2016 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Projections, Post-Conference Championships

Justis Mosqueda@justisfootballFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2016

2016 NFL Mock Draft: Updated Projections, Post-Conference Championships

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    There's only one NFL game left this season, so 30 teams are now focused on the draft. With the Senior Bowl week kicking off, where more than 100 of the top seniors in the country will face one another on the same field, there's never been a better time to dive into the offseason's largest event.

    To give you a morsel of what you should be prepared for this spring, we'll go pick by pick, mocking the first round by how we see the dominoes falling as of today. There are still salary cuts and free-agency cycles before we hit full draft mode, but three months out, there's already a feel to how this class should shake out.

1. Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi

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    How do the Tennessee Titans want to build their franchise up from the lowly rock bottom they're at right now? Judging by the hiring of Mike Mularkey, their interim head coach, it would appear they want to continue the path they set out when Ken Whisenhunt was their leader. The powers at the top must have thought that execution, not the blueprint, was the issue.

    When the Titans drafted Marcus Mariota second overall last year out of Oregon, they essentially gave the quarterback the nod as the face of the franchise. His biggest flaw both in college and as a rookie was the same, though: Whenever he was sacked, he was a liability to turn the ball over.

    How can the Titans respond to this? First, they already have one potential Pro Bowl bookend protecting the former Duck in Taylor Lewan. But offensive line play is more about performance as a unit, not individual efforts, as Tennessee learned the hard way last year with its right tackle situation.

    Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss is a generational talent. He's been "the man" since he stepped on campus at Oxford as a true freshman. By pairing Tunsil with Lewan, Mariota's life becomes much easier. Tunsil is the next Jonathan Ogden, and the 21-year-old 6'5", 305-pounder has All-Pro potential at the second most important position on the offensive side of the ball.

2. Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California

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    Ding-dong! The witch is dead! Johnny Football's streak in Cleveland is effectively over.

    Whenever the new head coach says he's going to become familiar with rookie quarterback prospects and tells a national radio show that his team needs a passer, the writing is clearly on the wall. That new leader, Hue Jackson, has been noted as one of the better offensive minds in the NFL in recent years; he has developed a creative playbook that often features concepts form packaged plays to six-lineman sets.

    When trying to pin down a quarterback for Jackson, one name comes to mind: Jared Goff. Jackson needs a quick-strike passer if he's looking to replicate his Cincinnati Bengals success, and both Paxton Lynch of Memphis and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State are better suited for later-in-the-down vertical throwing offenses. They just hold onto the ball a little longer than they should.

    On the flip side, Goff was taught efficiency over everything at California, where he played in the Bear Raid offense that emphasized getting the ball out of his hand as quickly as possible. Until we're told otherwise, Goff should be viewed as the leader in the Cleveland quarterback sweepstakes.

3. San Diego Chargers: Joey Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State

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    The best teams function in an adjusted "best player available" style of drafting. They may not take the best player per se, but they will take their top need from the best tier of players available rather than over-reach for a talent. Those are gambles, and much like in Vegas and in the lottery, gambles very much are games of chance with the odds against your favor.

    When you discuss tiers in this draft class, outside of quarterback, two players exist at the top. The first is Laremy Tunsil, and the second is Joey Bosa, an edge defender from Ohio State.

    Bosa was a 4-3 defensive end for the Buckeyes who became the premier player at his position in college football the last two seasons. In a 3-4 scheme, he's an odd fit due to his 6'5" frame, but he's a player you build around, not a player you try to stuff in a round hole.

    Melvin Ingram notched double-digit sacks last season. Playing alongside Bosa, his production should only rise. With Jeremiah Attaochu potentially coming off the bench on third downs, kicking Bosa to the interior, the Chargers would have a pressure unit similar to those that the New York Giants were able to win Super Bowls with. Giving this defense an identity after all these years would do the Chargers wonders.

4. Dallas Cowboys: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

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    Does Jerry Jones like to lose? No. How do you win in the NFL? Quarterback play. Has Dallas' starting quarterback finished the last two seasons injured? Yes.

    This may be one of the rare situations in which the Jones-led franchise actually makes a forward-thinking move instead of patching up the squad with chewing gum and string. Why? Because even an aggressive owner like Jones has to recognize how rare it is to draft a franchise passer.

