The jump from college football to the NFL is a tougher one than the most casual fan can appreciate. Success during a player's collegiate career doesn’t necessarily translate to success in college, which is why every draft pick is an immense risk for a franchise.
Until the teams take the field, no one really knows who is going to succeed immediately, who is going to take some time to develop and who is going to bottom out and turn into this generation's Ryan Leaf.
But every year, there are players who find plenty of success from the first day they step on the football field, even if they aren’t going to reach their full potential for years to come. Players like Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley from last season’s draft were NFL-ready from the moment they declared for the draft and played as such in their rookie campaigns.
To some extent, it is always going to be a guessing game, but barring an injury or some unforeseen development, here are some of the players with the best chance at immediate success in the NFL.
|2016 NFL Mock Draft|
|1||Tennessee Titans||Laremy Tunsil||OL||Ole Miss|
|2||Cleveland Browns||Jared Goff||QB||California|
|3||San Diego Chargers||Joey Bosa||DE||Ohio State|
|4||Dallas Cowboys||Myles Jack||LB||UCLA|
|5||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jalen Ramsey||DB||Florida State|
|6||Baltimore Ravens||Ronnie Stanley||OL||Notre Dame|
|7||San Francisco 49ers||Laquon Treadwell||WR||Ole Miss|
|8||Miami Dolphins||DeForest Buckner||DE||Oregon|
|9||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Shaq Lawson||DE||Clemson|
|10||New York Giants||Vernon Hargreaves||CB||Florida|
|11||Chicago Bears||A'Shawn Robinson||DT||Alabama|
|12||New Orleans Saints||Mackensie Alexander||CB||Clemson|
|13||Philadelphia Eagles||Emmanuel Ogbah||DE||Oklahoma State|
|14||Oakland Raiders||Leonard Floyd||LB||Georgia|
|15||Los Angeles Rams||Paxton Lynch||QB||Memphis|
|16||Detroit Lions||Taylor Decker||OL||Ohio State|
|17||Atlanta Falcons||Reggie Ragland||LB||Alabama|
|18||Indianapolis Colts||Jack Conklin||OL||Michigan State|
|19||Buffalo Bills||Robert Nkemdiche||DL||Ole Miss|
|20||New York Jets||Ezekiel Elliott||RB||Ohio State|
|22||Houston Texans||Carson Wentz||QB||North Dakota State|
|23||Minnesota Vikings||Michael Thomas||WR||Ohio State|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Kenny Clark||DT||UCLA|
|25||Pittsburgh Steelers||Eli Apple||CB||Ohio State|
|26||Seattle Seahawks||Darron Lee||LB||Ohio State|
|27||Green Bay Packers||Jarran Reed||DT||Alabama|
|28||Kansas City Chiefs||Sheldon Rankins||DE||Louisville|
|29||Arizona Cardinals||Noah Spence||DE||Eastern Kentucky|
|30||Denver Broncos||Jonathan Bullard||DE||Florida|
|31||Carolina Panthers||Jason Spriggs||OL||Indiana|
Most Explosive Players in the NFL Draft
DE Joey Bosa
Perhaps it is time we put to rest the comparisons between Joey Bosa and J.J. Watt. Besides being large, elite defensive ends who played in the Big Ten, the two don’t have a ton in common in terms of on-the-field product, and the comparisons are setting up Bosa for failure.
Is Bosa’s ceiling as high as Watt’s? Probably, but what are the odds of him reaching the level that the Houston superstar has, with many saying he has the potential to be the greatest player to ever play the position? That is a little less likely.
But that doesn’t mean that Bosa isn’t going to be great or that he can’t reach those levels. He could, it just isn’t as likely. One place that the two are incredibly similar, though, is their ability to immediately impact the league upon their arrival.
Bosa got some slack for his dropping sack numbers this year, but it is hard to improve statistics when he was seeing two or even three blockers on almost every snap and the rest of the Ohio State defensive line saw increased production as a result. He might not ever be Watt, but Bosa should be ready to perform at an elite level immediately.
QB Connor Cook
There might be nothing closer to a dice roll for NFL teams than drafting a quarterback in the opening round of the NFL draft. Cam Newton’s class of quarterbacks stands out as a perfect example of the odds of hitting on a signal-caller, with Newton rising above the first-round pack of Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder.
One of the biggest issues with quarterbacks taken so early is they often aren’t ready to take the reins of a team, but that is what they are drafted to do. Of this year’s crop of quarterbacks, perhaps the one with the highest chance of success, at least immediately upon entering the league, is Michigan State’s Connor Cook.
His performance during the latter stages of his time in East Lansing, Michigan, was a little worrying—see the Spartans' scoreless performance against Alabama for an example—but between his pro-style experience, his size and athleticism and his ability to make any throw needed of an NFL quarterback, Cook should be a no-brainer for a team in the first couple of rounds.
Cook’s ceiling is incredibly limited compared to some of his contemporaries, which is likely why he will fall out of the graces of teams at the top of the draft. But for a late first-round or early second-round quarterback, he will be ready to start right away and find a decent amount of success. Watch out for him as a dark horse for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
WR Laquon Treadwell
The negatives to drafting Laquon Treadwell: He probably isn’t going to get the top time in the 40-yard dash at the combine. The positives: everything else about his game.
He isn’t huge—not quite the giant Calvin Johnson is—but at 6'2", he is right at the height of the modern NFL receiver, at least in a scout's eyes. The strength that Treadwell displays more than makes up for anything he is lacking in the speed department, which isn’t much, and makes him an apt blocker as well.
But the biggest strength Treadwell brings to the league is the pure ability to catch the ball better than anyone else in the class. He doesn’t have the hands of Odell Beckham Jr., but he isn’t far behind and has the ability to turn a short catch into a huge gain in the blink of an eye.
Treadwell isn’t quite Amari Cooper—few are, to be fair—and expectations for his level of success as a rookie should be measured as such. But the Ole Miss product is easily one of the most exciting players in the draft and has the ability to instantly become the top option on any team that would spend a first-round pick on him.