Wentz, Goff go 1-2 in Cris Collinsworth's first 2016 NFL mock draft
[Editor’s note: On March 15, PFF first published Cris Collinsworth’s mock draft, which projected a trade between the Rams and the Titans for the No. 1 overall pick. Following that trade coming to fruition on Thursday, we have resurfaced the article, containing his original analysis. Cris will release his second mock draft in the lead-up to April 28.
Looking for more on the NFL draft? Check out our 2016 NFL draft guide, loaded with scouting reports, signature stats and much more.]
Free agency is starting to slow down, and the NFL draft is now only a month and a half away, which made it a good time to put together my first mock draft of the year.
Here is my projection of all 31 first-round picks for 2016:
1. Los Angeles Rams (Trade from Tennessee) Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
While I’m only guessing that the team will be Los Angeles that trades up with Tennessee to obtain the No. 1 pick, I do believe two quarterbacks will go 1-2 in this draft. Every year the quarterbacks slowly rise to the top of the draft board. Are they the two best players in the draft class? Probably not, but as a GM you simply can’t take the chance that one of them becomes the next Peyton Manning or Tom Brady while playing for another team. Jared Goff is the better QB today, but teams won’t be able to pass on the physical traits that Carson Wentz brings to the table. Somebody will move ahead of Cleveland and get him.
Wentz is a powerful-looking guy. His size makes an impression, but his ability to run is even more impressive. He appears to have a top-15 NFL arm. Wentz might not be as fast, powerful or athletic as Cam Newton, but at 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, Cam is not an unfair comparison for him. Wentz has a lot to learn making the huge jump from North Dakota State to the NFL, but his talent is undeniable. His arm strength and athleticism allows him to make the off-balance throws necessary in the NFL. I worry about his release quickness — there may be a little loop in his throwing motion — but Wentz possesses too many positives to not be taken at No. 1.
2. Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California
Goff is the more NFL-ready quarterback right now. His movement skills inside the pocket are very impressive. He can read defenses, make off-balance throws, and think his way around the football field. Much like Jay Cutler, Goff had to play against better competition with lesser talent around him. Goff is not as physically impressive as Wentz — he is skinny, has small hands, and his arm strength doesn’t compare, but he is a very impressive QB whose skills are obvious on tape. Arm strength aside, his movement within the pocket and his creative throws remind me of Aaron Rodgers. While the combination of bad weather and small hands would scare me, I believe Cleveland has to take him here. Unless they’re willing to negotiate against themselves to trade up, they will probably land their second choice at QB. It all boils down to this: Is Cleveland willing to pass on better players in the draft to address the position they need most?
3. San Diego Chargers: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
San Diego becomes the big winner here. The best player in the draft falls to them at a position of need. Tunsil is a gifted athlete with feet like Anthony Munoz (I don’t say that lightly about my former Hall of Fame teammate). Tunsil can easily get to the second level, handle speed and power off the edge, and use his athleticism in space to help with stretch runs and screens. He has frenetic feet, breaks down on blocks like he is tackling a punt returner, explodes out of his stance, and has good pop for such an athletic guy. San Diego can’t lose here — there’s plenty of talent at the third pick, regardless — but Tunsil would do the most for the Chargers.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will get a defensive end who perfectly matches his work ethic. Bosa may not be J.J. Watt, but he’ll work just as hard. Bosa is one of those admired football players who lifts players around him as they try to match his effort. Bosa is not a quick-twitch, pure pass-rusher, so don’t expect a 15-sack season, but if healthy, Bosa will consistently deliver 10 sacks per year and dominate his space in the running game — similar to Cameron Jordan of the Saints. It wouldn’t stun me to see Bosa play outside linebacker in a 3-4 Bill Belichick-type defense either. Bosa would be a hammer setting the edge on runs, and destroy backs and tight ends trying to block him. This is an easy choice for me, but FSU cornerback Jalen Ramsey will be a great temptation here and could easily be the Cowboys’ pick.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State
Like Tyrann Mathieu or Byron Jones, Ramsey can play any position in the secondary. His versatility creates so many options for Jacksonville. My guess is Ramsey will play cornerback in base defense and then see multiple roles in nickel-and-dime situations. His size makes him too valuable against bigger receivers to move inside, but Ramsey would sure look good covering tight ends or blitzing off the edge on key third downs. At 6-1 and 208 pounds, he has rare size for those difficult match-ups against bigger receivers or tight ends flanked out. Ramsey is a big hitter who escapes blocks with a flair. It would not surprise me to see Ramsey go anywhere in the top five picks, but if he falls lower than No. 5, that would be stunning.
