2016 NFL Mock Draft: Jesse Finver
With the 2016 NFL Draft less than a week away, I’ll be breaking down who will be going where come this Thursday. This year’s draft has already gotten pretty crazy, with both the Rams and the Eagles trading up to the first and second picks respectively. So, without further ado, here is how this year’s draft is going to go according to yours truly.
1. Jared Goff (QB- Cal)- Los Angeles Rams (from Tennessee Titans)
The first player off the board in the 2016 NFL Draft will be Jared Goff, who in my opinion is the top quarterback prospect available this year. Rams fans should be excited about this pick, despite what they gave up to get it. Goff brings a great skillset to Los Angeles as he has a big arm, tall, and has shown he is capable of making all of the necessary throws to be successful at the NFL level. Goff played in a spread offense at Cal, taking most of his snaps out of the shotgun, so he is going to have some growing pains at first adjusting to taking snaps under center. There are no quarterbacks who can come in and start right away and have success like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III did in their rookie years, but Goff is the best bet out off anyone available to develop into the stud the Rams think he can be.
2. Carson Wentz (QB- North Dakota State)- Philadelphia Eagles
Well, I had an entire mock draft written up ready to go and then this happened. The Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns swapped first round picks (as well as a bunch of other picks), giving Philly an opportunity to draft their quarterback of the future. All signs are pointing to the Eagles drafting Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State University. Wentz is big, strong and has experience in a pro style system, so going to a team like the Eagles where he can sit for a year or two and learn from Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and head coach Doug Pederson, who is a former NFL quarterback himself, is a blessing for Wentz.
3. Jalen Ramsey (S- Florida State)- San Diego Chargers
As I write this, I’m still torn between Laremy Tunsil and Ramsey to go to the Chargers here as both players would fill a need, but I’m going to stick with what my gut is telling me and take the better player in Ramsey. The Chargers invested a lot of money into their offensive line before last season, but injuries ruined the Chargers’ best-laid plans once again. I think the Chargers are going to risk it with the offensive line they currently have and go with the versatile Ramsey. Ramsey would replace Eric Weddle and would have an instant impact on defense for San Diego.
4. Ezekiel Elliot (RB- Ohio State)- Dallas Cowboys
After winning their division on the back of Demarco Murray and their incredible offensive line two seasons ago, the Cowboys took a major step back in 2015 when Murray bolted for Philadelphia (losing Tony Romo to injury twice may have had something to do with this too). A lot of people think the Cowboys should take Joey Bosa or Myles Jack here, however I think that Zeke fills a bigger need and would be an immediate three-down back in Dallas. If you thought Zeke was good behind Ohio State’s offensive line, wait until you see him in Dallas.
5. Joey Bosa (DE- Ohio State)- Jacksonville Jaguars
Not only did the Jaguars sign Malik Jackson this offseason to bolster the defensive line, but Dante Fowler Jr., the third overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, will be returning this season as well after missing all of last year with a knee injury. Well, add Joey Bosa to that defensive line in Jacksonville, as the Jaguars are in desperate need in upgrading that defense to match the firepower of that offense. Bosa will be a starter from day one and will give Jacksonville what they hope to be the final piece to constructing one of the most feared defensive lines in all of football.
6. Ronnie Stanley (OT- Notre Dame)- Baltimore Ravens
A lot of people are going to have Laremy Tunsil going to the Ravens here, however I think that the concerns about previous injuries and suspensions will drop him to the 49ers at pick seven. With Joe Flacco coming off of an ACL tear, I think the Ravens go with the better pass protector in Stanley.
7. Laremy Tunsil (OT- Ole Miss)- San Francisco 49ers
A lot of mock drafts have this exact top seven, and for good reason: it just makes the most sense. I think inside linebacker is a bigger need for the 49ers, but I cannot see Chip Kelly picking a defensive player with his first first-round pick in San Francisco. Tunsil still fills a need at OT and is by far the best run-blocker out of the top OT prospects. Chip will be licking his chops thinking about all of the pancake blocks Tunsil will deliver for the next 10 years.
8. DeForest Buckner (DE- Oregon) Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)
Well, the Browns are going to look really smart or really dumb look back at this draft in five years. By trading down, they now have 12 draft picks this year, and can fill a need while taking the best player available, DeForest Buckner. Buckner is an absolute beast coming in at 6’7 291 lbs. He is your ideal 3-4 defensive end, and will wreak havoc on defenses for years to come.
