NFL Mock Draft 2016: Breaking Down Early Forecast for Entire 1st Round

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NFL Mock Draft 2016: Breaking Down Early Forecast for Entire 1st Round
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

It's a new day, so that means it's time for a new NFL mock draft. There will be plenty of movement and shifting of picks between now and the first round on April 28, but it's always fun to speculate which top prospect your team will land.

Many experts believe the top pick is going to come down to Ole Miss Rebels offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil and Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman Joey Bosa. As you'll see, this mock reflects just that and has the talented duo going first and second in Round 1.

Let's take a look at a team-by-team projection from the first round, some reasons why Tunsil will be the No. 1 pick and the fate of two other top athletes. 

2016 NFL Mock Draft
Pick Team Player Position College
1 Tennessee Titans Laremy Tunsil OT Ole Miss
2 Cleveland Browns Joey Bosa DE Ohio State
3 San Diego Chargers Laquon Treadwell WR Ole Miss
4 Dallas Cowboys Jared Goff QB California
5 Jacksonville Jaguars Jalen Ramsey CB Florida State
6 Baltimore Ravens Mackensie Alexander CB Clemson
7 San Francisco 49ers Paxton Lynch QB Memphis
8 Miami Dolphins Vernon Hargreaves III CB Florida
9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers A'Shawn Robinson DT Alabama
10 New York Giants Shaq Lawson DE Clemson
11 Chicago Bears Myles Jack OLB UCLA
12 New Orleans Saints DeForest Buckner DE Oregon
13 Philadelphia Eagles Carson Wentz QB NDSU
14 Oakland Raiders Ronnie Stanley OT Notre Dame
15 Los Angeles Rams Corey Coleman WR Baylor
16 Detroit Lions Taylor Decker OT Ohio State
17 Atlanta Falcons Andrew Billings DT Baylor
18 Indianapolis Colts Jack Conklin OT Michigan State
19 Buffalo Bills Jaylon Smith OLB Notre Dame
20 New York Jets Reggie Ragland ILB Alabama
21 Washington Eli Apple CB Ohio State
22 Houston Texans Christian Hackenberg QB Penn State
23 Minnesota Vikings Michael Thomas WR Ohio State
24 Cincinnati Bengals Kenny Clark DT UCLA
25 Pittsburgh Steelers Kendall Fuller CB Virginia Tech
26 Seattle Seahawks Josh Doctson WR TCU
27 Green Bay Packers Robert Nkemdiche DT Ole Miss
28 Kansas City Chiefs Shon Coleman OT Auburn
29 Denver Broncos Germain Ifedi OT Texas A&M
30 Arizona Cardinals Leonard Floyd OLB Georgia
31 Carolina Panthers Emmanuel Ogbah DE Oklahoma State
N/A New England Patriots Pick Forfeited N/A N/A

Author's Projections

Tunsil to the Titans

Tunsil has been my top pick now for the past several weeks. He's big and athletic and plays a position that is a must-need for any successful NFL team. There is no denying that Bosa would be deserving of going No. 1 overall, but for me it comes down to one major issue with the Titans: protecting Marcus Mariota.

The former Oregon Ducks quarterback set the franchise rookie passing yards record with 2,818 yards, and he missed four games with a knee injury. Mariota has a chance to be special, and the Titans must agree since they named the No. 2 overall pick their Week 1 starter.

They also allowed 54 sacks in 2015—the most in the NFL.

Enter Tunsil, who can help protect the man Tennessee hopes will bring the franchise at least back to respectability in the near future. The 6'5", 305-pound tackle is more than just a big body. He caught a touchdown pass in Ole Miss' bowl game this year, and apparently football is not the only sport where he excels, per Chase Goodbread of NFL.com:

Bleacher Report's Ian Wharton graded Tunsil higher than any prospect he's evaluated in five years, and Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com wrote he possesses a "rare athletic skill set" for a tackle:

On the field, Tunsil is a nimble big man with a rare athletic skill-set for the position, showing above average balance and flexibility to easily bend, handle speed and absorb power at the point of attack. He's not a perfect player, but his flaws are more nitpicking than true weaknesses and potential injuries are the only obstacles keeping Tunsil from being one of the better left tackles at the next level.

