NFL Mock Draft 2016: 1st-Round Projections for Most Exalted Prospects

Ryan McCrystalFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2016

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 26:  Braxton Miller #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs with the ball against the Western Michigan Broncos at Ohio Stadium on September 26, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.   (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine list was released earlier this week, bringing us one step closer to April's NFL draft. 

Until the combine begins in late February, we'll have a bit of a lull in terms of NFL draft news. 

During this time, teams are going back over their evaluations of prospects to put together early versions of their draft boards. Then, the combine and the pro days that follow will help to finalize those evaluations. 

Based on where we stand now, before the combine and free agency shake things up again, here's a look at how the first round of the NFL draft could play out.  

2016 NFL Mock Draft
PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsJoey BosaDEOhio State
3San Diego ChargersJalen RamseyDBFlorida State
4Dallas CowboysMyles JackLBUCLA
5Jacksonville JaguarsNoah SpenceDEEastern Kentucky
6Baltimore RavensRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
7San Francisco 49ersJared GoffQBCalifornia
8Miami DolphinsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersDeForest BucknerDLOregon
10New York GiantsShaq LawsonDEClemson
11Chicago BearsDarron LeeLBOhio State
12New Orleans SaintsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
13Philadelphia EaglesTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
14Oakland RaidersVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
15Los Angeles RamsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
16Detroit LionsAndrew BillingsDTBaylor
17Atlanta FalconsKevin DoddDEClemson
18Indianapolis ColtsEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
19Buffalo BillsRobert NkemdicheDLOle Miss
20New York JetsReggie RaglandLBAlabama
21Washington RedskinsMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
22Houston TexansCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
23Minnesota VikingsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
24Cincinnati BengalsLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
25Pittsburgh SteelersEli AppleCBOhio State
26Seattle SeahawksBraxton MillerWROhio State
27Green Bay PackersVernon ButlerDTLouisiana Tech
28Kansas City ChiefsMichael ThomasWROhio State
29Arizona CardinalsLeonard FloydLBGeorgia
30Carolina PanthersJason SpriggsOTIndiana
31Denver BroncosCody WhitehairOGKansas State

Notable Picks

Jacksonville Jaguars: Noah Spence

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The Jaguars selected Dante Fowler Jr. in the first round last year, so another pass-rusher does not have to be high on their wish list. 

However, the potential of starting the 2016 season with two young, explosive edge-rushers has to tempt the Jaguars front office. Since Fowler missed the entire 2015 season due to injury, the Jaguars would effectively be adding two top-five picks to their defensive line. 

Noah Spence is a similar prospect to Fowler, and he will likely earn grades in the same range as the former Florida Gators pass-rusher. 

Jaguars defensive end Andre Branch is a free agent, so the addition of Spence would allow the Jaguars to start fresh with two new weapons on the defensive line in 2016.

 

Seattle Seahawks: Braxton Miller

BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 7: Braxton Miller #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs for a 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on September 7, 2015 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Ohio State defeated Virginia Tech 4
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Seahawks have done little to address the wide receiver position throughout most of Pete Carroll's tenure in Seattle. However, the trade for Percy Harvin in 2013 did indicate an interest in adding a versatile weapon to the offense. 

Braxton Miller's dangerous playmaking ability after the catch gives him the potential to fill a role similar to the one Carroll envisioned for Harvin in Seattle. 

There's some risk in taking a raw prospect like Miller in the first round, but he should still be able to make an immediate impact. 

Adding a package of plays to get Miller the ball either in the backfield or on quick-strike throws would change the way defenses prepare for the Seahawks offense.

 

Carolina Panthers: Jason Spriggs

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

It's important not to overreact to one game, but the performance of Carolina's offensive line in Super Bowl 50 highlighted just how unprepared the Panthers are to compete with a dominant front seven. 

With that weakness now exposed, the Panthers should expect more teams to come after Cam Newton with a relentless pass rush in 2016, rather than sit back and react, as the Seahawks did in their loss in the divisional round. 

It's tough to predict exactly who will be on the board in the late first round, but the Panthers should target someone capable of taking over from Mike Remmers at right tackle. 

Indiana's Jason Spriggs is one of a handful of prospects who could be viewed as nice value in that range of the draft. 

 

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