Mock Draft 2.0: Cowboys, 49ers each draft elite wide receivers
Steve Palazzolo uses both college and NFL data to bring you PFF's second mock for 2016 NFL draft.
Mock Draft 2.0: Cowboys, 49ers each draft elite wide receivers
We’re back for our second mock draft of the season, this time with a revised draft order that is still in the process of changing. While our initial film study is done and the grades are in, the PFF team is constantly re-evaluating prospects with an eye toward NFL projection.
It’s important to keep in mind that what separates our mock draft from others is that our main focus is on what we would do at each pick, rather than what the teams project to do. The other dynamic at play for this mock draft is the uncertainty among many coaching staffs across the league, so as head coaching jobs get finalized and we have a better idea which schemes they will run, the landscape of the draft is sure to change.
- Tennessee Titans: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
No change at the top as the best player on the board is still the top option for the Titans, even with question marks about coaching staff and scheme. Bosa posted the top pass rushing grade among edge defenders last season (+56.6) and ranked second this season at +43.5. He also had the top grade against the run this year at +28.5, and with his ability to win up and down the line, Bosa is a scheme-versatile playmaker.
- Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
The draft is not deep in surefire first-round quarterbacks, but Goff is the best of the bunch. He topped all QBs with a +53.8 overall grade, a year removed from ranking eighth at +27.7. He elevated an overmatched Cal team to a difficult weekly matchup in a deep Pac-12, and he handles pressure and the blitz well while throwing with accuracy to the deep and intermediate levels.
- San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
The first three picks all stay intact from last month’s mock draft as Buckner and the Chargers make one of the draft’s best matches. San Diego is extremely weak on the defensive interior and Buckner provides the best combination of pass rushing and run-stopping ability. At six-foot-seven, he’ll likely garner some Calais Campbell comparisons along the way and projecting similar production is not out of the question.
- Dallas Cowboys: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Dallas could have their eye on Jalen Ramsey here, but they go with Treadwell to pair with Dez Bryant, a player Treadwell has gotten compared to in the past. Treadwell can make plays down the field or after the catch (forced 17 missed tackles), and stocking up on playmakers is one way to get the Cowboys back to the top of the NFC East.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Help is needed in the Jacksonville secondary and Ramsey is well-equipped to upgrade a number of areas, it’s just a matter of how they want to use him. He’s played free safety and cornerback at Florida State, with plenty of experience in the slot. From a production standpoint, he can provide a Tyrann Mathieu-like presence to a secondary, and he’ll maximize his potential if that versatility is featured in the defensive scheme. Over the last two years, Ramsey has graded at +21.0 in coverage, +13.4 against the run, and +10.1 as a pass rusher.
- Baltimore Ravens: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE/OLB, Oklahoma State
The Ravens’ defense was a different unit with departed free agent Pernell McPhee off to Chicago and an early-season injury to Terrell Suggs. A limited pass rush put even more pressure on a hurting secondary, and while the Ravens would love to get a cornerback (perhaps a move up to get Ramsey is in the cards?), they upgrade the pass rush instead with no strong cornerback option on the board. Ogbah’s +40.9 grade ranked third in the nation among edge defenders.
- San Francisco 49ers: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
The quarterback class is filled with question marks beyond Goff, so it doesn’t make sense for the 49ers to reach at this point. Instead, the future franchise QB gets one of the draft’s top playmakers in Doctson who has the body control to make spectacular catches and route running to create separation. He was the nation’s top-graded WR at +26.9 before going down to injury in Week 11.
- Miami Dolphins: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Though his 2015 season was not nearly as strong as 2014, Hargreaves has already shown that he’s capable of mirroring opposing receivers while playing fundamentally sound football as a bonus. His +22.3 coverage grade in 2014 is the best we’ve had in two years and while deep speed and size may come into question during the draft process, his upside as a natural cover man is too much to pass up.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Aside from a couple positions, the entire defense needs an influx of talent and Calhoun gives the Bucs the pass rushing defensive end they’ve been looking for. He topped our pass rush grades among edge defenders at +45.3, picking up 11 sacks, 17 QB hits, and 48 hurries on the season.
- New York Giants: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
While the new regime may look to immediately upgrade at linebacker, the defensive line needs an injection of youth as well, and Lawson has earned first round status after his breakout season. His +39.5 overall grade ranked 10th among edge defenders, showing well both as a pass rusher (+22.8) and against the run (+20.3).
- Chicago Bears: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
While most mock drafts have Tunsil as a lock top-10 pick, a limited sample size in our grading — as well as my own personal de-valuing of the left tackle position — have him dropping to No. 11. The Bears were one of the worst pass-blocking units in the league last year and Tunsil allowed only five pressures on 225 attempts while showing good athleticism in the run game (+12.1).
- New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
One of the worst interior pass rushes gets an instant upgrade from Day, who finished fourth among interior defensive linemen with a +31.4 pass rush grade and ninth against the run at +28.7. Any help along the defensive front will help mitigate one of the worst pass defenses in the league.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Su’a Cravens, S/LB, USC
The scheme is still up for debate in Philadelphia, but given the struggles their linebackers had in coverage, Cravens will be useful regardless of the defensive system. He played a hybrid linebacker/safety role at USC and projects to do the same in the NFL after posting impressive two-year marks of +23.4 against the run and +20.9 in coverage.
- Oakland Raiders: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Despite missing most of the season due to injury, Jack is still in the first-round mix and he’ll be a part of the Raiders’ defensive re-build, adding much-needed talent at linebacker. Jack was our top coverage linebacker in the nation in 2014 at +15.0, while grading at +11.9 against the run the last two years.
