This will be the final 2016 NFL mock draft update before the Combine commences and our mock will get a serious makeover from what transpires in Indianapolis.
The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine on-field workouts begin Friday, February 26 with the running backs, offensive linemen and kickers, and continues with the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends on Saturday, February 27, linebackers and defensive linemen on Sunday, February 28 and defensive backs on Monday, February 29.
The press conferences, on Wednesday February 24th and Thursday February 25th, will also be televised. Why anybody, other than actual scouts or agents, would actually watch this thing on television is beyond me. However, people do, in HUGE numbers!
In my humble opinion, it’s extremely dull, pointless, boring tedium, and this is coming from somebody who updates their 2016 NFL mock draft every week! Here’s more on that. Anyway, we’ll have at least one Draft stock report for you pretty much everyday this week, so enjoy that and watch this space.
1. Tennessee, Joey Bosa, DL, Ohio State
Bosa is as blue-chip a prospect as you’ll ever find. The Big Ten didn’t have anyone taken in the top ten 2008-2014. (Although they did provide the 11th overall selection both last year and in 2009). The streak ended end this April when Iowa’s Brandon Scherrf went to Washington with the fifth overall selection.
“I never really loved being in the spotlight, you know. I’ve never been that kind of person,” said Bosa ahead of the Fiesta Bowl when asked about being a proverbial rock star.
“I pretty much like sitting in my apartment, being in a dark cave alone for hours. I spend the whole day in there. I have no problem with that.”
“I have a tight circle. I’m not really letting a lot of people into my life. I just got my guys, that’s really it.”
If he’s the #1 overall pick, there will be a ton of spotlights on him; all the time.
For more on Joey Bosa go here
2. Cleveland, Jared Goff, QB, California
Ah, the Cleveland Browns. No team’s fanbase is more engaged in the NFL Draft, year round, year in, year out, then this team. The Brownies fan club love themselves a good NFL mock draft; even in August. Of course, don’t mock another OT to the Browns because they’ll let you have in the comments section and/or on Twitter.
Goff goes went slightly overlooked because people don’t stay up late to watch those Pac 12 games, and Cal has been so down for so long. There’s also worries that he’s just a product of the system.
However, Goff is a star in the making, and he’s shown a mastery for a high-powered complex offense that will make him very pro ready. Sonny Dykes’ “The System” and its up-tempo “bear raid” offense has helped Goff flourish. Jared made big strides in 2014; putting up an impressive 35-7 TD-INT ratio for the season.
For more on Jared Goff, click here
3. San Diego, Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Tunsil is projected #1 overall in several mock drafts, but I just can’t commit to putting him that high in my 2016 NFL mock draft. There’s a whole host of reasons for that. The San Diego (maybe Los Angeles) Chargers have a whole host of holes to plug.
4. Dallas, Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
An elite prospect due to his natural play-making abilities with extraordinary athleticism and instincts. Jack suffered a serious knee injury Sept. 23 but if teams are satisfied with his rehabilitation and convalescence, he’ll be fine. Your 2016 NFL mock draft won’t have to completely be re-done.
5. Jacksonville, Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
In today’s NFL, you can never have enough pass-rushers, pass-protectors or elite pass-defenders. The best of the best at those positions will always have a premium placed upon them. Hargreaves is the elite corner of this class; and a slam dunk top ten selection. Plus JAX have the added bonus of staying local.
Go here for more on Hargreaves
6. Baltimore, Ronnie Stanley, OL, Notre Dame
Stanley won’t exactly ace the interview portion of the Scouting Combine, as he’s not much of a soundbite. But this is the NFL Draft, not a talk show. And Stanley’s job is to make pancake blocks, not make good copy.
For more on Ronnie Stanley go here.
7. San Francisco, Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
It seems like they’re ready to take a new signal caller, and although this is a very weak class, spot #15 is a good place to do so.
8. Miami, DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Buckner seems to be a consensus top 10-15 pick. Dolphins need pass-rushing help, so if the shoe fits.
9. Tampa, Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Ogbah is shooting up the 2016 NFL mock draft boards so fast that he might not last this long
10. New York Giants, A’Shawn Robinson, DT/DE, Alabama
Giants could use talent/youth upgrade on the DL for sure.
11. Chicago, Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
Like Curtis Conway told me at the NFL Network’s NFL Draft Media luncheon in Chicago last year, Foxy will go defense, let him go heavy defense. Let him run this team. Hence we slot Defensive Best Player Available here. Plus the Bears desperately need to rebuild their LBs anyway. The era of Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher feels like it was 30 years ago, not 3.
