2016 NFL Draft: Final Mock Draft, Predictions and Prospect Rankings

2016 NFL Draft, NFL, NFL Draft, Predictions

Here we are.

The first day of the 2016 NFL Draft weekend is finally upon us.

It’s time to rejoice because tonight kicks off one of the most glorious and exciting weekends on the sports calendar.

Over the next three days, 253 gifted young athletes will realize their dreams of being drafted by an NFL franchise. They’ll be embraced and celebrated by fan bases who hope they can become key building blocks to a future championship.

It makes perfect sense that the NFL’s annual draft takes place in the Spring — a season of rebirth, renewal and regeneration.

This weekend marks the dawning of a new era for all 32 franchises.

The future begins now.

We’ve known for weeks that the first two picks are guaranteed to be the top two quarterbacks in the class: Cal’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. However, it’s anybody’s guess who the Chargers will pick at No. 3 (if in fact they don’t trade down) and how the rest of the first round will unfold from there.

All along, we here at Gridiron Perspective have touted Oregon DE DeForest Buckner as the top prospect in this class. We feel he’s deserving to be the first positional player taken and the best prospect to reignite a sluggish Chargers defensive front-seven. Therefore we built the mock around the premise that Buckner will be the third pick and went from there.

Here’s a look at the final 2-round mock draft for the 2016 NFL Draft, which includes projections and predictions for the first 63 picks of this year’s proceedings, along with complete Top 10 prospect power rankings for each individual position.

2016 NFL Draft: Updated 2-Round Mock Draft and Prospect Rankings

2016 NFL Draft, College Football, NFL, NFL Draft

Temperament, personality, desire, internal drive, work ethic, will power, character and heart — they’re the key intangibles which separate the good athletes from the great ones.

Unfortunately, those intangibles are so difficult for evaluators to measure and quantify.

Data for workout numbers such as 40-yard-dashes, bench presses and jumps of all sorts is widely available; so are game statistics for any category you could think of.

Still, these days when every  workout result, rumor, new trendy analytic of the day and hot story of the hour is broadcast out into the digital sphere for all to see, there’s still a mysterious behind-closed-doors feeling that remains surrounding the NFL Draft.

32 brain trusts are all searching for those special prospects that they can mold their organizations around for the future. None of them want to tip their hand before the proceedings start.

At all levels, coaches always trot out that line, “this game separates boys from the men.”

Well, one situation where that mantra certainly rings true is the NFL draft.

Saturdays and Sundays may only be separated by a single thin line on the calendar, but in the football world, it’s a clear dividing line. Excelling in the collegiate ranks against Kevin from chemistry class is one thing. But the NFL is a whole different rodeo. Handling the leap to the next level requires a special type of mental fortitude that only a few collegiate players possess.

It’s up to those 32 brain trusts to figure out who has it and who doesn’t.

The information accumulation phase of the process is pretty much complete. Now begins the all-important final decision-making period. This is the “separating men from boys” period for GMs, scouts, personnel evaluators and assorted front-office executives.

It’s time to hand out the grades, stack the board and prepare for a draft weekend that’s, as always, marked by both intrigue and mystery.

DeForest Buckner, the No. 1 overall prospect in this year’s class , appears destined to become the first overall pick in the 2016 festivities. Still, it’s far from a guarantee.

Tennessee could consider one of the other “Fab Five” prospects: Ohio State DE Joey Bosa, Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil, UCLA LB Myles Jack or Florida State CB Jalen Ramsey. The Titans could also entertain the idea of trading down if an offer is overwhelming enough.

We’ve got another month left to debate, dispute and draw conclusions.

For now, though, here’s my forecast and projections for every pick in the first two rounds of the 2016 NFL draft, as well as complete prospect rankings for every major position.

2016 NFL Draft: Updated Offensive Linemen Rankings After Combine Workouts

2016 NFL Draft

Following the conclusion of each day of the 2016 NFL Combine, prospect rankings for every position group that performed that day will be updated and published. These version of player rankings will include only players at the position that were invited to Indianapolis.

