Things always get a little crazy on draft week. The smokescreens, the rumors and the trades make all mock drafts you’ve read up to this point, well, pointless.
The mystery of draft weekend is what makes up half the fun. People want to know which teams are going to be buyers and which are going to be sellers. Fans wonder if an aggressive move by their team signals an aggressive push for the playoffs. On the other hand, they can wonder if their team trading a big name means the start of a rebuild.
Whatever the case, what we do know is that 31 prospects will be selected on Day 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft, and there are sure to be more than a few surprise names announced at the podium.
So let’s try and predict a few of those surprises, shall we? Here are SEC Country’s five bold predictions for Day 1 of the draft.
Alabama will have more players drafted in the first round than Ohio State
Blasphemy, right? But when you break it down, this claim has legs. I’ve been told that Alabama LB Reggie Ragland‘s floor is 27 at Green Bay if they keep the pick. Center Ryan Kelly‘s name has been floating around the late teens-early twenties for the last month or so. Some teams believe Jarran Reed is the best anchor-like nose tackle/defensive tackle in this draft, which would solidify his first-round value. There were reports a month ago saying Derrick Henry may be the first running back taken in the draft. Though I don’t believe that, if teams are even close to that high on him, I expect him off the board in the first round. That would leave A’Shawn Robinson to be snatched up, and if he is, that would give Alabama five first-rounders.
Ohio State is sure to have defensive end Joey Bosa, offensive tackle Taylor Decker and running back Ezekiel Elliott taken in Round 1, but after that there’s not a consensus on linebacker Darron Lee or defensive backs Eli Apple and Vonn Bell. When those guys slip, Alabama will be kings of day one again.
Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell will slip out of the first round
Three months ago people were talking about Treadwell as a player the Browns could take in the top five. But after putting up less-than-expected numbers at the combine and his pro day, Treadwell’s abilities have been in question. With a wide receiver class that includes TCU’s Josh Doctson, Baylor’s Corey Coleman, Ohio State’s Mike Thomas, Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard and Notre Dame’s Will Fuller all fighting for spots in the early-to mid 20s, Treadwell will find himself as the one who slips to the second round.
Florida’s Keanu Neal will be drafted before his former teammate Vernon Hargreaves III
Neal’s draft stock is red hot right now. After a great showing at the combine, I think a lot of teams went back to his game film and saw a player they weren’t paying enough attention to. I’ve read that a handful of teams believe Neal is more than just a strong safety and can make the switch over to free safety, if needed — free safeties are the players teams want if they’re drafting a safety in Round 1. With a murky safety class behind Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey, a team in need of a safety should take a chance on Neal’s athleticism.
On the flip side, I’ve read that teams still have their concerns about Hargreaves matching up with a top-10 NFL receiver. With the right timing and team on the board, Neal will shake the commissioner’s hand before VH3.
Mississippi State’s Chris Jones will go before Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche; both will go in the top 20
We have a little two-for-one on this one. I think the Nkemdiche criticism is more of a smokescreen than we’re being led to believe. He’s had some odd off the field incidents, but he’s such a rare athlete, and he’s the kind of player who can really hurt you if you pass on him. Adding to that, Jones is the better prospect right now, and I think his draft position will reflect that. I say Jones goes in the top 15 and Nkemdiche doesn’t make it out of the top 20, despite all the negative things you’ve read about him.
Georgia LB Leonard Floyd will be the first SEC player drafted
This prediction means two things. First, it means that Floyd would be picked in front of Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Second, it means Floyd is going in the top five.
This week, there was buzz around Floyd going No. 5 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars if Jalen Ramsey and Joey Bosa are gone, and if they don’t believe Myles Jack‘s knee is worth taking a risk on that high in the draft. With Ramsey and Bosa off the board by No. 5 Floyd will be the benefactor.