With the Super Bowl approaching, fans of the 28 franchises that aren’t still in the tournament are looking ahead to the 2016 NFL Draft with hopes of finding the right pieces to turn their team around. The NFL Draft has become a year-round event as fans speculate on the pro potential of their favorite college players. Free agency will certainly dictate much of what happens in the 2016 NFL Draft, but here’s my first way too early2016 NFL Mock Draft
Tennessee Titans, No. 1- OT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
Tennessee would probably like to trade back from the No. 1 spot, but they’ll find a dominant offensive linemen to protect their franchise quarterback for years to come.
Cleveland Browns, No. 2 – DB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
Quarterback is a big need for the Browns, but then again, so is nearly every position throughout their roster. With the team in a rebuild, taking the best player available in Jalen Ramsey makes sense as the Browns look to build a foundation.
San Diego Chargers, No. 3- DL DeForest Buckner, Oregon
The Chargers acquire a dominant plug-and-play defensive lineman that’ll bolster their lackluster defense and provide some much needed pressure and run defense.
Dallas Cowboys, No. 4- EDGE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
With Randy Gregory’s suspension and the reports that the Cowboys won’t be bringing back Greg Hardy, the Cowboys jump at the chance to select Joey Bosa, an ideal fit for the left defensive end role in their 4-3 front.
Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 5- LB Myles Jack, UCLA
Jacksonville definitely needs help in the secondary, but after building an explosive offense they’ll wait on a defensive back, instead, pairing Telvin Smith with Myles Jack to form one of the most athletic linebacker duos in the NFL.
Baltimore Ravens, No. 6- EDGE Noah Spence, E. Kentucky
The Ravens’ pass rushing duo of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil is nearing their end, so they’ll select Noah Spence, a relentless and talented pass rusher that seems to have his head on straight after some off-field issues that caused him to be dismissed from Ohio State.
San Francisco 49ers, No. 7- OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
The 49ers have needs all over their roster, so filling the “biggest” need with a top-10 pick shouldn’t be their main priority. Ronnie Stanley fills a huge void on the offensive line at right tackle while Anthony Davis reconsiders retirement, and can develop as Joe Staley’s eventual successor.
Miami Dolphins, No. 8- EDGE Shaq Lawson, Clemson
Olivier Vernon is going to cost more than the Dolphins will probably want to pay after handing Ndamukong Suh a mega-deal last year. They get a younger talent in Shaq Lawson, who was a terror off the edge for Clemson.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, No. 9- CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida
The Buccaneers have needed help in the secondary for years, so they’ll select the Tampa native cornerback Vernon Hargreaves out of Florida.
New York Giants, No. 10- DT Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
The Giants defense struggled mightily last year as they struggled to generate a consistent pass rush. Sheldon Rankins is an explosive three-technique in the Aaron Donald/Geno Atkins mold.
Chicago Bears, No. 11- QB Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
The Bears are handcuffed to Jay Cutler for at least the 2016 season, but can get out of his remaining four years and $74.7 cap hits for just $2 million in dead money after the 2016 season. They find his successor in Carson Wentz, who’ll have the opportunity to sit for a year and adjust from the FCS to the NFL level.
New Orleans Saints, No. 12- CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
The Saints’ secondary has been terrible and after whiffing on Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the second round just two years ago, they find a quality cornerback in Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander.
Philadelphia Eagles, No. 13- OG Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
After Chip Kelly decimated the Eagles’ offensive line, they find a quality player in Cody Whitehead who’s making the move inside after playing tackle for Kansas State.
Oakland Raiders, No. 14- OT Taylor Decker, Ohio State
After bringing back Donald Penn on several one-year deals, the 32-year old tackle is once again an unrestricted free agent. This year, they’ll add Taylor Decker to protect their franchise quarterback, Derek Carr.
L.A. Rams, No. 15– QB Jared Goff, Cal
The Rams select Jared Goff to be their quarterback of the future. With the team moving to Las Angeles, Goff won’t have to travel far from the University of California.
Detroit Lions, No. 16- LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
Calvin Johnson just announced his retirement, so the “pencil-in” pick here would be LaQuon Treadwell. However, the Lions have holes throughout their roster and potentially find the steal of the draft in linebacker Jaylon Smith, who would’ve been a top-10 lock if not for a season-ending knee injury.
