The Mock Draft talk has been stirring for some time now, and plenty of mocks have hit the presses. But, most teams will be putting need first instead of talent. So, with that in mind, let’s rank the top 25 prospects hitting the 2016 draft.
25. Andrew Billings, NT, Baylor
In an absolutely loaded defensive line class, it’s hard to fit every player on this list. Billings is definitely worthy of a spot though. He has great strength and plugs holes very well up the middle. He was the centerpiece of that Baylor line and has the potential to be a centerpiece on an NFL roster.
24. Robert Nkemdiche, DT/DE, Mississippi
On a talent based list, Nkemdiche stands out. His playmaking ability was on display in a big big way against Alabama last season. That being said, he did disappear in games last season too. So, when it comes to weighing where he should be on this list, it’s difficult because of his consistency. He has tremendous potential, but his work ethic makes him fall down the list.
23. Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
Spence is another guy with great potential that has had some shaky off the field issues. He stood out after transferring from Ohio State, and had a very strong showing at senior bowl practices. He has the high motor and strength to be a very good 3-4 outside linebacker, and can be a real force in this league as long as he stays clean.
22. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Here is yet another defender who can play multiple spots. Leonard Floyd has the cover ability and pass rush ability to play linebacker in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense. His hybrid defending ability will attract a lot of suitors come draft day.
21. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Alexander is one of the better corners coming out in this draft. His physicality and toughness stands out on tape. Yes, he is a little undersized, but he makes up for it in coverage ability. Playing in the ACC gave him the opportunity to go up against tough wide receivers, and Alexander definitely held his own.
20. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi
Treadwell has the physical gifts to be the top receiver in this class. If you watch the tape, he is a 50/50 ball winning machine. He also has the best hands in this class, which can be seen from game tape and the combine. Sure, he only ran in the 4.6 range, but so did Allen Robinson, and look how he is panning out. Whichever team drafts Treadwell, they will be pleased.
19. Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
I have Butler much higher on my list than most do. Butler has a super high motor and great potential to be a top defensive tackle in football. His pass rushing ability from that spot is equivalent with any defensive tackle in this draft. Sure, he played less competition in college, and he could use some work as a run stopper, but his ability can not be overlooked.
18. A’Shawn Robinson, DE/DT, Alabama
Another defensive lineman in this very deep class, Robinson was a big piece in Alabama’s title winning defense. The best thing about Robinson is his versatility. He can play many different spots on the defensive line, from nose tackle to a defensive end in a 3-4. The fact that he can play multiple spots will cause his stock to climb.
17. Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Decker is a prototypical tackle out of Ohio State that can play on either side of the line. His strength and balance is what you need from a left tackle, and his ability as a body-mover in the run game shows that he can also play right tackle. A guy with his skill set is a sure fire first round pick.
16. Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Reed is the consummate prospect. He is so polished and can do everything that is asked of him. He has the ability to anchor a defensive line, rush the passer, and stop the run. He is quick and agile and has solid strength to move offensive linemen. Whoever drafts him will get a stellar player. He may not jump out at you now, but the fact that he does everything well will show at the next level.
15. Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
A rising trait GMs want to see from linebackers is speed, speed to be able to drop into coverage against tight ends, slot receivers, and running backs. Darron Lee provides that speed. Running a 4.47 in the 40 proves that he has the speed and agility in coverage as well as the speed to be sent in on blitzes. He reminds me a lot of Ryan Shazier. Lee has as much potential as Shazier did a couple of years ago, and he can thrive playing inside linebacker.
14. Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
In a game where having too many pass rushers is fable, Lawson is near the top of pass rushing prospects. His size and speed off the edge are nearly second to none. I think he has higher potential and is better all around than his teammate at Clemson, Kevin Dodd. I see Lawson’s potential and I think of former Clemson rusher Vic Beasley. Lawson will be a starter in the NFL for some time.
13. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
There are only a couple steadier presences on the offensive line in college than Conklin. He is as good as anyone coming out when it comes to pass blocking, and most teams are looking for just that in an increasing passing league. He will anchor an offensive line for years to come.
12. Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Ragland is the prototypical linebacker from the 80s. He is tough, a great tackler, plays instinctively, and is a monster against the run. The tape shows just how good Ragland is. He fills holes in the run game beautifully. He can rush the quarterback. He is underrated in coverage and he is a tackling machine. Sure, he doesn’t have the speed that Lee has, but he has all the intangibles and more to offer a team.
11. Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Rankins is my favorite defensive tackle in this draft. He has the undeniable skill set to play on any base defense and play his position well. There are talks about Rankins being a little undersized, but he makes up for it on his tape. He does very well against the run and pass and should be considered a lock to go top 15.
10. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Another big bodied lineman in this draft, Ronnie Stanley is an athletic tackle with very good pass blocking ability. He is very quick and athletic in getting blocks moving, and is very good at pulling outside in the run game for a left tackle prospect. It is possible with his strengths that whoever drafts him could in fact move him to right tackle. He will need to work on his footwork and balance a bit, but he’s very dependable and is a very solid prospect coming out.
9. Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
There’s so much to like about Carson Wentz. The major reason is his arm strength. He has the strength to throw the deep ball with ease and make every throw on the field. His athleticism also puts him in a different category than most quarterbacks. He has shown in college that he isn’t afraid to leave the pocket and take off. It’s no wonder that Wentz will be taken early in round one.
8. Joey Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
Bosa is the best edge rusher coming out of college right now. It’s not hard to see why if you go to the tape. He is as creative as they come when getting to the quarterback. He has a barrage of moves, ranging from completely looping around the outside to setting up outside and weaving his way inside. His motor and non stop effort to get to the quarterback shows why he will go early in the draft.
7. Jared Goff, QB, California
There is one main reason that I have Goff over Wentz here. I really think Wentz needs to sit behind someone a couple years and develop, while I think you can throw Goff out there and know that he is ready. There isn’t a throw on the field that Goff cannot make, but his best attribute is his slipperiness in the pocket. He has great footwork to break the pocket and make good throws on the run. He just looks so fluid and so ready for the pro level.
6. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Yes, of course we can talk the issue of size. I know he’s around 5’10”, believe me, I do. But the thing is, he makes up for it with his toughness, athleticism, and effort. I don’t see a harder worker out there on the field. Hargreaves plays very well off ball and is a very solid tackler. His quickness and change of direction ability is better than any other defensive back in this draft (yes, even better than Ramsey). My favorite attribute of his is his ball skills. Watching his tape and his combine showed me he could catch the ball better than some receivers can. He has a knack of being around the ball and getting his hands on it. Hargreaves can thrive at the next level.
5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
It’s very hard to believe that we could find another prospect at Todd Gurley’s level the year after Gurley comes out, but I think we have found one. Elliott has a brilliant combination of power and speed, and can easily be an every down back in the NFL. The game that comes to mind is the Sugar Bowl in 2015 against Alabama. He ran between the tackles well and ran past everyone when he got to the corner. There just aren’t many guys like Elliott that have come out of college. He looks like he will be a special player.
4. DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon
This guy will add a serious presence to any defensive line. He has great size and strength and has the ability to anchor a defensive line for years to come. The fact that he can disrupt the line of scrimmage from multiple spots on the line adds to his already solid value. He has the potential to make offensive lines gameplay for him for years to come.
3. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Myles Jack is the best linebacker in this draft for good reason. He is the every down linebacker teams are looking for in this new age of passing. He is a tackling machine with serious toughness (stemming from him playing running back with UCLA as well). If you check out the tape, you find something spectacular: his ability to run with slot receivers and tight ends and not allowing separation. Teams would drool over having a chance at a linebacker with that type of coverage skills. Another attribute of his is his versatility. He has the ability to play the mike, and could also play strong side or weak side linebacker. Teams have also approached him with the idea of playing safety. Wherever he plays, he will be extremely good at it.
2. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi
Tunsil is the ultimate prospect at offensive tackle. He really has all the tools that one looks for. He has the strength and athleticism to control the line of scrimmage and fend off pass rushers. He is easily the most fluid tackle in this draft as well. His footwork is above everyone else, and he is often called a “dancing bear” by scouts. As long as he has the ability to stay healthy, Tunsil really is the ultimate can’t-miss guy in this draft
1. Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State
Ramsey is my favorite prospect in this year’s draft. What’s not to like about Ramsey? He has all the physical tools to play in the NFL. His size and length are what every team is looking for in a defensive back. He also has unbelievable instincts and is always around the ball. The question is, where do you play him? He has the ball skills to play coverage at an elite level, but his physicality can allow him to be plugged in at safety. He reminds me a lot of a Charles Woodson type of player, a defensive back who can play anywhere in the secondary but can also tackle like a linebacker. I fully expect Ramsey to be a perennial Pro Bowler and elite at whatever position he plays.