I’m only doing one mock this year, so I better make it count! Here’s my take on the 2016 NFL Draft. Feel free to yell at me @Ethanhamm on Twitter.
1. LA (from TEN) – Jared Goff, QB, Cal
While I originally thought that the Rams would look to Wentz, Goff seems to be the apple of their eye. Jeff Fisher likes his ability to read the whole field and thinks that he will be the ideal key to unlock Tavon Austin. I would not be surprised if the Rams utilize their next couple of picks to find sleepers at wide receiver and cornerback. Some names to remember are Paul McRoberts (WR) and Nick Van Hoose (CB).
2. PHI (from CLE) – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Despite the protests of many Eagles fans, Wentz appears to be their guy at the 2 spot. Personally, I do not see much difference on tape between Wentz and Paxton Lynch. Lynch, in many ways, actually is a more pro-ready prospect than Wentz, who has no pocket presence and needs time to develop. However, Lynch has shoulder issues and drug rumors surrounding him, while Wentz is uber-competitive and a choir boy off the field (despite his bad Tweets). The Eagles prioritized finding a face of their franchise who would not embarrass them with extracurricular activities. Now, Wentz has a chance to grow with Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, and Zach Ertz in the super competitive NFC East.
3. SD – Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
In a vacuum, Jalen Ramey is the best defender in this class, and perhaps the top player. The Chargers need help behind Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers, and Casey Hayward. Ramsey reminds me a lot of LA Ram Trumaine Johnson. I think the first couple of years will be a struggle for Ramsey, as he has some issues with getting wild in his backpedal and his technique needs work. However, given time, he could be the best player in this draft class. I would love to see Ramsey get opportunities as a robber-hybrid like Johnson does on the Rams.
4. DAL – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
The Cowboys have three players that they are considering with #4 overall – Ramsey, Zeke Elliott, and Joey Bosa. Scouts and Jerry Jones have Ramsey as their top name, but with him gone, I think the owner will push for Zeke and make him the selection. Zeke is one of the most polished running backs to enter the professional ranks in quite a while, and behind the Dallas offensive line he has a chance to shine. Also, for what it’s worth, I do think Dallas could look quarterback later in the draft. I just don’t see them doing so at #4 overall.
5. JAX – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
There is a lot of smoke percolating around the Jacksonville pick. However, despite some fears about his injury, I’m going to stick with Myles Jack here. Jack is a super athletic linebacker prospect with the ability to play linebacker or safety. Offensive tackles, edges, and defensive tackles do not make sense for the Jaguars, as they have young depth at all of those positions. The Jaguars may try to move down, but if they cannot, I think they will sit tight and take Jack.
6. BAL – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
There has been ample smoke from Baltimore’s camp that they value Ronnie Stanley over Laremy Tunsil. I find this hard to believe given Ozzie Newsome’s past track record of sticking to their board no matter what from a talent perspective. Objectively speaking, Tunsil is more talented than Stanley, plays with a meaner streak, and has the potential to be Baltimore’s best bookend since Jonathan Ogden.
I also did some research into Tunsil’s role with the Robert Nkemdiche hotel incident. While I have yet to receive further police information from Atlanta (because Georgia’s FOIA protocols, as many people will attest, are awful), I did confirm that Tunsil was not involved, at all, with Nkemdiche’s fall. Tunsil, by all accounts, is someone who takes his NFL dreams seriously and would not let it slip away from him by making a careless error. If he goes to the Ravens, the team will profit. I think Ozzie is creating a bit of a smokescreen with the Stanley buzz. I cannot see him passing up Tunsil at 6.
7. MIA (from SF) – Joey Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
I’m not going to be projecting exact trades in this mock draft in terms of compensation, but I think the Dolphins find a way to move up from 13 and snag Bosa here. He’s a local guy and all parties feel he could benefit by staying close to home, where he has a solid support system. The Niners have a number of guys that they are targeting, mainly on the offensive side of the ball although DeForest Buckner could come into play here as well. While I could see them staying here and picking one of the offensive tackles, I think Chip will look to accrue more selections and move down. With this pick, the Dolphins would get more dangerous on the defensive side of the ball with a bona fide top five talent while the Niners pick up more assets for their own rebuilding process.
8. CLE (from PHI) – DeForest Buckner, EDGE/DL, Oregon
From the beginning of the draft process, I have heard that the Browns like Buckner a good deal. If he slips past the Niners, I think he could be a really good fit in Cleveland as as defensive end in Ray Horton’s scheme. While the Browns also need a safety and a wide receiver, the markets are such that they can snag those positions later in the draft. There is a dearth of elite power edge talent in the NFL, though, and Bucker fills this need to a T. If the Browns had stayed at 2, they would have considered Buckner. Now, they get him at 8 – a steal!
9. TEN (from TB) – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The Titans should be active this year. While the Bucs love Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves and Michigan State OT Jack Conklin, they also need more picks to build up depth on their roster. Titans GM Jon Robinson is friends with Bucs GM Jason Licht, and that Patriots connection should enable them to make a deal here. Stanley would slot in opposite Taylor Lewan on the Tennessee offensive line and, ideally, give Marcus Mariota a pair of solid bookends for the next decade.
