Congrats on making it. We’re just a few hours away from the first round of the draft and still, nobody knows what will happen after the first two picks. I know by now that you’re sick of reading mock drafts. Truth be told, you’re sick of reading them and I’m sick of writing them. But they bring eyeballs so live with it!
Here’s the final mock draft of 2016.
1 – Jared Goff, QB, Cal:
Les Snead and the Rams blew the entire draft open with their blockbuster trade for the number one pick. Despite reports that they have yet to decide between Carson Wentz or Jared Goff, but have a ‘clubhouse leader,’ there is simply no way they make that trade without having decided on their guy.
While Carson Wentz is an incredibly intriguing and enticing prospect, with raw tools and an outstanding leadership presence, I think the pick will be Goff.
At this stage in their developments Goff is far superior within the pocket. He manipulates the pocket to avoid pressure, stares down pressure in his face, has shown the ability to throw from any platform and is far and away the best anticipatory thrower in the class.
2 – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State:
The Eagles sold the farm to go ahead and grab Carson Wentz. In many ways it is an excellent fit. With both Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel on the books the Eagles will be able to sit Wentz and put him on a proper development plan to harness his true talent without having to throw him to the wolves if he isn’t ready.
From a conceptual standpoint Wentz is more of a down the field thrower, whereas the Eagles coach Doug Pederson runs more of a rhythm based offense. How he adjusts to Wentz will be fascinating and it is absolutely a gamble worth taking for Philadelphia.
3 – Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State:
While Laremy Tunsil remains on the board I really believe the Chargers will take Jalen Ramsey or move down. Ramsey’s ability to play multiple spots on defense at an extremely high level will give the Chargers defensive flexibility on what has been a putrid defense for over two years.
4 – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State:
Ezekiel Elliott will be difficult for the Cowboys to pass up, but the depth at running back coupled with the thin number of 4-3 defensive ends who can genuinely pressure the pocket makes Joey Bosa the obvious choice.
While at Ohio State, he was doubled (at times, tripled) on nearly every play and still consistently pressured the pocket. While Bosa is not an explosive, edge-bending, 15+ sack per year player, he wins with his violent hands and is a dominant run defender. He is the perfect fit to play outside in a four-man front on first and second downs and kick inside on third downs or in obvious passing situations.
“WHILE AT OHIO STATE, HE WAS DOUBLED (AT TIMES, TRIPLED) ON NEARLY EVERY PLAY AND STILL CONSISTENTLY PRESSURED THE POCKET”
5 – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA:
The reports coming out of Myles Jack’s medical re-checks are not good. But with that said, only the teams have the medical records and can truly answer those questions, so I’ll keep Jack Inside the top-5.
Like Ramsey, Jack offers extreme versatility and has a chance to be a position re-defining player. He can cover guys in slot, split out against tight-ends, lineup on the edge as a speed rusher, stunt inside, or lineup inside where he can shoot gaps or cover sideline to sideline. It is his elite change of direction skills and physicality that make him such an intriguing prospect, he has as many great ‘unteachables’ as any player in this class.
A trade up to #3 is also very much in play.
6 – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss:
At six the Ravens are able to grab a near carbon copy of Orlando Pace. Tunsil is a great athlete for the position, with outstanding footwork and a nasty streak.
He moves effortlessly against speed moves, can anchor against power and re-anchor against counter-moves. Of any offensive lineman I have evaluated Tunsil has the best movement skills.
7 – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon:
The 49ers go back-to-back on Oregon 5-techniques. And while Ronnie Stanley also makes a ton of sense, and a move down would also be ideal, I think Buckner would be the pick.
He is a natural 5-technique with very good length and who plays with great leverage against the run. He isn’t a natural pass-rusher but he has flashed the ability to split-double teams and create pressures, which are almost as important as sacks.
