When the 2015 draft coming to an end I am sure many of you were already wondering who the top prospects for 2016 might be. Trying to predict not only the top prospects, but also the draft order is tall order right now, but I am willing if you are . My 2016 First Mock saw 7 of my top 32 go in the top 10, but only 13 out of 32 players went in the first round for a variety of reasons.7 went in the second round,4 in the third,3 in the fourth, 1 in the sixth,1 in the seventh,1 of them stayed in school, one was retired for medical reasons, and one went completely un-drafted due to character concerns. So keep that in mind because some of these guys will get hurt, play to avoid injury & disappoint, decide to stay in school, maybe even be kicked off the team, or just not play up to my expectations for a whole . Not to mention the teams may play better or worse for a whole lot of reasons themselves. Plus early entries are hard to predict , and even though 30 of them went un-drafted in 2016 , plenty of guys will come out earlier than expected.I have done limited tape study on these prospects so far, and they are mostly guys I couldn't help noticing while watching others on tape this year, or guys I expected to enter the 2015 draft that didn't. Some are just really talented ,and I expect them to step up this year as well. Right now I see a draft deep in running back & offensive tackle on offense , and edge rushers and DB's on defense if the players I expect to enter the draft come out, Deshaun Watson is the most well known QB, and I hope he steps up enough to be the #1 pick, but I expect others will challenge him for the top QB spot . I have added the players " listed " height & weight, but until the All Star games, combine , or even the Pro Days for some lower ranked guys, nothing is official, So here it is. Enjoy.
1.CLEVELAND - DESHAUN WATSON - ** - QB - CLEMSON - 6"2", 205 lbs
RG3 still hasn't shown he can stay healthy and maintain a starters level of play for an entire season. Plus, he is only on a 2 year deal. Cody Kessler just seems like a backup to me, but I admit that he does have a chance to become a low end starter in a west coast offense. I still see the Browns ending up with the first pick in the draft, and taking the best QB available. Next years draft is a long time away, but as of now I think that's Watson. The weakness of the Clemson team last year was their O-Line, and Watson has had trouble staying healthy in the past, but if his receiver's had just held onto the ball against Alabama last year he would have led them to a national championship. If he stays healthy, adds some muscle, is actually 6"2" plus, and keeps progressing he could be the first pick in the draft. He's a play maker throwing or running ,and is strong in clutch situations. Watson also has a smooth throwing motion, a strong arm, and good touch .
2.CLEVELAND-(philly)- MYLES GARRETT -OLB/DE - TEXAS A&M- 6"5", 260
A possible franchise QB and a franchise pass rusher at the top of the draft should give a lot of hope to Browns fans. Garrett has a great frame & tools. Plus he has been highly productive from day one in a power 5 conference. He has the burst & athleticism for OLB or DE .If he had been eligible for the 2016 draft there is a good chance he would been a top 5 pick. There is a whole season to go , but if none of the QB's who enter the draft in 2017 stand out this season, Garrett could easily go #1 overall.
3.DETROIT - JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER - WR - USC - 6"2" , 215
In my opinion ,other than Dallas passing on Myles Jack & taking Jaylon Smith, the dumbest move of the entire draft was the Lions not drafting any receivers. They just lost Megatron! Marvin Jones and Jeremy Kerley combined can't replace him. Both solid players , but even if they step up their games after getting more targets ,neither is a likely #1 WR. Golden Tate is a good # 2, but he is their best bet now, but I just don't see him being a guy who can take over games when you double him. My point is they don't have anyone on their roster who can be a high level #1 WR. Juju is big & physical with some burst. He isn't a burner ,but his strong hands , run after the catch skills, and aggressive temperament give him a good chance of being a #1.
4.WASHINGTON - LEONARD FOURNETTE - RB - LSU - 6"1" , 230
This is a really deep RB draft, and there is a good chance the skins would trade down and take a RB later if he can, but that's not available in this scenario. Their GM loves high floor players, and like Zeke this year Fournette will probably be the highest graded player on many boards, and is the kind of guy someone should ignore the devaluing of his position for. Fournette is big , physical, and fast. He started showing more of an ability to run around defenders last season. If he keeps that up stays healthy, and keeps improving as a receiver & blocker he could even give us back to back seasons with RB's drafted in the top five. He reminds me of Bo Jackson ,and if you have ever played Super Tecmo Bowl that's scary.
