NFL Mock Draft 2016: Updated Predictions on Road to Super Bowl 50

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2016

Jarran Reed out of Alabama is on the rise in mock drafts.
Jarran Reed out of Alabama is on the rise in mock drafts.Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

The nucleus of the Super Bowl 50 matchup between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers comes from the draft.

Sure, Denver added big names such as Peyton Manning and Carolina got Charles Tillman via free agency, but for the most part it's smart decisions on draft day that have both teams playing for a Lombardi Trophy.

The Broncos wouldn't be alive without the drafting of Von Miller and Demaryius Thomas. Ditto for the Panthers with Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly and Kawann Short.

Below, let's outline a full mock and highlight moves that have the potential to someday help carry a team deep into the postseason.

 

2016 NFL Mock Draft

PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
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 GiantsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
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 TexansRobert NkemdicheDLOle Miss
23Minnesota VikingsMichael ThomasWROhio State
24Cincinnati BengalsEmmanuel OgbahDEOklahoma State
25Pittsburgh SteelersKendall FullerCBVirginia Tech
26Seattle SeahawksNoah SpenceDE/LBEastern Kentucky
27Green Bay PackersSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
28Kansas City ChiefsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
29Arizona CardinalsLeonard FloydLBGeorgia
30Denver BroncosJason SpriggsOTIndiana
31Carolina PanthersEli AppleCBOhio State
Author's projections.

Predictions

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

Jalen Ramsey looks like the perfect fit in Jacksonville.
Jalen Ramsey looks like the perfect fit in Jacksonville.Mike Stewart/Associated Press

Don't laugh about the Jacksonville Jaguars getting a label as a team that could make a run in the playoffs soon. 

After all, the Jaguars almost made the playoffs this year in large part thanks to the miserable AFC South. But a strong Blake Bortles-led core on offense certainly didn't deter from the push, though a defense that ranked 29th against the pass certainly did.

At this slot, Jacksonville has to take a talent such as Jalen Ramsey out of Florida State.

Long story short, Ramsey is as versatile as it gets in the defensive secondary, which is always a plus in today's pass-happy league. His top-tier athleticism and instincts give opposing quarterbacks fits.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller provided the numbers: "Athletically, Ramsey's gifts translate into production. In 2015, playing boundary corner, he held opposing quarterbacks to a 55 percent completion percentage but only gave up a ridiculous 315 yards on 37 catches while allowing just one touchdown all season."

With the offense in Jacksonville set, it's time for the front office to keep laying the foundation on defense. Ramsey would join a respectably talented cast that should also be getting Dante Fowler Jr. back in the fold, perhaps helping to provide a playoff appearance sooner than some would expect.

 

19. Buffalo Bills: Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama

Jarran Reed continues to boost his stock early in the process.
Jarran Reed continues to boost his stock early in the process.Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The AFC East might be one of the tougher divisions around as of late, but the Buffalo Bills aren't as far off from annual playoff spots as some might think.

A budding offense around quarterback Tyrod Taylor helps. While the Bills normally have a reputation as a stout defensive team as of late, the unit ranked 19th against the pass and 16th against the rush while allowing 22.4 points per game last season. The unit managed just 21 sacks.

One of the missing pieces seems like an interior presence such as Alabama's Jarran Reed.

Reed comes in at 6'4" and 313 pounds, the quiet anchor for the Crimson Tide. He's a beast against the run, but also has quite the pop off the line that will help him rush passers. He showed this at the Senior Bowl, as captured by Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News:

That would look pretty good in Buffalo next to Marcell Dareus. With Kyle Williams set to turn 33 next year and only ranking as the No. 35 tackle in the league at Pro Football Focus last season, it's time Buffalo starts considering an upgrade.

While Reed might not be as flashy as some would prefer, Dareus is proof enough as to what strong trench work can do to compensate for the unit behind it.

 

31. Carolina Panthers: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

Eli Apple seems like the perfect fit in Carolina.
Eli Apple seems like the perfect fit in Carolina.Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

All right, so maybe this is cheating by pegging the Panthers as a team that will make runs in the playoffs in future years, but it's certainly not wrong.

Reloading is just as important as rebuilding, folks.

And reloading is just what the Carolina defense needs, too. Josh Norman might be the outright best corner in the league, but he's only one man and cannot do it on his own. With Tillman and others hurt, the Panthers have had to turn to street free agents such as Cortland Finnegan.

Grabbing a guy like Eli Apple at this spot would not only be a steal, it would be the perfect pick to hit on a need.

CBSSports.com's Dane Brugler explained why Apple is one of the top corners to know:

Apple possesses several traits for the cornerback position that translate well to the next level with his size, length and athleticism. Apple isn't afraid to be physical and contest at the top of routes, but he's still learning what he can get away with and what will draw flags - desired length for the position, but NFL teams will be forced to live and die with his hands-on contact while he figures it out.

Apple comes in at 6'1" and 200 pounds and enjoys violent play against the run to pair with his strong cover skills. He's a perfect fit in Carolina, a team preferring its corners can come up and jam at the line of scrimmage.

Given the slot, the rich certainly get richer with Apple joining a Super Bowl defense with some iffy starters in the secondary. As for Apple, he couldn't join a better situation for his pro outlook.

 

Stats courtesy of NFL.com and are accurate as of January 29. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter