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.
So, in the wake of the NFL Scouting Combine and the initial flurry of activity in free agency, here is my 2016 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: New League Year Edition. These first-round projections are based on my impressions of team needs as of March 9 and do not reflect any potential draft-day trade scenarios. Thank you for reading and enjoy!
1) Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Beyond protecting face-of-the-franchise Marcus Mariota, Tennessee’s trade with Philadelphia to acquire DeMarco Murray makes upgrading the offensive line even more of a priority. Tunsil can be a difference-maker in run blocking and pass protection for the Titans offense.
Mock 1.0 selection: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
2) Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California
Cleveland’s choice of quarterbacks has seemingly come down to a decision between front-runner Jared Goff and the surging Carson Wentz, whose meteoric rise during draft season has placed him squarely in the conversation at 2. But, the Browns tab Goff as their quarterback of the future.
Mock 1.0 selection: Jared Goff, QB, California
3) San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
San Diego desperately needs front-line help on defense and the buzz about Buckner is growing as the draft process moves forward. The Chargers buy in, making the big, dynamic pass rusher the first defender off the board.
Mock 1.0 selection: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
4) Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
With an array of elite talent available to them at 4, Dallas takes the consensus top running back in this year’s class, whose draft stock has skyrocketed in recent weeks. Elliott is an all-around talent who can make an immediate impact for the Cowboys offense and defense—keeping them off the field and fresh.
Mock 1.0 selection: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
5) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Jacksonville’s defensive overhaul continues with the versatile ballhawk Ramsey, a playmaker in the mold of Gus Bradley’s former secondary stable, Seattle’s Legion of Boom.
Mock 1.0 selection: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
6) Baltimore Ravens: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Baltimore needs to usher in a new generation of pass rushers and tends to prefer bigger bodies on the edge. Bosa is a talented, versatile front-line defender who can play with his hand on the ground or standing up.
Mock 1.0 selection: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
7) San Francisco 49ers: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
San Francisco looks to rebuild their defense to its former glory by drafting Jack, a freak athlete with the potential to be the next All-Pro-caliber linebacker to wear the red and gold.
Mock 1.0 selection: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
8) Philadelphia Eagles: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Philadelphia swaps first-round positioning with Miami as part of the Kiko Alonso-Byron Maxwell trade, and after seemingly addressing the quarterback position by signing Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, the Eagles opt for the big, physical receiver Treadwell to round out their receiving corps.
Mock 1.0 selection: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Hargreaves re-established himself as a top-10 caliber prospect with a favorable weigh-in and impressive showing in drills at the NFL Scouting Combine, making him the pick at 9 for a Tampa Bay team in need of secondary help.
Mock 1.0 selection: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
10) New York Giants: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
With New York shoring up their defensive line and secondary in free agency with high-profile signings, they address their need a linebacker in the draft with a day-one starter in Ragland.
Mock 1.0 selection: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
11) Chicago Bears: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Chicago registers arguably the first surprise in the draft at 11, selecting quarterback Carson Wentz, an intriguing prospect with experience in NFC North-style weather conditions, to be the eventual successor to Jay Cutler.
Mock 1.0 selection: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
12) New Orleans Saints: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Darron Lee is shooting up draft boards after an outstanding showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. With elite athleticism and speed to burn, Lee gives New Orleans a sideline-to-sideline, second-level defender who can also drop into coverage.
Mock 1.0 selection: A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama
13) Miami Dolphins: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Miami adds another talented pass rusher with upside to their revamped defense, welcoming Shaq Lawson to their defensive line rotation.
Mock 1.0 selection: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
14) Oakland Raiders: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Conklin is a tough, tenacious lineman who’s worked himself into the conversation to be the second offensive tackle taken off the board. The Raiders are the team to make that happen.
Mock 1.0 selection: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
15) Los Angeles Rams: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Los Angeles needs to address the quarterback position for the future. Despite a public vote of confidence, Case Keenum isn’t the answer long-term, and Lynch looks to have a high ceiling.
