2016 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Post-Combine Projections

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 1, 2016

2016 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Miller's Post-Combine Projections

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    What will NFL teams do when they go on the clock in the 2016 NFL draft? That's the goal of this mock draft two months out from the real deal—to predict what happens as teams make their decisions in the first two rounds.

    Some mock drafts lay out what the analyst would do as the general manager of each team, and while my personal-player rankings do come into play here, this mock draft is about what I think each team would do if the draft unfolded this way.

    Using team, player and agent contacts, this is the best guess at each team's needs and each player's value on draft boards before free agency.

1. Tennessee Titans

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    The Pick: Laremy Tunsil, Tackle, Ole Miss

    The Tennessee Titans may love to trade out of this spot, but if they cannot, drafting a blue-chip left tackle prospect in Laremy Tunsil is a great way to keep the No. 2 overall pick from last year's draft—quarterback Marcus Mariota—upright and healthy.

    The Titans have many needs and could consider Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey or UCLA linebacker Myles Jack here, but the modern-era NFL rarely sees linebackers drafted first overall and hasn't seen a cornerback drafted first overall since the AFL-NFL merger. Tackles, quarterbacks and pass-rushers generally go first, and Tunsil is as good a tackle prospect as we've seen in some time.

    What does this mean for Taylor Lewan? The 2014 first-rounder struggled in 2015 and may be a lock for the right side of the line unless he dedicates his offseason to improving his strength and technique.

2. Cleveland Browns

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    The Pick: Carson Wentz, Quarterback, North Dakota State

    The Cleveland Browns desperately need a quarterback, but who will it be between Carson Wentz and Jared Goff?

    Depending on what you want in a quarterback, both are viable. Wentz is the pick in this mock draft due to his stronger arm, bigger frame (6'5", 237 lbs) and the fact he is athletic enough to move around in the pocket. New head coach Hue Jackson may decide between pro days and individual workouts that he prefers the polished, poised game of Goff, but, as of today, all signs point to Wentz as the man for the Browns.

    With so many needs offensively, the first key to Wentz's success will be building up the talent at wide receiver. If the Browns can sign a marquee receiver in free agency or get Josh Gordon reinstated to the NFL, it will go a long way in making sure this first-rounder at quarterback doesn't become the bust so many others have been in Cleveland.

3. San Diego Chargers

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The Pick: Ronnie Stanley, Tackle, Notre Dame

    So much speculation this offseason has centered around the San Diego Chargers drafting a defensive player with the No. 3 overall pick, but what about protecting quarterback Philip Rivers in order to give this team its best chance to win? That also makes sense, and Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley is the kind of smooth-moving tackle you draft in the top five.

    Stanley would be an instant starter at left tackle, and his ability to move and mirror on the edge would not only extend Rivers' career but help jump-start the stagnant Chargers running game. With Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen and Stanley as the nucleus on offense, San Diego starts to look like a competitor again in the AFC West.

4. Dallas Cowboys

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    The Pick: Myles Jack, Linebacker, UCLA

    The Dallas Cowboys could go in many directions with the No. 4 overall pick, including drafting Cal's Jared Goff to learn under Tony Romo at quarterback. But if you're the Cowboys, a team rarely picking this early in the draft, would you rather build up a defense that needs playmakers and try to get Romo a Super Bowl appearance or draft his replacement?

    I'd rather build up the defense, and I think the Cowboys will too.

    Myles Jack may end up my highest-ranked player in this draft. He's a rare athlete and at 245 pounds has the bulk to play inside or outside linebacker. The former UCLA running back/linebacker may even play strong safety for some teams, which is a testament to his overall athleticism. 

    Placed next to Sean Lee and behind a defensive line big on potential, Jack has the skills to be a true game-changer on defense.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    The Pick: Jalen Ramsey, Cornerback, FSU

    Could the best player in the draft really fall to No. 5 overall? Yes, yes he could. And the Jacksonville Jaguars have to be hoping it happens.

