I decided to produce my first mock draft of 2016 now that the bulk of free agents have been signed.
Doing so before free agency or even after the first week of signings has proven to be a useless venture.
It appeared the Colin Kaepernick, RGIII, and Fitzpatrick dominoes were gorilla-glued to the ground, but as of March 24th one of the 3 dominoes fell when the Cleveland Browns announced they signed RGIII to a 2 year contract.
Kaepernick’s glue is pretty much fully dried now that we’ve hit the April 1st deadline, making his 49er money fully guaranteed. The only logical place for him to land now is in Denver, but apparently the 49ers want multiple limbs in exchange.
Chances are the savvy John Elway will eventually find a way to get him through the doors, but Kaepernick is definitely playing hard to get.
With Mark Sanchez currently atop the Broncos depth chart at quarterback, Elway might just have to bite his tongue and take the 14 million dollar Kap hit.
In the mean time, with the draft less than 20 days away, I can already feel that euphoric hallucinatory aura in the air and following the hundreds of men whose lives are about to change forever.
Here is the first Cover2Press mock draft of the 2016 league year…
MOCK DRAFT 1.738562149!!!
With the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select….(cough)…..hold on let me put on my glasses……..
1.– MYLES JACK- LINEBACKER- UCLA
Yes they did it. More and more we see top tier athletes come back from season ending injuries and dominate as if they never left. Many experts claim Jalen Ramsey to be the best overall athlete eligible for the 2016 draft. For me he is the number two, and Mr. Myles David Jack is the number one. If you want to talk about a versatile athlete, then lets talk about the man that played Inside Linebacker, Outside Linebacker, Safety, Running Back, and even lined up as a Cornerback on multiple occasions. The man is 245 pounds and assigned to cover speedy slot receivers on a regular basis. Not only will Myles give Dick LeBeau the type of dominant presence that defensive coordinators dream about building a defense around, but he will give the Tennessee Titans a defensive face to go along with the offensive face they drafted in last years draft.
Myles Jack shows his innate stop-start ability, and change of direction while helping to tackle the speedy Tyler Lockett
2. – CARSON WENTZ- QUARTERBACK- CAL
The Browns desperately need a quarterback that can play football at an NFL level. I was a believer that they would take Jared Goff at the number 2 pick until late Thursday morning when news broke that RGIII would be a Cleveland Brown. This signing leads me to believe that the Browns are in favor of choosing Carson Wentz at number 2 overall, and having RGIII there to hold things over until Wentz is ready to go. Many experts believe that Wentz will need at least a year of development before stepping onto the big stage. The transition from the FCS to the NFL will be a tough one, especially for a quarterback whose most notable flaw is being late to make reads and get the ball out of his hand. In the NFL, every split second the quarterback has the ball in his hand is a vital one. Therefore it would be ideal for Wentz to have a year of practice against an NFL defense to get used to the speed of the game. Even with all that said, if I had to throw down some cash then my bet would be Hue falling in love with Wentz during training camp and naming him Cleveland’s week 1 starter.
3. – JALEN RAMSEY- CORNERBACK- FSU
The Chargers are in heavy need of offensive line help so taking one of the best Left Tackle prospects according to many experts would be the obvious choice here. I’m speaking of Laremy Tunsil of course. But according to one of my favorite football writers Kyle Posey of Boltsfromtheblue.com, Tunsil lacks one trait that good offensive lineman should all have, “consistently finishing plays”. He doesn’t have the nastiness that you want to see from the guys with the most physical assignments on the field. Posey also reminds the reader how taking offensive lineman that high in the draft hasn’t panned out for quite a few teams in recent memory. I agree with Kyle’s unofficial promulgation, and also agree with many college scouts that Jalen Ramsey might end up being the best player in this draft. He is definitely the most fun to watch. Should they play Ramsey at corner, Chargers fans would gain the ammunition necessary to argue their team having the best cornerback tandem in the league. With Jason Verrett borderline shutting down number ones like he did last season and Ramsey covering number twos, opposing quarterbacks will have a tough time getting the ball to their wide receivers.
