NFL

2016 NFL Mock Draft: Mark Gunnels

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It’s draft week, so you know what that means, right?

Football Insiders will be coming out with a new mock draft everyday this week. Without further ado, let’s get to it

(FYI: The trades are my predictions)

1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California – There’s no doubt Los Angeles will be going quarterback here. The real question is will it be Jared Goff or Carson Wentz?

For the sake of this mock draft, Goff will be the franchise quarterback in L.A. He possesses good size at 6-foot-4, 214 pounds and he’s capable of making every throw necessary at the next level. It feels like forever since the Rams have witnessed quality play under center, but Goff is primed to turn things around.

2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State – Whoever the Rams don’t take, the Eagles will be taking here at two. Some believe Wentz is a better prospect than Goff and it’s easy to see why. He stands very tall in the pocket and the North Dakota State product showed the ability to read different defenses at the collegiate level.

With Sam Bradford wanting out, Wentz may be asked to step in from day one.

3. San Diego Chargers: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss – Unfortunately for San Diego, Philip Rivers isn’t getting any younger, so in order to extend his career, the Chargers must find a way to protect him better. This past season, San Diego allowed 40 sacks, which ranked 12th most in the NFL.

Adding Laremy Tunsil would be enormous, both literally and figuratively.

Tunsil would protect Rivers blindside and with his unique footwork, technique and instincts, he could turn into an all-pro one day.

4. Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State – The Cowboys can go in so many different directions here, but it’ll be hard to pass up on Ezekiel Elliott. After losing DeMarco Murray to rival Philly, Dallas is looking for another dynamic back. Yes, Darren McFadden had a solid year, but he’s clearly not the long-term solution.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State – When it comes to upside, Bosa may not have the most, but he’s one of the safest picks in the draft. At 6-foot-5, 269 pounds, he’s NFL ready from a physical standpoint. Also, he’s ready mentally. His father and uncle were both NFL first-round picks.

Jacksonville is ready to compete offensively, however, their defense has some catching up to do, which is why this pick makes perfect sense.

6. Baltimore Ravens: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State – Time have truly changed because Baltimore is in dire need of secondary help. Sure, they need help in other areas defensively, but if Jalen Ramsey is one the board here, I’ll be surprised to see them pass up on him here. He’s clearly the best cornerback in this class with his ideal size and elite athleticism.

7. New Orleans Saints (Pick from San Francisco): Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA – His knee injury this past season may scare some teams, but it makes a lot of sense for the Saints here. New Orleans needs help across the board and Jack is one of those players you can place just about anywhere defensively. After all, he did play some running back at UCLA, so he has the speed to chase opponents sideline-to-sideline.

8. Cleveland Browns: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon – The Browns ranked 29th in sacks this season. The addition of Buckner should help in that department. He presents amazing size at 6-foot-7, 291 pounds. When you combine that with his athleticism and length, he’s simply going to be tough to handle on the edge.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves II, CB, Florida – The Buccaneers aren’t far away from competing at a high level, however, they must improve in key areas, especially defensively. The past two years Tampa Bay has only drafted one defensive player.

Secondary was definitely a weak spot in 2015.

Drafting Hargreaves here would get fans down in Florida excited and not only that, he would make the coaching staff happy. There’s some concern about his size and make-up speed, but with that being said, Hargreaves makes up for it through his competitive and natural football instincts.

10. New York Giants: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson – One of the most physically gifted prospects in the draft. Lawson is stacked at 6-foot-3, 269 pounds.

The Giants had one of the worse secondaries a season ago, but a lot of that can be contributed to the lack of pass rush. They finished 26th in total sacks and someone like Lawson should be able to cause havoc in opposing backfields. Lawson was amongst the top in the nation in tackles for losses (25.5).

11. Chicago Bears: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame –  Long-time Bear Matt Forte is no longer in the fold, which is why they’ll need their offensive line to create running lanes. Ronnie Stanley displayed great improvement in this department this past season. He has good footwork and uses his hands well.

12. San Francisco 49ers (Pick from New Orleans): Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville – Where to start?

The Saints defense needs help all over the place defensively. Nonetheless, Sheldon Rankins would be a good start. Although he’s considered a bit undersized for an every down nose tackle, Rankins has elite foot speed, which should help him a lot moving forward.

13. Miami Dolphins: Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State – It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Miami went cornerback here, but Lee’s versatility gives him the edge. With the league being so pass happy, you need linebackers capable of not only getting pressure on the quarterback, but also able of dropping back in coverage. Lee can do both.

