2016 NFL Draft Awards

By Charlie Campbell.
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With the 2016 NFL Draft in the books, it is only fair to dish out some awards for a job well done by a number of teams across the NFL. It also doesn’t hurt to look at which teams may have made regrettable picks.

Pass along your thoughts on these awards and 2016 NFL Draft. I’ll put together a mail bag that answers questions/comments sent via email [email protected] or on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Best Value Pick Round 1:
Miami Dolphins: OT Laremy Tunsil
This was an easy choice for me. I had Laremy Tunsil as the top-rated player for the 2016 NFL Draft in my initial Big Board in August of 2015. Tunsil only served to confirm that over the months to come as he stayed my top-overall prospect throughout the lead up to the 2016 NFL Draft. Many teams agreed, so the Dolphins landing the best player in the draft with the 13th-overall pick is a pure steal. They didn’t even trade up to get him. Miami was the benefactor of Tunsil’s bong-hit video that was released just before the 2016 NFL Draft.

Tunsil has all the makings of a franchise left tackle. He has natural knee bend with amazing quickness and agility. While Tunsil has room to add more power for the NFL, he has some natural strength and plays with great leverage. Tunsil gets movement in the ground game and has the quick feet to be a franchise left tackle. The only thing he could use is a little more power to get movement on NFL defensive linemen. Tunsil is a tap dancer on the edge who is superb at neutralizing speed rushers. Over the past three seasons, Tunsil shut down elite SEC speed rushers, including Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett.

The only reason that Miami was able to get Tunsil was because of the photo/video of him hitting a bong with a gas mask on. The photo had some shock value which was the catalyst for his fall, but across the NFL, there is a huge amount of players who smoke pot. There are smokers on every team. Team officials have no problem with it as long as the players don’t test positive and avoid suspensions. Teams believe that Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott used hard drugs like molly and ecstasy, yet they went in the top five. Bosa and Elliott had a degree of deniability that Tunsil didn’t, and thus he slid. The Dolphins come away with a potential franchise left tackle and a potential pro bowler. Miami got the best value in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Honorable mentions: San Francisco 49ers defensive end DeForest Buckner, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Buffalo Bills edge rusher Shaq Lawson, Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller, Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch and Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Germain Ifedi.

2015 Winner: Todd Gurley, Rams and Malcom Brown, Patriots
2014 Winner: HaHa Clinton-Dix, Packers
2013 Winner: Sharrif Floyd, Vikings
2012 Winner: Riley Reiff, Lions

Best Value Pick Day 2:
Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Myles Jack
This pick came down to Jack and Jaylon Smith. Both were top of the draft talents who slid because of knee-injury concerns. I decided to pick Jack because he is healthy enough to play right now and he may or may not need another surgery. Smith is expected to miss the 2016 season and when he plays again is an unknown. Even if Jack requires micro-fracture surgery, he could come back from that injury as Jadeveon Clowney has done for the Texans. I think Jack could be a tremendous NFL player and a once-in-a-decade-type pass-coverage linebacker.

Jack is a well-balanced defender. In run defense, he has sideline-to-sideline speed to track down ball-carriers. In pass coverage, Jack is amazing and an extremely rare prospect. He can do things that linebackers are not supposed to be able to do. You would see him, on tape, line up as a nickel cornerback over tight ends or slot receivers and run with them to prevent separation. In the NFL, he could be a tremendous linebacker weapon to neutralize receiving threat tight ends and help against receivers in the middle of the field. Sources say that Jack would practice with the corners at UCLA and his-man coverage skills are tremendous. Saying that his man-coverage skills are extremely rare is an understatement about him in pass coverage.

In my final Big Board, I had Jack as the second-rated player overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. Thus, he is my selection for the best value pick from the second day of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Honorable mentions: Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, Cleveland Browns edge rusher Emmanuel Ogbah, Jacksonville Jaguars edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue, Chicago Bears defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans nose tackle Austin Johnson, Houston Texans center Nick Martin, Oakland Raiders edge rusher Shilique Calhoun, Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Maliek Collins, Washington Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller, and Seattle Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise.

