1. Los Angeles Rams – QB Dak Prescott (Mississippi State)
The Rams made a Super Bowl just three years after their original pick of Jared Goff, but Goff wasn’t the main driver of their offensive success that season, he struggled in the Super Bowl, and he hasn’t been as good since, with his offensive supporting cast declining around him. There has even been some talk that the Rams could try to move on from Goff this off-season, although the 4-year, 134 million dollar extension he signed will make him very tough to move. In this re-draft, the Rams shoot higher with Dak Prescott, who has been the best of the quarterbacks from this draft and, even with other very talented players available at other positions, Dak would likely go first if everything were done over again.
2. Philadelphia Eagles – WR Michael Thomas (Ohio State)
I think there’s a pretty significant drop off between Prescott and the other quarterbacks in this draft, so, rather than selecting Carson Wentz again or taking a shot with Jared Goff, the Eagles take one of the highly talented players at another position. The Eagles have other good options, but their desperate need for wide receiver help dates back years and when Michael Thomas is healthy he’s arguably the best in the league.
3. San Diego Chargers – DE Joey Bosa (Ohio State)
The Chargers keep their original pick Joey Bosa, who they clearly are happy with, giving him a record breaking 5-year, 135 million dollar extension last off-season. In 63 career games, Bosa has 47.5 sacks, 66 hits, and a ridiculous 15.2% pressure rate, while playing at a high level against the run, and he’s not even 26 until July. Aside from some small durability concerns (17 games missed in 5 seasons), Bosa is one of the top defensive linemen in the league.
4. Dallas Cowboys – QB Jared Goff (California)
The Cowboys originally used this pick on Ezekiel Elliott and then stole Dak Prescott in the 4th round to give them a much needed young quarterback behind Tony Romo, who never started another meaningful game for the Cowboys after 2015. Prescott goes #1 in this re-draft though, so the Cowboys will need to find a quarterback elsewhere. Goff over Elliott might be controversial, but Elliott, as good as he is, has proven why running backs are rarely worth top-5 picks and big money contracts. The Cowboys need a quarterback and need to take one here if they’re going to get one in this draft.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Carson Wentz (North Dakota State)
Wentz was a tough player to slot because he’s played at everything from an MVP level to a backup level in his short career. He won’t be nearly as sought after as he would have been a year ago, when he could have gone #1 in this re-draft, but he had always been a capable or better starter prior to 2020 and there’s plenty of time for him to bounce back. The Jaguars will certainly take that compared to their recent quarterback situation, which has seen them start quarterbacks like Blake Bortles, Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, and Mike Glennon in recent years. Jalen Ramsey was a good pick here originally, but he lasted just three and a half seasons in Jacksonville and made just one playoff appearance. Quarterbacks usually get the benefit of the doubt early in the draft. There doesn’t change in this re-draft.
6. Baltimore Ravens – OT Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame)
Ronnie Stanley went down for the season with a broken ankle this season, but the Ravens will still have no concerns about drafting Stanley 6th overall again if given the chance. A starter since his rookie season, Stanley has developed into one of the best left tackles in the league. Outside of Lamar Jackson, Stanley was arguably the Ravens’ offensive MVP in their dominant 2019 season and he was sorely missed in a comparatively disappointing 2020 season.
7. San Francisco 49ers – WR Tyreek Hill (West Alabama)
The 49ers’ original pick DeForest Buckner was not a bad pick, but the 49ers can shoot higher and fill a bigger need, as Tyreek Hill is one of the top wide receivers in the league and would have added a much needed playmaker to an offense that was devoid of them at the time of this draft. The 2016 49ers were one of the worst offenses in the league and were led in receiving yards by veteran journeyman Jeremy Kerley, who was out of the league within two seasons.
