2016 NFL Mock Draft: Small-school QB crashes first round party

By Dane Brugler, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 15, 2015 at 4:14 PM
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There is no such thing as a "sure thing" when it comes to evaluating the quarterback position, and that is especially true for the 2016 draft class.

There is not an Andrew Luck or even a Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, but there are several high-upside passers who deserve first-round consideration. Cal's Jared Goff and Memphis' Paxton Lynch are the top two names and both have a great chance of landing in the top 10. Michigan State's Connor Cook is widely believed to be this year's top senior at the position, but North Dakota State's Carson Wentz will be higher on some teams' draft boards and also has a chance to wind up in next spring's first round.

Of those four quarterbacks, only Cook is ready to start as a NFL rookie, but Goff, Lynch and Wentz all have bright futures if given the chance to develop.

Team needs will change, the draft order won't end up this way and the prospects below will help and hurt themselves throughout the 2015 season. But if the draft was held tomorrow, here's how it might play out.

RELATED2016 NFL Mock Draft: Dallas Cowboys land impact LB Myles Jack

Round 1 NFL Mock Draft:

1. Tennessee Titans (3-9) Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss: Priority No. 1 for the Titans should be to protect Marcus Mariota, something they have struggled to do consistently in 2015. Tunsil is arguably the most talented player in this year's draft class and able to contribute from day one, pushing Taylor Lewan over to right tackle.

2. Cleveland Browns (2-10) Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State: There is a lot of unknown with the future of the Browns franchise right now, including what the depth chart at quarterback will look like next season. If Johnny Manziel can do enough to keep Cleveland from drafting a quarterback in the top five, Bosa will just need to hop on I-71 North.

3. San Diego Chargers (3-9) Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State: Is Ramsey a cornerback or safety? Both. And the Chargers need help at both spots, contributing in press or zone, inside or outside.

4. Baltimore Ravens (4-8) Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame: Baltimore inked Eugene Monroe to a lucrative extension, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy, making it tough for the Ravens to rely on him to start 16 games in 2016. Stanley not only adds instant depth, but gives Baltimore a long-term plan at a position of need.

5. Dallas Cowboys (4-8) Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA: The Cowboys defense needs help at each level, including at linebacker, especially with the futures of Rolando McClain (free agent) and Sean Lee (injuries) in doubt. Although currently sidelined with a knee injury, Jack has top 10 talent if his rehab is on track.

6. San Francisco 49ers (4-8) Jared Goff, QB, California: The 49ers and Colin Kaepernick are in the midst of a messy divorce and Blaine Gabbert hasn't done enough to convince the front office that he's the long-term answer. A Bay Area native San Francisco native, Goff lacks elite physical tools, but his traits, especially between the ears, are extremely promising.

7. Detroit Lions (4-8) Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State: With a new front office, the Lions will be a wildcard in the first round, especially if Detroit makes a splash with one of the high-priced contracts (Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, etc.) on the current roster. Decker is a plug-and-play option on the offensive line, which would address the Lions' issues at right tackle.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida: The Jaguars have been searching for cornerback help for a long time, but haven't drafted the position in the first round since 1999. Hargreaves isn't a lock top 10 prospect due to average size and speed, but his toughness and instincts make him a fit for Jacksonville.

9. Chicago Bears (5-7) Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame: The Bears are far removed from the days of Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs dominating the NFC and are missing impact players like that on the 2015 defense. Smith isn't the physical presence that Urlacher or Briggs were, but he brings a special combination of athleticism and instincts.

10. St. Louis Rams (4-8) Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis: The Nick Foles experiment hasn't worked and the Rams need new life at quarterback. Lynch is still a work in progress at the position, but he checks a lot of boxes and would give the franchise hope, whether that's in St. Louis or Los Angeles.

11. New Orleans Saints (4-8) Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss: Regardless of who is at quarterback, the Saints need to find the "new" Marques Colston - a large target with athleticism. That description fits Treadwell, who is a less dynamic version of Dez Bryant.

12. NY Giants (5-7) Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State: The Giants rank near dead-last in the league in team sacks and aren't receiving the production they need from their edge rushers. Ogbah is among the NCAA leaders in sacks (13) and has the character and talent that fits the Giants' franchise.

