Mock Draft by Rodney Stokes for TonySoftli.com
The 2016 NFL Draft is as much of a guess as any other year. There are questions with the number one pick and what the Browns will do with the number two selection. There are players that expect to go high that end up falling low, like Jaelen Strong and Randy Gregory in past years. This year’s draft figures to be one of many surprises. While there are teams that have one glaring need, there are many more with multiples that could shape the draft entirely. Trades are always a part of the draft, but this mock is a straight up pick for pick situation and will detail what every team could be looking at come draft day.
- Tennessee Titans – Laremy Tunsil – OT
This hasn’t been the popular pick, as Jalen Ramsey has surfaced as the top pick in many mock drafts. However, Tunsil helps protect the young Marcus Mariota in a division that features JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, Dante Fowler, Malik Jackson and future draft picks along the defensive front. It’s important for the Titans to lock down on a strong offensive line and build out from there.
- Cleveland Browns – DeForest Buckner – DE
Not selecting a quarterback for Cleveland here was difficult, and so was not selecting one of the top “athletes” in Myles Jack or Jalen Ramsey. DeForest Buckner makes sense for a defensive line that has struggled to generate pressure against the run and pass for quite some time now. Danny Shelton is coming into his second year and a body like Buckner’s to pair with him would make his job that much easier and hopefully cut down that 32nd ranked rush defense.
- San Diego Chargers – Jalen Ramsey – CB/S
No matter what kind of tensions there were when Eric Weddle left, there was a huge gap created in the Chargers secondary. Jalen Ramsey could be the key addition on a young secondary. The Chargers will be looking to make improvements against a division that features Emmanuel Sanders, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
- Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa – DE
I know Cowboys fans may not love this selection and may be calling for Ezekiel Elliott at this spot. However, the logjam at the running back position with McFadden, Dunbar and now newly added Alfred Morris makes the need for a running back less of a need. While Randy Gregory is serving a suspension and the team more than likely not bringing back Greg Hardy (and for food reason), bringing in Joey Bosa fills an immediate need with a player who can start day one.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack – OLB
The Jaguars would be more than likely biting their fingers hoping nobody jumps in to take their guy. Myles Jack can come in and be an impact player for the Jaguars the minute he steps into the building. They’ve done well adding talent like Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson, giving them a player to man the middle of the field can really turn heads for those playing in the once scoffed at AFC South division.
- Baltimore Ravens – Ezekiel Elliott – RB
Don’t put anything past Ozzie if the chips fall his way. While Justin Forsett has been solid and Javorious Allen flashed talent, there’s no denying that the Ravens can get back to having a complete offense with the addition of Ezekiel Elliott. The AFC North is a tough division with strong backs, Elliott fits the mold and replaces the void left by Ray Rice.
- San Francisco 49ers – Jared Goff – QB
No surprises here, the 49ers have been looking to move on from Colin Kaepernick (if hasn’t already happened) and they’re not putting their faith into Blaine Gabbert for the future. Jared Goff is arguably the most NFL ready quarterback in this draft class and he doesn’t have to move far from home to play in footballs premier league.
- Philadelphia Eagles – Vernon Hargreaves – CB
The Eagles ultimately missed out on Ezekiel Elliott but they’re still able to grab one of the best secondary players in this draft. Nolan Carroll is a decent cornerback but the Eagles could have a nice young tandem with Rowe and Hargreaves holding down the fort. At worst the Eagles have three good cornerbacks in a division that loves to air it out.
- Tamp Bay Buccaneers – Shaq Lawson – DE
Gerald McCoy enjoyed one of his better years as a pro last year. The Buccaneers need to address the defensive line and allow McCoy to continuously have good years on a consistent basis. Shaq Lawson can come in and relieve some of the pressure off McCoy, and give the Buccaneers the dominant defensive line that they’ve been looking for.
- New York Giants – Ronnie Stanley – OT
The Giants can’t expect to always call on Odell when they need to produce on offense. They need to keep their quarterback upright and generate a run game. Ronne Stanley can do both of those things for the Giants and with Eli in the later stage of his career, the less hits he takes the better.
