The 2016 NFL Draft is just days away, but there’s already been two blockbuster trades involving the top two picks. This is one of the more interesting draft classes in recent years, as there isn’t much of a consensus as far as positional rankings go, so I decided to put together my own 2016 NFL Mock Draft, going three entire rounds with trades and finishing the Buffalo Bills final selections.
Here’s a breakdown of all the trades in the mock.
L.A. Rams trade picks 1.15, 2. 43, 2.45, 3.76 & 2017 1st and 3rd round picks to Tennessee Titans for 1.1, 4. 113, 6. 177.
Philadelphia Eagles trade 1.8, 3.77, 4.100, 2017 1st round, 2018 2nd round to Cleveland Browns for 1.2, 2017 4th round.
*New York Giants trade picks 1.10, 2.40, 5.149 to Jacksonville Jaguars for 1.5
The Giants continue to be aggressive this offseason and move up to select arguably the best player in the draft, Jalen Ramsey. The team gave a mega-deal to CB Janoris Jenkins, but the Giants secure a versatile and athletic defender that can play a variety of roles in their secondary.
Seattle Seahawks trade picks 1.26, 2.56, 4.124 to Oakland Raiders for 1. 26
The Seahawks’ offensive line has been a disaster, so rather than settling for a mid-tier tackle, they aggressively move up to select Indiana’s Jason Spriggs, a fantastic lineman that fits the athletic mold they covet.
Green Bay Packers trade 1. 27, 3. 88, 4. 125 to Buffalo Bills for 1. 19
The Buffalo Bills have a variety of holes on their team and after two of their likely top targets in Darron Lee and Noah Spence went off the board, they didn’t have a problem moving down eight slots, as just one defensive lineman and zero wide receivers had been selected yet. The Packers add Reggie Ragland, an ideal fit at inside linebacker in their 3-4 defense, allowing Clay Matthews to move back to his role as an edge rusher.
Dallas Cowboys trade picks 2. 34, 3. 67, 7. 248 to Buffalo Bills for 1. 27
After three wide receivers and Leonard Floyd get selected, the Bills still have quite a few of their targets on the board with the No. 27 overall pick. The Dallas Cowboys want to find Tony Romo’s successor and know that the Denver Broncos and possibly the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs could be looking for a quarterback as well. By trading back into the first round for Paxton Lynch, the Cowboys ensure that they can get their guy and eventually exercise the fifth-year option on him if they choose to.
Minnesota Vikings trade 2. 54, 3. 86 to the Miami Dolphins for picks 2. 42 and 5. 147
After adding a wide receiver to help their potential franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings move up to select Kansas State’s OT/G Cody Whitehair. The Vikings’ offensive line has been atrocious and Whitehair would immediately upgrade the unit.
Denver Broncos trade picks 2. 63 and 3.94 to Atlanta Falcons for 2. 50
The Broncos don’t want to risk missing out on one of the top quarterbacks in the class, so they trade up with the Falcons to get in front of the New York Jets in order to select Michigan State’s Connor Cook.
Buffalo Bills trade picks 3. 80 and 5. 156 to New York Giants for 3. 71
The Buffalo Bills have made it clear that they want to come away with a quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft that they can develop behind Tyrod Taylor, who’s in the last year of his contract. Cardale Jones has one of the most intriguing skill sets of all the passers in the class, so Buffalo doesn’t hesitate to throw in a fifth-round pick to swap thirds with the New York Giants and select the raw, but talented quarterback.
So, here’s how I see the first three rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft potentially shaking out. The teams selecting a pick acquired via trade are in bold.
