NFL Mock Draft 2016 – Smartasses Magazine’s 2016 NFL Draft Predictions for the top 10 picks of the first round, taking place April 28, 2016 in Chicago – Johnny Video.
NFL Mock Draft 2016 | Articles – Smartasses Magazine
Welcome to the 2016 NFL Draft, which, once history is finally done hyping itself this weekend, will most assuredly go down as the Much Ado About Nothing Draft. Considering the two blockbuster trades between the Tennessee Titans & Los Angeles Rams, and the Cleveland Browns & Philadelphia Eagles, never in recent memory has there been this level of fervor surrounding such an underwhelming draft class. On paper, quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were originally projected to be B+ prospects at best, yet if you listen to sports talk radio or watch the NFL Network ad nauseum, the media (and the actions of the Rams & Eagles) would now have you believing this is the second coming of Joe Montana and Y.A. Tittle. Furthermore, left tackle Laremy Tunsil of Mississippi, who was originally projected to go number one overall before the Titans traded away that pick for all of King Midas’ gold, is certainly nowhere near the skill level of say, a no-brainer offensive lineman such as Orlando Pace. Though probably an A-, Laremy is still a work in progress before he’s truly ready to play at the NFL level.
But hey, show a few explosions and a cool tagline, and even the most staunch film critic will get excited to go see Jason Statham in an action flick that is exactly like every other mediocre adventure film he’s done. Which is exactly how this draft is panning out. With the first two picks being traded for the first time since 1983, in an actually amazing draft class that included John Elway, Eric Dickerson, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino, this year really has been a great trailer for a very average movie- especially when considering how exceptionally disenchanting the players this year are anticipated to be. So kudos to you Erin Coscarelli and the gang, for getting us filet level excited over a piece of sirloin.
Los Angeles Rams #1 – Needs: QB, WR, TE
Nearly every football pundit on the planet has Jared Goff going number one overall to the Rams with the first pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Depending on who you listen to, some say he’s the more NFL ready between himself and Carson Wentz, while others say the opposite. I myself am of the latter group, and will even go on record as saying that if the Rams do indeed take Goff, then the Cleveland Browns will have made a huge mistake in hindsight, by trading away their spot at number two and the opportunity to snag Wentz. Speaking of groups I belong to, while I do realize I am going against the grain established by almost every NFL expert alive, who gets paid to do nothing but analyze college football players 365 days a year and decide where they will go in the draft, I also do not believe for a minute that Goff is Los Angeles’ choice here. First of all, unlike the Eagles, the Rams are drafting a QB to play now, and Wentz is less of a work in progress. Second of all, despite the fact that Goff is a California boy who looks really spiffy in blue & gold, he doesn’t come from a pro-style offense. Wentz does, after having played under center roughly a quarter of the time at North Dakota State, and the Rams sure do like to hand off and utilize the play action pass.
QB Carson Wentz – North Dakota State – 6′ 5″ 237 lbs – With a body type that is as prototypical as they come and a background in reading the entire field and working through progressions, Wentz has the mental and physical building blocks of a franchise quarterback. In his first year as a starter for the Bison in 2014, Wentz threw for 3,111 yards and 25 touchdowns, and in 2015, came back from a broken right wrist that sidelined him for two months to lead NDSU to a fifth straight title game victory.
Strengths: Stands tall in the pocket and delivers with a relatively high release point. Sees lurking linebackers underneath and throws to open receivers at the safest spot in the passing window. Has athleticism to escape pressure and hurt defenses with his legs.
Weaknesses: Allows passing windows to close quickly when he short arms his release. Needs a little more consistency on anticipatory throws outside the hash. Will get caught locking in on target bringing secondary charging in to make a play on the ball. Inconsistent footwork from the pocket.
NFL Comparison: Blake Bortles
Philadelphia Eagles #2 – Needs: OG, CB, RB, QB
Clearly the Eagles traded away the house to the Cleveland Browns, in order to gain the honor of taking the Rams’ sloppy seconds, and they’re okay with that. Seeing as how that sloppy second means getting the guy every NFL guru believes is the best QB of the draft, they’ll probably sleep pretty soundly Thursday night. I’m personally not buying the hyperbole. Goff often sails throws over intended targets, and has spots where he makes receivers work way too hard on easy throws. As well, despite spending 99.8 percent of his pass snaps from the shotgun this season and being a rhythm passer who benefited from the uptempo of Cal’s Bear Raid offense, Goff often rushes throws. Not to mention, he fumbled the ball twenty four times over the last three years, losing eleven. Luckily, the Eagles aren’t drafting him to start right away. Unless of course, Sam Bradford wets enough diapers and sucks his thumb loud enough to give Philly no other choice, other than to acquiesce and give into little baby Bradford’s demand for a trade before September.
