Joey Bosa, Jared Goff go 1-2 in first 2016 Mock Draft
The NFL playoffs are right around the corner, but for a number of franchises, it’s time to turn to the offseason and the draft. Don’t worry — even if your team is knocked out of contention, draft season is almost upon us and five months of hope starts… now.
We have a number of NFL mock drafts planned here at PFF from now until draft night, although our approach may be a little different than most. Rather than predict the future of who will be picked, we’re using two years of our college data and grades to select who we think would be the ideal choice for each franchise, given the biggest needs identified by our NFL data.
This first mock draft is based on our initial evaluation of the prospects that is ever-evolving as our analysts dig deeper into each player during the offseason. Don’t be surprised to see some changes down the line.
Here is our first projection of all 32 first-round picks for the 2016 NFL draft:
(Notes: Draft order is based on if the season ended Tuesday, Dec. 15. Not all underclassmen here have officially declared for the draft.)
1. Tennessee Titans: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
We don’t know what defensive scheme Tennessee will be using next season, due to impending turnover on the Titans’ coaching staff, but it doesn’t matter with Bosa. He is the draft’s most disruptive player after leading the nation in pass-rushing grade each of the last two years (+56.6, +45.2) and leading the way against the run this year as well (+26.0). The Titans got their franchise QB in Marcus Mariota in last year’s draft; this year, they get a future cornerstone on defense.
2. Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California
Given the rocky start Johnny Manziel has had in Cleveland, the Browns may still be in the market for a quarterback this offseason — and in this scenario, they have the opportunity to take one at No. 2 overall. Goff is the best quarterback in a class that is deep but lacking in top-end talent. He made some poor decisions but continues to improve and is an effective downfield passer. He also performed well under pressure (+6.5 grade) and against the blitz (+13.0) — two good signs for his ability to translate to the NFL level.
3. San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
The Chargers have been weak on the defensive line for some time, and Buckner is a perfect fit as a defensive end in their 3-4 scheme. Like Bosa, he can play the run as well as he rush the passer, and he led all interior defensive linemen with a +38.1 rush grade to go with 11 sacks, 14 hits, and 39 hurries. He’s a disruptive fore on a defense that needs one.
4. Baltimore Ravens: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
It’s rare for the Ravens to be drafting this early, and they’re expected to look hard at the defensive backfield. Ramsey brings the versatility that NFL teams will covet. He has played safety, slot and outside corner at FSU, grading at +22.6 last season and +16.6 this year.
5. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
This is a depleted 49ers roster that could use help all over the place, and the future at quarterback is still up in the air, making Memphis QB Paxton Lynch a possibility for them in the first round. But we don’t have Lynch rated as highly as some do, and Doctson will help whichever signal-caller that eventually wins the job. He has the ability to win down the field while making catches with defenders draped all over him, two big parts of his + 24.5 receiving grade that ranked second in the nation this season (he was No. 1 prior to his season-ending injury).
6. Dallas Cowboys: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Treadwell has gotten his fair share of Dez Bryant comparisons in his three seasons with the Rebels, and in this scenario those two guys will team up to give Tony Romo an even more formidable wide receiver corps. Treadwell is strong in the vertical game and he’s tough to tackle after the catch, as he forced 16 misses last season. Defense is certainly an issue for Dallas as well, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to seem the Cowboys address that side of the ball in the first round.
7. Detroit Lions: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Nkemdiche will have some off-field questions to answer if he enters the draft, but what his performance on the field was very impressive this season. struggled against the run in 2014, but he improved greatly this season to +11.3 to go with a +25.3 pass rush grade that ranked fifth among interior defensive linemen. He’ll be a good addition to a Detroit defensive line that lacks depth.
8. Miami Dolphins: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
Miami adds one of the most explosive talents in the draft in this scenario, as Smith has proven himself as one of the best all-around defensive players in college football this season. Smith graded very well in coverage (+4.6), against the run (+20.0) and as a pass-rusher (+5.9).
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Even with Dante Fowler Jr., the Jaguars’ No. 3 pick this year who has missed the entire season due to injury, expected to be available for 2016, the team could use another pass-rusher, and Ogbah is a freak athlete who was one of our highest-graded edge players this year. He ranked third in the FBS with a +34.5 rush grade, including 12 sacks, 13 hits, and 43 hurries.
10. Chicago Bears: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
The Bears need to improve their offensive line play, and Tunsil started to live up to his immense potential in limited time this year. He’s a smooth-moving left tackle prototype who graded at +11.3 in the run game, while surrendering only four pressures on 204 attempts.
11. St. Louis Rams: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
The Rams’ stout defensive line has little behind them, as the Rams are lacking at linebacker. Jack missed most of 2015 due to injury, but he was our top-graded linebacker in coverage in 2014 (+15.0) while playing the third-most snaps in the country with 1,109.
12. New Orleans Saints: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
The fit is perfect as the Saints are getting crushed in the passing game and Hargreaves has the potential to be the best corner in the class. He posted our number two coverage grade in 2014 at +21.5 before tapering off to +8.0 this season. While he looked a step slow at times this year, he’s shown his potential and he’d be an upgrade to the Saints’ secondary.
