21 March 2016

2016 NFL Mock Draft: 5th Edition

(Steve Mitchell/USATSI)
We are a little more than a month away from the 2016 NFL Draft so let's take a break from all the March Madness and divy out a mock draft. Let's take a look.

1. Titans - Laremy Tunsil, T, Ole Miss
Considering that the Titans appear to have a franchise quarterback but nothing else, it makes sense that they would take the best player on the board. Fortunately for them, Tunsil is both that and fills a need related to their quarterback. Marcus Mariota took way too many hits during his rookie season so improving the pass protection is absolutely paramount. Tunsil has the size, strength and athleticism that you want out of a franchise left tackle.

2. Browns - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
As Johnny Manziel's days in Cleveland are officially over, it looks like the Browns will be in the market for a franchise quarterback...again. Fortunately for them, there are three solid quarterback prospects in this year's draft but unfortunately for them, none of them look like can't-miss guys. While you could make cases for Jared Goff here, I think that Wentz may be the top quarterback in this draft. Wentz showed at the Senior Bowl that he has the skill-set to excel but he isn't that experienced, particularly against top-tier competition.

3. Chargers - Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State
San Diego's secondary was a mess this season and as it appears that Eric Weddle's time with the franchise is over, there is a big hole at the safety position. Ramsey played throughout the secondary at Florida State, and a little at linebacker, but his best position is probably safety. He has the physicality to be able to play in the box and the athleticism and coverage skills to makes plays in center field. His draft stock has only gone up after what was considered to be a pretty good performance at the Combine.

4. Cowboys - Myles Jack. OLB, UCLA
The Cowboys were not terrible defensively this season considering their personnel and some injury issues, but it could also be much better as well. Look for them to address the defense early and particularly so at linebacker where Sean Lee continues to have injury issues and Rolando McClain is a free agent. Jack's meniscus tear hurts his stock a little but he is an elite talent. He has the athleticism to make plays all over the field and he has the instincts to be in the right spot at the right time.

5. Jaguars - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Jacksonville showed some improvement this past season but we are still waiting for them to make that jump in the win total. One of their big problems remains their defense which was in the second half of the NFL statistically yet again. A healthy Dante Fowler wouldn't hurt but they could use another playmaker opposite him. Bosa may not be a big sack total guy in the NFL but he plays with so much power that should allow him to be a force on every snap at the next level.

6. Ravens DeForest Buckner, DT/DE, Oregon
Ozzie Newsome is famous for being a shrewd personnel exec and one of the reasons why is that he is a good drafter. He is also not afraid to take the best player available regardless of need and in that case, Buckner would apply and better yet, he would help fill a need after a declining Chris Canty was cut. Buckner, who was named the top defensive lineman in the Pac-12 for 2015, should be able to contribute all over the defensive line thanks to his size, length and strength and he should fit well in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense. 

7. 49ers - Jared Goff, QB, California
Nobody really seems to know what Chip Kelly may have in store for the quarterback position with his new team because while Colin Kaerpernick may seem like an intriguing fit for his offense, Kelly has played it coy. I think that should Goff be available at the seventh pick, the 49ers will go for the local prospect and especially so as Kaerpernick has requested a trade. Goff's solid athleticism and mobility should help him in Kelly's offense as should his awareness and his accuracy.

8. Eagles (from MIA) - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
It still is a little bit crazy that the Eagles would successfully get rid of one of their more onerous contracts, that of cornerback Byron Maxwell, and move up in the draft as a result. It's safe to say that the Dolphins got fleeced here while the Eagles could have their opportunity to draft a replacement for Maxwell, or draft a replacement for the also-traded DeMarco Murray. Elliott, after a stellar Combine performance, is going to go higher than I had previously thought but with his skill-set, it makes sense.

9. Buccaneers Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
The Buccaneers may have ranked 16th against the pass statistically in 2015 but opposing quarterbacks completed a whopping 70% of passes and had a QB rating of 116.2. Therefore, the secondary could certainly use some work, both at corner and at safety. If the Eagles do not take him at eight, Hargreaves should be ripe for the taking for Tampa Bay here. Hargreaves did have some up and down moments down the stretch of his junior season with the NFL seemingly on his mind and isn't particularly big but he does have great ball skills and the aggression you like out of your cover corners.

10. Giants Ronnie Stanley, T, Notre Dame
Even with how atrocious the Giants were defensively a year ago, statistically one of the worst ever in fact, I do think they may be hard-pressed to pass up taking a top tackle prospect like Stanley should he be available at the tenth pick. Considering that Eli Manning is only getting older and less mobile, it is paramount that they protect him well. They did draft Ereck Flowers a year ago but he may be a better fit for the right side. Stanley fits more as a left tackle than on the right side as he isn't a mauler in the running game but he is terrific in pass protection and has the length and agility to excel on the left side.