5.SAN DIEGO - BRAD KAAYA - QB - MIAMI - 6"4" ,210 lbs
Despite resigning Phillip Rivers ,and upgrading at center & edge rusher ,I just don't believe in this team. Rivers will turn 35 this season, and despite a deep QB draft they didn't even take a flier on a late developmental guy at that position. Rivers is near legendary for his ability to play despite regularly getting beat up, but so was Peyton Manning until he broke down. Kaaya is smart, has a bigger frame than Watson, is playing in a pro style offense,and he did a better job of protecting the football last year. If his arm is strong enough to make all the throws in this offense there is a good chance he goes above Watson when it's all said and done.
6.NY JETS - MIKE McGLINCHEY - OT - N. DAME - 6"7" , 310
With Brick retiring and the Jets counting on the often injured Ryan Clady at LT this could be a long season for whoever the Jets line up under center. McGlinchey has a good chance to be the next Notre Dame LT drafted in the first round. Just like Ronnie Stanley this year he is moving over from right tackle, and getting a shot to show he can handle the blindside . He has a great frame with long arms, and has no problem with speed off the edge . Athough he tends to set high and can be over powered by a good bull rush . If he can get stronger this off season, and play with the same knee bend in pass pro that he shows in the running game , he could be a stud
7.TAMPA BAY - RODERICK JOHNSON - OT - GREEN BAY - 6"7" , 312
Jameis Winston is a big tough QB that can take a hit, but giants like Cam Newton Ben Roethlisberger, and Andrew Luck have all missed time due to the pounding a NFL QB takes in the last couple of years. Donovan Smith was a failure at LT last season, and I thought they would move him to LG this season , but I guess not. Unless Smith significantly improves this year I expect the bucs to upgrade their left tackle in 2017 . Johnson has held down left tackle at FSU since he took over midway through 2014. He is athletic with a great frame, and if he can get stronger & show more of a consistent mean streak he can be worth this pick.
8.TENNESSEE - DESMOND KING - CB - IOWA - 5"11", 200
I believe King would have been a top 15 pick this year if he had entered the draft and ran a sub 4.5 forty. He is the reigning Jim Thorpe award winner for a reason, and rarely does the nations top DB return to school when draft eligible. He has really good ball skills, great instincts , a high football IQ , and is just a good all round football player. Like Vernon Hargreaves this year , his height & speed are his only questions.
9.TENNESEE-(la rams) - JONATHAN ALLEN - ALABAMA - 6"3", 272
I was genuinely surprised that Allen didn't enter the draft in 2016. When a guy gets 13 sacks & 17 hurries in just over 250 rushes he could have been a top 10 pick, and might have went as high as # 3. He looks more suited to be a 4-3 end in the pros right now , but maybe he will add some weight to play more early down snaps as a 5 technique at Alabama this season.
10.CHICAGO - TIM WILLIAMS - OLB/DE - ALABAMA - 6"4" , 230
Another Alabama pass rush specialist from 2015 that should take on a bigger role this season . Williams raw pass rush numbers are even more impressive than Allen's, especially when you consider that he got the least amount of rush snaps(147) of all their edge rushers. He had 8 QB hits, 11 sacks, and 33 hurries last season in that limited playing time. That is freaking phenomenal ! If he can get above 250 pounds this season, show he can hold up against the run at the point of attack, and still have that same burst in a bigger role , he could end up the first defender off the board.
11.SAN FRANCISCO - JALON TABOR - # - CB - FLORIDA - 6"1' , 191
On tape Tabor was the best cover corner in college in 2015 , but his off the field concerns are what could keep him from realizing his potential. He outplayed the # 9 overall pick on his own team, and has a higher upside & is a few inches taller than Hargreaves too.
12.NEW ORLEANS - JABRIL PEPPERS - S/CB - MICHIGAN - 6"1" , 205
Peppers is one of the best players in all of college football. Corner, safety, nickle backer , return man, offensive weapon . The dude just does it all. He is the closest thing to Charles Woodson to hit college since Woody won the Heisman. Jairus Byrd has been a big money injury prone bust so far , and they can move on from him after this season. With the saints base defense being nickle they will be able to creatively use the versatile Peppers all over the formation.