13. New York Giants: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
With Jason Pierre-Paul possibly hitting free agency, adding an edge rusher makes a lot of sense for the Giants. Lawson was excellent in limited time in 2014 (+16.0 on 329 snaps) and broke out this year with a +20.6 pass-rush grade and +16.7 mark against the run.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jonathan Bullard, DE/DT, Florida
Bullard is a “tweener” type prospect who can move around the line, playing outside in a 4-3 and perhaps kicking inside to rush the passer. No matter where he is, he was a dominant run defender this season, leading the nation with a +44.4 grade while adding a +9.3 grade as a pass-rusher.
15. Atlanta Falcons: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Any number of positions are in play for the Falcons, but given how one-dimensional their passing offense has been with WR Julio Jones the only viable option, they’ll look to add a playmaker early in the draft. Coleman had a breakout season with 20 receiving touchdowns and a 3.86 yards-per-route average that ranked for third in the nation. He would have finished higher in our receiver grades had the Bears not suffered so many injuries at quarterback.
16. Oakland Raiders: Desmond King, CB, Iowa
A poor Raiders secondary gets an upgrade in this scenario in King, who graded at +8.3 and +13.7 in coverage each of the last two years. He also posted the top run grade among corners in 2015 at +10.4. He was the top playmaker on a good Iowa defense.
17. Philadelphia Eagles: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
The Eagles add to their depth on the edge here. Floyd brings a lot of versatility to the linebacker position. He’s still learning how to play in coverage, but his +24.8 pass-rush grade and a +13.2 grade against the run are good places to start.
18. Buffalo Bills: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
This is likely to be a common pairing come mock draft season, as Conklin fits the mauling, run-blocking profile that head coach Rex Ryan is looking for. He has been our No. 4 run-blocker each of the last two seasons, and he gave up only 10 pressures last season.
19. Houston Texans: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
With left tackle Duane Brown locked up for the long term, Stanley comes in to compete with RT Derek Newton, who struggles in pass protection, for a starting job. Stanley shines in that area, grading at +9.6 and +8.4 each of the last two seasons.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Su’a Cravens, S/LB, USC
The comparisons to Troy Polamalu will be inevitable, but this pick goes beyond just the two players’ USC connection. Cravens is a versatile defender, capable of adding a physical presence in run support while showing the instincts to make plays in coverage.
21. Washington Redskins: Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Wright missed most of 2015 due to injury, but he was outstanding in 2014, ranking second in our linebacker grades at +50.6. He was strong against the run at +34.5, an area in which Washington inside linebackers have struggled this season.
22. Indianapolis Colts: A’Shawn Robinson, DE, Alabama
The Colts took a step in the right direction in improving their run defense by adding DE Henry Anderson in the draft last year out of Stanford, and adding Robinson will add to their defensive line rebuild. He ranked 14th against the run last year at +25.0, after ranking 13th last year. His pass rushing has been average, but there’s room for growth if given an opportunity in another scheme.
23. New York Jets: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
The first running back off the board in this projection, Elliott brings a big-play ability to the Jets’ offense after grading at +30.8 and +20.1 as a runner each of the last two seasons. As an added bonus, he’s been an effective receiver out of the backfield and outstanding in pass protection.
24. Minnesota Vikings: Leontee Carroo, WR, Rutgers
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.
25. Kansas City Chiefs: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Seemingly always on the lookout for a complement to LB Derrick Johnson in the middle of the defense, Kansas City adds Ragland, who graded well across the board last year (+10.7 against run, +8.2 in coverage, +9.3 as pass rusher). His experience in multiple roles in Alabama’s 3-4 defense is a good fit for the Chiefs.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
Adding even more talent to the defensive line, the Seahawks add Day to the mix to complement their explosive edge rushers. He lived up to the hype this season, grading at +27.4 as a rusher and +23.5 against the run, good for the third overall grade among interior defensive linemen.
27. Green Bay Packers: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
After a breakout 2014 that saw him grade 13th overall as a sophomore, Billings ranked 13th once again in 2015, grading at +36.4 overall and +24.7 against the run. He can anchor the middle of the Green Bay defensive line that is inconsistent year-to-year.
28. Cincinnati Bengals: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Speaking of anchors, Reed outplayed Robinson in the middle of Alabama’s defensive line this season, earning first-team All-American honors at nose tackle. His +37.1 grade against the run ranks second in the nation and he’ll look to take snaps from DT Domato Peko, who is moved backwards off the point of attack more often than you’d like from a nose tackle.
29. Denver Broncos: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Whether Brock Osweiler at quarterback or Peyton Manning returning, the Broncos could use an all-around presence at tight end, and Henry has that ability. He graded at +13.1 as a run blocker in 2014 and posted the fifth-best receiving grade this season at +7.5.
30. Arizona Cardinals: Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford
A perfect fit for Arizona’s man-blocking scheme, Garnett moves defenders at the point of attack and he can lock on when asked to pull. He profiles similarly to current Arizona left guard, Mike Iupati, so having them opposite each other can only help the run game. Garnett’s +33.5 run blocking grade led all guards this season.
31. New England Patriots: No Pick (Vacated)
32. Carolina Panthers: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
A possible late-riser in the process, Jones broke out in the second half of 2015 as he started to live up to his lofty recruiting status. He showed well as a part-timer in 2014 (+13.4) before posting a +45.1 grade on 561 snaps this season. Even with Kawann Short on the roster, Jones’ upside is too much to pass up.