4. – JOEY BOSA- DEFENSIVE END- THE OSU
Before Bosa’s statistical production dip this past season, he was regarded by most as the best prospect in the 2016 draft class. Since then it feels like his stock has slowly been trending down, not just from the lack of big numbers in his final collegiate season, but from his lackluster interviews, and good not great performance at the combine. But when coaches, scouts, and general managers put in the Ohio State tape, none of that will matter. If the Dallas Cowboys draft Joey Bosa, they will get a consistent, smart, high motor football player that can step on the field and make an impact from day one. I describe Bosa’s game as tricky. He may not be the fastest or the strongest edge rusher, but he knows how to get the best of whoever he is matched up against by outsmarting them with outstanding hand techniques. He is like the Greco-Roman wrestler that knows every move in the book. He will take down a man twice his size and force him to yell “uncle” 3.5 seconds after the match begins. Bosa is only going to get better with professional coaching and professional strength and conditioning.
5. – LAREMY TUNSIL- TACKLE- OLE MISS
The Jacksonville offensive line allowed the 4th most sacks of 2015. The Jaguars have a lot of good young pieces on offense, and are in position for a breakout season if they can keep their quarterback Blake Bortles off the ground. Laremy Tunsil falling all the way to 5 would be a gift wrapped in gold and made of gold…and teal. Luke Joeckel has some experience playing Right Tackle his rookie season. Tunsil and Joeckel, along with maybe another Guard drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round would complete an upward trending Jaguars offensive unit that would definitely be one to look out for.
6. – DEFOREST BUCKNER- DEFENSIVE END- OREGON
DeForest Buckner’s upside is as big as his enormous hands. If you are the Baltimore Ravens you plug him in at Defensive End alongside NT Brandon Williams and DT Timmy Jernigan, and all of a sudden you have one of the best run-stopping 3/4 defensive lines in football. DeForest Buckner is not just a nuisance for opponents in the run game, but also has the ability to reach double-digit sacks for the season if the Ravens pass-rushing plays call for him to cut loose with two-way gos. The Ravens already had an average run defense in 2015. Buckner will elevate the Ravens into the top 5, while giving them a pass rushing threat at the same time. Baltimore is ecstatic that Buckner has fallen in their hands.
7. – JARED GOFF- QUARTERBACK- CAL
Even if the 49ers retain Colin Kaepernick like new Head Coach Chip Kelly would like, I can’t imagine them not taking Goff, or Wentz should one of them still be available at 7. When I look at Goff, I see a quarterback with very smooth mechanics, and quick decision making. Experts say he is a bit undersized, but from what I have seen, he looks very comfortable in the pocket, and has very good quarterback instincts when it comes to making decisions with defenders prowling from all sides. The two quarterback traits I look for the most in the evaluation process for a quarterback are toughness and accuracy. He definitely has the accuracy to be a franchise Quarterback in this league. Goff’s game reminds me of Drew Brees , when looking SOLELY at his intermediate & deep-ball accuracy, and touch.
8. – EZEKIEL ELLIOTT- RB- THE OSU
Ryan Matthews has only been able to stay healthy once in a six year career. As of late, drafting running backs early in the draft has been made out to be an outdated, wasteful move, but I do believe Elliott will be well worth the pick. The Eagles man in charge Howie Roseman has hinted taking Elliott at number 8 overall by saying that most of the top rushers in the league were all high draft picks. Roseman saying this actually made me think he just wanted other teams to think he would take Elliott for leverage in another possible trade. But maybe Howie is just looking to get the very tough to please Eagles fanbase to hate him just a little less? Taking the prognosticated to be transcendent “Zeke” could get him a point or two.
9. – RONNIE STANLEY- TACKLE- NOTRE DAME
Youthful is one word I would use to describe Tampa Bays offense. With the very promising rookie season of Jameis Winston, the resigning of Doug Martin, and the pass catching ability/potential of Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, they are definitely an offensive unit on the rise in my eyes. They will definitely need to address their defense in the later rounds, probably more so than their offense, but with a premier talent like Ronnie Stanley still on the board at number 9 overall, the Buccaneers jumped on the chance to solidify their offensive line while also taking the best player available. They can move 2015 second round pick Donovan Smith to Right Tackle, and plug Ronnie Stanley in at Left Tackle, allowing their very youthful offense a chance to grow together for years to come.