“At inside linebacker in particular, it’s not great but there’s some good ones, you can get a guy like Antonio Morrison from Florida, a third or fourth round guy,” said Mel Kiper Jr.
“I’ll just throw him out there, he had the injury but came back, he is a tackling machine. Scooby Wright, how will he test out that will determine where Scooby goes. He’s intriguing.”
12. New Orleans, Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
There was a lot of talk that the Saints were going to draft Drew Brees’ successor in 2015. Those reports also indicated that it might happen in 2016 instead. Again I think they’ll pass on signal caller and go best player available. Treadwell is probably the best receiver in Ole Miss history and likely one of the best in SEC history.
13. Philadelphia, Robert Nkemdiche, DT/DE, Ole Miss
You’re just not supposed to move like Nkemdiche does when you’re his size. You just can’t. He sometimes looks super-human on film, like Jadeveon Clowney or Ndamukong Suh did when they were coming out of college. DL used to be the Lions strength, but that position deteriorated in a hurry; especially after Suh left.
14. Oakland, Leonard Floyd, OLB/DE, Georgia
The Oakland Raiders, on the heels of back to back stellar draft classes, have returned to respectability. Adding yet another elite draft class this spring would put them in postseason contention. General Manager Reggie MacKenzie is on the way towards building a winner.
Put this guy into a defense with Khalil Mack, probably the best young defender in the game today, and wow! You really have a nice foundation developing in Oakland.
Other options, outside of Floyd, could be prioritizing offensive tackle or cornerback above all else in the draft. Both tackles are unrestricted free agents, so that could be a major need area. Here’s more on that, and the Raiders draft needs in general.
St. Louis, Los Angeles, Connor Cook, QB Michigan State
With his size, arm and his ability to beat you from the pocket Cook could be a franchise level QB eventually. He didn’t look the part much in 2015, and yes putting him is indeed a reach. However, a lot of QBs end up as “reach” picks. It still seems weird to type “Los Angeles Rams” again, but here we are. Case Keenum is alright, but they need a true potential upgrade at the most important position in sports. Also, for the Rams to pay their share of that new 70 quadrillion stadium, they need to sell tickets. A splashy new QB would help.
Cook is a guy who’s truly developed and progressed through his time in East Lansing. At first, he was a game-manager relying on his defense. He finished his career as the focal point of not just the offense, but the entire team.
An elite player at a very high value position in a class that’s very much loaded. Lots of OTs in this 2016 NFL mock draft. Plus this pick works well with local appeal as East Lansing is obviously pretty close to Detroit.
Go here for more on Conklin
17. Atlanta, Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Decker is a dynamite player, great talker and a stand-up guy off the field we’re told. He also gave the most realistic and truthful soundbite you’ll ever hear from a college football player in response to a NFL mock draft.
“I think a big thing they look for is do you improve as a player year to year,” said Decker at Big Ten Media Day.
“I had a decent projection coming out of this year, but I want to improve upon it. If they sense complacency, it won’t improve my stock at all.”
He also used the word “shit” at Big Ten Media Day, which was pretty awesome.
18. Indianapolis Colts, Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Everyone was talking about Elliott, all Fiesta Bowl week long, and everyone was extolling his virtues. Urban Meyer probably said it best though in postgame:
“I think Zeke, all due respect to all the great running backs in Ohio State history, my first-round draft pick, I’d pick Zeke Elliott. What he does without the ball, his work ethic in practice, just his attitude every day, the way he shows up, bounces around with us. I love him.
“He’s as good a running back as I’ve ever been around.”
For more on Elliott, go here.
19. Buffalo, Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State
Such a weak safety class in 2015. It was truly broke, and 2014 wasn’t anything special either. Now, finally in 2016 we’ll see a legit blue-chip safety prospect for this ultra pass happy league. Ramsey is more than that. He can play corner effectively too.
Go here for more on Ramsey
20. NY Jets, Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Said Fox Sports Joel Klatt:
“the personnel matchup that has led to Arizona’s success is Scooby Wright. He is the best defensive player in America. He leads the defense in the 3-3-5 scheme that adjusts well to the spread and they tackle well in space.”
For more on Scooby go here.