QB Jared Goff – California – 6′ 4″ 215 lbs – While Goff is a little leaner in the lower body than teams might like, he still has good size and an NFL arm. Others add that he maintains advanced pocket mobility and the field demeanor of a franchise quarterback, and displays the tools to become a good starting quarterback with time.
Strengths: Quality arm. Makes all the throws and can sling the deep out with velocity and accuracy. Completed 43.8 percent of his deep throws. Competes on third and long seeking out first downs over check downs.
Weaknesses: Hits a rough patch with accuracy from time to time. Will likely need to orient himself with NFL footwork from under center. Several of his interceptions came when he failed to read zone defenders underneath drifting up to challenge the throw.
NFL Comparison: Matt Ryan
San Diego Chargers #3 – Needs: DL, LB, S
After watching the San Diego Chargers offensive line seemingly disintegrate before my eyes last year, I was one hundred percent convinced, post-blockbuster-trades, that Laremy Tunsil was the de-facto choice for the Chargers at number three. Especially seeing as how every expert on the planet had him as the consensus number one overall prior to the huge trades. But I no longer think that is the case. The Chargers already have a lot of money tied up in their bookend tackles, and seeing as how Tunsil struggles against the best pass rushers, it doesn’t make sense to pay him millions to ride the pine behind the boys San Diego already has invested a lot of cheese in. Besides, the Chargers need defensive help, especially on the line. If that rings Joey Bosa to you, don’t let it. Bosa is a 4-3 guy and San Diego plays a 3-4. As well, third overall is way too much to spend on the other DE, Deforest Buckner. Though Myles Jack is an option at linebacker, especially considering the Chargers don’t have a coverage LB on their roster in the same universe, coming off a meniscus injury is a little scary when you’re talking about the third overall pick. Therefore, it only makes sense for the Bolts to take the best overall player in the draft, CB Jalen Ramsey. The flexibility and playmaking ability he brings is enough to make any defensive coordinator salivate.
CB Jalen Ramsey – Florida State – 6′ 1″ 209 lbs – Ramsey was the first freshman to start the opener at cornerback for the Seminoles since Deion Sanders thirty years earlier. He is a press cover corner with enough disruptive length to fluster receivers, plus the makeup speed and leaping ability to stifle downfield attacks. He is also disruptive off of the edge and can chase down running backs from the weak side of the formation eliminating any long runs.
Strengths: Can redirect and, in some cases, completely roadblock a route with his disruptive press strength and tactics. Has athletic ability to slam on the brakes from full sprint and shadow comeback routes. Length and closing speed make it difficult to beat him over the top. Elite leaper who can challenge jump balls against anyone.
Weaknesses: Allows early separation in tight quarters and a clean passing window against crossing routes.
NFL Comparison: Sean Smith
Dallas Cowboys #4 – Needs: DE, CB, QB
If you paid attention to the latest Jerry Jones presser, then you’re walking away thinking the the Dallas Cowboys are going all in on running back Ezekiel Elliott. But remember, pre-draft chatter is all about misdirection, and I believe Dallas’ decision to let DeMarco Murray walk prior to 2015 proves they have a plug and play mentality when it comes to the ball carriers. That being said, there’s no way in hell they’re bucking the sound logic of not spending a top ten pick on a back, which means they look to the other side of the scrimmage line at The Ohio State University.
DE Joey Bosa – Ohio State – 6′ 5″ 269 lbs – In Dallas, defensive ends that can rush the passer are a critical need with Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season. Aside of that, if you watched the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, there was a lot of talk about Bosa going number one overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. Clearly, a team has to run the right scheme for that to occur, and as luck would have it, Dallas just happens to be the first 4-3 defense on the board. With that said, Joey Bosa’s own potential as an elite prospect has been clear since the day he arrived in Columbus, as he made his way into the starting lineup 10 times as a true freshman.
Strengths: Solid upfield burst off the snap. Has booming power in his hands. Uses arm extension and forward lean as his primary weapon.
Weaknesses: Tape shows surprising lack of play strength when he’s attacked on his edge. Struggles to fight back when being washed down by down blocks.