2015 Winner: Jaelen Strong, Texans
2014 Winner: Carlos Hyde, 49ers and Louis Nix, Texans
2013 Winner: Eddie Lacy, Packers
2012 Winner: Janoris Jenkins, Rams

Best Value Pick Day 3:
Cincinnati Bengals: DT Andrew Billings
This one came down to Billings and the Jaguars selection of Sheldon Day in the fourth round, but I chose Billings because I know multiple teams that had second-round grades on him. Billings is an extremely strong defender who has a surprising burst. He is very strong at the point of attack and a natural nose tackle to plug up the middle of the line. While Billings is viewed as being only a two-down defender, I think his pass-rushing skills are better than that and believe he can contribute some in that area. He did have 5.5 sacks in his final season of college football while playing with an injured ankle.

The Bengals were an excellent landing spot for Billings. He could be the replacement and upgrade over aging veteran Domata Peko. Peko is declining in his play, and Billings is a natural nose tackle to pair with Geno Atkins in the middle of the Bengals’ line. In a year or two, I think Billings will be the starter next to Atkins.

Honorable mentions: Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Sheldon Day, Buffalo Bills running back Jonathan Williams, Houston Texans defensive tackle D.J. Reader, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Mike Thomas, Seattle Seahawks running back Alex Collins, Philadelphia Eagles edge rusher Alex McCalister, Tennessee Titans guard Sebastian Tretola, and Cleveland Browns linebacker Scooby Wright.

2015 Winner: Jay Ayayi, Dolphins
2014 Winner: Justin Ellis, Raiders
2013 Winner: Philip Thomas, Redskins
2012 Winner: Bobbie Massie, Cardinals

Best Trade:
Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Myles Jack
The Jaguars moved up in the second round a few spots to land Jack, a player they were considering taking with the fifth-overall pick. All Jacksonville gave up to get Jack was a fifth-round pick. That was a really cheap price to ensure that the organization came away with one of the most talented players in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Honorable mentions: The Broncos trading up for Paxton Lynch, and the Bills trading up for Reggie Ragland.

2015 Winner: Maxx Williams, Ravens
2014 Winner: Louis Nix, Texans
2013 Winner: Alec Ogletree, Rams
2012 Winner: Justin Blackmon, Jaguars

Biggest Reach Round 1:
San Francisco 49ers: G Josh Garnett
Prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, I surveyed a variety of teams. They all said there was no guard worthy of a first-round pick. Many had Garnett as the top guard prospect, but they had him graded as a late second- or early third-rounder. San Francisco trading back into the first round and give up extra picks for Garnett was terrible and the worst selection in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. It looks like a near certainty that the 49ers could have had Garnett if they remained at pick No. 37 considering all of the defensive talent that went off the board at the top of the second round. In terms of talent of the prospect, Garnett was easily the biggest reach of any player chosen in the first round.

Honorable mentions: Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Corey Coleman.

2015 Winner: Stephone Anthony, Saints
2014 Winner: JaWuan James, Dolphins
2013 Winner: Travis Frederick, Cowboys
2012 Winner: Bruce Irvin, Seahawks

Biggest Reach Day 2:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: K Roberto Aguayo
This was an easy choice with Aguayo. Taking a kicker in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft is terrible value, and that is why even good kickers last to the third day of the draft. The Patriots took Stephen Gostkowski in the fourth round, and sources from multiple teams told WalterFootball.com that they had Aguayo as a fourth-rounder. One team said they were targeting him in the fourth, but they weren’t going to take him earlier. Sources from some playoff teams said they were laughing in their war rooms when the Bucs took Aguayo.

To add insult to injury, Tampa Bay traded up from their third-round pick to get Aguayo. They gave away the 106th overall pick in the draft to move up for hinm, and there is little doubt that he would have made it to the franchise’s third-round pick. To have two draft picks in the top-110 selections invested in Aquayo is poor draft management. Here are some of the players who were available at that fourth-round pick: Pharoh Cooper, Hassan Ridgeway, Tyler Ervin, Miles Killebrew, Kenneth Dixon, Devontae Booker and Andrew Billings.

