The college football bowl season is upon us, which means one thing: NFL Draft season has officially started. To be honest, focusing on the NFL Draft never truly takes a backseat to anything, but heavy evaluation takes place after the season due to how much players change over the course of the year.
Throw out everything you think you know about the top prospects, because that data is likely outdated and incorrect. Over the course of the next six months, Breaking Football will keep you in the know regarding your favorite 2016 NFL Draft prospects, while also working hard to keep you informed of team needs and keeping mock drafts going throughout the off-season.
NFL Draft enthusiasts Jonathan Valencia and myself (Keet S. Bailey) are going to take the next couple of hours to complete a live NFL mock draft collaboration for the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Keep in mind that the rankings will be post-Week 15, although the Monday Night Football game will be playing during the mock, so one or two teams may be slightly out of place. Let’s get the ball rolling with the Tennessee Titans on the clock and Jonathan owning the first pick:
Last Updated: 11:48pm
1. Tennessee Titans – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State*
Who knows what defensive scheme the Titans will be running next season, but does it really matter? Joey Bosa is the type of player who can revolutionize a defense with his elite pass rushing skills. The Titans have their franchise player on offense in Marcus Mariota, and now have that on defense as well. This is a no-brainer.
2. Cleveland Browns – Jared Goff, QB, Cal*
A lot of folks really are warming up to Paxton Lynch of Memphis, and for good reason. However, too many people are overlooking Goff as the best QB in this draft because his arm strength is just average at the moment. Goff brings excellent intangibles and accuracy to the field for Cleveland and his arm strength will improve. Aaron Rodgers was a guy that slid due to not being completely developed physically, and he’s doing alright.
3. San Diego Chargers – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss*
The Chargers have stopgaps at the bookends so they elect to snag their franchise left tackle. Laremy Tunsil is a special talent at the blindside and will keep Philip Rivers upright and should provide a boost in the running game for the struggling Melvin Gordon, last year’s first round selection.
4. Baltimore Ravens – Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss*
That’s right, two Ole Miss players back to back from their big time 2013 recruiting class. Nkemdiche has a lot of answers to provide for his off-field antics, but there’s no questioning his ability to get into the backfield and create havoc behind the line. The Ravens have had almost no penetration in 2015 and having a guy like Nkemdiche who is versatile enough to play in a 34 and 46 will be huge.
5. Dallas Cowboys – Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State*
Even though Jerry Jones has made it public he has his sights set on a QB, I don’t think he addresses that in the first round, not this year at least. Jalen Ramsey is a special talent and would bring tremendous versatality and skill to the Cowboys secondary. He’s a freakish athlete who could go toe-to-toe with an opponent such as Odell Beckham. After Byron Jones, the Cowboys are thin at CB as Brandon Carr may be cut due to his hefty contract.
6. San Francisco 49ers – Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame*
This is going to be a defensive draft and honestly Jaylon Smith could go higher. This kid is legit and a 2015 San Francisco 49ers defense is not to be feared. It’s time they start building like they did with Patrick Willis in 2007. Smith can get to the quarterback and hit you and he will be a force at the next level.
7. Detroit Lions – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida*
For years now the secondary for Detroit has been one of the worst in the NFL. Entering week 15 they allowed a 68% completion percentage to opposing QBs – 2nd worst in the league. They’d be overjoyed with a difference maker like VHIII to slip to them at 7. Hargreaves has the potential to be a shutdown corner in the NFL with his combination of athleticism, instincts and ball skills. He’s a turnover machine which is something Detroit is in dire need of – they have only 6 interceptions entering week 15 as well. Put Hargreaves next to Darius Slay for a great young CB tandem in a pass heavy NFC North.
8. New Orleans Saints – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The Saints offensive line has made progress compared to recent seasons, but they still need some help. Not only that, but they get a guy that’s a top five talent to fall at eight in this situation. Stanley can make a difference immediately at the next level with his ability in the run game. His athleticism allows him to mirror quicker rushers as well.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA*
With Tunsil and Stanley both off the board, the Jaguars elect to continue to build their defense with young playmakers. Even though he missed almost the entire 2015 season after undergoing knee surgery, Jack will be a high draft pick based on his playmaking ability and versatility. A core of Telvin Smith, Dante Fowler and Myles Jack in the front 7 will be a force to be reckoned with.
