Barring some unforeseen turn of events, Laremy Tunsil is probably going to be the first Ole Miss player selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft since the Chargers picked (and immediately traded) Eli Manning in 2004. Pretty much every mock draft you click on has Tunsil coming off the board to the Titans, a team that has made it clear that it's top priority is protecting Marcus Mariota.
"The quarterback is the most important position on the team, and it's imperative that you keep him upright," Tennessee GM Jon Robinson said after arriving in Indianapolis for this week's NFL Combine.
Not only would Tunsil's arrival make the Titans better on the blind side, it would allow them to move Taylor Lewan, who's struggled to live up to his No. 11 overall selection two years ago, to the right side.
"I think Taylor can play a lot of places. He's a very good football player," Mularkey said. "I can see (right tackle) if that was a scenario that came up, yes. His athletic ability allows him to do multiple things."
Tunsil can go a long way in locking down the No. 1 pick with a strong showing at the Combine. During a press conference that included him literally LOL'ing at a question about the NCAA suspension, Tunsil told reporters he plans to participate in every one of the drills, which begin Friday for O-linemen. He said he's hoping for a sub-5.0 40 and at least 25 reps on the bench.
Tunsil is one of six former Rebels in Indy this week. Fahn Cooper will go through drills with him on Friday, Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core will work out with the wideouts on Saturday and Robert Nkemdiche and C.J. Johnson will take the field with the D-linemen and linebackers on Sunday.
To get a feel for where the first-round guys are being projected, we rounded up a few of the latest and most notable mock drafts.
|Laremy Tunsil||Laquon Treadwell||Robert Nkemdiche|
|Dan Kadar (SBN)||1 - Titans||15 - Rams||21 - Washinton|
|Mel Kiper Jr. (ESPN)||1 - Titans||15 - Rams||26 - Seahawks|
|Todd McShay (ESPN)||3 - Chargers||7 - 49ers||14 - Raiders|
|Rob Rang (CBS)||1 - Titans||15 - Rams||19 - Bills|
|Dan Brugler (CBS)||1 - Titans||16 - Lions||31 - Broncos|
|Charles Davis (NFL)||1 - Titans||15 - Rams||19 - Bills|
|Lance Zierlein (NFL)||1 - Titans||23 - Vikings||19 - Bills|
|Bucky Brooks (NFL)||1 - Titans||24 - Bengals||26 - Seahawks|
|Daniel Jeremiah (NFL)||1 - Titans||19 - Bills||21 - Washington|
|Peter Schrager (FOX)||1 - Titans||23 - Vikings||2nd round|
|Walter Football||1 - Titans||15 - Rams||19 - Bills|
(CBS projects Cooper as a fourth or fifth rounder and the other two guys as undrafted.)
McShay is the only one of the 11 experts that doesn't have Tunsil in the top spot (he has the Titans picking Ohio State DE Joey Bosa).
The favorite landing place for Laquon is
St. Louis Los Angeles, where the Rams are looking for wideout talent to supplement the underwhelming duo of Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin. It'll be interesting to see how Treadwell's decision not to run the 40 in Indy impacts his draft stock. He's never been a speedster and he's been criticized for his inability to gain separation from college DBs. Treadwell is planning on running at the Ole Miss pro day on March 28, saying he's hoping for something in the 4.4 or 4.5 range.
The media's inability to peg Nkemdiche into a spot reflects the uncertainty surrounding his arrest scandal. The mocks above have him as high as No. 14 and as low as the second round. He's certain to put up monster numbers on Sunday, but the most important part of his trip to Indy will be the in-person team interviews. All he has to do to shoot himself back into the top 10 is convince one exec that his December tumble was an isolated incident (lookin' at you, Jerry Jones).