    Tony Romo is 35 years old. Paxton Lynch is 6'6" with a cannon and wheels. In two years, we may be calling Lynch the next Cam Newton, not the next Brock Osweiler.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State

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    Associated Press

    Gus Bradley recently signed a one-year extension to be the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. That means, despite his 12-36 record, he's locked up through the 2017 season on paper. To be frank, it's going to be hard to see him sticking around longer than that if his defense continues to fall short.

    As the defensive coordinator in Seattle, he was able to capitalize on his core stars to build a Cover 3-based system that swept the league by storm. The problem is this: He doesn't have a Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas or Kam Chancellor in Jacksonville's secondary.

    While Jalen Ramsey played last season as a cornerback for Florida State, after converting from safety, he's more of an impactful and rare talent when he's able to roam the center of the field. The Jaguars have taken a liking to Florida prospects early on in recent years, as they've drafted the in-state Blake Bortles and Dante Fowler Jr. in back-to-back drafts. Ramsey's addition would take the team one step closer to fielding quality Cover 3 personnel.

6. Baltimore Ravens: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi

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    We know: Baltimore just took Breshad Perriman in the last draft. That's fine. As we learned in 2015, a team needs more than one quality receiver to function in today's NFL. Take the Green Bay Packers, for example. Even Randall Cobb and Aaron Rodgers weren't enough at times.

    Is Perriman another Cobb? Is Joe Flacco another Rodgers?

    Steve Smith Sr. is returning for another season, but plans for the future must be in order now. We've been spoiled recently by the rookie years of receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. Historically, it takes wideouts two or three years to get comfortable at the next level.

    Laquon Treadwell is a younger, slightly slower version of Dez Bryant. If you want a player to overtake Smith's aggressive style of play while providing tangible upside, this is a slam dunk. It can be argued that he's the best player on the board, and the drop from Treadwell to the second-best receiver may be equivalent to a full round's value.

7. San Francisco: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

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    To put it plainly, the San Francisco 49ers were deceived last season when their right tackle Anthony Davis retired. Joe Staley is still one of the best left tackles in the game, but San Francisco's offensive line quickly went from a massive strength to an average unit. That must change.

    Chip Kelly isn't going to have much personnel power in The Bay, but he's still going to voice his opinion in the war room. His first draft pick as an NFL head coach in Philadelphia was right tackle Lane Johnson. We may see history repeat itself here.

    Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame is still raw, but a slow transition from an immediate starter on the right side of the line to Staley's eventual successor on the left side of the line seems logical. It wouldn't surprise me if Stanley was drafted as high as third overall, but he needs the right home, and Kelly's zone system in San Francisco is the perfect marriage.

8. Miami Dolphins: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

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    Associated Press

    There's nothing special here. The Miami Dolphins' linebackers are horrible. They have been for years. With new coaches in, you'd figure they'd be wise enough to realize that what the old staff was on track for didn't work and led to its firing.

    Myles Jack is a rare talent at linebacker, a freak athlete who not only can clean up in the ground game but is a threat in pass coverage. He's the second coming of Bobby Wagner. It seems like more and more playoff teams have at least one great coverage linebacker. Jamie Collins, Deone Bucannon, Brandon Marshall and Carolina's trio of Luke Kuechley, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson were featured in the conference championships.

    Jack's speed in a warm-weather climate will make him a dangerous threat. If these two sides managed to pair up, he'd have to be the leading defensive rookie of the year candidate.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Shaq Lawson, EDGE, Clemson

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    Tampa Bay has built its defense around the interior pressure of Gerald McCoy, which is fine in a vacuum, but it has ignored the 4-3 defensive end position to the point where its edge defenders aren't even coming away with a decent amount of cleanup sacks off McCoy's penetration. As of right now, the Buccaneers have William Gholston, Jacquies Smith, George Johnson, T.J. Fatinikun, Howard Jones, Kourtnei Brown and Martin Ifedi slated to return to the squad in that unit in 2016.

    That's not exactly a who's who of pass-rushers. Even when you look at other teams with great 3-technique defensive tackles, they still have players who can capitalize on teammate's generated pressure. How much does Carlos Dunlap owe Geno Atkins in Cincinnati?

    Tampa Bay quit on its Michael Johnson experiment after one season. It needs new hope at the position.

