Now that the 2017 draft is underway, let’s take a look back at the top players taken in the 2016 draft and grade them.
Players will be graded on two things: their stats compared to others at their position, and jersey-merchandise sales, when applicable. Plus, you’ll get some fun and interesting nuggets about each of them.
First Pick: QB Jared Goff, L.A. Rams
Goff was the first pick made by the Los Angeles Rams in 22 years. Did he live up to the expectations of being picked to play in L.A.? Absolutely not!
The former California QB only played in seven games, and his touchdown-to-interception ratio was five to seven, or about one touchdown per 0.7 interceptions. Yet between March 1, 2016, and November 30, he ranked 38th in total merchandise sales across the NFL.
His 12 turnovers amounted to three-quarters of his yards on the ground, 16. Sixteen also happens to be his jersey number, which he wears to honor his childhood football hero, Joe Montana.
Granted, he only played in seven games because the team started Case Keenum for the first nine, and head coach Jeff Fisher got fired mid-season. But in that sample size, Goff demonstrated that Josh McCown, a QB on the talentless Browns, can do better in fewer games (3 to 7), by throwing more touchdowns (6 to 5), fewer interceptions (6 to 7), and more yards (1,100 to 1,089).
Second Pick: QB Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Both the Rams and Eagles traded up and took a QB, marking the fourth time since 1967 (there still hadn’t been a man on the Moon) that teams traded up for the first two picks—and it was the first time those teams took a QB.
Wentz, who came from North Dakota State, took the league by storm, leading the Eagles to a 3–0 record to begin the year.
He threw for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns with a 62.4% completion percentage. This came against cornerbacks such as Joe Haden (Browns), Josh Norman (Redskins), and Richard Sherman (Seahawks).
Using his legs, Wentz took the rock to the house twice while facing all-around stout defenses such as the Seahawks, Bengals, and Vikings.
He was tough too, playing in Week 1 with a rib injury and not missing a game all year.
Given a few years, the man who leads jersey sales in three states should reassure Eagles fans that their team will be an annual playoff contender.
Third Pick: DE Joey Bosa, San Diego (now L.A.) Chargers
Bosa to the Chargers was a move that surprised a lot of people on draft day. Despite not playing until Week 5 due to an injury and a holdout over his contract, Bosa burst onto the scene, leading all rookies in the NFL with 10.5 sacks; which was second for a rookie in Chargers history.
With Ohio State’s Bosa, the 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year, the Chargers got a much-needed pass rusher who should continue to develop into a great asset for the future.
Fourth Pick: RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
The 2016 draft marked Jerry Jones’s 28th as an owner. Elliott was the third running back Jones had chosen in the first round.
Behind an offensive line known as The Great Wall of Dallas, Elliott ran for 1,631 yards, 15 touchdowns, and averaged 5.1 yards per rush.
The running back from America’s Team really had America’s support, selling the most jerseys in eight unique states. Between March 1, 2016, and November 30, he sold the second-most merchandise of any NFL player, trailing only Tom Brady. Elliott is the highest rookie on the list since Johnny Manziel topped it in the first business quarter of 2015.
There isn’t much to say about him because of how great a year he had.
Fifth Pick: DB Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars
Ramsey played all 16 games and led the Jaguars in snaps played (1,176) at a position where players run their butts off every snap. He had 14 passes defended, which lead all rookies. For some perspective, Richard Sherman had 13, and Malcolm Butler had 16.
The Jaguars got themselves a great defensive back: Ramsey, who played at Florida State, returned one of two interceptions for a touchdown, forced a fumble, and had 55 tackles. After one year, the ACC long jump champion’s future looks bright.
Photographs by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images (Goff); Wesley Hitt/Getty Images (Bosa)