The Raiders have some solid building blocks on defense, but they still need lots of help on this side of the ball, particularly at linebacker. Jaylon Smith would provide a big boost in the lacking middle of Oakland's stop unit, and he also happens to be one of the best prospects available at this juncture, so he makes sense for multiple reasons.
Rd. 1, Pk. 16
Leonard Floyd, 3-4OLB/OLB, Georgia
An overreaction to Terrell Suggs' injury? Perhaps, but Suggs may never be the same coming off his second Achilles tear. Pernell McPhee is also long gone, so Baltimore could look into obtaining a pass-rusher in the first round this April.
Rd. 1, Pk. 19
Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA
The Jets' defense has been performing better than expected, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't use some upgrades. The middle of their defense could use some help. David Harris will be 32 in January, while Demario Davis will be entering free agency in the spring.
And yes, Myles Jack is still a first-rounder. In fact, he could go much higher than this. Jack tore his ACL, yet he's still in play as a top-10 pick. Todd Gurley was chosen No. 10 overall despite his knee injury, and Jack got hurt so early that he'll be ready for the 2016 NFL season opener.
Pick change; previously Scooby Wright, LB
Rd. 1, Pk. 29
Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
The Cardinals have lacked pass-rushing talent on the edge for quite some time now, so I have to imagine that they'll have interest in a potent outside linebacker next spring.
Rd. 2, Pk. 19
Jordan Jenkins, 3-4OLB/OLB, Georgia
Another linebacker for the Jets - this time, one who can rush the quarterback from the exterior, which is something New York has had issues with in the past few years.
The 49ers have lost so much talent at the linebacker position. Here is an impact player to help make up for the losses.
In 2015, Smith has totaled 29 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, one sack, three passes broken up and one forced fumble (he was robbed of one by the official scorer). The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder was an impressive defender for Notre Dame in 2014. He was all over the field for the Fighting Irish with 112 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, 3.5 sacks and two passes defended. Smith has speed and athleticism in the middle of the field with the ability to start in the middle or outside.
Pick change; previously Myles Jack, LB
Rd. 1, Pk. 15
Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA
Many expected the Dolphins to take a linebacker early in the 2015 NFL Draft, but they decided to pass on the position. Miami could address the position with a rare athlete and play-maker like Jack via the 2016 NFL Draft.
Jack notched 15 tackles, one interception and a pass broken up in his shortened 2015 season. He also had two carries for seven yards and a touchdown on offense. The junior suffered a knee injury in practice and is done for the year. As a sophomore, Jack racked up 87 tackles with eight tackles for a loss, seven passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble. While only a freshman starter in 2013, Jack became a superstar who was named the Pac-12's Offensive AND Defensive Freshman of the Year. On the defensive side of the ball, he recorded 75 tackles with 11 passes broken up and two interceptions. His pass-coverage skills for a freshman were outstanding. Jack ran for 267 yards on 38 carries (7.0 average) with seven touchdowns, too.
Jack's natural pass-coverage skills are extremely impressive. NFL evaluators are going to love what he can do in the passing game. Don't be surprised if the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder improves annually with his huge upside.
Pick change; previously Tony Conner, DB
Rd. 1, Pk. 23
The Falcons could use more linebacker help for Dan Quinn's defense. Cravens would be an immediate upgrade over Justin Durant.
Cravens has 27 tackles, two sacks, one pass breakup and an interception to open 2015. He totaled 68 tackles with 17 tackles for a loss, five sacks, three interceptions and nine passes broken up last season. Cravens was moved from safety to linebacker last year, and that looks like a better fit for him in the NFL.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder is physical, strong and quick. As a freshman, he totaled 52 tackles with four interceptions, one pass batted and a forced fumble. Cravens was named a Freshman All-American and a All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
Pick change; previously Emmanuel Ogbah, DE
Rd. 1, Pk. 24
Scooby Wright III, 3-4OLB/OLB, Arizona
Many thought the Broncos would add inside linebacker help early in the 2015 NFL Draft, but they didn't. Wade Phillips is going to need more help in the middle of his 3-4.