    Shaq Lawson would be a great candidate. As far as 4-3 defensive ends go, he's the second-best in this class, behind only Joey Bosa of Ohio State. At Clemson, Lawson led the country with tackles for losses with 25.5 in 2015, his first season as a starter for the Tigers. He's going to remind teams of a better version of Frank Clark, who as a rookie last season with the Seattle Seahawks came away with three sacks off the bench.

    Lawson is a disciplined run defender with a stout frame that looks to be in the 6'2", 270-pound range based on broadcasts. He uses his height to his advantage by using low leverage. He's a player who typically would rack up more tackles for losses than sacks at the NFL level on a relative scale of pass-rushers, but if he links up with McCoy, it shouldn't shock anyone if he became a double-digit sack artist.

10. New York Giants: Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Mississippi

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    Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the New York Giants could use some big time help on the defensive side of the ball. Defenders typically aren't stars in the fantasy football era of this sport, but how many players on the Giants defense can the average fan name, other than the one who made headline news with fireworks?

    Robert Nkemdiche is a top-five prospect in this class who isn't a top-10 football player at this point of his career, and he comes with some baggage himself. He was charged with marijuana possession before Mississippi's bowl game due to an incident in which he fell from a third-story hotel room in Atlanta.

    By all accounts, New York is one of the most family-orientated franchises in the league. Spots like New York, Green Bay and Pittsburgh are where players with motivational issues can go and turn around their careers.

    Johnathan Hankins is the big body for the Giants, but Markus Kuhn and Barry Cofield are on pace to hit free agency, while Jay Bromley, the team's third-round pick from the 2014 class, isn't ready to take over as a full-time starter yet. At defensive tackle, the team seems to like longer players, and Nkemdiche's 6'5" frame fits into New York's mold.

11. Chicago Bears: DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon

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    Don't get DeForest Buckner wrong. If you think he's some Jason Pierre-Paul type of pass-rusher, you're out of line. He's going to be an all-around 5-technique defensive end and a 3-4 building block, not a double-digit sack contender.

    Last year, San Francisco, which was Vic Fangio's previous employer, took Arik Armstead in the middle of the first round. In Fangio's second season as the Bears' defensive coordinator, there's a great shot at him taking a swing on Buckner, who was Armstead's teammate at Oregon. Chicago is still transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense, and it needs the right type of bodies to take the next step as playoff hopefuls.

    As of this moment, Ourlads lists four 3-4 defensive ends on the Bears' 2016 roster. Only one, Keith Browner, who is on the squad with a futures contract, is over 6'3". Their best under-contract end is Will Sutton, who is 6'0" and change. At a position that values length, that's strange.

    Buckner is 6'7" but also knows how to make himself skinny, limiting his surface area to get into the backfield. He finished his senior year on a hot streak, registering at least a half-sack in his last eight games and recording an eight-sack total for the stretch. He finished the year with 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for losses, good enough to earn All-American honors and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award.

12. New Orleans Saints: Andrew Billings, DL, Baylor

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    The New Orleans Saints allowed the second-largest number of total yards and allowed the most points scored on an individual team in 2015. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has been fired, but that bandage won't solve all of the Saints' problems.

    Sometimes, it's the Jims and Joes. Rookie linebackers Hau'oli Kikaha and Stephone Anthony had quality seasons for New Orleans, but outside of them and star Cameron Jordan, there's not much hope for improved progress in 2016. The team needs to take the best defender available on either the line or backfield.

    In this scenario, it's Andrew Billings, a nose tackle for the Baylor Bears and a great one at that. At only 19 years old, he's explosive, which makes him a perfect candidate to play 3- or 1-technique for a 4-3 defense. Many don't consider the Baylor product to be drafted this early on, but when NFL general managers get ahold of his combine numbers, expect him to be a quick riser.

13. Philadelphia Eagles: Cody Whitehair, IOL, Kansas State

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    The last time the Philadelphia Eagles took an over-age guard in the first round, it was Danny Watkins. Hopefully, this time it will go smoother.

    Cody Whitehair (23) of Kansas State was one of the more dominant offensive linemen in college football last season. Playing left tackle for the Wildcats, he was clearly the best lineman in the Big 12, at least on the offensive side of the ball.