6. Baltimore Ravens: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Athletic linebackers who can cover backs and tight ends in key man-coverage situations helped Denver win a Super Bowl. The versatility of Jack will allow the Ravens to be unpredictable on defense. To beat the best teams in the NFL, you have to take away the short quick passes that guys like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers use to control the pass rush. The Broncos beat both of those QBs when they were forced to hold the ball against tight pressure coverage. Assuming Jack’s knee is fine, he will be a shot of adrenaline for the Ravens and help protect their secondary with blitzes and coverage. He isn’t quite Ray Lewis, but his sideline-to-sideline speed will bring back that style of defense to the Ravens. Like Lewis, Jack brings a heavy punch to hits, he flies to holes like a running back, with great anticipation. Jack also plays with an aggression that will fit in perfectly with the Ravens.
7. San Francisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon Ducks
Buckner is the most physically imposing player in the draft at 6-7 and 291 pounds. He is not a pure pass-rusher — and has more quickness than speed — but his slippery quickness, length, and size creates endless possibilities for Chip Kelly and the 49ers. He has the durability to stay on the field as well — Buckner played over 100 snaps in two different games. Assuming he won’t have to play as many snaps in the NFL, Buckner may become one of those players that has to be double-teamed on almost every play, creating one-on-one opportunities for the 49ers’ edge rushers. At his best, Buckner could disrupt like Seattle’s Michael Bennett, but at a minimum, Buckner’s quickness should compress the pocket and take away that step-up space that most QBs need. His 6-7 height should also deliver some key blocked passes and maybe a few blocked kicks during his career. He can get beat up on double teams occasionally, but there is too much to like for Buckner to slip out of the top 10.
8. Philadelphia Eagles: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
The Eagles traded up with Miami to get into the first eight picks, and it was worth the effort. Stanley has been a rock for the Fighting Irish, and I have seen most of the games because my son Austin played for the team. Stanley will be a 15-year cornerstone at tackle on an offensive line that needs help. You could argue the Eagles need more help inside, but Stanley is one of those key cornerstones you can’t pass on. He is not as athletic as Laremy Tunsil, but a player who will be better than 75 percent of NFL tackles by his second year. Stanley needs to get stronger against bull rushers, but he is quick off the ball and uses his long arms to his full advantage. He also has plenty of quickness to get to the second level and make plays in the screen game. On the negative side, Stanley can look a little awkward sometimes trying to recover when getting beat, but he is NFL-ready today. Eagles left tackle Jason Peters has been one of my favorite players for a long time, but his injury issues are starting to be a concern, and the Eagles are a different team without him. Stanley is not as athletic as Peters, but he has to be the pick here.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
If I had a pure pass-rusher that I loved here, he would be the choice for Tampa — but I don’t, so if you can’t rush the passer, you better cover the receivers. Hargreaves will be a good player for years, and his Florida roots will make him less likely to leave Tampa Bay in free agency. I’m a little worried about Hargraves’ 4.5 40-yard dash speed, but he is a player whose competitive nature will always make him valuable. He showed explosiveness with a 39-inch vertical and is a nasty competitor who finds the ball. Hargreaves has notched 10 interceptions in his career and loves contact. He should be a real asset stopping wide receiver screens. However, with a lack of make-up speed, teams will test him on double moves, where his confidence and quickness could work against him. Corners and pass-rushers come off the board first, so Hargreaves goes in my top 10 despite some reservations.
10. New York Giants: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
I know many disagree, but I don’t think the debate over who is the top wide receiver prospect in this class. Corey Coleman has the same sort of elite quickness and speed that Odell Beckham Jr. possesses. Do I think Coleman is as good as Beckham? No — he doesn’t have Beckham’s route running skills — but he will protect Beckham. Any team trying to double Beckham will have a real problem trying to cover Coleman one-on-one. His releases against bump-and-run are electric, and if a player misses him on the jam, the next time they’ll see him will be in the end zone. Head coach Ben McAdoo can no longer count on the health of Victor Cruz, and he has to create other options for quarterback Eli Manning. Drops are a problem, and Coleman isn’t much of a threat over the middle, but his outside play-making ability will put safeties in a real dilemma against the Giants.
