It’s been a fun week watching Senior Bowl coverage for the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. The Senior Bowl wrapped up on Saturday with Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott winning the Most Outstanding Player. We got to see a lot of guys improve their stock for April’s draft as the players prep for February’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
With this event out of the way, Breaking Football has a much better understanding of a lot of our seniors and may have a few players who sneak into the first round. @KeetBailey
Let’s mock up a draft to follow up the Senior Bowl:
1. Tennessee Titans – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
The Titans gave up 54 sacks in 2015 and Taylor Lewan simply hasn’t performed as advertised after being a first round pick in 2014. Lewan isn’t terrible, he just doesn’t look like a good fit on the left side of the line, giving the Titans the choice to move him to the right side and plug in Tunsil to help keep Marcus Mariota off his back.
2. Cleveland Browns – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Am I on the Carson Wentz bandwagon? Yes I am. Is #2 an extremely high selection to use on a player who missed 12 weeks in 2015 coming from an FCS program that dominates most of it’s competition? Absolutely.
But there’s really a lot to like about Wentz that I wrote about earlier this week here. Hue Jackson was Joe Flacco’s quarterback coach in 2008 coming out of Delaware, granted the 18th overall pick, not second overall. Jackson worked with Flacco’s footwork and ability to go through his progressions and Baltimore had themselves a quarterback. Wentz already shows the ability to move his eyes in the defensive backfield, look off defenders and deliver strikes with zip. His footwork will be Jackson’s first point to address as well as pre-snap reads, but Wentz has exceptional intangibles that will allow for quick learning and execution for the Browns offense. The downside is that Wentz may be best sitting for a month or two to adjust to NFL speed, but Josh McCown could start the season, assuming his health is solid.
3. San Diego Chargers – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The Chargers will stay in San Diego through the 2016 season, but if they want their Los Angeles crowd to see a healthy Philip Rivers, someone is going to have to protect him. Stanley is a fairly balance bookend with a mean streak.
He may have to get the start to his season at right tackle to adjust to the next level’s speed of pass rushers, but Stanley has proven to be a quick learner who can adapt to the pace of the game and continue playing at an elite level. He’ll also aid significantly in providing success to 2015 1st round pick Melvin Gordon with Stanley’s ability to get to the second level in the run game.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Dallas finished with 31 sacks in 2015 and couldn’t stop the run to win a game. While Tony Romo and Dez Bryant missing significant time certainly didn’t help, they were gashed for over 121 yards per game on the ground. Bosa can put pressure on the quarterback, but he’s also an impressive edge setter against the run, something the Cowboys missed in 2015.
Like Leonard Williams in the 2015 NFL Draft, the best overall player falls outside the top three, finding his spot on a team with a lot of talent and ready to win. Jerry Jones is almost guaranteed to jump all over Bosa should he make it to fourth overall.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
I personally prefer Ramsey as a free safety. His range is exceptional as well as his ability to break on the ball. However, Jacksonville can decide to utilize him as they please be it cornerback or safety. Either way, they’re getting a play maker when the ball is in the air, something they desperately need.
The Jaguars will get 2015 first round pick Dante Fowler Jr. from Florida back on the field after missing all season, essentially netting two first round round starters defensively for 2016.
6. Baltimore Ravens – Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
I think it’d be very hard for the Ravens to pass up on a play maker such as Hargreaves. They’ve missed a consistent play maker since the Ed Reed days. Since Jalen Ramsey is gone, Hargreaves is the next best bet. He’s tough enough for the AFC North and can blanket his man.
The Ravens could opt for a pass rusher here, but Hargreaves still hasn’t tapped into his potential and that could be scary for the rest of the division.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
We’re not quite sure just what’s in store from the Chip Kelly led San Francisco 49ers. Kelly may be tempted to take a flyer on Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch who seems like a potential fit for the offense, however it’s possible that Colin Kaepernick gets another chance.
Either way, Laquon Treadwell is a top 10 talent who missed most of 2014 with a leg injury only to bounce back with a huge 2015 for the Rebels.
8. Miami Dolphins – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
The Dolphins just couldn’t get any consistent play from their linebackers and despite Myles Jack coming off of an ACL tear, he’ll be ready to compete and start for the 2016 season.
