clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2016 NFL mock draft: Tackles and pass rushers in demand

New, comments

All eyes are now on the draft, which is just over two months away.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to draft season. Following Denver's win in the Super Bowl on Sunday, the offseason has officially begun with every team making preparations for the 2016 NFL Draft.

As the Super Bowl showed, it's more important than ever to have players on defense who can pressure the quarterback, and players on offense who can stop them. Having just one pass rusher isn't enough anymore. Having just a really good left tackle isn't enough anymore either.

Fortunately for many teams, this is a good year to draft offensive tackles. The pass rusher class isn't quite as deep, but there are a few good ones who will go high in the draft. Here's how we're they're projected to go for now:

1. Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

Tennessee has the quarterback in Marcus Mariota and a decent piece at offensive tackle in Taylor Lewan. But they need that other offensive tackle to really solidify things. By building a dominating line to go along with Mariota, the Titans could quickly be ascending the typically poor AFC South.

2. Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California

The Browns have the solid offensive line, at least for now, but not the quarterback. The direction for the Browns needs to be a quarterback. Exactly which one is under dispute. Paxton Lynch of Memphis met Browns head coach Hue Jackson during Super Bowl week, so that narrative has begun. North Dakota State's Carson Wentz met Jackson at the Senior Bowl. Of the top three quarterbacks, Goff is attached the least to Cleveland. But he's the top quarterback and the most pro ready of the three.

SB Nation presents: 2016 NFL Draft early studs and sleepers

3. San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

I've gone back and forth on the Chargers. Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa makes sense because he's so good, but the fit in San Diego's 3-4 base isn't great. Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley fills a need on the offensive line, but the third pick feels like a little bit of a reach. Instead of those two, let's lean on Kyle Posey of Bolts From the Blue. Buckner is a good system fit, fills the team's biggest need and the value is close enough.

4. Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State

The Cowboys can really do no wrong with the fourth pick if they're choosing between Ramsey and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack. Ramsey can be the lock-down cornerback Dallas needs, while Jack can be the steady playmaker at linebacker that is needed. Both are among the best players in this year's draft.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Bosa being around at No. 5 is a coup for Jacksonville. For the Jaguars, Bosa can play inside and out and really bolster a pass rush to go along with the returning Dante Fowler.

6. Baltimore Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

With Ramsey off the board, choosing Stanley would be a smart choice for Baltimore. He would improve an average offensive line, and likely push Eugene Monroe to the right side.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Noah Spence, OLB/DE, Eastern Kentucky

There is not a Von Miller in this year's draft, but Spence is the closest thing. He's a fluid edge rusher with quickness and the skills to line up at end or linebacker. San Francisco needs to get better at rushing the passer, and Spence is the player who can do it.

8. Miami Dolphins: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

Although Miami needs to add talent at defensive back, inside linebacker is a big need as well. Jack has the chance to be a special player at the next level. He's a supreme athlete who can cover a lot of ground and matches up nicely against tight ends and running backs in the passing game.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

Tampa Bay's two biggest needs to address this offseason are defensive end and cornerback. If the three top pass rushers are off the board, the direction turns to cornerback. Mackensie is a talented redshirt sophomore who can lock down a side of the field.

10. New York Giants: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

Here's another situation where the best pass rushers are gone, and it seems too early to take a Jaylon Smith, the talented-but-injured linebacker from Notre Dame. Yes, this is early for a running back, and good ones can be found late, but Elliott is a Day 1 workhorse starter. He combines power, speed and the foot quickness to make defenders miss. He would immediately become one of the focal points of the team's offense.

11. Chicago Bears: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

Chicago needs to get tougher on defense and improve a below-average run defense. Ragland can be the answer at inside linebacker the Bears really haven't had since Brian Urlacher retired. Ragland may not be on that level, but he's a dependable tackler who will quickly become one of the team's leaders.

12. New Orleans Saints: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

The Saints need to get a lot better on defense, but Treadwell is too good to pass up at No. 12 overall. He could pair with Brandin Cooks to give Drew Brees the weapons needed for one final push to end his career.

13. Philadelphia Eagles: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

The Eagles really haven't had a good solution at starting quarterback since Donovan McNabb. Philadelphia took McNabb in Andy Reid's first year in Philadelphia in 1999. New Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson, a Reid understudy, could follow the same blueprint by taking a quarterback in his first year. Lynch and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State can be debated, but Lynch has a much longer résumé to rely upon.

