My latest attempt at projecting the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. I’ve included scouting reports from my 2016 NFL Draft Preview for the top eight prospects selected. For in-depth reports of 225 of the draft’s top prospects, please consider buying a copy of the book here!
1. Tennessee Titans – OT Laremy Tunsil, Mississippi*
Protecting Marcus Mariota should be the team’s top priority; although they have one quality offensive tackle in Taylor Lewan, it might be hard for them to pass on Tunsil here, even with someone like Jalen Ramsey available.
6’5” – 310 lbs. – 5.15e
Started nine games at left tackle as a true freshman, then eleven games in the following year, missing contests against Auburn and Presbyterian with a partially torn bicep. Broke his leg in the Peach Bowl as a sophomore. Underwent offseason ankle surgery prior to 2015. Plays left tackle for the Rebels. Has a thick build with long arms and good weight distribution; looks a little bit bigger in his upper body. In the running game, is mobile enough to lead block on a screen or get to the second level and engage a defender, but isn’t an athletic freak like some recent top tackle prospects. That said, does get up to speed faster than anticipated for a man of his size. Can control opponents when he gets his hands on them; possesses excellent grip strength to sustain blocks. More of a wall-off blocker than a dominant drive blocker; works hard through the whistle, but doesn’t look particularly mean or aggressive. Controlled footwork in his kickslide; does a nice job of getting depth and repeating his technique. Plays with good balance; gets low, keeps his back straight, and avoids lunging. Doesn’t have to abandon his technique against top rushers. Gets good extension with his arms. Has a strong lower body and can anchor easily against power; stonewalls attempted bull-rushes. In situations where his side is overloaded, is big and strong enough to obstruct multiple defenders. Very difficult to get around with speed because of his thickness; doesn’t have exceptional lateral agility, but is long and wide enough that he does a good job of staying in front of opponents. Handles counter-moves well. Has a strong punch to knock defenders off-balance. Capable cut-blocker. Needs to improve his recognition skills; can get caught blocking down and allow unblocked edge rushers to create pressure. Somewhat susceptible to inside moves, lacking the recovery speed to compensate. Is given a little bit more help via double-team blocks than most top tackles. Didn’t have a great showing against Carl Lawson, being flagged multiple times and allowing more pressure than a top prospect should. Very technically-sound left tackle with a strong lower body and enough athleticism to handle speed on an island. Looks like he has the skills to play on the blindside at the pro level, although he’s not as physically or athletically gifted as most top tackle prospects, and doesn’t dominate in the run game. Will also require investigation into previous injuries and arrest/benefits issues as a junior. As likely as anyone to go first overall, especially after an excellent pro day.
2. Cleveland Browns – QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota St.
Head coach Hue Jackson has mentioned that hand size will be important for the Browns in choosing a quarterback; that may give Wentz the edge, especially in light of a pro day performance considered to have been excellent.
6’5” – 237 lbs. – 4.77
Redshirted in 2011, then spent the next two seasons as a backup. Took over the starting job as a redshirt junior, a role he reprised for his senior season; however, missed a handful of games after breaking his wrist. Led the Bison to championships in each of his final two seasons, their fourth and fifth consecutive titles. Two-time captain. Operates out of a hybrid offense which asks him to take snaps from under center; scheme involves plenty of read-options and package plays in which he’s given the opportunity of handing off or throwing the ball. Fairly athletic quarterback who has the ability to roll out from the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield; also carries the ball sometimes on read options, with more agility than many passers of similar stature. Can complete passes while moving to either the left or right. Footwork in the pocket needs to be cleaned up; looks too deliberate when dropping back and doesn’t step into his throws, generating most of his velocity with his arm as opposed to effective weight transfer. Moves pretty well to avoid rushers in the pocket, although he often runs instead of going through his progressions. Has an elongated delivery, which is exacerbated by a tendency to stare down his first option; could be preyed upon by faster pro defensive backs. Throws a catchable ball with a tight spiral and good touch, but overall ball placement is suffers the further he’s asked to throw; often lets his deep ball sail beyond his receiver. A bit of a gunslinger who’s at his best when he’s throwing bullets at the short-to-intermediate level; capable of fitting the ball into some tight windows with accuracy, albeit against a lower level of competition. Takes a bit more punishment than you’d like to see, with a competitive on-field demeanor that makes him reluctant to slide at the end of his runs; teams may wonder if the injury he sustained as a senior is a hint of what’s to come given his style of play. A tall, athletic quarterback with a good arm (if not an elite one) and a competitive temperament, Wentz should attract plenty of interest early in the draft owing to the position he plays; having taken snaps from under center will certainly help his cause, although he didn’t go through too many progressions at the college level and needs to clean up his footwork, both in terms of dropping back and transferring weight, not to mention the difficulties he may have in playing against a significantly higher level of competition. Could end up as a starter, but will probably need a year or two of grooming first.
