Thursday, April 28, 2016

Justin's Final Mock Draft

**Sorry Derek.  I worked so much this year.

Los Angeles Rams (7-9)
Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State – I believe the Wentz and Goff debate is pretty set in stone with Wentz just edging out Goff.  He has taken snaps under center and has played in more of a pro-style offense than Goff.

Philadelphia Eagles (7-9)
Jared Goff, QB, California- It will probably be reversed with how I see these two picks unfolding but I like Wentz more, sue me.

San Diego Chargers (4-12)
Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss – Philip Rivers needs to stay upright for the Chargers to have one final run a Super Bowl.

Dallas Cowboys (4-12)
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State – Much is made out of Bosa being an 8 to 10 sack a year guy.  I would take a solid ten sacks with the tackles for a loss that he accumulates on ball carriers any day.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
Jalen Ramsey, FS/CB, Florida State – A versatile defender that will instantly improve Jacksonville’s secondary.  Jags fans would rejoice.

Baltimore Ravens (5-11)
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame – Everybody is prone to injury and the Ravens found that out with Joe Flacco tearing his ACL this past season.  You need to protect your Super Bowl winning quarterback.

San Francisco 49ers (5-11)
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA – Chip Kelly doesn’t give a crap who his scouting department thinks should be picked but they get this pick right if Jack is healthy.

Cleveland Browns (3-13)
Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State – An instant impact from day one.  This pick only makes sense if offensive line is addressed at least twice in the remaining part of this draft.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10)
Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida – A cornerback is needed on this defense.  Hargreaves is the top corner in the draft so seems like a match made in heaven.

New York Giants (6-10)
Leonard Floyd, Edge, Georgia – The most gifted pass rusher in this draft goes to a team who is looking to recreate their glory days in 2007.

Chicago Bears (6-10)
DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon – Buckner falls a little bit in this mock and the Bears are licking their paws when he does.

New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss – The Saints saw what happens when you don’t have a top flight pass catcher so something must be done about it.  Treadwell might be a bit of a reach here but he can still become a special player.

Miami Dolphins (6-10)
A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama – A versatile defensive lineman would make too much sense here with too many egos (Mario Williams, Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh) leading the way in that locker room. 

Oakland Raiders (7-9)
William Jackson III, CB, Houston – The Raiders have needs at multiple secondary spots so they take the top available defensive back. 

Tennessee Titans (3-13)
Josh Doctson, WR, TCU – Adding another weapon to a potentially very good offense is a must and one that Mariota can grow with.

Detroit Lions (7-9)
Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor – The big Baylor defensive tackle standing next to Haloti Ngata and Ziggy Ansah would create a nice formidable front.

Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson – Pass rushers are a premium for any team, especially one that had 19 sacks last year.  Lawson and Vic Beasley could create a nice tandem off the edge.

Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
Jack Conklin, OT, Ohio State – The thought of Andrew Luck getting hurt again has to make General Manager Ryan Grigson cringe, doesn’t it?  I honestly don’t think so because he is by far the worst GM in the league.  Maybe he will actually take an offensive lineman this year.

Buffalo Bills (8-8)
Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss – The extremely talented defensive tackle finds his way to Buffalo to replace another headache in Mario Williams.  I think Nkemdiche would respect Rex enough to develop into a consummate professional or at least not a shithead.

New York Jets (10-6)
Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson – Especially if Mohammed Wilkerson is traded, defensive end is a must for a defensive coach who needs a plethora of edge rushers.

Washington Redskins (9-7)
Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State – Looking at Captain Kirk’s offensive weapons is a sad sight.  Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are not the types of receivers that Kirk can depend on.  He needs a true number one receiver and Michael Thomas can develop into that guy.

Houston Texans (10-6)
Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame – Pairing a true burner like Fuller with a number one receiver like DeAndre Hopkins and Jalen Strong would make a disgusting three-header monster.  This would make Brock Osweiler’s transition to Houston one of pure bliss and ease.

Minnesota Vikings (11-6)
Keanu Neal, S, Florida – Neal has the versatility to play either safety position, especially at strong safety where the Vikings have a hole.

Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville – Adding an interior pass rusher of Rankins’ capability would be a steal for the Bengals.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virgina Tech – None of Pittsburgh’s cornerbacks are good so adding one in the first is a must, as well as adding another later in the draft.

Seattle Seahawks (10-6)
Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State – Russell Wilson can’t have Bradley Sowell protecting his blindside, can he?

Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State – Although he played less than half of his snaps outside of the tackle box, his athleticism will make up for his lack of linebacker instincts.  These instincts will develop with more practice.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State – Definitely a reach here but I think it would be a perfect match as he can sit behind Carson Palmer for a few years and be ready to step it when needed.

Arizona Cardinals (13-3)
Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida – Despite getting Chandler Jones, Arizona would love another versatile pass rusher.  Bullard can play all over that line.

Carolina Panthers (15-1)
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor – The Panthers went to the championship game with only a tight end as a true pass catching threat.  Kelvin Benjamin will be back next year and adding Coleman would turn an area of weakness to an area of strength.

Denver Broncos (12-4)
Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State – Such turnover for the Broncos but they could be right back in the thick of things if they can find a somewhat competent quarterback.  Mark Sanchez can take the beating for the first ten games and then Cook can come in and show the Broncos that they have a competent starting quarterback.  If Denver doesn’t go quarterback here, watch for Dak Prescott in the third round.

