For some teams and their fans, it may be time to start hoping for 2016. I’m here to get you ready to start thinking about players that will be looked at as potential stars and first–round draft picks. Some of these players will make an impact in the fantasy football world as well. This mock draft is to get you associated with some of the top prospects that could come out in 2016. I made the current layout based on personal power rankings and how I see the teams shaking-out towards the end of the season. It’s time to look at the college players that could possibly shake up the NFL in 2016.
1) San Francisco 49ers – Jared Goff, QB, California
After the 49ers continue to struggle down the stretch, and may not win another game, they will be looking to start fresh at the quarterback position. Colin Kaepernick gets dropped and the new face of the franchise appears in Goff. He has the highest overall potential of all the quarterbacks in this year’s draft. He has the arm to make throws with touch, accuracy and zip at the NFL level. When he enters the NFL in a more pro-style offense that also features a run game, his potential will be much higher than it is now in a pure spread attack.
NFL Comparison: Matt Ryan, Atlanta
Similar stature and athleticism, great arm strength, ball placement knowledge and accuracy, willing to make the risky throws for big plays
2) Detroit Lions – Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
This pick right now is between Bosa, Robert Nkemdiche and Laremy Tunsil. They take the potential star at defensive end to add some versatility to their defense. I could see Tunsil, but Bosa’s potential is through the roof. Team him up across from Ezekiel Ansah and that could be dangerous. Bosa’s versatility is what makes him a player with such a high ceiling. He can be a 3-4 defensive end and seal the edge and create havoc along the line of scrimmage, but he is also suited for a versatile 4-3 defensive end role who could take over a game by disrupting plays from all over the defensive line.
NFL Comparison: Michael Bennett, Seattle
Closer than you think in physical features, Bosa is 6-foot-5, 275 pounds and Bennett is 6-foot-4, 274 pounds. I’m not ready to put him in the same category as J.J. Watt just yet. Bennett is underrated and is arguably the best 4-3 defensive end in the NFL, he’s strong against the run and a constant threat to get in the backfield or the pocket and make a play in that versatile Seattle defensive line.
3) Kansas City Chiefs – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Eric Fisher has been a disappointment and a disaster to say the least. Sadly, the Chiefs won’t give up on Alex Smith for a rookie quarterback due to Smith’s $24.9 million dead cap hit if cut. They will stick it out one more year and add a veteran quarterback to compete and work around the quarterback position. The offensive line desperately needs a left tackle and Tunsil also fits in coach Andy Reid’s system as a more athletic offensive lineman. You can see the skill set on tape, it’s very evident that he is easily worthy of a high first-round pick. The quick feet, the ability to seal the edge quickly against pass-rushers, and athletic ability. His ideal position is in a run-oriented offense at left tackle.
NFL Comparison: Tyron Smith, Dallas
Dallas has established a very impressive offensive line in which Smith is a cornerstone at left tackle with his athletic ability and run game efficiency
4) Tennessee Titans – Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
This is a similar situation to Leonard Williams from last season. He is an elite prospect, but falls in the draft due to other teams’ priority needs. The Titans will be ecstatic to get him because he is a great fit in their defense and can be the face of the defense. He can team up with Jurrell Casey and do some good things for that 3-4 front. His athleticism and pure skill is off the charts. Have you have seen the highlights where he catches a pass and scores a touchdown? Some analysts and scouts have his ceiling higher than Bosa’s. He’s playing defensive tackle in college, but with his athletic ability, he could easily transition to a 3-4 defensive end.
NFL Comparison: Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia
If not for Watt, he’s the best 3-4 defensive end in the league. Elite athletic ability and movement skills for his size allow him be wreak havoc as he’s a threat to make a play in the backfield every play.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Protecting Jameis Winston will be the focus for the Buccaneers in the 2016 draft. They have a young defense, a stud wide receiver in Mike Evans, and Doug Martin, who is showing some flashes of his younger self. Stanley could be a right or left tackle for the Buccaneers in the continual development of the team. He has the ideal measurables to be a cornerstone tackle in the NFL – 6-foot-6, 315 pounds, and solid length and stature. He’s quick off the snap and his movement is fluid not jerky. He is also a great run blocker as a tackle, which is what NFL general managers will really appreciate in Stanley’s game. His fundamentals and technique are well above average and he will one of the top offensive line prospects with Tunsil heading into the 2016 draft.
NFL Comparison: Joe Thomas, Cleveland
Very similar coming out of college with great overall technique, pass blocking footwork, and a nasty demeanor in the run game.
6) Houston Texans – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
We all know that the Texans need to stop the veteran quarterback carousel and go with a rookie. They have been a disaster the last couple of years because of the fact they continue to try to make veterans work, but a new fresh face of the offense is needed. As it will be well covered before the draft, coach Bill O’Brien recruited Christian Hackenberg and he was his starting quarterback at Penn State. There is a high possibility that if Brian Hoyer plays well down the stretch that they will decide to bring in Hackenberg in the 2nd round to develop beyond Hoyer. I’ll put Lynch here for now because of the hype as he’s considered a top tier quarterback by some scouts.
NFL Comparison: Carson Palmer/Nick Foles
Very tall with some agility, his floor is that of Nick Foles and his ceiling is that of Carson Palmer.
7) Baltimore Ravens – Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
The Ravens have looked worse than the usual Ravens this year. General manager Ozzie Newsome has some work to do this offseason to try to get this team back on track. One of the areas of need is the secondary, especially the safety position. Injuries and mediocre talent have crippled the Ravens on defense. He will be drafted very early in the first round because he can play multiple positions in the secondary. He can play the outside corner, nickel corner or safety at a high level on a constant basis. A team that wants to use him a Swiss army knife in their defense will love to have him. His potential and ceiling are that of a top-notch defender.
NFL Comparison: Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Arizona Cardinals
Not sure I like this comparison yet, but it’s hard to find a good comparison. He can play corner or safety at the next level like Damarious Randall from Arizona State last year. Expect a higher ceiling and skill set.
8) Chicago Bears – Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
Jay Cutler will play well enough for them to stay out of the top 5 discussion and a possible quarterback. Chicago fans hate to hear that but John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace have a plan in place. Both know that a good defense has to come first before any true quarterback and team can succeed. Cutler has played with some grit and fire this season and will earn the right to get another shot next season. Fox will look to improve the defense first and foremost for 2016. Hargreaves will be highly liked heading into the 2016 draft due to his ability to not only be a great cover corner, but willingness to stick his nose in the run game and make tackles. He has the potential to be an elite cover corner in the league due to his quickness, agility and recognition of routes. He will be the highest drafted true corner in this year’s draft.
NFL Comparison: Vontae Davis, Indianapolis
They are similar in size and overall features in their games. Davis is a very good man-to-man corner and will make tackles on the edge. Davis is often used to go one-on-one against another team’s best receiver on an island which is what teams will expect from Hargreaves.