Tennessee used its No. 1 pick two years ago to take tackle Taylor Lewan, but the team can work around having too much talent at the position because Tunsil is too good to pass up.

49ers Address Quarterback Issues with Lynch

In my early mocks, Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch was slotted in at No. 2 to the Cleveland Browns. However, his stock took a hit late in the season when his team lost four of five games after an 8-0 start and he threw just three touchdowns in those losses.

However, the 6'7", 245-pounder still had a good year (3,776 yards, 28 TDs, 4 INTs), and Brugler said as much in his assessment of Lynch:

Excellent frame for the positions. Shows impressive touch and ball placement on a variety of NFL-type throws along with impressive mobility. Shows poise, mobility and pinpoint accuracy.

With continued development, Lynch could be this year's version of Blake Bortles - a prospect from the non-Power 5 conferences who checks a lot of boxes for NFL evaluators in an average quarterback class.

In fact, John Martin of Memphis' 92.9 FM ESPN said Bortles' former offensive coordinator at Central Florida, Charlie Taaffe, told him something interesting about Lynch:

He's certainly not perfect, and even Brugler said he's not a "polished passer," but Lynch is good enough to go to a San Francisco 49ers team that is reeling at the position since trading Alex Smith three years ago. The Niners might be hoping for hometown boy Jared Goff of the California Golden Bears to fall in their lap, but that won't happen. After a midseason swoon, Goff bounced back with impressive numbers to finish the season and solidify himself as a top-five pick.

Lynch still has the potential to be a franchise quarterback for the Niners, as it appears things are not working out with Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert. It might take a season or two for Lynch to "get it," but in time he will.

Nkemdiche Could Fall into Perfect Situation

At one point in the season, former Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche looked like a surefire No. 1 overall draft pick. In September, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. listed the talented lineman as his top prospect:

Now up to 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, he still moves like a guy carrying about 40-50 pounds less. You saw it against Bama, when he was getting into the backfield constantly. Nkemdiche isn't just quick, though; he also has strength at the point and doesn't get eaten up by double-teams. If he stays healthy he'll end up in the top five.

However, his stock started to dip as Bosa and others elevated theirs. It hit rock bottom last month after an off-the-field incident where he reportedly fell off a 15-foot wall at a hotel, which left his status for the game uncertain. He was later suspended after he was charged with marijuana possession, per David Ching of ESPN.com.

According to Rob Rang of CBSSports.com, there were concerns even before the suspension: "Frankly though, there were scouts worried about Nkemdiche's commitment prior to the incident, which earned him a citation from Atlanta police for marijuana possession and led to Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze suspending Nkemdiche for the Sugar Bowl."

That caused me to drop him out of the first round, but in the end, as Rang points out, his talent is going to be too much for him to slip into the second round.

"Even with growing concerns about his decision-making, Nkemdiche remains in my top 10 prospects," Rang wrote. "He might just be the most gifted prospect in the country, boasting a combination of power and athleticism sure to intrigue every team in the league."

The former No. 1 overall high school recruit finished his three-year career with 81 tackles (16 for a loss) and six sacks. However, it's not all about stats. Scouts look deeper than that, such as his size and explosiveness on the snap that Kiper pointed out.

Rang said he has top-10 talent, and maybe he does, but his issues are going to keep him from going that high. Look for him to drop toward the end of the round and end up with a Green Bay Packers team that Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said needs a pass-rusher early on.

"B.J. Raji might not be re-signed, so adding a defensive tackle with mass is likely," Zierlein wrote.

If this happens, and Nkemdiche plays at the level he is capable of, the Packers could end up with the steal of the draft.

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com

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