The 2016 NFL Draft season is officially underway and perhaps one of the most exciting events is about to partake, the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine. While I personally don’t take a lot of stock in the NFL combine drills as a whole, the process is crucial for all 32 NFL teams as they not only have the chance to see these players show off their athleticism, but NFL front offices get to sit down with individual prospects and have a face to face interview.
For most of the NFL draft prospects, the scouting combine is their biggest overall interview, their chance to shine and prove their worth. Let’s take a look at some Pre-NFL Combine mock draft selections for the first two rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.
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1. Tennessee Titans – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
The pick just makes too much sense. Taylor Lewan has been solid, but not exceptional. Many will argue that this isn’t an actual need and that the pick is lazy. While I won’t disagree, I still think Lewan can be upgraded, contrary to his PFF grade.
2. Cleveland Browns – Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Let’s face it, this kid has extreme upside and if there’s one coach in the NFL that he should be working with, it’s Hue Jackson. While the Browns certainly aren’t solely a quarterback away from competing, getting first year head coach Hue Jackson his man in a guy like Carson Wentz or Jared Goff is crucial. I’ll be mocking Wentz to the Browns all the way through April unless new information comes out that drops his stock.
3. San Diego Chargers – Jalen Ramsey, CB/SAF, Florida State
The Chargers certainly need help all over the place but the secondary is taking a big hit with the loss of disgruntled Eric Weddle. While many see Ramsey as a CB, his best fit truly is a free safety where he could develop into the type of play maker that Ed Reed was with the Baltimore Ravens for many years.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Arguably the best player in the NFL draft slides outside the top three for the second draft in a row. We saw the extremely talented Leonard Williams get passed by five teams in 2015, but I can’t see Joey Bosa getting past the Cowboys here. He’s got a Jared Allen feel to his game with the ability to single-handledly create turnovers/sacks that lead to points on the other end.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
Because why not? We’re going to find out after the NFL combine if front offices are truly concerned about Spence’s history with substance abuse. While his May of 2015 off-field issues are of recent concern, his talent warrants a top 10 selection. The Jaguars have Dante Fowler coming off of a torn ACL and could pair him up with Spence, essentially having two top five pass rushers as rookies for the 2016 season. We saw what an incredible pass rush can do for a team with the Broncos domination of the Panthers in Super Bowl 50. The Jaguars have been in the hunt for even one pass rusher for quite some time.
6. Baltimore Ravens – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Hargreaves isn’t the biggest or fastest guy on the field, but he’s instinctive, physical and can play the ball well. He’s an exceptional fit for the AFC North for a team in Baltimore who really needs help in the secondary.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Jared Goff, QB, California
I’d be really shocked to see the 49ers pass on either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff should either fall to seven. In this scenario they grab Goff who could shine in a Chip Kelly offense with his ability to get the ball out quickly and make smart decisions. Goff won’t have to air the ball out down field in that offense and one of the top rushers against base defenses in Carlos Hyde will help ease the transition.
8. Miami Dolphins – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
If Jack falls to the Dolphins at pick #8, I’d be extremely surprised if they didn’t jump on him immediately. Jack is a surefire top 10, possibly top five talent that will be able to make an impact from day one. The Dolphins need a leader in the middle of the defense and Jack could compete in year one for DROY.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
I can see the argument that #9 may be a bit high for Alexander due to the fact that he’s still a bit raw. But the talent of a #1 CB at the next level is of no question and the Bucs secondary needs help in a big way. A pass rusher would be nice here but the value for a top tier CB like Alexander trumps that of a Kevin Dodd, Emmanuel Ogbah or Shaq Lawson.
10. New York Giants – Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Yes, I’m the guy still mocking Nkemdiche in the top 10 and for good reason. Aside from the off-field concerns, he’s a top five talent with the ability to change the game. Offensive minded Ben McAdoo wasn’t the favorite to take over the reigns, but the team can make the fan base feel a little bit better by addressing the gaping holes in the defense. Reggie Ragland would also be a great fit here. Nkemdiche’s versatility to line up in multiple positions and create disruption makes him a very special player if he can keep it together off the field.
11. Chicago Bears – Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
The Bears want play makers, be it offensively or defensively. While an edge rusher is certainly a priority, passing up Ragland here would be a mistake. With the move to the 34 in recent seasons, Chicago needs a defensive sledgehammer and leader in the middle of the unit. Ragland provides the ability to shut down the run, situation blitz and a physical presence that the team has missed since the retirement of Brian Urlacher in 2012.
12. New Orleans Saints – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
The Saints have been known to run with multiple defensive fronts and a guy like De’Forest Buckner could come in handy. Buckner’s strength and athleticism combination allows him to line up at multiple positions and still be effective against the run, while also providing adequate effort as a pass rusher.
