Welcome to my 2016 1st round mock draft. With just one week left till the big day, I decided to make my first mock of the year. My mock draft is new and improved with in depth analysis on each pick. Some picks might surprise you, others may be obvious to you. I would like to give credit to NFL.com for the format and logos of my mock. Let’s get started.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Wentz has quickly emerged into the top QB prospect in the draft. He put on a show at the Combine, and would be a good fit for the Rams system. Jared Goff has the small hand issue, and despite being from a small school, Wentz has the most future upside of any quarterback in this draft class.
The most likely outcome of this pick is that the Eagles, who recently traded up, take advantage of it and go with QB Jared Goff. But what the Eagles don’t realize is that they should’ve shut their mouths and sat tight, they have plenty of talent at the position now that they re-signed Sam Bradford and signed Chase Daniel as backup. What the Eagles really need is a flex defensive end/defensive tackle. Joey Bosa is strictly an edge rusher. Buckner can do both and is a much better fit in Philadelphia.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
As one of the top prospects left at this point, Ramsey would be a good fit in the Chargers’ secondary. Ramsey fits the needs of San Diego very well, and the Chargers do lack a defensive line, as Joey Bosa would still be available. Laremy Tunsil would also be available, and he is the top prospect in the draft and is at a position the Chargers kind of need. But Ramsey is a very strong prospect who can bring serious change of tone to the secondary.
Bosa has a ton of upside and has been atop the boards since the start of the season. He really fits the Cowboys system and knows how to fix a defensive line. This would be a great pick for Dallas, and Bosa is my top prospect of this draft.
At first I thought this team wanted an OLB like Myles Jack with this pick but now I’m having second thoughts. First, it has been rumored lately that Jack still has knee issues, and second the Jags need serious o-line help Laremy Tunsil, possibly the best prospect in this draft is still on the board is available here. Tunsil will fill in opposite Luke Joeckel and will play right tackle. Sorry Mr. Jack, you’re going to have to wait a bit longer.
The Ravens no longer have the temptation of DeForest Buckner hanging from a thread. With Buckner going 2nd overall, the Ravens have to move on to assess their other need, o-line, offensive tackle in particular. Laremy Tunsil was just taken, but there is a prospect left worth going top 10. Ronnie Stanley. Stanley has been atop draft boards since the first mocks were coming out around mid-season. Stanley has nearly as much potential as Tunsil and is an amazing alternative.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
If Goff plummets this far, the 49ers need to take advantage of it. The 49ers may have a need at pass rusher, offensive line, wide receiver, even running back, but their main need by far is QB. Goff will be ready to start in Week 1, and he’s the best option when your starting QB spot is between Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert before the draft.
The Browns have four main needs, quarterback, wide receive, linebacker and defensive end. It’s a little early for LaQuon Treadwell to be selected, same with Paxton Lynch and Shaq Lawson. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are gone and Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner are long gone. Who’s left at the four positions? Myles Jack. Jack, the top linebacker prospect passed up for Laremy Tunsil by the Jags, fits into the Browns scheme and is the best option remaining.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
VERNON HARGREAVES III
After signing Robert Ayers to help the D-line, the Bucs’ top need is to find a consistent top prospect for the secondary. With Jalen Ramsey long gone, Hargreaves is by far the best fit in Tampa. Hargreaves will play right corner, where they have their biggest hole of all, by far.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Treadwell’s strong upside makes him an amazing counterpart to OBJ. I could see this rookie wide receiver playing at Odell Beckham Jr.’s level by the end of the season. Who do the Giants have behind OBJ at receiver that is at full health? Victor Cruz could still be hurt and Dwayne Harris just isn’t ready to be WR2 for New York.
NFL experts have this defensive end all over the place. The Bears could use this strong pass rusher as a big upgrade at defensive end. With Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner gone, Lawson should have an easy way into Chicago.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Rankins has shot up draft boards to become #1 DT in recent days, and he is the Saints best option after his breakout. Robert Nkemdiche and others have gone down in stock. Rankins remains the best option at DT, and New Orleans is the perfect fit for him.