3. San Diego Chargers – DB Jalen Ramsey, Florida St.*
An acrimonious divorce from top safety Eric Weddle will likely make an elite athlete like Jalen Ramsey too difficult to pass on here, despite the fact that he’s probably better as a Weddle replacement than as a cornerback.
6’1” – 209 lbs. – 4.41
Started three games at cornerback, then shifted to safety as a true freshman, starting the final eleven games of the season there. Started all fourteen games the following year at the “star” position, which calls for work in the slot, then worked on the outside this season. Very tall, long-limbed cornerback who really looks the part. Has some pretty diverse assignments as far as where he lines up on the field, but does a lot of shuffle coverage, often from the short side of the field, allowing him to use the sideline to his advantage. Rarely asked to backpedal, but with turn-and-run responsibilities, is capable of aligning in press-man and using his wingspan to blanket opposing receivers. Fast enough to carry bigger receivers down the field. However, isn’t really a quick-twitch player who stays glued to opponents out of their breaks; looked susceptible to comeback routes during the games reviewed. Has some technique issues; will turn around away from the receiver instead of turning into them, wasting motion. Needs to get his head around more quickly to locate the ball. Wasn’t asked to line up against many smaller, quicker receivers in the games reviewed, but might struggle in that capacity. Also does some pattern-matching work in zone coverages, where he might be more comfortable as a pro. Ball hawk who can disguise his coverages and jump routes, although would-be interceptions often clang off of his hands. Leapt 41.5” at the Combine. Works well against bunch formations. Has done considerable bit of work as a blitzer off the edge; disguised his rushes pretty well. Excellent leaper who uses his length to bat down passes when rushing from the play-side. Willing as a run defender, generating some force on contact. Capable of taking on blocks; gets arm extension and positions himself well to force runners back inside. Works as a gunner on coverage units, a blocker on the punt team, and serves as the Seminoles’ primary kick returner. Not really a shutdown corner like most top picks, but has rare size, length, and leaping ability which could convince teams he’s capable of matching up against size in the pro game. However, is more likely to end up back at safety, where his man-coverage limitations would be masked and he would be allowed to take advantage of his quality instincts and timing as a zone defender. Diverse responsibilities and unique physical skills will keep him within the top ten picks in next year’s draft; may remind some teams of former first-round pick Malcolm Jenkins, who converted to safety as a pro.
4. Dallas Cowboys – DE Joey Bosa, Ohio St.*
With Greg Hardy already out of the picture and Randy Gregory facing a suspension, the Cowboys would be well-served by bringing in a top defensive end who can get pressure opposite left end Demarcus Lawrence.