Wright has recorded eight tackles in 2015, but has been in and out of the lineup. In the season opener, he suffered a knee injury - a lateral meniscus tear -that he underwent surgery for. Wright came back after missing only two games, but he clearly rushed back and wasn't the same. Wright sprained his foot in his first game back - a loss to UCLA - and will be out a few weeks.
Wright took college football by storm in 2014. The 6-foot-1, 246-pounder was a pass-rushing force for the Wildcats and one of the top defenders in the Pac-12. He had 14 sacks with 163 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss and six forced fumbles for the year. Wright is an instinctive linebacker and was all over the field for Arizona. In 2013, he notched 83 tackles with 9.5 for a loss and an interception.
Rd. 1, Pk. 25
Leonard Floyd, 3-4OLB/OLB, Georgia
The Chargers are hoping that both Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu break out this year, but if one doesn't, San Diego will need to draft another edge rusher.
In 2015, Floyd has 23 tackles with four for a loss and two sacks. He is a speedy rusher who is just scratching the surface of his potential. Floyd is a natural pass-rusher with agility and a knack for getting to the quarterback.
In 2014, the sophomore had 55 tackles with six sacks, two forced fumbles and 8.5 tackles for a loss. Floyd's run defense was a liability, and it caused him to get benched for a time, so going back to Georgia to improve before going pro was a wise decision on his part.
Floyd totaled 55 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks in 2013. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder played at Hargrave Military Academy for a season after high school.
Rd. 1, Pk. 31
Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
The Packers could easily have a big need for an inside linebacker next offseason. Depending on fourth-round rookie Jake Ryan to be the answer seems risky.
In 2015, Lee has 15 tackles with 3.5 for a loss, 2.5 sacks, one pass broken up, one forced fumble and one interception - returned 41 yards for a touchdown. The 6-foot-2, 228-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.
Rd. 2, Pk. 32
The Packers grab a future replacement for Julius Peppers.
Another player who sources said has impressed them and has his stock is up is Ngakoue. He destroyed Redskins guard Brandon Scherff last season. Ngakoue also looked good against Michigan State's Jack Conklin and Ohio State's Taylor Decker while holding his own against Saints' first-rounder Andrus Peat. Last year, Ngakoue recorded 37 tackles, 13.5 for a loss and six sacks. He is off to a strong start this season with 14 tackles and 5.5 sacks so far. The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder looks like a good edge defender for a 3-4.
Brian Cushing has had a big decline recently and drafting a big physical guy like Floyd to join a good tackler and coverage guy that can crash the line in Benardrick McKinney. Houston might find its self with a young duo on its hands.
Sometimes, a great football player will be underrated by NFL GMs. I had CJ Mosely going 4th overall to Cleveland in my final 2014 mock draft and had Eric Kendricks as Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 2015. Here, I see the same thing happening to Jaylon Smith. He’s a field general type of linebacker; a natural on the field who finds a way to get involved in every play possible. He has experience calling plays on the field, and if the Giants draft him, he could be a candidate to lead this team in tackles and represent them at the pro bowl as a rookie.
If Scooby Wright didn’t get injured, I’d bet that he’d go much higher than here. He can terrorize QBs as a rush linebacker and also play inside in the 3-4 that Arizona runs. No exact idea where he plays most his snaps at this moment, but Arizona would salivate over him on the field in general. Look for him to shoot upward on mock drafts everywhere once he’s healthy.
This is primarily guided my belief in Myles Jack as a contender for a top 5 pick. He’s incredibly fluid in coverage and can contribute as a pass-rusher, something that Tampa Bay desperate needs. Even though a stud left tackle can only make Jameis Winston and the offense much better, investing in both Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet in this past draft suggests that they focus on grabbing elite talent at another are of need in 2016. Myles Jack gives the Buccaneers a versatile player that can potentially play some downs as an edge rusher while predominantly acting as a steady linebacker.
The best way for Dan Quinn to replicate his successful defense he had in Seattle is to add similar weapons. Darron Lee is the 4-3 SAM linebacker that blitzes like a mad man that every 4-3 defense should hunger for. So long as he doesn’t have a “regressive” season, he should declare for the draft even though he’s just a redshirt sophomore. He can have an impact similar to that of Von Miller when Jack Del Rio was the defensive coordinator, racking up some sacks while stuffing ball carriers in the backfield