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

Michelle BrutonFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2016

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

A little over a month out from the 2016 NFL draft, we're in the midst of college pro days; free agency deals, though they have slowed to a trickle, are still continuing to be announced. 

So while mock drafts are still extremely variable at this point in the offseason, we at least have a sense of the needs teams will be looking to address when they're on the clock in Chicago in April.

Let's break down this mock draft and examine where some of the most prized prospects in this year's class could land when all is said and done:

NFL 1st-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

 

Projections for Prized Prospects

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

The Cleveland Browns, with the No. 2 overall pick, are in position to have their choice of young quarterback prospects in this year's class, from California's Jared Goff to North Dakota State's Carson Wentz.

At the moment, given everything he brings to the table, Wentz seems like the kind of prospect who has the potential to turn Cleveland's franchise around.

The Browns had a good visit with veteran quarterback Robert Griffin III, per ESPN.com's Pat McManamon, but there have been no reports thus far of a deal between the two sides.

Additionally, per McManamon, Browns director of football operations Sashi Brown said "adding a quarterback with experience in no way precludes the team from drafting a quarterback," and it shouldn't. 

There are multiple reasons why that quarterback should be Wentz. As ESPN.com's Britt McHenry reported Monday, the Browns will be taking a look at Wentz at his pro day:

What Jackson should see there is a competent and NFL-ready prospect whose poise in the pocket and mobility could be huge assets to a team in desperate need of a rebuild.

 

Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

There's no question that multiple teams with early selections in the first round of the draft would love to add a defensive stud such as Florida State's Jalen Ramsey to their rosters, but San Diego is in optimal position to land him.

While we can't rule out Tennessee either trading its first overall pick or deviating from expectations by taking Ramsey off the board at No. 1, San Diego seems like a perfect place for the young defensive back to land.

Sure, there are other needs San Diego could pursue with the No. 3 pick; defensive line is arguably more in need of an upgrade than the secondary, even with Eric Weddle departing in free agency.

"This is where I see best available weighing more than the need (in San Diego's case, defensive line)," NFL.com's Maurice Jones-Drew wrote in his mock draft Monday. "Ramsey is a special player who can change your defense from two different positions."

There you have it.

 

Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

Ronnie Stanley won't be the first offensive lineman off the board in April; that honor will belong to Ole Miss product Laremy Tunsil, whether he goes to Tennessee or elsewhere. 

But that doesn't mean Stanley isn't a highly prized prospect whom many teams will covet early in the first round.

In this case, the Giants should land Stanley at No. 10, but the Baltimore Ravens could easily opt to give Joe Flacco some help and draft the Notre Dame prospect. 

While Stanley still needs some technical refinement, he'll be an instant starter for whichever team selects him.

CBS Sports' Dane Brugler hit the nail on the head in his mock draft: "With Will Beatty no longer on the roster and last year's first-round pick Ereck Flowers struggling on the left side, Stanley would make sense as a plug-and-play left tackle from Day 1."