2016 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Most Intriguing Round 1 Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2016

Laquon Treadwell is one of the most intriguing players in the 2016 class.
Laquon Treadwell is one of the most intriguing players in the 2016 class.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The 2016 NFL draft might be one of the more interesting in recent memory.

Maybe "odder" is a better word. There isn't a runaway must-have quarterback, a line of thinking that also applies to wide receiver. Two offensive linemen fall into that category, but more than anything, this is a defensive-minded class, with quality rushers and defensive backs sure to steal the show in the first round.

Even so, "intriguing" is the right word. Can't-miss talents such as Jaylon Smith have to deal with an injury. Big names such as Joey Bosa and Noah Spence have question marks surrounding their stock.

Below is a stab at a mock based on team need and prospect value, along with a closer look at some of the most intriguing names.

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 SaintsNoah SpenceDE/LBEastern Kentucky
13Philadelphia EaglesTaylor DeckerOTOhio State
14Oakland RaidersVernon Hargreaves IIICBFlorida
15Los Angeles RamsCarson WentzQBNorth Dakota State
16Detroit LionsLaquon TreadwellWROle Miss
17Atlanta FalconsDarron LeeLBOhio State
18Indianapolis ColtsA'Shawn RobinsonDTAlabama
19Buffalo BillsJarran ReedDLAlabama
20New York JetsJonathan BullardDEFlorida
21WashingtonMichael ThomasWROhio State
22Houston TexansRobert NkemdicheDLOle Miss
23Minnesota VikingsJosh DoctsonWRTCU
24Cincinnati BengalsEmmanuel OgbahDEOklahoma State
25Pittsburgh SteelersEli AppleCBOhio State
26Seattle SeahawksEzekiel ElliottRBOhio State
27Green Bay PackersSheldon RankinsDTLouisville
28Kansas City ChiefsCorey ColemanWRBaylor
29Arizona CardinalsLeonard FloydLBGeorgia
30Carolina PanthersShaq LawsonLBClemson
31Denver BroncosJason SpriggsOTIndiana
Author's projections

Predictions for Intriguing Prospects

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

DeForest Buckner's measurements blew away scouts.
DeForest Buckner's measurements blew away scouts.Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Bosa and some of the other prospects mentioned are intriguing, but that word actually might not do Oregon's DeForest Buckner justice.

Just look at the man's measurements from the combine: a whopping 6'7" and 291 pounds. And with those numbers seemingly weighing him down, he still ran a 40-yard dash in 5.05 seconds, tallied 32 inches in the vertical jump and 116 in the broad.

Sounds like the total package, right? Not just yet. According to CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan, Buckner was one of the few to pass interviews in impressive fashion:

Pat Kirwan @PatKirwan_NFL

most impressive interviews@ Combine were DeForest Buckner &Reggie Ragland both love football&serious about the games https://t.co/cepClY9A0I

Now, one could label Buckner the total package, a guy who measures and interviews well and can be disruptive on the field while fitting into any scheme a coaching staff so desires.

If lucky, new Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter will get to toss Buckner into his 4-3 on the same line as Gerald McCoy, kick his feet back and watch the fireworks. The Buccaneers totaled 38 sacks last year, but there's no reason to avoid improving the number, especially with Jameis Winston coming around on the other side of the ball.

A Buckner-McCoy combo gives the Buccaneers one of the most lethal tandems in the league before a coach elects to bring extra guys on a blitz. Or to be more specific, that's how a team should go about countering a division featuring Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton.

16. Detroit Lions: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

As mentioned, wideout isn't easy to figure out this year.

Most would concur that the top slot belongs to Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell, but plenty of questions have circled his stock since the beginning of last year. Treadwell is a physically dominant player, but he's also known for emotional outbursts and had a nasty leg break.

Treadwell appeared to massage most of these concerns at the combine, in large part because he didn't receive much in the way of bad press while measuring in at 6'2" and 221 pounds and running drills.

In fact, the Ole Miss product garnered quite the interesting comparison, as touted by ESPN's Todd McShay.

“I think he’s a Dez Bryant-type player,” McShay said, via Joe Fann of 49ers.com. “I think he’s physical. I think he’s great when the ball is in the air, and I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player.”

High praise indeed, though perhaps not enough to get Treadwell fully into the top half of the draft. The Detroit Lions at No. 16 seem like the absolute floor, while that franchise awaits the decision from Calvin Johnson.

Should Megatron choose to hang up the cleats, the Lions look at a receiving corps led by Golden Tate, Lance Moore and Corey Fuller, which would see the offense heading in the wrong direction.

Treadwell feels like one of those players each team feigns interest in to hope another player falls. It's a close wideout class as it is, but Detroit won't have any qualms about taking the best on the board at this spot.

17. Atlanta Falcons: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State

Darron Lee's mix of size and speed has the NFL intrigued.
Darron Lee's mix of size and speed has the NFL intrigued.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The word "intriguing" hardly begins to describe Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee.

Lee hit the combine as one of the fastest risers in the class as more and more folks got their hands on his film. The biggest knock was a general perception that he's a small player for the position, something Lee reaffirmed by coming in at 6'1" and 232 pounds.

The negatives stop there. Lee ran a wicked 4.47 40-yard dash and measured among the best at his position in the vertical jump (35.5 inches), broad jump (133) and 20-yard shuttle (4.20 seconds).

Many raved about Lee before the event, but even more after. Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman provided the opinion of one observer:

Bruce Feldman @BruceFeldmanCFB

#OhioState LB Darron Lee runs a 4.47 & 4.49 40s. Spoke to an NFL scout who thinks he will be the best NFL player among these 14 #Buckeyes.

The NFL continues to rethink positions. Running backs have to be able to do it all. Offensive linemen don't necessarily have to be huge burly guys who can only hold the point of attack. Safeties, in an ideal world, can seamlessly rotate between the two spots, if not play some nickel corner.

Lee might help further the evolution of linebackers, provided he lands in the right scheme. The Atlanta Falcons might provide such a scheme by letting Lee pin his ears back from the linebacker spot in the right scenarios.

Atlanta only managed 19 sacks last year, so adding a guy who can rush from a variety of points on the field makes sense. Understanding that Lee's athleticism pairs well with sheer talent and instincts, he also won't have many problems dropping into coverage against the pass.

The above makes Lee sound like a total package. It's going to take one team looking past his so-so height and slightly altering the thinking about the position to help him come off the board in the first round. 

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

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