Miami once again failed to execute consistently despite a high quality roster that features three studs on the defensive line. Jack is an exceptional athlete who could play multiple linebacker positions in different systems and will be able to make a difference from day one.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
The Buccaneers defensive line still has some opportunities to address and with the ninth overall pick they could get a steal in Nkemdiche who’s projected to slide a bit due to off-field concerns. It’s unclear just how much of an impact the drug possession charges will have on his draft status, but Nkemdiche is still one of the most physically gifted players in the draft.
Nkemdiche’s ability to lineup inside and outside in 43 defense stands out, as well as his exceptional 6’4 295 frame and long arms used to throw off lineman. A guy who was considered a first overall caliber player prior to the criminal charges, a clean future off the field could lead to a promising NFL career.
10. New York Giants – Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
The Giants need pass rusher on the defensive line, but they could also add a linebacker with exceptional range and ability to get to the quarterback as well.
Taking Jaylon Smith in the top ten after suffering a knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl seems risky, but it may be worthwhile for a defense that struggles to get consistent linebacker play as well.
11. Chicago Bears – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
The Bears are looking to bolster their pass rush, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a guy that can eat up space in the run game as well.
Buckner’s quite athletic given his size, making him a disruptive edge player with the strength to play at a high level against the run.
12. New Orleans Saints – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
The Alabama defensive line featured two players likely to be first round picks, one in A’Shawn Robinson and the next in Jarran Reed. What gives Robinson the edge is his ability to put pressure on the quarterback, despite the statistics not showing as much. He would be a fit to rotate inside early in his career, especially as a two down run stopping specialist that has the ability to penetrate in passing situations.
13. Philadelphia Eagles – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
The Eagles aren’t guaranteed to bring back both Cedric Thornton and Vinny Curry and Reed could step in from day one and help out. Reed impressed in Mobile for the Senior Bowl showing more athleticism than previously thought and an ability to get pressure inside.
Still, Reed’s ability to eat up space and set the edge in the run game would give Philadelphia the man to replace Thornton should he be signed elsewhere in 2016.
14. Oakland Raiders – Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
The Raiders secondary is going to be in trouble in 2016, but I’m not sure Mackensie Alexander is worth the risk at 14 due to durability concerns.
Curtis Lofton isn’t the same player he once was and while Khalil Mack is the stud on the Raiders defense, they could use an interior presence that also has shown the ability to get to the quarterback with blitz packages. Ragland is almost a lock for a top 15 pick, if not top 10.
15. Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff, QB, California
The Rams are in dire need for a quarterback and they’re going to want to make a splash for their new Los Angeles audience by getting a signal caller with upside like Goff.
While I think Goff is a likely top 10 selection, I feel like the Rams may move up ahead of teams like Philadelphia and even San Francisco to get their guy. It’s possible they prefer Lynch and go with him, regardless the QB situation has to be addressed.
16. Detroit Lions – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
The Lions really need to shore up the offensive line and they won’t have to go far to get that help with Michigan State bookend Jack Conklin.
Conklin’s a force in the run game, which is a big time need for the Lions, but he’ll also be able to step in and protect Matthew Stafford for the remainder of his career.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Tyson Jackson doesn’t have a sack in two seasons with the Falcons and really hasn’t made the impact against the run that the team had hoped for as well. Kevin Dodd’s first round emergence is partially thanks to a three sack performance in the National Championship game against Alabama, but I believe the hype to be warranted.
I see Dodd as a better pass rusher than his counterpart Shaq Lawson (albeit, not by much), and a better fit to the Atlanta defense. Regardless, the Falcons could go Lawson here and still get an exceptional player.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Andrew Luck needs help from the offensive line, but what better to take pressure off than to establish a run game with a guy like Ezekiel Elliott. Why not take offensive line here? It’s simply BPA that happens to fill a need. You can bet that the Colts will utilize other draft picks to shore up the offensive line.
19. Buffalo Bills – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
There’s a lot to like about Rankings who grades out as one of the better three technique tackles in the nation. Kyle Williams is going into his 11th season and has already spent time on the sideline with injuries. Rankins is powerful and quick inside and penetrates better than most of the defensive lineman in all of the 2016 NFL Draft.
While Mario Williams will need replaced, Rankins is quite the grab at pick 19. Shaq Lawson could be considered here as well but I prefer Rankins as an immediate starter an overall complete prospect.
20. New York Jets – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
There are some questions regarding Floyd’s strength and lean frame at 6’4 232, but he plays with a mean streak as a pass rusher and is very quick off the line.