10. NYG – Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Even though the Giants just signed Janoris Jenkins, this is a team that sticks to its board. Prince Amukamara is gone and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is injury prone and unexceptional. Hargreaves is a physical specimen with amazing explosiveness who can play both boundary cornerback and slot cornerback in the NFL. He has drawn many Leon Hall comparisons thanks to this versatility, although I personally think his game mirrors Patriots star Malcolm Butler because of his recovery ability and ball skills. Hargreaves has amazingly quick feet and change of direction ability. This is a perfect fit of player and team.
11. CHI – Shaq Lawson, EDGE, Clemson
Buzz has been percolating for a while that Shaq Lawson is the Bears’ guy, so this is where he will slot. Lawson has the perfect blend of great off-field credentials and top-notch on-field marks. He has burst, strength, and a pass rush move set to bring an immediate positive impact to the table for the Bears. It should also be noted that Lawson would be tasked with going against the left tackles of the NFC North, all of whom are horrid. He could get 10-12 sacks as a rookie in this division.
12. NO – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
The Saints could go a lot of different ways with this pick, including EDGE Leonard Floyd from Georgia or one of the wide receivers. However, Rankins provides an interior pass rush that this defense sorely needs. What jumps out on tape with Rankins is his field awareness. He always knows where the ball is and rarely ever bites on fakes. Rankins also put on a show at the Senior Bowl with his spin moves and quickness. Rankins has the potential to be a phenomenal defensive tackle at the next level, and the Saints seem like a good fit for him.
13. SF (from PHI via MIA) – Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
Michael Thomas is the top wide receiver on the Niners board per multiple sources, and his ability to separate and get open quickly appeal greatly to Chip Kelly. He reminds me of ex-Cowboys receiver Miles Austin, and while I personally have other receivers ranked over him, I do think Thomas has the potential to be a very good player in the league. The Niners are also fans of Will Fuller and a number of other wide receiver prospects.
14. OAK – William Jackson, CB, Houston
Another CB from the University of Houston goes to Oakland – this one, however, does not come with any health-related baggage. Jackson is a rangy defender who runs a 4.3 40 and has great ball skills. He shows a natural ability to tip away passes at the last second, and he may be even more effective in the pros if he learns how to use the sideline better. Jackson reminds me a bit of Lions cornerback Darius Slay thanks to his ability at the line of scrimmage. I think he may get burned from time to time, but the potential is there for Jackson to be a top cornerback in this class.
15. TB (from LA via TEN) – Jack Conklin, OT Michigan State
Conklin could go as high as 7 to the 49ers, but in this iteration he falls to 15 where the Buccaneers snap him up. Conklin projects as more of a right tackle than left tackle to me, but he does show good consistency in his footwork. He can be beaten by power in certain instances, but he has the potential to grow in an OL system and compensate for those issues with the right coaching. I think him next to the likes of an uber-athletic Ali Marpet and consistent tight end Cameron Brate could be beneficial for his game, as Marpet can help on the bigger linemen and Brate is underrated against edge rushers.
16. DET – Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Teams LOVE Ryan Kelly, and if Jackson is off the board I think he ends up in Detroit. Kelly is an Alex Mack style center with great hand technique, ability off the line of scrimmage, and intelligence in terms of protection adjustments. Kelly would offer the Lions a consistent option in the middle of their line and help them open up holes for their young running backs.
17. ATL – Leonard Floyd, EDGE/LB, Georgia
The Falcons would be thrilled if Floyd lasts to their pick, as he can give them a young puzzle piece to pair with Vic Beasley. Floyd also has the ability to play some middle linebacker if necessary, with certain teams comparing him to Patriots middle linebacker Jamie Collins. While I personally would not rate Floyd THAT highly, he would give Atlanta some versatility and options in their defensive front. He might even shift Paul Worrilow over to the bench, which would be a boon for the Falcons, as Worrilow is terrible. Atlanta may also pick Darron Lee here instead, but given Floyd’s locality and versatility, he gets the nod here.
18. IND – Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
I am a huge fan of Lee’s, and given the young linebacker’s measurables this would be a steal for the Colts. Lee has the ability to be a Lavonte David type cornerstone in some team’s back seven. Indianapolis has a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and Lee would help boost their defensive speed a fair amount. The Colts should focus on the defense in this draft, and picking players like Lee would only position them better in the weak AFC South. Other guys they may focus on later include safety Justin Simmons from Boston College and defensive tackle D.J. Reader from Clemson.