10. – LEONARD FLOYD- LINEBACKER- GEORGIA
The Giants added a couple good pieces to their defense in free agency in DE Olivier Vernon and CB Janoris Jenkins. What they are lacking is a playmaker at the linebacker position. Someone that can play sideline to sideline, help in coverage and help rush the passer when needed. That playmaker is Georgia Bulldog Linebacker Leonard Floyd. Floyd has one of the highest upsides of any linebacker in the draft, right up there with Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith. One of his only knocks is his very thin frame that resembles a wide receiver. Wearing the 84 at Georgia he was often mistaken for one. When I look at Floyd, I see a feisty, high motor linebacker that does a lot of things very well, and has the potential to do a lot of things even better with NFL coaching and a professional training regimen that will bulk him up some. Standing at 6’6, Floyd has the length to be a very useful 3rd down coverage linebacker, that can clog up throwing lanes with his great height, and natural speed. He may not be the bulkiest linebacker but he is definitely not afraid to make hard hits and viciously throw his opponent to the ground. He has enough pass rushing talent to give the Giants a defensive piece they can use all over the field on every down.
11. – SHAQ LAWSON- OUTSIDE LINEBACKER- CLEMSON
I could have easily seen the Bears picking Vernon Hargreaves with their first pick since he is available. Even though the Defensive Line group in this draft is deep, pass rushers that can fit into a 3/4 scheme and play OLB like Shaq Lawson are limited, and Chicago’s pick is early enough in the second round to get a cornerback like Rashard Robinson or the brother of their number one corner Kyle Fuller, Kendall Fuller. Shaq Lawson is the premier pass rushing talent in this draft according to the tape I have studied. Clemson played him both as Defensive End and Outside Linebacker, so he already has experience pass rushing from the OLB position that he will be asked to play in Chicago. From my point of view, Shaq Lawson is the kind of gritty, determined, hell-raising type of player that screams Chicago Bears defense. With Danny Trevathan now at Inside Linebacker, the development of Will Sutton and Eddie Goldman on the D-line, the Bears could quickly find themselves back in the top tier of defenses in 2016.
12. – KEVIN DODD- DEFENSIVE END-CLEMSON
Dodd will be happy to travel the opposite direction of his fellow teammate and now Chicago Bear Shaq Lawson. Lawson cast a big shadow over Dodd for the majority of his college career. Not anymore. Dodd will join Cameron Jordan in a rejuvenated defensive line after the Saints take a defensive tackle like Willie Henry in the 2nd round. Like the Bears in the previous pick, the Saints were very tempted to take Vernon Hargreaves, but couldn’t pass up on one of the few premier pass rushers left in this draft class.
13. – VERNON HARGREAVES- CORNERBACK- FLORIDA
The Dolphins couldn’t have turned their card in faster when they saw the number 1 rated pure cornerback still on the board at 13. Jalen Ramsey may be bigger, and taller, and have more safety like qualities that make him more appealing, but Hargreaves has that quick-twitch stop and go speed like nobody else in this class. He has a very unique stocky-base, short-arm body type that have some scouts nervous about his ceiling at the next level. But when you put in the tape he looks like a guy that is playing at a weight of 185 pounds and moving around at 4.4 speed sticking to wide receivers like gum under a diner booth. At the combine he weighed in at over 200 pounds. Unless he gained a bunch of weight after the seasons end, then I see this as a positive in terms of his evaluation. Being the very feisty tackler who likes to throw himself at full speed straight into ballcarriers that he is, that weight will come in hand at the next level. The Dolphins let Grimes leave in free agency, meaning Hargreaves will be expected to come in as a suitable replacement in year 1, and hopefully, if he works hard enough at his trade, develop into one of the better cornerbacks in the league.
14. – REGGIE RAGLAND- MIDDLE LB- ALABAMA
The Raiders struck gold with the first 2 picks in the last 2 drafts. Taking the best Inside Linebacker to back up their beastly defensive line will continue the trend. The late great Al Davis probably wouldn’t approve drafting Ragland because he doesn’t fall into the super speed business model that the Raiders used to abide by when choosing players under AL Davis. What Ragland lacks in speed he makes up for by offering a fierce “I’m gonna take this guys head off” type of presence that every team could use more of. He will be teamed up with Bruce Irvin (who will also make up for his lack of speed) and Malcolm Smith to form one of the best linebacking trios in the NFL. And they are playing behind a defensive line with Khalil Mack and Mario Edwards Jr. at the end positions. Looking at this front 7 makes it very easy to give the Raiders a nod for favorites to win the division.
