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2016 NFL Mock Draft by bball37
Published at 1/27/2016 6:20:29 PM
I've never been really good at introductions... awkward. UPDATE: 2nd Round Added
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I think there are too many people in league circles overthinking this pick. Right now, the biggest need for the Tennessee Titans is to protect Marcus Mariota at any cost. New OL coach, the Head Hog himself, Russ Grimm, can't even save this line the way it is right now. To make this pick even simpler, Laremy Tunsil is hands-down the best player in the 2016 class right now (obviously that can change). Sometimes, GM's make mind-boggling picks that end up working out, but in this case, overthinking the pick is the wrong thing to do.
I may be in the minority here, but I actually think Johnny Football got the short end of the stick during his stint as starter for the Browns. Nevertheless, new management in Cleveland probably want nothing to do with him and will likely look to dump Manziel to any sucker willing to take him (Jerry Jones anybody?). At the moment, I see Jared Goff as the best QB on the board. Carson Wentz is the hot hand, who will likely test very well at the Senior Bowl and Combine, and Paxton Lynch is the flashy pick, but Goff's experience, NFL-readiness and steady hand should carry him through the process unscathed.
I absolutely hate making this pick. Joey Bosa is clearly the best player on the board, but I just don't see the Chargers spending this early of a pick on a pass rusher. Both Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attoachu played very well this past season and the front office has high hopes for 2015 5th-rounder Kyle Emanuel, leaving just pending ERFA Cordarro Law as the weak link in the pass rush. This can be addressed in the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th round, but the value of taking a pass rusher this high is limited for the Chargers. All that being said, there is value in taking the best interior defensive lineman in the draft, A'Shawn Robinson. The weakest link on the San Diego defense last year was the interior line. With Kendall Reyes and Ricardo Mathews hitting free agency this Spring, there's no reason to think the status quo will stay so for San Diego. (I love that last sentence, rhyming FTW!!!)
To me, the name Joey Bosa seems like an Italian mobster tough-guy who just lurks around the corner everyday; looking to fleece you for every cent you have. The OSU pass rusher kind of plays like that too. He may not be flashiest pass rusher you've ever seen, but he always gets the job done. Every year though, I sit on my couch and wait to see what madness Jerry Jones cooks up in the war room. He's made some great picks in the past, but he's also been susceptible to falling in love with a player, refusing to take his focus off him and often ending up reaching for him. If there was ever a year for that to happen to him, it's this one, considering he's got a top-five pick at his disposal. But Joey Bosa might be too good for even Jerry to pass up. He fits perfectly in what the Cowboys want to do defensively, and what they need to get it done.
This is another interesting pick considering the circumstances the Jaguars are under. Generally, I would never criticize a team for taking an offensive lineman a little early to protect their young QB. This year though, I think a bit differently. To me, Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley is an enigma. Last year, I thought he may have been good enough to be the top tackle off the board, before Brandon Scherff, Andrus Peat or Ereck Flowers, but he didn't do anything on the field to impress me this past season and I don't see him as a potential top-five pick anymore. However, Myles Jack is definitely a potential top-five pick, even coming off a season-ending knee injury. If he can impress teams in the interview process, the athleticism on his tape speaks for itself. In addition, the second-biggest, and potentially biggest future need for the Jaguars is at linebacker. Both Dan Skuta and Paul Posluszny have been disappointments and can be cut for nothing before June 1, 2016.
Considering I just spent nearly an entire write-up criticizing Ronnie Stanley, this pick might not make much sense. However, with Jack off the board, the talent level in the class falls dramatically. The only elite prospect remaining on the board is DeForest Buckner, and he plays the one position the Ravens might not actually need. The interior of their defensive line is solid, probably the best unit on the team, excluding the kicker, and nobody on their line is a free agent. Conversely, the Ravens will likely lose tackle Kelechi Osemele to free agency and will need somebody to bookend the line with Eugene Monroe. Some might point to James Hurst or Ricky Wagner for that job. To rebuke that, I actually use one of my least favorite tools on the internet, PFF player ratings. I don't put much stock into them, but when two players' ratings only add up to be borderline mediocre, there might be a problem. Those two players are Ricky Wagner and James Hurst (28.5 + 44.4 = 72.9 - a mediocre rating).
It was a pretty big surprise to me when the Philadelphia Eagles fired Chip Kelly, especially considering how much power they gave him, and the short duration (only a year) they gave him to succeed. However, it was even more surprising when the 49ers decided to hire him as their new head coach. I'm still not sure Kelly's system can work in the NFL, but having a QB able to run his fast-paced offense might help. Neither Nick Foles nor Sam Bradford fit particularly well in it, but Paxton Lynch has the mobility and intangibles to intrigue Kelly, Trent Baalke and the 49ers front office enough to take a chance on him.