11. Bears Reggie Ragland, MLB, Alabama
Considering that they lacked much of the optimal personnel to run a 3-4, the fact that the Bears finished 14th statistically in the league may be a little impressive than one would think at first glance. Even so, look for them to add some players that better fit the scheme and especially at inside linebacker where they struggled to work with the pieces they had in that spot. Ragland is your prototpical 3-4 inside linebacker thanks to his size and his run-stopping ability. Also, he showed some nice coverage skills and athleticism at the Senior Bowl.

12. Saints - A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
New Orleans was atrocious defensively last season, only being saved from the cellar by the Giants. The Saints finished second to last against both the run and the pass so they could use more than just a little help. The team could really use a true nose tackle in their 3-4 defense and Robinson would fit that need very well. Robinson is a powerful run stuffer but he also has some agility to do more than just clogging running lanes.

13. Dolphins Mackenzie Alexander, CB, Clemson
As I stated earlier, their trade with the Eagles really doesn't make a whole lot of sense and frankly, Byron Maxwell isn't even that big of an upgrade to their cornerbacks (although a healthy Kiko Alonso could come in handy). Therefore they should look to target a corner now with the 13th pick and Alexander could be that guy. The Clemson product is a terrific cover corner thanks to his man-to-man game and his athleticism.

14. Raiders Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Imagine how good the Oakland pass rush would be if they had a dangerous threat opposite of Khalil Mack? Considering how good Mack was last season with 15 sacks, only finishing tied for 14th in sacks was a little disappointing. Given that Aldon Smith will be suspended for much of the season, the Raiders should look to take a pass rusher early on. Lawson plays with high energy and is a threat to get to the passer on every snap. There is a reason why he led the nation in tackles for loss.

15. Rams - Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Nick Foles was a fiasco last season and Case Keenum is obviously not an NFL starting quarterback. Therefore as the Rams head west to Los Angeles, they'll need a franchise quarterback and fortunately for them, they'll have the ability to take a potential one without having to reach for one. Lynch is a bit of a project and probably wouldn't be able to start from day one but he has the skill set that you want. He has the arm to make all the throws, showed some nice accuracy at Memphis and has plus athleticism.

16. Lions - Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Detroit failed to adequately replace both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley last offseason and their defense suffered as a result, most notably in the running game. Haloti Ngata was not able to help the cause so the Lions should look to take one of the well regarded inside defensive lineman. Rankins is on the rise now after a strong performance in Indianapolis at the Combine and this seems like a solid fit. He should be a pass rushing threat the next level.

17. Falcons Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
A receiver may not seem to be the biggest need for the Falcons considering they have a guy named Julio Jones but as we saw last season, they really don't have anybody dangerous opposite him. Roddy White showed down the stretch that he is essentially done and beyond that, there is nothing really there. Therefore if Treadwell falls to 17, he would make sense. Treadwell may not have the high-end speed but he is a natural receiver thanks to some tremendous body control.

18. Colts - Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
Baltimore Colts (1961 - 1978)It really is ridiculous that Ryan Grigson will stick around as the GM in Indianapolis considering the dreadful job he has done but alas, that's life. The team is a little better defensively that you'd think but it's still not very good and they could use an infusion of speed and athleticism at the linebacker positions. Lee has only played the position for a few years but he has got the instincts and physicality to be a big time playmaker.

19. Bills - Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Buffalo Bills (1974 - Pres)One of the key questions will be where Nkemdiche goes in this draft. He has the talent level to go much higher but with the very odd incident after he fell through the hotel room window a couple months back and some other character questions will likely cause his stock to slip. However, you know that somebody will take a shot on him thanks to his combination of power and agility and I could very well see Rex Ryan being that guy.

20. Jets - Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia
Even with one of the more loaded defensive fronts in football, the Jets only finished 12th in sacks this past season. That goes to show how much they could use a real pass rushing force coming off the edge, the likes of which they have not had in many years it feels like. Floyd did play both inside and outside linebacker at Georgia but he seems like a much better fit to play outside. He may not be particularly big but his speed and agility can make him very tough to block off the edge.

21. Washington - Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame
Washington Redskins (2004 - 2008)Smith is another guy that should go higher than this in the draft but thanks to a torn ACL and MCL in the Fiesta Bowl, his stock is going to dip. Injury questions aside, Smith looked like a potential three down linebacker in South Bend that could play inside or outside thanks to his instincts, his athleticism and his ability to excel in both pass coverage and run defense. Washington could use some help at the linebacker position and I could see them being willing to take the risk.