15. – LAQUON TREADWELL- WIDE RECEIVER- OLE MISS
The Rams need a quarterback. -Captain Obvious But with both of the stud first round quarterbacks off the board, the Rams decide to wait until the 2nd round to trade up using one of their 2 second round picks to acquire the best QB on the board. So with their first pick they take the strongest, most polished and sure-handed wide receiver in the draft, Laquon Treadwell. The knock on Treadwell is his speed. With what I have seen from him on tape, I am not worried about his speed in the least. I recall Keenan Allen running his 40 in the 4.7 range. Treadwell clocked in at 4.63. When you have the get-off moves that Treadwell and Allen possess, you do not need top end speed to get the cornerback off your tail. Laquon will give whoever the Rams end up starting at quarterback a red zone target they have desperately needed these past few seasons. With the Rams solid defense, and Austin, Gurley, and Treadwell making up a scary array of offensive weapons, the Rams are a decent QB away from finally getting over the .500 mark and actually being a contender.
16. – JACK CONKLIN- OFFENSIVE TACKLE- MICHIGAN STATE
According to Pro Football Focus, the Lions had the 9th worst offensive line in 2015. Jim Bob Cooter was able to help his offense get out of the horrid streak they had in the first half of the season, but he won’t be able to keep it up in 2016 if Matt Stafford is consistently eating turf and making a mess of his clean blue jersey. The trait that I mentioned earlier that Kyle Posey said Laremy Tunsil is missing, Conklin has an abundance of. He is fun to watch because he does to pass rushers what they are trying to do to the quarterback–introduce them to the ground, and then reacquaints them through the remainder of the game. Conklin is the definition of the “guy you want on your team”, and the Lions O-line will instantly become more confident and better suited to keep Stafford up and able to hit Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Ebron, and the wide receiver they draft in round 3 for plenty of TD passes throughout the season.
17. – EMMANUEL OGBAH-DEFENSIVE END-OKLAHOMA STATE
Still yearning for the pass rush they haven’t had since Vic Beasley was in High School, the Atlanta Falcons take the best pass rusher available, scheme specific to their 4/3 defensive front. E-MAN they call him. Maybe. Probably not, but they should because the man plays like hero. He had a very productive final year of college, and then lit up the combine with a 4.63 40 yard dash at 273 pounds. I really believe that Ogbah can make a difference in Atlanta’s defense in his first year. I put my money on 8 sacks in year one, and then stepping up to double digits in year two if he remains healthy.
18. – ROBERT NKEMDICHE- DEFENSIVE TACKLE- OLE MISS
5 months ago Robert Nkemdiche was far and above my #1 overall prospect heading towards the end of the 2015 season. And then he jumped through a hotel window. Now, most human beings that crash through a window 15 feet above the ground end up hospitalized for quite some time. Robert left the hospital with a few stitches. The man has the most intimidating frame I have ever seen on a football player. It’s so easy to spot him on the line–you just have to look for the man whose calves look like a normal mans thighs. The Colts really need some, well, talent on their defense, and Robert Nkemdiche could be the answer. Could is the key word though, because he is still very raw. He tends to just try to destroy his opponent instead of actually trying to find a ballcarrier, or pressure a quarterback. But I believe that is something that can be fixed with the right coaching. As far as his off the field issues go, I suggest locking him in a room with Andrew Luck for 72 hours. Being in the same room that long with the worlds nicest human being will change a man. Maybe Andrew Luck will come out with a little bit more attitude in his game.
19. – NOAH SPENCE- OUTSIDE LINEBACKER-EASTERN KENTUCKY
Noah Spence is the perfect match for Rex Ryan and the type of defense he wants to run. Rex wants to switch to a 3/4 base defense and Spence has the versatility to play Defensive End or Outside Linebacker. His off the field issues are a concern, but that hasn’t stopped Rex from taking a player as of late. Some experts believe Spence could develop to be the best pure pass rusher in this draft class. I don’t think so but I do think he will be a good fit up in Buffalo.
