NFL Draft 2016: Post-Super Bowl Order and Projections for Top Prospects

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2016

Nov 28, 2015; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) celebrates after a two point conversion against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. The California Golden Bears defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils 48-46. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

For the most intense of football fanatics, the Super Bowl doesn't mark the end of the season. It simply marks the beginning of a new season. 

Draft season. 

With the Denver Broncos' coronation just two days old, the NFL's attention now swings to its biggest offseason spectacle. The complete order for the first round is now settled, so teams can focus all of their attention on bringing in the best of this year's crop of talent. 

The Broncos used the second pick in the 2011 draft to choose now-Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. Maybe the Browns' choice at No. 2 will also be the most valuable player on the biggest stage five years from now (probably not). 

Here's a look at the complete order, along with projections for each pick. Then, we offer a closer look at some of the draft's biggest first-round wild cards. Spoiler alert: They're all teams in the top 10 that may or may not take a quarterback. 

2016 Post-Super Bowl Mock Draft
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
3San Diego ChargersJoey BosaDLOhio State
4Dallas CowboysJared GoffQBCalifornia
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyDBFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
7San Francisco 49ersRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
8Miami DolphinsMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersNoah SpenceEDGEEastern Kentucky
10New York GiantsEmmanuel OgbahEDGEOklahoma State
11Chicago BearsMyles JackLBUCLA
12New Orleans SaintsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
13Philadelphia EaglesPaxton LynchQBMemphis
14Oakland RaidersVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
15Los Angeles RamsWill FullerWRNotre Dame
16Detroit LionsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
17Atlanta FalconsReggie RaglandLBAlabama
18Indianapolis ColtsShaq LawsonEDGEClemson
19Buffalo BillsDeForest BucknerDLOregon
20New York JetsLeonard FloydEDGEGeorgia
21WashingtonA'Shawn RobinsonDLAlabama
22Houston TexansEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
23Minnesota VikingsTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
24Cincinnati BengalsMichael ThomasWROhio State
25Pittsburgh SteelersEli AppleCBOhio State
26Seattle SeahawksRobert NkemdicheDLOle Miss
27Green Bay PackersJarran ReedDLAlabama
28Kansas City ChiefsKenny ClarkDLUCLA
29Arizona CardinalsJonathan BullardDLFlorida
30Carolina PanthersJayron KearseSClemson
31Denver BroncosCody WhitehairOGKansas State
Author's Projections

Cleveland Browns: Which Quarterback Will They Take?

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

With Hue Jackson taking over the Cleveland Browns, it appears that the Johnny  "Billy" Manziel era is over in Cleveland. 

It also means that the No. 2 pick is likely to be the first quarterback off the board. While California's Jared Goff has dominated that conversation for the latter half of college football season, the Browns' actual pick might raise some eyebrows. 

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz's stock is rising and could continue to shoot all the way up to No. 2. As Dane Brugler of CBS Sports notes, the Browns might love Wentz for one specific reason: He's about as far removed from Johnny Manziel as possible on and off the field:

Both are athletic passers with winning resumes, but in many ways, Wentz is the anti-Manziel. The former Bison quarterback is built well for the NFL at 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds and has above average arm strength to stand tall in the pocket and deliver with velocity. He is also squeaky-clean off the field with the football character that will endear him to NFL coaches. Wentz is a 4.0 GPA student and already prepares like a pro with the study habits that translate to success on the field.

The obvious retort to taking Wentz so early is that it's tough to take a quarterback whose experience is limited to the FCS level. That's a legitimate concern; however, there's at least anecdotal evidence that a quarterback can come from the FCS level and succeed in the NFL. 

Joe Flacco, Tony Romo and Kurt Warner all played their college football at the FCS level and would be marked improvements over what the Browns have had at the position for years. 

The truth is that teams need to draft based on skills and traits, not which name was on a prospect's jersey. In that regard, Wentz has proved to be intriguing. His performance throughout Senior Bowl week had draft analysts such as Rob Rang of CBS Sports believing in the Wentz-to-Cleveland hype:

Rob Rang @RobRang

Browns should mark this date. Will soon be known as day Johnny Manziel unofficially left the team & Carson Wentz, unofficially, replaced him

The Browns are usually a player in the draft. Under this new regime, the hope is that they're actually making a good move for once. The franchise opting to take the big signal-caller from an FCS school over Goff would be the first curveball of the night. 

Dallas Cowboys: Help Tony Romo or Find His Replacement?

In the above video, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller explains why Wentz's best fit would be the Dallas Cowboys. In this scenario, he isn't available, but they might get an even better quarterback in the process. 

Goff would make a nice addition to the Cowboys roster as well. 

Dallas is stuck in a unique position at No. 4. On one hand, the Cowboys already have a strong quarterback in Tony Romo. One of the reasons they are drafting this high is because Romo only appeared in four games this season. 

Dallas could help itself out by using its top-five pick on a player who could immediately help Romo elevate the team back to contention in the thin NFC East. 

On the other hand, it isn't often that a team in Dallas' position can utilize this high of a draft pick to replace a quarterback like Romo. 

The Cowboys could look to free agency to fill their need for a quarterback for the future. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reports that sources have indicated Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III could be a potential target. 

Again, this is a decision that comes down to opportunity. If Romo plays this season, the Cowboys are likely a lot closer to .500 than they were with Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore taking snaps. This opportunity isn't one they want to pass up on if they can't find the quarterback of the future through other means. 

Ultimately, Goff might be too good of a prospect to pass on at this point. His accuracy and quick release make him an ideal quarterback to utilize the many weapons that Dallas has on offense including Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. 

If the Cowboys opt to go quarterback, it will put additional pressure on other quarterback-needy teams. Paxton Lynch is the only other quarterback in Matt Miller's top 50. 

San Francisco 49ers: Is It Time to Move on from the Kaepernick Era?

Another team in the top 10 with a decision to make at the quarterback position is the San Francisco 49ers. 

Chip Kelly's reign with the Philadelphia Eagles produced some tumultuous results, but his team was never shy about making offseason moves. Part of the Kelly narrative is that he's learned from his mistakes as a general manager, but it's still going to be hard to get a read on what the Niners envision for their roster. 

The first order of business is deciding whether Colin Kaepernick is done with the organization. For his part, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that Kaepernick still wants out but his interest in the Jets is unrequited in New York:

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Was reported months ago. Hiring of Chip Kelly changed nothing. He's done nothing to build a relationship and a trade remains very likely...

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Bottom line with Kaepernick - jets have not and are not interested. Colin has wanted out for quite some time and this impending divorce...

However, with Kelly taking the reins of the offense, Kaepernick could potentially be talked into sticking around. After all, Kelly is known for his innovative philosophies and schemes. Theoretically, if anyone can make the most of Kaepernick's unique skill set, it's Kelly. 

If the 49ers realize that they can't get any return for their beleaguered quarterback, they might try to patch up that relationship. In fact, it might be the best route for the franchise to go. 

If they address their need for a quarterback by retaining Kaepernick, the 49ers can switch their focus to building the roster through a best-player-available model. In this case, that would be Ronnie Stanley. 

When San Francisco had been successful in the past, it's because it had a dominating offensive line. Stanley fits that bill and would give the team an injection of youth up front that's suited to run Kelly's uptempo offense. 


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