11 April 2016

2016 NFL Mock Draft: 8th Edition

(USATSI)
We are now two weeks and change from the 2016 NFL Draft, so here is my latest mock.

1. Titans - Laremy Tunsil, T, Ole Miss
Tennessee Titans (1999 - Pres)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
Cleveland Browns (2003 - 2014)Even after bringing in Robert Griffin III, the Browns are in the market for that long-elusive franchise quarterback. 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 Chargers (1974 - 1987)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 Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Dallas Cowboys (1964 - Pres)Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is a vaunted defensive line coach, as we all know, and the Cowboys could certainly use some help at defensive end considering that the scumbag Greg Hardy is a free agent and Randy Gregory will be suspended for the first four games. And even with those two in the mix last season, the team only finished 25th in sacks. If Bosa is available here, he'll be the pick. He's a terrific fit for the Marinelli scheme and his ability to stuff the run and rush the passer should make any line coach blush.

5. Jaguars - Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Jacksonville Jaguars (2013 - Pres)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, despite Gus Bradley's defensive background. Therefore, they'll likely go defense again early and Jack should provide some pop to a linebacking corps that could certainly use some. Jack 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.

6. Ravens DeForest Buckner, DT/DE, Oregon
Baltimore Ravens (1999 - Pres)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
San Francisco 49ers (1996 - 2008)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 Kaepernick's status is still up in the air. 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
Philadelphia Eagles (1996 - Pres)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 - Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014 - Pres)Defensive tackle may not be the biggest need for the Buccaneers but there is a need there since they have next to nothing alongside the great Gerald McCoy. Their pass rush still leaves much to be desired so they could look to bring in a playmaker next to McCoy while also improving the pass rush by taking a guy like Rankins right here. Rankins is a similar player to McCoy in that he's not particularly huge but he is a great interior pass rusher.

10. Giants - Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
New York Giants (1961 - 1974)The Giants paid some big bucks to bring in Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins this offseason to replace Prince Amukamara and he should pair with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to form a solid combination. That said, the bench behind them is lacking and in this day and age, you can never have too many quality cornerbacks, and especially so for the league's worst pass defense. 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.

11. Bears - Ronnie Stanley, T, Notre Dame
Chicago Bears (1963 - 1998)Chicago needs to upgrade their offensive line and it should start at the tackle positions. Kyle Long, the right tackle, fits much better at guard while left tackle Charles Leno can be improved upon. Stanley fits more as a left tackle than on the right side as he isn't a mauler in the running game. However, he is terrific in pass protection and has the length and agility to excel on the left side. All of that said, his stock may slip some due to concerns about his work ethic.

12. Saints - A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
New Orleans Saints (2000 - Pres)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 force in the middle of their defensive line 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. He has the ability to play all line positions in a 3-4 defense.

13. Dolphins - Jack Conklin, G/T, Michigan State
Miami Dolphins (2013 - Pres)The Dolphins look to be in solid shape at the tackle position but they are a mess on the inside, specifically at guard. They signed Kraig Urbik but he's not much more than a depth guy. And even with their tackles, both Brandon Albert and Jermon Bushrod are on the wrong side of 30 and Albert can struggle to stay healthy. Conklin's powerful and tenacious blocking style makes him a force in the running game and a good fit either at guard or at right tackle.

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
Los Angeles Rams (1973 - 1980)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 - Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Detroit Lions (1970 - 2002)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. Reed is a stout run stuffer as he showed in Tuscaloosa and given how disappointing the Lions' run defense was this past season

17. Falcons Reggie Ragland, MLB, Alabama
Atlanta Falcons (2003 - Pres)Dan Quinn is a well-regarded defensive coach but I don't think he will be able to have big success with this personnel until they get some playmakers at linebacker. Brooks Reed is a solid player but beyond him, there's not a whole lot there even after bringing in Courtney Upshaw and Sean Witherspoon in free agency. Ragland has a lot of attributes that should make him a solid NFL pro, most importantly his excellence against the run. He may not be the most athletic linebacker but he isn't terrible in coverage and he is a sneaky pass rusher.

18. Colts Taylor Decker, T, Ohio State
Baltimore Colts (1961 - 1978)Of all the things you can criticize GM Ryan Grigson for, arguably he biggest thing is that he has consistently failed to put together a quality offensive line. That's not a good thing for any franchise but for a team that has a young franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck, who has taken a lot of hits in his career thus far and had missed games last year, that's a serious concern. Decker not only has the size you want out of your left tackle but also has solid athleticism. He is very good in the run game as well.

