Welcome to our first 2016 NFL mock draft update after the Scouting Combine and pre free agency. Well, NFL free agency might have officially begun by the time you’re reading this (Wednesday March 9th, 4 PM EST), but what follows will not take it into account. We will take NFL free agency into account in the next update.
We also did our annual stock reports in the wake of the combine. This is the link to who we’re buying (stock increased from combine). Here’s the link to who we’re selling (stock decreased from combine)
1. Tennessee, Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Tunsil is projected #1 overall in several mock drafts, and I finally committed to putting him the top spot in my 2016 NFL mock draft. Yes, he deserves the position, but a lot of mock drafting is essentially crowd-sourcing, Twittersourcing and I guess we can call it “mocksourcing” now.
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 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. The only real knock on Jared is that he needs to add muscle weight for the next level. That’s not too hard to fix.
For more on Jared Goff, click here
3. San Diego, 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.”
For more on Joey Bosa go here
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, 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. Perhaps no one had a better combine than this kid. His stock took off like a rocket ship and went to Pluto.
Go here for more on Ramsey
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. Stanley brutalizes opposing defensive lineman as well as he brutalizes the idea of “winning the press conference.”
For more on why Ronnie Stanley to the Ravens makes sense, 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 #7 is a good place to do so. I still give Lynch the edge over Wentz, even though Carson Wentz’s draft stock is like Hansel in the first Zoolander movie; “so hot right now.”
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. He had himself a phenomenal combine, further solidifying his place in the top ten.
10. New York Giants, 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 why Elliott to the Giants makes sense go here.
11. Chicago, Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Like Curtis Conway told me at the NFL Network’s NFL Draft Media luncheon in Chicago last year, “Foxy will go heavy defense, let him go heavy defense. Let him run this team.”
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. Here’s more on the Bears draft, with analysis from ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.
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 a top 5 lock before the injury, but now resides….quoting the classic ’80s comedy Fletch:
“I think we’re in a gray area now.
The teens to twenties range are now all in play for Jaylon Smith.
ESPN’s Todd McShay did a media conference call a few days ago, and you can hear that at this link. Cue up around the 21:00, 22:oo mark for the Jaylon Smith discussion.
We did a whole in-depth feature on why Jaylon Smith to the Bears could make a ton of sense. You can read that at this link.
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, 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 one of the elite corners of this class; and a slam dunk top fifteen selection.
Go here for more on Hargreaves
14. Oakland, Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
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.
Conklin is 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. Go here for more on Conklin
Other options for the Raiders could be prioritizing 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.
The Raiders could also go defensive back with this pick, and we also explored that idea in depth at this link. Check it out.
St. Louis, Los Angeles Rams, Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
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.
16. Detroit, Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
A member of ND’s “Money Team,” Fuller had a monster season. He does drop some balls 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.”
Then he went out and had a monster combine which did all the talking for him. His measurables in Indy more than make up for his small hands. With Calvin Johnson retiring, the Lions could be thinking wideout with this pick.
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.
Go here for more on Taylor Decker.
18. Indianapolis Colts, Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
There are knocks on this guy, and he didn’t have a good combine, but his stock is still pretty high. It seems a certainty that Floyd will go somewhere in the first round.
19. Buffalo, Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
With Mario Williams now gone, Buffalo will probably think defense first this draft. Ohio State Defensive Coordinator Luke Fickell, in advance of the Fiesta Bowl, said this about Darron Lee:
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.
20. NY Jets, Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabam
I could see the Jets going best defender available; at least in the front seven. And Todd Bowles loves to get aggressive on load on potential attackers.
21. Washington, A’Shawn Robinson, DT/DE, Alabama
No team could pass up a talent/youth upgrade like this on the DL. Every 2016 NFL mock draft has one guy that somehow, someway, slips through the cracks and ends up providing one team some tremendous value.
22. Houston, Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Tremendous value here, as the Texans will likely need to trade up if they want a QB. All three signal callers will be gone by this time.
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, 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.
At his combine he wowed and amazed. Of course, the off-the-field issues are very much still there, hence I mocked him to the Bengals. If there’s any team in the NFL that’s most willing to overlook character issues, it’s the Cincinnaughty Bengals. Almost every other team does too, but Cincy stands out.
25. Pittsburgh, Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
A solid nose tackle would complement well what they have going on right now at the DL in Pittsburgh; which is very solid.
26. Seattle, Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
The Seahawks could see a need developing at the position come free agency and Lawson is a guy with soaring stock right now. Watch what happens with Michael Bennett.
27. Green Bay, Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
The Pack should look to get younger/find some more depth on the edge in this draft. Ted Thompson is a value GM who often goes best player available.
28. Kansas City, Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Chiefs could lose some talent on depth at corner this free agent market, and Apple is a CB who is rising fast. He’s penciled in as the third, fourth or fifth corner on the board now with his 4.40 40-yard-dash. Time to get bullish on this Buckeye.
29. Arizona, Keanu Neal, S, Florida
As you saw from the NFC title game, the Cards need help at Safety.
New England (PICK FORFEITED)
30. Carolina, Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
The Panthers do welcome back Kelvin Benjamin, but their WRs corps is still thin and not exceptionally talented.
31. Denver, 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
This 2016 NFL mock draft is over, and it’s listed on numerous databases, including Walter Football, DC Pro Sports Report, Eat, Drink and Sleep Football
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.
He also consistently appears on numerous talk shows all across the country. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram
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