11. Chicago Bears: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Conklin has shown the ability to play multiple positions, but his run-blocking skills could land him at guard initially and right tackle down the road. He’s not overly athletic, but Conklin has a nasty edge to his game. Versatility and toughness makes him a good fit in Chicago. Admittedly, this may be a little early for Conklin, but John Fox is a defensive guy and in Chicago the best way to win is to run the football. Drafting Conklin makes a statement here — that tough-guy football is back in vogue in the Windy City.
12. New Orleans Saints: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson Tigers
The Saints need a lot of help, and drafting Lawson is a good place to start. Cameron Jordan could be even more dynamic if he had a threat on the other side. The Saints won’t have Drew Brees forever, and they can better prepare for life after Brees with a strong defense. Lawson is dependable, but not spectacular; his pass-rush skills are good but not great. He is a better bull rusher than a quick-twitch guy. Lawson will be a “Jordan Lite” style of player who should approach double-digit sacks most years. Don’t expect flashy, but dependable should be enough to help the Saints — all they have to do is be average on defense to get back to the playoffs. The Saints could go for a pure pass-rusher like a Shilique Calhoun, but Lawson is a much bigger and more complete player.
13. Miami Dolphins: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
The NFL has always been a copycat league, and after the Broncos won the Super Bowl with a defense built around three quality corners and good pass-rushers, other teams will follow. Alexander’s speed and quickness give him a slight edge over Hargreaves in that department, but Hargreaves is heavier and physically stronger than Alexander. Those two outstanding young players should go first and second among corners — the order just comes down to personal preference. Alexander will have to prove that at 5-10 and 190 pounds he can still compete with taller receivers, but his quickness in man coverage will leave him attached at the hip in most situations. Alexander could play inside or outside in the nickel, which gives him added value. If a team can’t cover those quicker slot receivers on third down, the defense never gets off the field. If Alexander falls to No. 13, the Dolphins will not lose a thing in the trade with Philadelphia. They will get Kiko Alonso, Byron Maxwell and Alexander — meaning even if Alonso and Maxwell never do anything, the Dolphins still end up with the best cover corner in this draft.
14. Oakland Raiders: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Khalil Mack is a nightmare for opponents coming off the edge, but if you add the quickness of Rankins inside to keep quarterbacks from stepping up, Mack might approach the single-season sack record. Malik Jackson would have been a dream pairing with Mack, but now that Jackson has signed with Jacksonville, Rankins makes sense. He reminds me a little of Geno Atkins; at 6-1, 299 pounds he is surprisingly quick, yet powerful for his size. There is nothing on the tape that makes me nervous, but when teams see that type of frame, they will look elsewhere for more length. I think that’s a mistake the Raiders won’t make. Rankins will be dynamic on stunts, has the quickness to play in a one-gap scheme, and the power and leverage to hold the point if asked to two-gap. The Raiders are gaining on the league by drafting guys like Sheldon Rankins, who can just play.
15. Tennessee Titans (trade from Rams): Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Quarterback Marcus Mariota is poised to make a big jump in the second year of his NFL career, and he deserves a physical, playmaking receiver. Mike Mularkey knows his future is directly related to Mariota’s growth at QB. Tight ends will always be a big part of this offense, but for Delanie Walker to get open, somebody has to loosen the coverage, and Doctson is the man for the job. Doctson has a knack for making plays on the ball. So much of the NFL is now about contested catches, and Doctson is so good at finding and attacking the ball. He is a well-coached technician that comes back hard to the ball, and his adjustments to poorly thrown balls are really impressive. Doctson is very difficult to tackle in the open field and often makes the tacklers look silly. He’s fast, but not a blazer. Whether he is fast enough for the Titans (assuming my trade happens) will be the biggest question.