13. Miami Dolphins (5-7) Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama: Miami has missed that physical presence at middle linebacker, making Ragland a natural fit and day one starter as a rookie.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson: Tampa will address the cornerback position next offseason, either in free agency or the draft, possibly both. Alexander has the fluidity and aggressive nature to blanket receivers.

15. Atlanta Falcons (6-6) Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss: The Falcons rank dead-last in the league in sacks and need more talent both inside and outside on the defensive line. Although he's still raw in areas, Nkemdiche has a sky-high ceiling as both an inside penetrator and outside rusher.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia: The Eagles have several holes on defense and need to add depth at each level. Floyd has a lean body type, but can bend the edge, disrupt the pocket and finish in pursuit.

17. Oakland Raiders (5-7) Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU: The Raiders haven't received the expected return on investment with 2013 first-round cornerback D.J. Hayden, making corner a top need this offseason. White has the size/athleticism profile that intrigues NFL scouts.

18. Buffalo Bills (6-6) A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama: Buffalo hasn't received the production expected from the big names on the defensive line, largely due to injuries. Robinson moves well for his size and can line up inside or outside in coach Rex Ryan's scheme.

19. Houston Texans (6-6) Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State: The Texans haven't selected a passer in the first round since their inaugural draft in 2002, but that should chance this year. Coach Bill O'Brien has been searching for the right guy to groom at quarterback and whether or not Cook is that player, Houston needs to take a chance on a young signal-caller.

21. Washington Redskins (5-7) Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama: Although he doesn't receive the same attention as others on the Alabama defense, Reed is built like a vending machine and is just as tough to move from his spot. The Redskins have used veterans to fill the nose tackle spot, but Reed would give them a long-term option.

22. Indianapolis Colts (6-6) Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State: As much as the Colts need offensive line help, they also need to upgrade the running game, which would have a greater impact on the overall offense. Elliott has an outstanding blend of vision, balance and acceleration to gash defenses and be a workhorse.

23. NY Jets (7-5) Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State: While Ryan Fitzpatrick is the present, who is the quarterback of the future for the Jets? Bryce Petty is more of a backup option, but Wentz would give the franchise a player to groom as the future starter.

24. Minnesota Vikings (8-5) Josh Doctson, WR, TCU: A lot of fingers can be pointed as to why the Vikings rank near the bottom of the league in passing yards, but the lack of perimeter weapons is a substantial reason. Doctson is a good-sized athlete with superior ballskills to make an impact as a NFL rookie.

25. Kansas City Chiefs (7-5) Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State: With Eric Fisher struggling and Donald Stephenson eligible for free agency after the season, offensive tackle could be the top priority this offseason for the Chiefs. Conklin doesn't have the athletic tools of Tunsil or Stanley, but he's effective in other ways that help him handle both speed and power off the edge.

26. Seattle Seahawks (7-5) Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA: Seattle's defensive line depth needs restocking and Clark is a terrific run stopper with potential to be more with some seasoning.

27. Green Bay Packers (8-4) A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama: With Mike Daniels and the Packers failing to reach an extension before the season, there's a realistic chance he hits free agency. Even if Daniels returns, Robinson is worthy of this pick with his versatility that fits Green Bay's odd-man front.

28. Cincinnati Bengals (10-2) Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor: With Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones both in contract years, the Bengals could be looking for wide receiver help in the draft.

29. Denver Broncos (10-2) DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon: With Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe set to hit free agency after this season, the Broncos might be looking for new beef at the grocery store. Buckner is still developing his pass rush skills, but has very high upside due to his size and natural talent.

30. Arizona Cardinals (11-2) Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky: A true wild-card prospect, Spence has first-round talent, there is no question about that. But the former Ohio State Buckeye has a history of drug abuse, although he has cleaned up his habits since being banned from the Big Ten. Arizona has the front office, coaches and locker room to take a chance on a boom or bust player like this.

31. New England Patriots (10-2) Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M: The latest product of the Aggies' offensive line pipeline, Ifedi has experience at tackle and guard. (Note: This pick is currently slated to be forfeited by the Patriots as part of the Deflategate punishment).

32. Carolina Panthers (12-0) Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana: The Panthers have received excellent production from the bargain bin at the free agent store, but also need to develop young draft picks at key positions, including left tackle. A former tight end, Spriggs has several traits that translate well to the NFL.

Dane Brugler is a Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with CBSSports.com.

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