6’5” – 269 lbs. – 4.86
Has started for the Buckeyes in each of the past three seasons. Tall with long limbs, a muscular build, and even weight distribution; looks like he has the frame to carry additional weight. Lines up at defensive end in the Buckeyes’ even defensive front, alternating between the left and right sides of the line. Slides inside to tackle sometimes and looks very dangerous there. Blows up a ton of plays in the backfield. Disciplined player who remembers his responsibilities; sets the edge and is patient in backside contain. Good awareness to track ballcarriers while engaged. Can reestablish the line of scrimmage and create congestion by controlling his man. Gets good extension with his arms and can shed blocks effectively and make tackles while engaged. Bulldozes tight ends and fullbacks. Powerful tackler with some explosiveness. Gives some effort in pursuit but isn’t really fast enough to chase opponents to the sidelines. Despite his lack of production as a junior, is a polished pass-rusher with a pro-ready skillset. High-motor rusher who usually gets off the snap quickly. Very athletic for his size and can bend the edge smoothly when rushing the passer; dips the shoulder and can beat opposing tackles to the corner. However, occasionally gets too aggressive and will slip to the ground. Has active feet and plenty of natural strength to generate push with his bull-rush. Works swim and rip moves into his game successfully; cycles through rushes enough to keep opponents guessing. Despite his ability, however, doesn’t attract the sort of blocking attention that other top defensive line prospects have drawn; frequently just one offensive linemen is assigned to block him. When he’s unable to reach the quarterback, gets his hands up in an attempt to bat down passes. Makes zone drops a few times per game; looks surprisingly technically sound for a player of his size, although he’s only responsible for defending a short area. Hasn’t had the sack production people expected, but shows up consistently on tape. While he lacks the bulk of J.J. Watt, the player he’s most often compared to, he too has the look of someone who teams can build their defensive front around. Whether he ends up playing on the end of an even or odd defensive line seems to be more a matter of preference than anything, although he’d likely be asked to add at least ten to fifteen pounds of bulk to play on a three-man line; may be best in a two-gap scheme. Looks like as good a candidate as any to be a top-five pick.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – LB Myles Jack, UCLA*
A cornerback such as Vernon Hargreaves may be tempting as well, but Jack is probably the more impressive player on paper and would also fill a need for the team at linebacker, making him a very attractive possibility here.
6’1” – 245 lbs. – 4.65e
Started at outside linebacker since his freshman season while also contributing as a running back; however, sustained a torn meniscus three games into 2015 and missed the rest of the year. Not particularly tall, but has good bulk and long limbs (arms measured over 33.5” at the Combine.) Has a good motor and on-field temperament; passionate and violent without losing track of his responsibilities. Explosive mover who accelerates quickly downhill and has speed in pursuit, appearing faster as a junior than he did in his sophomore season; that explosiveness extends to his hands, where he flashes the capacity to jolt blockers and disrupt receivers near the line of scrimmage. Not afraid to mix it up in the run game; can withstand contact and avoid ceding ground. Can work his way through trash and avoid getting washed down the line, although he sometimes gets preoccupied with taking on blockers and loses track of the ball. Forceful tackler who can help set the tone defensively. Often works in zone coverage against opposing receivers and tight ends, where his ability to jam helps him remain in position to make a play; has been given some diverse coverage responsibilities at the college level, which should carry over into the pro game as well. Exhibits the ability to change directions smoothly, but needs to be more consistent with his technique, especially when backpedaling. Instincts in zone coverage are above-average, but will lose track of opponents on occasion; may be a bit better in man coverage, where he has shown the ability to carry running-backs and tight ends down the field. Sometimes employed as a rusher and has the type of temperament which allows him to disrupt the interior offensive line. A physical linebacker with some versatility; has the thick build and strength required to play the run, but is also fast enough to line up in the slot against opposing receivers and tight ends in coverage, staying on the field in passing situations. Ability to play a demanding defensive role effectively is his greatest strength as a player. Could potentially play any linebacker role in either front except on the outside of a 3-4, but might be best on the weakside behind a four-man line. Looks like an every-down player who is highly likely to go within the top ten picks.
6. Baltimore Ravens – DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon
Some have argued that Buckner lacks the type of elite athleticism to go this high; however, with no legitimate starting option to play the five-technique position opposite Timmy Jernigan, Baltimore may be induced to take him.