2016 NFL Mock Draft Round One
|3||Chargers||OT||Laremy Tunsil||Ole Miss|
|4||Cowboys||DE||Joey Bosa||Ohio State|
|5||Giants||DB||Jalen Ramsey||Florida State|
|8||Browns||RB||Ezekiel Elliott||Ohio State|
|9||Buccaneers||CB||William Jackson III||Houston|
|11||Bears||OT||Ronnie Stanley||Notre Dame|
|15||Titans||OT||Jack Conklin||Michigan State|
|16||Lions||OT||Taylor Decker||Ohio State|
|17||Falcons||LB||Darron Lee||Ohio State|
|18||Colts||EDGE||Noah Spence||E. Kentucky|
|24||Bengals||WR||Laquon Treadwell||Ole Miss|
|30||Panthers||S||Karl Joseph||West Virginia|
2016 NFL Mock Draft: Round Two
|32||Browns||WR||Chris Jones||Mississippi State|
|33||Titans||WR||Will Fuller||Notre Dame|
|34||Bills||WR||Michael Thomas||Ohio State|
|36||Ravens||CB||Eli Apple||Ohio State|
|37||49ers||OT||Germain Ifedi||Texas A&M|
|38||Jaguars||S||Vonn Bell||Ohio State|
|39||Buccaneers||EDGE||Emmanuel Ogbah||Oklahoma St|
|42||Vikings||OG||Cody Whitehair||Kansas State|
|45||Titans||DL||Robert Nkemdiche||Ole Miss|
|47||Saints||CB||Kendall Fuller||Virginia Tech|
|48||Colts||S||Darian Thompson||Boise State|
|50||Broncos||QB||Connor Cook||Michigan State|
|55||Bengals||DT||Austin Johnson||Penn State|
|57||Bills||LB||Joshua Perry||Ohio State|
|58||Steelers||LB/S||Su’a Cravens||Texas Tech|
|59||Chiefs||EDGE||Kamalei Correa||Boise State|
|63||Falcons||EDGE||Kyler Fackrell||Utah St|
2016 NFL Mock Draft Round Three
|65||Browns||TE||Nick Vannett||Ohio State|
|68||49ers||WR||Braxton Miller||Ohio State|
|69||Jaguars||C||Nick Martin||Notre Dame|
|70||Ravens||EDGE||Shilique Calhoun||Michigan State|
|71||Bills||QB||Cardale Jones||Ohio State|
|73||Dolphins||S||Justin Simmons||Boston College|
|74||Buccaneers||WR||Pharoah Cooper||South Carolina|
|75||Raiders||OT||Le’Raven Clark||Texas Tech|
|76||Titans||CB||Will Redmond||Mississippi St|
|77||Browns||OG||Christian Westerman||Arizona State|
|82||Colts||OL||Joe Dahl||Washington St|
|83||Jets||QB||Dak Prescott||Mississippi St|
|86||Dolphins||OL||Willie Beavers||W. Michigan|
|87||Bengals||DE||Carl Nassib||Penn State|
|89||Steelers||DL||Adolphus Washington||Ohio State|
|91||Patriots||DL||Javon Hargrave||South Carolina St.|
|92||Cardinals||C||Max Tuerk||Southern Cal|
|93||Panthers||CB||Ryan Smith||N.C. Central|
|94||Falcons||TE||Jerell Adams||South Carolina|
|97||Seahawks||RB||C.J. Prosise||Notre Dame|
|98||Broncos||G/C||Issac Seumalo||Oregon State|
2016 NFL Mock Draft: Buffalo Bills Selections Analysis
Round Two, Pick No. 34 (from Dallas)
After trading down twice, the Buffalo Bills could be tempted to select a defender with the No. 34 overall pick, but instead they opt to select Ohio State’s Michael Thomas, the final wide receiver in the top tier at the position. Thomas has the ideal size (6’3” 215 lbs) that the Bills have lacked at the boundary receiver position for years. While he ran a limited route tree and didn’t see a ton of opportunities in the Buckeye’s run-first offense, Thomas does a good job getting separation with good footwork and solid speed.
He isn’t a burner that will take the top off of a defense, but he can create some separation with double moves and subtle fakes that allow him to distance himself from opposing cornerbacks. Thomas does a good job of selling his routes, whether on a stop-and-go, or a crossing route.
In the following clip against a projected Top-50 pick in cornerback Kendall Fuller, he flat out embarrasses him, getting vertical before stutter-stepping to sell the comeback, causing the cornerback to take a false step, before accelerating down the field and making a wide open touchdown grab.
In 2015, Thomas caught 71 passes for 1,301 yards (501 after the catch) and 14 touchdowns. He’s got good hands and uses his size to box out defensive backs and make contested catches.