14. Oakland Raiders: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State – Apple is a raw talent with elite size at the position, which will help him matchup against physical receivers. Having said that, considering he played with an elite front seven, he’ll have to adjust to defending receivers for longer periods of time.

15. Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State – With Marcus Mariota returning for his sophomore season, Tennessee has to make sure he’s protected. This past season, Tennessee allowed the most sacks at 54. Conklin has the footwork and smooth technique you look for in a first rounder.

16. Detroit Lions: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama – After losing Suh and Fairley recently, Detroit is still looking to revamp the middle of their defensive line. Reed has tons of upside here.

17. Atlanta Falcons: Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky – If not for his off-the-field issues, Spence would’ve arguably been a top 10 pick. After being banned from the Big Ten for his two failed drug test, he underwent treatment for ecstasy. When he transferred to Eastern Kentucky, Spence started showing maturity on and off the field.

Atlanta finished dead last in team sacks (19).

18. Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama – A center in the first round?

This is not the most exciting pick in the first round, but it could end up being one of the most effective ones. Kelly is the best player at his position and he would go a long way into protecting Andrew Luck.

19. Buffalo Bills: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss – If not for his bizarre off-the-field incident, Nkemdiche would’ve potentially been considered as high as top five. A concern however is his lack of production. The talent is clearly there, but the results just don’t match the talent. If anyone can coach him up, it would be Rex Ryan.

20. New York Jets: Mackenzie Alexander, CB, Clemson – One thing Alexander isn’t lacking is confidence. Some may call it arrogance, but as a cornerback in this league, you need a little edge about you. With Darrelle Revis there to mentor, Alexander could turn into a Pro Bowler one day.

21. Washington Redskins: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss – In order for Kirk Cousins to prove last year wasn’t a fluke, the Redskins must surround him with better playmakers. This is very subjective, but Laquon Treadwell is the best wide receiver of this class. He isn’t the fastest guy in the world by any means, but he does present very good size and good ball skills.

22. Houston Texans: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU – As you can see, we’re at the point in the draft where you’ll start to see receivers go. Doctson would be an ideal fit for Houston.

He would be staying in Texas and would be a great complement to DeAndre Hopkins. Also, with an inexperienced quarterback such as Brock Osweiler, it helps having two guys who are capable of going up to get it.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor – The Vikings offense has been less than stellar for a while now. Defensively, Minnesota is ready to compete for a Super Bowl title, but their vanilla offense has a very long way to go.

Coleman is one of those guys that would be ideal for Minny. You can place him all over the field because of his speed and route running ability. Also, he can be used in the return game.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State – If you haven’t noticed by now, Ohio State had a lot of NFL talent on their roster. The 6-foot-7, 310 pound Decker has very good technique from his feet to his hands. In the pass game, he tends to be very comfortable in his back drops. Good, quality pick here.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: William Jackson, CB, Houston – Teams are looking for corners who are not only tall but fast as well. Jackson fits the mold here.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama – Ragland isn’t going to blow you away with athleticism by any means. With that in mind, he has a nose for the football because of his instincts. The Seahawks have so much leadership on the defensive side of the ball, so I can only imagine how much Ragland will learn.

27. Denver Broncos (Pick from Green Bay): Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis – With Peyton Manning hanging it up and Brock Osweiler bolting for Houston, John Elway may have to come out of retirement.

Okay, I’m joking, but Denver trading up for Paxton Lynch is very much a real possibility.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame – It’s no secret that Kansas City needs a legit No. 2 receiver. Jeremy Maclin is really good, but he can’t do it by himself. Picking Will Fuller here makes sense. Fuller’s a very good route runner and he has the ability to beat his man over the top.

29. Arizona Cardinals: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia – Here’s one of the most intriguing prospects of this class. Not only is Joseph capable of covering in space, he’s also able to help against the run. Arizona already has a very talented defensive unit, but adding someone like Joseph wouldn’t hurt.

30. Carolina Panthers: Artie Burns, CB, Miami – When looking at his tape, you’ll see tons of red flags. Burns’ technique is non-existent at times, but with such a great coaching staff in Carolina, they may be crazy enough to believe they can fix Burns.

After all, Burns does possess good length, speed and ball skills.

31. Green Bay Packers (Pick from Denver): A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama – Here’s an interesting prospect because he has the great size you want in a nose tackle. The only thing is he leaves you wanting so much more after watching film. From day one, he’ll be able to contribute against the run. Nonetheless, he’ll have to improve his pass rushing.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.