Atlanta Falcons: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Atlanta has a lot of needs, with some improved linebackers being one of the most important. The Falcons could use a sideline-to-sideline, difference-making, fast defender who will bring an identity to their defense.
In 2015, Lee totaled 66 tackles with 11 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, two passes broken up, two forced fumbles and one interception - returned 41 yards for a touchdown. He had a great combine performance with a lightning-fast 4.47-second time in the 40-yard dash and a strong showing in the field work.
The 6-foot-1, 232-pounder was the Buckeyes' replacement for Ryan Shazier in 2014, and while Lee wasn't as good as Shazier, Lee had a superb debut for Ohio State with plenty of upside to make strides in the future. He totaled 81 tackles with 16.5 tackles for a loss, three passes broken up, two interceptions and 7.5 sacks for the season.
Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
The Colts have to address their terrible offensive line. With both Jack Conklin and Taylor Decker off the board, Indianapolis can fix the interior with Ryan Kelly. He could be Andrew Luck's center for the next decade.
Alabama had a ton of success with Kelly opening holes for Derrick Henry in 2015. Kelly (6-4, 311) was an effective blocker over the past few years and has added weight to his frame for the NFL. In pass protection, he is a technician and a stable force in the middle of the line. Kelly is smart, intelligent blocker who should be able to compete immediately at the next level. On top of being smart and tough, he is an above-average athlete. Sources have compared him to Nick Mangold. Kelly could play guard or center.
Pick change; previously A'Shawn Robinson, DT
Buffalo Bills: Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
I think this pick will come down to Ragland, Darron Lee and Jarran Reed. In this mock, Lee is off the board, and this draft is deeper on the defensive line. Thus, the Bills can take Ragland here and add to the defensive line on Day 2. They could use help at inside linebacker, and Ragland would be able to play immediately. If all three of those players are off the board, I believe Taylor Decker would be in play for Buffalo.
Ragland totaled 102 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, seven pass breakups, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 2015. His man coverage on tight ends like Arkansas' Hunter Henry and Ole Miss' Evan Engram was particularly impressive. That, in combination with Ragland's pass rush as a defensive end, illustrates his three-down starting potential for the NFL. In 2014, Ragland notched 95 tackles, 10.5 for a loss, three passes broken up, one interception, one forced fumble and 1.5 sacks. The 6-foot-1, 247-pounder is a big, physical in-the-box defender.
New York Jets: A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Another defensive lineman? Well, the Jets have shown interest in Robinson, and he is a pick who fits with Mike Maccagnan's history. Muhammad Wilkerson may not be signed long term, Snacks Harrison left in free agency, and Sheldon Richardson may only be on the team for two more seasons. Thus, here's an immediate replacement for Harrison and a player with big upside.
Sources say that Robinson is a tremendous athlete who has a freakish speed/strength combination. He has the flexibility to play nose tackle or end in a 3-4 defense. Robinson also could play nose tackle or three-technique in a 4-3. He is a stout defender at the point of attack yet can get after the quarterback.
Robinson would be a contender for the No. 1-overall pick if he had been more consistent for the Crimson Tide. Aside from the consistency, teams say that Robinson is a decent kid, but they wonder about his passion for football. That, in combination with his interviewing poorly at the combine, could cause him to slide in the 2016 NFL Draft.
In 2015, Robinson recorded 46 tackles with seven for a loss and three sacks. The 6-foot-3, 307-pounder recorded 49 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two passes batted in his sophomore season. In 2013 as a freshman, he was too good to keep on the sideline. Robinson was an impressive defender for the Crimson Tide with 38 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks.
Pick change; previously Taylor Decker, OT
Washington Redskins: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
I hear the Redskins pick will come down to an Alabama player with Ryan Kelly, Jarran Reed, or A'Shawn Robinson being the finalists. Kelly and Robinson are off the board. Of the defenders, I think their preference is for Reed even though Robinson is more versatile.
The 6-foot-3, 311-pound Reed was a powerful defender for Alabama at the point attack. He is a strong run defender who fills his gap and is tough to move. Reed isn't much of a pass-rusher though, but he has quickness and athleticism to improve at getting after the quarterback in the NFL.
In 2015, the senior totaled 53 tackles with 4.5 for a loss, one sack and two passes batted. As a junior in 2014, he had 55 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, one sack and five passes batted. Reed was a JUCO player before landing at Alabama.
Pick change; previously Ryan Kelly, C
Houston Texans: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
The Texans need a speed receiver complement for DeAndre Hopkins. Jaelen Strong flashed at times during his rookie year, but Houston could use more big-play receiving talent. The Texans need a receiver who can stretch the field vertically and take the top off a defense. Fuller would be a great fit in Houston. I think Corey Coleman and Josh Doctson are in play as the possible picks if Fuller is unavailable.
Fuller (6-0, 186) was a play-maker for the Fighting Irish in 2015. He showed elite speed to be a vertical weapon and get separation. Fuller totaled 62 catches for 1,258 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. He had 76 receptions for 1,094 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2014. The burner Fuller could stand to improve his hands and cut down on his drops, but he is a home-run hitter who can change games instantly. At the combine, Fuller didn't have a dropped pass, plus got to show off his ridiculous speed with a 4.32-second 40-yard dash.
Minnesota Vikings: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
After getting rid of Mike Wallace, the Vikings could use a big receiver to pair with Stefon Diggs. Teddy Bridgewater could use a possession receiver for his conservative style of passing, and it sounds like Minnesota's preference is for Doctson.
Some teams have told me that they gave Doctson a third-round grade, while others have him in Round 2. WalterFootball.com knows some teams that are giving Doctson late first-round consideration. The reason for the variety in grades is he lacks speed, so separation from NFL defensive backs could be an issue for him as a pro. The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder is a big receiver who wins 50-50 balls and is tremendous in the red zone.
Doctson was a huge part of the Horned Frogs' point-machine offense over the last few seasons. He had 79 catches for 1,327 yards with 14 scores during 2015. As a junior, he totaled 65 receptions for 1,018 yards with 11 scores. Doctson contributed as a sophomore (36-440-4) and freshman (35-393-5).
Pick change; previously Laquon Treadwell, WR
Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
The Bengals could use another receiver to replace what they lost in Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Cincinnati has shown a ton of interest in Coleman.
The 5-foot-10, 194-pound Coleman is one of the top speed receivers for the 2016 NFL Draft with Notre Dame's Will Fuller. Less than halfway through 2015, he set a school record for touchdown catches in a single season. Coleman totaled 74 receptions for 1,363 yards with 20 touchdowns on the year. As a sophomore, he totaled 64 catches for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns. Some sources have said that they graded Coleman as a 2-3 - for Round 2 or 3 - while others have him higher. There is even some vigorous debate about Coleman inside of teams' scouting departments. Thus, he faces a pretty wide range of where he could come off the board.
Pittsburgh Steelers: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
The Steelers have a big need at cornerback. Sources told me that Pittsburgh prefers William Jackson III over other corners like Kendall Fuller.
Jackson recorded 43 tackles, five interceptions and 23 passes broken up in 2015. The 6-foot, 189-pounder has excellent height and length, but also has a tall, lanky frame that he needs to fill out for the NFL. He was electric at the combine with a 4.37-second time in the 40-yard dash and a strong showing in the field drills.
Over the past two seasons, Jackson was a steady defender for Houston. He recorded two interceptions, 37 tackles and 10 passes broken up in 2014. The previous year, he had one pick, 35 tackles and seven passes batted.
Pick change; previously Kendall Fuller, CB
Seattle Seahawks: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
The Seahawks need to upgrade their interior pass rush after losing Brandon Mebane. Seattle likes rare athletes and has shown a lot of interest in Nkemdiche. Plus, Nkemdiche is a highly rated SPARQ defensive lineman for the 2016 NFL Draft and the Seahawks rely heavily on those ratings.
Multiple teams have told me that they have off-the-field concerns with Nkemdiche. One team labelled him as having serious baggage. Another said that Nkemdiche loves the limelight and wants to be a movie star. They'd like to see him have the desire to dominate on the field.
Nkemdiche had to go to the hospital in December after jumping off the fourth floor of a hotel while in the process of getting arrested for marijuana possession. The arrest landed him with a suspension for Ole Miss' bowl game. Between the off-the-field issues and Nkemdiche's overrated play, I have him sliding in the 2016 NFL Draft.
I've spoken with GMs who share my opinion that Nkemdiche is one of the most overrated players in this draft class. In his career with Ole Miss, he would consistently break into the backfield, but rarely ever finish a play. Part of the reason for that is Nkemdiche has poor awareness. He also lacks pass-rushing moves. NFL sources say that while Nkemdiche has a great skill set, he just isn't a natural pass-rusher, and that can be seen in his pathetic sack production.
There is no doubt that Nkemdiche (6-3, 294) has a tremendous skill set with the speed and agility of a linebacker. For the NFL, he has the ability to be a disruptive presence at the point of attack if nothing else.