Michael Thomas doesn’t have the explosiveness of a Corey Coleman or Josh Doctson, but he has the elusiveness to make a man miss and the long strides to cover a lot of ground.
In the following play against Rutgers, Thomas runs a quick out route before stiff-arming the cornerback to the ground and takes it 40-yards to the house for a touchdown.
Round Two, Pick No. 49
DL Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
With the No. 49 overall pick, the Buffalo Bills address the defensive line with the massive and versatile Vernon Butler out of Louisiana Tech. Standing 6’4” and weighing 325 pounds, Butler possesses rare movement skills for a player of his size and can play multiple positions in a three-man front, from a zero technique nose tackle to the five-technique defensive end role. As a pass rusher, Vernon Butler wins with initial burst and power. His first step is often too much for a lineman and he does a good job using his length to prevent blockers from getting their hands in his pads. Once Butler is engaged with a lineman, he doesn’t stop driving his legs and has one of the best bull-rushes among the 2016 defensive line group.
In 2015 he recorded just two sacks but added 39 pressures and 35 tackles—impressive numbers considering the amount of double-teams he faced.
He’s got an extremely quick first step off the ball and his length and power make it a tough assignment for a lineman to effectively reach block him in the run game. Butler has incredible play strength and knows how to use his long arms to not only push and collapse the offensive line, but also to create distance between himself and the defender to maintain leverage while chasing down running backs.
He’s strong enough to anchor and eat up double teams and with some coaching, Butler should only continue to improve. Selecting Butler would allow the Bills to be creative with Marcell Dareus’ usage and add another powerful player that fits within the 3-4 scheme they’ll be running.
Round Two, Pick No. 57 (from Green Bay)
With the second-round pick acquired in the trade down with the Green Bay Packers, the Buffalo Bills address the linebacker position with Ohio State’s Joshua Perry. His teammate Darron Lee has garnered the majority of hype throughout the draft process, but Joshua Perry is an ideal fit for the Bills’ defense as he provides positional versatility with the ability to play inside and outside linebacker and can provide some pressure as a rusher off the edge.
Standing 6’4” and 254 pounds, Perry has underrated athletic ability and was arguably the most reliable tackler in the nation at his position, missing just nine tackles over the last two seasons, per ProFootballFocus.
Joshua Perry is a fantastic run defender and routinely shows the ability to quickly diagnose runs and quickly flow to the ball carrier. According to RealSportsNetwork, Perry had 12 “stuffs” and 24 run disruptions during the 2015 season and 42 of his 105 tackles came within two yards of the line of scrimmage.
Perry is a smart and instinctive player that can routinely fight through the trash on outside runs. He understands angles and rarely finds himself out of position to make a play.
You typically don’t see many 6’4” 254 pound linebackers dropping into coverage very often, let alone excelling at it, but Joshua Perry has the speed, range and hip flexibility to do so. According to RealSportsNetwork, Perry allowed 14 receptions on 22 targets for 109 yards, a 4.9 yards-per-attempt average and just a 7.7 yards-per-completion rate.
He can run the seam with tight ends, defend wheel routes against running backs, but he’s at his best when playing as a hook or flat defender in zone coverage.
Joshua Perry would be an ideal fit for the Bills’ defense that requires versatility and intelligence from the linebacker position.
Round Three, Pick 71 (Trade up)
After selecting multiple Clemson and Florida State prospects over the last three drafts, the Buffalo Bills make this an Ohio State year, making quarterback Cardale Jones their third Buckeye in the class. The team hasn’t expressed much confidence in Tyrod Taylor after his first year as a starter and made it clear that they will be addressing the quarterback position in the draft.
Cardale Jones is the enigma of the draft class, going from Ohio State’s third string quarterback in 2014 before being thrown into the fire after J.T. Barrett suffered an injury. Jones led a comeback against their rival Michigan Wolverines before going on to win the Big 10 Championship game in dominating fashion over Wisconsin, then beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and the National Championship against Oregon.
Jones has great size, standing 6’5” and weighing 253 pounds. He’s big and strong enough to shrug off defensive linemen, while having the mobility to pick up yards with his legs.