Mock 1.0 selection: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
16) Detroit Lions: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Following an uninspiring NFL Scouting Combine outing, opinions of Stanley have become more varied. But, his measurables and physical ability are appealing, especially to a tackle-targeting team like the Lions, who would be more than happy to stop his slide at 16.
Mock 1.0 selection: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
17) Atlanta Falcons: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
With Dan Quinn’s defense in the market for a disruptive interior pass rusher and run stuffer, the rising Rankins presents a tremendous value at 17 for Atlanta.
Mock 1.0 selection: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
18) Indianapolis Colts: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
With each of their division rivals making upgrades to their ground game, Indianapolis looks to improve their rushing defense with Robinson, who’s versatile enough to anchor the Colts defensive line at nose tackle or line up as a 5-technique defensive end.
Mock 1.0 selection: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
19) Buffalo Bills: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
The top-10 buzz around Noah Spence has cooled off considerably, but he’s still a dynamic pass rush specialist with tremendous upside, and his baggage won’t dissuade the Ryan brothers from taking him off the board top-20.
Mock 1.0 selection: Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama
20) New York Jets: Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama
A plug-and-play run defender and underrated pass rusher, Reed fills the void in the Jets defensive line created by Damon Harrison’s departure in free agency.
Mock 1.0 selection: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
21) Washington Redskins: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Following the blueprint that’s proved effective for division rival Dallas, the Redskins opt for a first-round offensive lineman in back-to-back drafts, selecting the top center prospect in Kelly.
Mock 1.0 selection: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
22) Houston Texans: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Addressing their glaring need at quarterback by signing Brock Osweiler away from the Broncos, the Texans turn their attention to defense with Billings, who moves extremely well for his size and, lining up next to perennial All-Pro J.J. Watt, creates match-up problems for opposing offenses.
Mock 1.0 selection: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
23) Minnesota Vikings: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Josh Doctson solidified his first-round status with a dazzling performance at the NFL Scouting Combine and goes off the board at 23 to Minnesota, giving Teddy Bridgewater another weapon opposite the emerging Stefon Diggs.
Mock 1.0 selection: Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State
24) Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Losing Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones in free agency, Cincinnati reloads their receiving corps by drafting an explosive playmaker in Coleman.
Mock 1.0 selection: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
25) Pittsburgh Steelers: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Jackson’s eye-opening NFL Scouting Combine performance has elevated him into first-round consideration, and he comes off the board at 25, swooped up by a Pittsburgh team in need of upgrades in the secondary.
Mock 1.0 selection: Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA
26) Seattle Seahawks: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Seattle’s vaunted defense has taken multiple hits in free agency in recent years and with the departure of speed rusher Bruce Irvin this offseason, Floyd comes into play at 26 for the Seahawks.
Mock 1.0 selection: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
27) Green Bay Packers: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Green Bay looks towards the future by drafting Decker, who has cornerstone-type potential and could compete for a starting role as a rookie.
Mock 1.0 selection: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
28) Kansas City Chiefs: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
The blazing-fast Fuller gives Andy Reid’s offense a dangerous deep threat to take the top off opposing defenses.
Mock 1.0 selection: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
29) Arizona Cardinals: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
A raw talent whose draft stock is rising, Apple has the measurable and traits to develop into a top-tier cornerback in the Cardinals aggressive defense.
Mock 1.0 selection: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
30) Carolina Panthers: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Spriggs followed up an impressive Senior Bowl showing by performing well in combine drills, cementing himself as a viable option for Carolina at the end of day one.
Mock 1.0 selection: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
31) Denver Broncos: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
With Peyton Manning’s retirement and Brock Osweiler’s defection to Houston, the Broncos are currently without a starting quarterback. There’s still time to address the position prior to the draft, but even if they do, the capable Cook gives them insurance.
Mock 1.0 selection: Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech
New England Patriots forfeit first-round selection in 2016 NFL DraftWhat 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 3.0!