28 April 2016

2016 NFL Mock Draft: Final Edition

(Getty)
It is Thursday, April 27th and that means we have finally arrived. Tonight will be the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. I'll have full coverage from when the St. Louis Rams formally get on the clock but in the meantime, it is time for my final mock draft for the year.

1. Rams (from Titans) - Jared Goff, QB, California
Los Angeles Rams (2016 - Pres)Initially I was thinking that the Rams were going to be targeting Carson Wentz when they moved up to the top pick but now it seems as if Goff is their man. Considering how awful their quarterback situation is right now, the fact that Goff may be more ready to play right away does help matters. His numbers did get inflated thanks to Sonny Dykes's system but his accuracy and his release are terrific. He can pick up yards with his legs and while he doesn't have a really strong arm, his arm is good enough to make all the throws.

2. Eagles (from Browns) - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Philadelphia Eagles (1996 - Pres)The Eagles will take whichever quarterback the Rams don't take and they made this trade under the assumption that Los Angeles will take Goff. Considering that the Eagles already have Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel in the mix, they may not need Wentz to start right away which may be a good thing considering the big jump from FCS to the pros and considering Wentz isn't that experienced. For what it's worth, I think Wentz is the top QB in the draft as I think he has the arm, the accuracy and the mobility to excel.

3. Chargers Laremy Tunsil, T, Ole Miss
San Diego Chargers (1961 - 1973)One of the winners of the Rams-Titans deal could end up being the Chargers because they now have a strong chance to be able to draft the left tackle that they desperately need. After all, their pass protection is important given that Philip Rivers is not getting any younger. Tunsil has all of the tools that a franchise left tackle should have, namely the size, athleticism and footwork. I have read some concerns that he is nasty and aggressive as folks want, so there's that.

4. Cowboys Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State
There has been some rumor mongering that Ramsey could be the top pick in the draft not too long ago, and now he could fall to the fourth pick (if not further). For a Cowboys team that could use some reinforcements on the defensive end, they will have some options here but I think they will take the best defensive player in the draft. Now we're not sure whether Ramsey will be a corner or a safety at the next level, I think he should be a safety for what it's worth, but his size and his athleticism will make him a factor wherever.

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, DL, 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 Ronnie Stanley, T, Notre Dame
San Francisco 49ers (1946 - 1967)With either of the top two quarterbacks expected to be off the board by the seventh pick, and with them not looking like a fit for Paxton Lynch, San Francisco is in a bit of an interesting spot. With quarterbacks now presumably going with the top two selections, one of the top prospects is likely to slip to the seventh pick and the Niners could use another offensive tackle. 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.

8. Browns (from MIA via PHI) - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Cleveland Browns (2015 - Pres)Cleveland could go in a variety of directions with this pick, including trying to trade down once more to pick up more picks to build up a weak roster. Now with Myles Jack expected to fall out of the first round, Elliott may just be the top player available on the board and the local product would definitely fill a need as the Browns did run the ball particularly well last season. Elliott looks like a three-down back in the pros thanks to his good hands and his improving blocking skills and his size and athleticism should make him a threat in the inside and outside running game.

9. Buccaneers Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014 - Pres)
Opposing quarterbacks completed a whopping 70% of passes and had a QB rating of 116.2 against the Bucs. Therefore, the secondary could certainly use some work, both at corner and at safety. 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 - Leonard Floyd, DE/LB, Georgia
New York Giants (2000 - Pres)The Giants were trash on defensively last year as they put up one of the worst defenses in recent years and while they did spend a ton of money on guys like end Olivier Vernon, tackle Damon Harrison and corner Janoris Jenkins, they still have holes most notably at linebacker. Rumor has it that they are fond of Floyd and if Tampa Bay passes on him, he may just get taken here. Given his size and struggles against the run, he may be forced to play at linebacker instead of end but some have speculated that he could be used similar to how Anthony Barr is used in Minnesota.

11. Bears - Shaq Lawson, DE/LB, Clemson
Chicago Bears (1974 - Pres)This could end potentially being a landing spot for Myles Jack considering he's too talented of a player to fall deeper into the first round. But Lawson should be available here and he should help to improve a pass rush that was pretty mediocre last season, finishing only 22nd in the league in sacks. Lawson plays with enough energy to spare and he has a great nose for the football. He also plays well against the run and is more athletic than you might think. This Clemson Tiger should be able to play upright in a 3-4 defense and that will help further the transition to Vic Fangio's defensive scheme.

12. Saints Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
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 a guy like Rankins that is good against both the run and pass should be a big help. Rankins is not the biggest tackle in the world as he's only 6'1" and barely 300 pounds on a good day but his penetration skills will make him a fun player to watch.

13. Dolphins (from PHI) - Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Jack is the one that has helped to shake up a lot of draft boards as he is dropping at the worst possible time due to concerns about his knee, an injury to which helped to cut short his 2015 season prematurely in Westwood. Considering that he has admitted that he may need microfracture surgery at some point, a player that once looked like a top five lock now looks like somebody that may struggle to be in the top ten. However, he is too talented of a player to fall much further than this and the Dolphins reportedly have been doing their homework on him considering their need at the linebacker position.