Cardale Jones is one of the best pure throwers in the 2016 NFL Draft. He has the arm strength to threaten every level of the field both vertically and horizontally, while showing the ability to change the velocity on passes as needed. While the play below resulted in a drop, Jones effortlessly throws a 50 yard bomb with great trajectory and it drops right into his receiver’s hands.
Cardale Jones is fearless in the pocket and doesn’t get rattled under pressure. One thing that immediately stands out when watching him is how calm he remains when under pressure.
Lots of young quarterbacks will lower their eyes and mindlessly scramble away when the pocket collapses, but Jones will stand tall, keep his eyes downfield and make the throw, even if it means taking a big hit.
Cardale Jones definitely needs to develop more consistency with his anticipation, but he flashed the ability to throw his receivers open as well as placing the ball where only his wideout can make a play.
There’s a lot that Jones will need to work on, particularly staring down receivers and learning to use his eyes to manipulate defensive backs, but this should be expected by a player with only 11 starts under his belt.
Jones would be a fantastic fit for this offense and while he’d obviously need time to develop the nuances of his game and adjust to the speed of the game, he’d be the ideal player for the Bills to sit and develop into a potential star.
Round Three, Pick No. 88 (From Green Bay)
TE Austin Hooper, Stanford
Without much value among pass rushers at No. 88 overall, the Buffalo Bills select Stanford’s tight end Austin Hooper. The team made Charles Clay one of the highest paid players at the position just a year ago, but Greg Roman’s offense relies on multiple tight ends and Austin Hooper is an ideal fit for his offense.
Austin Hooper declared early for the 2016 NFL Draft after recording 34 catches for 438 yards and six scores in his junior season. In Stanford’s run-oriented, pro-style offense, Hooper didn’t get a lot of opportunities to showcase his abilities as a receiver and regularly was attached to the line of scrimmage and was asked to block on a regular basis.
Hooper has good size (6’4” 254 lbs) and athletic ability, finishing among the top five at his position in all of the athletic drills at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Hooper has good footwork and underrated play speed that allow him to run a variety of routes and create separation. At Stanford, he was used on slants, hitches, curls, posts, corners and go’s, so he has experience running a full route tree.
He’s physical in his release against press and has the strength to knock a defender back without losing balance in his route stem, and he’s not afraid of contact at all.
Austin Hooper was often attached to the line of scrimmage and serve as a blocker for Stanford’s run-first offense and he showed a tenacious mentality when doing so. He also has experience lining up as a wing or in the backfield as an H-Back, something that the Bills’ offense asks of their tight ends. Hooper can stand to get stronger and refine his technique when it comes to shooting his hands into a target, but his willingness and effort allow him to be effective as well.
Austin Hooper is an ideal fit for the Buffalo Bills, as Stanford runs essentially the same offense as they did when offensive coordinator Greg Roman was there. The Bills offense relies on tight ends that can block, something Austin Hooper does very well and his talents as a pass catcher would make him an even better weapon in the middle of the field for Tyrod Taylor and the Bills’ offense.
Round Four, Pick No. 117
EDGE Yannick Ngakoue, Maryland
The Bills add some depth at the rush linebacker position with the selection of Maryland’s Yannick Ngakoue. In 2015, Ngakoue was second in the nation with 13 sacks and his 57 quarterback pressures ranked fifth. A raw prospect, Ngakoue needs to improve his ability to defend the run, but there’s no doubting his knack for getting after the quarterback.
Ngakoue stands 6’2” and weighs 255 pounds, but lacks the ideal length you want in an edge rusher, possessing just 32 ½” arms. He’s got an elite burst off the snap and has the to beat offensive linemen around the edge with the flexibility to bend and turn the corner when re-directing to the quarterback.
He’s a terror off the edge, wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks from both sides of the line of scrimmage. He consistently gets a good jump off the ball, beating offensive linemen around the edge and will hustle to finish plays.
In order to be an every-down edge defender, Yannick Ngakoue will need to improve his lower body strength so that he can consistently hold his ground against offensive linemen.
Yannick Ngakoue is an explosive pass rusher that fit’s the prototype of edge defenders that Rex Ryan has relied on over the years. When it comes to defending the run, he’s a work in progress, but in today’s passing league, finding a player that can consistently get after quarterbacks is paramount.
