~By Jason Barbin~
The 2016 draft is less than 12 hours away and rumors are flying around as to who will pick who and will that team trade up or down. I’ve taken one final look at the draft board and produced my mock draft ahead of the official proceedings.
Pick 1 Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff – Quarterback – California
The Rams traded up for one reason and one reason only. To pick a quarterback. Coach Jeff Fisher has a new contract and he now gets to work with the next franchise quarterback for the Rams. Goff has good size and a strong arm but will be under pressure right from the start but he has the mentality to work well under pressure. If LA fans are patient, Goff can steer them in the right direction.
Pick 2 Philadelphia Eagles (from Cleveland): Carson Wentz – Quarterback – North Dakota State
Wentz has been courted by the Eagles for months and new coach Doug Pederson is a big fan. Wentz is a talent but is also raw and will likely spend a fair bit of time with the red shirt on this season learning from either Sam Bradford or Chase Daniel. Wentz is fairly mobile and knows how to use his feet to get out of trouble and although his arm strength isn’t his biggest asset, he can make plays in the pocket.
Pick 3 San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner – Defensive End – Oregon
This pick isn’t set in stone for the Chargers and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil or cornerback/safety Jalen Ramsey could also be picked at number three. Don’t be surprised if the Chargers trade down either. But if they stay put Bucker is an explosive player who can make an immediate on the defensive line.
Pick 4 Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa – Defensive End – Ohio St
The Cowboys have been high on Bosa for a while and although he does have some off field issues he has the makings of a potential pro bowl defensive end and with Greg Hardy leaving the team Bosa could immediately start. Has a lot of upside and his ability to as a bull-rusher will help him fit in perfectly in Dallas.
Pick 5 Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey – Cornerback/Safety – Florida St
Jacksonville went out with a clear objective during the offseason to improve its defence and with the signing of Malik Jackson and co it certainly achieved that. One area that still needs improvement however is their secondary. Ramsey is the best defensive back in the draft and with his ability to play both corner and safety he is the perfect pick for the Jags.
Pick 6 Baltimore Ravens: Laremy Tunsil – Offensive Tackle – Ole Miss
The Ravens get a steal here at number six with Tunsil rated the best prospect on many draft boards. Joe Flacco will be counting his lucky stars if Ozzie Newsome can snag Tunsil to help protect him as he recovers from injury. Also a great run blocker, Tunsil has all the ability to be a star in the NFL and a future all pro.
Pick 7 San Francisco 49ers: Myles Jack – Outside Linebacker – UCLA
This is another pick that could go either side of the ball as well as being a candidate for a team such as Miami or Tennessee to trade up for. Despite Jack suffering from knee injuries his junior year he has the playmaking ability to turn around the 49ers defence and return it to its former glory when the likes of Patrick Willis was running around.
Pick 8 Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia): Leonard Floyd – Outside Linebacker – Georgia
The Browns are the most likely team to trade down but on the off chance they do stay put Floyd is a player that could make an immediate difference on defense. Floyd may be a tad thin but he has all the makings of a decent pass rusher and he has a lot of speed and mobility that could make him a player to watch.
Pick 9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves – Cornerback – Florida
One of my favorite players coming into the draft, Hargreaves to the Bucs seems like one of the safest picks in the draft. Bucs need help in their secondary and Hargreaves is a play who thrives under pressure and is one of the more consistent defensive players available. Calling it early this guy will be an all pro at some point in his career.
Pick 10 New York Giants: Ronnie Stanley – Offensive Tackle – Notre Dame
The Giants are another team that could feature in a trade but if they stand pat, Stanley out of Notre Dame is a safe selection here to work on the offensive line alongside Justin Pugh and Ereck Flowers. This pick could be considered a steal with Stanley drawing a lot of praise and was at one stage a projected number one pick. Will start from day one.
