NFL Draft season is once again upon us. College football superstars at every level have now turned draft hopefuls, anticipating their name to be called at the end of April by one of the 32 NFL teams. From underclassmen leaving school early, to college seniors taking their skills to the next level, to small-school standouts looking to step up, this year’s draft class is talent rich, with impact players, quality starters, and intriguing developmental prospects available in every round.
This is my third consecutive year of scouting players and building mock drafts, and after a hiatus last offseason, I’m back publishing my mocks to Ringside to Sideline. This year, my personal big board is 700+ players deep, with the goal of being familiar with every player selected between rounds one through seven, and as many undrafted free agents as possible that teams sign immediately following the draft.
There will be multiple milestones on the path to the draft that will impact team needs, draft stocks and my big board, and I’ll be releasing a new mock as we reach each one. First up is the NFL Scouting Combine, which begins this week and runs through the weekend.
So, before the measurements, medicals, drills and interviews in Indianapolis commence, here is my 2016 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Pre-Combine Edition. These first-round projections are based on my impressions of team needs as of February 23 and do not reflect any potential trade scenarios. Thank you for reading and enjoy!
1) Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Tennessee’s new franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota couldn’t make it through his rookie year healthy. Tunsil is a pro-ready prospect who can help change that in Mariota’s sophomore campaign.
2) Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California
Cleveland hits the reset button at quarterback yet again, choosing Goff, the most polished, productive, and experienced passer out of the three top quarterback prospects.
3) San Diego Chargers: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
San Diego’s thin secondary gets an immediate boost with the selection of Ramsey, an elite athlete who can be a day-one starter at cornerback or safety.
4) Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Dallas can go in multiple directions here, but opt to strengthen their defensive line with Bosa, a high-motor, disruptive force with position flex.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Jacksonville adds an impact player on defense, taking the versatile run, hit and cover linebacker Jack.
6) Baltimore Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Baltimore gets a cornerstone left tackle with upside to secure the edge in the big, athletic Stanley.
7) San Francisco 49ers: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
San Francisco rolls with Colin Kaepernick in year one of the Chip Kelly era and taking Treadwell gives them a physical receiver with size and athleticism as a target and a blocker.
8) Miami Dolphins: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Miami fills a critical need at linebacker with Ragland, an instant starter who can play the run and rush the passer.
9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
Tampa Bay rolls the dice on Spence, the best pure pass rusher in the draft who comes with off-field concerns.
10) New York Giants: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
New York begins rebuilding their defensive front with Rankins, a disruptive interior presence whose draft stock is trending up.
11) Chicago Bears: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Chicago shores up their defensive line by drafting a big, dynamic player with a high ceiling in Buckner, who is a natural fit in their 3-4 scheme.
12) New Orleans Saints: A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama
New Orleans fills the first of a ton of holes on defense, taking the hulking Robinson to plug the middle.
13) Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Philadelphia’s new regime lands their franchise quarterback in Wentz, a small-school prospect with size, athleticism, arm talent and intangibles.
14) Oakland Raiders: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Oakland snatches up a sliding secondary prospect, drafting the undersized, but supremely talented Hargreaves to help improve their pass defense.
15) Los Angeles Rams: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Los Angles finds the new face of their franchise in the tall, athletic Lynch, who needs time to develop as a quarterback but has tremendous talent and potential.
16) Detroit Lions: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Detroit solves a lingering issue at tackle with the local product Conklin, who brings technique and toughness to the Lions offensive line.
17) Atlanta Falcons: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Atlanta fills a desperate need for pass rush help with Lawson, the top edge player remaining on the board.
18) Indianapolis Colts: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Indianapolis selects Elliott, the best player available, and finally puts a true feature back in the backfield with Andrew Luck after years of temporary solutions.
19) Buffalo Bills: Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama
Buffalo lands a dominant run defender and deceptively disruptive pass rusher in Reed, who is an ideal fit for the Ryan brothers’ scheme.
20) New York Jets: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
New York decides the opportunity to draft a top-5 talent is too good to pass up, as they bank on Smith returning from a knee injury at 100%.
21) Washington Redskins: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Washington reloads their defensive line, taking the big, powerful and agile Billings to wreak havoc in the trenches.
22) Houston Texans: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Houston fills a void at quarterback with Cook, a starting-caliber passer from a pro-style system.
23) Minnesota Vikings: Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State
Minnesota grabs a building block for the offensive line in Whitehair, a versatile player who can play tackle, but likely slides inside to guard.
24) Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Cincinnati adds offensive firepower in the undersized, but explosive Coleman, a playmaking receiver who complements A.J. Green perfectly.
25) Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA
Pittsburgh bolsters their defensive line with the strong, versatile Clark, who can stuff the run and take on double teams.
26) Seattle Seahawks: Taylor Decker, OL, Ohio State
Seattle upgrades their pass protection with the big, physical Decker, who can step into a starting role at tackle or guard.
27) Green Bay Packers: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Green Bay adds another weapon to the passing game with the athletic receiving tight end Henry.
28) Kansas City Chiefs: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Kansas City takes the tall, productive Doctson to pair with Jeremy Maclin for a more potent aerial attack.
29) Arizona Cardinals: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Arizona gets another versatile chess piece for their defense in the long, athletic edge rusher Floyd.
30) Carolina Panthers: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Carolina finally addresses their need at tackle for the long term, drafting Spriggs, whose strong Senior Bowl showing vaults him into the first round.
31) Denver Broncos: Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech
Denver restocks their defensive line with another Senior Bowl riser in Butler, a big, disruptive force who can play anywhere in their front.
New England Patriots forfeit their first-round selection in 2016 NFL Draft.What do you think of my mock draft selection for your team? Let me know in the comments and check back soon for my 2016 NFL Mock Draft 2.0!