16. Detroit Lions: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Nkemdiche is a very gifted athlete who can play anywhere along the defensive line. At nearly 300 pounds, his athleticism surprises, but his strength is apparent as well. I love to watch him split double-team blocks inside. His most underrated quality is his ability to stay low against blocks — most guys his size tend to get higher as they get fatigued. The main question with Nkemdiche is what he does off the field. While I love him on the field, his off-field concerns raise some red flags.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
If you like the versatility of Jamie Collins from the Patriots, you will like Leonard Floyd. Floyd can rush the passer, play inside linebacker, and looks athletic enough to cover backs and tight ends, which is becoming such an important trait for linebackers. Floyd is a little long-legged for coverage change of direction, but big plays come from guys like Jamie Collins and Ryan Shazier, and I expect the same from Floyd.
18. Indianapolis Colts: A’Shawn Robinson, DE, Alabama
Robinson is a classic defensive end in a 3-4 defense. While he’s not really a pass-rusher, his strength will be anchoring the run-heavy defensive left side and pushing the pocket in the pass rush. Most defensive coordinators share the same line every time I meet with them: “If we can stop the run and make them one-dimensional, we will get after their quarterback.” A’Shawn Robinson will help his NFL team stop the run.
19. Buffalo Bills: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
In a draft lacking three-down pass-rushers, Spence may end up the best of the bunch. I love his hustle and tenacity. He could be a factor in either a four-man line or as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. Shilique Calhoun is quicker, but Spence should be a better run defender, and his energy will lift an NFL defense. Drug concerns knocks him down the list, but he hasn’t had any issues since leaving Ohio State.
20. New York Jets: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Tackles are a priority for most teams, and the Jets could use a boost. Most 6-foot-7 tackles look slow on tape due to their length, but Decker is very nimble. He may not be as powerful as some, but he can move his feet and shouldn’t have many whiffs against the NFL’s best edge rushers. At his best, Decker is a Nate Solder-type NFL tackle. It is easy to fall in love with run blockers, but pass protection is paramount in the NFL, and Decker should be one of the best pass-protecting tackles this class has to offer.
21. Washington: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Running a 4.37 40-yard dash at the NFL combine is a good place to start, and his 6-0 height doesn’t hurt, either. There is no question that Jackson has a lot to learn — he looks very vulnerable to double moves at the next level, and relies too much on his speed to make up for his mistakes, which is something that will get him in trouble at the next level. But while I don’t think Jackson is ready to be left on an island in his first NFL year, he is gifted enough to be selected on the first day. I would love to see what cornerback whisperers like Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll or Mike Zimmer could do with him.
22. Houston Texans: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Yes, the Texans just signed Lamar Miller from the Dolphins, but this is a league where teams want two backs. With Brock Osweiler now the quarterback, Bill O’Brien will want to take pressure off of him with a top running game. The bonus is he will also have two backs who are receiving threats out of the backfield. Elliott is a very complete player. We spent 10 minutes watching his runs and I said, “Okay I get it, I know he can run — but can he block and catch?” By the time we finished watching those breakdowns, I was ready to put him in my top 10. He is a very impressive player and I think he will be a star in the NFL. Most of these young backs are never asked to block in college, and while Elliott isn’t devastating, he has heart and will stand his ground.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State
Whitehair isn’t flashy, but he can play any position along the offensive line. He’s moved around to help his team, which I like. With only seven offensive linemen active in most NFL games, position versatility is a must. Whitehair should be a better guard than tackle, but he will compete at either position. He has good feet getting to the second level or in position for stretch runs, along with a substantial punch. Whitehair’s pass protection at tackle is just okay, but he should get better once he moves back inside and gets away from that two-point stance. He likes to grab, but that won’t get called often inside at guard. The Vikings have to get better along their offensive line, and this is a good step.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
With 4.32 speed in the 40-yard dash, Fuller is one of the fastest players I’ve seen lately in college football. He consistently runs by people who have been coached all week to give him whatever he wants underneath, but not let him get behind the defense. Even against the best competition, Fuller seems to catch a deep ball every game. He’s also broken big plays on quick screens, mostly running against the grain across the field. He is not very big and has more than his share of drops, but when teams try to double A.J. Green, they will have major problems covering Fuller one-on-one.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Apple is a scrappy, tough corner who will win with tenacity. He plays at the line of scrimmage and is very physical. Apple likes to get his hands on receivers and disrupt. There is some question in my mind as to how his physical play will translate. Will Apple have to hold to survive against quicker release moves? He’s fast — he posted a 4.4 40-yard dash — but he doesn’t have elite corner speed; his quickness is good, not great. However, man coverage corners are simply a must, and Apple has been a solid man coverage defender his entire college career. He will at the very least be a solid third corner on most NFL teams, and he certainly fits a need for the Steelers.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
The more football I watch, the more I’m convinced that center is a very underrated position. The other thing I’ve noticed is that edge rushers are almost entirely dependent on the interior rushers getting a push that keeps the QB from stepping up in the pocket. I like Kelly’s size. He should be able to hold his ground in the passing game to allow Russell Wilson to step up, get some movement on tough double teams, and still have the quickness get to the second level when needed. So many teams put a premium on the center’s ability to get to the second level that they sign smaller centers that can move. I would put the premium on strength and size that could hold the point and allow my quarterback to step up. The Seahawks need help along that offensive line, and losing Max Unger in the Jimmy Graham trade last offseason hurt, but combining a talented young center like Kelly with Russell Wilson would give the Seahawks a communication tandem that would last a decade.
