NFL Mock Draft 2016: 1st-Round Projections and Top Prospects' Stock Watch

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2016

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz sets back to pass during drills at an NCAA college football practice for the Senior Bowl, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, at Ladd–Peebles Stadium, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

There will be a lot of movement along draft boards in the next few weeks as teams make their evaluations heading into the 2016 NFL draft.

While the college football season has been over for more than a month, the stocks continue to rise and fall for many prospects. The senior bowl is in the past, but the upcoming combine, pro days and interviews will also play a major role in deciding where each top player is selected.

It's often difficult to keep up with the trends among the scouting community, but here is a look at the latest mock draft along with a breakdown of the stars on the rise. 

2016 NFL Mock Draft
1Tennessee TitansLaremy TunsilOTOle Miss
2Cleveland BrownsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
3San Diego ChargersJoey BosaDTOhio State
4Dallas CowboysMyles JackOLBUCLA
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen RamseyCBFlorida State
6Baltimore RavensDeForest BucknerDEOregon
7San Francisco 49ersJared GoffQBCalifornia
8Miami DolphinsRonnie StanleyOTMiami Dolphins
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
10New York GiantsShaq LawsonDEClemson
11Chicago BearsNoah SpenceDEEastern Kentucky
12New Orleans SaintsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
13Philadelphia EaglesLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
14Oakland RaidersMackensie AlexanderCBClemson
15Los Angeles RamsPaxton LynchQBMemphis
16Detroit LionsJarran ReedDTAlabama
17Atlanta FalconsJaylon SmithOLBNotre Dame
18Indianapolis ColtsTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
19Buffalo BillsDarron LeeOLBOhio State
20New York JetsLeonard FloydOLBGeorgia
21Washington RedskinsReggie RaglandILBAlabama
22Houston TexansEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
23Minnesota VikingsJack ConklinOTMichigan State
24Cincinnati BengalsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
25Pittsburgh SteelersEli AppleCBOhio State
26Seattle SeahawksRobert NkemdicheDTOle Miss
27Green Bay PackersSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
28Kansas City ChiefsBraxton MillerWROhio State
29Arizona CardinalsKevin DoddDEClemson
30Carolina PanthersVonn BellSOhio State
31Denver BroncosCody WhitehairOGKansas State

Top Prospects on the Rise

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

The Cleveland Browns clearly need a quarterback, but there is still some debate about who is the best in the class. Paxton Lynch has the size and arm strength, Jared Goff has the composure in the pocket, but Carson Wentz might be the best overall prospect at the position.

Mike Mayock of NFL Network—who listed Wentz as his No. 1 quarterback in his latest rankings—had high praise for the North Dakota State passer:

NFL Media @NFLMedia

"The first tape I saw I went, ‘Wow, I hope the next one is as good.’ And the next one was as good." -- @MikeMayock on Carson Wentz

NFL Media @NFLMedia

"He can make every throw and he’s highly athletic." -- @MikeMayock on Carson Wentz

While there will be obvious question marks about the ability to transition from an FCS school to the NFL, the Browns can bring him along slowly until he is ready to compete. With that said, Wentz showed throughout his career an impressive understanding of the offense while leading his team to multiple national championships.

At 6'5", Wentz also has the size teams are looking for in a quarterback as well as the athleticism to make plays on the ground. Adding this to his accuracy in the pocket and we have the best quarterback in the class.

DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

Ryan Kang/Associated Press

This draft is loaded with defensive linemen and edge-rushers but DeForest Buckner is among the best of the bunch. The 6'7", 290-pound monster uses his length and strength to force his way into the backfield and disrupt the offense on both passing and run plays.

Although Joey Bosa might still remain ahead of him in the draft due to his consistent play, Buckner might have even better upside due to his size and athleticism. 

Sam Monson of Pro Football Reference provide a simple look at the defensive end's abilities:

Sam Monson @PFF_Sam

DeForest Buckner officially the next subject of AN profile. Cliff notes: What he does well: everything. What he struggles with: Not much

The Baltimore Ravens struggled defensively this season through the air and a lack of pass rush was a major issue in many games. Not a single player on the team finished with more than six sacks in 2015.

Buckner would provide some immediate help on passing downs and should eventually become an elite all-around performer on the defensive line. 

Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The first round will be loaded with former Ohio State stars, but few are quite as intriguing as Braxton Miller. The former quarterback is one of the most dynamic players in the class and his athleticism gives him even more upside than teammate Michael Thomas.

Sure, Miller doesn't have elite size at just 6'1", but he is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands.

After an impressive showing during the week of the senior bowl, Miller discussed what he could bring to a team, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:

I can play any position that’s on offense. That’s really eye-opening for them. They need playmakers that can do that. Somebody that can go in motion, come in the backfield at times. Go to outside receiver, inside receiver, punt return. All that type of stuff. It’s a lot. And I bring that to the game, and it’s going to be fun doing that, and I love doing it, too, so I don’t mind. 

This is what makes him such a perfect fit for the Kansas City Chiefs. The offense has a few weapons in Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce, but otherwise the passing attack needs a lot of help. Maclin can be a game-changing player on offense or special teams, and as he continues to improve as a route-runner, he can eventually be an elite receiver.

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