19. Bills - Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
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, Georgia
New York Jets (1998 - Pres)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 Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Washington Redskins (2004 - 2008)Washington surprised many this past season in winning the NFC East and advancing to the playoffs this past season but one aspect of the team that did not help the cause that much is their run defense. For the season statistically, they were 26th in yards per game and tied for 30th in yards per attempt against the run. They'll need some reinforcements on the defensive line as Terrance Knighton is now a Patriot. Clark uses his size and strength to excel in stuffing the run and he should help tie up blockers to allow the Washington linebackers space to operate and make plays.

22. Texans - Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Houston Texans (2002 - Pres)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. 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 weapon opposite DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller had himself a great combine and should he cut down on the drops, he could be a dangerous deep threat.

23. Vikings - Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Minnesota Vikings (1998 - Pres)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. I used to think that it would be a surprise for Treadwell to be available here but this seems to be more likely of a range for him that perhaps previously thought. Treadwell may not have the high-end speed but he is a natural receiver thanks to some tremendous body control. He also has the physicality to get open and should be a factor in the red zone.

24. Bengals - Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Cincinnati Bengals (2004 - Pres)Even with one of the top receivers in football in A.J. Green, the Bengals still have a need at the position. They only had him and Marvin Jones last season, and now Jones is a Detroit Lion. Even with this run of receivers in the draft, the Bengals should be in solid position to draft one considering that there are a number of guys, like Coleman, that should be available late in the first. Coleman should make an impact as a vertical threat in the NFL but there is concern about how a receiver like him will adapt to a pro scheme.

25. Steelers Mackenzie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Pittsburgh Steelers (1969 - 2001)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. The Clemson product is a terrific cover corner thanks to his man-to-man game and his athleticism. Pittsburgh had their representatives at Alexander's pro day and reportedly were impressed. Therefore, he shouldn't fall past here.

26. Seahawks - Jason Spriggs, T, Indiana
Seattle Seahawks (2002 - 2011)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.  Spriggs was voted the best offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl and his feet and athleticism could help him play either tackle spot.

27. Packers - Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Green Bay Packers (1980 - Pres)Clay Matthews is one of the most important players on the Green Bay defense and due to how bad the inside linebackers have been for them, he has had to spent much of the past two seasons out of position inside. Green Bay will go defense early and bringing in a talented inside linebacker will allow Matthews do what he does best while upgrading the defense at large. Lee has only played the position for a few years but he has got the instincts and physicality to be a big time playmaker and play on all three downs.

28. Chiefs - Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Marcus Peters was terrific as a rookie for the Chiefs last season but now as Sean Smith has signed with the Raiders, the team now has a big hole opposite him. Considering how this league has become so quarterback-driven, you need to have strong corners so look for Kansas City to draft one early. 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.

29. Cardinals - Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Arizona Cardinals (1994 - 2004)Arizona had the fifth best defense statistically this past season and it played a huge part in their run to the NFC Championship Game. But even then, they failed to adequately replace Darnell Dockett on the defensive line after releasing him a year ago. Billings is very powerful and stout at the line of attack which should help him be a force in stuffing the run despite the fact that he is a little undersized. He also has some burst to be a factor in the pass rush as well.

30. Panthers - Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
The Panthers had the sixth most sacks in the league last season but now with Charles Johnson on the decline and Jared Allen retiring, they could use somebody opposite of Kony Ealy so that their pass rush does not miss a step. Dodd did not make a big impact at Clemson until the 2015 season in which he put together 12 sacks and over 23 tackles for loss. He is probably not ready to play right away but the Panthers can afford to be patient.

31. Broncos Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Denver Broncos (1997 - Pres)Now with Brock Osweiler and Peyton Manning both gone, the Super Bowl champions now have as their quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemien. Considering how good the defense is and how bad Manning was last year, the team might be able to get by with Sanchez but I still fully expect John Elway and co. to bring in another quarterback. They're not out of the Colin Kaepernick market but if that doesn't pan out, them drafting Cook could be in play. Cook has has the ideal size and arm strength but he's an average athlete and he needs to work on his accuracy. Also, there are questions about his leadership skills.

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

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