After losing Lamar Miller to free agency, the Dolphins may have the biggest hole at running back in the entire NFL. After the Eagles, Cowboys, Browns, Ravens, 49ers and Giants pass on the running back Elliott will be left for the Dolphins to snag as a steal.
After a change of schools, Spence quickly became a top prospect, but his stock has gone down most recently. But with the big guys off the board, Spence has a decent shot of making it with the Raiders.
Even if the Titans traded down, they might want a lower tier offensive tackle instead of Laremy Tunsil. If Conklin isn’t taken by the Bears, he would be a strong fit in Tennessee. Marcus Mariota is ready to breakout in his sophomore year, but he’s a sack target if he doesn’t get some o-line protection in currently weak spots like tackle.
It’s the trade effect again, with Laremy Tunsil falling to Jacksonville and Ronnie Stanley heading to Baltimore, the Titans now take Jack Conklin. That leaves Detroit with this tackle out of Ohio State. I see a lot of potential for this guy, and personally, I would take Decker over Conklin, but I think Tennessee will go after Conklin over Decker.
Wow, that’s the second straight OSU pick. It’s a good school with a good 2016 class, what can I say. This top linebacker fits what the Falcons are looking for. The Falcons were somewhat active this off season, but have serious holes to fill. Darron Lee could easily take care of that issue at outside linebacker. Lee has amazing upside and is a good next prospect behind Myles Jack.
Whoa, there, Whitehair already? That’s no error. The Colts have some issues all over the offensive line, but their need for a guard is so urgent, that I say they go for one (Whitehair) rather than going for a top tackle (Germain Ifedi or Jason Spriggs). Even if the guard and center positions are weak in this draft, like I said, Whitehair is good enough that the Colts will grab him in the first round to fill a big need.
Dodd could go a lot earlier, and he has been a trending name lately on draft boards, but not as many teams need an early defensive end as you think, and if other teams with the need pick other guys or go with another top prospect at a position they need, Dodd could fall to the Bills, who are in desperate need for veteran DE Mario Williams, who was cut early this off season.
NEW YORK JETS
With the Rams trading up to snag Wentz or Goff, the Eagles passing on the remaining guy, and the Niners stealing Goff, the Browns would be left with Lynch, and they would not want him that early in the draft. So Lynch now falls to the Jets, who can’t seem to tie the knot with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Just Geno Smith, one of the worst starting quarterbacks of 2014 (led the Jets to 4-12 season), and Bryce Petty (2015 rookie, may not be ready, hasn’t seen a start) are left to fill his gap. It would be very helpful to get this top draft prospect if they can’t sign Fitzy or new free agent Brian Hoyer before Draft Day.
The Skins still need some pass rush help, but the defensive line appears to be all set, and the rumored signing of Josh Norman may rule out drafting a corner. The signing of Junior Gallette will fill the hole at outside linebacker. That leaves a space at inside linebacker. Ragland is a very strong prospect who could be a serious playmaker in Washington. He won’t just fill the hole, he’ll make sure he has a strong rookie year in the process.
The Texans need a partner in crime for top receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Nate Washington left for New England. Free agency is practically over. They missed out on LaQuon Treadwell. That leaves this Baylor playmaker. Coleman plays an important role in making Brock Osweiler comfortable in his new home of Houston and makes sure he has enough weapons. They do also need a tight end, but I don’t think Hunter Henry will be first round material.
Again with a long shot guard? The Vikings may need a wide receiver in this draft, but they have Stefon Diggs and Charles Johnson, that can wait. Maybe they’ll pick someone in the later rounds like Sterling Shepard who becomes the next Stefon Diggs. For now they may need to focus on offensive line help. They already picked up LG Alex Boone and RT Andre Smith, and already had LT Matt Kalil and C Joe Berger. That leaves right guard. Alexander is the next best guard behind Cody Whitehair (selected by Colts) and should at least be a placeholder in Minnesota, if not a long term option.
