That was fun. The drama and intrigue of the 2016 NFL draft was on full display Thursday in Chicago.
From quarterbacks going No. 1 and No. 2 overall to some dramatic drops down the draft board for elite-level talents, the first round of the draft had a little bit of everything.
What were the biggest stories to come out of the first day? Is Colin Kaepernick now going to be on the San Francisco 49ers when training camp breaks? Can the Denver Broncos rely on Paxton Lynch to compete for a starting job this season? Who dropped the ball in the first round?
These are among the top-10 storylines from the first round of the 2016 NFL draft.
1. As expected, quarterbacks go No. 1 and No. 2 overall
It was just a month ago that it seemed no quarterback would sniff the top pick. That was until the Los Angeles Rams moved up to No. 1 overall and the Philadelphia Eagles gave up the farm for the second pick.
While both teams took their grand old time making their selections, quarterbacks did end up going with the top-two picks.
First, it was CAL’s Jared Goff to the Rams with the first pick. Then, 10 minutes later, the Eagles picked up small-school product Carson Wentz with the second pick.
We aren’t going to be able to grade these selections for a few more years. We can, however, grade the assets each team yielded to move up to these slots.
Los Angeles exhausted the 15th overall pick Thursday night, two second-round picks Friday a third rounder as well as a first and third rounder next year. That’s a ridiculous price to pay for a quarterback in Goff, who isn’t seen as a can’t-miss prospect.
Though, the Rams needed to do something different. They ranked dead last in the NFL in passing offense a season ago and had no one else on the roster worthy of a potential franchise tag designation.
On the other hand, Philadelphia the eighth overall picks on Thursday, a third and fourth rounder this year, a first-round pick in 2017 and a second-round pick in 2018 to move up to the second pick.
With that pick, the Eagles selected a small-school quarterback in former North Dakota State star Carson Wentz, who won’t be asked to start out of the gate. That has to be a bitter pill for fans in Philadelphia to swallow.
2. Shocking pick for the San Diego Chargers at No. 3 overall
Most of the talk leading up to the draft surrounded an offensive tackle or former Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey.
Instead, the Chargers absolutely shocked the football world by going with one of the best players from the most-talented team in college football.
That selection came in the form of defensive end Joey Bosa, who was seemingly dropping down draft boards leading up to the annual event.
While extremely talented, there is an issue regarding scheme fit here. Most scouts saw Bosa as a true defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. The Chargers are likely going to utilize him as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Similar transitions from college to the pros have not worked in the past.
The most recent being Indianapolis Colts first-round pick Bjoern Werner back in 2013. He played solely with his hands down at Florida State and was asked to move to outside linebacker in Indy. Werner was released earlier this offseason after recording 6.5 sacks in two seasons.
Bosa could bulk up some to play defensive end in San Diego’s scheme. But that’s not the type of projection pick you make in the top five. Just an odd overall decision for the Chargers.
3. The Laremy Tunsil drama
Considered by many the top overall player in the entire draft, Tunsil fell all the way to the Miami Dolphins with the No. 13 overall pick. The primary reason for this was a video leaked from his Twitter account leading up to the draft that showed the former Mississippi offensive tackle allegedly smoking marijuana out of a bong.
There are no concrete details regarding the video itself. Though, we do know that Tunsil’s agent was calling teams in the first round to “reassure them” that the video wasn’t representative of who the offensive tackle really is.
We also know that it’s being reported the video is years old. It’s a bad situation for the Mississippi product. It’s also a cautionary tale for future pro prospects: Don’t put yourself in a position to where teams are questioning you heading into the most important day of your life.
Equally as disturbing, another leaked document on Thursday claims to show Tunsil admitting to take cash from Ole Miss staffers.
All this combined together leads us to throw up some major red flags his way. It’s just the nature of the beast, especially with the criticism the NFL has received due to the conduct of some of its players.
On the field, Miami got a top-three talent. It just remains to be seen whether new-found character concerns surrounding Tunsil are real.
4. New “triplets” in Dallas
With needs at defensive end and in the secondary, there were many around the NFL who couldn’t fathom the Dallas Cowboys exhausting the fourth overall pick on a running back.
The decision might have been made when San Diego took Joey Bosa with the third pick, but it’s still surprising to see the Cowboys go with former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
This comes in the heels of Dallas signing former Washington Redskins ball carrier Alfred Morris, who put up three consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns before struggling a season ago. The working theory here was that Morris would team up with a running back in Darren McFadden who tallied over 1,400 total yards in Dallas last season.
We can question the selection all we want. And in reality, running back was not a huge need for the Cowboys.
There is, however, no reason to question Elliott’s talent. He’s a transcendent player with an ability to be an all-time great. Running behind the Cowboys offensive line, Elliott is going to be an impact player out of the gate.
He was already excited about the prospect of playing behind Dallas’ behemoth offensive line before the draft. No doubt he’s extremely pumped to have landed in such an ideal situation.
Giving Tony Romo everything he needs and more in terms of skill positions on offense, the Cowboys are all-in on a Super Bowl run. Elliott and Dez Bryant are going to form a dynamic duo in Big D.
5. Reaches on top of reaches
It started with the New York Giants exhausting a top-10 pick on a cornerback in Eli Apple that is seen by most experts as a project player. A third-year sophomore from Ohio State, Apple has the measurables to be a darn good corner in the NFL. However, he struggles with the fundamentals to cover on the outside. That’s not the type of pick you make in the top 10.