6’7” – 291 lbs. – 5.05
Started two of thirteen games as a freshman, then eight games the following year before becoming a full-time starter as a junior. Generally lines up on the right end of Oregon’s odd front, but moves inside on rare occasions. Tall with long limbs and an athletic frame; carries his weight very well, with the frame to handle additional weight, although he looks thinner than he’s listed. Responsibilities alternate between one-and-two-gap; has the ability to generate some push with his bull rush, but looks to be at his most disruptive when allowed to penetrate into the backfield. Able to skinny though double-teams. Draws a lot of extra attention from opposing offensive lines. Pretty creative rushing who demonstrates good arm extension and active hand use to shed blocks; best move is his swim. Has active feet and looks like he could become a dangerous power rusher in the future as well. Exhibits impressive speed; motor gives him the range to chase quarterbacks to the sidelines. That said, gets too upright in pursuit and can be pinballed around when he allows his pad level to rise. Ultimately more of a pressure generator than a sack artist. Could be a threat to bat down passes, but doesn’t get his hands up consistently to contest lanes. Has made the rare zone drop. Motor stays hot in the run game; has good awareness and makes the effort to bring down ballcarriers while engaged. Anchors well against opposing offensive linemen, with a stronger lower body than anticipated. Not a particularly forceful, tone-setting tackler. Could be a little bit more disciplined with his run fits; occasionally loses containment by attempting to create pressure on the inside. Gets neutralized by opposing tight ends and fullbacks too often. Also did some work on special-teams coverage units and could factor in on kick-block units thanks to his height and length. Very athletic, versatile five-technique prospect who could become a foundational piece of an odd front for years to come, especially after spending time in a pro strength program. Superior prospect to former teammate and eventual first-round pick Arik Armstead. Definitely a more natural fit in an odd front but could draw some interest as a five-technique end on the end of a four-man line; however, doesn’t fit the physical profile of an interior lineman in either scheme, which could hurt his draft stock a bit. Nonetheless, looks like a true first-round value with both a high floor and a high ceiling.
7. San Francisco 49ers – QB Jared Goff, California*
Although it seems that Colin Kaepernick may not be traded to Denver after all, the fact that he’s been shopped so thoroughly suggests that San Francisco doesn’t view him as the team’s long-term starter at quarterback.
6’4” – 215 lbs. – 4.82
Became the first true freshman to start a season opener for the Bears, in a season in which he eventually started all twelve games; has worked as the team’s starting quarterback ever since, improving his production each year. Has prototypical height, along with a somewhat thin build which will probably force him to add bulk at the pro level. Works from the shotgun, doing a lot of his work on shorter throws; only comes under the center in goal-line situations. Plays in a programmed scheme which doesn’t ask him to go through many progressions; almost always locked in on and threw the ball to his first read. Offense relied primarily on a combination of timing routes straight down the seams, short slants, and combinations designed to get people open in the flats. Pretty good pre-snap player who can recognize coverages, although at times he’s punished for deciding upon a course of action before the play starts. Footwork on dropbacks is a mystery because of the scheme he played in, but has good pocket movement versus pressure. Will step up into the pocket to evade the rush and has enough speed to run for the first down if he’s given a clear path; pirouettes well to escape rushers and will keep his eyes downfield. Capable of rolling out to either the left or right and completing passes. Has an easy three-quarters delivery and produces a tight spiral with touch. Gets enough zip on his passes to complete throws to the boundaries and fit passes into tight windows. However, doesn’t always transfer weight effectively, negatively impacting his accuracy (even if his arm is strong enough to get the ball downfield regardless.) Even when given a clean pocket, doesn’t always put the ball in the best position to protect his receiver or facilitate yards after the catch; tends to throw just behind his receiver on many of his short routes, forcing them to come back to the ball. Inconsistent on a snap-to-snap basis; can complete beautiful throws at the intermediate level on some plays and struggle to lead a back or receiver on a flat or swing route the next. A little bit of a gambler who trusts his arm too much at times, trying to fit throws into tight coverage. Often pooch-punted the ball in fourth-and-short situations. Hasn’t been asked to work from under center or go through many progressions, so teams may be hesitant to throw him into the starting lineup immediately; however, his tape contains plenty of impressive, pro-style throws, which is expected to make him one of the top ten picks in this year’s class.