Here’s a look at the updated prospect rankings, including the top five overall prospects, for the offensive linemen following their workouts at the 2016 NFL Combine. Physical measurements and results from every test that the top five players participated in are included.

Remember to Follow Gridiron Perspective on Twitter @GridironP

DeForest Buckner Tops Latest 2016 NFL Draft Big Board

2016 NFL Draft, NFL Draft

The 2016 NFL draft class features its fair share of supremely talented elite prospects. However, among that special blue-chip group of big names are plenty of questions that need to be answered.

When scanning the list of top players available in the 2016 class, it won’t take long before you find some sort of red flag that jumps out.

Ohio State DE Joey Bosa and Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil—two tremendously talented juniors who have long been projected to be top-10 picks in this year’s draft—will both have to answer questions from scouts and personnel evaluators about the behavior that led to them being suspended this past season.

Ole Miss DT Robert Nkemdiche—another widely projected top-10 pick—also has behavioral concerns stemming from an incident back in December when he fell out of the window of his hotel room and was subsequently cited with marijuana possession.

There are also substantial injury concerns surrounding two of the top defensive prospects in the class: UCLA LB Myles Jack, who tore his meniscus back in September, and Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith, who tore his ACL and LCL in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.

One player who scouts don’t have to be concerned about, however, is the top senior prospect in the 2016 class: Oregon DE DeForest Buckner.

Buckner is coming off a dominant final campaign in Eugene. The 6’7”, 300-pound disruptive defensive force stated a strong case for why he deserves consideration to be the top overall pick in the 2016 draft, as he totaled 10.5 sacks and 83 tackles, including 17 tackles for loss. It was a performance that earned him numerous honors and accolades, including Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-American honors.

It looks like Buckner, who has all the physical qualities to develop into an elite difference-making defender at the pro level, is as good of a candidate as any to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Nevertheless, he’s going to face some stiff competition from worthy challengers such as Bosa, Tunsil, Nkemdiche and others in the coming months.

With draft weekend still over three months away, there’s still a lot that needs to be sorted out, and there plenty more key stops on the road such as the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine and numerous important pro days before that destination is reached.

At the very least, now that the deadline for eligible underclassmen to declare has passed, we can at least begin to put the pieces in place and begin analyzing, evaluating the value and projecting the pro potential of the many intriguing prospects in this year’s class.

Here’s a look at the updated big board and prospect power rankings for the 2016 NFL draft.

Ole Miss Football: Ranking The Top 10 Rebels For 2015

College Football 2015

Incremental improvement has been the main storyline of Hugh Freeze’s three-year tenure as head coach at Ole Miss. Freeze’s squad has managed to continually get a little bit stronger and a little bit better in each of the past three seasons, going from seven wins in 2012, to eight wins in 2013, and then to nine wins in 2014.

The next logical step for the Rebels is to become a true championship contender in 2015.

This is the year many fans have been pointing to ever since Freeze and his staff assembled a widely praised a top-5 recruiting class back in the winter of 2013.

Many of the high-profile names from that group such as WR Laquon Treadwell, DT Robert Nkemdiche and OT Laremy Tunsil have emerged as standout starters who are on the verge of becoming true superstars in the third year of their collegiate careers.

Treadwell, Nkemdiche and Tunsil are the three Rebels that will surely garner the most praise and attention this offseason. However, Freeze has built a roster that features plenty of other top-tier talent as well.

Here’s a look at the Mississippi’s top 10 players for 2015.

College Football 2013 Freshman All-American Team

College Football

There was a time not all that long ago when it was rare to see a freshman college football player gain national notoriety. These days, though, we’ve seen many cases of freshmen coming in and making an instant impact.

In recent years, big-name stars such as Johnny Manziel, Marqise Lee, LaMichael James and Adrian Peterson all became household names during their freshman years.

This season, Florida State QB Jameis Winston has been the latest freshman to take the sport by storm.

Though Winston has been the most talked-about freshman of the year, there have been plenty of other young players who have put together outstanding debut campaigns.

Here’s a look at my 2013 College Football Freshman All-American Team.