Mock drafts are a mostly useless practice, but people like them and they’re fun to do. So here is my first attempt at a 2016 mock draft. Keep a few things in mind:
• I’m not a scout. I don’t pretend to be a scout. I’ll never pretend to be a scout. But I do read a lot and listen to a lot of scouts. I have about five people whose opinions I trust more than others. I typically lean toward people who were once in the league.
• Don’t say anyone “won’t” go anywhere. Nobody knows who is going where. Even if a team directly came out and said who they were going to take, we couldn’t believe it because they lie more times than not.
• In a First Draft Podcast with Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, Adam Schefter was adamant that three quarterbacks were going in the top 10. I’ve never heard Schefty more certain of anything so I believe him.
• A lot of these are going to be wrong. Of course they are, we haven’t even hit free agency yet. Even after free agency, mock drafts are going to be wrong. But, here goes…
1. Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi. He’s the only 10 they see…see what I did there? Tunsil is considered franchise left tackle and they already have their franchise quarterback. In a draft that doesn’t have any studs at skill positions, drafting the best lineman makes sense.
2. Cleveland Browns: Carson Wentz, QB, One of the Dakotas. Some people just have a thing for red heads. When Hue Jackson was the coach of the Raiders, they brought in Carson Palmer. When he was fired from Oakland, he bee-lined to Cincy to coach Andy Dalton. Hey, I get it, red heads have a fiery temperament, which makes up for their lack of a soul.
3. San Diego/Los Angeles/San Antonio/St. Louis/London Chargers: Jared Goff, QB, California. The Chargers tried desperately to trade Phil Rivers for Marcus Mariota last year. They don’t care about the present, they want to get the hell out of San Diego and a young franchise QB would make them much more attractive.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA. Jack is considered by a lot of people to be the best player in the draft. Wherever Rod Marinelli has had success, he’s had really good linebackers. Jack is his new Derrick Brooks or Lance Briggs.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State. Bosa is a stud, don’t overthink it.
6. Baltimore Ravens: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida St. The word is Ramsey is the best corner and best safety in the draft, it just depends on where teams want to play him. Would finally give the Ravens a replacement for Ed Reed.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis. This is my early guy I think will be a bust. I don’t like his name and I don’t like his facial hair. That’s all I got, really.
8. Miami Dolphins: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida. The Dolphins new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph comes from Cincy where they drafted a cornerback in the first round every other year it seemed.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson. New coordinator Mike Smith has a history of liking big defensive ends. Dodd is 6’5″, nearly 280 pounds and had a huge season at Clemson. Considered a better pass-rusher than the next end I get to.
10. New York Giants: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. One of the things I’ve heard from someone I trust is that Elliott is going in the top-10. This was the best spot I could find for him.
11. Chicago Bears: Deforest Buckner, DE, Oregon. The common thought is that Buckner won’t be there, but I’m not so sure. His flaw is that he’s not a great pass rusher and the league values pass rushers (which is why Dodd went ahead of him). A lot of people think he can’t play in a 4-3 alignment because he’s not athletic enough to be outside and is too tall to be inside. The Bears have one of the best defensive line coaches in the league and they could develop his pass rushing skills.
12. New Orleans Saints: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson. Lawson was really productive in college and had a good showing at the Senior Bowl. Lack of length (arms are under 33 inches) drops him a bit, but could be a good fit for Nawlins.
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State. The “winner” of the Combine, Ogbah measured out very well. New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will put him in his Wide-9 scheme to use that athleticism.
14. Oakland Raiders: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame. They started JaMarcus Webb on their offensive line last year.
15. LA Rams: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Mississippi. They already have a ton of talent on their defensive line, but who cares?
16. Detroit Lions: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU. Megatron is retiring and Doctson seems to be a good prospect. Dude catches everything and proved to be very athletic at the combine.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville. He’s not Aaron Donald, but he’s quick enough and has good technique. Atlanta needs more pass-rush.
18. Indianapolis Colts: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan St. I don’t know, maybe they should try getting guys who can block for Andrew Luck?
19. Buffalo Bills: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama. Just seems like a Rex Ryan guy.
20. New York Jets: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama. Henry is a freak and the Jets appear likely to lose Chris Ivory in free agency.
21. Washington Redskins: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State. The Redskins didn’t have any good cornerbacks last year.
22. Houston Texans: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan St. A lot of people thought Cook would be the first pick before this year and it’s not entirely clear why people soured on him. Because he wasn’t named a captain? Cool. Bill O’Brien is an asshole and assholes like other assholes.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor. There was a report that the Vikings would take Billings if he got here, so I just went with that. Both of their defensive tackles missed games last year and Billings could give them a scary rotation.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: William Jackson III, CB, Houston. They take cornerbacks every year. I swear. It’s a little creepy.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor. I don’t know, seems like they start old journeymen corners every year.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State. Dude is a freak athlete and the Seahawks love freak athletes. They’ll probably lose Bruce Irvin in free agency and Lee will replace him.
27. Green Bay Packers: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama. Ragland is this year’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. A guy who was hyped before the season and his a “name” solely because he went to Alabama. He’s solid, but not great and he isn’t very athletic. Packers fans will love the pick because they know the guy’s name. He’ll be an adequate starter for a few years, but athletic tight ends will eat him alive.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA. If they lose Jaye Howard in free agency, Clark will replace him.
29. Arizona Cardinals: Noah Spence, LB, Eastern Kentucky. Spence became a hot name because he was the best pass-rusher in a weak class at the Senior Bowl and he has an interesting story. But that story includes two failed drug tests for ecstasy. Add in the fact that he’s pretty small and not a great athlete by pass-rusher standards and this is about where he belongs.
30. Carolina Panthers: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana. Big, athletic tackle and, well, you saw the Super Bowl.
31. Denver Broncos: Jonathan Bullard, DT, Florida. Not sure how I ended up with Bullard dropping to this spot. He was very productive and is very athletic. I’d go back and try to fit him higher up, but I don’t feel like it.
41. Chicago Bears: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi. The Bears need more quality defensive linemen and Jones fits the profile of what they like. He’s 6’6″, 300 pounds with long arms and a baby arm in his pants.
72. Chicago Bears: Kentrell Brothers, ILB, Missouri. I don’t care what his 40 times was, Brothers is considered instinctive. Tested well in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, which are more important for inside linebackers.