8. Tennessee Titans – RB Derrick Henry (Alabama)
I mentioned earlier that running backs are rarely worth top-5 picks and big money contracts. Derrick Henry is one exception, but he falls out of the top-5 in a talented draft class with multiple quarterback options. The Titans don’t mind, as it allows them to keep their most important offensive player, albeit with a first rounder instead of a second rounder. Henry didn’t become a feature back until his 4th season in the league, but he averaged an impressive 4.58 yards per carry on 501 carries as a rotational back in his first 3 seasons in the league and has broken out since being unleashed as a feature back, leading the league with 3,567 rushing yards for 33 touchdowns on 681 carries (5.24 YPC) over the past two seasons.
9. Chicago Bears – CB Jalen Ramsey (Florida State)
Leonard Floyd was originally the Bears’ pick here, but he never really panned out with the Bears, leading to his 5th year option being declined for 2020. In a do-over, the Bears would shoot higher and, picking in the top-10 of a talented draft class, have the opportunity to add an All-Pro caliber player. The Bears have had one of the best defenses in the league in recent years, but had a need at the cornerback position in 2016 and would have been even better in recent years with a shutdown cornerback like Ramsey opposite Kyle Fuller.
10. New York Giants – DT Chris Jones (Mississippi State)
The 2016 Giants had one of the best defenses in the league, but this team wasn’t able to sustain that long-term, in large part due to roster turnover. Johnathan Hankins left as a free agent after 2016, so Chris Jones, who has developed into one of the top interior defenders in the league since being drafted by the Chiefs in the 3rd round, is a needed addition to this team and arguably the best player available. Jones leaves something to be desired against the run, but has totalled 40.5 sacks, 62 hits, and a 12.4% pressure rate in his career, as a primarily interior defender, leading to the Chiefs giving him a 4-year, 80 million dollar extension last off-season.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Xavien Howard (Baylor)
The Buccaneers originally used this pick on cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the first of six cornerbacks drafted by this team in the first 4 rounds in 4 drafts from 2016-2019, in an attempt to fix a longstanding need at cornerback. The Buccaneers have eventually figured the position out in 2020, but they were right to address the position in 2016 and, in a redo, have the option to take a much better cornerback option than Hargreaves, who proved to be a bust. Xavien Howard has played better than his draft classmate Jalen Ramsey at times, including the 2020 season when Howard was arguably the best cornerback in the league, but his history of inconsistency and injury drop him out of the top-10 behind Ramsey.
12. New Orleans Saints – DT DeForest Buckner (Oregon)
The Saints had the worst defense in the league from 2014-2016, wasting three prime seasons from Drew Brees, and they were right to focus on that side of the ball in this draft. Sheldon Rankins, their original pick here, and 4th round pick David Onyemata both developed into talented defensive tackles for a defense that has been significantly improved in recent seasons. The Saints can’t keep both of them in this re-draft, but they can aim higher with this pick, taking DeForest Buckner, who is better than both Rankins and Onyemata and would have been a much needed difference maker for this team. Originally the 7th pick in this draft, Buckner falls out of circumstance, as he’s totaled 38 sacks, 69 hits, and a 10.0% pressure rate in 78 career games, primarily as an interior rusher, and he is equally good against the run. PFF’s 4th ranked interior defender in 2020, Buckner was a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
13. Miami Dolphins – OT Laremy Tunsil (Mississippi)
Laremy Tunsil hasn’t quite developed into a consistently top flight left tackle, but he’s good enough to be drafted again by the Dolphins with the 13th pick, who were lucky enough to be able to turn him into two first round picks, including the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, in a trade with the Texans last off-season. Tunsil has never finished higher than 18th among offensive tackles on PFF and is not worth what the Texans gave up to get him, let alone the 3-year, 66 million dollar extension he was signed to, but he’s been a consistent starter in 72 career starts, so the Dolphins could do a lot worse than taking him again.