8. Philadelphia Eagles – RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio St.*
Replacing Jason Peters with a left tackle of the future has to be high on Philadelphia’s list of priorities, but it may not trump finding offensive weapons which the team can build their offense around, something Elliott offers.
6’0” – 225 lbs. – 4.47
Functioned as the team’s backup to Carlos Hyde as a true freshman, then stepped into the starting role as a sophomore and has been carrying the load ever since. Has the type of thick, compact build associated with feature backs at the pro level; good weight distribution throughout the body. Does a lot of his work out of the shotgun in Urban Meyer’s power spread offense, rarely working out of a more pro-style “I” formation. Exhibits very impressive natural feel for the position. Has good vision, recognizing cutback lanes and showcasing the change-of-direction skills to get there, although some coaches may wish he was a little bit quicker to hit the hole. Has plenty of shake and regularly makes the first defender miss; much more elusive than his frame would suggest. Powerful runner who can pick up yardage after contact and finishes most runs by falling forward. Runs through arm tackles with ease. Minimizes the big hits he absorbs by running with a low center of gravity, although he has two years of significant tread on his tires. Protects the football, but often carries it in his right hand. Not elite in terms of top-end speed but can get to the corner and pick up chunks of yardage; has scored some long touchdowns at the college level. The type of back who should be able to handle an every-down role at the pro level. Often used as a receiving option, occasionally lining up out wide but usually via swing passes out of the backfield; sometimes catches passes in the flats from motion. Possesses soft hands and can catch the ball away from his frame. Gives good effort as a blocker, but success comes primarily through his strength, physicality, an awareness, rather than because of his technique; needs to be more consistent about extending his arms into contact. Has done some lead-blocking work on designed quarterback runs as well. Employed as the team’s punt returner at times, but botched one punt during film review and isn’t a very conventional choice for that type of role. Criticism of the Buckeyes’ gameplan, playcalling, and coaching staff following a loss to Michigan St. may raise some character concerns (despite subsequent apology), but on-field competitiveness and temperament are both desirable qualities; has also earned Academic All-Conference honors. Has already shown he can function as a team’s workhorse at the college level, combining a strong frame, good instincts, a powerful, agile running style, and enough third-down skills to be the first running back off the board.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida*
Veteran Brent Grimes was signed to serve as a stopgap option in the team’s secondary, but it’d probably benefit the Buccaneers to take a chance on Vernon Hargreaves’ excellent athletic tools if available at this point in the draft.
10. New York Giants – OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame*
Ereck Flowers has struggled to begin his career, so it might make sense for the Giants to take a bit of a risk in hoping that Stanley can effectively man the blindside, allowing Flowers to play the more familiar right tackle spot.
11. Chicago Bears – OT Jack Conklin, Michigan St.*
Finishing with the league’s worst run defense last season had made it appear likely that this pick would be used on a front-seven defender, but signings in the front seven might benefit Conklin, who could put Kyle Long back inside.
12. New Orleans Saints – DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson*
Cameron Jordan is a legitimate threat on the end, but Bobby Richardson, the player currently projected to start opposite him, is less-than-ideal; going with Lawson would allow the Saints to improve a one-dimensional pass rush.
13. Miami Dolphins – CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson**
While the team may see adding Byron Maxwell as a step in the right direction, they still have some work to do in the secondary, given Jamar Taylor’s struggles; signing Mario Williams could ultimately push Miami to draft a cornerback.
14. Oakland Raiders – DT Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
Signing Sean Smith to start opposite David Amerson likely takes someone like Eli Apple out of the equation, so it might be best for the team to focus on bringing in a defensive lineman to challenge Dan Williams and Justin Ellis for snaps.
15. Los Angeles Rams – QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis*
Although it’s tempting to consider someone like Laquon Treadwell here, finding a legitimate starting option at quarterback takes priority over anything else, with the team otherwise pretty close to being able to compete for a playoff spot.
