Wait over: Laremy Tunsil falls out of top 10, but not by much
A blockbuster trade by the Tennessee Titans away from No. 1 overall prevented Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil from becoming the top pick in the 2016 draft.
A bizarre video posted from his Twitter account minutes before the start of the first round, which depicted Tunsil smoking a bong, then shoved him out of the top 10.
ESPN and the NFL Network each reported that someone hacked into his Twitter account and posted the video, which they claim was old. Reports surfaced that multiple teams removed Tunsil from their draft board completely.
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Regardless, Tunsil — at one point a potential No. 1 overall pick, whom some consider the best NFL prospect in the entire draft class — tumbled Thursday. The Dolphins selected him at No. 13 overall, making him the first of what could be three Rebels selected in the first round.
A member of the celebrated 2013 class that signified a changing tide in Oxford, Miss., Tunsil exited at 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds — a ready-made NFL offensive tackle. He started 26 of 29 games for the Rebels.
Lauded for his footwork and agility, he punctuated his final college game with a 2-yard touchdown catch in a Sugar Bowl win against Oklahoma State. He may need more strength and nastiness to handle elite NFL pass rushers, scouts say, but overall he’s considered a can’t-miss prospect.
“Extremely athletic,” an NFL personnel executive told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Good kid. About the same as Tyron Smith. He has a chance to be in a bunch of Pro Bowls.”
Said another: “He’s probably the most athletic guy that’s come out in a while.”
Before the video, the Titans would’ve had to consider taking Tunsil at No. 1 to protect the blind-side of Marcus Mariota, but instead the franchise secured a bounty by trading down so that the Los Angeles Rams could draft quarterback Jared Goff at No. 1 overall. Philadelphia then traded with Cleveland to secure the No. 2 overall pick, selecting quarterback Carson Wentz.
San Diego passed on the opportunity to select Tunsil at No. 3 overall, instead choosing to rely on King Dunlap to protect Philip Rivers — the same Dunlap who missed significant time in 2015 due to a concussion and an ankle injury. And then a number of NFL teams selected offensive tackles. Ronnie Stanley went No. 6 to the Baltimore Ravens and Jack Conklin went No. 8 to the Tennessee Titans.
So Tunsil waited until the Dolphins pounced on him at No. 13.
Tunsil did miss three games in his first two college seasons, suffering a left knee injury, a partially torn biceps, a broken leg and a dislocated ankle. But the biggest mark against him was a seven-game suspension levied by the NCAA. His stepfather brought forth accusations after an apparent physical altercation between the two men.
As the Jacksonville Times-Union wrote, the NCAA punished Tunsil “for not being forthcoming when questioned about multiple impermissible benefits (use of a car, interest-free promissory note, airline ticket, etc.).”
Teammate Robert Nkemdiche also pointed out to reporters that Tunsil was in the room when police found several marijuana cigarettes after Nkemdiche fell out of a hotel window.
It appears that Tunsil’s talent won out over any character concerns. The question now becomes whether Nkemdiche can do the same and join his former teammate in the first round. Laquon Treadwell also is projected as a first-round pick, perhaps as the first receiver taken in this draft.