14. Oakland Raiders – S Justin Simmons (Boston College)
The Raiders took safety Karl Joseph here originally, but he was never more than a solid starter, was benched several times, was limited to 15 games in 4 seasons, and had his 5th year option declined, leading to him settling for a one-year prove it deal with the Browns last off-season in free agency. The Raiders were right to focus on their defense, which didn’t have much besides Khalil Mack, but they definitely could have done better with the pick. In this redo, the Raiders take the same position, with Justin Simmons probably being the best available defensive player. Originally a third round pick by the Broncos, Simmons has developed into one of the best safeties in the league, finishing in the top-9 among safeties on PFF in back-to-back seasons in 2019 and 2020, setting him up to cash in as a free agent this off-season. If he had been better earlier in his career, he would have gone in the top-10 in a redo, but the Raiders will happily take him, not only upgrading their defense, but taking away a key player from a divisional rival.
15. Cleveland Browns – MLB Deion Jones (LSU)
The Browns originally drafted Corey Coleman here after trading down out of picks that became Carson Wentz and Jack Conklin, yet another of the Browns’ early round draft blunders. The Browns won 1 game between 2016 and 2017, so they really can’t go wrong with any position and Deion Jones is arguably the best player remaining on the board. The Browns used a 4th round pick in this draft on Joe Schobert, who developed into a solid starting every down linebacker and one of the bright spots on the Browns’ winless 2017 team, but they can do better with Jones, who has three top-9 finishes on PFF in the past four seasons.
16. Detroit Lions – OT Taylor Decker (Michigan)
The Lions originally took Decker here at 16 and don’t seem to have too many complaints, keeping him with a 4-year, 60 million dollar extension. Decker has made 71 starts for the Lions in 5 seasons (all on the left side) and has consistently been an average or better starter, topping out as PFF’s 12th ranked offensive tackle in 2020. He’s stabilized one of the most important positions in the game for the Lions.
17. Atlanta Falcons – DE Yannick Ngakoue (Maryland)
The Falcons seemingly have a perpetual need for pass rushers, somehow not topping 39 sacks in a season since 2004. They were especially bad in 2015, ranking dead last in the NFL with just 19 sacks, after just 22 sacks in 2014, so it’s surprising they didn’t address the position early in the 2016 draft. In this redo, they get Ngakoue who is underwhelming against the run, but has totalled 45.5 sacks, 61 hits, and a 11.6% pressure rate, while playing 78 of 80 games since the Jaguars took him in the 3rd round. He was traded a couple times this season after being franchise tagged by the Jaguars last off-season, but he could still cash in as a free agent this off-season, as an accomplished pass rusher who doesn’t even turn 26 until March.
18. Indianapolis Colts – C Ryan Kelly (Alabama)
Here is another team satisfied with their original pick, re-signing Kelly to a 4-year, 50 million dollar extension that makes him one of the highest paid centers in the league and rightfully so. As part of one of the top offensive lines in the league, Kelly has developed into one of the top centers in the league, after some injury and inconsistency earlier in his career. He’s one of the few centers worth a first round pick.
19. Buffalo Bills – WR Tyler Boyd (Pittsburgh)
Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods led the Bills in receiving in 2015, with Watkins going over 1000 yards in his 2nd season in the league, but Woods didn’t break out until leaving for the Rams, Watkins was never the same after the injuries that limited him to 8 games in 2016, and both Woods and Watkins were gone by the 2017 season, when the Bills were led by receiving by tight end Charles Clay and running back LeSean McCoy, with their top wide receiver being Deonte Thompson and his 430 receiving yards. Tyler Boyd took a couple years to develop, but he has topped 1000 yards twice in his career and would be a welcome addition to what was once a very thin Bills receiving corps.
20. New York Jets – OT Jack Conklin (Michigan State)
Right tackle was a weakness for the Jets in 2015 and then in 2016 they started 5 different tackles throughout the season. They used a 2016 3rd round pick on Brandon Shell, who developed into a capable starter after a couple seasons, but Conklin is a much more talented option and would fill a hole for the Jets immediately at right tackle. Conklin, originally drafted 8th by the Titans, has been one of the better right tackles in the league since his rookie season in 2016, earning him a 3-year, 42 million dollar deal from the Browns in free agency last off-season.
