How a seasoned scout views Round 1 of the NFL Draft shaking out

In what I suppose is becoming a quasi-annual exercise, I concocted a mock draft with a highly-qualified NFL college scout, who has exhaustive first-hand knowledge with most of the top talent in this draft, and has seen pretty much all of the other names of note on tape. He's spent time with many of these kids personally, he's been on campus to talk to coaches and trainers and he's been inside draft meetings.

This is someone who has an exceedingly keen eye for talent that I have seen borne out over many years, and someone who isn't trying to steer or sway me. I come up with the skeleton of a mock draft and we go through each pick together and I end up re-shaping it as he recommends, factoring in the needs and strengths of teams and also his read on their tendencies and how their front office tends to operate.

Now, based on what I hear the rest of the week, this draft could change significantly from the one I will do on Thursday afternoon when we finally get within hours of this damn thing actually beginning. Ultimately we'll see which is more accurate. In years past, this dude has steered me pretty well.

I'll include some comments along the way. And, we are not doing trades in this draft, though I very well may project one or two in my final version. Here goes:

Round 1

1. Los Angeles Rams   

Jared Goff, QB, California: For all of the reasons you have already heard.

2. Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State: Chalk. This scout likes Wentz most of any QB in draft.

3. San Diego Chargers    

Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss: I'm hearing San Diego might prefer Ronnie Stanley and there is all kind of buzz about him going first, but this guy isn't buying it. "Tunsil is the best tackle in the draft, and they need a tackle. King Dunlap?"

4. Dallas Cowboys     

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State: Some would go Ezekiel Elliott here but not my guy. "There is no edge rusher close to this kid in this draft.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars    

Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State: "If he isn't a top corner then he's a helluva free safety."

6. Baltimore Ravens   

DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon: "He is the top player on my big board. Ozzie (Newsome) would jump at this."

7. San Francisco 49ers   

Ronnie Stanley, LT, Notre Dame: "I don't see them going QB this high."

8. Cleveland Browns

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State: "They might want to trade down again if it plays out this way, but eventually you have to actually pick players."

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers    

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida: "They were looking at Josh Norman, right?"

10. New York Giants    

Myles Jack, LB, UCLA: "The knees might scare some teams but this is a top-10 talent. I love the way this kid plays."

11. Chicago Bears    

Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville: "John Fox has to fix this defense."

12. New Orleans Saints   

Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State: I ask about the Saints taking tackle Andrus Peat a year ago with the 13th overall pick. "Peat stinks, and this kid is an All-Pro guard if you don't play him at tackle."

13. Miami Dolphins

Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia: "I think they could end up trading up for Ezekiel Elliott."

14. Oakland Raiders    

William Jackson III, CB, Houston: "This could be Eli Apple or Jackson."

15. Tennessee Titans  

Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State: "Russ Grimm (their offensive line coach) would love to get Conklin here but I think he is the second-best offensive lineman in this draft. I actually think we've got him too low."

16. Detroit Lions   

Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama: I ask about center Ryan Kelly here, who a lot of mocks have the Lions taking. I get an audible laugh back. My guy does not fancy him anywhere near here.

17. Atlanta Falcons    

Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State: "He's a leader and they need that. Coaches will tell you he was the best player on that (Ohio State) defense."

18. Indianapolis Colts   

Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana: "This is a little high for him, but I just see them taking an offensive lineman."

19. Buffalo Bills   

Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson: "Rex spends a lot of time around that Clemson program."

20. New York Jets   

Josh Docston, WR, TCU: "I think he's the first WR taken." Me: I can't help but think this is where Paxton Lynch goes.

21. Washington Redskins   

Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida: "Scot's (GM Scot McCloughan) type of player."

22. Houston Texans   

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi: "Could easily be (Will) Fuller here."

23. Minnesota Vikings    

Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame: "They need more speed."

24. Cincinnati Bengals   

Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor: "He's not a first-rounder for me, but they have a need."

25. Pittsburgh Steelers    

Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State: Full disclosure, the scout wanted Ohio State safety Vonn Bell here but I don't see the Steelers passing on this corner. Could be an OT as well.

26. Seattle Seahawks   

Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky: "They are willing to take chances on the character kids. I see them taking him over (Robert) Nkemdiche."

27. Green Bay Packers   

Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech: My guy had some conviction about this one.

28. Kansas City Chiefs   

Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State: We're playing a hunch here. Plenty of teams have a first-round grade on him.

29. Arizona Cardinals

Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State: I pretty much beg for Lynch here (I hear the Cards like him). "No way they take a QB here," I'm told. "What about Shaq Lawson?" I ask. Clearly my guy is not a fan. "Chris Jones is a man. That's a first-rounder if I've ever seen one."

30. Carolina Panthers    

Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson: After losing Josh Norman they need a CB. I could see Vonn Bell here myself, too.

31. Denver Broncos   

Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis: "He looks like (Brock) Osweiler to me." I hear Broncos are unlikely to go QB here, and I believe Lynch is gone well before this … but you'll have to wait until Thursday to find out exactly.

So there you have it.

No Shaq Lawson or Robert Nkemdiche in the first round. Of the players who didn't make it, my guy struggled in particular with Emmanuel Ogbah, who he believes should go in the first round and who we nearly had going to Seattle. Some will point to Artie Burns and Reggie Ragland not going as well, but he didn't seem to concerned about that and wasn't really feeling either one on Day 1.

Will the Chiefs take Connor Cook? (USATSI)

CBS Sports Insider

Before joining CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora was the Washington Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post for six years and served as NFL Network's insider. The Baltimore native can be seen every Sunday... Full Bio

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