10. Miami Dolphins – Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU*
The Dolphins defensive line can only do so much. Jon Gruden says they look tired and it’s because they can’t get off the field. Well, that wasn’t entirely their fault with a secondary that performed as poorly as the Dolphins’ did in 2015. White’s experience against top tier WR’s with the Tigers hasn’t gone unnoticed. In a weak CB draft, White shoots up a la Justin Gilbert in 2014.
11. Chicago Bears – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Chicago’s first year defensive coordinator Vic Fangio played a part in San Francisco’s selection of Arik Armstead in the first round of last year’s draft, so now he goes after the better version. Buckner has been universally compared to his former teammate, but is undoubtedly the better player. Buckner will be an effective edge setter in Chicago’s new 3-4 scheme.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Decker’s going to rise in the off-season once he shows that he’s more agile in pass protection than people think. What we know for sure is that his ability to move the defender off the ball in the run game is exceptional and the Buccaneers can use any offensive line help that they can get.
13. New York Giants – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss*
A tandem of Odell Beckham Jr. and Laquon Treadwell? Now that’s a scary thought. Clearly the Giants have bigger needs, but they can’t help but pass on a guy like Treadwell, a great value pick at this point in the draft. These two could easily form one of the best tandems in the NFL as they would compliment each other tremendously. Eli Manning is in desperate need of another weapon on that offense.
14. Indianapolis Colts – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State*
The Colts just can’t seem to catch a break. Well, other than attempting to break Andrew Luck in half with the atrocious protection he’s given. To add, the Colts offensive line doesn’t seem to get any push in the run game either. They need more than just Conklin, but he’s going to be a stud for a long time at the next level. He’s a very technically sound lineman who plays smarter, not harder.
15. Oakland Raiders – Su’a Cravens, LB, USC*
This may be a little bit of a reach here, but what draft doesn’t have them? Su’a Cravens is a guy I can see Oakland falling in love with. He’s extremely versatile and the type of guy you can plug in multiple positions. A pure playmaker which is what the Raiders need on defense. Cravens stays in the Bay area.
16. Philadelphia Eagles – Emmanuel Ogbah, LB, Oklahoma State*
You can never be too sure what Chip Kelly is going to do. There are many routes the Kelly and the Eagles can go here, so why not go BPA? Emmanuel Ogbah is a polished pass rusher who brings exciting length and tremendous power to Philly’s defense – a defense that often times has trouble closing, so another pass rusher should do the trick.
17. Buffalo Bills – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama*
The Bills rush defense just hasn’t gotten in done. Marcell Dareus is a top tier NT, and A’Shawn Robinson is a guy that will excel as a three technique in the NFL. An offensive tackle is a need here, as well as the safety units, but Robinson is a great value here.
18. St. Louis Rams – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Finally, Paxton Lynch comes off the board. The big statured, big armed Lynch has emerged as one of the best QBs in this year’s draft class, which isn’t saying much. Nonetheless, the long-lived days of Nick Foles and Case Keenum are far behind the Rams. Lynch brings a QB who stands tall in the pocket and can get the ball downfield to the many deep threats on the St. Louis offense.
19. Atlanta Falcons – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson*
Vic Beasley meet Shaq Lawson. Oh, you too already know each other? Even better. The Falcons have guys like Tyson Jackson and Adrian Clayborn that can set the edge, but they need another guy that can get to the quarterback.
20. New York Jets – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Well, we won’t have one of those non-RB first rounds. Elliott is clearly the top back in the draft. Todd Bowles is an old school guy who likes to pound the rock and play a physical brand of football. Chris Ivory is a bit inconsistent and the Jets could use some fresh legs in the backfield. They have a ton of options here, but I think they elect to improve the offense.
