The majority of the top prospects in the 2016 NFL draft may be underclassmen. However, this year’s draft class features more than its fair share of seniors who will factor into the first-round equation as well.
Some of those first-round hopefuls such as North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz, Alabama LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama DE Jarran Reed, and Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence chose to attend this week’s Senior Bowl festivities down in Mobile, Alabama, hoping to impress scouts and boost their draft stock.
Now that the underclassmen declaration deadline date has passed, and the order of the 2016 draft is just one game away from being finalized, you can sense the gathering wave of speculation on the horizon, as the mock draft silly season is almost ready to kick into full swing.
The Senior Bowl marks the true beginning of the offseason evaluation phase of the process. The next big stop will be the NFL combine, and then it’s onto the pro day/individual workout circuit.
The road to the 2016 NFL draft is sure to feature some interesting twists and turns. For now, here’s a look at the updated projections for all 63 picks in the first two rounds.
The Top 10 Picks
1 – Tennessee Titans: Deforest Buckner, DE, Oregon
New defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau is on the lookout for a young key cornerstone foundation player to build the Titans 3-4 defense around.
DeForest Buckner, who won the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award after totaling 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss in 2015, would be the perfect linchpin. Buckner is the type of powerful, aggressive and explosive interior defender whose presence can change the complete complexion of a defensive line.
2 -Cleveland Browns: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
The Johnny Manziel experiment certainly wasn’t a success, but at least the lackluster results put the Browns and new head coach Hue Jackson in position to select a potential franchise savior like QB Carson Wentz.
The 6’5”, 235-pound prototypical pro-style passer is a highly successful young signal-caller who has the type of leadership skills and winning pedigree that’s needed in order to stabilize the struggling franchise and turn things in the right direction.
3 – San Diego Chargers: Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State
The Eric Weddle era has come to a not so amicable ending in San Diego, which means the Chargers have an important hole to fill in the back end of their defense this offseason.
Jalen Ramsey—a tremendously talented and extremely versatile DB who can line up anywhere in the secondary—is the kind of instinctive ball-hawk who would have no problem filling the role Weddle once occupied.
4 -Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Greg Hardy’s controversial tenure as a Cowboy looks like it will soon mercifully come to an end after just one season due to his reportedly hard-partying lifestyle.
Dallas would love to replace the troubled yet prodigious pass-rusher with a player who can be just as disruptive on the field, not the disruption off the field like Hardy. Joey Bosa, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten performer, would be a great replacement.
5 -Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
The Jaguars defensive line will get a boost this offseason when last year’s No. 3 overall pick DE Dante Fowler returns from injury. Still, the linebacker corps could also use an infusion of speed and athleticism.
UCLA LB Myles Jack, who is one of the true physical marvels in this year’s draft class, can provide just that. Once Jack is fully rehabilitated from the knee injury that cost him most of his junior year, the 6’1”, 245-pound former Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of Year should emerge as a high impact defender at the next level.
6 – Baltimore Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
The Ravens’ faith in Eugene Monroe will be tested this offseason, following Monroe’s trip to injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
The soon-to-be 29-year-old Monroe doesn’t look like the team’s left tackle of the future. That means Baltimore could turn to the draft to find a new blindside protector for QB Joe Flacco. They won’t be able to find a better blocker than No. 1 tackle prospect Laremy Tunsil, who has all the tools to be a standout Pro-Bowl left tackle in the NFL.
7 -San Francisco 49ers: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
The 49ers were one of just three teams in the NFL that gave up at least eight yards per pass attempt in 2015. New coach Chip Kelly knows one of his top priorities is to patch up San Francisco’s shaky secondary.
Kelly will likely try to convince GM Trent Baalke to go out and get him a top-tier cornerback like Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III. The All-American CB would be a valuable addition to a defensive backfield that had trouble limiting big passing plays.
8 – Miami Dolphins: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
The Dolphins hoped to strengthen their defensive front by adding Ndamukong Suh in free agency last offseason. Unfortunately, help is still needed in the linebacker corps.
It’s a unit that’s devoid of true stars and one that could use an instinctive difference-maker like LB Jaylon Smith. Though his career may have ended with an injury in the Fiesta Bowl, Smith still proved to be one of the top defensive players in the 2016 class, as he racked up over 100 tackles in each of the past two seasons.
9 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Back in the 2011 draft, the Bucs spent their first two picks on Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers, hoping they could be their defensive end duo for the future. Unfortunately, neither of them panned out.
Five years later, the team’s still looking for a dominant young pass-rusher like who they can pair with Gerald McCoy to complement the stout DT up front. Emmanuel Ogbah, a native of Nigeria, is the kind of long, athletic edge-rusher who can be molded into a sack machine in the right defensive scheme.
10 – New York Giants: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
The Giants hired an offensive-minded head coach when they promoted coordinator Ben McAdoo. But this offseason has to be about fixing a defense which routinely gave up big plays in big spots in 2015.
That starts with improving a pass-rush that generated just 23 sacks, the third lowest total in the league, this past season. Clemson’s latest pass-rushing prodigy: Shaq Lawson, proved that he’s a player that consistently get to the quarterback, as he totaled 12.5 sacks during his breakout junior campaign.
Complete Round 1 Projections
1. Tennessee Titans: Deforest Buckner, DE, Oregon
2. Cleveland Browns: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
3. San Diego Chargers: Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State
4. Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
6. Baltimore Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
7. San Francisco 49ers: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
8. Miami Dolphins: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
10. New York Giants: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
11. Chicago Bears: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
12. New Orleans Saints: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
13. Philadelphia Eagles: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
14. Oakland Raiders: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
15. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California
16. Detroit Lions: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
17. Atlanta Falcons: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
18. Indianapolis Colts: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
19. Buffalo Bills: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
20. New York Jets: Noah Spence, ER, Eastern Kentucky
21. Washington Redskins: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
22. Houston Texans: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
23. Minnesota Vikings: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kendall Fuller, CB,Virginia Tech
26. Seattle Seahawks: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
27. Green Bay Packers: Andrew Billings, DT, Michigan State
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Jarran Reed, DE, Alabama
29. Arizona Cardinals: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
30. Denver Broncos: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
31. Carolina Panthers: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
Complete Round 2 Projections
- Cleveland Browns: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
- Tennessee Titans: Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn
- Dallas Cowboys: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
- San Diego Chargers: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
- Baltimore Ravens: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
- San Francisco 49ers: Kyler Fackrell, LB, Utah State
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Su’a Cravens, LB, USC
- New York Giants: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
- Chicago Bears: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
- Miami Dolphins: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
- Los Angeles Rams (From Philadelphia): Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma
- Oakland Raiders: Jayron Kearse, S, Clemson
- Los Angeles Rams: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
- Detroit Lions: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
- New Orleans Saints: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
- Indianapolis Colts: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
- Buffalo Bills: Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
- Atlanta Falcons: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
- New York Jets: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
- Houston Texans: Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
- Washington Redskins: Devontae Booker, RB, Utah
- Minnesota Vikings: Vadal Alexander, OG, LSU
- Cincinnati Bengals: Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
- Seattle Seahawks: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
- Green Bay Packers: Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State
- Kansas City Chiefs: Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina
- New England Patriots: Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
- Arizona Cardinals: Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia
- Denver Broncos: Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida
- Carolina Panthers: Darian Thompson, S, Boise State