8 – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame:
After moving down from #2 and collecting a whole host of assets the Browns find themselves in a position to still land an elite player. The best move for Cleveland’s future would be to move down again. If they were sold on a quarterback they should have taken him second overall, whether that was Wentz, Paxton Lynch, Christian Hackenberg, Vernon Adams or whoever. A move down is a move towards adding building blocks and a trade back, while adding other assets, would give them a true war-chest with which to rebuild one of the most talentless rosters in the league.
As trades are not allowed in mocks (for reasons that remain unclear to me) I have the Browns grabbing the best player available.
Stanley is a twitchy athlete who plays well in space, packs a punch in the run game and needs some refinement in pass protection. He can play day-one opposite from Joe Thomas and could be the future Hall of Famers longterm replacement.
9 – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State:
Tampa stunning everyone and grabbing a player no one expects is absolutely in play. They desperately need to get after opposing quarterbacks after generating the fewest pressures of any team in 2015. While they need a pass-rusher, there isn’t a elite prospect who fits the nine-technique prototype that the Bucs need.
With that in mind it’s best for them to invest in someone to protect Jameis Winston. After grabbing Winston with the #1 overall pick last year they need to surround him with talent and protection and not repeat the mistakes of the Colts and Andrew Luck.
Jack Conklin is a road-grader in the run game, who can struggle one-on-one in space against elite speed athletes. He is a natural fit as a prototypical right tackle, but has superior foot speed to the Bucs incumbent left tackle Donovan Smith. Adding Conklin would give the Bucs bookend tackles and if you throw in Ali Marpet that would be three top picks invested in protecting their franchise player.
10 – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State:
Elliott is too talented a player to fall out of the top-ten. He is a transformative back and a top-five overall talent in this class. The recent history of taking backs in the top-ten has been placed under the microscope, but count me in the camp of going and taking one if you believe they can be great and contribute on all three downs.
Elliott is everything you could ask for in an elite running back prospect. He has the perfect blend of size, speed and power, is willing to do the ugly work between the tackles, generates yards after contact and is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He naturally finds creases and has outstanding short area quickness and foot speed, making players miss at the second level and churning out chunk play after chunk play.
For the Giants, Vernon Hargreaves also makes a ton sense. After adding Janoris Jenkins in free agency they need to pair him with a corner with great mirroring skills. That said, Elliott is the kind of back you can build your offense around and makes the job of the most important position in sports (quarterback) much easier.
11 – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia:
Floyd would be a gamble for the Bears but one that they should taking. He is less of a risk than the other top speed-rusher in the class (Noah Spence) and the worst case scenario is that he moves back to being an inside linebacker with great sideline-to-sideline range and short area quickness.
Floyd is somewhat of an enigma, but he has proven to be an exceptional athlete who has an elite first step and naturally bends the edge. At Georgia he was used in peculiar ways, consistently lining up inside and not being asked to rush the passer. Whether he can develop into an elite edge-rusher is a pure projection; he has the raw tools and has flashed the ability when he asked to. In John Fox’s three-man front, Floyd might just be the stand up edge-rusher he is looking for.
12 – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville:
The Saints need defense, defense and more defense. They finished 2015 dead last in defensive DVOA and 27th in 2014. Solid defenses build from the inside out and they have to go interior defensive line in the first round. Rankins provides more of a pass-rush than the likes of A’Shawn Robinson who may be just a two-down player at the next level. While Rankins is undersized, he has an elite first step and outstanding short area quickness for the position.
Looking at Paxton Lynch, or a quarterback for the future is a little too rich for me at twelve.
13 – Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida:
Miami’s secondary was torched last year and their response was to replace the talented Brent Grimes with the less talented and more expensive Byron Maxwell.
Vernon Hargreaves has the best movement and mirroring skills of any corner in the class. There are some durability and size concerns, and he must improve playing the run, but in a pass heavy league/division you need to find players with the foot speed, instincts and closing speed to play one-on-one all over the field.
