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2016 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for 1st-Round Prospects After Wild Card Round

AMES, IA - AUGUST 30: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the North Dakota State Bison calls a play in the second half of play against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium on August 30, 2014 in Ames, Iowa. North Dakota State defeated Iowa State 34-14. (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images)
David K Purdy/Getty Images
Ryan McCrystalFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2016

With the first week of playoff football in the books, the NFL draft order has four more teams locked into position. 

Following their loss Sunday, the Washington Redskins locked up the top spot among the playoff teams and will own the 21st selection in the draft. They'll be followed by the Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals. 

Picks No. 25 through 28 will be set next weekend—unless the New England Patriots are among the losers. As a result of their Deflategate punishments, the Patriots do not own a first-round pick.

Based on the updated order, here's a look at the latest first-round projections. 

NFL Mock Draft
PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsJoey BosaDEOhio State
3San Diego ChargersRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
4Dallas CowboysDeForest BucknerDEOregon
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyCBFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
7San Francisco 49ersJared GoffQBCalifornia
8Miami DolphinsMyles JackLBUCLA
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
10New York GiantsShaq LawsonDEClemson
11Chicago BearsReggie RaglandLBAlabama
12New Orleans SaintsJarran ReedDLAlabama
13Philadelphia EaglesPaxton LynchQBMemphis
14Oakland RaidersVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
15St. Louis RamsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
16Detroit LionsLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
17Atlanta FalconsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
18Indianapolis ColtsEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
19Buffalo BillsRobert NkemdicheDLOle Miss
20New York JetsLeonard FloydLBGeorgia
21Washington RedskinsMichael ThomasWROhio State
22Houston TexansConnor CookQBMichigan State
23Minnesota VikingsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
24Cincinnati BengalsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
25Pittsburgh SteelersKenny ClarkDTUCLA
26Seattle SeahawksNoah SpenceLBEastern Kentucky
27Green Bay PackersDarron LeeLBOhio State
28Kansas City ChiefsJosh DoctsonWRTCU
29Denver BroncosShon ColemanOTAuburn
30Arizona CardinalsShilique CalhounDEMichigan State
31Carolina PanthersEli AppleCBOhio State

Notable Picks

2. Cleveland Browns: Joey Bosa

By hiring executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, the Browns have made a commitment to the use of analytics. 

It remains to be seen exactly how this will affect the team's draft strategy, but there is a good chance it decreases the likelihood the team gambles on one of the top quarterbacks in this class. 

On a very elementary level, analytics are used to eliminate some of the guesswork involved in the decision-making process. And with no clear consensus around the quarterbacks in this class, the Browns' new approach will likely send them in the direction of a safer bet, such as Ohio State pass-rusher Joey Bosa

With his combination of size and athleticism, Bosa is a fit in every defensive scheme and should be able to develop into a perennial Pro Bowler in Cleveland.  

 

3. San Diego Chargers: Ronnie Stanley

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Ronnie Stanley #78 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish gets ready to pass block against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Phot
Norm Hall/Getty Images

As quarterback Philip Rivers ages and loses mobility, protecting their franchise quarterback becomes even more important for the Chargers. 

In his recent mock draft, Eddie Brown of the San Diego Union-Tribune also awarded Ronnie Stanley to the Chargers, reasoning that he would "[step] in as the starting right tackle day one, and would eventually transition into Philip Rivers’ blindside protector."

Current right tackle Joe Barksdale, who started 16 games for the Chargers in 2015, is a free agent, creating an obvious opening for Stanley in San Diego. 

 

15. St. Louis Rams: Carson Wentz

AMES, IA - AUGUST 30: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the North Dakota State Bison calls a play at the line of scrimmage in the second half of play against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium on August 30, 2014 in Ames, Iowa. North Dakota State
David K Purdy/Getty Images

After missing the majority of the season with a broken wrist, North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz made a triumphant return to the field just in time to lead the Bison to the FCS national championship on Saturday. 

Wentz's impressive performance restarted the hype machine, and potentially solidified his position as a first-round pick. 

NFL Network's Mike Mayock even floated the idea of Wentz as the top quarterback in the draft:

I'm saying he's in the conversation to be the 1st qb taken...if he checks all the intangible boxes- watch out ! https://t.co/X48iTx5HgV

— Mike Mayock (@MikeMayock) January 9, 2016

Jeff Fisher will be looking for a new franchise signal-caller in St. Louis (or wherever the Rams call home in 2016) after suffering through a season of Nick Foles and Case Keenum 

 

19. Buffalo Bills: Robert Nkemdiche

OXFORD, MS - NOVEMBER 07:  Robert Nkemdiche #5 of the Mississippi Rebels participates in warmups prior to a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche is a difficult prospect to place due to his recent arrest for marijuana possession

The arrest added to the rumors that Nkemdiche is a bit of a wild card off the field. Before the arrest in early December, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, quoted a scout as describing Nkemdiche as "really a different kid. He may scare some people. He's strange strange."

The scout is right to assume certain teams will be turned off by Nkemdiche during the interview process, especially following his arrest. But there are also some outside-the-box thinkers in the league who will embrace Nkemdiche's personality and fall in love with his production on the field.

So who better to gamble on a "strange" prospect than Bills head coach Rex Ryan, who is a bit of a wild card off the field himself.

 

Follow Ryan McCrystal on Twitter for more NFL and college football analysis.

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