The last kicker to go in the second round was Mike Nugent, and he has become a journeyman kicker who has bounced around, including a stop with the Buccaneers. Thus, that should serve notice that using high draft picks on kickers is not a good use of resources.

Honorable mentions: Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Sean Davis, Carolina Panthers defensive back James Bradberry, Denver Broncos defensive lineman Adam Gostis, Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler, New England Patriots defensive tackle Vincent Valentine and Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons.

2015 Winner: Jordan Richards, Patriots
2014 Winner: Jack Mewhort, Colts
2013 Winner: Duron Harmon, Patriots
2012 Winner: Bryan Anger, Jaguars

Best Undrafted Free Agent Signing:
Green Bay Packers: WR Geronimo Allison
This was a hard choice, but I think the Packers landed a potential steal with Allison. He fell to the undrafted ranks because of slow 40 times at the combine, but he plays faster than those. At the East-West Shrine, Allison achieved separation on short quick routes like slants, yet also was getting open downfield. He absolutely dominated the practices in St. Petersburg. Allison uses size to make receptions even when he’s covered and looks like he would be a quality possession receiver in the NFL. It wouldn’t surprise me if Allison gives Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis a real run for a roster spot. I think Allison could be really nice depth receiver for the Packers.

Honorable mentions: Texans tight end Stephen Anderson, Panthers safety Jeremy Cash, Patriots running back/wide receiver D.J. Foster, Bengals quarterback Matt Johnson, Jets wide receiver Jalin Marshall, Bills linebacker Eric Striker, Colts running back Josh Ferguson, Raiders linebacker Perez Ford, Saints offensive tackle Avery Young and Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber.

2015 Winner: Akeem Hunt, Giants
2014 Winner: Antonio Richardson, Vikings
2013 Winner: Chase Thomas, Saints
2012 Winner: James Brown, Bears

Best Draft Class:
Buffalo Bills
Teams that aren’t picking high have a disadvantage in terms of adding values at each pick, but the Bills did a tremendous job of adding good talent despite picking in the back half of rounds. Buffalo came away with good values at each selection with players who have plus athleticism and could help the team immediately as well in the long term.

In the first round, the Bills landed the edge rusher they needed in Shaq Lawson. He is a great scheme fit for Rex Ryan as Lawson can play end in 4-3 sets and outside linebacker in 3-4 sets. He has the the size and quickness to quickly contribute as a pass-rusher with offenses more focused on Marcel Dareus, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes.

Buffalo landed a difference-maker for the middle of their defense in Reggie Ragland during Round 2. While many think that Ragland is just a two-down defender, he consistently has shown that his speed and athleticism is underrated and more than meets the eye.

The Bills’ next selection could be a third-round steal in Adolphus Washington. While he isn’t a great run defender, Washington is an excellent interior pass-rusher. He is very fast and skilled at shedding blocks with variety in his pass-rushing moves. Washington is a good understudy to Kyle Williams, and in a year, Washington and Dareus could be an excellent interior tandem for the Bills. The team needed to revamp its front seven, and this trio of selections should do that.

On the third day of the 2016 NFL Draft, Buffalo got some potential steals. Fourth-round quarterback Cardale Jones has a great skill set and has the potential to be a good NFL starter. He will be a nice project for Greg Roman. Fifth-round running back Jonathan Williams was a steal. He is a tough runner with incredible balance an ability to fight hard for yards after contact. A foot injury robbed him of his senior year, otherwise he would have been a second-day pick. Don’t be surprised if Williams emerges as the eventual replacement for LeSean McCoy. Williams is that good of a runner. Of the late picks, wide receiver Kolby Listenbee could be a nice situational deep threat receiver. He’s extremely fast. Cornerback Kevon Seymour also has some developmental potential.

Overall, I think the Bills are going to get four to five good starters out of this draft class. Not just average players, but good players. Jones and Washington have a ton of athletic upside to develop. Buffalo doesn’t get a lot of attention, but I think the organization had the best draft of any team in the league.