    If not for his frame, which may come in under 6'4", he would be talked about as one of the better tackle prospects in the country. If he does measure in around 6'3", expect him to be looked at as a guard in terms of projection, the same position he's going to play at this week's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

    Taking a guard in the first round is not a pretty pick, but the position hamstrung the Eagles last season. With a new coaching staff in, the task of cleaning up former head coach Chip Kelly's personnel mess will start immediately.

14. Oakland Raiders: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

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    The Oakland Raiders' front office comes from a linage of strong philosophy. Many think that the tall cornerback craze started in Seattle, but the Green Bay Packers had been taking advantage of long defensive backs since the bust of Ahmad Carroll. The link between the two franchises? The Seahawks' general manager, John Schneider, was on the Packers' staff under the Green Bay's current general manager, Ted Thompson.

    Oakland's general manager, Reggie McKenzie, also worked under Thompson before taking his current gig. If you look at his recent work, you'd also agree that his squad targets long boundary players. Two notables are David Amerson, 6'1" (who was signed) and Keith McGill, 6'3" (who was drafted). Another draft selection, D.J. Hayden, hasn't quite panned out. On top of that Charles Woodson isn't hanging around as a safety net to coach up young cornerbacks, either.

    If the Raiders want to improve their secondary, a step that might get them into the playoffs, they must do it swiftly. The problem is that the most highly touted corners in this class are Vernon Hargreaves III of Florida (5'11") and Mackensie Alexander of Clemson (5'10"), who both have great film but have height concerns in terms of next level projection.

    Eli Apple was a surprise declaration from Ohio State. The 6'1" 20-year-old capped off his college career as the Fiesta Bowl MVP, turning professional after just his sophomore year. He's a talented player who didn't want to be caught in Columbus while the rest of the defense went on an exodus to the NFL. If you're looking for a long cornerback in the first round, the only real option is Apple.

15. Los Angeles Rams: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

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    A move from being the quarterback in Fargo, North Dakota, to starting in Los Angeles would be huge for Carson Wentz, the hottest name in the draft world. Wentz was either hurt or hidden away in an FCS dome for a majority of his senior year, but after he recovered from his broken wrist to give the Bison a national championship, the buzz surrounding him has reached a fever pitch.

    Wentz went from being a dark-horse first-round pick to one who might not even be there for the fourth overall selection. It's still hard to believe that he'll be one of the top two passers off the board, but the middle of the first round includes both the Rams and Houston Texans, which are possible landing spots for the quarterback.

    Jeff Fisher can only hover between 6-10 and 9-7 for so long before he eventually loses his job in a major market. That's a fine record if you're tucked away in Nashville or St. Louis, but Los Angeles represents the big time.

    Nick Foles isn't the answer. Case Keenum isn't the answer. Sean Mannion more than likely isn't the answer.

    Wentz has all the tools you could ask for, plus experience as a leader in an established program. He may take some years to develop, but this would be one of the few ways the Fisher experiment could go right for the Rams.

16. Detroit Lions: Sheldon Rankins, DL, Louisville

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    It's never easy to replace talented defensive tackles. It's never easy to replace former first-round picks. The Detroit Lions had to replace two players in the intersecting Venn diagram last offseason after Ndamukong Suh signed with the Miami Dolphins and Nick Fairley joined the Rams.

    The Lions traded for Haloti Ngata, who is now 32 years old, but he isn't a long-term addition. As of now, their defensive tackles are Caraun Reid, a fifth-round pick from two drafts ago; Gabe Wright, who was a rookie fourth-round pick last year; Khyri Thornton, who has been on three teams since this past summer; C.J. Wilson, a longtime backup; and Kerry Hyder, a third-year undrafted player with one game of experience under his belt. The Lions couldn't replace two players in the unit in one offseason, so the healing will have to spill into the 2016 draft.

    One candidate who could fill the vacancy is Sheldon Rankins of Louisville. Many don't see him landing in the first half of the first round, but he's the best defensive tackle at the Senior Bowl, and he could raise this stock there and at the combine. He's strong, runs with a high motor and is explosive. He can play either 3- or 1-technique, depending on what the Lions end up doing with Ngata, whose contract is expiring.

17. Atlanta Falcons: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons need help in the air game. Kyle Shanahan's offense started hot at the beginning of the 2015 regular season, but when the running game started to be less dominant down the stretch, resulting in the "just throw to Julio Jones" game plan, that's when the Falcons went from potential NFC South champions at 5-0 to falling out of the playoffs at 8-8.