- Los Angeles Rams: Jonathan Bullard, DE/DT, Florida
With Chris Long possibly out of the mix and William Hayes a free agent, the Rams’ deep defensive line could suddenly look thin. Enter Bullard who posted the top grade against the run among interior defensive linemen at +50.5 while improving as a pass rusher this season to +7.7. He can play early-down defensive end while kicking inside as a pass rusher in sub packages, adding versatility to any defensive front.
- Detroit Lions: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
While the offensive line could certainly be addressed, the Lions swing for the fences with Nkemdiche who could become one of the best interior pass rushers in the draft. Like Bullard, he can play defensive end on early downs, while rushing against guards in sub packages. He graded at +23.4 as a pass rusher this season, good for seventh in the nation, but it was his improved play against the run (+11.8) that put him in the first round mix.
- Atlanta Falcons: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Not much has changed with this pick since December as the Falcons look to upgrade their Julio Jones-centric passing attack with another option on the outside. Coleman had a breakout season with 20 receiving touchdowns and 3.86 yard/ route, good for third in the nation.
- Indianapolis Colts: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
The Colts’ defensive rebuild starts in the trenches, and it may have started last season with third rounder Henry Anderson. Jones is going to be a hot name this offseason once the film is watched closely as he broke out this season with a +52.5 overall grade, including a +34.7 mark as a pass rusher. The former top recruit ranked right behind Buckner since week four, and in 1,053 snaps over the last two seasons, he’s posted an impressive +65.9 overall grade.
- Buffalo Bills: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Another pick that remains the same, Conklin fits the mauling, run-blocking profile that head coach Rex Ryan his looking for. He’s ranked fourth as a run blocker each of the last two years and he finished 2015 with only 11 pressures surrendered on 416 attempts.
- New York Jets: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
The Jets were rotating their 300-pound defensive lineman on the edge last season, and while they had success, finding a true edge player is still an offseason goal. Floyd dabbled at traditional linebacker this season, only adding to his versatility, but it’s his pass rushing that makes him a first-rounder (+28.8, 13th in the nation). He was strong against the run as well at +17.0, and while an Anthony Barr-like NFL transition may be unlikely, he does bring a movable chess piece to a blitz-heavy defensive front.
- Washington Redskins: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Ragland was one of a number of standouts in Alabama’s front-7, strong against both the run (+13.2) and in coverage (+9.8) while successfully blitzing and rushing off the edge at times (+7.7). With one of the worst inside linebacker situations in the NFL, Washington will be watching all of the linebacker prospects very closely.
- Houston Texans: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
The nation’s best all-around running back, Elliott brings the total package. He exhibits the sharp cutting necessary for a zone blocking running system, but he’s equally adept at getting downhill and running through contact as he was often asked to do at Ohio State. He’s a good fit for Houston’s diverse running attack and when you add in his +13.0 blocking grade that led the nation, as well as a +3.1 grade in the pass game, Elliott brings many dimensions to an NFL offense.
- Minnesota Vikings: Leontee Carroo, WR, Rutgers
Just as was the case in Mock Draft 1.0, the Vikings look to aid in QB Teddy Bridgewater’s development by adding Carroo who is adept at getting open on vertical routes. He averaged 4.11 yards per route this season while grading at +15.0 in only eight games.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Yet another carry-over pick, the Bengals have been in the market to upgrade at nose tackle where Domato Peko is moved off the point of attack far too often. Reed is stout against the run, ranking second overall at +38.9 and he showed better ability to affect the passing game at +5.8 while batting a total of 10 passes over the last two seasons.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
With LT Kelvin Beachum a pending free agent, the Steelers pounce on Stanley who has been one of the nation’s better pass protectors at +10.1 and +9.7 the last two season.
- Seattle Seahawks: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
The Seahawks would love to get an offensive lineman here, but there are no viable options on the board. Nose tackle Brandon Mebane hasn’t been the same player the last two years and he’s about the hit free agency. Billings could be the perfect replacement as he plays with great power that allows him to excel against the run (+47.1 last two seasons) while showing just as well as a pass rusher at +37.6.
- Green Bay Packers: Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
The big guys are coming off the board and that should be no surprise as the class of interior defensive linemen is a deep one. Johnson graded at +36.1 against the run, third in the nation, while tacking on seven sacks, two hits, and 14 hurries. Like Mebane in Seattle, nose B.J. Raji is set to hit free agency and Johnson adds a strong replacement in the middle.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Seemingly always on the lookout for a complement to LB Derrick Johnson in the middle of the defense, Kansas City adds Wright who was one our No. 2 linebacker in the nation in 2014 (+50.6). Wright is coming off injury that limited him to only 174 snaps in 2015, but he’s quick to diagnose and excellent against the run, grading at +40.0 over the last two years.
- Arizona Cardinals: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
One of the league’s best offenses gets even better with Henry who led all tight ends with a +10.6 receiving grade, a year removed from ranking fourth at +8.1. He can make plays down the field, a perfect fit for Arizona’s vertical passing game, and while the Cardinals ask a lot of their tight ends in the running game, Henry showed that ability as well with a +13.1 mark in 2014.
- Denver Broncos: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Another case of replacing a potential free agent, Denver DE Malik Jackson is set to hit the market so what better way to make up for missing production than with a similar player in Allen. He led all interior rushers with 13 sacks to go with six hits and 16 hurries, and while he only played 39.5 percent of Alabama’s defensive snaps, Allen’s two-year grade of +55.3 on only 903 snaps is just too much to pass up for Denver.
- Carolina Panthers: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Carolina has invested in the wide receiver position in each of the last two drafts in Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, but Shepard brings a different dynamic compared to the big guys on the outside. Shepard’s route running makes Carolina’s offense even more dangerous as he picked up 974 yards from the slot while ranking second in the nation with a +27.8 receiving grade.
*No first round pick for the New England Patriots