Mel Kiper NFL Mock Draft 2016: Notable Picks from ESPN Guru's 3rd Mock

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2016

Mississippi offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil during a drill at the NFL football scouting combine Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

With the NFL Scouting Combine in the rear-view mirror and pro day season on the horizon, ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. released his third 2016 NFL mock draft Tuesday.  

While the top couple of picks remained the same in comparison to his second mock, there was significant movement involving other players, including Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith dropping from No. 11 to outside of the first round due to concerns regarding his knee.

Smith wasn't the only big name to experience a fall, though, as highly touted California quarterback Jared Goff continued to slide as well.

As the 2016 NFL draft picture continues to become a bit clearer, here is a full rundown of Kiper's first-round predictions, along with further analysis on some of the most intriguing selections.

Mel Kiper's 3rd 2016 NFL Mock Draft: 1st Round
1Tennessee TitansLaremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
2Cleveland BrownsCarson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
3San Diego ChargersRonnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
4Dallas CowboysDeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
5Jacksonville JaguarsJalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
6Baltimore RavensJoey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
7San Francisco 49ersJared Goff, QB, California
8Miami DolphinsMyles Jack, LB, UCLA
9Tampa Bay BuccaneersVernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
10New York GiantsShaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
11Chicago BearsLeonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
12New Orleans SaintsSheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
13Philadelphia EaglesJack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
14Oakland RaidersEli Apple, CB, Ohio State
15Los Angeles RamsLaquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
16Detroit LionsA'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
17Atlanta FalconsDarron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
18Indianapolis ColtsTaylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
19Buffalo BillsRobert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
20New York JetsEzekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
21Washington RedskinsReggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
22Houston TexansWill Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
23Minnesota VikingsJosh Doctson, WR, TCU
24Cincinnati BengalsNoah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky
25Pittsburgh SteelersWilliam Jackson III, CB, Houston
26Seattle SeahawksKendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
27Green Bay PackersKamalei Correa, OLB, Boise State
28Kansas City ChiefsJarran Reed, DL, Alabama
29Arizona CardinalsEmmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
30Carolina PanthersVonn Bell, S, Ohio State
31Denver BroncosJason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

Laremy Tunsil No. 1 Overall to Titans

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

Laremy Tunsil remained at the top of Kiper's mock Tuesday, and a big move made by the Titans on Monday may have had something to do with it.

Tennessee reportedly agreed to acquire running back DeMarco Murray from the Philadelphia Eagles, according to ESPN.com's Adam Schefter and Ed Werder, and Tunsil would be both an ideal lead blocker for him and blindside protector for young quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The Ole Miss product's status as the potential top pick was also bolstered at the combine where he turned in a strong performance.

Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, talent evaluators were hugely impressed by the skill set he possesses at 6'5" and 310 pounds:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

Heard more gushing about #OleMiss OL Laremy Tunsil than any player today. Scouts have never seen a big man bend like that. Freak athlete

That included NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock, who has no doubts about Tunsil's status as an elite prospect, according to Jim Wyatt of the Titans' official website:

Jim Wyatt @jwyattsports

Mayock said Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil was "poetry in motion" in workouts. "As advertised" he said

While Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com stopped short of guaranteeing Tunsil will be the top selection, he was comfortable suggesting he won't have to wait long before he hears his name called:

Dane Brugler @dpbrugler

Barring unknown injury or character info, there are two prospects I feel comfortable saying are top-5 locks: Laremy Tunsil and Jalen Ramsey.

Tennessee has the basis for a potentially prolific offense, and swinging 2014 first-round pick Taylor Lewan to right tackle with Tunsil serving as the left tackle could go a long way toward solidifying the line.

If Tunsil develops as expected, then the Titans may not be far away from competing in the relatively weak AFC South.

Carson Wentz No. 2 Overall to Browns

Carson Wentz ascended to No. 1 quarterback status in Kiper's previous mock, and his fantastic showing at the NFL Scouting Combine allowed him to stay there in mock No. 3.

Kiper has the North Dakota State gunslinger going second overall to the quarterback-needy Cleveland Browns, and the hype train behind the talented signal-caller is seemingly more populated than ever before.

Wentz excelled in essentially all areas at the combine, which led Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com to report that he is getting compared to one of the NFL's most purely talented quarterbacks already:

Peter Schrager @PSchrags

1. Carson Wentz won the week. Aced his interviews. Aced his workouts. Multiple teams told me the Andrew Luck comparisons not that far off.

Former NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden sees something special in Wentz as well, and he believes NFL teams are salivating at the opportunity to take him, according to ESPN Monday Night:

While it comes as no surprise that the Browns are in the market for a quarterback considering their current situation with journeyman Josh McCown and the soon-to-be-released Johnny Manziel, head coach Hue Jackson essentially confirmed it.

Per ESPN 850 WKNR (vithe team's official website), Jackson has made finding a top-flight quarterback one of his main priorities: "We're going to take every shot we can to find a franchise quarterback. My goal is to put a quarterback on this football team that our fans, that this city can be proud of and call their own because he'll be a guy that plays well week in and week out."

Cleveland should have the pick of the litter at the quarterback position, barring another team trading into the No. 1 spot.

That puts a lot of pressure on the decision-makers to pick the right one since another misstep could set the franchise back several more years.

Wentz and Goff appear to be the top candidates, but based on his physical tools and winning pedigree, Kiper is of the belief that the former has pulled ahead.

Jared Goff No. 7 Overall to 49ers

After mocking Goff to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 4 in his second mock draft, Kiper reversed course and dropped the productive quarterback to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 7 Tuesday.

While Goff put up eye-popping numbers in college, there are some concerns about his measurables following the combine, despite an excellent showing in the passing drills.

According to NFL.com's Gil Brandt, Goff's small hand size is uncommon of first-round quarterbacks:

Gil Brandt @Gil_Brandt

Jared Goff has 9" hands Of the 37 QBs drafted in 1st round since 2003 only 2 had 9" hands or smaller: Tannehill (2012) and Losman (2004)

Smaller hands tend to scare teams away due to the increased chances of fumbling, but as pointed out by ESPN's Mike Clay, Goff's shortcomings athletically could hurt his stock as well:

Mike Clay @MikeClayNFL

Jared Goff vs. combine QBs: Worst vertical, small hands, slow short shuttle Below avg. broad jump Mid-pack 3 Cone, 40

Despite that, some remain convinced that Goff is the best quarterback in the class, including NFL Network's Bucky Brooks:

NFL Network @nflnetwork

"Jared Goff is the guy who should be the Cleveland Browns quarterback." - @BuckyBrooks https://t.co/lKBBEv1cl6

Provided Goff does fall, though, it could hugely benefit a team in need of a quarterback, which the Niners may ultimately prove to be.

With rumors that Colin Kaepernick wants out of San Francisco, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Goff may turn out to be an ideal option for the 49ers and new head coach Chip Kelly, if he is available.

The 49ers made a mistake when they passed on another Cal quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, during the 2005 NFL draft, and that certainly isn't a miscue they want to repeat.

It is impossible to say at this point if Goff will ever reach a level comparable to Rodgers, but there do seem to be some parallels, especially if Goff unexpectedly falls.

Goff's accuracy and intelligence could be a great fit for Kelly's fast-paced offense, so it is difficult to envision the Niners passing him up if he is there for the taking with the seventh pick.

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