21. Houston Texans – RB Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State)
The Texans signed Lamar Miller to be their starting running back in the 2016 off-season, after ranking 28th in the league in yards per carry in 2015, but Miller was never more than a capable starter and was overmatched as a feature back with the Texans. Instead, they grab a legitimate feature back like Ezekiel Elliott, who falls because of positional value, but is still one of the top few running backs in the NFL, even after a down 2020 season. Using a top-5 pick on a running back and paying them at the top of the running back market usually isn’t a good idea, but a player like Elliott is definitely worth it in this range.
22. Washington Redskins – S Kevin Byard (Middle Tennessee State)
Back when their name was allowed, Washington had a need at safety, which they attempted to address in the 2nd round with Su’a Cravens, who never panned out. Kevin Byard, meanwhile, has developed into one of the better safeties in the league since the Titans took him in the 3rd round. Byard had a down year in 2020, but finished in the top-14 among safeties on PFF in 3 straight seasons from 2017-2019 and is a true ballhawk, with 18 interceptions over the past 4 seasons.
23. Minnesota Vikings – G Joe Thuney (NC State)
The Vikings have had concerns on their offensive line for years, particularly on the interior. Joe Thuney can legitimately play all five positions on the offensive line, but has primarily played at left guard in his career with the Patriots, where he has developed into one of the league’s best. After being franchise tagged by New England last off-season, Thuney, originally a 3rd round choice, figures to cash in somewhere this off-season, whether New England or elsewhere.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – CB William Jackson (Houston)
Injuries have been a problem for Jackson throughout his career, including a completely lost rookie season, but he’s been the Bengals’ top cornerback since he returned in his second season and has had flashes of dominance in the backend for Cincinnati. He’s one of the few bright spots for this Bengals organization and, without a clear better option, the Bengals would likely take him again in this scenario. We’ll see if they keep him, or if he wants to return, as a free agent this off-season. Regardless of where he lands, he figures to get paid near the top of the free agent cornerback market.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – OLB Matt Judon (Grand Valley State)
The Steelers kill two birds with one stone with this pick, keeping a key defender away from divisional rival Baltimore, who franchise tagged Judon last off-season, and filling a big need of their own. Before TJ Watt was added in 2017, the Steelers had a big need at the edge defender position, with James Harrison leading the position in sacks with 5 each in 2015 and 2016, despite being in his age 37 and age 38 seasons respectively. Judon’s play against the run leaves something to be desired, but his 34.5 career sacks, 69 hits, and 12.3% pressure rate have him positioned to cash in as a free agent this off-season, after being franchise tagged by the Ravens last off-season.
26. Denver Broncos – DT Kenny Clark (UCLA)
Anything would be better than the Broncos’ original pick Paxton Lynch. Quarterback was an obvious need for the Broncos then and remains one today, but there isn’t a good quarterback option. Instead, they get an upgrade over their second round pick Adam Gotsis, who was a serviceable rotational defensive lineman for this team for four seasons. Clark, meanwhile, has been an above average run stopper and pass rusher for the Packers for five seasons and has the ability to play every down in any scheme.
27. Green Bay Packers – DT DJ Reader (Georgia Tech)
The Packers miss out on their original pick Kenny Clark by one pick and they would have happily selected him again given the choice, after signing him to a 4-year, 70 million dollar extension. Instead, they replace him with DJ Reader, who is a different kind of player, but a capable replacement, albeit one who missed 11 games in 2020 due to injury. Prior to that injury, he ascended in all 4 seasons in the league, culminating with a 2019 season in which he finished as PFF’s 7th ranked interior defender, dominating against the run and adding 11 hits and a 9.9% pressure rate to his 2.5 sacks, leading to Reader getting a 4-year, 53 million dollar deal from the Bengals in free agency last off-season. A natural 3-4 nose tackle at 6-3 350 pounds, Reader would fit well with the Packers, who have run a 3-4 defense for years.