    Roddy White is 34 years old, and he will be 35 years old next season. Jones and quarterback Matt Ryan need someone to take the heat off them.

    Michael Thomas is a great candidate to fit in with the Atlanta offense. As Keyshawn Johnson's nephew, his bloodlines don't suggest top-end speed, but he has just about everything else. He's a scrappy competitor who comes down with more jump balls than not. A functional receiver who contends for everything thrown his way? That's exactly what the Falcons need opposite of Jones to keep defenses honest.

18. Indianapolis Colts: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

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    Protect the franchise. The Indianapolis Colts must protect the franchise.

    Since drafting Andrew Luck in 2012, the Colts have basically ignored the offensive line in an attempt to spend all their resources on skill players, from Trent Richardson to Phillip Dorsett. The result? Luck missed a large stretch of games in 2015 due to a lacerated kidney. Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst also went down with injuries, forcing an off-the-street Josh Freeman to start a Week 17 game for Indianapolis.

    Jack Mewhort is playing right tackle, but his best projection has always been inside at guard. If the Colts were able to secure a quality right tackle such as Ohio State's Taylor Decker, then they could improve two positions in one move by kicking Mewhort to the interior.

    Decker wins not with athleticism but with his long and strong approach at 6'6". He's the second-best offensive tackle out of the box, only behind Laremy Tunsil, the leader in the race for the first overall pick.

19. Buffalo Bills: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    If you didn't get the message yet, a lot of former Ohio State Buckeyes are going to be drafted in the first round. The Buffalo Bills could use a lot of help in plenty of places, but Nigel Bradham, the team's "Will" linebacker, is the only non-offensive line starter who is slated to hit the open market.

    A quality replacement for him, if he does walk, is Darron Lee. He is on the smaller side of the spectrum at 6'1" and 235 pounds, but he's also rangy. For a Will linebacker in a 4-3 defense, the majority of the run assignments involve running down the back of a play. Length and size doesn't matter there, just closing speed and tackling ability, two categories where Lee scores well in.

    Only a sophomore, Lee has plenty of time to grow. A young, talented linebacker who gets to be coached by Rex Ryan makes for the start of a Pro Bowl story.

20. New York Jets: Noah Spence, EDGE, Eastern Kentucky

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    If you're wondering how Eastern Kentucky put out a first-round edge defender, it had some help. Noah Spence only played for the Colonels for one season after transferring from Ohio State, where he was suspended him due to failed drug tests.

    From a talent perspective, Spence is the second-best pass-rusher in this draft class, only behind Joey Bosa, his former teammate. As far as 3-4 outside linebacker prospects go, he's first on the list.

    How much can you trust him, though? That depends on what situation you're in. The New York Jets already have a top-five defense, despite the fact that their pass-rushing combo on the edges is below standards. After cutting their former first-round pick, Quinton Coples, midseason, they really need to invest in an outside linebacker this year.

    Spence is a plug-and-play right outside linebacker who has flexibility in his hips to run around offensive tackles. His body control is 85 percent of Von Miller's, which any team will take.

21. Washington Redskins: A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama

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    A'Shawn Robinson is a giant human. Standing at 6'4" and 320 pounds, he has a body that any 3-4 general manager would drool over. His combo of length, strength and frame makes him a candidate to play either 0- or 5-technique in the NFL.

    2015 brought in a new defensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins: Joe Barry. In his first year, the team signed Terrance Knighton to a one-year "prove it" deal as a nose tackle. If Knighton doesn't re-sign with the team, there's going to be, very literally, a huge hole in the center of the defense.

    Robinson has the size and tools to get on the field on day one while he develops into his technique. He's a big reason why LSU's Leonard Fournette was shut down in Alabama's matchup. Robinson also leaped over the Tigers' long-snapper on the way to a blocked field goal in that game, an amazing feat for someone his size.

22. Houston Texans: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

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    You're never in a good spot when you're taking the fourth first-round quarterback in a draft class, but beggars can't be choosers, and the Houston Texans are beggars. Do they trust Brian Hoyer to lead the team into the playoffs? Do they trust Tom Savage? What about Brandon Weeden, T.J. Yates or B.J. Daniels?

