NFL Mock Draft 2016: Predictions, Analysis for Combine Stars and Top Prospects

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2016

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

The top prospects of the 2016 NFL draft will continue to be evaluated every step of the way, right up until their names are called at the end of April.

After a full college career, each player has to prove himself through the scouting combine, pro days, interviews and various other methods over the course of many months. All of this without doing something off the field that could hurt his stock.

This all contributes to creating the best possible scouting reports from each team as those 32 squads try to make their decisions for the future. The pieces are starting to fall into place as we get closer to the start of the first round, although there is still a lot left to be decided.

With that in mind, here is the latest look at the first round of the upcoming NFL draft.

2016 NFL Mock Draft
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
3San Diego ChargersJalen RamseyCBFlorida State
4Dallas CowboysJoey BosaDEOhio State
5Jacksonville JaguarsMyles JackOLBUCLA
6Baltimore RavensDeForest BucknerDEOregon
7San Francisco 49ersJared GoffQBCalifornia
8Philadelphia EaglesEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
10New York GiantsRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
11Chicago BearsJarran ReedDTAlabama
12New Orleans SaintsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
13Miami DolphinsShaq LawsonDEClemson
14Oakland RaidersEli AppleCBOhio State
15Los Angeles RamsPaxton LynchQBMemphis
16Detroit LionsLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
17Atlanta FalconsDarron LeeOLBOhio State
18Indianapolis ColtsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
19Buffalo BillsSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
20New York JetsKevin DoddDEClemson
21Washington RedskinsReggie RaglandILBAlabama
22Houston TexansJosh DoctsonWRTCU
23Minnesota VikingsWill FullerWRNotre Dame
24Cincinnati BengalsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
25Pittsburgh SteelersMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
26Seattle SeahawksTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
27Green Bay PackersAndrew BillingsDTBaylor
28Kansas City ChiefsLeonard FloydOLBGeorgia
29Arizona CardinalsRobert NkemdicheDTOle Miss
30Carolina PanthersNoah SpenceDEEastern Kentucky
31Denver BroncosCody WhitehairOGKansas State


Notable Draft Picks

Cleveland Browns: Carson Wentz

While the Cleveland Browns made headlines by adding a quarterback in Robert Griffin III, the former Rookie of the Year is no sure thing. Trusting him to be the starter going forward would be an extremely risky move for a franchise that has lacked a true starting quarterback for a long time.

Interestingly, Mike Silver of NFL Network noted the Griffin signing might actually be the safety net:

If the Browns are still looking at a quarterback at No. 2, there is still likely a debate over who is the better option between Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. While both players have great qualities, the latter might have separated himself in recent weeks with his workouts, showcasing both his athleticism and his impressive arm.

Mike Mayock of NFL Network was certain of himself while watching the North Dakota State pro day:

Every player in the draft is a risk of some sort, but Wentz appears to be the best option for the Browns going forward.


Philadelphia Eagles: Ezekiel Elliott

Nov 28, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) runs the ball during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

It's always a risk drafting a running back in the first round, especially as high as the No. 8 pick. However, he makes a lot of sense to the Philadelphia Eagles at this spot.

Philadelphia saw firsthand how valuable LeSean McCoy was for a few years as one of the best players in the league at his position. Now he is gone, as is last year's disaster in DeMarco Murray, and the team needs someone else to anchor the offense. With question marks still alive about the quarterback play, the Eagles need a running back it can trust to make plays right away.

Not only does Elliott have the tools necessary to pick up big chunks of yardage at a time, he is also more pro-ready than many others at the position. He is already a solid pass protector and could immediately become any team's full-time running back if needed.

The Eagles need help and are one of many teams that could use Elliott's services.


Atlanta Falcons: Darron Lee

Nov 7, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee (43) gets the crowd fired up during first quarter action versus the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State leads 14-0 at halftime. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA T
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons have quality cornerbacks, but the defense still ranked just 18th against the pass last season. The problem was a league-low 19 sacks and the inability to cover players in the middle of the field.

Darron Lee can help in both areas, making him going to the Falcons one of the best fits in the entire first round. The linebacker definitely seemed excited about the possibility of going to Atlanta, per Vaughn McClure of

I think it would be huge to be a part of that organization. They've got something going there. They want to win, and they want to win as soon as possible. They want to be able to compete with the Panthers, them being the NFC South champs. 

[The Falcons] just told me they needed some speed, some attitude, and some leadership. I like them, and I'm excited about the workout. And we'll go from there.

Lee displayed attitude and leadership as one of the anchors of Ohio State's defense over the past few years, and the speed cannot be disputed after an incredible showing at the combine. He led all linebackers with a 4.47-second 40-yard dash while also displaying impressive explosiveness in both the broad and long jump.

The former Buckeye will be a major boost to the Falcons defense if he reaches this point in the first round.


Green Bay Packers: Andrew Billings

Dec 5, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears defensive tackle Andrew Billings (75) rushes against the Texas Longhorns during the first quarter at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This might be a bit late for Andrew Billings, who has tons of upside as a freak athlete with incredible size and strength. Listed at 6'1", 311 pounds, the big man moves well for his size and can get into the backfield with regularity.

Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski has a whole lot of faith in the defensive lineman:

With that said, this is a loaded draft of defensive linemen. Depending on what teams are looking for, this could push Billings toward the end of the first round and possibly into the second.

That is good news for the Green Bay Packers, who could use someone to anchor their defense. The squad struggled against the run this year and needs someone who can clog the middle and take on multiple blockers. Billings fits that description and could give a contending team an instant upgrade at a vital position.


Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for year-round sports analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter


    Report: Teams Viewed Kap as Starter Amid Collusion Case

    NFL logo

    Report: Teams Viewed Kap as Starter Amid Collusion Case

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: OBJ, Giants Not Closer to Deal

    NFL logo

    Report: OBJ, Giants Not Closer to Deal

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Goodell Calls for Legislation on Sports Gambling

    NFL logo

    Goodell Calls for Legislation on Sports Gambling

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    The MVPs of Offseason Workouts

    NFL logo

    The MVPs of Offseason Workouts

    Brent Sobleski
    via Bleacher Report