Atlanta Falcons, No. 17- WR Corey Coleman, Baylor
The Falcons offense runs through the hands of Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. They had a revolving door opposite Jones last season with guys like Leonard Hankerson and Justin Hardy rotating in with an injured Roddy White. Corey Coleman is an explosive playmaker that would a lethal threat opposite Julio Jones.
Indianapolis Colts, No. 18- CB William Jackson III, Houston
It seems like offensive line is the consensus pick for the Colts in every mock draft I see, so I’ll go in a different direction and select William Jackson III out of Houston. Vontae Smith is a lockdown corner, but Greg Toler and Darius Butler can be upgraded.
Buffalo Bills No. 19- DL Chris Jones, Mississippi State
I’m higher than Chris Jones than most, but I think he’ll be selected in the 17-24 range after the combine. Chris Jones is a freak athlete that stands 6’6” and weighs in at 308 pounds. He’s an explosive, powerful and versatile defensive lineman that’s an ideal fit for Rex Ryan’s scheme, as he can line up all over the formation. Jones is young and raw, but has the potential to be one of the next dominant 3-4 defensive linemen in the NFL.
New York Jets, No. 20- OT Jason Spriggs, Indiana
The Jets’ offensive line is aging and getting costly, so they select Jason Spriggs, an uber-athletic tackle out of Indiana. His play is reminiscent of Lane Johnson’s and will help upgrade the Jets’ pass protection and rushing attack.
Washington Redskins, No. 21- DT Andrew Billings, Baylor
With Terrance Knighton hitting the free agent market, Washington adds the powerful 20-year old defensive lineman out of Baylor. Billings is stout against the run and is improving with his pass rush moves. He’ll be an instant starter at the one or three technique.
Houston Texans, No. 22- S Darian Thompson, Boise State
The Texans need a playmaker in their secondary, so they add Darian Thompson, a big, rangy safety that had 17 interceptions in four years at Boise State.
Minnesota Vikings, No. 23- OL Jack Conklin, Michigan State
Wide receiver is an option here after the Vikings put together one of the most athletic defensive units in the league, but they need to get Teddy Bridgewater some help up front. Jack Conklin will replace former first-round bust Matt Kalil.
Cincinnati Bengals, No. 24- LB Darron Lee, Ohio State
Vincent Rey and Emmanuel Lamur are free agents this offseason, but even if they retain one, the Bengals could use the athleticism and range that Darron Lee brings to the linebacker position.
Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 25- CB Artie Burns, Miami
Artie Burns should see his draft stock soar after the combine. The Miami Hurricanes track star has great speed and ball skills, picking off six passes and breaking up another five last year. He’d be an immediate upgrade to the Steelers’ secondary.
Seattle Seahawks, No. 26- WR LaQuon Treadwell, Ole Miss
After declining to run the 40 at the combine, the Seahawks luck into LaQuon Treadwell, who will provide a different element to their passing game. Treadwell is a solid route runner with good size, play speed and hands and has the traits to be a No. 1 wide out.
Green Bay Packers, No. 27- LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
The Packers select a big, physical, plug-and-play linebacker in Reggie Ragland that’s an ideal “MIKE” in their 3-4 defense. The move would allow Clay Matthews to move back to his true edge defender position while providing a thumper between the hashes.
Kansas City Chiefs, No. 28- DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
Tamba Hali, Jaye Howard and Mike Devito are free agents this offseason, so the Chiefs pick up one of the most talented defensive line prospects in the draft in Robert Nkemdiche. They’ll need to look into his off-field issues, but he has a ceiling as high as any player in this class.
Arizona Cardinals, No. 29- DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
A’Shawn Robinson will slide in as an interior defensive lineman for the Cardinals, an area where they’re aging. A’Shawn is a big, defensive tackle that can be moved around the Cardinals’ defensive line.
Carolina Panthers, No. 30- S Karl Joseph, West Virginia
The Panthers secondary was fantastic last season, but their safeties are getting up there in age. Karl Joseph is a missile from the deep safety position, always looking to lay the wood on a receiver that comes over the middle, but he has ridiculous range and solid ball skills as well.
Denver Broncos, No. 31- OG Joshua Garnett, Stanford
The Broncos need an upgrade in the interior of their offensive line, so they select Joshua Garnett out of Stanford. Garnett is an absolute mauler in the run game and can hold his own in pass protection. He’ll bring a nasty attitude to an already talented team.
New England Patriots- NO PICK, DEFLATE-GATE