22. Texans Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
It appears that after many years looking for a real option at the quarterback position, the Texans hope that they have found their man in Brock Osweiler. Osweiler does only have seven starts but it would be a surprise if he wasn't an upgrade over the crap they have put at the position the last two seasons. The supporting cast around him is getting better after they brought in Lamar Miller but they need a receiving corps needs more opposite DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller had himself a great combine and should he improve his hands, he can become a dangerous deep threat.

23. Vikings - Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Stefan Diggs was a revelation as rookie in 2014 but beyond him, the Vikings don't have a whole lot for young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to work with as Mike Wallace failed to make much of a serious impact. It would be very surprising to see Laquon Treadwell fall to the 23rd pick but there is a solid crop of wideouts that fit the range. Doctson may need be the speediest wideout but his size, hands and leaping ability could make him a weapon.

24. Bengals Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Geno Atkins is one of the finest defensive tackles in the NFL and is one of the key pieces of the always-solid Cincinnati defense but one of the weaknesses of said defense is the other tackle position. It has been a couple years now since Domata Peko was a useful contributor and the team should look for a replacement either in the draft or via free agency. Clark uses his size and strength to excel in stuffing the run, complementing Atkins's pass rushing ability.

25. Steelers - Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
The Steelers laid claim to the third worst passing defense in the NFL this past season and they could really use some reinforcements to their secondary, especially as Brandon Boykin and William Gay are free agents this offseason. Therefore, this Ohio State corner may just be a match. Apple has the ideal size that you want out a cornerback and he is both athletic and physical. He may fit best in a press coverage scheme.

26. Seahawks - Jack Conklin, T, Michigan State
Seattle could certainly use more help along their offensive line and they have some big needs at the tackle position. Left tackle Russell Okung has a clear injury history, as he has never played a full regular season, and he is also a free agent. Right tackle Garry Gilliam simply isn't very good. Conklin may not be a good fit to play the left side of the line since he isn't particularly agile but his powerful and tenacious blocking style makes him a force in the running game and a good fit for the right side.

27. Packers Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
The defense for the Packers was a disappointment last season and thus I would be surprised if they didn't go defense with this first pick, unless they're working on a thin receiving corps. After a resurgent 2014, B.J. Raji took a step backward in 2015 and given his inconsistent performance and past injury issues, it would not be surprising if he were not brought back. Reed is a stout run stuffer as he showed in Tuscaloosa and he showed some pass rush ability back at the Senior Bowl. 

28. Chiefs - Taylor Decker, T, Ohio State
Kansas City Chiefs (1972 - Pres)Eric Fisher is still only 25 years old but he has yet to show that he was a worthy top overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft with his play on the left side. Perhaps he could be a better fit on the right side but either way, look for the Chiefs to take a tackle early in this draft. Decker not has the size you want out of your left tackle but also has the needed athleticism. He could take the blind side or he could play on the right side depending on what they'd want to do with Fisher.

29. Cardinals - Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky
Including under the last season of Todd Bowles serving as defensive coordinator in 2014, the Cardinals have been one of the weaker teams in terms of sacking opposing quarterbacks. I don't blame the scheme but I blame the fact that team has struggled to find that dominant pass rusher that opposing teams have to gameplan for. I think that Spence could be that guy for them. Spence was dominant at the Senior and while he does have some character questions, he is an excellent fit for the 3-4 defense of the Cardinals and his speed makes him truly a weapon coming off the edge.

30. Panthers - Jason Spriggs, T, Indiana
We thought that the Panthers' offensive line was going to be a mess going into last season but ultimately, it didn't become much of a hindrance as they went 15-1. However, it did come back to bite them big time in the Super Bowl as Cam Newton got mauled by the pass rush of the Broncos. Neither Michael Oher nor Mike Remmers are ideal options for either position so the team could look to take a tackle here. Spriggs was voted the best offensive lineman in Mobile and his feet and athleticism could help him play either tackle spot.

31. Broncos - Adolphus Washington, DL, Ohio State
As expected after forking out some paper to retain Derek Wolfe, they were unable to re-sign fellow defensive lineman Malik Jackson, who promptly cashed in with the Jaguars. Therefore, I think they'll be on the hunt for a replacement come draft night and Washington would make sense. He has some really nice interior pass rushing skills and does a nice job of getting off blocks. The one concern with him will be if he can stay out of trouble off the field.

For more mocks, check out the database at Walter Football.

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