NFL Mock Draft 2016: Full 1st-Round Projections for Nation's Top Prospects

Ryan McCrystalFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2016

Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, right, gets past Minnesota defender Hendrick Ekpe during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State beat Minnesota 28-14. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Paul Vernon/Associated Press

The biggest names in free agency have almost all found homes for the 2016 season, which puts the NFL draft picture into a clearer perspective. 

Many teams have already filled needs, while others have created holes by failing to re-sign free agents. 

With that in mind, here's a look at an updated mock draft based on free-agency moves and rumors swirling around the league. 

 

NFL Mock Draft
PickTeamPlayerPosSchool
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsJalen RamseyDBFlorida State
3San Diego ChargersJoey BosaLBOhio State
4Dallas CowboysDeForest BucknerDLOregon
5Jacksonville JaguarsMyles JackLBUCLA
6Baltimore RavensVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
7San Francisco 49ersJared GoffQBCalifornia
8Philadelphia EaglesRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersShaq LawsonDEClemson
10New York GiantsJosh DoctsonWRTCU
11Chicago BearsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
12New Orleans SaintsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
13Miami DolphinsEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
14Oakland RaidersEli AppleCBOhio State
15Los Angeles RamsPaxton LynchQBMemphis
16Detroit LionsSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
17Atlanta FalconsDarron LeeLBOhio State
18Indianapolis ColtsTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
19Buffalo BillsKevin DoddDEClemson
20New York JetsLeonard FloydLBGeorgia
21Washington RedskinsVernon ButlerDTLouisiana Tech
22Houston TexansLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
23Minnesota VikingsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
24Cincinnati BengalsMichael ThomasWROhio State
25Pittsburgh SteelersJack ConklinOTMichigan State
26Seattle SeahawksCody WhitehairOGKansas State
27Green Bay PackersReggie RaglandLBAlabama
28Kansas City ChiefsMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
29Arizona CardinalsNoah SpenceLBEastern Kentucky
30Carolina PanthersJason SpriggsOTIndiana
31Denver BroncosJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame

 

Notable Picks

11. Chicago Bears: Carson Wentz

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Jay Cutler has had a tumultuous career in Chicago, and the Bears may be on the verge of cutting ties with their polarizing quarterback. 

According to Spotrac, Cutler is under contract through 2020, but it would take a very small cap hit to cut him loose after the conclusion of the upcoming season. 

Even without a replacement in place, the Bears would have to seriously consider moving on from Cutler given the significant cap space they would save. 

By adding Carson Wentz in the first round, the Bears' decision to part with Cutler would be even easier to handle. 

From Wentz's perspective, this would be one of the ideal landing spots. With limited experience against top competition he isn't ready for a starting role in 2016, but in Chicago he could redshirt a year before being handed the reins. 

 

13. Miami Dolphins: Ezekiel Elliott

According to Bleacher Report's Jason Cole, the Dolphins are having internal discussions about targeting Ezekiel Elliott with the 13th pick: 

Cole noted that head coach Adam Gase is interested in adding a "cutback runner" to the Dolphins offense, and he may view Elliott as one of his only options after losing Lamar Miller and missing out on C.J. Anderson and Chris Johnson in free agency. 

Elliott is a well-rounded back and more than just a cutback runner, but that is an element of the game at which he excels. His change-of-direction ability ranks among the best running backs in this class, and it would make sense for Gase to target him in the first round.

It's unfortunate that the Dolphins have reached this point due to their many other needs, but it appears as though they may be forced to target Elliott on draft day after whiffing on their main free-agent targets. 

 

15. Los Angeles Rams: Paxton Lynch

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

How desperate are the Rams to start fresh with a new quarterback in Los Angeles? That's the question that will determine this selection.

Few draft experts have Paxton Lynch ranked as a viable top-15 selection. Rotoworld's Josh Norris, for example, has Lynch ranked 60th overall, making him a fringe 2nd-round prospect. 

But we've seen many teams reach for quarterbacks in the middle of the first round since the rookie wage scale lessened the financial risk of such a gamble. 

Another franchise might pass on Lynch in this scenario, but as the Rams head to a new city the decision process feels different. Can the Rams really expect to win over a new fanbase with Nick Foles or Case Keenum at quarterback?

Owners have been known to meddle with draft-day decisions when quarterbacks are involved, and this selection could end up being as much about Rams owner Stan Kroenke wanting to give the new fanbase hope as it is about making a good football decision.