NFL Comparison: Ryan Kerrigan
Jacksonville Jaguars #5 – Needs: DE, LB, CB
Word on the street is that the Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to trade down from the number five pick. That won’t happen if Ramsey is still on the board. In fact, looking at potential buyers and who is available, it likely won’t happen at all, but I can see why the JJ’s would like it to, and here’s why: Bosa’s not a fit, it’s still too soon to take Buckner, and there’s still the ever present Myles Jack meniscus scare. So why not shop the pick? Still, there is the fact of the matter, that even though Jacksonville has done a great job rebuilding their offense, the same cannot be said for the defense just yet. But with Jag’s linebackers Telvin Smith and Paul Posluszny getting Pro Bowl recognition in 2015, Jacksonville feels they are just a few pieces away from winning now in the mediocre AFC South Division, and I believe they start completing their defense from the center, outward.
LB Myles Jack – UCLA – 6′ 1″ 245 lbs – It basically boils down to this: Myles has upper tier explosiveness with the desire, speed and aggression to find his way into play after play. So if the Jags feel good about the final analysis from their team doctors, then Jacksonville becomes Jack’s-ville, and they do indeed select this multi-purpose playmaker to take aim at Houston and Indianapolis within their division.
Strengths: Ultra athletic and can get to the ball from any position on the field. Adequate instincts with above average reaction off the snap. Able to weave through and around traffic in relentless pursuit.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t have prototypical linebacker frame. His excitable brand of play will need more control in the pros. Suffered torn anterior meniscus that ended his season in late September.
NFL Comparison: NaVorro Bowman
Baltimore Ravens #6 – Needs: DE, CB, OT
The Baltimore Ravens have been hoping since the start for an early run on quarterbacks in the draft, to make sure that one of the elite non-QB prospects drops down to them. Since this is exactly how things are guaranteed to play out, it’s all but certain that two of the elite five, Tunsil, Bosa, Buckner, Ramsey, or Jack will be available for the Ravens at six, meaning they will definitely possess a day-one impact player. If you’ve done your math, you now know that those two come down to Buckner or Tunsil. Having Tunsil fall in your lap all the way down at number six is possibly something too good to pass up. But with the eventually dropped domestic assault charges on Tunsil being a bit scary, especially considering the Ray Rice incident still being fresh in Baltimore minds, GM Ozzie Newsome is probably not willing to play with fire here. Especially when you consider how he was also suspended for seven games due to the NCAA’s impermissible benefits he received, and failing to be forthcoming with investigators while at Ole Miss. Ozzie doesn’t want the drama, and let’s face it, the Ravens have always been a defense-first team anyway.
DE DeForest Buckner – Oregon – 6′ 7″ 291 lbs – Buckner has the body type of a classic 3-4 defensive end who can control the point of attack with length and power, and an above average pass rush.
Strengths: Rare tackle production for a defensive lineman, with 163 over the last two seasons. Quick off the snap and difficult to cut off in the run game.
Weaknesses: Pad level so high that it impacts his ability to stop and change direction with necessary body control. Has a habit of turning shoulders and getting knocked out of position rather than taking on blocks with squared up pads.
NFL Comparison: Calais Campbell
San Francisco 49ers #7 – Needs: QB, DE, CB
Conventional wisdom can often be tossed out the window when one considers that Chip Kelly’s opinion matters here. So I would not at all be surprised if San Francisco turns the entire draft on it’s collective ear and takes QB Paxton Lynch or even Connor Cook. Be that as it may, word on the street is that the 49ers want to stick to the lines on either side of the ball, so with Buckner and Bosa gone, the 49ers tread where the Ravens fear to.
OT Laremy Tunsil – Ole Miss – 6′ 5″ 310 lbs – From a talent and technique standpoint, Tunsil is easily the cleanest offensive lineman in the 2016 draft, who came into Ole Miss as a five-star prospect and lived up to every bit of the hype. He lacks pure power, but also has the body control to be a quality run blocker in space and on levels. Ultimately, his feet, technique and instincts could make him an all-pro and one of the top pass protectors in professional football.
Strengths: Has the elite foot quickness of a high-end NFL tackle and his base remains balanced and uncompromised throughout his pass reps.
Weaknesses: Failed to start and play in every game in any of his three seasons. When bull rushers get to an edge, they can generate some push to the pocket. More of a finesse run blocker than drive blocker.
