The NFL regular season is over. For those of you cheering for NFL teams that didn’t make it to the postseason, you might be moving on to another team that did, or packing it in and waiting for next year to roll around. The NFL Scouting Combine is over with and several people changed their values with impeccable workouts and stellar times. In the same breath, some guys saw their draft stock plummet with below average workouts. While free agent acquisitions are still to come there are much clearer views on where some people may end up heading up in April at the NFL Draft.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the first version of our 2016 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Tennessee Titans: This team needs help just about everywhere and the second overall pick from last year didn’t seem to fix everything (imagine that). In an ideal world, I’m sure the team would rather trade down and take multiple picks, but since there isn’t a clear-cut winner for first overall pick, the Titans are going to get stuck.
Pick: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
The team seems to need the most help along the offensive line and Tunsil is the best tackle in the draft. This is more of a safe pick than a splash pick, but Tunsil can come in and start Week One without any worries.
2. Cleveland Browns: Does anyone remember when the Browns were good? Me neither. The Browns have a ton of issues, and drafting quarterbacks is among them. Certainly, the rest of the team needs help too, but the team is going to bet big on a fresh arm again.
Pick: Jared Goff, QB, California
Of the two top-rated QBs in the NFL Draft, Goff is the one that is more NFL-ready right this second. He will be thrown in the fire with a lack of true options, meaning, he won’t be worried about losing his starting job any time soon.
3. San Diego Chargers: I don’t know that I’ve seen a team with so many problems come to light so quickly as it did with the Chargers. The impending potential move to Los Angeles certainly didn’t do the team any favors. The team could go a lot of different ways with this pick, and the dominoes for the rest of the NFL Draft could fall very differently depending on what they do.
Pick: Jalen Ramsey, FS, Florida State
Ramsey is a freakish athlete that could play corner in a pinch. With how most teams like to attack with a passing game, he might just be too good to pass up.
4. Dallas Cowboys: At least with the Cowboys you know exactly what went wrong last year. The team is going to do a total overhaul at QB and it will likely start with the draft. Ideally, Jerry Jones and company would like to trade down here and grab some extra picks, but barring a trade they will take a quarterback.
Pick: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
As far as measurables, this guy is everything you could ask for… he’s just not polished entirely. The good thing is that if Tony Romo is healthy, Wentz won’t need to play. The bad news is that being drafted this high will create a QB controversy in Dallas one way or another.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags had their top pick from a year ago go down before he even took a snap at the NFL level. Here is hoping that doesn’t happen again. The team really needs a corner, but taking one here might be a stretch.
Pick: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Bosa is the type of guy that reminds you of J.J. Watt. If you can’t get a corner, getting a guy that forces the QB to get rid of the ball quicker might be just enough to help the team.
6. Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens went from the Super Bowl to the basement real quick. It was a depletion of talent across the board and this team needs to build from its interior out to be competitive once again.
Pick: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Stanley should have come out last year, but decided to stick around for another championship shot. He is still a bit of a project but is a natural fit as a tackle in the NFL and a year or two of conditioning will do wonders for his ability to handle all comers.
7. San Francisco 49ers: There is a definite changing of the guard in San Fran and it could end up meaning a new quarterback too. If the 49ers trade Colin Kaepernick, expect them to draft a QB here. However with Colin still on the roster, a QB here would be a reach.
Pick: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Treadwell is supposed to be that game-changing wide receiver and the 49ers need someone to throw the ball to desperately. Barring a mega move or signing in free agency, I expect them to take a WR here.
8. Miami Dolphins: Wasn’t this team supposed to be pushing the New England Patriots for the AFC East division crown? Poor play and some bad bounces had this team floundering from the start. The team could use some help in a few key areas, including their offensive line, but since the key guys are gone there already, they will try to shore up their defense with this pick.
Pick: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Apple is coming off of a stellar combine that showcased him as an elite corner coming into the draft. The team could use a pair of top notch corners to help allow their defensive line a little more time to get to the quarterback.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: James Winston certainly did his part at fixing the troubled Bucs, but there is still a long way to go. The team needs help on the defensive side of the ball in a hurry.
Pick: Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA
While Jack is a little small at 6’1”, he is one of the more gifted players coming into the NFL Draft. He is coming off an injury and a bad report could push him all the way down into the second or third round.
10. New York Giants: When the Giants won their Super Bowls, the cornerstone of how they did it was with a pass rush. This team is lacking in that category big time, and the team needs to address that.