21. Washington, Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Smith, the 2015 Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top collegiate LB, (only guy to win both the high school and the college version of the award) tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, and hence now sees his stock tumble. He was top 5, top 10 before the injury, but resides in the teens to twenties range now.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said on the day he declared: “I think he’s a generational player at his position. He’ll recover fine from (the injury). We saw (former Georgia and current Rams RB) Todd Gurley have an ACL and MCL (injury); obviously, it didn’t affect his status. The NFL will be lucky to get a young man like this.”
Ohio State Defensive Coordinator Luke Fickell, in advance of the Fiesta Bowl, said this about Jaylon Smith:
“The unique thing is, a lot of times what you’re looking for at linebacker is if you can find a guy that can truly be recruited as a tailback. Most of those guys that are tailbacks, they want the ball, always want to be a tailback.
“If you can ever convert some of those guys that were legitimate tailbacks to play linebacker, you’re looking at a different athlete, a different cat, guys that can do different things.”
Jaylon Smith, in high school that guy was a heck of an athlete. He was a running back. You didn’t know what he was going to play.”
Everybody raves about what kind of student of the game Smith as well. He’s an extremely smart player with a lot of instincts and acumen.
22. Houston, Christan Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Yes, we mocked Hack to his former college coach.
Welcome to “Christian Hackenberg NFL Draft Stock Column 2015,” it’s bigger and bolder than “Christian Hackenberg NFL Draft Stock Column 2014.”
For much much more on Hackenberg go here
23. Minnesota, Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
Michael Thomas has size, speed, separation, ability to win contested situations, ball skills, great at 50/50 balls, scouting buzzword XYZ, ABC, Draftnik cliche 123, insert buzzword phrase here.
Go here for more on Thomas.
24. Cincinnati, Shilique Calhoun, DE/OLB, Michigan State
Calhoun was one of only two defensive players in college football in 2013 to score three touchdowns. He’s a long athletic pass rusher, who surprised us all when he opted to go back, because he could have been in the first round mix. Like Leonard Williams, he can play either DE or DT so expect his stock to soar like Apple Corporation during the evaluative process.
Go here for more on Calhoun
25. Pittsburgh, Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
It’s always good to mock a linebacker to the Steelers, because it seems like they draft one almost every other year. You have a good chance of getting the pick right.
You take a Darron Lee, you look, he was a high school quarterback. A lot of teams in high school, if you have your best athlete, where are you going to put? You’re going to put him at quarterback so he can touch the ball every snap.
In the whole time I’ve had a lot of great linebackers, I don’t know if there’s a ton of them that can truly play tailback at the college level. Shazier may be one of them, maybe Darron. There’s a few of those guys out there. They can do that. They’re a unique breed.
26. Seattle, Vadal Alexander, OL, LSU
Alexander started out his career at right tackle in 2012. LSU made a really smart decision by moving him inside to guard for 2013 and the sophomore made huge progress in his game. He had a solid 2014, but made the correct decision to return to Baton Rouge for the 2015 season. He could have left a year early, but his extra year of school worked out well for him.
27. Green Bay, Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
The Pack should look to get younger/find some more depth on the edge in this draft.
28. Kansas City, Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
Being that this is the NFL Draft, there will be extensive scrutiny of personality and character. Being that Maliek Collins is a NU Defensive Lineman, he’ll be compared to Randy Gregory and Ndamukong Suh; at least on a superficial level.
Go here for more on Collins
29. Arizona, Sheldon Day, DL, Notre Dame
Cards could use a run-stuffer, and Day fits that mold nicely. He’s really more of a second-round grade prospect but Draft day always sees “upsets” of this sort each year. Day could end up playing his final college game in the same stadium in which he plays his NFL ball?
New England (PICK FORFEITED)
30. Carolina, Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
A member of ND’s “Money Team,” Fuller had a monster season. he does drop some here and there, and he is a bit small, but the numbers don’t lie and the speed kills. At Fiesta Bowl Media Day, Fuller said he got his NFL draft feedback , but he didn’t want to talk about it. That’s understandable. When asked if he’s happy with the feedback, Fuller said “Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe.”
31. Denver, Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Call your broker and tell him to buy as many shares of Derrick Henry NFL Draft stock. He’s a first round lock, right? After all this was the year of the running back in college football and he was the best back in the nation.
Actually, running backs are devalued these days on NFL Draft night and the Alabama Crimson Tide superstar is inspiring mixed opinions. Go here for more on the mixed opinions Henry is generating.
As the Broncos rebuild their offense around Brock Osweiler, he’ll be helped by having a strong running game, good stable of backs.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication and Bold Global.
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