14 – William Jackson III, CB, Houston:
Jackson is the second cornerback on my board and just a shade behind Hargreaves. He is a natural press-man corner with size and good mirroring skills. He can occasionally get caught peeking and does have mental lapses on pump-fakes and double-moves. The Raiders addressed their corner need in free agency by grabbing Sean Smith from the Chiefs, Jackson allows them to build on that and put the rookie on teams #2 or #3 receivers in his first year.
15 – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State:
The Titans move down still allows them to grab a tackle and begin to properly protect their investment in Marcus Mariota. Not landing one of Tunsil, Stanley or Conklin hurts (and they’ll likely enquire about moving back into the top-ten) but adding multiple picks is far more important.
Decker is a solid, if unspectacular player. He is a very good athlete for the positon and a natural fit in the Titans zone-attack. He is very good in the run game and projects as a longterm left tackle, but can be beaten to the edge by speed-rushers and lacks the natural knee bend to counter inside and outside moves when placed on an island against exceptional athletes.
16 – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama:
Detroit needs to add bulk inside and they go with the top interior defensive lineman available. Reed has experience in a hybrid-gap system and has shown he can two-gap and well as one-gap. He is a terrific run defender with violent hands and flashes much more as a pass-rusher than his cohort A’Shawn Robinson.
17 – Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State:
Lee is an elite athlete with great initial explosion. Last year the Falcons struggled more than any other team at hitting quarterbacks as they finished 32nd in adjusted sack rate. With Lee playing opposite Vic Beasley, they will have two elite athletes, despite needing refinement as pass-rushers, whose natural instinct is to attack the pocket.
18 – Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama:
With all the top offensive tackles off the board the Colts must decide between taking Ryan Kelly or improving their defense.
Ragland gives them a tone-setting leader on defense with outstanding sideline to sideline skills. There are questions about whether Ragland has the coverage skills to play on all three downs, but given how much the Colts defense has struggled, figuring out how to defend the first two downs has to come first.
19 – Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky:
A boom-or-bust pick for the Bills who land a potential top-ten ten talent at #19. Spence is a true speed-rusher who can play as a stood up linebacker or with his hand in the dirt. Off-the-field issues are keeping him out of the top-ten discussion, but he has the talent to be the best pure pass-rusher from the class right out of the gate.
The Bills simply don’t get to the quarterback enough and struggled with their transition from a defense featuring four-man fronts to one featuring three-man fronts. Their 2015 production collapsed from the previous few years, going from 1st in adjusted sack rate in 2014 to 31st in 2015.
20 – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis:
The Jets are making in-roads to move up in the draft and per league sources made a concerted effort to acquire the number one overall pick, including a package that featured Muhammad Wilkerson and a number of picks. The hold up, per sources, was the drop for the Titans from one to twenty, and any discussions would have needed the Titans to agree to terms on a contract with Wilkerson. I still would not dismiss the Jets moving up on draft day to go and grab Paxton Lynch if they’re sold on his longterm potential.
21 – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama:
The signing of Josh Norman alters the Redskins draft philosophy, however ‘Skins GM Scot McCloughan remains an inside-outside builder, preferring to draft big uglies over skill position talent. Alabama’s Ryan Kelly will be tough to pass up, but A’Shawn Robinson offers a big two-gapping run defender who could move to a full-time 5-technique. He has a experience playing in multiple spots across multiple fronts and brings bulk, versatility and a huge presence in the run game.
22 – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor:
I have Josh Doctson as the top wide receiver but Coleman is a better fit with Houston. Docston is a down the field, vertical threat, that the Texans already have in DeAndre Hopkins and to a lesser extent Jalen Strong. Corey Coleman brings a dynamic element to the offense and a ton of speed. His learning curve from Baylor to the NFL will be steep. At Baylor, receiver do not run a full route tree and play without a playbook. That said, Coleman’s explosion, ability to separate from press coverage, tracking skills and effort as a blocker are all elite traits.