The reaches continued with the Oakland Raiders at 14th overall (read more here). There’s not a single scout out there who doesn’t like what former West Virginia safety Karl Joseph brings to the table from a hitting standpoint.
His size (5-foot-10, 210 pounds) is a concern when it comes to holding up at the NFL level. Projections had Joseph as a second or third-round pick leading up to the draft. Though, he was a late riser in the days prior to the start of the annual event on Thursday.
Continuing in the secondary, Pittsburgh nabbing Artie Burns from Miami (F) with the 25th pick made absolutely no sense. He’s a Day 2 player on pretty much all draft boards out there. With Mackensie Alexander still available, it really is hard to give Pittsburgh a pass there.
On the offensive side of the ball, there’s no logical reason why the Houston Texans should have reached for wide receiver Will Fuller from Notre Dame. A speedster in college, Fuller’s hands are a major question mark (more on that later).
Both Seattle and San Francisco will get some flack for going offensive line towards the end of the first round.
For the 49ers that involved a trade up from the top of the second round to nab former Stanford guard Joshua Garnett. While I am not a huge fan of trading up for a guard, Garnett does fill a position of need and is the best run-blocking interior lineman in the draft.
After trading down from the 26th spot to No. 31 overall, Seattle finally added a potential starting tackle in Germain Ifedi. Like Garnett, I didn’t have a first-round grade on him.
Though, Seattle did pick up an additional third rounder, giving the team more assets to work with moving forward.
We can give passes to these two NFC West rivals, but the rest of these picks were absolutely atrocious.
6. Paxton Lynch to the Denver Broncos
We can now pretty much end all that talk about Colin Kaepernick ending up in Denver. After months of trade speculation, the Broncos pulled off a deal of different variety in the first round, moving up from 31st overall to the 26th pick to select former Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch.
It’s a gutsy move for general manager John Elway and Co. It also doesn’t really give the Broncos a clear starter coming off a Super Bowl title.
The third quarterback selected on Thursday, Lynch is considered a project at this young stage in his career. Asking him to start out of the gate for the defending champs would be unrealistic.
This means that Mark Sanchez will likely be the team’s starting quarterback heading into training camp. In this, Elway and Co. were thinking more about the future than the 2016 season.
It’s that type of long-term vision that should keep this team in contention moving forward.
7. Myles Jack’s free fall
This is a really depressing story. Considered one of the top overall players in the draft, Jack wasn’t selected in Round 1.
Jack’s fall had nothing to do with the torn meniscus he suffered in his right knee with UCLA last season. Instead, it’s all about something called a “chondral defect,” which includes a loss articular cartilage in the knee.
Teams simply have no idea how long Jack’s knee is going to hold up. This forced him out of the first round completely. A dramatic fall for someone many considered to be the top athlete in the entire draft.
8. Curious decision from the Houston Texans
With Both Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell still on the board, Houston went with a receiver in Will Fuller that was given a Day 2 grade from most draft outlets out there. The worst part is that Houston traded up to land him.
The need for a speedy receiver made a ton of sense opposite DeAndre Hopkins. And in reality, Fuller brings that to the table with a 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine.
Unfortunately, the dude can’t catch worth a darn. NFL Media’s Mike Mayock even likened him to Ted Ginn during the station’s draft broadcast.
Houston was put in an unenviable position when the Cleveland Browns took Corey Coleman earlier in the first round. He was likely the team’s target. Even then, to panic and take someone of Fuller’s ilk is questionable here.
Houston’s failure was the Minnesota Vikings’ gain. They were able to add a big-bodied receiver with a huge catch radius in Laquon Treadwell. That’s going to be absolutely huge for Teddy Bridgewater moving forward. It’s something he needed big time so he could progress at a more rapid clip than we saw last season.
9. Colin Kaepernick remains in San Francisco
We have no idea whether Kaepernick will be moved between now and the end of the draft. What we do know is that the Denver Broncos are no longer in on him after they selected Paxton Lynch on Thursday night (read more here).
This severely limits Kaepernick’s options on the trade block. Sure the New York Jets could show some interest during the weekend. But that seems like a reach at this point.
Despite all the talk about the embattled quarterback being moved, it sure looks like he’s stuck in San Francisco to compete with Blaine Gabbert for the starting job.
That’s only magnified by the fact that the 49ers didn’t use either of their two first-round picks on a quarterback.
What might seem to be strange on the surface could work out best for both the team and the player. Kaepernick has always been a good fit in Chip Kelly’s offense.
He’s now likely going to be given the opportunity to win the starting job. Based on how well Kelly has done with other marginal quarterbacks in the past, this could be a tremendous thing for Kaepernick’s career.
10. Still Plenty of talent available
Every single year after the first round, we say the same thing: “How come this guy didn’t go in the first round?”
That’s taken to an entirely new level with some major talent still on the board entering Day 2.
We have already discussed Jack above. That story represents an outlier with concerns over his knee injury.
Outside of the former UCLA linebacker, there are still seven players I gave first-round grades to available heading into the second round.
It is rather shocking that a potentially dominating interior defensive lineman like Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson is still available. Likewise, it’s hard to fathom that the likes of Eli Apple, Artie Burns and William Jackson III went ahead of Mackensie Alexander.
Teams picking at the top of the second round are going to get first-round value. This means that those selections are going to be valuable in potential trade-down scenarios.