NFL Comparison: Tyron Smith
Cleveland Browns #8 – Needs: CB, S, WR, DE, OL
The good old Cleveland Browns. With all of the tippy top prospects off the board, what will they do here? They can’t keep trading down, as they need to come out of this draft with at least one player who will make an impact right now, and let’s face it, they literally have a need at every single position except punter. Some say they’ll still go after a QB, but I’m convinced they’ll target either Connor Cook or Cardale Jones at thirty-two. Instead, here at number eight, the analytics approach from Sashi Brown and Paul Depodesta indicates that they will instead try to build a solid foundation first, which spells taking the next best offensive lineman, Ronnie Stanley, who just happens to play the right tackle position recently vacated by the departed and very mediocre Mitchell Schwartz. But might they take a flier on CB Vernon Hargreaves, who compares to another guy across the field in Berea, Joe Haden? I don’t think they need another height-challenged corner. Do they truly pick best available and go after RB Ezekiel Elliott, even though wisdom says to not take a running back in the top 10? Possibly, just to stir up some hometown fervor. But believe it or not, they already have two decent RB’s in Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, so logic would indicate that it’s better to buy the windows before you worry about curtains.
OT Ronnie Stanley – Notre Dame – 6′ 6″ 312 lbs – Stanley had a chance to leave for the National Football League after his third year in South Bend, but decided to return after watching Ohio State win the national championship in January of 2015, because he wanted to be part of a national championship contender himself. That is exactly the type of attitude Hugh Jackson digs.
Strengths: Races out of the starting blocks and into pass sets as well as anyone in the country. Has long arms and knows how to use them. Plays with quick hands and a well-timed punch. Never panics when he loses hand placement, but simply resets them. Is not often beaten around the edge by speed. Has quickness off the snap to get to challenging backside blocks on linebackers.
Weaknesses: Doesnt have upper body strength to maul when his rep gets off track. Has athleticism to recover when he’s beaten, but is just average at redirecting his man off-course once the defender gets the advantage.
NFL Comparison: Lane Johnson
Tampa Bay Buccaneers #9 – Needs: DE, S, CB
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have glaring holes in the secondary, and the next man up just happens to be a good CB. Win-win.
CB Vernon Hargreaves – Florida – 5′ 10″ 204 lbs – While scouts have voiced some concerns about Hargreaves’ size and recovery speed, you won’t find anyone who doesn’t admire his competitiveness and consistency of production. Hargreaves has a level of suddenness and explosiveness in his movements that should always have him near the ball. With top-notch ball skills and exceptional instincts that drew praise from Alabama’s Nick Saban, Hargreaves possesses the football makeup to become a Pro Bowl cornerback.
Strengths: Instant click-and-close action to explode forward and attack the throw. Vertical jumps to go up and over receivers at the high point. Smooth, controlled backpedal with the ability to weave and mirror route progressions. Plays with outstanding body control and balance.
Weaknesses: Lean, wiry frame. Doesn’t have closing speed to make mistakes underneath and still recover on top. Allowed 16.5 yards per completion this season. Big receivers will pose a challenge.
NFL Comparison: Joe Haden
New York Giants #10 – Needs: OT, LB, S
This isn’t the top need for the New York Giants, but Ezekiel Elliott is the best player available and would complement Eli Manning and Odell Beckham. Not to mention, Elliott publicly voiced how much he’d love to play for New York. Looks like he’ll get his wish.
RB Ezekiel Elliott – Ohio State – 6′ 0″ 225 lbs – His 149-yard, four touchdown effort against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl put a happy ending on his career, allowing him to finish second all-time in rushing yards for the storied Buckeyes program. He is an elite, three-down running back who has the ability to excel in every facet of the game. Elliott also has a rare combination of size, athleticism, pass-catching and blocking skills and his competitive nature is always bubbling on the surface. While he’s had to handle a heavy workload over the last two seasons, Elliot should still come out of the gates as one of the most productive young running backs in the league.
Strengths: Has a bona fide jump-cut to elude penetration in the backfield and enough burst to elude chasers when he bounces runs to the outside. Able to change directions with no hesitation or wasted motion and is always headed forward. Looks to absolutely bludgeon defenders as a lead blocker and is often successful. Able pass catcher who adjusts to throws and can do something with it after the catch.
Weaknesses: Appears to be too willing to put himself through the meat grinder rather than avoiding certain collisions. Questions arose about his maturity after complaining about lack of carries in Michigan State game.
NFL Comparison: Edgerrin James