Some lucky NFL fans are still able to watch their teams compete in the playoffs. For everyone else, the focus has already turned to next season and the future. Luckily for them, ESPN's Mel Kiper has put out his first mock draft for 2016.
Of course, it's still very early in the process. Kiper himself points this out:
"Nobody has a draft board yet," Kiper writes, "and we still have postseason all-star games, combine testing, medicals and individual workouts to get through."
That said, Kiper is still incredibly plugged in and usually a good predictor of draft trends (for another view be sure to check out our latest mock draft from Dan Kadar). Here are some that stand out from his first mock draft.
Jared Goff seems destined for Cleveland (sorry, bro)
Goff is the clear top choice at quarterback among this year's class. The Browns last drafted a quarterback in the first round just two years ago, but the Johnny Manziel experience hasn't worked out well, especially due to Manziel's off-the-field antics.
In fact, it's already been reported that new Browns coach Hue Jackson plans on severing ties with Manziel. Jackson, the former Bengals offensive coordinator, is also a quarterbacks coach by trade and no doubt wants to build his team around a shiny new (and reliable) signal caller.
The only thing that could get in the Browns' way of taking Goff with the No. 2 pick is if another quarterback-needy team leapfrogs them by trading with the Titans, who own the No. 1 pick but already have Marcus Mariota on the roster.
As of now, Kiper only has two other quarterbacks going in the first round: Memphis' Paxton Lynch at No. 15 to the Rams, and North Dakota's Carson Wentz to the Texans at No. 22. Penn State's Christian Hackenberg, who was recruited by current Texans and former Nittany Lions head coach Bill O'Brien, isn't listed.
Many teams could use some O-line help, and there's plenty to go around
This won't excite fans very much -- can't exactly build hopes and dreams around a pulling guard -- but Kiper has four offensive linemen going in his top 18. They are: Laremy Tunsil (Ole Miss), Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame), Jack Conklin (Michigan State) and Taylor Decker (Ohio State).
Kiper has left tackle Tunsil -- in his words, a "flat out gifted prospect" -- going to the Chargers at No. 3. Stanley, another left tackle who Kiper says would be the first offensive lineman off the board most seasons, is listed next at No. 6 to the Ravens, a team that can certainly use the help up front.
Conklin is off Kiper's board at No. 14 to the Raiders. The Colts didn't address their offensive line last season and Andrew Luck sat out half of the season with injuries because of it, so it's no surprise Kiper is projecting them to select Decker at No. 18.
There's a D-lineman for everyone, and one might even go No. 1
This might be the most interesting trend in this mock draft: 11 out of the 31 players listed by Kiper play defensive line. In an age when pressuring quarterbacks is more important than ever, it's understandable why. The most noteworthy of this group is Joey Bosa, the menace out of Ohio State whom Kiper has going to the Titans at No. 1.
"Bosa has the upside of a star," Kiper writes. "He's a dominant pass-rusher who piled up 51.0 tackles for loss over three seasons despite running into a steady supply of double-teams, and he's also outstanding against the run."
Kiper is also a big fan of DeForest Buckner, a defensive end out of Oregon. He has him going No. 4 to the Cowboys, with Clemson DE Shaq Lawson headed to the Miami Dolphins at No. 8.