Pick 11 Chicago Bears: Kevin Dodd – Defensive End – Clemson
Chicago need help on its defensive line and Dodd fits the bill here. Formed a formidable duo with Shaq Lawson at Clemson and both players have a legitimate chance at being drafted by Chicago at number 11. I’ve gone with Dodd here over Lawson purely because he has a superior football IQ which should help in adjust to the NFL quickly.
Pick 12 New Orleans Saints: Robert Nkemdiche – Defensive Tackle – Ole Miss
The Saints need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball and while going for a player like Eli Apple or Mackensie Alexander here may be a bit of a reach. For me Nkemdiche is the ultimate boom or bust defensive player in this draft class. He has a lot of raw potential and could be an impact starter in this league.
Pick 13 Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia): Ezekiel Elliot – Running Back – Ohio St
I’ve got the Dolphins picking Elliot here but if they get a whiff of Elliot not being available at 13 don’t be surprised if the Dolphins trade up to get him. Jay Ajayi is a solid player but doesn’t have the game changing ability that Elliot possesses. Miami have been high on him for a while and he would finally give them another offensive playmaker that isn’t names Jarvis Landry.
Pick 14 Oakland Raiders: Reggie Ragland – Inside Linebacker – Alabama
Forget the Raiders picking an offensive player here; it’s not going to happen. Defense is where they’re going and Reggie Ragland is a player is a thumping linebacker with star potential. Kahlil Mack is the star of the defense for Oakland but working alongside Ragland would make him an even more dangerous player.
Pick 15 Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin – Offensive Tackle – Michigan St
Don’t be surprised if the Titans try and trade their way back into the top 10 to target Tunsil or Stanley. A lot of mock drafts had Tunsil going number one before the LA trade and with Marcus Mariota entering his second season, ensuring his protection should be Tennessee’s number one priority. If they stay put Conklin is a player that has the size and strength to be a solid player.
Pick 16 Detroit Lions: Laquon Treadwell – Wide Receiver – Ole Miss
Regarded as one of the best wide receivers in the draft, Treadwell would be able to fill the shoes left behind by Calvin Johnson. Golden Tate is a solid player but I think he is much better suited to the number two role. Treadwell has the ability to be a vertical threat right from the outset and would be a great weapon for Matt Stafford.
Pick 17 Atlanta Falcons: Shaq Lawson – Defensive End – Clemson
Despite picking up Vic Beasley in last year’s draft, the Falcons still help on their defensive line and Lawson is a player who would pair well alongside Beasley. An All-American in his first full year as a starter, Lawson has the toughness to be an effective pass rusher and could play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme.
Pick 18 Indianapolis Colts: Taylor Decker – Offensive Tackle – Ohio St
Franchise quarterback Andrew Luck spent a lot of time either on the ground after being hit or on the sidelines suffering from injuries resulting from those hits. The Colts need help on their offensive line and if they can’t trade up for the likes of Stanley or Conklin expect them to go with Decker. Has the right mindset to be a strong player for the Colts.
Pick 19 Buffalo Bills: A’Shawn Robinson – Defensive Tackle – Alabama
The second Nick Saban product to come off the board, Robinson could immediately fill the role left by Mario Williams’ departure during the offseason. While a wide receiver may also fit the bill here at 19, we all know Rex Ryan is a defensive coach and he could be the one who could get the best out of Robinson’s talents.
Pick 20 New York Jets: Jaylon Smith – Outside Linebacker – Notre Dame
The Jets go into this draft as the great unknown. Do they trade up? Do they trade down? Do they select Paxton Lynch or go with a defensive player? I’ve got them staying put and selecting Smith out of Notre Dame. Has had injury concerns and will miss some time but when healthy he is an explosive playmaker.
Pick 21 Washington Redskins – Jarran Reed – Defensive Tackle – Alabama
Reed is an elite run defender who was been watched closely by Redskin staff during the NFL combine. Washington struggled to stop teams along the ground throughout the 2015-16 season and Reed is an immediate impact player who will start straight away and be an instant upgrade on its run defense.
