2016 NFL Mock Draft: Full 1st-Round Projections for Top-Tier Prospects

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIFebruary 17, 2016

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz warms up before the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, at Ladd–Peebles Stadium, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

NFL draft discussions are always more interesting when there's a legitimate debate about the top quarterback in the draft.

The Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota debate was intriguing in 2015, and we should have a similar situation this year with the North Dakota State Bison's Carson Wentz vs. the California Golden Bears' Jared Goff.

 

Wentz over Goff

MOBILE, AL - JANUARY 30: North team's quarterback Carson Wentz #11 with North Dakota State looks to throw a pass during their game against the South Team on January 30, 2016 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Michael Chang/Getty Images

Unless he stumbles mightily at the NFL Scouting Combine, Wentz should be the first signal-caller taken in the 2016 NFL draft.

NDSU isn't the type of program that usually produces first-round picks—let alone franchise quarterbacks—but nothing about Wentz seems like the usual. He has the ideal size at 6'5" and 232 pounds, solid arm strength, decent athleticism and excellent intangibles.

Had he played in the SEC, Pac-12 or Big Ten, he probably would have won the Heisman Trophy, and he wouldn't have had to come almost out of nowhere in the last two months to garner national attention.

If the Tennessee Titans trade the top pick, there's even a chance Wentz goes No. 1 to the team that decides to mortgage multiple picks in an effort to leap to the top spot. There will be some who like Goff more than Wentz.

It's understandable.

Goff's excellence came against competition that most fans hold in high regard. In this instance, it won't matter. Wentz will be the true franchise quarterback out of the 2016 class. He has the "it" factor, and the Cleveland Browns should take him at No. 2 if he's available or package their No. 2 with another selection to move up to No. 1 if need be.

That snakebitten franchise may not get another opportunity to draft a QB who can help turn things around for another 30 years. As for Goff, he should be right at home if the San Francisco 49ers do the right thing and take him with the No. 7 pick.

Here's a look at the latest mock draft. Just after the table is a breakdown of two more top-tier prospects.

NFL Mock Draft 2016
PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota St.
3San Diego ChargersRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
4Dallas CowboysJoey BosaDLOhio State
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyCB/SFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
7San Francisco 49ersJared GoffQBCal
8Miami DolphinsMyles JackLBUCLA
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersDeForest BucknerDEOregon
10New York GiantsReggie RaglandLBAlabama
11Chicago BearsLeonard FloydOLBGeorgia
12New Orleans SaintsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
13Philadelphia EaglesTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
14Oakland RaidersVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
15Los Angeles RamsPaxton LynchQBMemphis
16Detroit LionsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
17Atlanta FalconsShilique CalhounDEMichigan State
18Indianapolis ColtsEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
19Buffalo BillsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
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 CardinalsKevin DoddDEClemson
30Carolina PanthersEli AppleCBOhio State
31Denver BroncosJason SpriggsOTIndiana
picks per Mazique

 

Ezekiel Elliott Is Just What Andrew Luck Needs

Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) carries the ball during the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts offense need a franchise running back who can get 25 touches per game and presents a legitimate threat on the ground and as a receiver out of the backfield. With all due respect to future Hall of Famer Frank Gore (yes, I said that) at 32 years old, he can no longer be that guy.

The Ohio State Buckeyes' Ezekiel Elliott has the vision, power and speed to be the workhorse back who takes pressure off Luck and the passing game.

There's a chance a team could try and swoop in to take Elliott before the Colts pick at No. 18. If that happens, it would be foolish to move up to take him. The more sensible option would be to look at a running back like the Utah Utes' Devontae Booker in the second or third round.

However, if Elliott is still on the board, drafting him should be an easy decision for the Colts.

 

Ramsey Would Energize Jags Secondary

Nov 14, 2015; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive back Jalen Ramsey celebrates a turnover against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports
Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

It will seem like the Jacksonville Jaguars had two first-round picks in 2016. Last year's first-round pick, Dante Fowler, didn't play in 2015 because of a knee injury. He'll be making his NFL debut this season along with the player the Jags draft with the fifth pick.

There's a few directions Jacksonville could go. Wide receiver is an option, but the best selection would be Florida State Seminoles defensive back Jalen Ramsey. More than anything, Ramsey offers a prospective team versatility. 

He could play safety in the NFL, but he figures to have more of an impact at corner. At 6'1" and 202 pounds, he has the size to match up with big receivers. His 40-inch vertical leap proves that he can elevate to create even more length to defend passes.

Plugging Ramsey in at corner in Jacksonville could potentially give the Jags a game-changer on two levels of their defense.