The big question with this pick is what direction the Dolphins decide to take with an entirely new coaching staff and front office. At the moment, this pick is simply Miami taking the best player on the board. Even if the Dolphins keep the status quo, Buckner is too good of a defensive talent to pass up here. Many evaluators have him as a potential top-five pick. To validate that in my mind, he needs to show his athleticism, and prove he can play defensive end and defensive tackle in the 4-3, as well as 5-technique defensive end.
In today's NFL, press corners are all the rage; especially with bigger, stronger and faster wide-outs. As much as many think Jalen Ramsey would be a better safety, there might be more potential in him as a press corner, an area the Bucs are not too proficient in. Their best corner, Sterling Moore, is a free agent, and Alterraun Verner is a failed signing, who could be cut to save cap space. Even if Verner, or even Moore, is retained, Ramsey could be used to replace free agent safeties Chris Conte and Keith Tandy.
I've talked to a few Giants fans since the end of the season, and the one lasting impression from these conversations was how inept their defense was this past season. Possibly the biggest reason why was their linebackers. New York has tried numerous solutions to fixing their lengthy linebacker problem, but nothing has worked. Even though this may be a little high for Alabama's Reggie Ragland, he is truly the best inside linebacker of this draft class and is probably going to be picked much higher than his true value due to his prolific college career. Even better for him, Ragland will be able to prove his dominance at the Senior Bowl, something most top prospects don't get.
This time last year, I was debating whether or not LaQuan Treadwell would be able to return after a gruesome leg injury and regain his status as a blue-chip NFL prospect. That question was emphatically answered with a productive final season at Ole Miss. As good as Treadwell has been in college though, there are questions about whether he will be just a good NFL player, or a great NFL player. He doesn't blow you away with athleticism and he isn't the biggest or the strongest, but I believe he is, far and away, the most reliable receiver in this draft.
If there is one team guaranteed to make a defensive pick in the first round, it has to be the New Orleans Saints. Even my paltry Redskins put up over 40 points on the Saints' defense; not too impressive. One of the reasons why they had so much trouble, especially defending the pass, was the inability to get to the quarterback. Cameron Jordan has proven to be an elite defensive lineman, but the remainder of the Saints' D-line is pretty unimpressive. There are varying grades on Emmanuel Ogbah throughout the draft community, but I see him as a good enough prospect to be drafted in the top-15. He would give new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen a new toy to play with in New Orleans.
After Jalen Ramsey, it seems you can't get just two draft analysts together to agree on cornerback rankings. Some people see Mackensie Alexander as a top-5 pick and the top corner on the board. Some others see Eli Apple in the same light. Others think Vernon Hargreaves is the top-5 corner. Personally, I don't think any of them are top-5 picks, but I do see the former Florida Gator as the best of the three. He is the most proven, the most experienced, and, at the end of the day, I believe he ends up as the first "true" corner off the board. To explain the reasoning behind why the Eagles are picking a corner here though, all I can say is go back and watch a few of their games from last season... it won't be pretty.
Every year, I am disappointed when top prospects pull out of the Senior Bowl. This year, it was Connor Cook, and I promptly moved him down my board. Turns out, another prospect pulled out of the senior bowl; Ohio State's Taylor Decker. However, Decker might have actually made a decent decision. The other top tackles in this year's draft class, Tunsil, Stanley and Jack Conklin are all absent from the Senior Bowl due to different reasons. Decker is probably best served training for the combine to show he is the most athletic of the quartet. While this looks like a bit of a reach though, the only Raiders tackle under contract for next season is Austin Howard, who is probably best served playing guard.
It's easy to see why many people are surprised by the rapid rise of NDSU's Carson Wentz, considering he's from a D-1AA school. However, I've had him top-5 in my QB rankings since September, and with the demises of Christian Hackenberg and Connor Cook, Wentz has become the most viable third option in the draft. He's going to the Senior Bowl to prove that and could impress more than any other QB at the combine. The only question is which team will be willing to pull the trigger on him as their QB of the future. I don't think Jeff Fisher necessarily wants to hedge his bets on a rookie QB, but he might not have much of a choice.
If he had a good head on his shoulders and was an only child, Robert Nkemdiche might be a guaranteed top-five pick. Unfortunately, in addition to his character issues, Nkemdiche hasn't exactly flashed on field. His potential is off the charts, but he's never really proved it yet. Remind you of anybody? Nick Fairley comes to mind first. The former Lions 1st rounder had a bit more production at Auburn than Nkemdiche did at Ole Miss, but Nkemdiche has more potential than Fairley ever had and could ever hope to have. If the Lions are still willing to take risks on players with character issues, Nkemdiche might be a great fit.