Pick: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Buckner is the perfect build and people thought he could have been a top 20 pick last year. He opted to stay in school as he promised his family he’d earn his degree. Hard to imagine a better character guy and a better guy to produce an immediate impact in New York.
11. Chicago Bears: The Bears seem to be a team in constant transition and this year is no exception. Many teams have found success by fortifying their trenches, and I expect Chicago to take the queue.
Pick: A’shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Robinson is a great fit as a DT at the next level and has a rare combination of size, speed, and power. While helping stuff the run game for the Vikings is going to be key, Robinson will be most valuable as a pass rusher up the middle.
12. New Orleans Saints: The Saints struggled a lot this past season, and it looks like those woes might continue. Sean Payton has always been a guy about splashy offensive plays, but it might be time for some defensive attackers.
Pick: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
Spence didn’t show well at the combine, but his tape is spectacular. Getting him at 12 would have been a steal prior to the poor showing. Still, his instincts and leadership are likely what this team covets the most.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Now that Chip Kelly is elsewhere, be ready for a far more predictable offseason. I like this team to go back to basics the way the Cowboys and Redskins have.
Pick: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Conklin did himself a huge favor at the NFL Draft Combine by posting monster numbers. Perhaps a bit raw, he has all the physical tools to be a stellar tackle in the NFL.
14. Oakland Raiders: The Raiders made a big leap forward this past year and the team is hoping that just one more solid draft will do the trick. With the makeup of their division and how poor they were against the pass last year, you can understand why this team covets a corner.
Pick: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Hargreaves is the second corner on most people’s draft boards and the Raiders would be pleased as punch if he falls this far. On the smaller side, Hargreaves has great speed and good ball awareness and should help cover deep-threat receivers.
15. St. Louis Rams: The new home in Los Angeles and a promising rookie campaign from Todd Gurley, means there is a lot to look forward to. The team lacks playmakers on offense and will either sign a QB in free agency or make a play for one here.
Pick: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Lynch fits the ideal QB mold as far as height, and has good anticipation and vision down the field. The knock on Lynch is that he’s too lean, and needs to add a lot of weight to fill out his 6’7” frame to take the abuse of the NFL. If one of the top two QBs manages to slip this far, the Rams will take one of them here.
16. Detroit Lions: The Lions lost of a lot of the defensive players that made them such a force the year before, and losing Calvin Johnson AKA Megatron is going to hurt a lot on the offensive side of the ball. With that said, this team will likely take the best player they have on their draft board as the team lacks stars and depth at virtually all positions.
Pick: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Smith was a top 5 pick heading into the season before a late injury cost him a bowl game appearance. His medical is still pending, but he is a true difference-maker when healthy.
17. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons looked markedly better this past year with a new defensive-minded head coach. I really expect the team to keep on trying to build that side of the ball through the draft.
Pick: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Lee could actually play safety in the NFL, but I actually see him being used as a linebacker in passing situations while the team tries to figure out how to keep him on the field as a three-down player. He was constantly asked to play in space at Ohio State, but often was around the line of scrimmage and is a solid tackler. It’s his versatility that makes him a perfect fit for Atlanta.
18. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts were supposed to run away with their division and then everything that could go wrong did go wrong. This team needs a ton of help, particularly on defense.
Pick: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Ragland is a run stuffer that can still give this team a pass rush up the middle. While a little undersized at 6’1”, he’s got amazing instincts and aggression coupled with a high football IQ.
19. Buffalo Bills: Rex Ryan did a lot of things well in Buffalo this past year, but he did fail to make the playoffs and the team’s offense looked slow at times, despite the addition of LeSean McCoy. The team could use another option outside of Sammy Watkins to help out their young QB.
Pick: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Coleman is small at 5’11”, but he is strong with amazing burst. He did not run at the NFL Draft Combine, but provided he puts up solid running numbers at his pro day, he is the type of guy that can not only contribute of offense, but also on special teams.
20. New York Jets: The end of last season was heartbreaking for Jets fans, as the ends of most seasons are. Still there were a lot of positives to build on. The team has good offensive balance and a solid defensive front and secondary, but the linebackers could use some improvement.
Pick: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Floyd has all the size that you’d want from a linebacker, and the team may even consider having him play as an end in some passing downs. He should be able to add pass rush and help support the run defense as a three-down player in the Jets system.