Similar to Jerry Hughes, Ngakoue would ideally come in as a situational pass rusher early in his career as he develops his technique as a run defender.
Round Four, Pick No. 125 (From Green Bay)
CB Cyrus Jones, Alabama
With the fourth-round pick acquired in the trade down with the Packers, the Buffalo Bills select Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones, who they brought in for a pre-draft visit. The team released Leodis McKelvin and the contract status of Stephon Gilmore is unknown at this point, but even if Gilmore is retained the Bills need to bolster the depth at cornerback behind Ronald Darby and Nickell Robey.
Cyrus Jones is a bit undersized (5’10” 197 lbs) and doesn’t have the ideal length you covet, with 31 ½” arms, but he’s an aggressive and physical cornerback with good ball skills.
In three years with the Crimson Tide, Jones racked up 106 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, forced four fumbles, picked off seven 7 passes and broke up 25. In 2015, Jones allowed just 36 receptions on 76 targets (47.3%) for 457 yards.
Despite running a 4.44 at the NFL Combine, Jones is fantastic in man coverage, consistently maintaining inside leverage that keeps him in position to make a play on the ball.
Jones is one of the most aggressive cornerbacks in the draft, and it’s a trait you absolutely love to see at the position. Most cornerbacks won’t get involved in traffic but Jones plays with passion and physicality on every snap.
He’ll struggle at times against bigger receivers and some teams might see him better suited for the slot, given his ability against the run, but he definitely can hold his own on the outside.
Cyrus Jones also brings added value on special teams, as he was one of the most dynamic punt returners in the nation last season, returning 42 punts for 530 yards (12.6 yards-per-return) and four touchdowns, while returning 15 kicks for 351 yards (23.4 yards-per-return).
Coming from Nick Saban’s defense will be an added benefit for Jones, as they use a lot of pattern-match reads in coverage, which is prevalent in the NFL.
Round Four, Pick 139 (Compensatory Pick)
DL/EDGE Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
With their compensatory pick in the fourth-round, the Buffalo Bills select an intriguing defensive lineman in Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper. Tapper stands 6’3” and weighs 271 pounds, so his ideal position isn’t clear yet but he’s got the length (34 ½” arms) athleticism (4.59-second 40-yard dash, fastest among all DL, 9’11” broad jump, 34” vertical leap) to play both outside and inside.
Tapper burst onto the scene as a sophomore, recording 49 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five sacks and a pass breakup while being named All Big-12. However, in the following season the Sooners switched him from a traditional defensive end to an interior defensive lineman, where has asked to primarily line up as a five-technique and be a two-gap defender. He struggled in his sophomore year, but improved in 2015, recording 50 tackles, 10 for a loss, seven sacks, three pass breakups and forced four fumbles. According to ProFootballFocus, Tapper generated 35 quarterback pressures on 386 pass rush snaps.
Tapper is a dominant run defender (30 of his 50 tackles came against the run) that does a fantastic job exploding out of his stance and quickly extending his arms into the pads of an offensive lineman, showing the strength to work down the line of scrimmage and clog running lanes without surrendering ground.
Tapper shows good awareness of the ball and will know when to rip and shed his block, using his heavy hands to disengage and bring down a running back. As a two-gap defender, Charles Tapper will use his sheer power and strength to work with his linebackers, physically moving his man out of the way so his teammates can fill a gap.
Tapper wasn’t asked to rush the quarterback very often and would really only line up outside of the tackle on third downs, but he showed the ability to generate pressure and push the pocket from the interior. Despite being undersized for an interior defensive line position, Tapper used technique, leverage, power, an unrelenting motor and even a nifty spin move to make plays in the passing game.
On third downs when Tapper was kicked outside to defensive end, he was a handful, possessing great length, burst, power, the ability to bend the corner and convert speed to power.
Tapper would be a great fit for the Bills’ defense and has the versatility to play multiple positions depending on the defensive situation.
Round Six, Pick No. 192
S Deon Bush, Miami
In the sixth round, the Buffalo Bills address the safety position with the selection of Miami Hurricanes safety Deon Bush, who I’m sure new defensive backs coach and legendary ‘Cane, Ed Reed would love to coach. Deon Bush entered the 2015 season projected as one of the top safeties for the 2016 NFL Draft, but injuries and inconsistent play has caused his stock to drop.