20. – SU’A CRAVENS- OUTSIDE LINEBACKER- USC
The Jets need a linebacker and I believe Cravens is the best linebacker left, unless you want to take Jaylon Smith and hope his knee heals up. Darron Lee is still on the board, but I didn’t see anything from his film that would lead me to project him as a first round talent. Darron is definitely a great athlete as he showed by blowing up the combine, but on tape he looks like a timid player, that isn’t hungry to make a tackle. Su’a on the other hand, is all over the place, making diving tackles and batting down balls. He is small for a 3/4 inside linebacker so he will need to put on some weight, but the Jets should be able to plug him right in to one of those spots, which is exactly what you want from a first round pick.
21. – A’SHAWN ROBINSON- DEFENSIVE TACKLE- ALABAMA
I really like this pick for the Redskins. Washington had the 7th worst run defense of 2015 and picking up Kendall Reyes from the Chargers in free agency isn’t going to help much. Robinson is a run-stopping machine. He is a giant, immovable object that you can throw into the Redskins 3/4 Nose Tackle position and not look back. I also like his leadership qualities, and love for the game.
22. – COREY COLEMAN- WIDE RECEIVER- BAYLOR
With Brock Osweiler now in the building, the Texans need to make sure he gets the help he needs to fortify the move they made to make him a Texan. They signed Lamar Miller and now they need a receiver like Coleman who can complement DeAndre Hopkins. Corey Coleman is not a polished route runner but he has DeSean Jackson-like speed and quickness that can immediately spread a defense out and give Brock bigger windows to work with. The AFC South is looking more and more interesting as we get closer to the season. I really like the toughness and demeanor Osweiler carries and think the Broncos are going to highly regret letting him go. Hopkins, Smith, and Coleman are going to make quite the trio.
23. -JOSH DOCTSON- WIDE RECEIVER- TCU
It is safe to say the Vikings are in good shape. They have a young defense that is only going to get better and a decent offense that will be better once they add a couple more playmakers, like TCU Wide Receiver Josh Doctson. Josh can high point the ball better than any of the receivers in this class. He will have to go through a learning curve to deal with the press corners in the NFL, which I believe will not be too big of a problem considering his athleticism. The Vikings had the 6th worst Red-Zone Scoring percentage in 2015, making Josh Doctson a perfect new weapon for Bridgewater. And Doctson will surely be happy to wear a familiar purple jersey.
24. – WILL FULLER- WIDE RECEIVER- NOTRE DAME
Wide Receivers take a deep hit as the Bengals take the third receiver in a row, also known as the fastest receiver in the class, Will Fuller. Some scouts think Will Fuller is the best receiver in this class. I do not go that far, but you can’t argue against fact–like the fact that when he runs his 40 yard dash the stopwatches read in the 4.25 range. The man runs like a Cheetah. Or a Bengal in this case. Will has the same type of frame as his new teammate A.J. Green, but he is 4 inches shorter, and .2 tenths of a second faster. Opposing cornerbacks will have their hands full with these two on both sides of the numbers.
25. – ELI APPLE- CORNERBACK- THE OSU
The Steelers address the cornerback position with a first round pick for the first time since Chad Scott in 1997. Eli Apple is a tall, speedy cornerback that looks like a wide receiver, and has the hands like one too. But unlike the prototypical diva wide receiver, Apple shows the aggression, and toughness needed to play cornerback in the NFL. The Steelers have a decent D-Line, an above average Linebacking-Core, and with lasts years 2nd round pick Senquez Golston and this years first round pick Eli Apple, they now have the starting personnel to get back to playing the type of defense that Steelers fans are used to.
26. – JARRAN REED- DEFENSIVE TACKLE- ALABAMA
The Seahawks lost long time NT Brandon Mebane in free agency. Brandon’s teammate Michael Bennett once said that Mebane is the most important player on Seattle’s elite defense. The Seahawks didn’t have to look far as they draft the second Defensive Tackle from Alabama in the first round Jarran Reed. Reed like his ex-teammate A’Shawn is best used on running downs as a two gap players who can hold the point of attack like a hungry Grizzly Bear. He is criticized for his pass rushing ability but was often subbed out on pass rushing downs, therefore didn’t really have a chance to rush the passer in the first place. Pete Carroll will definitely miss Mebane’s leadership in the locker room, but he wont have to miss his elite run defense.
