2016 NFL Mock Draft: Pre-Combine Edition
It's nearly impossible to nail a mock draft minutes before it starts -- let alone more than two months beforehand.
With this update of my 2016 NFL Mock Draft, the goal remains is to highlight some prospects and potential fits at this point. It's fair to say, this mock will likely look a lot different in the days leading up to the draft than it does today.
With that said, here is my 2016 NFL Mock Draft:
No team allowed more sacks last season than the Titans (54). Given their investment in second-year franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Titans should make improving their leaky pass protection an offseason priority.
A three-year starter at left tackle, Tunsil allowed just two sacks over his career and none this past season for Ole Miss. With unique athletic traits for the position, the former five-star recruit has drawn comparisons to Tyron Smith. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, whose father is an offensive line coach with the Cardinals, recently said that "Tunsil to me is going to be the best left tackle in the league, or one of the top two, within three years."
Zierlein went on to say, "With Tunsil, he's got all that athleticism, but he's a three-year starter in a major conference who has played left tackle the entire time and has some of the cleanest technique you're going to find at the position. He's ahead of Tyron Smith in terms of his knowledge, technique and ability at the position right now, coming into the league. Laremy Tunsil comes in and has a shot at being a Pro Bowler as a rookie."
Since their return to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have had nothing but question marks at the most important position in sports. Unfortunately, the team has invested a number of first-round picks at the position, which have not panned out and the latest -- Johnny Manziel -- will be released next month.
With prototypical size (6-5, 235), a strong arm and excellent mobility, Wentz has all of the physical traits to develop into a franchise quarterback in the NFL. And while he has experience playing in a pro-style system, the biggest question about Wentz is his transition from the FCS level to the NFL.
There is a lot to like about Ramsey -- his elite size (6-1, 202), Olympic-caliber athleticism and positional versatility. A second-team All-American at safety last year, Ramsey was a first-team All-American at cornerback this year. Not only will Eric Weddle depart via free agency this offseason, but the team could use help at cornerback as well.
If it weren't for injuries -- or the same injury, multiple times -- to Tony Romo, the Cowboys wouldn't be picking this high. While the front office could view this as a rare opportunity to get a franchise quarterback as his long-term replacement and an upgrade to his backup, I think it's just as likely that the team goes with a prospect like Bosa that can make an immediate impact.
The son of a former first-round pick, Bosa had 51.0 tackles for loss and 26.0 sacks in his three seasons with the Buckeyes. Even with the high-profile and controversial signing of Greg Hardy, who becomes a free agent this offseason, the Cowboys generated only 31 sacks, tied for 25th in the NFL.
A knee injury ended his season and collegiate career prematurely, but the versatile and ultra-athletic linebacker was the Pac-12's Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the year. In essence, the Jags will be adding a pair of top-five defensive picks as last year's first-rounder, Dante Fowler at No. 3, missed all of last season with a torn ACL to a defense that allowed more points than every team except the Saints.
Drawing comparisons to Calais Campbell, Buckner (6-7, 290) has plenty of upside, but he has the collegiate production to match. Named the 2015 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Buckner had 17.0 tackles for loss including 10.5 sacks and 83 tackles as a senior.
While the Niners gave Torrey Smith big money last offseason, Anquan Boldin turns 36 in October and will become a free agent in March. Treadwell may lack elite speed, but he has excellent size, strength and hands to develop into a legitimate No. 1 receiver in the league.
Hargreaves helps fill what is arguably the team's biggest need. Among their top four corners last year, Brent Grimes turns 33 in July and is a pay-cut candidate with a $9.5 million salary, Brice McCain was released this month and Jamar Taylor could be on the way out too. While he lacks ideal size, the three-time All-SEC selection had 10 interceptions in his three seasons in Gainesville.
In my previous update, I had Hargreaves slotted here and the Bucs will need to address a weak secondary in either free agency and/or the draft. Not only will Demar Dotson be a free agent after the 2016 season, Gosder Cherilus and rookie Donovan Smith -- bookend starters for most of the season -- both received negative grades from PFF. Stanley possesses an elite combination of athleticism and length among left tackle prospects.
Prior to the knee injury sustained in the Fiesta Bowl, Smith was a likely top-five pick in this year's draft. As Rotoworld's Evan Silva writes in his team needs column, the Giants' top need is "Every Position on Defense." Once healthy, Smith will give the Giants a true difference-maker on the defensive side of the ball.
Earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors, Ragland led Alabama in tackles and tackles for loss. While he may have some coverage limitations, he will help shore up a run defense that allowed 4.5 yards per carry last season while filling one of the team's bigger needs.
The Saints ranked second-to-last in total defense (413.8 yards per game) and last in scoring defense (29.8 points per game). Ranking 31st in both pass and run defense, the Saints allowed a league-worst 4.9 yards per carry last season. In other words, the Saints could use reinforcements across all levels of their defense.
Reports are the Eagles won't use the franchise tag on Sam Bradford and the only quarterback under contract for 2016 is Mark Sanchez, who has one year left on his deal. One free-agent target could be Chase Daniel as new coach Doug Pederson believes Daniel has potential as a starter. Pederson has also talked about developing a young quarterback as well. Most mocks have Goff off the board by this point and there are some concerns about his frame, but Goff has plenty of arm talent, accuracy and good anticipation.
Even with the now-retired safety Charles Woodson having a strong season (five interceptions), the Raiders ranked 26th in pass defense and D.J. Hayden has not lived up to his (high) first-round expectations. A redshirt sophomore and top-five high school recruit, Alexander helps to fill one of the team's bigger needs.
Making the move to Los Angeles with many talented players on its roster, quarterback remains a clear weakness for the Rams. With more interceptions thrown (10) than touchdowns (seven) last season, Nick Foles was eventually benched in favor of Case Keenum. While it may be better for him to sit and learn for a season, Lynch has an intriguing complement of physical traits and perhaps more upside than any quarterback prospect in this year's draft class.
There are a lot of reasons to like Rankins -- college production, quickness, motor, etc. -- even if he's a bit undersized. Over the past two seasons combined, Rankins has racked up 26.5 tackles for loss and 14.0 sacks. In addition, the Lions have a number of interior defensive linemen about to hit free agency -- Haloti Ngata (UFA), Tyrunn Walker (UFA) and Khyri Thornton (ERFA).
Senior Bowl: Louisville DT Sheldon Rankins put on a show during 1-on-1 pass rush. Quicks off the ball, counter moves, straight power. Beast.— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) January 27, 2016
- For more mocks, check out our NFL Mock Draft Database.
- Also, check out a way-too-early 2016 Fantasy Football Mock Draft.