    The answer to all of those questions should be no. Connor Cook is widely regarded as the next quarterback on everyone's draft board and for good reason. He looks the part at 6'4" and 220 pounds. He played on a team that won 36 games over his three years as a starter. He also doesn't have any physical limitations.

    For a quarterback whisperer, like head coach Bill O'Brien is tabbed to be, Cook is hard to pass up. He may not have the consistent accuracy that you'd like from an NFL passer, but if Blake Bortles, who was also a project, can go third overall, Cook can go in the middle of the first round.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

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    Josh Doctson isn't going to wow you with athleticism, but he is going to be a quality pass-catcher in the NFL. In many ways, he's the opposite of Cordarrelle Patterson, who at this point is trending toward being a bust after going in the first round in 2013.

    Teddy Bridgewater has a speed demon in Stefon Diggs, but now he needs a consistent threat across from him. Doctson has great hands and routes and contests for jump balls with intentions of hauling in every pass.

    The wideout compares a lot to Keenan Allen of the San Diego Chargers, who has 2,554 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns in two-and-a-half seasons of production. Allen ran a 4.71 40-yard dash, fanning the fire to his sliding draft stock in 2013. At the end of the day, though, the good outweighed the bad, and the 23-year-old former third-round pick is now one of the better young targets in the league. I doubt the NFL is going to make the same mistake by allowing Doctson to slip out of the first round.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

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    The Cincinnati Bengals have been known as a cheap franchise for years, dating back to the 1980s. Mike Brown just doesn't want to shell out big money to coaches, players or scouts, and that's fine. The team does have to take alternatives when building the roster, though.

    Sometimes, the Bengals have to bring in characters like Vontaze Burfict or Adam "Pacman" Jones to compete in the AFC North. Sometimes, they take undersized players like Geno Atkins (6'1", 300 lbs). This draft, there's an opportunity to steal a top-10 talent at the end of the first round because of injury.

    The Bengals have been held back by their quarterback play, but on the defensive side of the ball, their weakness is at linebacker. Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame is right behind Myles Jack in terms of talent for an off-the-ball linebacker, but Smith is going through rehab for a reconstructed knee, per Chris Mortensen of ESPN, as he suffered a major injury to his left knee in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.

    He may not be ready to play in the first half of 2016, but for a team like Cincinnati, which has the patience to sit on a talent, this is an ideal landing spot.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

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    NFL teams take into account risk and reward when making draft picks. Small cornerbacks? High risk. Players with the talent of Vernon Hargreaves III? High reward.

    For a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who desperately need help at cornerback, this could be Hargreaves' floor on draft day. A Joe Haden clone, the Florida product does well in coverage for his size (5'11", 192 lbs), but his ability to tackle and contribute in the ground game was a concern against Tennessee. The two traits you don't want in a smaller cornerback are shoulder issues and poor tackling.

    If Pittsburgh could put Hargreaves in a situation where his run-pass conflict in zone defense is minimized, then this selection could end up being the steal of the first round.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

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    Much like Ronnie Stanley, another in-state bookend, Jason Spriggs of Indiana is more of a prospect than a pro player at this point. He's a great mover and protected Nate Sudfeld's blind side for the Hoosiers, but he looks thin with his 6'7", 305-pound frame.

    For too long, the Seattle Seahawks have punted the subject of the offensive line. They traded away their star center Max Unger for Jimmy Graham. Their left tackle Russell Okung has an expiring contract and a history of injuries. Justin Britt was a failure as an offensive tackle and in his second year was transitioned to guard. Two others, J.R. Sweezy and Kristjan Sokoli, were defensive linemen at the college level.

    The Seahawks have basically turned to offensive line coach, and former Oakland Raider head coach, Tom Cable and said "figure it out." If Spriggs joined the Seahawks, he'd be the second-most physically talented lineman that Cable has been able to get his hands on during his time in Seattle.

27. Green Bay Packers: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

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    This is another one of those risk-reward spectrum selections. Reggie Ragland is a great run defender but can be a liability in coverage at times. To me, there's no coincidence as to why he dropped down on the line of scrimmage as a defensive end on third down at times.

    Still, even if he's limited in passing situations, the Green Bay Packers need a lot of help in the center of their 3-4 defense. It seems like since their Super Bowl run, their weakness has been the defensive triangle between their inside linebackers and nose tackle.