    Jalen Ramsey is the type of football player who would be a top-five pick in most drafts over the last 10 years, and at least a top-10 pick in even the loaded classes of 2011 and 2014. He's freakishly athletic, a true alpha male on the field and in the locker room and has the type of game-changing instincts that make him a threat at cornerback, safety or lined up in the nickel. 

    Ramsey, in Jacksonville, gives Gus Bradley his Richard Sherman-esque big cornerback. And if the Jaguars spend big to get a pass-rusher in free agency—hello, Olivier Vernon—they can and should use their first-round pick on the Florida State star.

6. Baltimore Ravens

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    The Pick: Joey Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State

    The Baltimore Ravens have needs on the offensive line and defensive front seven, and before free agency they might need to address the wide receiver position and look for another cornerback. Of course, they can't fill all those needs at No. 6 overall, so instead general manager Ozzie Newsome and his team will do what they always do—draft the best player available.

    That player just so happens to fill a big need for them, as Ohio State's Joey Bosa has the skill set to play off the edge or with his hand in the dirt head-up on an offensive tackle.

    Bosa has played at 285 pounds at Ohio State but dropped to 269 pounds for testing at the NFL Scouting Combine, which shows his positional versatility. He can fill multiple roles in Baltimore and give the team the pass rush it's been lacking off the edge of the defense.

7. San Francisco 49ers

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Pick: Jared Goff, Quarterback, California

    If quarterback Colin Kaepernick wants to be traded, as NFL Network's Rand Getlin reported, the San Francisco 49ers have to come up with a plan. Jared Goff is a pretty good plan to have.

    Goff isn't the biggest or strongest-armed quarterback, but he's silky smooth in the pocket and wins with his football IQ and poise. And even at 6'4" and 215 pounds, the 21-year-old Goff has room to fill out his frame, which could add more strength to an already solid right arm.

    In Chip Kelly's offense, Goff's experience in the Cal "Bear Raid" offense, which allowed him to make audibles and checks at the line of scrimmage, will come in handy. He's a quick-strike quarterback with enough pocket mobility to extend the play or pick up yards as a runner.

    Once teams get a chance to meet Goff, don't be surprised if they are trying to trade in front of the 49ers to get him.

8. Miami Dolphins

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The Pick: Vernon Hargreaves, Cornerback, Florida

    Free agency will be helpful in determining where the Miami Dolphins will go with the No. 8 pick and also in helping us understand how the new regime under general manager Chris Grier plans on building the team. 

    In the draft, the Dolphins could look at a defensive end to replace Olivier Vernon, but a premier cornerback to replace Brent Grimes is a harder spot to fill. Finding a potential No. 1 cornerback in today's NFL is something Grier and his scouts can't overlook.

    Vernon Hargreaves measured in at 5'10 ½", which was a big win for him. He's the most technically complete cornerback in this draft, showing excellent footwork and instincts when left on an island. He comes into the NFL better in zone coverage than man, but there's nothing limiting him from becoming a Joe Haden-like cornerback.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The Pick: Noah Spence, Defensive End, Eastern Kentucky

    Noah Spence had a better combine than you're hearing about at the top level of the event's coverage. Sure, a 4.80 time in the 40-yard dash was disappointing, but a strained hamstring suffered at the Senior Bowl held him back here. That was obvious after watching his exceptional 1.60 10-yard split become a 4.8 40.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are undergoing a scheme change on defense, which means their player preference is tough to nail down at this time. But if they can't find a speedy edge-rusher in free agency, it makes sense to invest in the outside ability Spence brings to the table.

    With a roster full of potential stars on offense, it's time to start reloading on defense.

10. New York Giants

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    The Pick: DeForest Buckner, Defensive Lineman, Oregon

    DeForest Buckner isn't the type of player who is going to blow you away with elite combine times, but turn on the game film and watch him dominate playing 5-technique defensive end in the Oregon 3-4 scheme. 

    Buckner's 6'7", 291-pound frame makes him an intriguing fit as an inside pass-rusher in New York, but he's flashed the athleticism of a strong-side defensive end. With Steve Spagnuolo back running the Giants defense, and with his love of athletic, versatile defensive linemen, it makes a lot of sense to plug in Buckner as the anchor to the Giants defensive line.

    There are many other possibilities, including running back Ezekiel Elliott, but before free agency the defensive line is the biggest need.

11. Chicago Bears

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    The Pick: Darron Lee, Linebacker, Ohio State

    Few players enjoyed as productive a week as Darron Lee had at the scouting combine. Weighing in at 6'1" and 232 pounds, the freak linebacker ran a 4.43 in the 40 and vertical-jumped 35.5". Lee, who many are comparing to former Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, would be a nightmare for offenses in Vic Fangio's defense.

    There's a precedent here given Fangio's love for athletic inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman when he ran the defense in San Francisco. Lee, while not as instinctive as either Willis or Bowman, has the speed to run with tight ends, the pass-rush skills to crash the A-gaps and the toughness to track down the ball in the run game.

    The rebuilding project in Chicago will take two or three draft classes to complete, but adding Lee next to Christian Jones on the inside of the defense helps the cause.

12. New Orleans Saints

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The Pick: Michael Thomas, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

    The need for an athletic, big wide receiver in New Orleans may be second fiddle to a weak-side linebacker, but looking at the value on the board, here is where it makes sense for the Saints to get a replacement for Marques Colston, who the team officially released on Tuesday.

    Michael Thomas may not have the stats of Laquon Treadwell or Corey Coleman, but at 6'3" and 213 pounds, he dropped only five passes in the last two years at Ohio State, per my charting.

    Thomas is also a much better route-runner than the Ohio State scheme allowed him to be. Put him in a system with Drew Brees and Sean Payton—who coached Thomas' uncle Keyshawn Johnson in Dallas—and he would thrive in their vertical, matchup style.

13. Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Pick: Paxton Lynch, Quarterback, Memphis

    The quarterback position is such a mystery in Philadelphia currently that almost any scenario is possible. Sam Bradford could return, Chase Daniel could follow new head coach Doug Pederson from Kansas City to the Eagles, or they could use the No. 13 pick in the draft to find a younger, long-term option.

    Like Paxton Lynch.

    The hype on Lynch has cooled a little, but he's still in play as a mid-first-round pick. With a big frame (6'6 ", 244 lbs) and a strong right arm to match above-level athleticism and escapability, Lynch is a natural fit in Pederson's offense.

    Given his quick-strike accuracy, and the fact his biggest struggles came against pressure on longer dropbacks, working in an offense that lets him move in the pocket and attack on underneath routes is ideal for his development.

    Lynch isn't a Week 1-type starter, and he's not on par with 2015 first-rounders Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, but he's a value in the middle of the first round.

14. Oakland Raiders

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    The Pick: Taylor Decker, Tackle, Ohio State

    The Oakland Raiders' needs are generally thought to be at cornerback, safety and maybe middle linebacker. But don't overlook the need at left tackle with Donald Penn and backup Khalif Barnes both set to hit free agency. While the Raiders have drafted well for future needs, the cupboard on the offensive line is thin.

    Taylor Decker may project best at right tackle long term, but watching him play for three years at Ohio State and then work out this offseason, I see a starting left tackle. Decker is long enough, agile enough and strong enough to handle duty as a pass-blocker as well as a power- or zone-scheme run-blocker. 

    With Derek Carr in place as the franchise quarterback, and talented skill players around him, it's time to make sure he's staying upright for 16 games next season.

15. Los Angeles Rams

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Pick: Laquon Treadwell, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss

    The Rams need big playmakers on offense, and without a quarterback here worthy of pick No. 15, it's easy to look at Laquon Treadwell and see the type of physical, in-your-face receiver who can spark an offense that's starting to come together well with Todd Gurley in the backfield. 

    Treadwell has fallen slightly down my board (No. 22 overall) over concerns about being able to separate from defenses (be it with speed or power) at the next level. But betting on him to be able to overpower cornerbacks in an Alshon Jeffery or Kelvin Benjamin-like way is something the Rams could do.

    If they hit on Treadwell, it makes the job at quarterback that much easier since they would have a receiver ready to dominate on 50-50 balls down the sideline.

16. Detroit Lions

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The Pick: Sheldon Rankins, Defensive Tackle, Louisville

    The best interior pass-rusher in this class comes from Louisville, and Sheldon Rankins is going to remind you of Aaron Donald with his 6'1", 299-pound frame and incredible quickness off the snap. Rankins, who played both defensive end and defensive tackle for the Cardinals, is an ideal fit at 3-technique in Detroit.

    Not only is defensive tackle a need, but with new general manager Bob Quinn coming in from New England, where the Patriots just used back-to-back first-round picks on defensive tackles, you can start to connect the dots to the trenches. 

    Wide receiver is a need if Calvin Johnson retires, but with a strong class of pass-catchers in the second- and third-round range, it's a need that can be waited on. The same goes for left tackle if the new regime decides to move Riley Reiff.

17. Atlanta Falcons

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    The Pick: Jaylon Smith, Linebacker, Notre Dame

    Where do you draft a player who would have been the No. 1 prospect in the class if not for a knee injury suffered in the Fiesta Bowl that has his future in doubt?

    At this time, it's too early to say what will or won't happen with Jaylon Smith's injured knee. There have been doomsday reports that Smith may miss all of 2016, and some that make it sound like he'll never play again, but the best practice right now is to wait and see—even if that headline doesn't get clicks.

    Smith will return to Indianapolis in five weeks for a medical recheck, and at that time much more will be known about his prognosis and eventual return.

    If Smith's injury is more Tyrann Mathieu than Marcus Lattimore—even if he's going to miss all of 2016—he's worth a pick in the middle of the first round. The Falcons, who have a big need for speed and athleticism at linebacker, also have a structure in place with second-year head coach Dan Quinn to be able to afford the risk of drafting a potential medical redshirt in the first round.

18. Indianapolis Colts

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    The Pick: Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Ohio State

    This is a hard sell for Colts fans, and I know that. But I'm going to try anyway...

    Ezekiel Elliott in the first round gives Indianapolis a true three-down back to build an offense around alongside Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and an offensive line that improved down the stretch in 2015.

    Even if the line needs to be addressed, and it does, there isn't an offensive guard or center with a value at pick No. 18. That's a hole to fill in free agency or later in the draft. Round 1 is about finding impact players.

    There may not be a better impact player on offense than Elliott, who did it all at Ohio State while being a stud inside runner, a talented receiver on swing routes and even a rock-solid lead blocker when Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett were tucking and running.

19. Buffalo Bills

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    The Pick: Shaq Lawson, Defensive End, Clemson

    Shaq Lawson is exactly the kind of edge player the Buffalo Bills need to replace Mario Williams. He's long, fast, powerful and made his plays against left tackles routinely in the ACC and throughout the College Football Playoff. Lawson, if unleashed by Rex and Rob Ryan, could be a 10-sack player in 2016.

    Lawson got lost a bit in the spotlight with Vic Beasley and Stephone Anthony running down quarterbacks in 2014, but when asked to be the man in 2015, he produced 13 sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 25 hurries, according to Pro Football Focus

    With Williams likely gone, and with a big need for improved edge-rush production, having Lawson step in as a Day 1 impact is exactly what the Bills need. Now they just have to hope and pray he's still there at No. 19.

20. New York Jets

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Pick: Mackensie Alexander, Cornerback, Clemson

    Deciding who the New York Jets will draft in the first round is nearly impossible. What we do know about this team is it will draft the best player on its board, but who is the top player on its board?

    The best educated guess is cornerback Mackensie Alexander. The Jets recently released Antonio Cromartie, leaving them with an aging Darrelle Revis, Dee Milliner, Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams and Dexter McDougle. Serviceable, sure, but when the opportunity to draft an impact cornerback is there, you have to take it.

    The Jets will need to fix holes at running back and find an edge-rusher either in free agency or through the draft, but running back doesn't seem like a Round 1 pick.

21. Washington

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Pick: Andrew Billings, Nose Tackle, Baylor

    The 2015 draft, Scot McCloughan's first in Washington, featured picks of tough-nosed football players like Brandon Scherff and Matt Jones, who would help redefine the trenches. If that's any indicator of how McCloughan wants to build a football team, then another Round 1 pick in the middle of the field is possible.

    Andrew Billings is one of the meanest players in the draft class. He's super physical at the point of attack and gets enough push in both the run and pass game to be an every-down impact.

    Unlike a Danny Shelton from last year, Billings has been more than a one-year wonder, showing the consistent production and disruption in the middle of the line to warrant a first-round pick.

22. Houston Texans

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    The Pick: Corey Coleman, Wide Receiver, Baylor

    Even before the arrest of Jaelen Strong in Arizona on a marijuana possession charge, finding a No. 2 wide receiver was a legitimate need for the Houston Texans this offseason. And while quarterback and to some degree running back also headline their list of needs, there is no player at either position worth drafting this early. 

    Corey Coleman doesn't have game-changing size (5'11"), but he does have game-changing speed down the sideline. He's a truly elusive player in space, but unlike some other small receivers, he doesn't play small or shy away from routes over the middle.

    While Coleman isn't a big fan of blocking, you're paying him to catch the football and make plays over the top. With his speed, he'll be drawing safeties away from double-teaming DeAndre Hopkins in no time.

23. Minnesota Vikings

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    The Pick: Su'a Cravens, Linebacker, USC

    After a week of solid on-field drills, interviews and workouts, USC's Su'a Cravens is back in the conversation as a weak-side linebacker in the first round of the draft. While his skill set as a former safety-turned-linebacker won't work for every team, he's an ideal "Will" 'backer in Minnesota's 4-3 defense.

    The Vikings have legitimate needs on the offensive line and at wide receiver as they try to build an offense around quarterback Teddy Bridgewater before the impending Adrian Peterson retirement, but the NFL draft is all about value and needs meeting in the middle.

    Reaching for a Jack Conklin—who only projects as a right tackle—would appease fans but may not be the best long-term move for the roster. The same goes for Cody Whitehair, who is a dang good player but not the highest value. Finding a center or right guard in Rounds 2-7 is much easier than finding a top-tier athlete at linebacker like Cravens.

    As for the need at receiver, the best bets on the board (Braxton Miller, Will Fuller, Sterling Shepard) are all smaller receivers, and the Vikings need a bigger player to attack the ball and give Bridgewater a true No. 1 target.

24. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Pick: Braxton Miller, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

    After so much hype surrounding his 40-yard dash, the NFL Network timed Braxton Miller at 4.50 seconds, leaving many fans confused and many Michigan fans proclaiming the former Buckeye to be overrated.

    Not so fast, my friends.

    NFL teams I spoke with hand-timed Miller between 4.38 and 4.43 seconds, which matches what you see on the game tape and what we saw in person at the Senior Bowl. In Cincinnati, where both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu are free agents, he's the type of athlete opposite A.J. Green who can draw attention.

    Miller's not the polished prospect Will Fuller or Sterling Shepard is, but his potential is much higher.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Andrew Weber/Getty Images

    The Pick: Eli Apple, Cornerback, Ohio State

    It feels like every year the Pittsburgh Steelers have a cornerback mocked to them in the first or second round, and yet they never draft one. Perhaps this year will be different if Eli Apple is on the board.

    A big (6'0", 195 lbs, 31 " arms) cornerback with press-cover length but off-man speed (4.40 officially in the 40-yard dash), Apple didn't have dominant stats at Ohio State but has the skills and upside to become a true No. 1 cornerback in the NFL.

    If used in a press scheme, Apple would have no issues stepping into the starting 11 on his first day of camp. He's also young enough (a redshirt sophomore entry) to still develop as an athlete and as a player.

    Apple doesn't answer what the Steelers will do at left tackle long term, and he won't help the hole at nose tackle. But in today's NFL, a starting cornerback is among the most valuable positions on the field.

26. Seattle Seahawks

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    The Pick: Robert Nkemdiche, Defensive Tackle, Ole Miss

    The plight of Robert Nkemdiche on draft day may be one to watch, given that he was a top-five player heading into the season but is now potentially falling to the late first or early second round due to numerous off-field questions

    The big defensive tackle has obvious ability and athleticism, and the key is finding the balance between his risk and reward. If you can get the next Fletcher Cox or Cameron Jordan at the end of Round 1, that's a pretty good deal. There's no doubt NFL general managers will be weighing the same question for the next seven weeks.

    In Seattle, head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider are no strangers to taking on off-field risks and hoping for on-field results. If Nkemdiche is going in the first round, the Seahawks are a likely destination.

27. Green Bay Packers

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    The Pick: Reggie Ragland, Linebacker, Alabama

    Reggie Ragland may "just" be a middle linebacker at the next level, but even in a day and age where some middle linebackers leave the field in sub-package situations, Ragland can be a force on first and second down. With his showing at the scouting combine, he's quieting doubts about his ability to stay on the field for third downs too.

    Ragland (6'1", 247 lbs), weighed in 12 pounds lighter than he did at the Senior Bowl and ran a solid 4.72 in the 40. He also had an impressive 4.28 in the 20-yard shuttle, which is designed to show short-area quickness and agility. That's a key number for inside linebackers, and Ragland was on pace with combine standout Darron Lee (4.20 seconds) in the drill.

    While all these numbers in gym shorts may not mean as much as game film, Ragland's film was among the best in the class anchoring the Alabama defense.

28. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Brett Davis/Associated Press

    The Pick: Leonard Floyd, Outside Linebacker, Georgia

    Free agency will completely reshape how the Kansas City Chiefs attack the draft, but they need to get young, and they need their first-round draft picks to be more like Marcus Peters and less like Eric Fisher.

    With free agency set to leave holes on the offensive line and most likely at outside linebacker, general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid must prioritize their needs and where they'll invest free-agent dollars and where they can attack in the draft.

    In a class not too deep on edge-rushers for their 3-4 defense, it may be risky to wait and see at outside linebacker, but the potential of landing someone like Leonard Floyd is a nice proposition.

    Floyd (6'5 ", 244 lbs) has the length and speed to be a stand-up rusher in the Chiefs system. If he's a hit, they can continue to rotate in 2014 first-rounder Dee Ford opposite Justin Houston without asking either young player to do too much too early.

    Make no mistake: Floyd's positional upside as an edge-rusher is much higher than Ford's.

29. Arizona Cardinals

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Pick: Kamalei Correa, Edge-Rusher, Boise State

    The Arizona Cardinals' loss in the playoffs was about an offense going cold after a red-hot regular season, but it was also about their inability to get to Cam Newton—something the Denver Broncos did at will in the Super Bowl.

    Looking at the roster, it's no secret the Cardinals need help on the edge of their defense. In the first round, general manager Steve Keim needs to pull off another rock-star draft day to find an instant-impact player.

    Kamalei Correa maybe isn't a big name on the national level, but that needed to change even before he ran a 4.69 at 6'3" and 243 pounds. He's a dynamic edge-rusher who uses his length well and understands how to dip his shoulder and bend the edge. Correa isn't overly powerful at the point of attack, but his agility makes him an intriguing player standing up off-tackle on defense.

    Another route for the Cardinals in Round 1 could be at safety, where standout strong safety Tony Jefferson is set to become a restricted free agent.

