2016 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Landing Spots of Top Prospects

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2016

All eyes are on the top NFL draft prospects at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama this week. 

As scouts, coaches and general managers get a close look at the prospects, a number of players are solidifying their spots on draft boards, or potentially elevating their stock. 

It's still early in draft season, but the Senior Bowl is a major step forward in the evaluation process. 

Based on the reports out of Mobile, here's an updated mock draft, and a look at some of the major developing storylines of the 2016 NFL draft. 


2016 NFL Mock Draft
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsJoey BosaDEOhio State
3San Diego ChargersDeForest BucknerDLOregon
4Dallas CowboysMyles JackLBUCLA
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyDBFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
7San Francisco 49ersRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
8Miami DolphinsMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
10New York GiantsEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
11Chicago BearsReggie RaglandLBAlabama
12New Orleans SaintsShaq LawsonDEClemson
13Philadelphia EaglesJared GoffQBCalifornia
14Oakland RaidersTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
15Los Angeles RamsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
16Detroit LionsSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
17Atlanta FalconsKevin DoddDEClemson
18Indianapolis ColtsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
19Buffalo BillsNoah SpenceLBEastern Kentucky
20New York JetsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
21Washington RedskinsVernon ButlerDTLouisiana Tech
22Houston TexansAndrew BillingsDTBaylor
23Minnesota VikingsLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
24Cincinnati BengalsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
25Pittsburgh SteelersHunter HenryTEArkansas
26Seattle SeahawksRobert NkemdicheDTOle Miss
27Green Bay PackersDarron LeeLBOhio State
28Kansas City ChiefsJarran ReedDLAlabama
29Arizona CardinalsLeonard FloydLBGeorgia
30Denver BroncosJason SpriggsOTIndiana
31Carolina PanthersEli AppleCBOhio State

Notable Storylines

Where Will Top QBs Land?

In this mock draft scenario only two quarterbacks land in the first round and none in the top 10. That contradicts most other mock drafts out there, but this wouldn't be the first time high expectations are set for a quarterback class, only to have reality set in later. 

In 2013, for example, Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib were touted as the top quarterbacks in the class for much of draft season. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports even had Smith going No. 1 overall in his mock draft as late as February 19. 

Both Smith and Nassib ended up falling out of the first round. 

Early in the process, those of us on the outside looking in tend to try to fill every vacant quarterback job with an up-and-coming prospect. But when there is as much disagreement over the prospects as there was in 2013, and appears to be this season, the early predictions rarely pan out. 

Jared Goff and Carson Wentz appear to be legitimate first-round talents, but are they strong enough prospects to entice a team such as the Cleveland Browns or San Francisco 49ers to snag them in the top 10?

It's certainly not out of the question that they could solidify themselves in that position. Carson Wentz is already doing his part with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport:

Leaving Mobile after 3 days and a lot of football. Clear Carson Wentz is gonna dominate our timelines this spring. Had a good few days

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 27, 2016

It's still very early in the draft evaluation process, however, and it's worth considering the alternative scenarios where none of the quarterbacks emerge as elite prospects in this class. 


The "Character Concerns" Prospects

Two potential first-round prospects carry the dreaded "character concerns" label this year: Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence and Ole Miss' Robert Nkemdiche.

Spence was suspended after failing two drugs tests while at Ohio State, before being ruled ineligible by the Big Ten and transferring to Eastern Kentucky. He's since spoken at length about his issues with Ecstasy—detailed by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Nkemdiche's issues are more recent, having been arrested for marijuana possession in December and suspended from Ole Miss' bowl game. The bizarre incident, which involved Nkemdiche falling from a hotel balcony, is sure to raise questions during the interview process at the combine. 

Despite the issues, both prospects land in the first round in this mock draft. 

Teams are as cautious as ever about off-field issues, but certain talents are worth the gamble. 

Spence has proven to be among the elite pass-rushers in this class, and he may have solidified his spot in the first round at the Senior Bowl.

Kyle Crabbs of NDT Scouting has declared Spence one of the Senior Bowl winners: 

Winner from the South squad today was definitely Noah Spence. Ran circles around every OT he lined up across from.

— Kyle Crabbs (@NDTScouting) January 27, 2016

Nkemdiche, who left Ole Miss after his junior year, will have his opportunity to answer to questions at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in February. 

As one of the premier talents in this draft class—Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks him No. 13 overall—Nkemdiche should remain a first-round option so long as more red flags aren't uncovered this offseason. 


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