The Rams kicked off the NFL Draft two weeks before it even started, trading a boatload of picks to move up to the Titans’ No. 1 spot.
It was the first — but probably not — last twist in the draft order leading up to the Bears’ No. 11 selection.
No. 1. Los Angeles Rams – QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
There were reports that the Rams traded up with their hearts set on Wentz, and then there were reports that they truly covet Cal quarterback Jared Goff. The truth is no one knows. It’s all smoke and mirrors at this point. Draft talk is full of lies.
The Rams have two weeks to decide which quarterback to take. The fates of general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher are tied to this move.
The belief here is that Wentz is taken first overall. He may be from the smaller school, but he has the intangibles and the physical makeup that will generate the buzz the Rams want in Los Angeles.
No. 2 Cleveland Browns – LB Myles Jack, UCLA
The Browns balk at taking Goff while giving quarterback Robert Griffin III, the No. 2 pick in 2011, a second chance without having to look over his shoulder. They opt for a game-changing linebacker with All-Pro potential.
No. 3 San Diego Chargers – LT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
Thanks to the Rams’ bold move, the best offensive lineman in the draft falls to the Chargers, who can’t pass him up.
No. 4 Dallas Cowboys – QB Jared Goff, Cal
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he won’t draft a QB at No. 4, which means he really wants to, right? Goff is expected to workout for the Cowboys this weekend, and Jones will apparently be present. He’ll like what he sees.
No. 5 Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
The Jaguars continue to strengthen their defensive line and add arguably the best pass rusher in the draft.
No. 6 Baltimore Ravens – CB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
The Ravens desperately need a cornerback and are able to stick to their best-player-available approach.
No. 7 San Francisco 49ers – DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon
The 49ers decide to wait at quarterback and opt for a 6-7, 290-pound freakish athlete that coach Chip Kelly knows well.
No. 8 Philadelphia Eagles – QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis
A new era in Philly means a new young quarterback to groom for coach Doug Pederson, a former QB coach and offensive coordinator.
No. 9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers — CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida
The Bucs need to build around quarterback Jameis Winston, but also need to strengthen their defense. They opt for a playmaking cornerback.
No. 10 New York Giants – LT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
The Giants spent millions and millions in free agency to improve their woeful defense. Now, it’s time to protect QB Eli Manning better.
No. 11 Chicago Bears – RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
GM Ryan Pace wants to pick the best player available. Need only sways a draft decision when grades are thisclose.
At this point in the draft, cases can be made for Alabama defensive tackles Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson, Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd or Michigan State left tackle Jack Conklin.
But Elliott could be special, and the Bears know it. Running backs coach Stan Drayton knows him well after their time together at Ohio State.
The Bears believe in second-year back Jeremy Langford, but adding Elliott to their backfield mix would make it extraordinary.
The running back position has been devalued across the league. Langford, a fourth-round pick last year, is proof that good ones can be found later in the draft.
But Fox still holds the position in fairly high regard. He also strongly believes in using multiple backs.
Don’t forget that the Bears pursued Broncos running back C.J. Anderson in free agency, too. They clearly want more in their backfield. Anderson, whom Fox coached for two years in Denver, said the Bears’ offer sheet was worth more than the one he signed with the Dolphins.
History also suggests the Bears won’t shy away from Elliott. When Fox was in Carolina, the Panthers selected running backs DeAngelo Williams (No. 27, 2006) and Jonathan Stewart (No. 13, 2008) two years apart. Both players still are in the league.