21. Washington Redskins – Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee*
The Redskins still need a lot of help. Don’t let their recent success fool you; this team has a lot of opportunities. The secondary needs to be addressed. The depth is non-existent and the starters are unimpressive. Sutton has the ability to succeed in press coverage. He plays a physical game that is needed when facing guys like Dez Bryant, ODB and Jordan Matthews twice a season.
22. Houston Texans – Andrew Billings, DL, Baylor*
Bill O’Brien isn’t going to let him fall any further. Andrew Billings has seen his stock rise over the past few weeks. He’s a bit undersized, and I’m not sure about the fit, but he presents too much value here. The Texans need help on the defensive line. While J.J. Watt can do the job himself, it would pay to get him some help up front. O’Brien doesn’t shy away from going against scheme fits (Clowney). I could see Billings fitting on the edge. Think of him as a Jurrell Casey type player.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
This won’t be a popular selection, as the Chiefs have bigger needs. This is a BPA (Best Player Available) selection that also fills a role that could be improved. Thomas can block down field as a receiver and runs pretty clean routes overall. He’s not going to make big plays down field, but that’s what Jeremy Maclin is for. Thomas is a weapon within 20 yards in many facets of the game.
24. Minnesota Vikings – Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford
Mike Zimmer understands that games are won in the trenches. Minnesota could use some help on the interior line and Garnett is the best guard in the draft working out perfectly.
25. Seattle Seahawks – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Wait until the tape starts getting out on this guy. Better yet, watch how he handles the Michigan State offensive line this New Years. Reed’s stock is rising with his ability to eat up blocks and play for four quarters on a two down rotation. Seattle’s defense hopes to never grow old.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
The Steelers are very young on defense, and they continue to get younger. Their secondary is arguably the worst in the league, especially their CB corps. Mackensie Alexander is still a bit raw as a redshirt sophomore, but he has a very high ceiling and can develop into a premier CB in the NFL. Despite his compact frame he plays with great range and is among the best man-to-man cover corners in this year’s class. Pittsburgh is desperate for a true #1 CB and Alexander fills that need.
27. Green Bay Packers – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
A bit lean, Floyd comes off the line with explosive quickness and speed around the edge. His ability in coverage is under-utilized as well. The Packers need to generate more pass rush and Floyd can do that. Floyd comes out of Georgia comparable to Barkevious Mingo at LSU a few seasons ago, however Mingo plays for the Browns, so we all know how that is.
28. Denver Broncos – Reggie Ragland, Alabama
I don’t know what the deal is, but Reggie Ragland’s stock has dipped a bit the past few weeks. Nonetheless, I love his game. He is a strong player, and a leader in the middle of the defense. With both Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall set to hit free agency, Denver may need a replacement here. Regardless, he’d be a great value pick in my eyes at 28.
29. Cincinnati Bengals – Vonn Bell, SAF, Ohio State
The Bengals don’t have glaring needs, but they could use a starter at free safety along with front seven depth. Vonn Bell has excellent instincts and ball skills which will translate very well to the next level. Cincinnati hasn’t had a true play-maker in the defensive secondary for awhile and could get one here at the end of the first.
30. Arizona Cardinals – Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Guys like Frostee Rucker and Cory Redding won’t be around much longer. Bruce Arians goes with your prototypical Cardinals defender with the selection of Jonathan Allen. A versatile defensive linemen who fits right in with what this defense likes to do. He has surged up draft boards while rotating on that stout Alabama defensive line. The 4th ‘Bama defender to be selected in the first round.
31. New England Patriots (OOPS)
32. Carolina Panthers – Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Spriggs is a guy who should see his stock soar once his combine numbers are out. A potential workout warrior, he has the size and athleticism combination that every coach wants. The Panthers could use a left tackle for the future and with a little technique, Spriggs could develop into a top tier offensive lineman.
Thanks to everyone who followed our tweets and to our viewers on Reddit. This is one of many mocks to come. Keep an eye out for more scouting reports, Senior Bowl coverage as well as NFL Combine coverage throughout the course of the off-season. Follow us on Twitter @KeetBailey and @JonValencia_WiB