninspiring.
Stanley graded well in the NFL1000 project, specifically due to his pass-blocking. He's not a powerful body yet, relying more on finesse than strength to be effective, making him perfect for the zone-blocking scheme the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos utilize. But his scheme reliance is also one reason Stanley wasn't a fit for every team with the need.
His smooth pass set and kick slide help neutralize speed-rushers and force them to counter. As his body continues to mature, Stanley should become stronger at the point of attack, create more of a push in the run game and handle power-rushers better.
27. Green Bay Packers
Original selection: Kenny Clark, DT
Re-draft selection: Kenny Clark, DT
The Green Bay Packers were a bit cornered into this pick, as their defensive line simply needed—and still needs—talented bodies who can soak up snaps. Kenny Clark gave them exactly that, grading as the 32nd-best defensive tackle in NFL1000 rankings. His well-balanced blend of skills gave him the advantage over Jarran Reed and Maliek Collins, similar positional players who are more specialists.
Clark's not the type to fill the statsheet with impressive numbers and performances, but he's a functional piece of a unit. It can be argued that a first-round pick isn't worth that value, but the 2016 class wasn't terribly deep with impact players, so maximizing the current roster while it's competing with Aaron Rodgers is a factor.
Ideally Clark will start allowing his teammates to produce more effectively by eating up double-teams and being a gap force. The Packers still need to add front-seven help, but Clark will act as a catalyst support player.
28. San Francisco 49ers
Original selection: Joshua Garnett, OG
Re-draft selection: Su'a Cravens, LB
Even though the first San Francisco 49ers' pick was changed from DeForest Buckner to Tyreek Hill, at least Buckner is a good player and the team should be pleased with the selection. The same cannot be said for Joshua Garnett. The 28th overall pick was one of the worst guards in football last year, finishing 71st of 78th guards in the NFL1000 rankings.
In Su'a Cravens, the 49ers' front seven would get an impact linebacker who could pair with Jaquiski Tartt in an explosive and versatile duo. Cravens missed time with a concussion and an elbow injury, pushing his slide to this point. Had Cravens been healthy, it's likely he’d be considered a top-15 rookie in 2016.
In only three starts and 11 total games played, Cravens had 33 tackles, a sack, interception and five passes defensed. That's the type of impact expected out of first-round picks. Garnett will need to become at least average to justify the decision to move up for him, but it'll take significant improvement to get there.
29. Arizona Cardinals
Original selection: Robert Nkemdiche, DT
Re-draft selection: Sean Davis, DB
A team that looked able to take a risk on an upside prospect who needs time to become more consistent, the Arizona Cardinals took the biggest swing in the draft on Robert Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche's athleticism was obvious at Ole Miss, but questions about his production and motor rang loud. At least in Year 1, the Cardinals haven't gotten the production they'll expect from him.
The Cardinals disappointed this past year, not due to Nkemdiche, but injuries and a lack of defensive impact played a major role. To fix that, the versatile Sean Davis would've been a terrific addition. Davis was a standout for a Steelers defense with other talented players, in part because he can play the slot or as a safety.
With 69 tackles, an interception and five passes defensed in eight starts and 16 games played, Davis has potential to be a weapon for his defensive coordinator. Arizona's atrocious cornerback situation besides Patrick Peterson continues to linger, and its safety depth is questionable as well. Even with Tyrann Mathieu returning from injury last year, Davis would've been a better third safety than Tyvon Branch.
30. Carolina Panthers
Original selection: Vernon Butler, DT
Re-draft selection: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE
The Carolina Panthers may have made a vital mistake in passing on defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah for Vernon Butler. Carolina has become razor-thin at defensive end, and instead of addressing that need with a player who was a solid edge prospect, it chose to hedge against the free-agency status of its incumbent starters. That was a mistake for a team with massive holes despite a Super Bowl appearance.
Most young interior defensive linemen struggle to adapt to the NFL, as their bodies must mature and become more capable of handling the size of the league. Butler was unable to be more of an immediate impact for the Panthers, and the team still desperately needs an end. Ogbah, who had six sacks as a rookie, would've been a long-term starting piece.
Ogbah's athleticism translated with ease for the Browns. It's why he finished fifth in rookie sacks, and the 23-year-old has plenty of time to continue his development. If Butler doesn't quickly improve upon his NFL1000 finish as the 43rd-best defensive tackle, then the Panthers will be looking at this decision with regret.
31. Seattle Seahawks
Original selection: Germain Ifedi, OT
Re-draft selection: Jason Spriggs, OT
The Seattle Seahawks had the right idea when they decided to draft an athletic offensive tackle in the first round of the draft, but then made the wrong call on which player to take—and then moved him inside to guard. Germain Ifedi is a tremendous athlete with a sky-high ceiling, but his transition was predictably rough. Though that move is often cited as an easier move, it's not, since guards require a more physical skill set than tackles.
Had the Seahawks been set on drafting a tackle who could walk in and be less of a project, then Jason Spriggs was the better decision. Spriggs is stuck now in Green Bay after the Packers drafted him to be depth in case either of their tackles departed in free agency, so it'll be awhile before he's seen, but Spriggs was also a great athlete. Though he may not have the upside as Ifedi, his floor is much higher due to technical prowess.
Instead, the Seahawks are moving Ifedi back to right tackle. Having a more settled offensive line would bolster the Seahawks' Super Bowl odds significantly, but the franchise continues to piece the unit together with projects.
Note: The New England Patriots' 2016 first-round pick was forfeited as punishment for Deflategate.