Belch’s 2016 NFL Mock Draft

  • BelchBy Belch

So it’s almost late, but with all of the dust settling from a few major trades, it may be the perfect time to finally get a mock draft done; along with a little nagging from Mac, of course. So the Rams move to Los Angeles and trade for the number one pick, Philadelphia looks like they can plan on a new QB, and even a team that won’t be picking in the first round (the Patriots) could get some great value at their spot. So I’m going to jump in with the first pick!

Don’t forget to enter our 20 Questions for the 2016 NFL Draft

1. Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff – QB – California
I don’t really love Goff over Wentz, but Goff is a California boy and the Rams are going to be looking for a person that LA can cheer for right off the bat. I like Goff, but he doesn’t do any one thing tremendously. He has a solid arm and good feet in the pocket. Scouts have shown a little concern about his size being able to hold up in the NFL, but I think the Rams can bank on him gaining a few pounds to catch up.

2. Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota State

The Eagles are going to get the better of the two QB’s here, but we are yet to see what the new offensive scheme in Philly will look like. The good news is that it won’t quite matter when it comes to Wentz. He has great size and athleticism with a cannon arm that should help him make an immediate impact, but we will just have to wait and see if the massive jump in competition is going to hinder him.

3. San Diego Chargers – Leremy Tunsil – OT – Ole Miss

The Chargers are given a gift with the trades that happened right in front of them. The top player in the draft is now available and can step in and fill an immediate need. Tunsil is the most NFL ready player in this draft and some have said in the past decade. He has great feet, plays with great leverage, and works well in the ground game also. I was tempted to give the Chargers a more electric defensive player, but Tunsil just made way more sense.

4. Dallas Cowboys – Vernon Hargreaves III – CB – Florida

I think Bosa’s draft arrow is pointing down, while Hargreaves has only gone up. The Cowboys need a DE really bad, but this is a pretty deep trench draft, and can address that need in the later rounds. Last year wasn’t a horrible year for the Cowboys’ defense and their ability to stop the pass, but they have serious questions at the CB position and their futures. He is a great cover corner who rarely allows space, and has great instincts when the ball is in the air. Dallas has more than enough holes to fill in this draft, but this is the best start they could get.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack – LB – UCLA

The offense looked electric last season, but could only do so much to put up fifty points every game. The Jags bolstered their defense by adding Malik Jackson and Teshaun Gipson, but could really use a quick inside linebacker to complete the package. Jack played some corner in high school and has tremendous coverage skills at the position. He also has great instincts and freakish athleticism, so his move to the NFL should be easy.

6. Baltimore Ravens – DeForest Buckner – DT/DE – Oregon

The Ravens defense is Swiss cheese and there are a ton of spots that need replacing. Jimmy Smith projects as the top corner with nobody across from him. Daryl Smith (no relation) is gone, and Chris Canty’s spot needs to be filled also. Buckner can’t fill all of these spots, but he can definitely fill a few on the D-line. He is an athletic freak and has shown a tremendous ability to rush the passer from the inside. Buckner can work all along the line in Baltimore, and for that reason the Ravens pick him up at 6.

7. San Francisco 49ers – Reggie Ragland – LB – Alabama

The 49ers are in a pretty horrible situation here and I fully expect them to trade this pick. Rumor has it that a deal is in place to trade Kaepernick to the Broncos, but I can’t make a mock based off of dreams and wishes, so for now he is the QB. They need a strong interior LB, but the best one is already off the board, and here in the first round its tough to pull the trigger on another one. Ragland isn’t a bad LB, he filled in tremendously for the Crimson Tide as they lost CJ Mosley last season, but ideally he would get picked about 15-25.

8. Cleveland Browns – Will Fuller – WR – Notre Dame

Cleveland needs a lot, and the QB position looks to be too much of a project (Paxton Lynch). So let’s just get some more weapons and see what we get in the later rounds. The Browns get one of the fastest, deep threat WR’s in recent memory and from what I understand, his upside is tremendous. GM’s have said that he has interviewed really well, so he is the kind of player that is going to gel great in the locker room. This is just a first step for Cleveland, but with the huge trade they pulled off, they can build a much bigger, complete team.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joey Bosa – DE – Ohio State

I didn’t think that Bosa would fall out of the top five, but here we are and he is still sitting in the green room. Bosa is the most talented edge rusher in the draft and will make an impact on this defense right away. Bosa has an amazing first step and works well with his arms to shed lineman on his way to the passer.

10. New York Giants – Jalen Ramsey – CB/S – Florida State

This one is going to be very unpopular with Doc, since he went to wrong Florida school, but I think he fits with the plan in New York. You don’t get to pick in the top ten if you only need one thing, but New York got a great safety last year when they pick Landon Collins and now can pair him up with Ramsey. Ramsey has been better graded as a safety with amazing instincts and ball skills, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him line up all over the field. He could cover linebackers or slot receivers or over the top.

11. Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson – DE – Clemson

The wrap sheet on Lawson is pretty straightforward; he is a smooth pass rusher, but isn’t overly explosive. He has great size and skills, and was incredibly productive last season, and most teams have their eye on Lawson. The Bears need an edge rusher and they get one here.

12. New Orleans Saints – Leonard Floyd – DE/OLB – Georgia

The Saints get a little tougher and grittier with this pick. Floyd is a natural edge rusher and projects to play primarily in that role. Floyd would go earlier if his work in the ground game was better, or his ability to cover wasn’t so awkward, but that’s just how good he is off the edge.

13. Miami Dolphins – Ezekiel Elliot – RB – Ohio State

So far this may be the steal of the draft. Elliot could have easily been a top 5 pick just based on talent alone, but that’s not the way the chips fell. If there is a team that is interested, he will not make it out of the top 10, but I see that being a trade possibility. The Dolphins are going to love their new tool, however, as he projects to be a three-down back that has tremendous ability with the ball in his hands. He catches, shows great cuts and agility, and can run between the tackles with the right O-Line.

14. Oakland Raiders – Jaylon Smith – LB – Notre Dame

If you were looking for a player that plugs in to the defense immediately, Oakland is probably out of luck at the spot they are picking at. Yes, they could reach, but if I’m the GM, I am jumping for joy at the possibility of picking Smith. Smith could have been the number one overall pick had it not been for his ACL and MCL injury in the bowl game last year. He is an insane athlete. Great speed off the edge, coverage ability, instincts in the running game; on paper, he has it all. Everything depends on his recovery.

15. Tennessee Titans – Ronnie Stanley – OT – Notre Dame

The Titans trade back to the perfect spot and snag a guy that can keep Mariota on his feet. Now, Stanley figures to play more at the LT spot, but did play some RT in college before moving. If he puts on a little weight, his move to the right side should be pretty easy.

16. Detroit Lions – Laquon Treadwell – WR – Ole Miss

Megatron announcing his retirement may have been the biggest offseason move that the Lions made. Treadwell is supposed to be the best WR in the draft, and can do just about anything the offense asks of him. He has plus route running and speed, with great hands and an amazing ability to high point the ball. Look for him to be the new fantasy stud that Calvin used to be.

17. Atlanta Falcons – A’Shawn Robinson – DT – Alabama

Some had A’Shawn as the best player in the draft. His only one downside is that GM’s aren’t sure how much he loves football. Sounds like a major downside, but maybe after a 1st round payday he will “commit.” He plays more like a nose tackle and is the run-stopping expert that the falcons lack. A perfect big body to fill the center of the line.

18. Indianapolis Colts – Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama

Frank Gore is getting old, very old. The offensive line needs an incredible amount of upgrading, but the player just isn’t there at this point. Henry is a proven commodity, and can almost swap out with Gore if the Colts were looking for a direct replacement. He showed an adequate ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but does most of his damage between the tackles. Breaking tackles isn’t a problem for Henry, and played in a pro-style offense, so he should be NFL ready sooner rather than later.

19. Buffalo Bills – Sheldon Rankins – DT – Lousiville

Rex loves his D-lineman, and gets a good one here. It was his outstanding combine show that boosted Rankins draft spot, but it was his ability to rush the passer from the inside that even had his name on the list. He was disruptive inside to say the least, and put up some crazy numbers in the 40, vertical jump, and broad jump, and now is going to be pushing toward Tom Brady for the next few years.

20. New York Jets – Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis

Project or not, the Jets need a QB badly. Geno can’t manage to stop getting into fights with his teammates (about money, no less) and Lynch can come in and have that job. Lynch has some obvious downsides: he is a small school QB and unproven, he never took a snap under center in college, and his footwork and vision need work. All things considered, it is very impressive what he did with very little guidance. He has a cannon arm and showed well at the combine, so the Jets are going to see if they can push him to develop.

21. Washington Redskins – Vernon Butler – DT – Louisiana Tech

The Redskins got arguably the best CB in the league when they surprised everyone and signed Josh Norman. It was really hard not to pick another CB to go opposite of him and really nail down the outside of the defense for the next few years, but this is a big man draft, and they get a big man. Vernon Butler is a big body that has shown some versatility alond the defensive front, and should help the ‘Skins replace Pot Roast, who went to the Patriots.

22. Houston Texans – Hunter Henry – TE – Arkansas

This is another one of those unfortunate spots to pick in. The Texans need help along their offensive line and just aren’t sitting at the right spot for that. I expect a trade, but if they absolutely needed to pick here, I would expect them to take the best TE in the draft and bolster the offense in a different way. Henry is a high motor guy that was a dominant pass catcher in college. He lacks ideal size to build off of but his high motor more than makes up for that.

23. Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson – WR – TCU

The Vikings need a WR that can play that #1 role. Teddy has never really had that one consistent threat that could take him to the next level, and they get that from Doctson. Doctson is a technician when it comes to route running and specializes in getting over the top of defenders. He does lack the bulk needed to hold his own in press coverage, but has the instincts and agility that are hard to teach.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – Adolphus Washington – DT – Ohio State

Peko is in the last year of his contract, and could probably use a partner in crime for this year anyway. Washington is a big body with an incredible first step that can really add to that interior pass rush. He does have some off the field issues in the form of dropped charges (solicitation), but that’s about it. He is a sack machine who consistently plays in the backfield.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Eli Apple – CB – Ohio State

The Steelers are going to be lucky if this guy is available at this point in the draft. There were a few teams I could have given him to, but overall he just didn’t fit as well. Apple has all of the physical traits that you could want from a #1 CB, but is very raw with his technical skills. He has a tendency to grab at WR’s and could struggle early in his career in press coverage, but this is a guy that, after a little development, could change the way this Steelers’ defense plays.

26. Seattle Seahawks – Andrew Billings – DT – Baylor

It’s funny to think that a team that is so big in the trenches got a lot smaller this offseason. They are in a mini-rebuild when it comes to big bodies, and they start with Andrew Billings. He is a massive interior defender with strong first push and a knack for disruption in the backfield. He was hindered by an ankle injury that kept him out some of last season, but Seattle has a few rotational players they can cycle in and take the pressure off of Billings as he develops.

27. Green Bay Packers – Darron Lee – LB – Ohio State

It seems like the entire Ohio State defense is going to go in the first round, but Lee is a perfect fit here in Green Bay. Although Lee is undersized for his position, he has shown versatility; going all the way back to his history as a QB. He seems to find the quickest route to the ball no matter where the play is developing, and has the instincts at the position that only a natural can possess. He needs to gain some weight, but that’s not as hard as learning how to find the hole.

28. Kansas City Chiefs – Germain Ifedi – OT – Texas A&M

Ifedi is listed as a tackle but has the size and strength of an interior lineman. I think that if he can be taught the ways of a guard, that he could be a Pro-Bowl caliber player. He has played guard in college briefly, so he is at least aware of the position, and has rare athleticism for his size. I like Ifedi to start on the inside of the line and show his versatility in all forms of play.

29. Arizona Cardinals – Kendall Fuller – CB – Virginia Tech

Fuller is a ball hawk, plain and simple. His skills when it comes to reading the QB and reacting are second to none in this draft. The Cardinals need someone to play opposite Patrick Peterson and could take a chance with a guy that still has a little work to do to perfect some skills. Fuller is undersized, and could get beat on double moves with his tendency to react quickly, but given some time to learn from Arians and Peterson, he could develop to be a huge factor on defense.

30. Carolina Panthers – Emmanuel Ogbah – DE – Oklahoma State

The Panthers just let Josh Norman walk, so CB should be addressed in this draft, but here in the first round they can make fill a hole that Greg Hardy left two years ago. Ogbah is a great, but inconsistent end to any line and could use just a little guidance to really focus him in. Ogbah has elite natural pass rushing ability and could be a force on the outside.

31. Denver Broncos – Keanu Neal – S – Florida

With the final pick of the first round, the Broncos get the hardest hitting guy. Neal runs at ball carriers with the idea of striking fear, not just pads. He has great instincts when it comes to the run game, and can help to fill in where Danny Trevathan excelled also. Neal does have a tendency to over-commit and can get beat deep in coverage, but will otherwise play very nicely alongside TJ Ward to strike fear in the eyes of any WR.

Conclusions:

– As a Pats fan, its hard to ignore that we missed out on some great talent in the first round, but also can’t help but point out that there are a ton of high caliber players waiting for our back-to-back picks at the end of the second round, particularly at the OT and DT positions.

– I expect a lot more trades this year than in years past. Most team needs don’t match up with the players available and can look to move around the board. Players like Eli Apple and Darren Lee won’t last as long as they did in my mock draft.

– There are a few players that slipped right out of the first round; one in particular was Nkemdiche. He doesn’t seem to care much about the game, and it will be interesting to see what team wants to try and light his fire.

– Roberto Aguayo is the top rated kicker prospect, and hit 93% of his kicks last year. How does the new extra point rule affect drafting a kicker?

– Glenn Gronkowski is the brother of Rob Gronkowski, and the highest rated FB prospect this year. That got me thinking about how important it is to know someone in the game. Do the Patriots bring on a guy like that to make their TE happy?

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1 year ago
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