28. San Francisco 49ers – G Cody Whitehair (Kansas State)
Joshua Garnett, the 49ers’ original pick here, didn’t pan out at all, so let’s give the 49ers a better offensive lineman. Whitehair was a college tackle and has shown the versatility to play all three interior offensive line spots in the pros, so he could help the 49ers in a variety of different spots. Guard is probably his best position and it’s where the 49ers needed the most help in 2016, but Whitehair’s versatility would have allowed the 49ers to play him where they’ve needed to over the years, probably center in 2020, as that spot was the 49ers’ biggest weakness upfront this past season.
29. New England Patriots – TE Hunter Henry (Arkansas)
The Patriots lost this first round pick for Deflategate, but for the sake of this redo, they’re getting their first round pick back. Henry is a player they could have taken if they hadn’t lost the pick, as Henry ended up going just 6 picks later to the Chargers and the Patriots needed another tight end to go with Rob Gronkowski. Henry hasn’t been the most durable player in his career, missing 25 of 80 games, but he’s averaged a 57/675/6 slash line per 16 games and is a strong run blocker as well. After being franchise tagged by the Chargers last off-season, Henry figures to be paid as one of the top tight ends in the league this off-season and has been linked to the cap rich Patriots as a free agent, who have struggled to replace Gronkowski over the past two seasons.
30. Arizona Cardinals – CB James Bradberry (Samford)
The Cardinals have been searching for an upgrade opposite Patrick Peterson for years. In the 2016 draft, the Cardinals used a 3rd round pick on cornerback Brandon Williams and were hoping he would develop into an upgrade over players like Jerraud Powers and Justin Bethel, who saw significant action in 2015. Instead, Williams played just 330 career snaps and the Cardinals were forced to turn to Marcus Cooper as their primary #2 cornerback opposite Peterson in 2016. Bradberry would give them the complement to Peterson that they still lack today. He’s not a top flight cornerback, but he held his own one-on-one against some of the best wide receivers in the league in the NFC South in the first 4 seasons of his career with the Panthers, after being selected in the second round, and then had arguably the best season of his career in 2020, finishing 7th among cornerbacks on PFF in his first season with the Giants, after signing a 3-year, 43.5 million dollar deal in free agency last off-season.
31. Carolina Panthers – WR Robby Anderson (Temple)
The 2015 Panthers made the Super Bowl with tight end Greg Olsen as their leading pass catcher and Ted Ginn and Jerricho Cotchery as their leading wide receivers. They got Kelvin Benjamin back from injury in 2016, but he wasn’t with the team much longer after that and the Panthers’ receiving corps remained an issue really throughout Cam Newton’s tenure in Carolina. Things are better in 2020, in part because of the addition of Anderson as a free agent on a 2-year, 20 million dollar deal last off-season. Anderson averaged a solid 52/765/5 slash line in 4 seasons as a #2/#3 receiver with the Jets, despite consistently suspect quarterback play, before breaking out as a borderline #1 option with a 95/1096/3 slash line in his first season in Carolina. In this scenario, the Panthers add him earlier and give Newton a much needed downfield weapon.
32. Seattle Seahawks – DT David Onyemata (Manitoba)
The Seahawks still had the Legion of Boom at this time, but they needed to reload their defensive line, particularly the defensive tackle position. After using this pick on a bust Germain Ifedi, the Seahawks addressed the defensive tackle spot in the second round with Jarran Reed, who has been capable, but unspectacular and has had off-the-field issues. Onyemata isn’t a household name, despite playing for the Saints, but the former 4th round pick has developed into one of the best interior rushers in the league. In total, Onyemata has 16 sacks, 30 hits, and a 8.6% pressure rate over the past 4 seasons as a starter and he’s arguably coming off of his best season in 2020, finishing as PFF’s 9th ranked interior defender on a Saints defense that was one of the best in the league. He’s well-worth the 3-year, 26 million dollar extension he signed with the Saints and could easily sneak into the first round if this was all done over.