NFL Draft 2016: Updated Mock Draft Ahead of Conference Championships

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2016

DeForest Buckner is one of several top names making waves ahead of the draft.
DeForest Buckner is one of several top names making waves ahead of the draft.Ryan Kang/Associated Press

As much as everyone wants to see Tom Brady square off with Peyton Manning one more time and whether it's Cam Newton or Carson Palmer who seizes glory for the first time, it's really about the 2016 NFL draft now.

The majority of the league's franchises don't have a mind for any of the above because they have entire departments hard at work on breaking down the 2016 prospects and forming draft boards.

While it's early in the process, it's never a bad time to take a look at a mock draft. View it as a resource to stay up to date on current prospect stock and team need.


2016 NFL Mock Draft

1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsJared GoffQBCalifornia
3San Diego ChargersRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
4Dallas CowboysJoey BosaDLOhio State
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyCB/SFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
7San Francisco 49ersMyles JackLBUCLA
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
15Los Angeles RamsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
16Detroit LionsEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
17Atlanta FalconsShilique CalhounDEMichigan State
18Indianapolis ColtsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
19Buffalo BillsJarran ReedDLAlabama
20New York JetsShaq LawsonDEClemson
21WashingtonLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
22Houston TexansSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
23Minnesota VikingsMichael ThomasWROhio State
24Cincinnati BengalsEmmanuel OgbahDEOklahoma State
25Pittsburgh SteelersKendall FullerCBVirginia Tech
26Seattle SeahawksNoah SpenceDE/LBEastern Kentucky
27Green Bay PackersRobert NkemdicheDLOle Miss
28Kansas City ChiefsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
29Denver BroncosJason SpriggsOTIndiana
30Arizona CardinalsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
31Carolina PanthersEli AppleCBOhio State
Author's projections.


Pick Analysis

3. San Diego Chargers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

Ronnie Stanley has the upside to come off the board in the top five.
Ronnie Stanley has the upside to come off the board in the top five.Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

Most might scoff at the idea of the San Diego Chargers passing on Joey Bosa, but exactly when will folks get tired of watching Philip Rivers and his running backs get assaulted? 

Yes, the defense could use a running mate to pair with Melvin Ingram, but at some point in this franchise's existence, it's going to have to act like it cares about protecting Rivers, who took another 40 sacks this past season and careens toward the age of 35.

The best move in this scenario is Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley, a prototypical tackle who has folks like ESPN's Kevin Weidl abuzz:

Not only does Stanley have experience at both tackle spots, he probably would have been the first offensive lineman off the board if he had entered the process last year.

Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil has something to say about that this year, but the difference between the two isn't so easy to define. Stanley might take a little longer to develop, but his physical dominance will catch more than a few pro rushers by surprise.

If the Chargers want to get serious about protecting the most important position of all, Stanley is the way to go.


9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

Buckner can set the edge and make a difference by pressuring quarterbacks.
Buckner can set the edge and make a difference by pressuring quarterbacks.Ryan Kang/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press

Sorry, but defensive ends who come in at 6'7" and 290 pounds aren't easy to find. 

A team in need like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a hard time ignoring DeForest Buckner, arguably the draft's most physically gifted athlete. He's not the perfect 4-3 fit per se, but with so many organizations going with hybrid looks, odds are coach Dirk Koetter will find a way to fit Buckner into things.

He might not have a choice. The Buccaneers mustered 38 sacks last year, pretty putrid numbers for a line boasting Gerald McCoy on the inside. Jacquies Smith managed seven sacks on one edge, but William Gholston had just three on the other.

The Buccaneers need someone who can come in and set the edge and actually capitalize on the attention offenses have to throw at McCoy. Whether Buckner stands up or places his hand in the dirt to do so doesn't really matter.

Lack of pressure had the Buccaneers ranked 26th under a defensive-minded coach (Lovie Smith) while allowing 26.1 points per game. With Jameis Winston and the offense set, provided the team re-signs Doug Martin, the new regime in Tampa Bay will want to add more talent to the defense with Buckner.


11. Chicago Bears: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

Jack Conklin can help a team in need right away.
Jack Conklin can help a team in need right away.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The Chicago Bears used to be like San Diego when it came to protecting Jay Cutler.

Adding Kyle Long helped, but the other tackle spot still looks like a mess, and Cutler took 29 sacks while Chicago quarterbacks took 33 overall last year. All runners combined to total just 3.9 yards per carry.

One of the biggest issues was left tackle Charles Leno, who wound up ranked as the No. 53 tackle in the league last year per Pro Football Focus. And no, Jermon Bushrod behind him wouldn't have made much of a difference.

Chicago will have a hard time ignoring Michigan State's Jack Conklin, a 6'6", 325-pound mammoth of a tackle whose fundamentals seem to go unmatched in the class. As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller pointed out, he's been receiving top-20 hype for quite a while:

Some of those who review prospects seem split on Conklin and where he should go, but all seem to admit the instant impact outweighs other factors.

Take CBS Sports' Dane Brugler, for example: "Some scouts are head-over-heels excited about his potential while others are simply lukewarm on his NFL future, but regardless, Conklin displays the 'steady-eddie' skill set and intangibles that should lead to a long pro career."

Conklin might not tout some of the upside of other tackles in the class, but the Bears look like one of those teams that wouldn't mind another potential run while an aging quarterback works through the final years of his career.

Maybe it's boring, but giving Cutler more time means more chances for Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White and others to make plays. 


Stats courtesy of and are accurate as of January 21. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

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