NFL Mock Draft 2016: Updated Predictions for Top College Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2016

Clemson corner Mackensie Alexander continues to lead the way in 2016 draft talk.
Clemson corner Mackensie Alexander continues to lead the way in 2016 draft talk.Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The top college prospects take center stage with nothing much in the way of the NFL draft train.

With the Super Bowl over and the NBA All-Star Game in the past right alongside it, Laremy Tunsil, Joey Bosa, Jared Goff and more step into the spotlight on the road to the scouting combine and won't let up until more than 200 picks get called from the podium in Chicago.

As a way to prepare, here's a look at a mock draft based on team need and prospect value, both of which will change drastically along the way but mostly the latter.

Study up with the NFL draft now at the forefront.

2016 NFL Mock Draft

1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsJared GoffQBCalifornia
3San Diego ChargersRonnie StanleyOTNotre Dame
4Dallas CowboysJoey BosaDLOhio State
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyCB/SFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
7San Francisco 49ersMyles JackLBUCLA
8Miami DolphinsReggie RaglandLBAlabama
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersDeForest BucknerDEOregon
10New York GiantsJaylon SmithLBNotre Dame
11Chicago BearsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
12New Orleans SaintsPaxton LynchQBMemphis
13Philadelphia EaglesTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
14Oakland RaidersVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
15Los Angeles RamsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
16Detroit LionsEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
17Atlanta FalconsShilique CalhounDEMichigan State
18Indianapolis ColtsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
19Buffalo BillsJarran ReedDLAlabama
20New York JetsNoah SpenceDE/LBEastern Kentucky
21WashingtonLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
22Houston TexansRobert NkemdicheDLOle Miss
23Minnesota VikingsMichael ThomasWROhio State
24Cincinnati BengalsEmmanuel OgbahDEOklahoma State
25Pittsburgh SteelersEli AppleCBOhio State
26Seattle SeahawksShaq LawsonDE/LBClemson
27Green Bay PackersSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
28Kansas City ChiefsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
29Arizona CardinalsLeonard FloydLBGeorgia
30Carolina PanthersJosh DoctsonWRTCU
31Denver BroncosJason SpriggsOTIndiana
Author's projections.

Predictions for Top Prospects

2. Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California

The hype for Jared Goff continues to grow.

Not that it's hard to understand. Goff started three years at California and comes in at 6'4" and 215 pounds. He never completed less than 60 percent of his passes in a year, never threw more than 13 interceptions and tossed 35 or more touchdowns twice.

Stats are far from everything, of course. As Goff makes the rounds doing interviews, though, he continues to do nothing short of boost his stock. For example, he handled a question about going No. 2 to the Cleveland Browns with ease when speaking with MMQB's Peter King.

“I’m not worried about it. I’m excited about it. Whatever team I go to, I’ll be excited to go. I want to be the future of a franchise. I think I can be a guy who can make an impact right away.”

It's good Goff is ready because Cleveland is where he will call home. If he has his way, it'll be for a long time, too.

While it was fun to think about what new head coach Hue Jackson might do, such as chase Colin Kaepernick or some other experienced veteran quarterback, he's going to go and get his guy in the early goings of the draft.

Doing so isn't a proven strategy in Cleveland, but it might be now. Goff looks the part with smooth mechanics, an ability to read the field and hit most of the throws. An ability to develop quarterbacks after getting the most of Andy Dalton is why the front office brought in Jackson in the first place.

6. Baltimore Ravens: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

The Baltimore Ravens haven't drafted well in quite a long time, which is why the franchise seems to struggle more and more in an AFC North that simply won't drop in quality. 

Despite this, the front office has a chance to start turning things around at No. 6 this year, where a guy like Mackensie Alexander out of Clemson would work wonders.

Alexander only comes in at 5'11" and 195 pounds, but size is becoming less and less a requirement to play corner in the NFL with the increased necessity of having a third and fourth corner on the field at all times.

As NFL.com's Lance Zierlein broke down, Alexander holds up well in most coverages, meaning he won't come off the field often as a rookie:

However, he was consistently sticky in man coverage and played with the instincts and confidence needed from a true cover corner. Alexander’s confidence may border on cockiness at times, but that also seems to feed his competitive fire. Alexander may struggle early on, but should settle in to become a quality starter by his second year.

Baltimore gave up 25.1 points per game last season, a clear sign it's time to really start hitting home on that side of the ball in the draft. An improvement on the 37 sacks from last year would be nice, too, but situational rushers can be found in each of the first three rounds, whereas an immediate contributor in the secondary is usually exclusive to the first round.

Alexander will struggle like any rookie corner, but with how the division continues to shift more toward the pass (with Cleveland likely getting a shiny new quarterback, too), the front office cannot afford to keep missing in the secondary.

20. New York Jets: Noah Spence, DE/LB, Eastern Kentucky

Noah Spence was unstoppable at the Senior Bowl.
Noah Spence was unstoppable at the Senior Bowl.Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Those who didn't believe in the importance of a strong rush watched the Super Bowl in awe and learned something in the process, as Von Miller of the Denver Broncos carried Peyton Manning to a Lombardi Trophy while besting league MVP Cam Newton

Expect the lesson there to have an impact on the class in the first round. It makes it easier for a team like the New York Jets to take a risk on a guy like Noah Spence, who enters the proceedings with a checkered past.

Spence blew away the Senior Bowl, but there is still the whole leaving-Ohio State-after-off-field-issues-to-join-Eastern Kentucky thing hanging over his head.

For Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke, the issues haven't stopped him from mocking Spence as high as No. 6 to those Ravens:

A post on the Ravens’ website last week speculated that Spence could fall into Round 2. Forget it. But Baltimore could grab the edge-rushing dynamo here. Spence starred during Senior Bowl week, consistently beating tackles around the bend. Teams will have to dig into his character, but the talent is there to justify a top-10 spot.

The talent in the top 10 is easy to see, but it's hard to predict how the off-field stuff will shake out for Spence once he hits the detailed interview process. 

For now, No. 20 seems the floor. The Jets are a lot like the Ravens in that the once-proud defense didn't make the impact it should have last season, registering just 39 sacks. Twelve of those went to Muhammad Wilkerson, so having a complement who can stand up and rush such as Spence would work wonders for the unit.

Like everything surrounding the draft, much will change about Spence's outlook moving forward, but he's a strong fit with the Jets for now.

Stats courtesy of NFL.com and are accurate as of Monday. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

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