- Chicago Bears – A’Shawn Robinson – DT/DE
The Bears need to fill a hole on the defensive line and A’Shawn Robinson is more than capable of filling that gap. With Eddie Goldman manning the nose tackle position, Robinson can be a strong 3-4 DE and provide the Bears with a strong front that saw Akiem Hicks join in the off season.
- New Orleans Saints – Kevin Dodd – DE
The Saints would’ve been happy with either defensive end from Clemson and it just so happens that they ended up with Kevin Dodd. While Dodd doesn’t have the same experience as Lawson, he does have the same capabilities and looks loose standing up as well. The Saints could use Dodd in a number of ways to maximize his potential. As a football player overall, he’s still raw and can be molded into many roles.
- Miami Dolphins – Darron Lee – OLB
The Dolphins saw Derrick Shelby and Olivier Vernon leave in free agency. Ideally the top pick would’ve been a defensive end but the defense needs help across all levels. Darron Lee is not only the best pick at this position, but also the safest. He has speed up and down the field and can serve as a strong asset against both the run and the pass.
- Oakland Raiders – William Jackson III – CB
The Raiders have done an excellent job the past few years of building a team that can finally contend for the playoffs. The secondary lost future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson, but they were able to nab Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith to fill the void (yes, Woodson is worth two players). William Jackson III had a great off season and his stock has been rising by the day, the Raiders might be competing with the Broncos defense if it all comes together for them.
- Los Angeles Rams – Carson Wentz – QB
I have respect for the job that Case Keenum has done in both St. Louis and Houston. However, I am not so convinced that with the number two quarterback in the draft falling to the Rams, that they would be willing to pass on him for Case. Carson Wentz can immediately come in and take the job for the Rams as they open up in Los Angeles for the first time since the 1994 season. Wentz is a big, strong quarterback that has the character to lead the Rams back to contention in the NFC West.
- Detroit Lions – Taylor Decker – OT
Taylor Decker is a mean, nasty, gritty offensive tackle from Ohio State. The Lions need more consistency from the offensive line and Decker has shown that he can live up to that standard. With the Lions being challenged by the defensive fronts of the Bears, Packers and Vikings, selecting a player to protect your quarterback feels like the right move.
- Atlanta Falcons – Reggie Ragland – ILB
Ragland is a safe pick here for the Atlanta Falcons and fills an immediate need for them. Ragland isn’t the most athletic linebacker in the draft but he has good technique and his football IQ matches what the Falcons need.
- Indianapolis Colts – Jack Conklin – OT
The Colts have seen Andrew Luck go down multiple times since he became the starting quarterback. Adding in a tackle to protect Luck on the edge will help keep the former number one pick upright, and may be what the Colts need to make a deep playoff run. Conklin was one of the best offensive linemen in the BIG 10, a conference known for its linemen.
- Buffalo Bills – Paxton Lynch – QB
Woah. The Bills seem to be less interested in Tyrod Taylor and more intrigued with the Memphis product as the draft nears. This pick would shock many but the way things are lining up it’s more likely than most are willing to believe. Paxton Lynch is still a raw quarterback but he has the most upside out of any quarterback in this draft. If he can put it together, the Bills will finally have their long awaited franchise quarterback
- New York Jets – Leonard Floyd – OLB
Leonard Floyd is a rangy linebacker that projects as either an ILB or OLB. With the Jets losing Demario Davis to the Browns, they’ll be looking to replace his services. Floyd is electric off the edge and while he got away with having a lanky frame in college, he’ll need to add bulk to fight off NFL linemen.
- Washington – Eli Apple – CB
Deangelo Hall can’t play forever and Chris Culliver may be better off as a safety. Adding Eli Apple would give Washington two young cornerbacks and the ability to have a solid defense for Kirk Cousins and the offense.