Pick 22 Houston Texans: Cody Whitehair – Offensive Guard – Kansas St
This is a surprise pick for me and many mock drafts have the Texans picking a wide receiver to pair alongside DeAndre Hopkins. But with guard Brandon Brooks departing the Texans for Philadelphia, Houston need a player who can come in and open up holes for new running back Lamar Miller to run into. Whitehair is the best guard in the draft and one of the best run blockers available.
Pick 23 Minnesota Vikings: Will Fuller – Wide Receiver – Notre Dame
The one thing that has held back Teddy Bridgewater is the lack of a deep threat at wide receiver. Will Fuller is the answer and has the potential to form a dangerous combination with Stefon Diggs. Fuller does have his flaws but his big play ability is mouth-watering and exactly what the Vikings need to take the next step and take some much needed pressure off Adrian Peterson.
Pick 24 Cincinnati Bengals: Josh Doctson – Wide Receiver – TCU
Although Doctson is not your typical number one receiver that’s not exactly what the Bengals need. With AJ Green still a top five receiver in the NFL, Doctson is the perfect pick here to fill the number two role with the departures of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in the offseason. Quarterback Andy Dalton needs more weapons and Doctson’s height will play right into his wheelhouse.
Pick 25 Pittsburgh Steelers: Mackensie Alexander – Cornerback – Clemson
Pittsburgh desperately need help in the secondary after ranking as one of the worst teams in pass yards allowed in 2015. Alexander isn’t the best corner in the draft but he is strong in man coverage and has the instincts and confidence to become an effective cover corner. Will be thrust into a starting role early but will thrive under the pressure.
Pick 26 Seattle Seahawks: Le’Raven Clark – Offensive Tackle – Texas Tech
The Seahawks don’t have many positions of need but with recent departures along the offensive line, Seattle goes with Clark help protect Thomas Rawls and Russell Wilson. Clark is an intriguing prospect with elite level quickness and length that make him a can’t miss prospect late in the first round.
Pick 27 Green Bay Packers: Darron Lee – Outside Linebacker – Ohio St
Defensive tackle is also an option here for the Packers but I’ve gone with Lee purely because Clay Matthews can’t continue to be the only effective linebacker on the Green Bay roster. The team has lacked another playmaker at linebacker since AJ Hawk’s departure and Lee would provide them with a player that could make an impact on defense.
Pick 28 Kansas City Chiefs: Corey Coleman – Wide Receiver – Baylor
This pick could go a number of ways but I’ve gone Coleman at wide receiver for the simple reason that Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles need more help on offence. Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce did a great job last season but the Chiefs need another threat at wide receiver to be a threat at a championship game. Coleman is a dangerous vertical threat who could take the pressure off of Maclin.
Pick 29 Arizona Cardinals: Eli Apple – Cornerback – Ohio St
Dubbed the best cornerback available in the draft by himself, Apple is another intriguing prospect that could find himself at home lining up alongside stud corner Patrick Peterson who I have no doubt wouldn’t mind seeing Apple in the locker room. His biggest asset is the size and strength that allows him to compete against physical receivers.
Pick 30 Carolina Panthers: William Jackson III – Cornerback – Houston
With the somewhat unexpected departure of all pro cornerback Josh Norman to Washington, the Panthers need a corner and Jackson will be the best available pick here. If Carolina don’t try and trade up for Apple or Alexander, Jackson is a tall corner who has the length that could make him an instant starter.
Pick 31 Denver Broncos: Paxton Lynch – Quarterback – Memphis
The Broncos are also a prime candidate for a trade and could bring in Sam Bradford or Colin Kaeparnick to fix their problem at quarterback. If that happens than Denver pick a defensive player here but if they don’t than Lynch is its quarterback of the future. Would need time to develop but possesses the size and athleticism that turns heads.