23 – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU:
One of my favorite player/team fits in the class. Doctson is the best receiver in this class at making plays when the ball is in the air. He has sensational body control and makes all kinds of outrageous acrobatic catches. He is the perfect weapon to help Teddy Bridgewater and Norv Turner open up the Vikings offense some more.
24 – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss:
Treadwell alongside A.J. Green is a mouth-watering proposition. Treadwell’s top-end speed is a genuine concern, but opposite Green he would consistently be one-on-one where he is at his best. He dominates at the jam, is very quick in and out of his break and has exceptional hands.
25 – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia:
The Steelers must do whatever they can to get better defending the pass, whether that’s reinforcing their front-seven or working hard on their secondary. Joseph is a perfect Steeler with very good range and a unique physicality. He is a thumper in the run game, who has shown some ability to play the pass from centerfield but lacks fluidity.
26 – Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss:
I have Nkemdiche still landing in this first round because his tape vs Alabama is simply too dominant. The Seahawks are in an enviable position of being able to gamble on a boom-or-bust prospect like they did last year with Frank Clark.
Nkemdiche has an elite get-off, can lineup outside on first and second down and kick inside on third-downs like a smaller, more explosive, Michael Bennett.
I would also not be shocked if Seattle looked at Chris Jones who can lineup inside or outside.
27 – Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor:
The Packers need to add size inside, and grab a player who collapse the pocket from the interior.
Billings is an up and down player. When his motor is running hot he is unblockable and when he checks out of games he is largely ineffective. Unlike a number of this year’s extremely talented interior defensive line class, Billings can do it all. He routinely dominates double-teams in the run game and is consistently in the backfield. Against the pass, he flashes the ability to collapse the pocket and is an outstanding athlete for the position, with light feet and great short area and lateral quickness.
“WHEN HIS MOTOR IS RUNNING HOT HE IS UNBLOCKABLE AND WHEN HE CHECKS OUT OF GAMES HE IS LARGELY INEFFECTIVE”
28 – Kamalei Correa, OLB, Boise State:
The loss of Justin Houston for the season has altered the Chiefs draft plans. With Dee Ford not living up to his potential and Tamba Hali only ageing, they need to find a speed rusher who can offer some of what Houston does until his return later in the year.
Kamalei Correa is a productive pass rusher who wins with sudden quickness, first-step explosion and a high motor. He is also a very good player against the run and doesn’t take a single snap off.
KC finished 4th in adjusted sack rate in 2015, and with Houston down, Sean Smith out the door and a lack of depth they need to nail their first round pick or see a major drop off.
This is also a perfect trade back spot. The Chiefs were docked a third round pick by the league for some nonsense involving Jeremy Maclin. With multiple teams looking to get back into the first round to grab a quarterback, and with Arizona/Denver looming, they could shop this pick and re-stock their assets.
29 – Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Like many players, I can’t imagine Kelly will survive until the 29th pick, but there’s too many quality prospects to fit in. Kelly is a quality center prospect who is equally adept in pass protection as he is as a run blocker. In pass protection he has quick enough feet to stop sudden explosion, can naturally sink and has long enough arms to keep lineman off his pads. At Alabama he ran the show pre-snap and he’ll be a huge asset for whoever grabs him.
30 – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson:
At #31 Shaq Lawson has a chance to be the steal of the draft, and given the need for edge-rushers it’s likely that he’ll go before this point. Last year he led the nation in tackle for losses and has a non-stop motor. He is a disruptive penetrator against the run but needs refinement as a pass-rusher.
31 – Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State:
Chris Jones is an incredibly explosive 5-technique, who is somewhat of a project. While he has flashed the ability to split double-teams and be a consistent force in passing game, he is regularly stood up in the run game. He is a nice fit to replace Malik Jackson who lined up outside on first and second down and kicked inside on passing situations.
I have the Broncos passing up a quarterback if they stay at #31, but I wouldn’t rule them out moving up to go and get a guy.