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

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2016

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz sets back to pass during the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, at Ladd–Peebles Stadium, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The 2016 NFL draft is about to take center stage after the small matter of Super Bowl 50 is decided. 

We're less than two months away from the top college prospects finding new, professional homes, as NFL teams will look to improve their rosters via the draft. 

Here is my latest first-round mock draft. As a reminder, there are 31 picks in the first round because the New England Patriots had to forfeit their selection due to Deflategate:

2016 NFL Mock Draft: 1st Round
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsJared GoffQBCalifornia
3San Diego ChargersRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
4Dallas CowboysJoey BosaDEOhio State
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyCBFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
7San Francisco 49ersCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota St.
8Miami DolphinsVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersEmmanuel OgbahDEOklahoma State
10New York GiantsDeForest BucknerDEOregon
11Chicago BearsLeonard FloydDEGeorgia
12New Orleans SaintsMyles JackLBUCLA
13Philadelphia EaglesPaxton LynchQBMemphis
14Oakland RaidersJack ConklinOTMichigan State
15Los Angeles RamsMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
16Detroit LionsTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
17Atlanta FalconsShaq LawsonDEClemson
18Indianapolis ColtsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
19Buffalo BillsAndrew BillingsDTBaylor
20New York JetsDarron LeeLBOhio State
21Washington RedskinsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
22Houston TexansEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
23Minnesota VikingsTyler BoydWRPittsburgh
24Cincinnati BengalsJarran ReedDTAlabama
25Pittsburgh SteelersSu'a CravensSUSC
26Seattle SeahawksRobert NkemdicheDT/DEOle Miss
27Green Bay PackersKevin DoddDEClemson
28Kansas City ChiefsSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
29Arizona CardinalsShilique CalhounDE/LBMichigan State
30Denver BroncosShon ColemanOTAuburn
31Carolina PanthersKendall FullerCBVirginia Tech

The elite FBS talent has some company from an FCS player in North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. 

Coming off an FCS national championship, Wentz played in just seven games due to a wrist injury. After an eight-week hiatus, he was able to come back for the national championship game against Jacksonville State and lead the Bison to their fifth straight title. 

He's 6'6", 235 pounds and is a pro-style quarterback. He has a big arm and brings a confident presence to the pocket. Yet he isn't afraid to bring the ball down and run if forced to. Wentz has good speed given his size and could surprise a lot of scouts moving forward. 

While ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. says in the video above that Wentz is a second- or third-round selection, the quarterback has skyrocketed up mock drafts by impressing a lot of NFL teams during the week of the Senior Bowl. 

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah explained what he saw from Wentz:

North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz entered this week facing more pressure than any other prospect in Mobile. He was by far the highest-rated passer heading into the week of practice and everyone was eager to see how he would respond to the pressure and higher completion level. He responded with an outstanding performance. He displayed ideal size, arm strength and most importantly, poise. This moment wasn't too big for him. I'm looking forward to watching him play on Saturday, but he's already done enough to earn his spot in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

A number of teams could draft a quarterback this year. Unfortunately for them, the pickings are somewhat slim. Only Wentz, Memphis' Paxton Lynch and California's Jared Goff are bona fide first-rounders. 

Michigan State's Connor Cook and Penn State's Christian Hackenberg are options, but I don't see them going until later on in the draft. 

That means Wentz could go early to the likes of the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers or Philadelphia Eagles. 

Wherever he goes, the general consensus seems to indicate that Wentz is ready for the pros. 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.