14. Raiders - William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Oakland Raiders (1964 - 1981)Nobody could deny that the Raiders made some significant strides this past season, leading many to think that they could get over the playoff hump in 2016. However in order to take that step, they have to improve their secondary, one of the weakest ones in the NFL last season, and they could use this selection to help the cause. Jackson is not the best tackling corner I have ever seen but teams love corners of his size that can run like he can. He also has very good ball skills and he played in both press and zone coverages.

15. Titans (from Rams) - Jack Conklin, G/T, Michigan State
Tennessee Titans (1999 - Pres)One of the curiosities of the Titans' trade down to the 15th pick is what will they do with this pick. I think they could still look to take a tackle. After all as we all know, their foremost priority is protecting Marcus MAriota and they do have a hole at the right tackle spot opposite of Taylor Lewan. Fortunately for them, Conklin looks like a better fit for the right side anyways considering he is probably not quick enough for the left side. However with his power, he should be either a quality right tackle or line up inside at guard.

16. Lions Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Detroit Lions (1961 - 1969)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, he should certainly help the cause. He doesn't offer much in the passing game, however, and may be relegated to being a two-down player at the next level.

17. Falcons Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
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. 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.

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 - Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Buffalo Bills (1970 - 1973)Considering that Tyrod Taylor had himself a surprising 2015 in his first season as a starter, even somehow becoming a Pro Bowl alternate, it seems a little surprising that has been the rumors that Buffalo has been looking to take a quarterback early. That said, the contract negotiations that are still ongoing between the two parties probably doesn't help matters. As a result I think that should Lynch be available here, Buffalo won't pass on him. He is likely not ready to play right away but he has got the physical talents to excel as a starting quarterback. Lynch has impressed many with his ability to operate outside the pocket.

20. Jets Noah Spence, DE/LB, Eastern Kentucky
New York Jets (1963 - 1963)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. Considering that Spence got kicked out of the Big Ten after a couple of negative drug tests, the off-field issues will have to be monitored but there is no question that this guy has got a gift for getting to the quarterback, whether as an end or in a standing up position.

21. Washington A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Washington Redskins (1965 - 1969)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. Robinson's run stuffing abilities should replace Knighton's well and there is some hope that he could develop some pass rush action as well.

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 (1966 - 2012)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 Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Cincinnati Bengals (1997 - 2003)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 that should be available here. He will be older than your average rookie at 24 but he has terrific hands and very good body control which should help him in the red zone.

25. Steelers Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Pittsburgh Steelers (1969 - 2001)
The Steelers tied for fifth in the league against the run this season which was impressive considering that they could have gotten better performance from the nose tackle spot. Steve McLendon could have been better than he was but that's a moot point considering he signed with the Jets in free agency. Therefore, the need for a nose tackle has increased. Billings has reminded some folks of former Steelers great Casey Hampton. He is a tough guy to move at the point of the attack and he has the size to stuff rushing lanes and the athleticism to make plays.

26. Seahawks - Germain Ifedi, G/T, Texas A&M
Seattle Seahawks (2012 - Pres)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 and they also need to improve their guards as well. Ifedi probably should have spent another season at school but he has the ideal build for an offensive lineman and he is very good in the run game.

27. Packers Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
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. They would be ecstatic if Ragland fell to them. Ragland has a lot of attributes that should make him a solid NFL pro, most importantly his excellence against the run.

28. Chiefs Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Kansas City Chiefs (1972 - Pres)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 but there are concerns that he could be a penalty machine in the pros.

29. Cardinals Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech
Arizona Cardinals (2005 - Pres)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. Butler could be that replacement. It is doubtful as to whether he will make a big impact in rushing the passer but he is one of the top run stuffers in this draft. He has the versatility to play a variety of spots on the defensive line but he is a little bit raw so he may need some more polish.

30. Panthers Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Carolina Panthers (2012 - Pres)Now that Josh Norman's franchise tag was rescinded and he is now in Washington, that leaves a pretty big hole for the team to fill at the cornerback position. After all, Norman was awesome last season and played a key role in the team's 15-1 regular season and their run to Super Bowl L 50. Alexander's draft range is a little all over the place but I still think he will go in the first and he may not last much further than here. He may not have the best ball skills but he plays bigger than he is and he plays well in press coverage.

31. Broncos - Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Denver Broncos (1970 - 1992)As we all know, Peyton Manning has retired and Brock Osweiler is now in Houston. Figuring that the Broncos are not going to go with Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemien as their quarterbacks, it has been an assumption that they have yet to add another quarterback to the mix. Now that the Colin Kaepernick trade talks are "dormant" as per John Elway, I think that taking a quarterback here is very much back in play. Everybody and their crazy uncle has been going in on Cook's personality but he's got the arm to make all the throws, has some decent mobility and has plenty of experience in a pro system. His accuracy is something to keep an eye on, however.

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

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