- Houston Texans – Corey Coleman – WR
It’s crazy to think that the first wide receiver may not come off the board until 22, but with all the other needs for teams, it may be entirely possible that we may be waiting even longer than this. Corey Coleman fits what the Texans need on offense, a good downfield receiving threat with play-making ability. Deandre Hopkins is already the established number one; Coleman can come in and be the dynamic number two with the ability to play out of the slot as well.
- Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson – WR
Josh Doctson’s highlight reel can sometimes look similar to that of former Minnesota Viking, Randy Moss. I will in no way so that they are the same player but they’re both electric and make spectacular catches. Doctson can be what Mike Wallace couldn’t, and that’s reliable on all levels of the field. While he’s best on vertical routes, Doctson can go across the middle and even make plays off the quick passes.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Will Fuller – WR
The run on wide receivers continues. Will Fuller gives something to Andy Dalton that he hasn’t really had since being drafted, and that’s a downfield burner. With Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones leaving in free agency, the Bengals need to fill in the empty space and what better way to do it than with the wide receiver from Notre Dame. Fuller packaged with Green can be an exciting duo for Bengals fans and open up the playbook a bit.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Mackensie Alexander – CB
Mackensie Alexander was one of the best cornerbacks in the country last year. While there was concern for the 0 interceptions he had throughout his college career, there’s no denying that he was one of the top tier players when it came to shutting down opposing receivers. He fills a need at cornerback for the Steelers, giving them hope to re-establish the once feared Steel Curtain.
- Seattle Seahawks – Jason Spriggs – OT
The Seahawks lost Russell Okung in free agency but they’ve been losing him since he was drafted. Okung has never played a full 16 game schedule and only lived up to his draft status once in his time with the Seahawks. Spriggs is an athletic tackle who would fit the build of what the Seahawks and Russell Wilson like to do on offense. He’s also a sound run blocker, a strong need now that Lynch is no longer around.
- Green Bay Packers – Jarran Reed – DT
B.J. Raji had an excellent start to his career as a Packer. Unfortunately, injuries took a hold of his playing time and took away from some of his ability. Reed is a built defensive tackle from Alabama who has all the ability to be drafted much higher than the 27th pick. If he can be anything similar to what the Packers had in Raji, then they’ll be back to having the defensive power in the NFC North.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Sheldon Rankins – DT/DE
The Chiefs are losing Justin Houston for what looks like the entire 2016 season. While Rankins doesn’t fill that void, he does create problems along the defensive front to help ease everyone else’s job. He’s a talented defensive tackle that would fit well as a 3-4 defensive end and could be the piece that has this defense as the top ranked in the AFC (once Justin Houston comes back of course).
- Arizona Cardinals – Artie Burns – CB
The Cardinals have a need at the cornerback position. While Mathieu is capable of playing cornerback, he’s not exactly fit to cover a team’s number one receiver (more of a slot guy when not playing safety). Artie Burns is raw but his upside could land him as the top corner prospect in this year’s class. If Bruce Arians can pull it out of him then watch out, the Cardinals may be on a roll.. Again.
- Carolina Panthers – Keanu Neal – SS
The Panthers surprised everyone last year with their incredible start and run to the Super Bowl. While there are holes on the offense that can be addressed, they have an opportunity to fill a defensive need and essentially make their defense the best in the league (on paper). Keanu Neal is a hard hitting safety who would complement Kurt Coleman very well. He wasn’t as well known until the off season but he has the tools the Panthers are looking for in a strong safety.
31. Denver Broncos – Robert Nkemdiche – DT/DE
The Broncos took a hit on their defense when Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan found “greener” pastures. Derek Wolfe was retained and Jared Crick was signed but the Broncos are in need of a young talent that can take care of the defensive line. Robert Nkemdiche is raw and his work ethic is questionable, but his talent could make him one of this year’s draft steals. Wade Phillips is a defensive genius, and there’s no reason why he couldn’t maximize Nkemdiche’s skills.
*New England Patriots – Forfeited Pick
Rodney Stokes is a regular contributor for TonySoftli.com. Follow Rodney on Twitter: @RSDraft