NFL Draft 2016: Final Mock Draft Predictions Before Wild Card Weekend

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2016

Florida State's Jalen Ramsey continues to help headline mock drafts during the NFL postseason.
Florida State's Jalen Ramsey continues to help headline mock drafts during the NFL postseason.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Folks with great memories will remember how NFL mock drafts looked before Wild Card Weekend one year ago.

Namely, folks will remember someone such as, say, Nebraska's Randy Gregory competing for the No. 1 slot with the likes of Jameis Winston. The controversial defensive end went on to be selected 60th.

It's like the season up until the playoffs. Washington looked iffy and suddenly morphed into the NFC East champs and a team that could take down the Green Bay Packers.

Things will change, but before the lengthy path to the 2016 NFL draft, here's how the board stands.

 

2016 NFL Mock Draft

PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsJoey BosaDLOhio State
3San Diego ChargersRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
4Dallas CowboysMyles JackLBUCLA
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyCB/SFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
7San Francisco 49ersJared GoffQBCalifornia
8Miami DolphinsReggie RaglandLBAlabama
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersDeForest BucknerDEOregon
10New York GiantsLeonard FloydLBGeorgia
11Chicago BearsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
12New Orleans SaintsPaxton LynchQBMemphis
13Philadelphia EaglesTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
14Oakland RaidersVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
15St. Louis RamsConnor CookQBMichigan State
16Detroit LionsEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
17Atlanta FalconsShilique CalhounDEMichigan State
18Indianapolis ColtsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
19Buffalo BillsJarran ReedDLAlabama
20New York JetsShaq LawsonDEClemson
21Pittsburgh SteelersTre'Davious WhiteCBLSU
22Seattle SeahawksNoah SpenceDE/LBEastern Kentucky
23Green Bay PackersRobert NkemdicheDLOle Miss
24Kansas City ChiefsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
25WashingtonLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
26Houston TexansSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
27Minnesota VikingsMichael ThomasWROhio State
28Cincinnati BengalsEmmanuel OgbahDEOklahoma State
29Denver BroncosJason SpriggsOTIndiana
30Arizona CardinalsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
31Carolina PanthersEli AppleCBOhio State
Author's projections.

 

Analyzing Notable Picks

1. Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

Laremy Tunsil looks like the surest thing in the draft at this point.
Laremy Tunsil looks like the surest thing in the draft at this point.Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Right now the No. 1 pick could go a number of ways, ranging from a top offensive tackle such as Laremy Tunsil to a pass rusher such as Joey Bosa to an outright trade so a different team could pick up a potential franchise quarterback such as Jared Goff.

Seeing as the Tennessee Titans don't need a quarterback thanks to the borderline unexpected rookie explosion from Marcus Mariota, the franchise's best move might be to better protect him after he finished the season injured.

Mariota suffered 38 sacks as a rookie with the tackle tandem of Taylor Lewan and and Byron Bell struggling to get it done at times.

Tunsil, though, is the type of player who can make an impact upon arrival in the pros and upgrade the line wherever he happens to win the competition. The 6'5", 305-pound monstrosity might be the surest thing in the draft, an elite left-tackle prospect in need of little coaching when it comes to the fundamentals.

With protecting the future of the franchise a priority, grabbing a potential franchise tackle makes sense. Like many teams did this past offseason, the Titans can get pass-rushing help through other avenues, if not later in the same draft.

Tunsil's especially important to take here because year after year it becomes more difficult to project which offensive linemen will turn out well and which will bust. There's little doubt with the Ole Miss product.

 

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State

Ramsey won't have a problem keeping his stock in the top-10 range.
Ramsey won't have a problem keeping his stock in the top-10 range.Mike Stewart/Associated Press

Too obvious, right? 

Why wouldn't the Jacksonville Jaguars stay local? Florida State's Jalen Ramsey is one of the best defensive backs to enter the NFL in a handful of years. He's a versatile, lanky, instinctive and turnover-seeking laser of a player who projects well at all phases.

Even with P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby gone, Ramsey shined in the newfound spotlight, locking down opposing receivers and playing smart overall ball most of the year.

CBSSports.com's Dane Brugler broke down some of the defensive back's strengths:

Ramsey has gliding athleticism with long strides and fluid change of direction skills, staying controlled in his pedal transition and collecting himself with ease in small spaces. He has above average anticipation, vision and instincts, seeing the field extremely well with uncanny awareness and timing to create turnovers and get his hands on the ball.

Jacksonville could certainly use the help. The Jaguars ranked 29th against the pass this year, coughing up 268.2 passing yards per game, a large part of the reason the unit ranked 31st in scoring at 28 points allowed per game.

It's not all bad for the Jaguars. Johnathan Cyprien and Aaron Colvin will continue to develop in the defensive backfield. Dante Fowler Jr., last year's No. 3 pick, will come back from injury. But with Blake Bortles and Co. surging on the offensive side, it only makes sense for the Jaguars to take the best defender available.

 

7. San Francisco 49ers: Jared Goff, QB, California

Many will boast that Goff will come off the board higher because so and so needs a quarterback and so on, but this is the era where teams have been content to roll with Brian Hoyer, Josh McCown and others. 

Why not? Quarterback continues to get easier to play by the year and unless there's a Winston or Mariota or Andrew Luck in the draft, the position pretty much looks like a crapshoot.

So Goff figures to land in the laps of the San Francisco 49ers, who could just as easily choose to ride Blaine Gabbert for a year. It wouldn't make sense, though, as grabbing a somewhat local prospect to act as the centerpiece of the rebuild looks like the best approach.

Goff, a prototype at 6'4" and 215 pounds, completed 64.5 percent of his passes in 2015 with 4,719 yards and 43 touchdowns to 13 interceptions while showing he can make all the throws and garnering praise from all levels, including the opposition.

"You have to get a calculator with Goff’s numbers," Stanford head coach David Shaw said, according to the Bay Area News Group's Jeff Faraudo. "He’s awesome. He’s tall, he’s long. He has a quick release. He can paint the sidelines from the far hash. That’s big-time."

San Francisco cannot afford to pass. The roster has a bevy of holes, but Carlos Hyde in the backfield and Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith at wideout should provide a somewhat stable learning environment for a few years while the franchise reloads.

So long as the 49ers don't want to lean on a journeyman under center, Goff looks like the guy.

 

Stats courtesy of NFL.com and are accurate as of January 9. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

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