In 2015, Nkemdiche totaled 29 tackles, seven for a loss and three sacks, plus he caught a 31-yard touchdown pass. Nkemdiche recorded 35 tackles with two sacks in 2014. He flashed, but lacked consistency. As a freshman, Nkemdiche totaled 34 tackles with two sacks and eight tackles for a loss. He totaled seven sacks in his collegiate career.
Green Bay Packers: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
The Packers could consider some defensive line talent in the first round. Butler would be a perfect replacement for B.J. Raji and has a ton of upside to develop.
Butler was a bit of sleeper prospect, but that ended when he showed extremely well at the Senior Bowl. In the pass-rushing one-on-ones, Butler was too fast for the offensive lineman and showed nice strength to bull rush. Sources say that Butler has all the physical tools, but doesn't know how to play the game yet. They say his play doesn't match his potential, but they feel he has upside at a premium position.
In 2015, Butler recorded 50 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss and three sacks. As a junior, he totaled 55 tackles with 13 for a loss and one sack. Butler (6-3, 316) would be a nice fit as a three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. He also has experience playing elsewhere on the line so he could play in a 3-4 as a five-technique or as a nose tackle who moves to rush over guards in passing situations.
Kansas City Chiefs: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
The Chiefs could use a big receiver to pair with Jeremy Maclin. Treadwell's blocking will also help Jamaal Charles.
The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Treadwell is a natural receiver who is good at winning 50-50 passes and running after the catch. However, he lacks the speed to separate from most NFL cornerbacks. Thus, he's not a prospect on a par with A.J. Green, Julio Jones or Amari Cooper. The big wideout does a phenomenal job as blocker though.
In 2015, Treadwell had 82 receptions for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns. He recorded 48 receptions for 632 yards and five touchdowns in 2014 before an ugly injury ended his season. Treadwell caught 72 receptions for 608 yards with five scores in 2013.
Pick change; previously Paxton Lynch, QB
Arizona Cardinals: Cody Whitehair, G/OT, Kansas State
This pick falls into the category of what I think a team will do and not what they should do. I know a bunch of teams that have second- to third-round grades on Whitehair and one franchise that has him even lower. However, some teams really like him. Arizona also has drafted players in the first round in the past two years - Deone Bucannon and D.J. Humphries - who other teams graded on Day 2. The Cardinals have a big hole at center, and Whitehair could move there for them. I would have Arizona take Robert Nkemdiche or Ryan Kelly, but they're both off the board so I think the Cardinals would take Whitehair in that instance.
Whitehair (6-3, 300) played left tackle for the Wildcats, but he should move to guard or center in the NFL. Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah illustrated that. Whitehair also could use more power for the next level, but he is a good technician who is a reliable blocker in the ground game and in pass protection.
Carolina Panthers: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
I think Carolina will stick with addressing its offensive front even after losing Josh Norman. If the Panthers go with a cornerback in the first round, I think it would be Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller. He's a great fit in their defense. However, obviously Carolina needs to improve the protection for Cam Newton. Here's an upgrade at right tackle.
Ifedi (6-5, 324) was a steady right tackle for the Aggies and is an athletic blocker with quickness. He has more strength and nastiness to him than other recent Aggies line prospects like Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi. Some scouts think that Ifedi would be better off at guard in the NFL, but most teams are projecting him to right tackle. Ifedi has good feet and athleticism, but is inconsistent with his bending and can reach after some blockers. That lends him to being a better fit at right tackle rather than a candidate to play left tackle.
Denver Broncos: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Lynch could easily go in the top 25, and I wouldn't be surprised if a team trades up to land him. I know Denver has already spoken with teams in the 20s about moving up, and given the Broncos' need at quarterback, it is understandable. Lynch is a good fit for Gary Kubiak's offense, and Denver have the staff to work with his impressive skill set.
To me, Lynch looks like a mix of Blake Bortles and Brock Osweiler as a prospect in terms of athletic skill set. In 2015, Lynch completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,778 yards with 28 touchdowns and three interceptions. His arm can make all the throws for the pro game, and he flashed the ability to pass accurately with precise completions into tight windows. Additionally, Lynch has the athleticism to make plays with his feet and throw on the run.
However, the redshirt junior is a project for the NFL. Sources said that Lynch (6-6, 244) has been taught next to nothing in terms of NFL X's and O's. Lynch has a great skill set, but needs work as a pocket passer with developing his field vision and understanding coverage. He also can get rattled by the pass rush, which impacts his field vision and accuracy. Lynch probably will go in the top 25 of the 2016 NFL Draft out of need and demand. In terms of physical skill sets, Lynch is worthy of being a first-round pick.