27. – ANDREW BILLINGS- NOSE TACKLE- BAYLOR
In mid-march, Green Bay Packers Nose Tackle B.J. Raji announced he would be pulling a Ricky Williams. What is a Ricky Williams? In the dictionary, the second definition for Ricky Williams is a verb meaning to take a year off from making millions of dollars to go ponder the meaning of life. That is bad news for the Green Bay Packers. The good news is that even though 10 Defensive Lineman have already been selected in the picks before them, this D-Line group is so deep that they still got to draft the incredible talent of Andrew Billings. Andrew Billings is like a futuristic steamroller with a giant Ferrari engine who just found out somebody ate his lunch. He has the burst of a player that weighs 100 pounds less than him, giving him not only great run-stopping ability, but unique value as a pass rusher as well. In his final collegiate year he led his team in TFL, and Sacks–something you do not see from 1-Technique Defensive Tackles. Sorry Raji, but you just got replaced by a man that just turned 21 less than a month ago.
28. – SHELDON RANKINS- DEFENSIVE TACKLE- LOUISVILLE
The Chiefs turned in their draft card with the best player available written on it. Rankins addition to a defensive line that led their team to the 8th best run defense will give the Chiefs great depth at the position. Rankins however, will not be that depth, because he has enough talent to start from Day 1, and the ability to play in multiple techniques on the defensive front. He can play in a 3-tech or 5 tech on 1st and 2nd down, and then kick inside on obvious passing situations. He is not quite an Aaron Donald, but you can say he is a very poor mans Aaron, and believe me, with the talent of AD, that is saying a lot.
29. – WILLIAM JACKSON III- CORNERBACK- HOUSTON
On paper the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive and defensive depth chart looks crazy good. The only reason they weren’t in Super Bowl 50 is Carson Palmer’s inexperience in the playoffs. Possibly his thumb injury had something to do with it. They went for quality not quantity in free agency, stealing the Patriots best Pass Rusher Chandler Jones, and now they add a piece that gives them an argument for the best secondary in the NFL. By pairing Jackson with Peterson the Cardinals can give Free Safety/Linebacker hybrid Tyrann Mathieu and Strong Safety/Linebacker hybrid Deone Bucannon even more freedom to run sideline to sideline making plays all over the ball. Something they already did in 2015, but now Arians will have even more confidence and schematic versatility with a talented Jackson III playing opposite of All-Pro Patrick Peterson. It’s Super Bowl or bust for the Cardinals. Jackson and Jones are the pieces they need to get there.
30. – KARL JOSEPH- FREE SAFETY- WEST VIRGINIA
Even though this is where he was projected to go, the Carolina Panthers are ecstatic to land Karl Joseph late in the first round. Just like the Arizona Cardinals, their defense on paper now looks insane. They already have an All-Pro Middle Linebacker in Luke Kuechly that literally plays sideline to sideline on practically every play, and it’s almost unfair to have a Earl Thomas-esque Safety playing behind him. Once Norman, Kuechly, and Joseph are all on the same page, along with the rest of their teammates, Ron Rivera’s creative zone coverages will have the Panthers leading the league in interceptions. Oh wait, they already did that. Rivera will have his defense leading the league in interceptions by a record-breaking margin. Joseph not only brings his fiery style of play, but another leader to a team full of players that love football. Panthers fans and/or journalist should start thinking of a clever names, because this pick takes the defense to a whole new level.
31. – PAXTON LYNCH- QUARTERBACK- MEMPHIS
If the Broncos waited til the 2nd round to address the most important position in the game, chances are Lynch would not be there for taking. Paxton had a very impressive Pro-Day and had himself quite a year for the Memphis Tigers in 2015. Paxton is a clone of the man they let slip away to the Houston Texans, just a heck of a lot cheaper. And possibly better. Evaluating quarterbacks has been one of the sports biggest mysteries over the past 50 years. You think a guy is built for the position, then come to find out your kicker is better at taking hits than him. Paxton has all the physical tools. Like any quarterback, it’s just a matter of his accuracy holding up, his mental/physical toughness being able to withstand the pressures of professional football, and his passion or lack thereof for the game. He sounds like a better option than Mark Sanchez. At least for the fans’ sake.