Bush is one of many former four or five-star recruits that never wound up living up to expectations in college but still had the raw talent to be selected in the NFL Draft during the Randy Shannon and Al Golden eras (see Orlando Franklin, Seantrel Henderson, Allen Bailey, Anthony Chickillo, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Brandon Harris, Brandon McGee).
Deon Bush was the heart and soul for the Hurricanes during one of the worst periods in the program’s history and finished his career with 164 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four interceptions, 13 pass breakups, five sacks and nine forced fumbles.
Bush doesn’t have elite speed (4.55-second 40-yard dash) but he’s instinctive, intelligent and can cover a lot of ground in coverage that makes up for it. He allowed just 16 receptions on 33 targets (48.4%) and didn’t surrender a single touchdown last season.
The 6’0” 200-pounder was tasked with a lot of responsibility during his time with the Hurricanes defense, lining up anywhere from deep single high, both free and strong in cover 2 shells, in the slot and played in the box a lot as well.
He’s physical and a hard-hitter with the ability to separate the ball from running backs and receivers, as his 13 pass breakups and nine forced fumbles attest to.
However, there’s too many times where he’ll go for the big hit in the run game rather than properly wrap up which resulted in 7 missed tackles during the 2015 season. In coverage he missed just three, so he’ll need to work on his tackling when coming downhill.
Bush is a dominant special teams player as well, which I surprising considering that he was a four-year starter, so teams will value that ability as far as what else he can provide outside of just the safety position.
Round 6, Pick No. 192 (Compensatory Selection)
LB Antonio Morrison, Florida
With the team’s sixth-round compensatory selection, they add more depth to the linebacker position and special teams unit with Florida Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison, who the Buffalo Bills brought in for an official pre-draft visit.
At 6’0” and 232 pounds, Morrison has good size for the position, but he doesn’t have the great athleticism you’d assume from a linebacker of that stature.
Morrison is a physical force against the run. He’s ferocious when taking on blockers, as you can see in the following play against Alabama. Morrison anticipates the snap and launches into the guard before shedding him and bringing down Derrick Henry at the line of scrimmage.
When his defensive line can keep him clean, Antonio Morrison shows good burst, closing speed and instincts to shoot gaps and make plays in the backfield.
In coverage, Morrison is at his best when playing in short-to-intermediate areas where he uses his anticipation, closing speed and instincts to make plays on passes in front of him.
He has the speed to cover running backs in the flat, which is extremely important—particularly for Bills’ fans who remember the devastating losses to the Giants and Bengals because of opposing running backs in the passing game.
He can be overaggressive at times—both against the run and pass—and can have problems over-pursuing or taking bad angles that resulted in nine missed tackles last year.
Morrison’s style of play fits the exact mold that Rex Ryan loves in his linebackers—energetic, physical leaders that set the tone for a defense. Morrison is a team player that can be used in the “stunt-man” role that Bart Scott thrived in—blowing up lead blockers and allowing the rest of the back seven to swarm to the ball-carrier, or he can make plays as a run-and-chase defender, as long as the defensive line can keep him clean and he’ll make an immediate impact on special teams.
Round 7, Pick No. 248 (From Dallas)
K Jaden Oberkrom, TCU
The Bills kicking game has struggled as of late, with Dan Carpenter having arguably the worst season of his eight-year career in 2015. Carpenter connected on just 85.2% of field goal attempts, missing kicks of 54, 50, 48 and 30 yards in addition to shanking six extra point attempts. Making these statistics even more maddening is the fact that the Bills use a roster spot on Jordan Gay, a “kickoff specialist” and the only one of its kind in the entire NFL.
Jaden Oberkrom of TCU would eliminate the need for both players, saving the team $2.1 million. Oberkrom has a big leg, and was 3-3 on field goal attempts over 50-yards last season with career highs of 57 and 56 yards. Roberto Aguayo of Florida State was 1-3 on 50+ yard kicks last year.
Oberkrom forced touchbacks on 57 of his 94 kickoffs last year as well, so with the NFL’s new kicking rules, he’d be a great addition.