New England Patriots (12-4)

2016 Cornerback Rankings

1)   Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida Gators
Career Stats: 121 Total Tackles, 27 PD, 10 INT
Height: 5’10                        Weight: 204
Forty: 4.5
Vertical Jump: 39.0

Size size size.  This seems to be such a theme with draft prospects now.  If you aren’t of the prototypical positional mold, your stock takes a hit.  Sometimes being on the smaller side does hinder you but when you’re just a little shorter and weigh a little less, it can straight up plummet how everybody sees you.  Hargreaves is 5’10 and 204 pounds.  The weight is fine.  The height won’t be an issue.  Just because Richard Sherman is 6’3 doesn’t mean that all corners need to be tall to be good.  Hargreaves plays with great position, most of the time, and uses his intellect and awareness to beat the best receiver that he faced off against each week.  He more than held his own against Raiders star wideout Amari Cooper and kept Calvin Ridley and Laquon Treadwell at bay, for the most part.  The height doesn’t bother me with Hargreaves, but what puts a little bit of doubt in my mind is the needed physicality that is played at the position now against these 6’5 receivers.  I have faith that this kid can hold his own with his great hands and marvelous ball skills when in the air.  A 39-inch vertical doesn’t hurt either.  He did occasionally get burned by speedsters deep down the field but I feel like that was more of a lapse in his mind and a slight underestimation that he could catch up to the receiver.  He was coached very well, especially being a part of that fantastic secondary that the Gators put out every week and he is a willing tackler.  Hargreaves may not be that superstar that everybody thought he would be at the end of 2014, but he is still definitely a fantastic player and well worth a top ten pick.

2)   William Jackson III, Houston Cougars
Career Stats: 108 Total Tackles, 38 PD, 8 INT
Height: 6’0                      Weight: 189
Forty: 4.37
Vertical Jump: DNP

William Jackson III is a fast rising, high flying cornerback.  He has that ideal size you want to see from a corner, especially with the league moving towards bigger corners to guard these bigger receivers.  Jackson has a fantastic ability to high point a ball and fight for it in the air.  Once in the air, he has good enough hands to come down with the ball and shows off his athleticism to get a big return.  The former Cougar does have some issues with underestimating shifty and fast receivers.  They can run by him and once a receiver has a step on you, there is only so much ground you can make up.  I think this issue is because he turns his head too quick to look for the ball when he should be looking at the receiver’s body motion and hands.  Then once he sees their body start to contort and the hands rise then he can turn his body around to make a play.  Jackson was very fortunate that some of the quarterbacks he was facing this past year couldn’t throw the deep ball that well or else he would have been burned for quite a few touchdowns.  Another issue that I have with Jackson’s play is he has this tendency to dip his head when he makes a big tackle.  That is obviously a big no.  Serious injury can happen when you do this but I think he is a smart enough kid to stop that.  Overall, I do like Jackson.  I don’t think he can be a number one corner if his team does not have a good pass rush.  He needs some help but I think he can be an impact player in this league for years to come.

3)   Mackensie Alexander, Clemson Tigers
Career Stats: 44 Total Tackles, 11 PD, 0 INT
Height: 5’10                     Weight: 190
Forty: 4.47
Vertical Jump: 37.5

It wasn’t that long ago that Alexander was rated a higher cornerback than Vernon Hargreaves but oh how the mighty have fallen.  The lack of interceptions has been the main knock on the kid from Clemson.  He was constantly next to his receiver, which could be the reason for him never having an interception.  Alexander did play well in man to man situations as his man was almost always covered.  Alexander’s main Achilles heel is speed.  There were times on tape that he would allow receivers to get by him and he just isn’t fast enough to catch him.  Alexander does recover from double moves well enough because his quick feet allow this to happen.   It may not show in the stat column but Alexander is a willing tackler.  He is not afraid to stick his nose in somewhere and make the dirty plays.  I am pretty adamant in saying that Hargreaves is the only true number one corner (two if you count Ramsey) in this year’s draft.  That is not a knock on Alexander and the others, I am just not confident enough after watching film of these guys to say that they can lock down one side of the field or the other team’s number one corner. 

4)   Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech Hokies
Career Stats: 119 Total Tackles, 25 PD, 8 INT
Height: 5’11                   Weight: 187
Forty: DNP
Vertical Jump: DNP

The Fuller name is a thing of beauty in the NFL.  Having that family lineage is a plus as his older brothers have fared very well in the league.  Kendall reminds me so much of his one brother Kyle, who currently plays for the Bears.  He has great recovery time and would probably be my second ranked corner if he was healthy.  Kyle is a very good shut down corner and I believe that Kendall could be the same way, if not better.  His fantastic vision and awareness have helped him become one of the better corners in college football and when the ball is in the air, he can contort his body and do whatever he has to do to bring the ball down.  But the injury bug has bitten Kendall during his time in college.  In 2014 he suffered a fractured wrist, which he did continue to play through so at least he showed his toughness to do that.  But then in the preseason during 2015 he tore his meniscus in his knee and once again he attempted to play through the injury.  Both of those injuries could be considered freak injuries but he did do his best to play through them.  I love that.  You have to be a tough sum bitch to play in this league and with the help of his brothers, I believe he could be the best of all the Fullers.

5)   Eli Apple, Ohio State Buckeyes
Career Stats: 86 Total Tackles, 17 PD, 4 INT
Height: 6’1                   Weight: 199
Forty: 4.4
Vertical Jump: DNP

Watch the 2014 tape on Eli Apple because if you watch last year’s you will most likely be turned off.  Playing to not get hurt is not something I am a fan of (ahem Jadeveon Clowney) because I want these prospects to get better every year.  When you play not to get hurt, you are not getting better and you create a stigma about yourself that you are too good to be playing where you are.  He would not stick his nose in for tackles like his counterpart Vonn Bell but luckily enough for them, that defense was stacked so you could hide certain players.  He would sidestep bigger receivers and tight ends and did whatever he could to stay upright.  That won’t fly in the NFL.  Coaches will be all over you the first time that is done.  If he does start to get burned by receivers, he will grab them to make sure that he doesn’t go all the way.  This can be the smarter move but he needs to find ways to not get burned or penalized (4 holding and 7 pass interference penalties in his final two years).  Besides that, Apple is another one of those big corners that stands at 6’1 and runs extremely well.  I don’t think he would pan out against number one receivers because he would need to be a more physical corner and that is not his strong suit according to the 2015 tape.  Apple has had to play through adversity and had a very interesting tenure at Ohio State.  He was having difficulty in the classroom as well as on the field and a few tests discovered that he was lacking in iron.  Once that was figured out, Apple turned into a whole other player and is standing where he is standing today.

