2016 NFL Mock Draft

The NFL Draft is an opportunity for a team to completely turn its franchise around. The draft begins on Thursday, April 28 and will be hosted in Chicago. There have already been trades for the first and second picks, so fans will be excited to see what happens Thursday night. Below is my mock draft for the NFL Draft’s first round:

  1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California

The Rams traded many of their future picks in order to receive the number one overall pick from the Tennessee Titans. This means they are going to draft their franchise quarterback, however, it’s not clear who that will be. Both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz have been rumored to be the number one pick, but I think Goff is the front office’s preference. He has the arm talent and the frame to become an immediate passing threat in the NFL. Goff has the potential to throw 4,000 yards in his rookie season. Goff paired with Todd Gurley will make the Rams have one of the most talented offenses.

california-quarterback-jared-goff

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota St.

The Eagles traded picks with the Browns so that they could secure their future quarterback. They will draft whoever the Rams don’t select, which in this case is Wentz. Some believe Wentz to be the top quarterback in the draft because of his elite size and instincts. His arm isn’t as developed as Goff’s, but the style of offense he played in college is more conducive to the NFL. Wentz has the legs to move around in the pocket, but many worry about the low level of competition he played throughout college.

  1. San Diego Chargers: Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida St.

The Chargers have a golden pick. They get to select the top overall non-quarterback prospect. I wouldn’t be surprised if they trade back, but in this situation they should take Ramsey. The Florida State prospect jumps off the screen when you watch him play. He is an exciting defensive back who is super athletic. He has great instincts and uses his body well for tackling. With the loss of Eric Weddle this past offseason, the Chargers can convert Ramsey to free safety where he has the potential to flourish into a ball hawking defensive back.

  1. Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio St.

The Cowboys have stated that they are targeting pass rushers and quarterbacks with their first pick. The only two quarterbacks that are deserving of a high first round pick were taken, so that leaves the Cowboys with a pass rusher. Bosa has been dominant in his three years at Ohio State and was the leader of the 2014 BCS Champions’ defense. He has had some off the field issues, but the Cowboys historically do not worry about those as proven by their additions of Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory last season.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

The Jaguars offense improved over the course of last season, so now their attention goes towards improving the defense. The top three defensive prospects are Ramsey, Bosa, and Myles Jack. With the first two already being selected, this leaves the Jags with Myles Jack. The athletic linebacker can go sideline to sideline making tackles. He has explosive acceleration for a linebacker and could even be used as a pass rusher. His knee injury has some teams concerned, but his extreme athleticism keeps him in the top five.

  1. Baltimore Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

In recent years the Ravens’ offensive line has been extremely injury prone. One of their tackles, Eugene Monroe, has missed 15 games in the past two seasons. General manager Ozzie Newsome is a genius in every NFL draft, and Tunsil will fall in his lap. Tunsil was predicted to go first overall a couple weeks ago when the Titans had the first pick, but has now fallen to the sixth pick. Tunsil is the top offensive line prospect and could solidify the left tackle position.

  1. San Francisco 49ers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

Chip Kelly runs the show in San Francisco and that means they are picking an offensive player. The 49ers’ offensive line is weak, so Stanley makes the most sense. He’s a plug and play guy from day one, and he can play either tackle positions. The 49ers’ situation at quarterback is a bit shaky, which is why it’s a smart move building an offensive line before a franchise quarterback arrives in town.

  1. Cleveland Browns: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

The Browns may have won this draft by getting a ton of picks from the Eagles and still grabbing a top notch prospect from this draft. Buckner has all the raw abilities to be a monster in the NFL. His frame is well suited for the Browns’ 3-4 defensive scheme. Buckner will be an offensive line’s nightmare because of his extreme athleticism considering he is 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Browns traded picks again considering Ezekiel Elliot is still on the board and is a hot commodity.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

Hargreaves is one of my favorite prospects in this draft because he is a reliable corner. His instincts are great and his ball skills are superb. His movements are fluid and his football IQ is off the charts. Size and speed are the only two factors that limits Hargreaves, but his quick feet are enough to hide those faults. The Buccaneers have drafted many offensive players in the past two drafts and it is now time to improve the defense. Tampa’s pass defense was one of the worst last season, and Hargreaves will help fix that.