19. BUF – Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Nkemdiche is the highest ceiling defensive tackle in this draft class, and Rex Ryan loves taking chances on players like that. Nkemdiche is an interesting guy – he is not a stupid man by any means. He is just someone who needs to show that he is willing to put the requisite focus on football if he is to be a success. There are some drug questions surrounding Nkemdiche, specifically regarding synthetic marijuana (spice), which his brother was hospitalized for using in 2015. However, based on conversations with people at Mississippi, Nkemdiche just needs to fall in with the right crowd. Maybe the #BillsMafia can round him into shape. When his mind is in the right place, Nkemdiche can be a dominant interior defensive force
20. NYJ – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
The Jets have long been eyeing Paxton Lynch, although I have also heard that Chan Gailey is a big fan of some of the mid-round quarterbacks, too. Given the way that the board fell in this case, Lynch makes a lot of sense. He is as good as, if not better, than Carson Wentz in every single aspect of being a quarterback. Lynch would go to New York with two elite level wide receiver and a great safety option in Matt Forte. This would be a perfect fit and position the Jets well to contend in the AFC East.
21. WSH – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Reed is an unsung defensive tackle with great functional strength, athletic ability, and the intelligence to fill gaps in the Washington defense. While Scott McCloughan would have loved to get Ryan Kelly here, Reed is a nice consolation prize. He can team up with Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan to give this team’s defense some nice, athletic options on their defensive line.
22. HOU – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
While there has been buzz for both Corey Coleman and Will Fuller here, Doctson seems to be the best of both. Doctson has the best tape of any wide receiver in this class, and also tested extremely well from a SPARQ standpoint. 1+1=2, and I do not think the Texans expect him to be at their pick. If he is, they should jump at the opportunity to pair him across from Nuk Hopkins.
23. MIN – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
The Vikings need to give Teddy Bridgewater some help at the wide receiver position, and Treadwell is a playmaker who can get vertical and make plays at the catch point. Bridgewater has gotten a really raw deal compared to his young QB counterparts when it comes to help at the wide receiver position. Derek Carr got Amari Cooper last year, and Blake Bortles has Allan Robinson in tow. With Treadwell, Bridgewater would finally have a legitimate number one target.
24. CIN – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
At the end of this mini-run of wide receivers sit the Bengals, who will jump on Fuller if he is there. He has the athleticism to get open vertically, the intelligence that has dazzled teams in private interviews, and the footwork to potentially grow as a route runner. While Fuller’s hands are a question mark, the reward should outweigh the risk in this case. Coleman is another option, but I think the Bengals will lean Fuller.
25. PIT – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Apple slips further than expected in this mock draft, but the Steelers will jump on him. While Pittsburgh also likes Karl Joseph, given his recent injury issues I am unsure if he will still get Round 1 billing. Apple is long, lanky, and has the ability to play press man effectively. He can grow in Pittsburgh, as his game is reminiscent of Ike Taylor’s.
26. SEA – Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Why not? With Marshawn Lynch gone, the Seahawks could use a running back, and Henry’s measurables are off the charts. He could be a perfect fit for Seattle’s smash mouth offense as a replacement to Beast Mode and a complement to Thomas Rawls. Other players to keep an eye on here include Indiana’s OT Jason Spriggs, Clemson CB/S TJ Green, and Mississippi State DT Chris Jones.
27. GB – Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Speaking of Jones, he fits in here with the Packers, who need help in the interior of their defense. Jones has the talent top be a top 10 player in this draft class when it’s all said and done, and he fits in well with the likes of Mike Daniels in this fearsome front seven.
28. CLE (from KC) – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
The Browns MAY be able to wait and get Corey Coleman a bit later in the draft, but they decide to move up and just take him as a safety measure. RG3 could use a field stretcher and Coleman may be the most explosive receiver in this draft. The Chiefs move down to 32, where they could pick up more picks or potentially bolster the defensive side of the ball with a back seven player.
29. JAX (from ARZ) – Keanu Neal, S, Florida
The Jaguars move up to take a safety prospect they crave. The Jaguars have added Prince Amukamara this offseason and Davon House seems to have the other cornerback spot solidified. However, they are still missing a legitimate over the top safety. I think Karl Joseph would have been in play here if not for the uncertainty of his injury – this is a “Win Now” season for the Jaguars and having two first round picks coming off of severe injuries, plus Dante Fowler having not played at all in 2015, seems imprudent. Instead, the Jaguars take local player Neal, who can provide a reasonable facsimile of a free safety while also laying the wood now and again.
30. CAR – Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
The Panthers devalue the cornerback position, so even though Mackensie Alexander is on the board, I think Carolina ends up selecting teammate Dodd instead. Dodd reminds me a bit of ex-Dolphin and Jaguar Matt Roth. I think he would be a 5-7 sack guy in an ideal situation, while also providing top notch run defense ability. Dodd should slot in on that dynamic defensive line and help fill in the hole left by Jared Allen.
31. DEN – Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
The Broncos have been looking at quarterbacks for a while, and although I am not the biggest fan of Cook’s, he makes sense for Denver. Cook’s biggest issue is that he cannot read defenses well, and often gets baited into bad throws by linebackers playing shallow zones. He also has some attitude questions. That being said, Denver has receivers that can create after the catch for him, and morale in the Mile High City could not be better. I can’t bring myself to mock Christian Hackenberg here, so Cook it is.
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