Derek's Final Mock Draft

Please remember, these are my picks as if I were the GM, not what I am predicting these teams will actually do. 

1) LA Rams (via Tennessee Titans) select Jared Goff, Quarterback, Cal

After giving up a shit ton of picks to move up from 15 to 1, the Rams absolutely have to take a quarterback here as anything else would be laughably insane. There was back and forth as to who it is, but the Rams seem to have settled on Goff which is who I would pick as well. An experienced player with a lightning release and good accuracy, Goff would be a good start to the Rams' relocation efforts. I just feel bad for him as he would have to be under the tutelage of Jeff Fisher and will have to throw to the scraps of Kenny Britt while running 20 jet sweeps to Tavon Austin a game. GET EXCITED LA!

2) Philadelphia Eagles (via Cleveland Browns) select Carson Wentz, Quarterback, North Dakota State

As a Giants fan, I'm thrilled the Eagles decided to mortgage the farm for a project, FCS quarterback. But after giving up what they did to move up to the second spot in the draft, the Eagles really have no choice but to take Wentz at this spot. The good news is that the Eagles have Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel under contract which will allow Wentz to sit on the bench for at least a year until he gets acclimated. With the Eagles already drafting in the top ten before moving up, it isn't like they have aspirations of a Super Bowl this year. He may turn out to be a fine quarterback, but the Eagles cannot rush him into the season.

3) San Diego Chargers select Laremy Tunsil, Offensive Tackle, Ole Miss

I've seen plenty of mocks out there with either Jalen Ramsey or Deforest Buckner landing here, but I think that Tunsil makes much more sense than either of those picks. While the Chargers' offensive line was subject to a ton of injuries last season, guys like King Dunlap are not getting any younger and won't be able to remain healthy. Tunsil is thought to be the best offensive tackle prospect since Joe Thomas and would be a huge upgrade on this line. The Chargers cannot keep allowing Philip Rivers to take the kind of abuse he has in recent seasons. With all the lethal pass rushers that reside in the AFC West, a top tier blind side protector is desperately needed.

4) Dallas Cowboys select Jalen Ramsey, Safety, Florida State

I was toying with the idea of putting either Joey Bosa or Ezekiel Elliott here for the past several mocks, but I just can't put either of them here over an elite prospect like Ramsey. While Bosa would fill a more pressing need and Zeke could run for 1500 yards as a rookie behind this line, Ramsey has been compared to past safeties like Ed Reed and Charles Woodson. He doesn't have quite the same ball skills that either of them had, but his ability to cover ground, blitz off the edge, and match up against tight ends will be huge for this defense. Ramsey could be a perennial All Pro player in a matter of years.

5) Jacksonville Jaguars select Joey Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State

If the draft plays out this way, I think the Jaguars would have to go with Bosa over Myles Jack due to the knee injury. It isn't like this is a consolation prize as Bosa is the best defensive line prospect in the draft, and I personally don't think it is that close either. A guy who is a force against the run and knows how to get after the passer, Bosa would really be a tremendous addition to the overhaul of this front seven. If Dante Fowler can return to his pre-injury form, the Jaguars will have an absolutely terrifying defensive line which is needed considering the other quarterbacks making a living in this division.

6) Baltimore Ravens select Ronnie Stanley, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame

This wasn't an easy pick either as I really had to go back and forth between Stanley, Jack, and Buckner at this spot. Ultimately, I had to go with a tackle given the current situation of the Ravens' offensive line. Joe Flacco tore his ACL last year and was constantly under siege before the injury. Stanley isn't the best run blocker, but he has all the makings of a top tier blindside protector. Keeping a guy that you have over one hundred million dollars is paramount, so this pick makes sense.

7) San Francisco 49ers select Myles Jack, Outside Linebacker, UCLA

If it weren't for the injury obtained early in his junior season, Jack have been in consideration for the first overall pick when the Titans still commanded it. Jack is a quick twitch athlete who can do anything that you can ask of a linebacker and more. He can cover in space, play the run, match up man to man on right ends, blitz....literally anything. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Niners move him around as he is completely capable of playing any spot. The knee injury is a concern as there have been reports of his health all over the spectrum, but at this point he is simply too talented to pass up.

8) Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles) select Deforest Buckner, Defensive End, Oregon

Rumors are that the Browns may move down again and target Treadwell or Docston with a more appropriate draft slot, but I don't do trades in my mock. In this, the Browns would have to be thrilled that Buckner has made it all the way to them. The Browns had one of the worst defenses in the league last year and struggled to stop both the run and the pass. Buckner would be a perfect fit as a five technique in a 3-4 scheme where he can eat up blockers and allow the linebackers to make plays behind the line. He is also a solid pass rusher and should be able to generate a good amount of pressure on his own. Buckner would be a good player to pair with last year's first round pick, Danny Shelton.

9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Vernon Hargreaves, Cornerback, Florida

Tampa made some significant improvements in their first year with Jameis Winston at quarterback and have some solid pieces on their offense. Now, they can shift their focus to improving the defense which has several holes. A pass rusher could be in play here as no one really generates sacks on this line beside Gerald McCoy, but they also need some help in their secondary. Hargreaves was once thought to be a be a lock for a top five selection, but a substandard Combine has pushed him further down on big boards. No matter, the Bucs would gladly take him at this spot. He started as a freshman on a very talented Gators team and was a shutdown corner. There is still that ability inside of him and it would be gladly coveted on this team who contends with Brees, Ryan, and Cam twice a year.

