The collegiate season hasn't yet ended, with the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide still needing to play for the title, but NFL draft season has kicked into high gear.
It's the infancy of the process in a way as 20 teams look toward the offseason while the rest look at the NFL playoff bracket. What this does, though, is begins to give observers a better idea of how things might play out in a few months.
Much can change, of course, such as the unfortunate injury to Notre Dame star linebacker Jaylon Smith perhaps impacting things down the line.
Below, let's look at how things stand right now as the globe beings to wrap its mind around another draft season. Better to move forward armed with knowledge than to get blindsided.
2016 NFL Mock Draft
|1||Tennessee Titans||Laremy Tunsil||OT||Ole Miss|
|2||Cleveland Browns||Joey Bosa||DL||Ohio State|
|3||San Diego Chargers||Ronnie Stanley||OT||Notre Dame|
|4||Dallas Cowboys||Jaylon Smith||LB||Notre Dame|
|5||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jalen Ramsey||CB/S||Florida State|
|6||Baltimore Ravens||Mackensie Alexander||CB||Clemson|
|7||San Francisco 49ers||Jared Goff||QB||California|
|8||Miami Dolphins||Myles Jack||LB||UCLA|
|9||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||DeForest Buckner||DE||Oregon|
|10||New York Giants||Reggie Ragland||LB||Alabama|
|11||Chicago Bears||Jack Conklin||OT||Michigan State|
|12||New Orleans Saints||Paxton Lynch||QB||Memphis|
|13||Philadelphia Eagles||Taylor Decker||OT||Ohio State|
|14||Oakland Raiders||Vernon Hargreaves III||CB||Florida|
|15||St. Louis Rams||Connor Cook||QB||Michigan State|
|16||Detroit Lions||Ezekiel Elliott||RB||Ohio State|
|17||Atlanta Falcons||Shilique Calhoun||DE||Michigan State|
|18||Indianapolis Colts||A'Shawn Robinson||DT||Alabama|
|19||Buffalo Bills||Jarran Reed||DL||Alabama|
|20||New York Jets||Shaq Lawson||DE||Clemson|
|21||Pittsburgh Steelers||Tre'Davious White||CB||LSU|
|22||Seattle Seahawks||Noah Spence||DE/LB||Eastern Kentucky|
|23||Green Bay Packers||Robert Nkemdiche||DL||Ole Miss|
|24||Kansas City Chiefs||Corey Coleman||WR||Baylor|
|25||Washington||Laquon Treadwell||WR||Ole Miss|
|26||Houston Texans||Sheldon Rankins||DT||Louisville|
|27||Minnesota Vikings||Michael Thomas||WR||Ohio State|
|28||Cincinnati Bengals||Emmanuel Ogbah||DE||Oklahoma State|
|29||Denver Broncos||Jason Spriggs||OT||Indiana|
|30||Arizona Cardinals||Leonard Floyd||LB||Georgia|
|31||Carolina Panthers||Eli Apple||CB||Ohio State|
Mock Draft Notables
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Know what a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers needs?
More versatile playmakers to massage a defense that allowed 26.1 points per game on average. With the offense developing around Jameis Winston, it only makes sense for head coach Lovie Smith to go after guys who can make a difference on defense.
DeForest Buckner of Oregon certainly qualifies. The 6'7", 290-pound monstrosity terrorized the Pac-12 this past year and earned high praise from many, including Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo:
Steve Palazzolo @PFF_Steve
Though they play slightly different positions, DeForest Buckner reminds me of Chandler Jones in how he uses his length and hands2015-12-31 13:48:58
Chandler Jones, a guy who by Palazzolo's own rankings this year came in as the No. 15 4-3 defensive end in the NFL with 13 sacks, eight quarterback hits and four hurries.
The Buccaneers tallied 38 sacks, but the points allowed speaks for itself. William Gholston isn't scaring anyone on one side of the line, though Jacquies Smith was one of the league's quietest breakout stars with his seven sacks.
Adding Buckner to the mix only creates a positive ripple effect on the unit.
15. St. Louis Rams: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
It's Connor Cook's time to earn the "polarizing" label. He passes the eye test at 6'4" and 220 pounds, but he never completed better than 58.7 percent of his passes in a season. This past year, he hit 56.1 percent with 3,131 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Then he gets comparisons like this from new Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, according to Zach Braziller of the New York Post:
Zach Braziller @NYPost_Brazille
Alabama defensive coordinator Kriby Smart said Connor Cook reminds him of Matt Ryan, said he's best QB Bama has faced. #CFBPlayoff2015-12-28 17:53:22
That sound? It's the St. Louis Rams rubbing their collective hands together. Nick Foles didn't work out, tossing seven touchdowns to 10 interceptions while watching Case Keenum steal some playing time.
There are other issues in St. Louis, especially at wideout. Potential franchise quarterbacks only come around so often, though, and pairing Cook with a strong running game might provide the Rams the foundation they desperately need to escape middling territory and begin to climb the mountain.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU
It's not a secret what way the Pittsburgh Steelers will look in this year's draft.
Ben Roethlisberger can only prop up a struggling defense for so long. He's great, but much of what he does helps to gloss over the fact that the defense ranks 30th while allowing 271.9 passing yards per game.
Granted, the unit generated 48 sacks and plays the run well, but it doesn't mean much when corners such as William Gay and Antwon Blake, among others, struggle to shut down opposing receivers.
Tre'Davious White is the latest LSU cornerback to potentially hit the pros and make a difference. He can return punts, but the real allure here is the sheer upside he brings with his 5'11", 191-pound frame.
CBS Sports' Dane Brugler summed up the allure to White's obvious upside well:
He isn't quite as big as Jalen Collins and isn't the fastest player on the LSU roster, but he has the foot quickness and fluid athleticism to blanket receivers on the outside, using his instincts and ballskills to disrupt the catch point. White will take some unnecessary chances and fall victim to coverage lapses, but his football future is bright.
Some might argue drafting upside isn't the way to go, but an organization like Pittsburgh always has an eye on the future. White won't be the perfect prospect out of the gates, but with the proper coaching he can morph into an every-down starter sooner rather than later.