The 2016 NFL Draft is six months away. We’re more than halfway through the college football season; we’re starting to get an idea of who might need what in the NFL. Hence, an NFL Mock Draft. We did one back in May and obviously plenty has changed. The draft order is based on where we think teams will end up.
1. Tennessee (1-5) – Joey Bosa, DL, Ohio State. The Titans don’t have a 1st or 2nd round player in the DL rotation. The Titans need skill position players, and have a QB, so there probably will be talk of trading this pick. If they keep it, the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Bosa (last 22 games, 32 TFL, 17 sacks) is difficult to pass up.
2. Baltimore (1-6) – Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State. Defensive backs rarely go this high, but Eric Berry went 5th and so did Sean Taylor. Ramsey’s an Ed Reed-type ballhawk and a tremendous playmaker.
3. Detroit (1-6) – Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Mississippi. He’s not their next Suh, but he’s got the potential to a disruptive, elite, DL. (And Ngata is a free agent.) The Lions needs are many, but it’s too early to tell who will be making this pick.
4. Houston (2-5) – Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State. I know he’s struggled again this year. And there’s no buzz around him because everyone loves Jared “Bear Raid” Goff. Bill O’Brien coached Hackenberg during his very impressive freshman year. He hasn’t coached a better QB since. But will O’Brien leave for college?
5. San Francisco (2-5) – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame. The defense has improved in recent weeks, but the 49ers have one of the worst offensive lines in the league. There’s also a dire need for a WR and TE in the draft.
6. Jacksonville (2-5) – Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida. QB Blake Bortles remains up-and-down, but the defense has been consistently bad. From 2012-this season, they’ve permitted 25 or more ppg.
7. Tampa Bay (2-4) – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi. I’ve got Stanley and Tunsil in a virtual tie for best OL prospect in the draft. Jameis Winston would be thrilled with either of them.
8. Chicago (2-4) – Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame. A top 5 talent, they’ll love him in Chicago, where he’ll probably be a 10-year All-Pro. Why no QB? My guess: Cutler plays well enough that they don’t draft a QB … in the 1st round.
9. Kansas City (2-5) – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson. Overshadowed last year by Vic Beasley, Lawson has been dominant all season, with 12.5 TFL (3.5 vs Notre Dame), which is more than he had all of last year. Last year’s draft was much deeper on pass rushers.
10. Washington (3-4) – Leonard Floyd, Edge Rusher, Georgia. Check his tape from the season opener in 2014 against Clemson: Forced fumble, 2 TFL, 2 sacks. The Redskins have so many needs. Do they go with a QB, since RGIII will be gone? The secondary is a disaster. The offensive line needs work. They could use a star #1 WR.
11. San Diego (2-5) – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama. There’s probably going to be a clamor to select Keenan Allen’s wingman, but the defense (especially against the run) has truly been embarrassing (ranking 31st).
12. Cleveland (2-5) – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi. Finally, a solution to their wide receiver woes. Right now, it appears to be a weak WR class – after Treadwell, that is – at least compared to recent years. Yes, I know QB is an issue in Cleveland. And Josh McCown is 37 next July. If McCown can’t keep up his stellar play – I don’t think he can – a QB probably is the move.
13. Oakland (3-3) – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA. Too high for a guy coming off an injury? Jack is a dynamic playmaker, the kind of guy who would become an instant star and fan favorite. Can you imagine a defense with Myles Jack and Khalil Mack?
14. New Orleans (3-4) – Su’a Cravens, LB, USC. A safety/LB hybrid that should fly all over the Superdome for that terrible defense. Keep an eye on the Saints sneaking up on the Wild Card, and then keeping Brees and Payton for one last hurrah.
15. Dallas (2-4) – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. It’s gotta be a defensive player, right? Not necessarily. The offense misses a star RB, and Elliott would fill the shoes of DeMarco Murray. Would Jerry Jones concede he made a mistake? Doubt it. But Romo-Elliott-Dez next year? Nice.
16. Buffalo (3-4) – Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama. Rex Ryan’s defense has woefully underachieved this season. During his time with the Jets, Ryan made drafting defense a priority, and he’s going to do the same again.
18. Miami (3-3) – Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor. There are needs on the OL and at LB, and even at CB. The Dolphins from the first five weeks don’t appear to be the Dolphins we’re going to see in the 2nd half of the season.
19. St. Louis (3-3) – Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU. The offense is going to be built around Todd Gurley, that’s for sure, but it’d be nice to have a #1 WR. The Rams front seven is among the best in football, but there’s a need at CB, and White is off to a hot start in the SEC, and has been starting for three seasons.
20. Seattle (3-4) – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State. Yes, for now I have the Seahawks missing the playoffs. The pick has to be the offensive line, where the Seahawks, through seven games, have given up 31 sacks. In 2014, Russell Wilson was sacked 42 times.
21. Indianapolis (3-4) – Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State. No idea who will be making this pick, or who the coach will be, but there’s just no way this isn’t a defender. Ogbah blew up with a 2-sack, 2-TFL game against FSU in the opener in 2014, and already has eight sacks this season (but the Cowboys haven’t played anyone good yet).
22. Minnesota (4-2) – Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona. The offensive pieces are in place – though they could use help on the OL – but the defense has a couple minor patches that may be needed on defense (LB, CB). Best player on the board pick?
23. Denver (6-0) – Jared Goff, QB, California. I’m still not totally sold on Goff. But taking over for Peyton Manning with that defense and those WRs? He’ll do fine and make me look like a fool.
24. Philadelphia (3-4) – Vadal Alexander, G, LSU. Mauler. Chip Kelly needs a much better offensive line in 2016, because he has the running backs to grind teams. Big need a CB and WR, too.
25. NY Jets (4-2) – Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State. Yes, I’ve got the Jets in the playoffs. No, I don’t think Ryan Fitzpatrick is the long term answer. I think Bryce Petty can have a 10-year career as a quality reserve. Let Cook and Petty slug it out in Year 1, as long as Geno Smith is nowhere near the competition.
26. Carolina (6-0) – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame. The junior is from Philadelphia, and I think the Eagles will give the speedster (4.4 40?) a long look. In Carolina, a trio of Benjamin/Funchess/Fuller will propel Cam Newton to even greater heights in 2016.
27. Pittsburgh ( 4-3) – Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor. Massive needs in the secondary, but Oakman could be an instant impact rotational guy on the DL. May be the #1 boom/bust prospect right now.
28. Atlanta (6-1) – Kendell Beckwith, LB, LSU. Dan Quinn quickly built up a robust DL; the LBs and secondary could still use improvement. Wouldn’t totally rule out a #2 WR with Roddy White on his way out the door.
29. Arizona (4-2) – Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama. Chris Johnson’s working (for now) and David Johnson has looked sharp, but Henry would be the ghost they’ve been chasing at RB for years now. His comparisons run the gamut of big, fast monsters: Eddie Lacy, Brandon Jacobs, Eddie George.
30. Cincinnati (6-0) – Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State. 3rd-year sophomore is a tremendous player who was dominant against Alabama last year in the Playoff game (3 TFL, 2 sacks) but has been a bit quieter this year. Of the Super Bowl contenders, the Bengals could lose more defensive players than anyone in free agency.
31. Green Bay (6-0) – Jayron Kearse, SS, Clemson.
Son Nephew of the “Freak” and you don’t find many 6-foot-4, 250-pound safeties, but I had to sneak this insane athlete into the 1st round. Could play LB, maybe edge rusher, who knows.
32. New England (6-0) – No 1st round pick. Forfeited in the Deflategate scandal.