13. Philadelphia Eagles – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
What a selection this could turn out to be for the Eagles should Stanley fall to pick 13. Stanley’s a guy that should be around for a long time. His push in the run game makes him a top tier RT while he adjusts to NFL speed, while his overall technique has improved as a pass protector. This ends up being best player available while also filling a need. I’m not convinced that the Eagles are a lock for a QB at 13 if Wentz or Goff doesn’t fall to them, although trading back into round one or in early round two for a guy like Connor Cook or Paxton Lynch could certainly be in the cards.
14. Oakland Raiders – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
The Raiders would love to upgrade the secondary here, but there is a need for depth on the defensive line and an upgrade at the three technique. Khalil Mack is dominant on one side and combining a three technique penetration specialist like Rankins could really cause problems for opposing offensive lines. The defensive back class is actually quite deep in the mid-rounds, so there isn’t a need to reach for a CB here.
15. Los Angeles Rams – Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
The Rams could be hurting in 2016. A move to Los Angeles, two starting cornerbacks hitting free agency, having Nick Foles still on the roster, you name it. They have some issues. Unfortunately, drafting a pick 15 isn’t ideal either for a top tier play maker, but Laquon Treadwell is no slouch. Most will put too much into his NFL Combine numbers which aren’t expected to blow anyone away, but his footwork, ball tracking, route running and ability to aid in the run game makes him a nice option. He’ll want to show more aggression going for the ball at the next level and there are opportunities to improve his separation, but Treadwell is a guy that can make an impact early.
16. Detroit Lions – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
I really like Conklin’s ability to stay on the field and produce at a consistently high level. A guy that can also help pave the way in the run game, his pass protection is highly desired allowing Riley Reiff to move to right tackle where he’d be more comfortable. Conklin would give the Lions three first round offensive lineman since 2012, but keeping Matthew Stafford on his feet is of utmost importance.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
There’s a ton to like about Jaylon Smith and we may be talking about him in the top 10 selections had a knee injury suffered in the Fiesta Bowl not held him out of all off-season activities and likely part, if not all, of the 2016 season. But while the Falcons need another edge rusher to compliment Vic Beasley, they need to be able to cover in the secondary and tackle consistently in the open field. Smith is extremely versatile showing range of a safety and instincts of a top tier linebacker. Smith’s leadership and intangibles fit this defense quite well.
18. Indianapolis Colts – A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama
The Colts offensive line absolutely needs an upgrade, but Taylor Decker is a RT at the next level and that’s just about the only OL position they’re comfortable with having fellow ex-Buckeye Jack Mewhort. David Parry was atrocious as a rookie on the defensive line and has to be upgraded. Even if the Colts were to pursue Muhammad Wilkerson, Robinson could fill in from day one as a defensive leader and exceptional run defender with upside for a few sacks with technique refinement.
19. Buffalo Bills – Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
The Bills won’t retain Mario Williams and lack quality depth on the defensive line. Dodd doesn’t get enough credit for his pass rush ability, often overshadowed by Shaq Lawson. Unlike Lawson, Dodd can finish consistently and shows the ability to set the edge in the run game as well. Jarran Reed is a possibility here as well with uncertainty with 33 year old Kyle Williams, although Williams is expected to be ready for the 2016 season.
20. New York Jets – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Whether you like the pick or not, Paxton Lynch having the ability to spend at least one season in Chan Gailey’s offense behind brainiac Ryan Fitzpatrick is a really good fit and investment for the future. The Jets do love to draft defense and they certainly could upgrade the pass rush with Calvin Pace departing. However, there are many linebackers in the mid-rounds giving the Jets the luxury to grab a guy like Lynch with outstanding upside and physical ability.
21. Washington Redskins – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Can you ever really go wrong drafting Alabama defensive lineman? Two nose tackles are expected to leave via free agency and the defensive line needs to be addressed. Jarran Reed can eat up space and shut down the run, while also showing exceptional consistency and disruptive ability.