10) New York Giants select Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Ohio State

The Giants are probably hoping that Ronnie Stanley falls to the, but this would be a tremendous pick as well. The Giants have a mess at running back right now as none of their options are really any good. Zeke would add another dimension to the offense which would help open up options in the passing game to get the ball to OBJ. A running back who can do it all, Zeke would also be a huge asset in the pass protection game as he was nearly flawless his junior year in college. The Giants have a mediocre offensive line, so adding a running back who could be a three down back at this point is tremendous value.

11) Chicago Bears select Leonard Floyd, Outside Linebacker, Georgia

The defensive revamp for the Bears continues. Chicago recently release Shea McClellin who was then picked up by the Patriots (of course) after doing absolutely nothing in his time with the Bears. Thus, they are need of some serious pass rushing help as they don't have much going on right now. Floyd is landing all over people's draft boards, but I think his potential at this spot is too good to pass up on. A pass rusher with length and good speed to get around the edge, Floyd would likely be a day one starter. And playing in a division with Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, and a rising Teddy Bridgewater, the Bears need all the pass rushers they can get their hands on.

12) New Orleans Saints select A'Shawn Robinson, Defensive Tackle, Alabama

The Saints have been producing some historically bad defenses over the past couple of seasons and haven't been able to make a lot of impact moves in free agency. I'd like to give them a pass rusher here, but I think that Robinson is a better prospect than any outside linebacker and would make a huge impact. Robinson is a perfect fit to play nose tackle in the 3-4 defense and could even move to the end position on subpackages. But playing in his natural position on the interior, he would eat up blockers and shut down running lanes, something the Saints were completely unable to do last year. Robinson needs some work as a pass rusher, but he has shown the ability to get to the passer and should only get better with experience.

13) Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles) select Shaq Lawson, Outside Linebacker, Clemson

The Dolphins are in a tough spot with their front seven after losing Olivier Vernon and free agency and watching Cam Wake suffer an Achilles injury last year. Lawson has shown the athleticism to be able to play either defensive end in a 4-3 or play outside linebacker in a 3-4. This is a good landing spot for Lawson as it fits his value range. I actually think Lawson is more suited for outside linebacker because he doesn't have great strength and struggled to match up against offensive tackles in the run game. He was also was asked to drop into coverage and come in on stunts frequently at Clemson which will help him a lot in his early years as a pro.

14) Oakland Raiders select Eli Apple, Cornerback, Ohio State

Despite signing Sean Smith away from division rival Kansas City in the offseason, the Raiders have to reach the conclusion sooner or later that DJ Hayden is a lost cause. A safety here would make more sense, but unfortunately there is no one worth taking for that position. However, Apple would not be a bad consolation prize. Like most other prospects in this draft, Apple is a bit of a work in progress but could turn out to be an absolute steal at this point. He possesses great speed and length and has shown an ability to turn his hips and run with his man. He doesn't always locate the ball in the air, but he was Ohio State's lockdown man and performed admirably as a redshirt freshman and sophomore. Apple is well worth the pick at this juncture and could develop into a guy the Raiders have shadow their opponent's top receiver.

15) Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams) select Jack Conklin, Offensive Tackle, Michigan State

This has to be the dream selection for the Titans to make. The Titans were in play to chose Laremy Tunsil first overall but were able to trade down, grab a ton of picks, and still land a tackle who will help improve a terrible offensive line. He won't be asked to play left tackle, but that is fine as most consider him to either be a premier guard or right tackle. With Mariota being sacked north of fifty times last year, the Titans needed to do whatever they could to improve the line and this is a huge step forward in that.While protecting the right side, Conklin would also be able to blast open holes in the run game for Sankey or whoever else the Titans decide to hand off to next year.

16) Detroit Lions select Sheldon Rankins, Defensive Tackle, Louisville

Even after signing Haloti Ngata, the Lions haven't been able to adequately replace Suh and Nick Fairley. This has left a massive hole on the interior of this defensive line that the Lions' opponents were able to take advantage of all last season. Rankins would be an excellent way to help begin rebuilding the defense that has taken some hits. Rankins is a solid run defender as he can get a good push but also works off of his man incredibly well to make the tackle. Even better than that, Rankins is an even better pass rusher. In a division that is still ruled by Aaron Rodgers, having someone who can rush the passer from the interior is absolutely crucial. Rankins could go even higher than this, so getting him in the middle of the first round is practically a steal.

17) Atlanta Falcons select Emmanuel Ogbah, Defensive End, Oklahoma State

This is a selection I really struggled with as I constantly went back and forth between Ogbah and either Doctson or Treadwell to replace Roddy White. Ultimately, I felt a pass rusher would be of much greater value here. The Falcons have been struggling to rush the passer for what feels like a decade now and have an excellent chance to change that with this pick. A bit of a one trick pony, Ogbah would still make a lot of sense here due to his immense athleticism and proven track record. Even if he is someone who is only able to give the Falcons about ten sacks a year, it would be much better than what they have going on now.

18) Indianapolis Colts select Taylor Decker, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State

If Decker falls to this spot and Grigson fails to select him, Colts fans are going to burn his house down and light effigies of him. The Colts have been utterly incapable of protecting their franchise quarterback since he was drafted and need to do everything in their power to change that this draft. They cannot keep allowing Andrew Luck to get pummeled week in and week out. Decker may be more suited to play right tackle than left tackle, but that really doesn't matter here. He would make a tremendous right tackle who can mirror speed rushers and stand his own against bull rushes. A smart pick with good value, Decker would practically be a god send to the Colts at 18.