  1. New York Giants: Leonard Floyd, OLB/DE, Georgia

Floyd can be lined up in a variety of ways, however I see the Giants using him as a defensive end in their 4-3 scheme. Floyd has a quick first step along with powerful swim and bull rush moves. The Giants have improved their defense in free agency and will continue to do so in the first round. Jason Pierre-Paul has one year left on his contract and Floyd would be a great replacement.

  1. Chicago Bears: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio St.

With Matt Forte gone, Jeremy Langford is the starting running back for the Bears. Langford is a fine running back, but with Elliott still on the board the Bears will be tempted. I see Elliott being a star running back in the NFL for a long time. Elliott has many of the same attributes as Forte, and has the potential to be even better. Also, the Chicago Bears’ running backs coach is the same guy that recruited Elliott to the Buckeyes.

  1. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

The Saints have been known for having a terrible defense the past five years, and it is time to fix that. Rankins can be used in a variety of fashions on the defensive line. A defensive end in a 3-4 scheme or a tackle in a 4-3, Rankins has first step to be a pass rushing threat as well as a run stopper. At Louisville Rankins recorder over 25 tackles for loss in his final two seasons, along with 14 sacks.

  1. Miami Dolphins: William Jackson III, CB, Houston

The Dolphins are in desperate need of a cornerback. They have Byron Maxwell as their first option, which isn’t so good. Jackson is one of the more undervalued prospects. His technical ability isn’t very impressive, but that can only get better. At 6-foot and 4.37 40-yard dash speed, Jackson has the raw ability to become an elite corner. He is a bit over aggressive, but his ball tracking skills and recovery speed are what make him an enticing prospect.

  1. Oakland Raiders: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio St.

The Raiders signed Bruce Irvin in the offseason, which allows the Raiders to use a plethora of pass rushers. Middle linebacker is a huge need for Oakland, and Lee can fill that void. He’s not a big guy for a linebacker but has the speed to make sideline to sideline tackles and the athleticism to drop back in coverage. He is one of the top prospects on the board and fills a large need for the young Raiders.

  1. Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan St.

The Titans traded back and loaded up on draft picks for the next couple of years. Those picks will be very helpful in building a team around franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Titans need to protect Mariota, which was a large issue last season. Conklin can play a variety of positions on the line, but will most likely play right tackle. Conklin is much better at run blocking than he is pass blocking, which will bode well for the newly acquired DeMarco Murray.

  1. Detroit Lions: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

The Lions’ defense has been poor since the departure of Ndamukong Suh. The interior of the defensive line is lacking as they age. Reed is the ultimate run stuffer who has proven skills. Reed was the heart and soul of the Alabama defense that won the 2015 National Championship. He is a disruptive force in the backfield and have given nightmares to many college offenses. Reed fills a need for the Lions while being one of the better prospects on the board.

  1. Atlanta Falcons: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

Last year the Falcons picked Vic Beasley with the eighth overall pick in the draft. He was a defensive end out of Clemson. Lawson and Beasley would be reunited and that should make quarterbacks scared. Lawson gets in the backfield, leading college football with a total of 25.5 tackles for loss. He should be viewed as a top defensive end prospect, but his pass rushing skills need to develop.

  1. Indianapolis Colts: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio St.

Last season Andrew Luck got banged up and the lack of protection was a large reason why. Decker will fix that issue with his 6-foot-7 and 310-pound frame. He’s an absolute mauler in running situations and holds his own against powerful defensive ends. The Colts will be a playoff football team if Luck plays well. In order for Luck to play well, he needs to stay healthy and Decker will protect Luck.

  1. Buffalo Bills: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

The Bills run a hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme that requires a variety of positions in the front seven. Butler can either be the nose tackle or the defensive end. Even though he is 320 pounds, Butler has the quickness to get in the backfield as a pass rusher. He is one of the better run stuffers in the class and is good with one on one situations with offensive lineman. Butler has drawn comparisons to Muhammad Wilkerson, who Rex Ryan drafted in 2011.

  1. New York Jets: Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama

The Jets defense has been superb the past few seasons, but the linebacking core has been their weakest spot. Ragland is the best middle linebacker in the draft. He can make tackles in the backfield or outside the hashes. He was one of the leaders on the dominant Alabama defense the past couple of seasons. Ragland has the ability to be a top notch inside linebacker and the future leader of the Jets’ defense.