16. Detroit Lions – OT Taylor Decker, Ohio St.
Now that the team is being managed by a Belichick discipline in Bob Quinn, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they decided to draft an Urban Meyer product here, the type of durable starting tackle who could help protect Matthew Stafford.
17. Atlanta Falcons – DE Kevin Dodd, Clemson*
Having previously hit on Vic Beasley in the first round of last year’s draft, it makes sense for Atlanta to return to the Clemson well by drafting Kevin Dodd to start for the team on the other side of the line, replacing Tyson Jackson.
18. Indianapolis Colts – LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia*
With the team relying on aging pass-rushers such as Trent Cole and Robert Mathis, it would be a good idea to swing for the fences with a long, athletic, versatile pass-rusher such as Floyd, especially after Bjoern Werner flopped.
19. Buffalo Bills – DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma St.*
Mario Williams was heavily criticized by his former teammates on the Bills last season, which makes it seem doubtful that the organization would go for a major character risk such as Robert Nkemdiche; Ogbah may be a safer bet.
20. New York Jets – DE Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky*
Had he performed better at the NFL Combine and adequately addressed character concerns, Spence would have been a candidate to go within the top ten to fifteen picks, so it may be worth gambling here on a talented rusher.
21. Washington Redskins – DT A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama*
The likes of Will Compton, Perry Riley, and Mason Foster probably aren’t what Washington is hoping to rotate through at inside linebacker in 2016, but positional value may push them toward bolstering the defensive line first.
22. Houston Texans – WR Corey Coleman, Baylor*
Head coach Bill O’Brien praised Coleman after attending Baylor’s pro day, and may have to take a chance on the relatively raw receiver in an attempt to provide DeAndre Hopkins with an effective complement on the other side of the field.
23. Minnesota Vikings – WR Josh Doctson, Texas Christian
At this point, Doctson seems to be considered the consensus pick for the Vikings, which would make sense given the team’s lack of a downfield passing game; the team’s inability to throw downfield dashed their playoff hopes.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – WR Laquon Treadwell, Mississippi*
It’s hard to say how far Treadwell might fall on draft day; he could go in the top fifteen, or be the third receiver selected, but either way it’s hard to imagine the Bengals passing on him after losing two of their starting wide receivers.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – DT Andrew Billings, Baylor*
Although two potential first-round picks at cornerback are still available, Billings is the better value and seems like a perfect fit for what the Steelers need to do up front; find a legitimate nose tackle to replace the departed Steve McLendon.
26. Seattle Seahawks – DT Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
After losing left tackle Russell Okung in free agency, offensive line is a dire need for the Seahawks, but it shouldn’t trump the possibility of bringing in a massive, athletic defensive tackle prospect to rotate with Jordan Hill and Ahtyba Rubin.
27. Green Bay Packers – LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
Inside linebacker seems to be a perennial need for the Packers, but if Ragland is available, they can feel confident in having added a pro-ready player from both a physical and mental standpoint, allowing Clay Matthews to play outside full-time.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – CB William Jackson III, Houston
Finding a bookend to complement second-year player Marcus Peters is one of the team’s biggest needs after successfully retaining Jaye Howard and Derrick Johnson in free agency; bringing in a wide receiver would also make sense.
29. Arizona Cardinals – NT Jarran Reed, Alabama
Trading for Chandler Jones went a long way toward resolving Arizona’s pass-rushing woes, but they also need to find a nose tackle who can eat blocks in the middle of the field, making Reed an attractive consideration late in the round.
30. Carolina Panthers – LB Darron Lee, Ohio St.**
A pure value at this point, Lee looks likely to go higher than his play would indicate because of his elite physical tools; he could develop his game behind Thomas Davis and take over starting duties for the team in another year or two.
31. Denver Broncos – OC Ryan Kelly, Alabama
Having lost both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler this offseason, Denver admittedly doesn’t have much to protect, but it’d be nice for the team’s next quarterback to at least have some protection up the middle of the line.