19) Buffalo Bills select Robert Nkemdiche, Defensive End, Ole Miss

Is this the most Rex Ryan pick or what? After coming to Ole Miss as the number one high school prospect, Nkemdiche looked content to play the role of celebrity rather than actually develop as a football player. While he still needs some significant improvement in the run game and actually looking like he gives a shit, there is no denying the immense talent that he possesses. Playing as a defensive end in a 3-4, he could have a JJ Watt like impact on the Bills if he is able to realize his potential. He is well worth the risk at this point in the draft and would fill a major need after the Bills let Mario Williams walk in free agency.

20) New York Jets select Noah Spence, Outside Linebacker, Eastern Kentucky/Ohio State

The Jets have to be praying that either Conklin or Decker fall to them in order to replace D'Brickashaw Ferguson, but that doesn't happen in this mock. Reggie Ragland seems like another potential match, but I think that Spence is a better prospect and fills a more important positional need. The issue with Spence is if he'll be able to stay clean off the field, but that wasn't a problem during his final year at EKU. What he brings on the field is a lightning quick pass rusher who Todd Bowles can utilize in a variety of ways. Despite having arguably the best defensive line in the NFL the Jets still need guys who can rush from the edge standing up. Spence fits that to the tee and would help take this defense to the next level.

21) Washington Redskins select Reggie Ragland, Inside Linebacker, Alabama

For the longest time I had been giving the Redskins a cornerback, but the recent signing of Josh Norman puts that need on the back burner for now. However, the Redskins still have a glaring need on the inside of the linebacking corp. They struggled to stop the run and Ragland would be the best player available to come in and fix that problem. There have been some concerns made about his ability to cover in space in the NFL, and while he admittedly wasn't stellar at it while playing for Alabama, he is capable of doing so. Playing the inside role would also limit the amount times he would have to turn and run with tight ends as well.

22) Houston Texans select Josh Doctson, Wide Receiver, TCU

It is no secret that the Texans are in dire need of a quarterback, but there is not anyone worth taking at this spot. Lynch is still a reach here, so the best thing to do would be to take one of the top players available and try to find a suitable quarterback in a later round. Although Deandre Hopkins is one of the top receivers in the NFL, the Texans really need someone opposite of him as he can't do it alone. Doctson has actually gotten some comparisons to Hopkins, so why not take him with a similar draft selection. Doctson has an incredibly ability to track the ball in the air and snatch it away from corners. Adding a receiver like him would make the Texans an absolute nightmare of a match up, especially in a division with weak secondaries.

23) Minnesota Vikings select Laquon Treadwell, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss

The run on receivers is likely to really take off right around here. While the Vikings struck gold with Stef Diggs in the fifth round of last year's draft, they are really hurting for other receiving weapons. A lot has been made of Treadwell's slow 40 time, but I think that this is really the perfect selection for the Vikings at this juncture. It is no secret that Teddy Bridgewater doesn't have the greatest arm strength in the league, so giving him a speed receiver like Fuller or Coleman doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Treadwell would provide a great safety blanket of Bridgewater in the short and intermediate parts of the field.

24) Cincinnati Bengals select Michael Thomas, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

Another receiver! The Bengals lost both Marvin Jones and Mo Sanu in this offseason and need to replenish. While neither of them were that extraordinary, they did combine for a big quantity of targets that didn't go to Green. I had the Bengals taking a receiver even before losing both of those two, but the problem is now more exacerbated. Thomas is a very polished receiver who creates good separation and can run any route that you ask of him. The thought of him playing opposite of Green with Eiffert taking advantage of mismatches over the middle is a terrifying thought.

25) Pittsburgh Steelers select William Jackson III, Cornerback, Houston

It seems like I have been mocking a corner to the Steelers for the past several years, but I think that this is the year that they actually do it. To be completely honest, I can't even name one of their starters at corner right now. Jackson has really elevated his draft status after putting on a ridiculous performance at the Combine in which he ran in the high 4.3s. He showed a great ability to track the ball in the air and make a play on it during his time at Houston. There are talks of him going even higher than this, so picking him towards the end of the first is great value.

26) Seattle Seahawks select Darron Lee, Linebacker, Ohio State

It seems like every year the Seahawks are able to grab a top prospect that manages to slip through the cracks and fall to them. Darron Lee has a chance to picked way higher than this, so getting him at 26 is an absolute steal. After losing Bruce Irvin in the offseason, the Seahawks have a big need at outside linebacker. Lee might night start right away, but he would definitely be brought in for certain packages and can make a name for himself quickly. He has the ability to cover, play the run, and blitz. Keeping the linebacking corp playing at a high level will be a huge reason why Seattle will have continued success moving forward.

27) Green Bay Packers select Andrew Billings, Nose Tackle, Baylor

After a somewhat surprising retirement announcement from BJ Raji, the Packers suddenly have a massive need in the middle of their defense. Raji was a very good nose tackle, one of the most crucial components to a 3-4 defense. Billings has very good athleticism for a man his size and is really exactly what you're looking for in a nose tackle. He stuffs the run better than almost any other defensive tackle in this draft and has shown an ability to get after the quarterback as well. That is more of a bonus in this system, but he will be coveted for his ability to eat up multiple blockers and allow the linebackers to clean up.

28) Kansas City Chiefs select Corey Coleman, Wide Receiver, Baylor

Despite losing Sean Smith in free agency, corner can wait until one of the middle rounds considering the Chiefs have a great pass rush that can help mask a weak secondary. However, the Chiefs could really use some more firepower in the passing game. I am a tad hesitant about making this pick because Coleman is a similar receiver to Jeremy Maclin, but Alex Smith really has been able to work well with Maclin in the past. Coleman is an explosive player who is dropped in my mock because of his limited experience with a full route tree. However, he would likely be a starter from day one and would be a tremendously valuable asset to the passing game.