22. Houston Texans – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
This pairing would honestly be straight unfair as Elliott would almost assuredly give the Texans an immediate replacement in the one-cut ability of Arian Foster. Not only is he an exceptional scheme fit but he’s a violent runner with soft hands in the back field and honestly a running back that could justify a top 10 selection. It’s not likely that Zeke falls this far, but teams are becoming more and more reluctant to spend high draft picks on running backs. Adding Zeke would make the Texans just a quarterback and additional depth away from becoming a championship caliber team.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Taylor Decker and Jason Spriggs could be fits here but Decker is an NFL right tackle and the Vikings have that in either Phil Loadholt or Matt Kalil depending on who they keep. Offensive line needs to be addressed, but they’re also missing pass catching play makers. Stefon Diggs was encouraging in 2015, but he’s not a #1. There isn’t a LT that stands out at this pick as a day one starter, while Teddy Bridgewater just wants somebody else to throw the ball to. Coleman provides a downfield threat who can create separation in the middle of the field as well.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
This is simply BPA and it’s never a bad idea to add depth in the trenches. Should Billings somehow fall to pick 24, it’s a no-brainer for the Bengals who can afford to add youth with the 20 year old as of March 6. A young talent with exceptional raw power and run stuffing ability, Billings could go much higher if teams fall in love with him come April.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State
Upgrading the defensive front seven or the offensive line, the Steelers win games in the trenches while finding gems in the later rounds of position players. Whitehair is the prototypical left guard at the next level. A fundamental specialist to replace Ramon Foster, this addition may add to Big Ben’s lifespan.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
If Decker has a chance to play on the left side in the NFL it’s going to be with a team like Seattle. Decker played with Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett in the backfield protecting the mobile quarterbacks blind side, while also showing exceptional ability to push the run game. Even if he doesn’t succeed on the left side, he’s a lock to be a long time RT at the worst.
27. Green Bay Packers – Emmanuel Ogbah, DE/OLB, Oklahoma State
Ogbah is a big, physical tweener who has a knack for getting to the quarterback. Many want to mock another pass catcher to the Packers but that’s not Ted Thompson’s championship method of first round drafting. Nick Perry and Mike Neal are impending free agents but could be upgraded regardless. Somebody other than Clay Matthews has to be able to get to the quarterback.
28. Kansas City Chiefs – Darian Thompson, SAF, Boise State
19 interceptions in four seasons with Boise State, Thompson has some exceptional ball skills to match his range as a free safety. Eric Berry is a free agent and is no guarantee to be re-signed, opening a spot for the veteran Thompson, a former leader of a tough Boise State defense. He’s long and instinctive with excellent range and ball skills. Oh and he can hit a little bit if only he’d learn to wrap up tackle.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
I’m not as high on Shaq Lawson as most. I see a guy with an aggressive first step but minimal pass rush moves and lack of finishing ability. Lawson’s actually very impressive against the run and his size and strength allow him to be a Frostee Rucker type player for the Cardinals who look to upgrade the defensive line.
30. Carolina Panthers – Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
Thomas Davis is under contract for two more seasons but enters 2016 at the age of 33. He still plays at a high level but a team that doesn’t have a lot of holes to fill surely could add depth and a replacement for Davis in Lee. An ideal candidate for weakside linebacker, Lee could lineup as a rover type player that can cover tight ends. Roman Harper is an impending free agent as well and a guy with Lee’s ability in man coverage as well as space could even flirt with a strong safety position at the next level.
31. Denver Broncos – Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
The former TE, Spriggs demonstrate the athleticism you want out of a pass protection specialist, while offering room to grow physically. The adjustment to the next level won’t be an easy one without some upper body strength but Spriggs can punch off defenders with his long arms and keep Brock Osweiler up for the next decade.
32. Cleveland Browns – Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
33. Tennessee Titans – Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
34. Dallas Cowboys – Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State
35. San Diego Chargers – Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
36. Baltimore Ravens – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
37. San Francisco 49ers – Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn
38. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ryan Kelly, OC, Alabama
39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
40. New York Giants – Su’a Cravens, OLB/Rover, USC
41. Chicago Bears – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
42. Miami Dolphins – Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
43. Los Angeles Rams – Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
44. Oakland Raiders – Vonn Bell, SAF, Ohio State
45. Los Angeles Rams – William Jackson, CB, Houston
46. Detroit Lions – Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida
47. New Orleans Saints – Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
48. Indianapolis Colts – Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
49. Buffalo Bills – Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford
50. Atlanta Falcons – Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State
51. New York Jets – Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State
52. Houston Texans – Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
53. Washington Redskins – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
54. Minnesota Vikings – Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU
55. Cincinnati Bengals – Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State
56. Seattle Seahawks – Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
57. Green Bay Packers – Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford
58. Pittsburgh Steelers – Xavien Howard, CB/SAF, Baylor
59. Kansas City Chiefs – Nick Martin, OG/OC, Notre Dame
60. New England Patriots (Hey, they get a pick!) – Artie Burns, CB, Miami (Fl.)
61. Arizona Cardinals – Miles Killebrew, SAF, Southern Utah
62. Carolina Panthers – Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU
63. Denver Broncos – Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State
Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Jordan Jenkins, DE/OLB, Georgia
Kamalei Correa, DE/OLB, Boise State
Germain Ifedi, OG/OT, Texas A&M
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Kentrell Brother, LB, Missouri
Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina
Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas