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2016 NFL Mock Draft: Latest 1st-Round Predictions for Top Prospects in Class

Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
Michelle BrutonFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 5, 2017

NFL free agency is officially upon us, which makes all mock drafts published before March 9 essentially useless. 

Okay, that's not entirely fair—even early mock drafts are useful for, if nothing else, pinpointing team needs ahead of the new league year.

But it's true that free agency drastically alters the landscape of the draft. 

Some teams, such as the Houston Texans, New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars, addressed what was projected to be their biggest need in Round 1 in free agency instead. 

The updated mock draft below reflects the moves made on Day 1 of free agency. Keep in mind that New England does not own a selection in Round 1 due to Deflategate sanctions. 

NFL First Round Mock Draft
PickTeamPlayerPositionSchool
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota St.
3San Diego ChargersJalen RamseyCB/SFlorida State
4Dallas CowboysJoey BosaDEOhio State
5Jacksonville JaguarsMyles JackOLBUCLA
6Baltimore RavensDeForest BucknerDLOregon
7San Francisco 49ersJared GoffQBCal
8Philadelphia Eagles (MIA)Ezekiel ElliottRBOhio State
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersShaq LawsonDEClemson
10New York GiantsRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
11Chicago BearsNoah SpenceDEEastern Kentucky
12New Orleans SaintsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
13Miami Dolphins (PHI)Vernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
14Oakland RaidersEmmanuel OgbahDEOklahoma State
15Los Angeles RamsPaxton LynchQBMemphis
16Detroit LionsTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
17Atlanta FalconsDarron LeeOLBOhio State
18Indianapolis ColtsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
19Buffalo BillsSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
20New York JetsLeonard FloydOLBGeorgia
21WashingtonMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
22Houston TexansLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
23Minnesota VikingsWill FullerWRNotre Dame
24Cincinnati BengalsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
25Pittsburgh SteelersEli AppleCBOhio State
26Seattle SeahawksShon ColemanOTAuburn
27Green Bay PackersReggie RaglandILBAlabama
28Kansas City ChiefsCody WhitehairOGKansas State
29Arizona CardinalsRobert NkemdicheDLOle Miss
30Carolina PanthersKevin DoddDEClemson
31Denver BroncosJarran ReedDTAlabama
Michelle Bruton's picks

 

Predictions for Top Prospects 

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns have officially waived quarterback Johnny Manziel, the team announced Friday. 

Accordingly, the projection for them at No. 2 overall is still a quarterback, and in this mock draft specifically it's North Dakota State product Carson Wentz. 

Wentz went 20-3 as a starter for North Dakota State and has proven that he can succeed in a pro-style offense even. 

He may not have faced top defenses in college, but he's continuing to make a case for being the first quarterback taken off the board with his offseason workouts. 

At the combine, Wentz stood out in the 40-yard dash (4.77 seconds), broad jump (118 inches) and three-cone drill (6.86 seconds), per NFL.com

Wentz may still be developing after playing only two years in an FBS program, but he's the perfect prospect around whom to build a franchise. And that's exactly what Cleveland needs right now. 

 

DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon 

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

The Baltimore Ravens could definitely pursue an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft, but addressing the defensive line makes just as much if not more sense with their first selection.

After losing Chris Canty to free agency, the Ravens need to beef up their run defense without committing a ton of money toward their salary cap. 

Buckner accomplishes both goals. 

He's also not too shabby at rushing the passer; in 2015, his senior year at Oregon, Buckner amassed 10.5 sacks, 17.0 tackles for loss and 83 total tackles.

"He plays with explosive movements and terrific body control for his size, flashing heavy hands and initial power to be a disruptive force," wrote Brugler

Stocking the defensive line with Buckner, Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan would be a power move by the Ravens sure to pay dividends in the competitive AFC North. 

 

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State 

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

The Dallas Cowboys may have addressed their front seven in free agency when they signed defensive lineman Cedric Thornton Thursday, as NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported

But that doesn't mean they can't look to double down on beefing up their defensive front through the draft as well, and that's where Ohio State product Joey Bosa comes in. 

Bosa may be a better fit as a 4-3 defensive end, but he could also be a strong 3-4 rush linebacker for the right team. 

Brugler wrote that Bosa is "active on stunts with experience lining up inside and outside—a proven threat anywhere in the front seven." 

With Randy Gregory suspended for the first four games of the season and given that Dallas was lackluster in getting after the passer last season, Bosa makes a ton of sense for the Cowboys. 

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