13.MIAMI - DEREK BARNETT - DE - TENNESEE - 6"3" , 257
With the over 30 duo of Mario Williams & returning from injury Cameron Wake, and the never having lived up to his talent Andre Branch at DE, I expected the fins to address the position early in the draft. However, Mike Tanenbaum is their GM. He loves overpaying veterans past their prime, and ignored the position entirely. Barnett is a powerful guy that actually reminds me of Wake. He shows up strong against the run and pass.
14.DENVER - DALVIN COOK - RB - FLORIDA ST. - 6"0" , 203
The broncos have a grinder in CJ Anderson and a overall solid guy in Booker, but they don't have a home run hitter. No, I am not a Ronnie Hillman fan, and he will probably be gone after this season anyway. Cook is as electric as they come as a runner or receiver. He is a dual threat a lot like Jamall Charles.
15.HOUSTON - JAMAL ADAMS - S - LSU - 6"1" , 211
I am not sold on Osweiler ,and they are really only financially tied to him for 2 years. So I wouldn't rule out a QB if he bombs, but for now I will give him the benefit of the doubt. If Adams would have been eligible for this draft my guess is he would have went 14th overall to the Raiders. He's a big hitter that can play high or low, and he covers a lot ground.
16.BUFFALO - CHAD KELLY - QB - OLE MISS - 6"2" , 215
The only reason this pick is shaky is Kelly's character questions. He had a great 2015 season, and the nephew of Jim Kelly would energize the Bills fan base if they move on from Tyrod Taylor. If he can cut down his picks, keep his nose clean, is actually 6"2" plus, and prove to be a good leader ,I think he is a first rounder.
17.ATLANTA- MALIK McDOWELL - DT - MICHIGAN ST. - 6"6" , 275
One position the Falcons failed to address in the draft was a long term replacement for 34 year old Jonathan Babineaux. Mcdowell is kind of tweener right now, but with his long frame he could and up playing DT, DE, or the 5 technique depending on how much size he adds. He will have to add some muscle to justify this pick playing inside, but he already shows a lot as a inside pass rusher at Michigan ST..
18.OAKLAND - JARRAD DAVIS - LB - FLORIDA - 6"2" , 230
The Raiders have had back to back seasons with big free agent signings & good drafts, but the one place they haven't upgraded is inside LB. Ben Heeney is a solid player , but I don't know is he if he can ever be "the guy " in the middle for any NFL team. Davis brings it on every play against the run or pass,and he covers a lot of ground. If he add some weight,and I am betting he will, I think he can play inside in the NFL . At the very least he would be a stud weak side backer at his listed size.
19.GREEN BAY - CARL LAWSON - ** - DE/OLB - AUBURN - 6"2" , 257
They moved clay Matthews back to the outside, and drafted Kyler Fackrell, but Matthews is now 30 & Peppers is 36. Lawson is an elite athlete, but he needs to stay healthy. He is the only guy who gave Laremy Tunsil trouble last year on tape, and if he can stay healthy this season he could go a lot higher.
20.JACKSONVILLE - OJ HOWARD - TE - ALABAMA - 6"6" , 242
Yep, another underused Alabama stud that didn't enter the draft. After they turned him loose in the National championship I thought Howard would leave and be the first TE off the board in 2016, but he stayed. He has a great frame, speed to leave LB's in the dust, and was a much better blocker than I expected from such a lean looking guy on tape. If he adds another 10 pounds, keeps improving his blocking, and Bama actually features him in the passing game, he could be that rare TE that goes in the top 10 . If Julius Thomas doesn't have a big season this year they can move on from him and save 7 million off the cap.
21.CINCINNATI - RAEKWON McMILLAN - LB - OHIO ST. - 6"2" , 240
After a lot of his fellow starters on the Buckeye defense bailed to the NFL Mcmillan is is the clear leader of the defense. A 3 down player that could conceivable play all 3 LB positions and allow them to move on from the troubled Vontaze Burfict . McMillan's character and dependability would also be a welcome contrast for the Bengals.
