You will notice a few of these projections are the same as my last mock draft. That is because they make sense… for now. Less than five percent of you are actually reading this introduction. Thank you to those who are. These “projections” will change frequently. Don’t take these guesses as “X player is projected in the first-round.” It is too early to make such a statement.
You will see the top quarterbacks drafted much later in this mock than others. Right now everyone is concluding one or two will be top ten picks. This is a common theme every year; sometimes it happens, sometimes it does not. In this situation Sam Bradford could follow Chip Kelly to the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick to the Browns and Chase Daniel to the Eagles.
1. Tennessee Titans - FSU DB Jalen Ramsey - Everyone is mocking Laremy Tunsil here. For years it has been accepted that left tackle is the most important offensive line position. In the past, it seemed all of the top pass rushers played opposite the left tackle. That played into the importance of the position. Now pass rushers are deployed from all different alignments. Basically I’m trying to explain why tackle will not be the pick here, since Tennessee’s interior seemed to struggle just as much (or more) than the left tackle. The Titans likely want to trade this pick, but a versatile, aggressive defensive back with size and athleticism is not a bad consolation.
2. Cleveland Browns - Ohio State EDGE Joey Bosa - Bosa is all explosion and power, shedding his opposition with strength and extension. He is one of the best run defending edge players I have seen. Don’t expect a flexible bender who turns the corner. That is not Bosa’s game. Many have asked how Bosa will fare dropping into coverage. I’d make him a designated rusher who occasionally covers the curl to flat area, which is not a big question.
3. San Diego Chargers - Ole Miss T Laremy Tunsil - Philip Rivers has also displayed functional mobility and an ability to win in a confined pocket. Common thought would be that Rivers’ ability to succeed in such a situation would continue to decline with age. This entire offense would improve with a better offensive line. Tunsil has an aggressive demeanor to go along with his strength.
4. Dallas Cowboys - UCLA LB Myles Jack - As of now, I consider Jack the top prospect in this draft class. Jack can play like a 260 lbs power linebacker or display the agility a 230 lbs coverage specialist. He moves differently than most players at the position. Linebackers tend to play better when working behind a talented defensive line, and expect Dallas to invest in the interior throughout the draft. Jack is on track to participate in the Combine.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - Eastern Kentucky EDGE Noah Spence - The Jaguars will likely lose three edge rushers this offseason (Clemons played 675 snaps, Branch played 616 and Davis played 250) and were in dire need of pass rushing productivity this year. I would not argue with anyone who ranks Spence as the second best edge rusher in this class. In fact, I likely agree. He combines explosion with power and is not afraid to work through his opponent or around them. Off field issues led to his dismissal at Ohio State, but what if those aren’t “issues” anymore?
6. Baltimore Ravens - Notre Dame T Ronnie Stanley - Eugene Monroe turns just 29 in April, but he has only played in 17 games over the last two seasons. The Ravens cannot count on him to play a full season. On top of that, Kelechi Osemele is a free agent and 2016 is the final year of Ricky Wagner’s deal. Getting a talented left tackle in a rookie deal is a great proposition.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell - I rank Treadwell as a top five prospect in this class and think much of the criticism around him is nitpicking. Treadwell is an ultra-physical receiver both before and after the catch. It might not matter for many, but receiver coaches will love his blocking intensity. The 49ers need foundation pieces on offense, and Treadwell can be that.
8. Miami Dolphins - Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves - Hargreaves’ 2015 season did not match 2014, but it was far from bad or even average. I was a big Jamar Taylor fan out of Boise State, but he has not played well. Unless the team really believes in young corners Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett as full time starters, expect them to address this position early.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Clemson EDGE Shaq Lawson - We know all about what Lawson and Clemson’s defensive line did this year. Lawson produced a great matchup against Ronnie Stanley this season, winning on some occasions and losing on others. He has flashes speed, power and pass rushing awareness with a variety of moves.
10. New York Giants - Oregon DL DeForest Buckner - I’m not completely sold on Buckner’s pass rushing success early on. However, I am sold on Buckner's individual traits that can result in a powerful pass rusher. Let me explain. Buckner has desired size and length. He is not slow off the football. He has strength in his hands and uses length. All of these show up as a run defender. Once he shows urgency and intent to play behind the line of scrimmage and shed against the pass, he can be a huge factor on a defense. The Giants might see a Justin Tuck comparison here.
11. Chicago Bears - Ohio State LB Darron Lee - John Fox invested at linebacker in multiple previous stops. The Bears lack speed on defense, and Lee offers it. Yes, Lee missed some tackles this season, but I think his agility put him in plays others might not reach. Improvements to the interior of the defensive line would also help.
12. New Orleans Saints - Alabama DL A’Shawn Robinson - The NFL already likes and will continue to like Robinson’s projection more than I do. see a big, stout run defender who does not offer very much as an upfield disruptor or pass rusher. Maybe he can be Michael Brockers, but I see adequate to above average run defenders signed every year off the street. The Saints do need help along the interior, and as you have read, it can greatly impact linebacker success.
13. Philadelphia Eagles - Stanford G Joshua Garnett - I’ve been on a few local Philadelphia programs in recent weeks. One question I received was “outside of guard, what position is the biggest need.” It was difficult to answer. To me, that shows how much the Eagles need to upgrade the position, arguably at both guard spots. Garnett can be a powerful blocker and will draw the “good teammate” label.
14. Oakland Raiders - Clemson CB Mackensie Alexander - I can see why a lot of people like Alexander. In fact, many love his game. Hate it or love it, corner is now a position of size and stature. It can be difficult to find sub 5’10” corner who successfully plays the ball in contested situations. Jason Verrett was one, and Alexander needs to follow that path.
15. Los Angeles Rams - North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz - GM Les Snead recently mentioned that the “analytics” pointed to Case Keenum “playing like a top-10 quarterback at one point.” There is no way he can believe that. Wentz has a lot of talent, but I cannot get behind the top 10 pick talk. However, the Rams do need to (finally) invest in the position.
16. Detroit Lions - Baylor WR Corey Coleman - I think Coleman plays bigger than his size and obviously offers speed and yards after catch capabilities. It is interesting, because the WVU game shows an evaluator everything in terms of getting off the line versus press, while the Oklahoma State contest displays the opposite. Coleman obviously does not have Calvin Johnson’s size, but he is a playmaker.