21. Washington Redskins: Perhaps no one was more surprised with the NFC East division win than the Redskins themselves. So much so that they totally forgot they had a playoff game the next week. The team saw immediate dividends in investing in their offensive line, and expect them to keep up the trend in the trenches.
Pick: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Kelly is one of the few pure centers to be graded in the first round by anyone in recent history. The team could use a center, and Kelly is the best one in the draft by a mile. The thing is he’s 6’5”, and that is actually a little too tall for a center. He plays with low leverage, so I’m sure Cousins will be able to see over him… I think.
22. Houston Texans: The Texans need a lot of help, but it’s mainly on offense. I know they need a QB, but since the top three are gone, taking one here is a reach. With that said, the best running back on the board hasn’t even been touched.
Pick: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Elliot has everything you’d want and expect of a back going to the NFL. Size, speed, agility, and he is touted to be stellar at the next level. Given how the Texans like to play tight games, a solid runner could go a long way.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Can the Vikings draft all kickers? After a heartbreaking loss, the team has to reevaluate how they can improve. The offensive line was the one area I thought they could really use some help.
Pick: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Decker is a very large man, and that goes a long way on it’s own. He is able to use his length to help deal with the pass rush and he can move people well when run blocking. His weakness is his strength, or height rather. Being as tall as he is, his pad level is often too high; meaning players with better leverage will win the battle. This really hurts down around the goal line.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals continue to do well, but can’t get over the hump. The team seems to have good depth in all aspects of the game, so really it comes down to who do they see as the best player left.
Pick: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Dodd is large enough that you could either ask him to gain weight and play as a tackle or lose a bit and play as a true end in the NFL. He lacks true skills as a pass rusher, but given the run-happy ways of the AFC North he can stuff the run regardless.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers exceeded a lot of expectations, in thanks to a solid offensive showing. The Steel Curtain is a long way off, and the team has many needs on that side of the ball.
Pick: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
A little small, but full of speed, Alexander might be a bit of a project, and will have a tough time handling some of the larger wide receivers one-on-one. With that said, his speed allows him to cover in space and he is very fluid, and can react to balls well, especially when matched up in single coverage in space.
26. Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks clearly have some work to do as the core of what has made them so successful continues to diminish with each passing year. The loss of Marshawn Lynch really hurts their chances, but fortunately, there are some good backs still left on the board.
Pick: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Henry is a big bruiser who isn’t going to run away from a ton of people, but will run them over. He has great burst in short yardage and should prove useful in short situations and always gaining positive yards.
27. Green Bay Packers: The Packers road into the NFL playoffs on the arm of Aaron Rogers. The team needs help on both sides of the ball, so this might just be a case of best player as there are so many needs.
Pick: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Reed is very much a replacement for B.J. Raji as a run stuffer and a guy who can provide a push from the interior. He won’t chase well and may have some conditioning issues, but he could cement the defensive line for years to come.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid is doing amazing things without superstars in Kansas City. It’s kind of amazing. The team continues to play well defensively, but may lose some of their punch with some potential key free agent departures. Expect the team to try and fill some of those holes.
Pick: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Nkemdiche is above average in terms of speed and power, which means he is versatile and a guy who can be on the field all the time. That is just the sort of player that fits into the rotation of the KC defense.
29. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals had a fantastic year, and the team is firing on all cylinders. The team can do no wrong with this pick as there are few weaknesses to their roster.
Pick: Kamalei Correa, LB, Boise State
Correa is a pure pass rusher, pure and simple. He can get on the field in third down situations right now, and the team could either try to keep him at his current weight and use him as a linebacker or try to bulk him up and use him as an end.
30. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are coming off a banner year, and are not losing anyone that is really worth mentioning. The team will find the player that is the best fit for what they do.
Pick: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Rankins is a fantastic physical presence that can eat up blockers, which fits well with how the Panthers like to use their linebackers. He lacks ability as a pass-rusher, but he can start as a two down player right now on most NFL teams.
31. Denver Broncos: The Broncos are going to have a tough time repeating, but they got Peyton another ring. Now it’s time to help protect whoever they have taking snaps this year.
Pick: Germain Ifedi, OG, Texas A&M
Ifedi sets up better as a pass blocker than a mauler, and given what the Broncos are all about that sets up well. It might be a stretch to use this pick on a guard, but many scouts have him as first round talent and I don’t think he’ll be around at this point in the second round.