If you haven’t been following free agency, Cincinnati lost two of their top receivers behind A.J. Green, Marvin Jones (to Detroit) and Mohamed Sanu (to Atlanta). They did sign Brandon LaFell, but he’s a risky WR2. Who do they have behind him and Green? Brandon Tate? James Wright? Half of you probably have never even heard of those guys. If the Bengals go after this Notre Dame stud, he will probably be the WR2 over LaFell, who will fall to WR3. Now that’s a little better. I can accept Brandon Tate at WR4 and James Wright at WR5. Most of all, I accept Fuller as WR2.
Besides flex defensive back Jalen Ramsey, this Pittsburgh prospect is the top safety of the draft. The Steelers need some secondary help. They could draft a corner, as Eli Apple would still be an option, but the need for a safety is stronger in Steel City. Vonn Bell is ready to take on the NFL, and it would be even better to stay in Pittsburgh while in the pros. I like Bell as a first round pick, and without the temptation of Taylor Decker (who would have been drafted here if my mock was released before the trade), and they can focus on the secondary with this pick.
Alright, the Seahawks could upgrade their already all-powerful defense. Or they could upgrade a free agency weakened offensive line. Which sounds better? We all know the o-line does. Kelly will fill the hole at center. They also have a hole at guard, but the need for center is greater, and my gut feeling leans on this.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Alright, the Packers definitely need a linebacker. They may need a potential replacement for Julius Peppers. They may need an outside linebacker on the other side. They may need an inside linebacker if Clay Matthews is going back to being an OLB. I think it makes more sense to go for an OLB than to push Clay Matthews into a different position and draft an ILB! Reggie Ragland isn’t even available anymore! Could you really see Green Bay drafting Kentrell Brothers at ILB and moving Matthews when Matthews could stay at MLB and the still remaining Leonard Floyd is free to be picked by Green Bay? I can’t.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Although Marcus Peters already boosted the secondary last year, Sean Smith’s departure left yet another hole on the opposite side of Peters. Now Peters needs a partner in crime, not veteran corner Smith. Peters made such a splash in season one, that he’s playing at Smith’s level now. Apple is in a similar position in this year’s draft to the situation Peters was in last year. Not the very top prospect at the position, but worth some serious first round consideration. They chose the right breakout corner in the first round of last year’s draft. Why can’t it happen again?
A’ SHAWN ROBINSON
The Cards already got a defensive end. This strong defensive tackle prospect, once the top defensive tackle just ahead of Alabama’s Robert Nkemdiche, could continue to reformation of a strong defensive line in Arizona. Yes, the Cardinals already have a strong defense, but it has holes, and the offense appears to be all set now. This is just a good football team. Why not improve it further with this intriguing pick?
(Note: The New England Patriots lost their pick that would be in this spot because Roger Goodell had some stupid suspicions that Tom Brady and the Pats were responsible for the partially deflated footballs in the 2014-15 AFC Championship game, not science.)
Yes, the Panthers did sign Brandon Boykin to fill the position, but he’s no permanent option. He doesn’t match up to Charles Tillman either. Therecent loss of Josh Norman could also be a deciding factor if he doesn’t sign with the squad long term. This top corner prospect in the draft doesn’t necessarily match up to Norman or Tillman yet, but has a long career ahead of him and could greatly improve. Boykin isn’t a permanent option, but he can at least start some games over the next couple of years until Mackensie Alexander fully emerges. Right now, the Panthers have an amazing team so this pick should be and will be spent on the future of the franchise.
Look, the Broncos aren’t going to start Mark Sanchez come Opening Night. Unless they get Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer or Colin Kaepernick (not much of an upgrade), they will go after a quarterback in the first couple rounds of this year’s draft. If one of the top four QBs (Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch or Connor Cook) is still available on this pick, they’re going to take advantage of it. John Elway may be content with Sanchez as starting QB, but it doesn’t mean he may be interested in upgrading. It just means if they can’t find anyone better, he’ll start. Connor Cook, the only top 4 QB that would be left on this pick, is a better option than the declining seven year veteran.
That concludes my 2016 one-round mock draft. How do you think the first round will play out? Comment below or go to predictpick.nfl.com. Once you get there, go to groups and join my group. It is a public group called Boston SportsMania (no password required). Also be on the lookout for my recap of free agency in the NFL.