29) Arizona Cardinals select Jarran Reed, Defensive End, Alabama

The Cardinals have a pretty stacked team, but this is one area where they could stand to use some upgrades. Reed is a bit more of a run stuffer, but the Cardinals won't mind if he is available here. Plus, I'm not sure that he was actually asked to do anything more than stuff the run at Alabama. Considering how good the Cardinals' linebackers are, a guy who can set the edge in the run and command double teams against the pass would be a major asset for a team that is only a few pieces away from being a serious contender.

30) Carolina Panthers select Kendall Fuller, Cornerback, Virginia Tech

If it weren't for a bad knee injury in the second game of the season, we would be talking about Fuller as a top ten pick. The last in line of the Fuller brothers to pass through Virginia Tech, Kendall may in fact be the best of the bunch. He showed all of the attributes of a true shutdown corner and probably could have been a first round pick if he had come out last year. After losing Josh Norman in free agency, cornerback is a big need for the Panthers. I wouldn't be surprised to see a pass rusher taken here, but I don't think any of them have the potential that Fuller does.

31) Denver Broncos select Derrick Henry, Running Back, Alabama

I really struggled to come up with a good pick for this as the Broncos are a very well assembled team. They did lose Malik Jackson, so Vernon Butler may be in play here, but I think that Henry makes a lot of sense and here is why. The Broncos apparently love Dak Prescott who they will be able to obtain in a later round. Henry is capable of carrying a team due to his ridiculous size and frame. The Broncos won last year with the dying corpse of Peyton Manning, so why not just play extreme Marty-Ball and see where that takes you. The defense is good enough to win any game, so taking a guy who can be the focal point of your offense really does make sense.

2016 Edge Rusher Rankings

By Justin Rasile

*Note: Due to how many pass rushers there are, we decided to split them. I posted defensive ends a couple days ago and these are guys we feel are a good fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4*

1)     Leonard Floyd, Georgia Bulldogs
Career Stats: 182 Total Tackles, 26.5 TFL, 17 Sacks
Height: 6’6              Weight: 244
Forty: 4.6
Arm Length: 33 & 1/8”

Floyd is quite an interesting prospect, and one that is flying up draft boards.  Of the film that I have watched, I don’t see him as that great of a linebacker but what I do see is Bruce Irvin.  Irvin was not that polished of a linebacker but he excelled at shooting the gap and turning the corner and getting to the quarterback.  Floyd’s meteoric rise is also consistent with how Irvin’s draft upsurge was, eventually going to the Seahawks with the 15th overall pick.  I wish he bulked up more and put his hand in the dirt on every play in college.  I think he would have excelled even more than occasionally blitzing from the linebacker position.  He is a quick twitched athlete that needs to be running downhill to show off where he can become such a special player.  I love the way that he weaves through traffic to attack the ball carrier and then he closes in on a quarterback in a hurry.  Once he gets to the quarterback, he then viciously mauls them and inflicts as much damage as possible while driving their body into the ground.  You have to love a player like that on your team.  Floyd plays with great energy and looks as though he truly loves the game of football.  While he does need to get bigger and stronger to be able to deal with the grind of going up against mammoth sized offensive linemen, I think he will be fast enough to thrive in his early years with his speed and great hand usage.  I do not think he will be a great linebacker though if that is how a team intends to use him.  While he does okay dropping back into coverage, the former Bulldog needs to be moving forward to show his true strengths as a pass rusher.  I think if he was used as a 3-4 outside rush linebacker or in a Leo position, you will be able to spotlight his athletic ability and put him in situations to succeed.  Pass rushers are a premium and Floyd might become the best in this class.

2)     Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Career Stats: 125 Total Tackles, 37.5 TFL, 20 Sacks
Height: 6’2              Weight: 251
Forty: 4.8
Arm Length: 33”

 At what point does immaturity turn to stupidity.  Noah Spence has all the talent in the world but when you keep constantly making mistakes (a la Johnny Manziel), you are eventually deemed not worthy enough to keep around.   Spence was kicked off the Ohio State program and out of the BIG 10 because of multiple failed drug tests from when he was taking the drug molly.  Molly is an extremely addictive drug because of the high that it creates so hopefully Spence has learned his lesson of following the rules or else you will realize that you are disposable.  Hopefully he isn’t idiotic enough to do anymore drugs as he can make a lot of money playing a game.  I do like that he sent out his past twenty drug tests to every single NFL team.  It shows that he has most likely turned a new leaf and has grown up.  Spence has natural pass rush ability and while he doesn’t have the speed and quickness as per the combine (4.8 forty-yard dash) he does find ways to get to the quarterback.  Spence has the innate ability to dip his shoulder and turn the corner passed left tackles.  Hand usage is a fantastic quality for edge rushers to have and this kid has it. He will engage with the offensive lineman and then disengage after he reads the running back or quarterback’s eyes.  The other pass rush moves he is above average at is his bull rush and he has a good swim move.  While playing at Eastern Kentucky and Ohio State, he surprisingly was not double teamed a lot.  He and Joey Bosa wreaked havoc off the edge as a tandem so I believe that if Spence can be paired with another pass rusher, I think he will have a much better chance at excelling in his first few years.  I just hope his lack of maturity is in the past.

3)     Kevin Dodd, Clemson Tigers
Career Stats: 82 Total Tackles, 26.5 TFL, 12.5 Sacks
Height: 6’5                    Weight: 277
Forty: 4.86
Arm Length: 34”

When you are scouting players, you want to see what their ceiling could be because that is a good example of what they could become.  When you watch Dodd in the National Championship Game against Alabama, you see that he could be a special player in the big leagues.  He dominated the line of scrimmage against a very good Crimson Tide offensive line.  He finished the year with sacks in five consecutive games and topped that off with a three sack performance against Alabama.  This kid had 24 tackles for a loss in his one year as a starter.  Although that is one big knock on him is that he has one year of production so is he a one-year wonder?  I don’t think so.  He did play behind some very good players though (Vic Beasley, Shaq Lawson).  He is of a prototypical size for a DE but could be moved all over the place on a defense to get him in different winnable situations to get into the backfield.  He has a relentless motor and is constant competitor and this bodes well for him since as a defensive end, he can get you those late game sacks that can make or break a win for you.  Dodd shoots through gaps well and fights off offensive tackles with good hand usage to get to the ball carrier.  He may not possess the natural bend that you want to see in pass rushers but he has ways of getting it done by being quick off the ball and using his pass rush skills.  On the flip side, Dodd did not see a lot of double teams as his teammate Shaq Lawson was the high profile player on the defense and he did get quite a few of his sacks that way.  But if that Alabama game is an indicator of how good he could become, then Dodd could become a special player.