    If the Packers draft a player of Ragland's caliber, they can move Clay Matthews back to 3-4 outside linebacker, which would help Green Bay in the long run. By the end of 2015, the team's top four non-Matthews outside linebackers were Julius Peppers, Mike Neal, Nick Perry and Datone Jones. Peppers is 36 years old. Neal and Perry are on track to be free agents. Jones is a 3-4 defensive end by nature.

    By just making the Packers' inside linebacker unit average, Ragland can reshape how Dom Capers' entire defense functions.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

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    Marcus Peters was the best rookie defensive back from the 2015 draft class, and he proved it during 2015. With Peters looking like a young Charles Woodson, the Kansas City Chiefs have their next star in the making. The issue in their secondary wasn't their rookie but who played opposite of him.

    Sean Smith and Jamell Fleming are set to leave the team this offseason, and third-year player Phillip Gaines has been up-and-down in terms of play. Could the Chiefs pick a cornerback with their top selection in back-to-back years? It's absolutely on the table when a player of Mackensie Alexander's talent is still on the board.

    The NFL's obsession with tall cornerbacks may come back to haunt teams. While length does help, there are only so many bodies to go around when there are now three receivers and three cornerbacks on the field for a majority of snaps. If your baseline is that a cornerback has to be 6'0", you're going to put a lot of development on your positional coaches.

    Alexander was the best defender outside of Clemson's defensive line on the ACC title team. If he were two inches taller, we'd be talking about a top-10 pick, based off his coverage ability and ball skills.

29. Arizona Cardinals: Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    There were about eight future NFL players on Alabama's championship defensive line, and some of them didn't get their due. Jarran Reed was one of them.

    Reed at 6'4" and 313 pounds can play any spot in a 3-4 defense, the same one the Crimson Tide and the Arizona Cardinals both run. Phil Savage, the former general manager of the Cleveland Browns and now the king of the Senior Bowl, echoed the same thoughts this week in the event's first press conference: 

    Phil Savage believes Alabama DL Jarran Reed can play in any front. 4-3 DT, 3-4 DE or 3-4 NG. That's huge for draft value.

    — Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) January 25, 2016 

    Calais Campbell is an established threat to any offensive line, but the player opposite of him in 2016 is a question mark. Frostee Rucker is a fine player, but he's already 32 years old. Reed could even come in and play nose tackle for Rodney Gunter, who has a similar frame, too. You can never have too many players on the defensive line, the most impactful and heavily rotated unit on the defensive side of the ball.

30. Denver Broncos: Joshua Garnett, IOL, Stanford

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    Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

    Joshua Garnett is a bully. Stanford's offense is based a lot on power football, which means Garnett, a guard, is executing down blocks, nailing unsuspecting defenders from the side or pulling, kicking out free defenders in space, often.

    For the majority of Peyton Manning's career, he's had a zone running game backing him. Now, under Gary Kubiak, it's often more power-based. Evan Mathis is going to be a free agent next season, and Louis Vasquez and Tyler Polumbus are the only guards set to be on the 2016 summer roster. There's plenty of room for another quality guard in Denver.

    This is point in the draft where positional value starts to matter less. Would you rather have an A-grade guard or a C-grade pass-rusher with the 30th overall pick? For a team that is trying to make more title runs in the near future, I'd assume Denver would swing with the un-sexy talent.

    Christian McCaffrey owes Garnett plenty for his success. Garnett would be able to do something special for McCaffrey's father's former NFL franchise, too. 

31. Carolina Panthers: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The Carolina Panthers have a loaded defense and a high-powered gap run-based offense and turned an offensive line of mismatched pieces into a Super Bowl team. What could they possibly ask for in the draft?

    The team will return Kelvin Benjamin, its 2014 first-round pick, next year. Both Benjamin and Devin Funchess, the rookie second-round pick, are similar receivers, though. They are both big-body pass-catchers. What the Panthers need is an upgrade on their deep threat, Ted Ginn Jr., who has at least one brutal drop every game.

    Corey Coleman of Baylor is an incredible deep threat who averaged more than 18 yards per reception for his 2015 season. He caught 74 passes for 1,363 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Bears this year, despite the fact that the offense went through four different quarterbacks. West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen also called him the best player in college football after their matchup.