30. Carolina Panthers

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Pick: Kevin Dodd, Defensive End, Clemson

    If you just watched the final five games of Kevin Dodd's career at Clemson, you'd think he was a top-10 pick in this draft. With eight sacks, three quarterback hits and 23 pressures, per Pro Football Focus, Dodd was unstoppable.

    Perhaps by the end of April he will be a top-10 pick, after NFL teams comb through his background and decide on his potential. But one thing is for sure: Dodd is one of this year's best 4-3 defensive ends.

    The Carolina Panthers have some young talent at defensive end with Super Bowl star Kony Ealy and recently re-signed Wes Horton, but with Charles Johnson's cap number starting to weigh more than his production, he could be released in a cap-saving move. That would leave a fairly large hole at defensive end...a hole Dodd proved he can fill.

    At 6'5" and 277 pounds, he's exactly the kind of player the Panthers prefer at the position.

31. Denver Broncos

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The Pick: Cody Whitehair, Guard/Center, Kansas State

    As questions build regarding who will play quarterback for the Denver Broncos next year, the only thing we as draft experts can do is assume. And yes, that's dangerous, but for today's mock draft we're going to assume Peyton Manning retires to run the Papa John's dynasty he's set up in Denver, and that Brock Osweiler is either given the franchise tag or re-signed to a new deal. 

    With that housekeeping out of the way, where do the Broncos go in the draft? Straight to the offensive line.

    The offensive skill players are solid, and on defense there is a strong enough nucleus in place to survive free-agency departures if Malik Jackson and/or Danny Trevathan leave. Where the Broncos can't afford to get complacent is on the line, especially if a rarely tested Osweiler is running the offense next year.

    Cody Whitehair played left tackle at Kansas State but projects best to guard or center in the NFL. In Gary Kubiak's stretch-zone scheme, Whitehair's lateral movement and toughness make him a Week 1 starter at any of the three interior line positions.

Round 2

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    32. Cleveland Browns—Jack Conklin, T, Michigan State
    33. Tennessee TitansDerrick Henry, RB, Alabama
    34. Dallas CowboysWill Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
    35. San Diego ChargersA'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama
    36. Baltimore RavensDarian Thompson, FS, Boise State
    37. San Francisco 49ersJosh Garnett, G, Stanford
    38. Jacksonville JaguarsJonathan Bullard, DT, Florida
    39. Tampa Bay BuccaneersXavien Howard, CB, Baylor
    40. New York GiantsGermain Ifedi, T, Texas A&M
    41. Chicago BearsJihad Ward, DE, Illinois
    42. Miami Dolphins—Maliek Collins, DL, Nebraska
    43. Los Angeles (f/PHI)Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
    44. Oakland RaidersEmmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
    45. Los Angeles RamsRyan Kelly, C, Alabama
    46. Detroit LionsJosh Doctson, WR, TCU
    47. New Orleans SaintsVernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
    48. Indianapolis ColtsJerald Hawkins, T, LSU
    49. Buffalo BillsJarran Reed, DT, Alabama
    50. Atlanta FalconsKeanu Neal, SS, Florida
    51. New York JetsAustin Johnson, DL, Penn State
    52. Houston TexansChristian Hackeberg, QB, Penn State
    53. WashingtonWilliam Jackson, CB, Houston
    54. Minnesota VikingsTyler Boyd, WR, Pitt
    55. Cincinnati BengalsVonn Bell, FS, Ohio State
    56. Seattle SeahawksShon Coleman, T, Auburn
    57. Green Bay PackersHunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
    58. Pittsburgh SteelersAustin Hooper, TE, Stanford
    59. Kansas City ChiefsJason Spriggs, T, Indiana
    60. New England PatriotsSterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
    61. Arizona CardinalsKenny Clark, DT, UCLA
    62. Carolina PanthersHarlan Miller, CB, SE Louisiana
    63. Denver Broncos—Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State