Honorable mentions: Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans.

2015 Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars
2014 Winner: Houston Texans
2013 Winner: Green Bay Packers
2012 Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

Worst Draft Class:
New England Patriots
Clearly I blew it with the 2012 award for Seattle, and to a lesser extent with the Cowboys in 2013, so Patriots fans should rejoice that I’m picking them this year. I didn’t really like what the Steelers and Rams did, but I think New England had the least effective draft class at providing some solutions to the roster. It hurt being without a first-round pick, but the Patriots’ own actions led to that loss for the franchise, so they’re to blame for that.

With their first selection, the Patriots took Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones. I knew other teams that had a late third-day grade on the 5-foot-9, 197-pound cornerback. Jones was a major reach as he really struggled with big receivers in college – watch what Mike Evans did to him. I think Jones is a limited nickel corner who is just a backup quality, special teams player in the NFL.

Two of New England’s third-round selections are decent players, but neither has a lot of upside. Those players are guard Joe Thuney and quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Thuney could compete for playing time, and Brissett is more of a backup quarterback in the NFL. The Patriots’ final third-rounder, Nebraska defensive tackle Vincent Valentine, was another reach as he was a late-rounder with some teams.

New England’s third-day selections are uninspired. Georgia wide out Malcolm Mitchell could be a contributor. Illinois guard Ted Karras was the best of the franchise’s late-round picks as he is a real fighter at the point of attack.

This draft didn’t do enough to address the thin offensive line that allowed way too many hits on Tom Brady to end last year. The backfield was neglected despite a lot of good running backs sliding in the 2016 NFL Draft.

This looks like a very questionable draft class for New England filled with a lot of reaches and overdrafting players ahead of where they should have gone. I think Bill Belichick should listen to his scouts who work the draft all year rather than taking over this all-important aspect for the last few critical months of the process. Overall, I think these players are going to provide very little impact for New England.

2015 Winner: Carolina Panthers
2014 Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
2013 Winner: Dallas Cowboys
2012 Winner: Seattle Seahawks

Top Draft Newcomer:
Tennessee Titans: Jon Robinson
First to be clear, this award is more about who made a splash in their first draft as a general manager. I’m not saying that they necessarily did a great job. Many don’t realize that it is a really tough job for a new general manager to take over a team’s front office in January, make a decision on the coaching staff while typically hiring new coaches, then work the final three months of a draft process with an entire new set of scouts and a new roster to get familiar with. Thus, many general managers have better drafts in the second and third years at the helm than their first season.

New Titans general manager Jon Robinson was fortunate to inherit the No. 1-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft while also already having a young franchise quarterback. Robinson was able to parlay that pick into a huge haul of second-day picks in this draft and a first-rounder in the 2017 NFL Draft. I think that pick from the Rams could be a top-10 selection, and I’d be surprised if it isn’t in the top-20. Thus, Robinson has a lot of ammo at his disposal to bring in more talent for Tennessee’s roster.

Of their picks in this draft, I think the Titans successfully addressed some needs. I’m not a big fan of Jack Conklin, but I think he has the potential to be a solid right tackle. I think Kevin Dodd and Austin Johnson are safe picks to be quality NFL defensive linemen. Running back Derrick Henry should be Tennessee’s starter in a year and could lead a smash-mouth rushing attack. On Day 3, I think Robinson got good values in UMass wide receiver Tajaé Sharpe and Arkansas guard Sebastian Tretola. Both players couldd be steals.

I don’t think that Robinson had a great draft in his debut for Tennessee, but like his first-round pick, it was solid and could help build toward a brighter future.

2015 Winner: Mike Maccagnan, Jets
2014 Winner: Ray Farmer, Browns
2013 Winner: John Idzik, Jets
2012 Winner: Ryan Grigson, Colts

Once again, pass along your thoughts on these awards and the 2016 NFL Draft. I’ll put together a mail bag that answers questions/comments sent via email [email protected] or on Twitter @draftcampbell.

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