27. Green Bay Packers: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
I really have enjoyed watching Reggie Ragland play. He is a tough, physical linebacker inside, he can get in a 3-point stance and rush the passer, and he is plenty athletic enough to cover backs and tight ends. Some questioned his speed, but 4.7 is fast enough. There are fast guys that aren’t athletic, but you can see Ragland’s athleticism as he wiggles into holes to make plays. This unanimous All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year would be perfect for the Packers. They just can’t find anyone to allow Clay Matthews to go back to playing on the edge. Ragland would solidify the inside linebacker position, but still give the Packers the versatility they love on defense with Dom Capers.
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama
Reed is one of the best run defenders in this draft. He’s a powerful inside defensive lineman who sheds blocks quickly and holds his ground against double teams. The reason he falls to the end of the first round is that he hasn’t produced as a pass-rusher. But the more I watch of his tape, the more I think he will surprise as a pass-rusher. When given a chance to get on the edge of a blocker, he can get up field and has surprising quickness closing on a quarterback. Statistics show he is not a pass-rusher, but I believe he will at least get penetration and five sacks per year.
29. Arizona Cardinals: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
A three-time All-American with 10.5 sacks as a senior, Calhoun is the most gifted pass-rusher in this draft coming off the edge and should be an excellent double-digit sack artist for years to come. If Calhoun were 275 pounds, he would be a top-five pick (he weighed 251 at the combine). There is just a little something missing to his game — a finishing nastiness that you see in the top players. Arizona is so desperate for an edge rusher, there is no way Calhoun’s talent slips past the Cardinals, and Bruce Arians will make sure he is motivated. You fall in love with Calhoun’s slippery pass-rush moves, and hope the intensity develops in the NFL.
30. Carolina Panthers: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Treadwell was a top player in the SEC, so there’s no question about his ability. He is strong on contested catches, has no fear running slants, catches the ball with his hands, and has nice moves after the catch — his only questions are speed and elusiveness. Does he have the elusiveness to get off the jam and the speed to separate? At 6-2 and 221 pounds, he’s a physical presence on the field. Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice made it to the Hall of Fame without rare speed, but those were exceptions. Treadwell belongs in the first round, and if his speed is even 4.5, I think he will go higher than this. Until I see that 4.5 though, I like Coleman, Doctson and Fuller better at the position.
31. Denver Broncos: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
The combine was very good for Spriggs. He was best of his class in the 40, bench press, broad jump, and 20-yard shuttle, and his stock is rising. One of the better-looking athletes for his size, Spriggs has the foot quickness to stay in front of edge rushers in the NFL. Plus, his ability to reach-block and get in front of screens will be a real asset. He has some technique issues to clean up, with the way he sets he may give up some inside moves, and his strength against bull rushers is a concern, but there is too much good in his game to leave him out of the first round. The Broncos no longer have Peyton Manning to protect Denver’s tackles with his quick release passes. Spriggs feels like the right fit here.
New England Patriots: Vacated pick