14. Oakland Raiders: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

Oakland has needs at both safety and cornerback, and Hargreaves would help improve the latter. Hargreaves is a talented cornerback who may not measure well during the offseason process. On the field, though, he's a shutdown No. 1 corner who can play the outside and out of the slot.

15. Los Angeles Rams: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

It's getting harder to see Wentz falling this far in the first round. But since this mock draft doesn't have trades, he's available. Regarding a trade, it's worth reminding that the Rams have two second-round picks if they want to move up on a quarterback.

16. Detroit Lions: A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

The Lions could be in trouble up front where Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker are free agents. That could force the Lions to wait on offensive tackle or wide receiver until later in the draft to fill that hole. Robinson is arguably the best defensive tackle in the draft, and could contribute as a rookie in the NFL.

17. Atlanta Falcons: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame

There is obviously some risk in taking Smith, who is rehabbing a serious knee injury, but the payoff could be huge. Before the injury he was a top-10 talent. For the Falcons, he's a three-down player and a big improvement at linebacker.

18. Indianapolis Colts: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

The Colts have little in the way of a pass rush, other than Robert Mathis, who will be 35 at the start of next season. Floyd has shown he's capable of playing multiple spots on defense, and that versatility could go a long way for the Colts.

19. Buffalo Bills: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss

Speaking of versatility, that's what Nkemdiche can give Buffalo. He has the size and strength to play on the inside, but enough athleticism to work on the outside. Nkemdiche has off-field questions to answer, but Rex Ryan has never shied away from taking a risk.

20. New York Jets: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

New York needs linebackers, but the value just isn't there with Floyd gone. With that in mind, the Jets could turn to an offensive line that has three starters in their 30s. Decker could be brought in to start at right tackle and eventually take over for D'Brickashaw Ferguson at left tackle.

21. Washington: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

Jason Hatcher's status for next season is still unknown, and Terrance Knighton is a free agent. Washington could take a player like Reed, who has experience in the 3-4, and replace either.

22. Houston Texans: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

This may be a little early for Cook, but desperate teams will reach in the draft. The Texans needing a quarterback is one of the biggest needs in the whole league, so they may want to grab one early. In Cook they get a solid player whose career trajectory may be similar to that of Andy Dalton.

NFL Draft History: What started simple has become a spectacle

23. Minnesota Vikings: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

Matt Kalil has struggled at left tackle, so Conklin could push him there. If Kalil manages to improve, Conklin could easily slide inside next to him at left guard.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

Two of Cincinnati's top four cornerbacks -- Leon Hall and Adam Jones -- are free agents, so the Bengals may need to bolster the position. Apple is a high-upside player whose pure talent is better than that of most players picked in this range. He could be available here, though, because he was inconsistent last season for the Buckeyes.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

With Apple off the board, the Steelers could turn to Fuller and be just fine. Don't forget, before the season started he was considered a top-15 pick before suffering through an injury-filled year.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

The Seahawks could have some options with the 26th pick with Sheldon Rankins of Louisville, Jonathan Bullard of Florida and Lawson all still available. Each is a good player who will fill a potential need on the defensive line. Lawson is the best of the bunch and can play multiple spots in Seattle's scheme.

27. Green Bay Packers: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State

Lee might be a little light to play in a 3-4 defense, but he fills a need the Packers have had for several seasons. Lee is one of the most athletic linebackers in this year's draft, so he'd offer range. If he can add more power to his game, Green Bay's big need could finally be filled.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

The Chiefs clearly have talented pieces up front with Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey, but some questions after those two. With the addition of Rankins, a quick and strong lineman, they'd have a complete starting unit with few peers.

29. Arizona Cardinals: Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia

Here's another team that could do with improving its pass rush. The Cardinals had just 35 sacks in the regular season, an average number. Jenkins has enough athleticism to rush the passer as a linebacker, but played with his hand down at times for Georgia and would give Arizona some versatility.

30. Carolina Panthers: Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn

The Super Bowl showed that the Panthers need better play at right tackle. In the Panthers' offense, they need a lineman who can sustain blocks long enough to let vertical pass plays develop. Coleman is that type of blocker thanks to his size and powerful blocking style. He could also be a long-term solution at left tackle if Michael Oher takes a step back.

31. Denver Broncos: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

Ryan Clady's health and contract may be too much of an issue for the Broncos to bring him back next season. If they move on, Spriggs would be a much better player at left tackle than someone like Ty Sambrailo. Ryan Harris played admirably, but was exposed some by Kony Ealy in the Super Bowl.