2016 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Overlooked 1st-Round Prospects

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2016 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Overlooked 1st-Round Prospects
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer might have been all have been the top overall picks in their respective NFL draft classes, but sometimes the elite slip through the cracks.

The scouting process for the NFL draft is far from flawless and, often, it is the sleepers in the draft that make a bigger difference than those taken in the top 10. Everyone expects a top-10 selection to be a superstar, but when a guy is taken in the second half of the first day or later it is a pleasant surprise.

Each of the last two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks were taken well beyond the first round—although that is set to change for Super Bowl 50—and both the Patriots and Seahawks built mini dynasties off of good draft selections beyond the marquee positions.

Let’s take a look at some of the players that might fit that mold for some teams. They won’t necessarily fall beyond the opening round, and one or two might end up in the top 10 by the end of the process, but these three college stars have the potential to be big-time sleepers in the draft.

2016 NFL Mock Draft
Pick Team Player Position School
1 Tennessee Titans Laremy Tunsil OL Ole Miss
2 Cleveland Browns Jared Goff QB California
3 San Diego Chargers Joey Bosa DE Ohio State
4 Dallas Cowboys Myles Jack LB UCLA
5 Jacksonville Jaguars Jalen Ramsey DB Florida State
6 Baltimore Ravens Ronnie Stanley OL Notre Dame
7 San Francisco 49ers Laquon Treadwell WR Ole Miss
8 Miami Dolphins DeForest Buckner DE Oregon
9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Shaq Lawson DE Clemson
10 New York Giants Vernon Hargreaves CB Florida
11 Chicago Bears A'Shawn Robinson DT Alabama
12 New Orleans Saints Mackensie Alexander CB Clemson
13 Philadelphia Eagles Emmanuel Ogbah DE Oklahoma State
14 Oakland Raiders Leonard Floyd LB Georgia
15 Los Angeles Rams Paxton Lynch QB Memphis
16 Detroit Lions Taylor Decker OL Ohio State
17 Atlanta Falcons Reggie Ragland LB Alabama
18 Indianapolis Colts Jack Conklin OL Michigan State
19 Buffalo Bills Robert Nkemdiche DL Ole Miss
20 New York Jets Ezekiel Elliott RB Ohio State
21 Washington Andrew Billings DT Baylor
22 Houston Texans Carson Wentz QB North Dakota State
23 Minnesota Vikings Michael Thomas WR Ohio State
24 Cincinnati Bengals Kenny Clark DT UCLA
25 Pittsburgh Steelers Eli Apple CB Ohio State
26 Seattle Seahawks Darron Lee LB Ohio State
27 Green Bay Packers Jarran Reed DT Alabama
28 New England Patriots Sheldon Rankins DE Louisville
29 Arizona Cardinals Noah Spence DE Eastern Kentucky
30 Denver Broncos Jonathan Bullard DE Florida
31 Carolina Panthers Jason Spriggs OL Indiana

Writer's opinion

 

Top Potential First Round Sleepers

CB Mackensie Alexander

Nick Lisi/Associated Press

This one might seem a little bit like cheating seeing as there is a chance Mackensie Alexander ends up being taken in the top 10 or even closer to the top five of the upcoming NFL draft, but at this point in the process he has the same chance of falling down as low as the late first round.

In a class with defensive backs of the calibre of Vernon Hargreaves, Jalen Ramsey, Eli Apple and Kendall Fuller, there is a lot of potential fluctuation with who goes where, but it would be a huge mistake if teams let Alexander slide down their draft boards.

He is a little shorter than most NFL scouts would like out of their top-tier draft picks at cornerback, but Alexander more than makes up for it with talent. Arguably the best cover corner in the draft, the Clemson standout has no right going any later than the top 10 but could get lost in the shuffle with the other star cornerbacks.

 

DE Noah Spence

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

When it comes to sleepers, there are many different reasons that teams and scouts end up overlooking a talented prospect, but time and time again a pair of reasons seem to come to the forefront. Off-the-field issues and small-school competition both make teams extremely wary of selecting a player, regardless of their talent.

Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence, has to deal with both of those issues and could be an all-time sleeper as a result. Dismissed from Ohio State for numerous failed drug tests, Spence ended up at the FCS school and was absolutely dominant for the Colonels.

One of the more naturally talented players at his position, Spence might be lacking the size of a player like Joey Bosa—his former teammate—but has the speed to make up for it and could be an immediate success for whatever team drafts him, even if he falls out of the first round.

 

DT Jarran Reed

LM Otero/Associated Press

Poor Jarran Reed. The former Alabama Crimson Tide defensive tackle has had a rough time—you know, outside of the national title and the fact that he is going to make it to the NFL this year where he will make lots of money—in terms of his draft prospects.

He has managed to rise rapidly through the ranks, from a player who wasn’t making any prospect lists at Eastern Mississippi Community College to a near lock to the go in the first or second round at Alabama. But because of where he played and who he played with, Reed is largely overlooked.

Thanks to the likes of Reggie Ragland and A’Shawn Robinson, Reed can sometimes feel like the forgotten man, but he shouldn’t be on draft day. He might not be the best pass-rusher in the world, but if a team needs a player to clog the middle and stop the run there are few better in this class than the Alabama defensive tackle.

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