9. Jack Conklin (OT- Michigan State)- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs took Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in 2015, and drafting Conklin will only further cement their belief that Winston is the guy there long term. Conklin will be an instant starter in Tampa, slotted in at left tackle on day one to protect Winston’s blindside.
10. Reggie Ragland (ILB- Alabama)- New York Giants
The Giants haven’t drafted a linebacker in the first round since they took some guy named Lawrence Taylor with the second overall pick in 1981. Well, this is finally the year the Giants break the streak, and take Ragland with the 10th pick. New York made a ton of upgrades to the defense this offseason, and taking Ragland would be the icing on the cake. Ragland is a violent run-stopping linebacker that would help the Giants improve upon their ranking in bottom third of total rushing yards allowed in 2015.
11. Leonard Floyd (OLB- Georgia)- Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have a huge need at outside linebacker, as there is virtually no speed at the position on their roster right now. Floyd would be a perfect fit for Chicago. There are some who have concerns with how skinny Floyd is, but a little work in the weight room should fix that.
12. Sheldon Rankins (DT-Louisville) New Orleans Saints
The Saints allowed the most rushing yards per game in 2015, so taking the top defensive tackle prospect is a no brainer for New Orleans. Rankins is a multi-dimensional defensive lineman, who possesses elite pass rushing and run stopping skills. He’ll be a starter from day one for a New Orleans team that desperately needs his talents.
13. Vernon Hargreaves (CB- Florida) Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles)
The most complete cornerback in the draft (unless you consider Jalen Ramsey a CB…which I don’t), Hargreaves would be a great addition to a Miami team that has a huge hole at cornerback. They have Byron Maxwell, however he can’t be relied upon after a disappointing 2015. In a division that features excellent wide receivers such as Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Sammy Watkins, and Julian Edelman, Hargreaves is the obvious choice for Miami at 13.
14. Eli Apple (CB- Ohio State) Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have just one glaring hole on their team in my opinion and it’s the secondary. They added Sean Smith in the offseason, however losing Charles Woodson is a major blow, and DJ Hayden hasn’t developed into the cornerback Oakland had hoped he would become. Adding a big, strong and lengthy cornerback in Eli Apple will fill a need for the Raiders and give them a starting caliber cornerback from day one.
15. Taylor Decker (OT- Ohio State) Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)
There is always the possibility that the Titans trade up to try and snag Jack Conklin from Tampa, but I can’t assume that in this mock draft so I have Tennessee taking the next best tackle available. Decker went up against some of the best pass rushers in all of college football while at Ohio State, and was highly successful in protecting Ohio State quarterback’s blind sides. He’s better at run blocking than he is in pass protection, however he is smart enough where his physical deficiencies are masked. Mariota and Murray are going to love this guy.
16. Mackensie Alexander (CB- Clemson) Detroit Lions
Many view Mackensie Alexander as undersized for a corner, causing scouts to doubt if he can be a true number one cornerback in the NFL. Don’t tell Mackensie that though. The Clemson product ended the season injured but he’s healthy now and the Lions will take him at 16 to pair him with Darius Slay. Alexander’s competitiveness will aid him in the NFL, as his size will give him trouble against bigger wide receivers. He is excellent in man coverage as his instincts are sublime and will be a solid starter for Detroit.
17. Myles Jack (OLB- UCLA) Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons really need an outside linebacker as they were consistently torched by running backs and tight ends last year in the open field. Myles Jack makes by far the most sense here, even with the surgically repaired knee. Jack is a top five player in the draft talent wise, so getting him here at 17 is highway robbery for the Falcons if the knee stays healthy.
18. Germain Ifedi (OL- Texas A&M) Indianapolis Colts
The Colts need offensive line help in the worst way, and Ifedi will give them just that. Ifedi is listed as a guard, but I think the Colts try him at tackle first before moving him back inside. He has the length to play tackle and with the right coaching, could be come an excellent pass blocker with the Colts. Andrew Luck needs protection no matter what, so this is a great value pick for the Colts.
19. Shaq Lawson (DE- Clemson) Buffalo Bills
Simply put, this pick just makes the most sense at 19 for Buffalo. Rex Ryan loves big 3-4 defensive ends as he quite a few good ones with the Jets, and he gets another in Lawson to replace Mario Williams. Lawson was an absolute beast at Clemson last year and will only get better in a Rex Ryan defense.
20. Darron Lee (OLB- Ohio State) New York Jets
The Jets desperately need an outside linebacker, and Lee is by far the best one left in the draft with Jaylon Smith’s football career now in doubt. Lee will be an instant starter in New York’s already vaunted front seven, as outside linebacker is by far the weakest link on the Jets’ defense.
21. Jarran Reed (DT- Alabama) Washington Redskins
I was really close to putting Reed’s teammate A’Shawn Robinson here, however the Redskins need help stopping the run right now and no one in the draft does that better than Reed. The Redskins ranked 31st in yards allowed per carry (4.8), and Reed would instantly solve that problem. He’ll be a starter from day one if Washington takes him, and they would be foolish to pass up on him he falls to 21.
22. Corey Coleman (WR- Baylor) Houston Texans
The Texans already have one pro bowl caliber wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, and would be adding one with pro bowl potential in Corey Coleman. The Baylor standout would be welcomed with open arms by newly signed quarterback Brock Osweiler, and would add a burner (runs a sub 4.4 40) to the offense that would allow Houston to stretch the field.
23. Laquon Treadwell (WR- Ole Miss) Minnesota Vikings
Treadwell reminds me of Anquon Boldin a lot, and I’m sure Teddy Bridgewater would not mind throwing to a younger version of Boldin at all. Treadwell will be the number one receiver in Minnesota from day one, and will quickly become Teddy’s favorite target. Treadwell is a top-10 talent and would be an absolute steal if he drops all of the way to 23.
24. Josh Doctson (WR- TCU) Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals won’t be able to get the speedster that they need in Coleman, but Doctson can absolutely be a number two wide receiver next to A.J. Green. In fact, in my opinion, Doctson is the most talented wide receiver in this draft and only fell this far because he broke his wrist at the end of last season. Doctson fills a major need with Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones gone, and will have a major impact on the Cincinnati offense from day one.
25. William Jackson III (CB- Houston) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have a major need at cornerback to fill, and will all of the top guys taken already, they are left with William Jackson III. But are they really “left” with Jackson at 25? This is the deepest draft for defensive backs that I can remember, and Jackson may in fact be the best defensive back in this draft when everything is said and done. Jackson runs a 4.37 40 and led the FBS in pass breakups in 2015 with 28. His production and speed should translate well to the NFL, and should help solidify the Steelers secondary immediately.
26. Joshua Garnett (OG- Stanford) Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks need help at every position on the offensive line, and adding Garnett would give them the top guard in this year’s draft. Garnett fits perfectly into Seattle’s run-first offense, as he is a violent run blocker with great size. He has some trouble in pass protection, but those flaws can be fixed with time and practice with NFL coaching.
27. Andrew Billings (NT- Baylor) Green Bay Packers
Its no secret that Mike McCarthy wants to move Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker, but with the only inside linebacker worth a first round draft pick already on the Giants (Reggie Ragland), the Packers will have to address a different need. With BJ Raji stepping away from football for the 2016 season, Andrew Billings would fill a major need for the Packer sat 27. Billings’ main knock is that he is only 20 years old, but that should not be a concern for the Packers as there are significantly fewer distractions in Green Bay compared to New York or Los Angeles that would corrupt a young player. He has the potential to be special.
28. Artie Burns (CB- Miami) Kansas City Chiefs
After losing Sean Smith, the Chiefs have a major hole at cornerback to fill. Marcus Peters was an excellent pick for KC in 2015 and Burns should prove to be the same. What the Chiefs get in Burns is a project with lots of potential. Burns should learn quickly in Kansas City playing for a veteran defense, and will fill a big time need. I was close to picking Karl Joseph here, but the potential of Burns was too good to pass up.
29. Karl Joseph (S- West Virginia) Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are an elite team with few holes, and I think adding a safety to pair with the Honey Badger makes a lot of sense here. Joseph is a top-20 prospect in the entire draft, and has the potential to be special. An All American in 2014, Joseph sustained a non-contact knee injury in early October of 2015, sidelining him for the season.
30. Vonn Bell (S- Ohio State) Carolina Panthers
While Bell may be a bit undersized, he is a smart player who makes up for his size with his smarts and speed. With the loss of Josh Norman, the Panthers clearly have a need at corner, but Bell will help sure up their secondary and provide a consistency that they haven’t had at the position in a while.
31. Robert Nkemdiche (DT- Ole Miss) Denver Broncos
Nkemdiche would have been a top-10 pick in the draft if it weren’t for off the field issues. Nkemdiche possesses instant starter ability in Denver after losing Malik Jackson. Putting him on the best defense in the NFL with veterans such as DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller will help him stay on track off the field, allowing him to wreak havoc on defenses on the field.
Jesse Finver is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.