  1. Washington Redskins: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

The Redskins are taking the best player available with Treadwell. His freakishly long arms are unique and his catching ability is elite. Treadwell won’t beat a defense by going long ad burning defensive backs, but rather making important third down receptions. He was one of the most highly recruited athletes coming out of high school. He averaged more than five receptions per game in his three years at Ole Miss. Kirk Cousins will need more weapons if the Redskins want to make the playoffs again.

  1. Houston Texans: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

The Texans got Brock Osweiler in the offseason and they paid him a lot of money. The franchise is fully behind Brock so they need to provide receiving weapons other than DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller’s draft stock has risen lately because of his blistering speed. His 4.32 40-yard dash time will stretch opposing defenses and will allow Osweiler with more threats downfield. The Texans’ offense was completely revamped in the offseason, and Fuller would be a great addition.

  1. Minnesota Vikings: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

The Vikings are a young team that only needs a little push in order to make a playoff run. More weapons surrounding Teddy Bridgewater would be helpful. Doctson has the size and speed to wreck NFL cornerbacks. He is 6-foot-2 with a 41 inch vertical and has soft hands. I believe Doctson has the highest celling out of any wide receiver prospect. Diggs and Doctson would be a young receiving duo that could become dominant.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

The Bengals lost Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in the offseason, so it’s time to replace tthem. Coleman won the Biletnikoff Award last year, which goes to the best wide receiver in college football. He had 20 touchdowns in 12 games last season for Baylor. He is shifty and knows how to gain yardage after the catch. Even though he is a bit small for an elite receiver, he knows how to significantly impact a game with his solid hands and route running ability.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

The Steelers have had a bad secondary the past few seasons and that’s due to the decline of Troy Polamalu. Joseph will rejuvenate the Steelers secondary with his high energy playing style. Although he isn’t that big, Joseph is a fantastic tackler. His speed doesn’t allow receivers to beat him over the top, and he’s a downhill tackler inside the hashes. The physicality that Joseph provides will be a huge addition to the Steelers’ defense.

  1. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama

The Seahawks are in a division where defense dominates. The Cardinals, 49ers, and Rams all have top notch defenses and they are going after Russell Wilson. Kelly is a starting NFL center from day one. He is smart and understands defensive schemes. A quarterback-center bond is a necessary component to a strong football team. If Wilson and Kelly are on the same page, the Seahawks’ offense will operate smoothly.

  1. Green Bay Packers: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

The Packers lost B.J. Raji this past offseason as he takes time off from football. It was a shock to many fans and the organization, but they need to find a replacement. Robinson is a large interior defensive lineman who has pure strength. At 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, Robinson has the ability to start immediately at nose tackle in the Packers’ 3-4 scheme. At times he doesn’t give it his all, but the talent is there.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio St.

The Chiefs lost Sean Smith in free agency and now don’t have anyone besides the injury prone Phillip Gaines to line up across from stud Marcus Peters who was the Chiefs first round pick last year. Apple was an elite prospect coming out of high school, and he has lived up to the hype. Apple is all around a great corner. He’s great in run support and his instincts are stellar. I could see apple being a pro bowler in his first couple of seasons in the NFL.

  1. Arizona Cardinals: Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky

Spence is one of the biggest question marks in the NFL draft. He was the fourth overall prospect coming out of high school and committed to Ohio State. However, after two seasons in Columbus he was dismissed from the team for testing positive for ecstasy multiple times. Teams are concerned, but he’s a freak athlete. He dominated at Eastern Kentucky and Ohio State with good sack totals. This is a high risk reward pick for the Cardinals.

  1. Carolina Panthers: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio St.

Last season the Panthers were a fantastic team with their best receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, out for the season with a torn ACL. The wide receiving core was weak. The Panthers need more weapons for Cam Newton and Thomas will provide that with a down field threat. Thomas made some clutch catches for the Buckeyes in the 2014 National Championship game, and will hopefully do the same for the Panthers.

  1. Denver Broncos: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

The Broncos quarterback situation is a mess as of now. Mark Sanchez is the starter and former Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian is the backup. The defending Super Bowl champs need a better solution for the future and Lynch could be the guy. He has the frame for an elite quarterback at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds. His arm strength may be one of the best in the NFL already, but his decision-making abilities are below average. Lynch will need to significantly improve mentally to become a NFL starter.

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