2016 NFL Mock Draft Round 1
The 2016 NFL Draft is nearly here. The show gets underway Thursday at 8:00 EST. Here are my predictions on how the first round will shake out. Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Let's get to it.
1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California
The Rams are back in LA and ready to make a splash. They traded up for the number one pick and finally land their franchise quarterback. Goff put up eye-popping numbers in his last two seasons at Cal, and if he can adapt to an NFL system, the Rams offense could go from anemic to scary in the blink of an eye.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Chip Kelly is out, Doug Pederson is in for the Eagles. New regimes usually mean new quarterbacks, and the Eagles will jump at whoever is left between Goff and Wentz. Wentz may not have been a household name during the last college football season, but he certainly has an impressive track record. He helped lead North Dakota State to its fifth consecutive FCS championship in 2015. He ran a pro-style system with the Bison, helping his chance of succeeding in the NFL.
3. San Diego Chargers: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
The Chargers are in need of secondary help after losing Eric Weddle in free agency. Ramsey has the potential to be a shutdown corner at the pro level, and can also line up at safety. The only concern over him is that he did not flash consistent playmaking ability in college - he had just three career interceptions (though he did break up 22 passes in his final two seasons).
4. Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The injury plagued Cowboys managed just 31 sacks last season, tied with the Dolphins and Saints for 25th in the league. Bosa had 22 sacks at Ohio State the last two years. He excels at getting to the quarterback and is a terrific run defender. Dallas could also consider Ezekiel Elliot here, but I think they can afford to wait until later for a running back. Their offensive line is good enough for that.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Blake Bortles is looking like a franchise quarterback, and Jacksonville needs to keep him upright. Bortles was sacked 51 times in 2015, and the Jaguars' LT Kevin Beachum is coming off a torn ACL. Jacksonville would be in a good spot if Tunsil is available here. They could select him at the fifth spot, or work out a trade for a team lower down that covets Tunsil.
6. Baltimore Ravens: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
The Ravens defense got burned badly last year. They gave up 30 passing touchdowns and had just six interceptions. Buckner doesn't play defensive back, but he provides a huge presence in both pass rush and run support. And that can provide a lot of relief for an overmatched secondary.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA
The trades by the Rams and Eagles into the top two spots likely killed any chance the 49ers had of getting a new quarterback in the first round. Instead, they go after their next biggest need, outside linebacker. Jack is the best from a pure talent standpoint, but his knee injury might be scaring teams off. Still, it only takes one team to OK him, and if San Francisco is that team, I don't see him falling beyond this point.
8. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State
The Browns running attack really struggled last year, averaging under 100 yards per game and scoring just five touchdowns. Elliot is far and away the best running back in the draft. He averaged nearly seven yards a carry in his career with the Buckeyes. He's also a great receiver out of the backfield and can even line up in the slot. He'd be an ideal companion for Robert Griffin III.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Tampa Bay's starting corners, Jonathan Banks and Alterraun Verner, were burned - and benched - on a regular basis last year. They signed Brent Grimes in free agency, but they still desperately need to upgrade. Hargreaves may lack ideal size for a corner, but does possess the instincts and cover skills necessary to succeed in the NFL.
10. New York Giants: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The Giants need to upgrade at right tackle to protect Eli Manning as he enters the late stages of his career. Ronnie Stanley is the best tackle available and could very well be a steal at tenth overall. They could also opt for a defensive back or edge rusher and go after an offensive lineman in the later rounds.
11. Chicago Bears: Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia
It's been a while since the Bears defense was the force many had been accustomed to seeing. They ranked 22nd in sacks in 2015. Floyd would inject some immediate life into their pass rush. He worked more as a "real" linebacker in his final season at Georgia, adding another wrinkle to his game.
12. New Orleans Saints: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
The Saints are a tough one to figure out. A week ago I would have slotted Sheldin Rankins or Shaq Lawson here, but their recent pursuit of Josh Norman indicates they are also seeking a playmaker in the secondary. Jackson certainly fits the bill there. He recorded five interceptions and led FBS with 28 passes broken up his senior year at Houston.
13. Miami Dolphins: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Miami's biggest need is at defensive back, but there isn't one worth drafting this high. If they decide not to trade down, I can see them selecting the best pass rusher available. Lawson picked up 12.5 sacks at Clemson in 2015 and led FBS with 24.5 tackles for loss.
14. Oakland Raiders: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
The Raiders appear to be a team on the rise, as crazy as that might sound. Their most pressing need is a disruptive presence on the interior of the defensive line. Rankins is a perfect fit for them. He functions well both as a run stuffer and pass rusher.
Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
I'm inclined to believe the Titans will attempt to trade up for one of the higher ranked offensive linemen, such as Tunsil. They certainly have the ammunition to do it. If they stand pat, I expect them to take the best offensive lineman on the board. That would be Conklin in this scenario. Whichever they decide, they'll give Marcus Mariota some much needed protection.
16. Detroit Lions: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Calvin Johnson's retirement opens a void at wide receiver for Detroit. Treadwell is the consensus best receiver in the draft, so this is an ideal fit. Treadwell bounced back well from his devastating leg injury from 2014, showing no lingering effects. He may not have great breakaway speed, but he is sure handed and has good separation skills. He would be another big target for Matthew Stafford.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
The Falcons scored big with Vic Beasley in the 2015 draft, but they still need to add some speed and athleticism to their line backing corps. Lee is the perfect fit for them. He is a bit undersized, but can still defend the run well and is fast enough to provide support in coverage.
18. Indianapolis Colts: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Andrew Luck missed a huge chunk of last season, and the the results were not pretty. The Colts cannot afford to have Luck injured again. They need to shore up their offensive line to make sure that doesn't happen. Decker is the best lineman left, so he's the pick here.
19. Buffalo Bills: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Buffalo had only 21 sacks last season, very uncharacteristic for a Rex Ryan team. Upgrading their pass rush should be their top priority. Dodd may be a bit of a reach at 19 overall, but he might be worth taking the chance. He had 49 tackles and 8 sacks for Clemson in 2015, his only season as a starter.
20. New York Jets: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Lynch may be the toughest prospect to pin down in the entire draft. I'm putting him here because the Jets are in desperate need of a quarterback. Even if they re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, they would be far from secure at the position. While Lynch comes with plenty of question marks, he als offers plenty of upside.
21. Washington Redskins: Jarron Reed, DT, Alabama
Reed has the most to offer as a run stopper of any defensive lineman in the draft. He'd be a welcome addition to a Redskins defense that ranked 26th in rushing yards allowed and 31st in opponents' yards per carry (only the Saints were worse). The only downside is that Reed offers almost nothing as a pass rusher.
22. Houston Texans: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Houston has a new quarterback in Brock Osweiler. The next step is to set him up with more offensive weapons. Doctson would be an excellent compliment to DeAndre Hopkins. He was second in FBS in receiving yards per game last year. He has ideal size for a receiver, reliable hands and good speed.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
The Vikings ranked 31st in passing yards last year. Stephon Diggs led the team with only 720 yards. Needless to say, they could use another receiver to help out Teddy Bridgewater and take some pressure off Adrian Peterson. Fuller is a big play threat, averaging over 20 yards per catch last year with Notre Dame. He does have a problem with drops, though.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Three wide receivers in a row? The Bengals saw Marvin Jones and Muhammad Sanu leave in free agency, so they're definitely in the hunt for a compliment to A.J. Green. Coleman caught 74 passes for 1363 yards in his junior season at Baylor. He's gifted with blazing speed and can also help out in the return game.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Pittsburgh's secondary was shredded for over 4300 yards last season. Upgrading there is a must. Apple possesses the size and speed needed to hang with elite receivers in the league. This might be a little early for him to go, but positional value pushes him up the board.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
One of Seattle's major needs is the inside of the defensive line. Enter Andrew Billings, a big run stopper at the defensive tackle position. Billings also made big improvements as a pass rusher as a junior, recording 5.5 sacks after just 2.5 total his first two seasons.
27. Green Bay Packers: Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
Ragland is probably talented enough to go much earlier than this, but teams simply do not value inside linebackers as much as they used to. The Packers are shifting Clay Matthews back outside, so they could use someone to fill his former role. I don't imagine Ragland going later than here.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Chiefs allowed Sean Smith to walk in free agency, leaving them with little depth behind last season's breakout star Marcus Peters. Fuller could help solve that issue. He excels in press coverage and is versatile enough to play safety as well.
29. Arizona Cardinals: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
The Cardinals had only two major needs heading into the offseason. They fixed their pass rush by acquiring Chandler Jones from the Patriots. All that's left to address is the interior of their offensive line, and Kelly is their best bet in this draft class.
30. Carolina Panthers: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Defensive back was not a major need for the Panthers a week ago. And then the Josh Norman debacle happened. Now Norman is in Washington and the Panthers are down a difference maker in their secondary. Joseph played just four games for West Virginia in 2015 before going down with an ACL injury, but he did rack up 20 tackles and five picks in those games. That's the type playmaking ability the Panthers could use.
31. Denver Broncos: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Putting Cook in the first round might seem crazy, and it is. However, teams in dire need of a quarterback have a tendency to do crazy things. Denver probably doesn't want to roll into 2016 with Mark Sanchez as their starter. If they're unable to work out a trade with a team like the 49ers or Eagles, I could definitely see them doing something this ridiculous.