 4)     Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State Spartans
Career Stats: 131 Total Tackles, 44 TFL, 27 Sacks
Height: 6’4                    Weight: 251
Forty: 4.82
Arm Length: 34 & 1/4”

Calhoun is an intriguing prospect to me.  His athleticism is fantastic but he plays as though he is afraid to get hit.  He can get to a quarterback in a hurry and can pummel them but it looks like he is playing patty cake with the offensive lineman to try and get around him.  It’s not very often that you see a player get a sack without having to touch another player.  He tries to dance around offensive linemen instead of getting inside their shoulder pads and looking into the backfield.  Him shying away from contact could be the basketball player in himself (contact sport my ass).  Calhoun needs to be able to get down and dirty if he wants to survive in the NFL.  I do find it quite interesting that after battling Jack Conklin during his college tenure that he didn’t become a more physical player.  He is the perfect example of having boom or bust potential.  The former Spartan can either become a very good 10 sack a year player or be out of the league in a few years because he can’t develop a nasty streak and will be mauled by physical offensive linemen.  Calhoun does have a string of great production at Michigan State though.  His 44 tackles for a loss are something to marvel at so at least he could survive in this league as a pass rush specialist.  Instincts are another skill that all football players must have and Calhoun is still learning them for his position.  There are some instances when he looks completely lost on the field or loses the ball carrier and guesses to where he may go.  Offensive coordinators will pick up on this and will attack him in his first few years in the league.  Shilique is an intriguing prospect with an incredible ceiling if he puts his mind to it but he is very much a project.

 5)     Yannick Ngakoue, Maryland Terrapins
Career Stats: 83 Total Tackles, 32 TFL, 21 Sacks
Height: 6’2                    Weight: 252
Forty: 4.75
Arm Length: 32 & 1/2”

Ngakoue is the perfect example of entering the draft when your stock is high but he is a player that clearly could have used another year in college.  He definitely needed that extra year because Ngakoue is a few years away from reaching what his potential could be.  As for the time being, he will be a pass rush specialist with enormous upside.  For somebody of his height and weight combination his spin move is something of beauty. Even though he may attempt to overuse it, it is damn effective.  His combine was great for his draft stock.   He bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times and had a very effective forty-yard dash, along with showing off his athleticism through his 34.5 inch vertical and 118 inch broad jump.  The former Terrapin shows very good strength and burst off the line and the fact that he moved all over the line shows his ability to rush from anywhere.  He shows the ability to be an extremely effective edge rusher but then he has some lapses where he doesn’t have the constant motor you would like to see out of a player that hasn’t reached their full potential.  I feel like if he can go somewhere where a veteran player and a coach can get on him, he will show what he can really do.  But for the time being, he will be a late drafted player with loads of upside and intrigue.  If only he stayed another year.

2016 Inside Lineback Rankings

By Justin Rasile

1)     Reggie Ragland, Alabama Crimson Tide
Career Stats: 220 Total Tackles, 4 FF, 17.5 TFL
Height: 6’1                    Weight: 247
Forty: 4.72
Three Cone Drill: 7.55

Another big Alabama prospect hits the top of this scouting report.  Reggie Ragland, a beast among men has been exciting to watch during his college career.  He is a hardnosed and old school linebacker that drives through the ball carrier, thus forcing them into the dirt with great force.  He brings his feet with him and is a sure tackler, something that is a must for today’s linebackers that may be considered a little “heavy in the feet”.  Ragland brings a swagger about himself that rallies his teammates around and brings out the best in everybody.  A lot has been said about his coverage skills but I see a middle linebacker that can hold his own on obvious passing downs.  He sure does a hell of a job being quick twitched enough to tackle ball carriers in space, so why can’t he cover tight ends and some running backs out of the backfield?  Also, if you know your middle linebacker is vulnerable in coverage, then something may be wrong with your defense or somebody blew a coverage because there are ways around the situation of them dropping into coverage.  I personally don’t think Ragland is that bad in coverage.  Nick Saban knows how to coach a defense and Ragland was always in the center of everything and a player that no player wants to see in the hole.  An imposing force, he can patrol the middle of the field looking to murder somebody.  Something that many “experts” are overlooking about Ragland is the obvious drop off after him at middle linebacker.  At least he can drop back into some type of coverage and not be an immediate liability.  Clearly his best qualities are when he is running downhill towards the line of scrimmage and taking a running back off his feet with a crushing blow but some people just don’t see middle linebackers as worthy of a first round pick.  I do.