The Jets defensive line is exceptional and typically allows their linebackers to roam free to make plays. Floyd could benefit from adding a pest of a rusher off the edge with the athletic ability to play well in space.
21. Washington Redskins -Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
A very solid man coverage corner, his ability to blanket receivers is of no question. He’s still a bit raw only having two seasons under his belt and had he stayed for one more season it’s possible that we’d be looking at a top five selection.
The Redskins have a lot of holes to fill, especially on the defensive line, but this draft is heavy in defensive line talent, not so much quality cornerback prospects such as Alexander.
22. Houston Texans – Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
This isn’t likely to be a popular pick for the Texans, but the top three quarterbacks are off the board. I do truly believe that Bill O’Brien will look to obtain Christian Hackenberg at some point, but I also don’t believe they’ll overpay for him.
Brian Hoyer is still on the roster for another season and the addition of a guy that can make plays down the seam and across the middle would give them a weapon to take pressure off of DeAndre Hopkins and potentially Jaelen Strong. Henry’s blocking technique is adequate and more strength will improve that aspect.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Decker manned the left side of Ohio State’s offensive line keeping J.T. Barrett, Braxton Miller and Cardale Jones upright, however his ability to block for the run is most impressive.
I fully believe that Decker has the ability to start as a left tackle in the NFL, but worst case scenario he’ll be a bookend right tackle for several years.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
The Bengals are a fairly strong team overall without a ton of holes. A.J. Hawk could afford to be upgraded at some point and what better to do that than with another productive Ohio State linebacker product.
Lee’s range and sideline to sideline ability help propel him into a first round grade that is likely to improve after February’s NFL Scouting Combine.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
The Steelers aren’t shy to drafting out of the Big Ten (Cam Heyward, Ryan Shazier, Le’Veon Bell, etc.), and they need help at cornerback.
Apple’s ability to help in the run game makes him a must have in the AFC North, but he’s also shown an exceptional ability to mirror defenders in man coverage and turn his hips to run with his opponent making a play on the football.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
At this point, it’s almost BPA for the Seahawks and with Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin being impending free agents, there’s some depth concerns for the former Super Bowl champions.
Billings has an outstanding strength and quickness combination that disrupts defenders. A bit of work on his technique may even bring out some pass rushing ability.
27. Green Bay Packers – Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky
The Packers need to secure B.J. Raji or NT may be on the draft list, but additional pass rush assistance is a must. Spence is a very athletic player who was highly recruited at Ohio State before off-field issues drove him to Eastern Kentucky.
He dominated FCS competition and dominated at the Senior Bowl this week. He’s a guy that could slip into the first round with a class that’s not exceptional in prospects capable of a 34 OLB position.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Chiefs are obviously pleased with Marcus Peters, but Sean Smith and Jamell Fleming are free agents. Steven Nelson and Philip Gaines have played well in nickel and dime situations, but aren’t likely #2 cornerbacks.
Kendall Fuller didn’t have a great start to the year before suffering an injury in the third game of the season. Still, a guy who had 34 pass deflections and eight interceptions in his first two seasons without redshirting, there’s a lot to like about this kid.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
While it’s unlikely that Lawson falls this far come April, this is a guy that can fill multiple roles defensively, one that could replace Frostee Rucker for the Cardinals.
Lawson’s shown a nice ability to get to the quarterback, but he’s not as bad against the run as people think. I don’t forsee him standing up consistently, but he’s got the motor and ability off the edge to stand up situationally. What I’m concerned about regarding Lawson is his ability to play in space, which is why I have him falling here. I’m not convinced that Lawson is a 34 OLB, which would benefit him in a draft that’s lacking more than just a couple play makers at that position.
30. Denver Broncos – Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Spriggs really came out to play at the Senior Bowl and confirmed what we already knew about him and more. His athleticism and frame is exceptional and his 34 inch arms will be highly coveted at the next level.
Denver’s offensive line situation in 2015 was a mess with several injuries. Currently Ryan Harris and Evan Mathis are impending free agents as well.
31. Carolina Panthers – Su’a Cravens, LB, USC
Thomas Davis has had quite the career in Carolina and he’ll be entering his 11th season come 2016. At 33 years old, it’s time to train a replacement in a guy like Cravens who benefited from a Rover type role at USC.
Cravens did it all from getting to the quarterback to forcing fumbles, even grabbing interceptions. He’s a guy that’s played well in space and has shown solid NFL-caliber instincts.
*New England Patriots forfeit their first round selection*