2016 NFL Mock Draft: Top Prospects, Projections Before Super Bowl 50

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2016

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, of the North Team, throws a 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

Although Super Bowl 50 has dominated the headlines for the past couple weeks, the 2016 NFL draft will take center stage in the football world after the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers get finished battling for the championship Sunday night.

This year's class features far more depth than high-end, guaranteed stars. That leaves plenty of room for movement in the rankings between now and draft day. It's already started in a major way with quarterback Carson Wentz potentially pushing his way into the top five.

Let's check out a complete mock draft for the opening round based on how things currently shape up. That's followed by a deeper dive into the top trio of projected selections.

First-Round Mock Draft

2016 NFL Draft: Predictions for Round 1
1Tennessee TitansLaremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
2Cleveland BrownsCarson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
3San Diego ChargersJoey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
4Dallas CowboysMyles Jack, OLB, UCLA
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
6Baltimore RavensRonnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
7San Francisco 49ersJared Goff, QB, California
8Miami DolphinsShaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersVernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
10New York GiantsEzekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
11Chicago BearsNoah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky
12New Orleans SaintsLaquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
13Philadelphia EaglesDeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
14Oakland RaidersMackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
15Los Angeles RamsPaxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
16Detroit LionsDarron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
17Atlanta FalconsAndrew Billings, DT, Baylor
18Indianapolis ColtsTaylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
19Buffalo BillsJaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame
20New York JetsLeonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
21Washington RedskinsA'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
22Houston TexansConnor Cook, QB, Michigan State
23Minnesota VikingsReggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
24Cincinnati BengalsCorey Coleman, WR, Baylor
25Pittsburgh SteelersEli Apple, CB, Ohio State
26Seattle SeahawksShon Coleman, OT, Auburn
27Green Bay PackersJarran Reed, DT, Alabama
28Kansas City ChiefsJonathan Bullard, DE, Florida
29Arizona CardinalsRobert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
30Denver BroncosJack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
31Carolina PanthersMichael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
Mock Draft

Breaking Down Top Picks

1. Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

Marcus Mariota enjoyed a solid rookie campaign with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 12 games en route to a 91.5 passer rating. The Titans hope he can fill the franchise quarterback void for the foreseeable future. Now it's time to build around him.

Fixing the offensive line is a major part of that process. Tennessee allowed a league-high 54 sacks during the regular season. That's why the potential of adding a high-upside tackle like Tunsil will probably be too much to pass up with the first pick.

The Ole Miss product possesses a rare combination of size (6'5'', 305 pounds), small-area quickness and raw power. Once he becomes acclimated with the speed of the NFL game and polishes his technique, he's going to become a major force.

Joe Buscaglia of WKBW provided a snapshot of why there's so much hype:

It will be intriguing to see if college teammate Laquon Treadwell generates some attention with this pick. That wouldn't be a surprise since the Titans could use wide receivers, too. But Tunsil represents the safer route and would fill a key need for Tennessee right away.

2. Cleveland Browns: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

Wentz was viewed more as a fringe first-round selection as recently as the latter stages of the college season. A middling quarterback class combined with some solid showings during Senior Bowl week have allowed him to skyrocket toward the top.

That doesn't mean he's a top-five lock, though. There's a certain ebb and flow to the process, and the scrutiny will increase now that he's being viewed so favorably. But at the very least he's given himself a chance to earn the top QB spot against the likes of Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch.

The North Dakota State standout isn't letting the situation get to his head, however. John Harris of the Washington Post passed along comments from the fast-rising prospect about how he's handling a sudden jump to the forefront.

"I try to stay really humble, grounded," Wentz said. "I'm a faith-based person so I realize that I'm nothing special. I'm just another guy trying to impact the world. I have good people in my life that'll put me back in my place."

Ultimately, the winner of the class' quarterback battle could very well end up with the Browns. Josh McCown wasn't terrible this past season but, at age 36, he's not the long-term answer. Wentz would give Cleveland some much-needed hope for the future.

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

In order to become a building-block defender on the edge, it's no longer enough to just rush the passer. Players like J.J. Watt and Khalil Mack are impacting the game in so many more ways, which puts a lot more pressure on the opposing offenses to keep them in check.

Bosa isn't on that level yet, but he's got the raw tools to eventually turn into one of those all-around threats on the defensive side. He illustrated that while racking up 51 total tackles, five sacks, four pass breakups and an interception during his final season with the Buckeyes.

The Chargers need more playmakers like that on defense. They ranked 24th during the regular season with just 20 takeaways. It's difficult to have consistent success on the defensive side when a team isn't forcing opponents into more mistakes.

Joe Marino of Draft Breakdown is bullish on Bosa's ability to make a major impact:

San Diego has several important needs, so it could go a couple different directions with this pick. An offensive tackle, likely Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley if Tunsil is off the board, is another option. But Bosa is the best value at this spot.