22.NY GIANTS - CAMERON ROBINSON - # - OT - ALABAMA - 6"6" , 323
In a off season where the Giants spent a lot of money in free agency ,and had 6 draft picks, the one area they didn't address was the O-Line. Despite rookie Ereck Flowers struggling at LT, they also cut William Beatty, and ate his cap hit. If Flowers is healthy this year and doesn't improve he may be in for a position switch. Based on Robinson's freshman tape I though he would have grown into a lock for the top 5 by now, but his sophomore tape wasn't as good, although he did play hurt. If he is healthy and keeps improving he would be a steal for the Giants. The only reason he is available this late is that he got arrested on drug & weapon charges on May 17th . His future is now up in the air.
23.INDIANAPOLIS - ZACH BANNER - OT - USC - 6"9" , 360
The Colts shockingly actually drafted 3 O-lineman this year, and center Ryan Kelly should be a day one starter. Finally! Grigson realizes that they aren't a contender without Luck, and all it took was a lacerated kidney & torn abdomen to do it. Banner is the son of former Pro Bowler Lincoln Kennedy, and he is a mammoth mauler like his dad that would fit this power offense.
24.BALTIMORE - ROYCE FREEMAN - RB - OREGON - 5"11, 230
The Ravens have a lot of backs, but unless Kenneth Dixon wins the job they don't have much chance of having a franchise do it all back. Freeman is big, fast, powerful, and can make you miss. In a normal RB year he would probably go higher, but in this RB heavy draft I think he is the 3rd one off the board.
25.CAROLINA - DeMARCUS WALKER - DE - FLORIDA ST. - 6"3" , 277 lbs.
Charles Johnson took a pay cut to stay, but it's only a one year deal, and they didn't address the position in the 2016 draft. Walker had 10.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles last year , and if he steps up his game another notch as a senior he has a good chance of being a first rounder.
26.MINNESOTA - SAMAJE PERINE - RB - OKLAHOMA - 5"11" , 237
Perine has been a dominant force his first 2 seasons at Oklahoma. He's a big back that can run over and away from defenders. If he is fully recovered from a torn ankle ligament he should be a Heisman contender. The first time I saw those powerful tree trunk legs running through defenders all I could think of was Earl Campbell.
27.KANSAS CITY - TRE'DAVIOUS WHITE - CB - LSU - 5"11" , 191
White has displayed great feet and shown a penchant for disrupting passes at LSU. He was also the player who covered Amari Cooper better than anyone in 2014. While he didn't play as well in 2015, I still saw him as a top 50 pick, and I was surprised when he came came back to school.
28.SEATTLE - CONNOR McDERMOTT - OT - UCLA - 6'9" , 310
This former basketball player has the elite size & athleticism the NFL is craving. If he had built on his good finish to 2014, and played better in 2015, I expect that he would have entered the 2016 draft . As a UCLA fan I am glad he didn't, and I am sure Josh Rosen is even happier.
29.NEW ENGLAND - MACK HOLLINS - WR - N. CAROLINA - 6"4" , 210
The Patriots need a big outside receiver for Brady. Hollins has great size, and if he had better chemistry with last years QB I think he would have been the only player to have a big game against Mackensie Alexander , because he was open a lot in that game. If he clicks with Mitch Trubisky this season he should be a household name come draft time.
30.DALLAS - MALACHI DUPRE - WR - LSU - 6"3" , 190
Even if Dez is healthy this year, Witten doesn't separate well in man coverahe, Cole Beasley is part time player that is hard to spot behind a O-Line, and Terrence Williams has never quite developed the way they thought he would. Dallas needs another threat outside, especially one that can stretch the field. This former top recruit made some highlight reel plays last season, and he has a chance to see a lot of one on ones this year, with teams loading the box to stop Fournette.
31.PITTSBURGH - CHARLES HARRIS - OLB/DE - MISSOURI - 6"3" , 255
Jarvis Jones has been a bust so far, and even James Harrison can't play at a high level forever. Missouri has sent a lot of edge rushers into the league the last few seasons, and Harris has the highest upside of all of them. He is long , explosive, and can bend around the arc outside,
32.ARIZONA - ADOREE JACKSON - CB - USC - 5"11" , 185
Jackson is probably more known for being a return man and occasional offensive player to the casual fan , but he can also be a force on defense . Especially if he becomes a better tackler. He's just a play maker when he's on the field.