2)     Scooby Wright III, Arizona Wildcats
Career Stats: 270 Total Tackles, 5 FF, 43.5 TFL
Height: 6’0                    Weight: 239
Forty: 4.90
Three Cone Drill: 7.25
Production. Check.  Athleticism. Check.  Pass rushing moves. Check.  Time and time again, Scooby found a way to get to the ball.  He may not be the biggest or fastest but he makes it work.  Every time you watch that Arizona defense, you always had to keep an eye on big number 33 and account for him.  He flies all over the field despite not having enough “quickness” but he makes up for that by being a smart and gritty player.  His relentless motor is something that I have come to fall in love with, especially when you combine his incredible instincts.  But how can you not love a player that gives 100% all the time.  When his knee was injured, he came back way before anybody expected but he needed better advice as he came back too quick and a sprained foot shortened his season.  As a linebacker, you have to be smart about tackling and Scooby knows how to do that.  The former Wildcat knows when to go for the ball and try to rip it out of the ball carrier’s hands or to just wrap up and make the sure tackle.  As a strongside linebacker in a 4-3 or one of the inside linebackers in a 3-4, I think he would excel at either position as noted by his 17 career of sacks and his ability to mold to what the team needs.  If you want to see what this Wildcat is capable of, check out his Sophomore year in 2014.  His statistics are astonishing: 164 total tackles, 31 tackles for a loss, AND 15 effing sacks.  The kid was a production monster that year.  If Scooby was even remotely close with his stats this past year, we would be talking about him going much higher in the draft.  He has the potential to put up somewhat comparable stats in the NFL.  Scooby said this, “Put me in sweats and ask me to run around cones, and I’ll do an okay job.  But put me in pads and ask me to lead your defense, and there’s a lot of evidence that I can help you win”.  The combine isn’t everything and definitely should not have that much emphasis on a player’s draft stock but all you need is one team to fall in love with you.  Plus, Scooby is an awesome nickname. 

3)     Joshua Perry, Ohio State Buckeyes
Career Stats: 296 Total Tackles, 1 FF, 18 TFL
Height: 6’4                    Weight: 254
Forty: 4.68
Three Cone Drill: 7.24

Another piece of one of the most talented defenses college football has ever seen, Perry is that big and daunting linebacker standing at 6’4 and 254 pounds.  He also moves incredibly well for a larger human being.  Being big, strong, and deceptively fast can only take you so far though.  You need to have the instincts to coincide.  Perry has this issue of guessing where the ball carrier is going to go instead of using his eyes to determine where he can meet him for the tackle.  This leads to him shooting the wrong gap and can leave the defense vulnerable to a big offensive gain.  When he does finally get within closing distance of the offensive player, he can lay down a crushing blow with pretty good technique.  There are some instances on tape when he uses his overpowering size to make the tackle instead of wrapping up and driving the carrier back. This obviously won’t work every time in the NFL as every player is big and strong but it is a slight adjustment that he can make.  I love that he pursues plays down the field.  Those are the types of plays that can save a game or a season and will get your teammates to fall in love with you.  I believe that Perry has the ability to play a 4-3 strongside linebacker or an inside backer in a 3-4 so with that said, most teams will be looking at him.  And with a player this big, it is hard pressed to look around him.

4)      Antonio Morrison, Florida Gators
Career Stats: 287 Total Tackles, 3 FF, 20 TFL
Height: 6’1                                Weight: 232
Forty: 5.1
Three Cone Drill: 7.69

A very integral part of a vaunted Florida Gators defense, Morrison was the outright leader and a big time play maker that always found his way around the ball.  He brings a lot to the table but above all, he is a good and strong linebacker.  Morrison is one of those players that the angrier he becomes, the better he plays.  As a Gators fan that was obvious to me.  He plays with reckless care for human life but that’s what you get with an old school linebacker.  He flies around the field looking to decapitate a ball carrier but, at the same time, he is smart about it.  He didn’t get penalized a whole lot in college, so at least he can play with a good head on his shoulders.  He can play either middle linebacker or outside linebacker with an ability to blitz (4.5 career sacks).  In college he had to deal with a lot of run/pass option plays and he played those very well.  Always attacking the right player, depending on his outside coverage.  This will help his transition from college as that part of offenses are becoming more and more involved in offensive coordinators playbooks with these mobile quarterbacks.  My favorite part about Morrison’s game is that he actually drives through the ball carrier when he makes a tackle.  Whether it be head on or coming from the side, he wraps up the carrier with great technique and plants the player into the dirt.  Muddy lines of scrimmage are common and this kid can wade through the traffic well to make a play on the ball.  His pass coverage skills are not that great but they can be approved upon.  More than likely he will need to come off the field on obvious passing downs since he can be a liability and is not the fastest of players.  He is a good example that you can hide lack of speed in a 3-4 defense as an inside linebacker though.  His toughness, grit and leadership will help lead him to a long NFL career.

5)      Kentrell Brothers, Missouri Tigers
Career Stats: 357 Total Tackles, 4 FF, 23.5 TFL
Height: 6’0                    Weight: 245
Forty: 4.82
Three Cone Drill: 6.99

Brothers is that breed of old school inside linebackers that teams are not falling in love with.  But that is okay because he can play football.  He can shed the blocker and make the tackle at the line of scrimmage, which is a lot of what linebackers have to do.  His tackling skills are above average and he shoots his hips and wrap up to finish off a ball carrier.  While his forty-yard dash may not have been the prettiest sight to see (4.82 seconds), his three cone drill (6.99 seconds) and twenty-yard shuttle (4.11 seconds) were exceptional for a man of his weight.  Both of these drills were better than the far “superior” athlete that is Darron Lee, who ran a 7.12 second three cone drill and a 4.20 twenty-yard shuttle at nearly fifteen pounds lighter.  So all you size and speed combo draftniks can shove it.  A football player is a football player, no matter how they get the job done as long as they get it done.  Brothers has fantastic instincts and can read and develop plays quickly and constantly hustles to the ball.  This hustle allows him to always be around the ball and make plays when other players would give up.  He also has three blocked kicks on special teams.  Team player.  A few knacks on him are that he is a little slow at times but as mentioned above, his hustle makes up for that, and he is quicker than he looks.  Sometimes he can make bone headed tackles out of bounds and penalize his team but those are probably just isolated incidents.  If I were a 3-4 team, I wouldn’t hesitate to take a stab at this kid in the third or fourth round.  Old school players can play on my team any day.