The 2015 NFL Draft is fast approaching. While most folks are getting excited to watch the seven rounds from April 30th through May 2nd, it’s never too early to look ahead to the 2016 NFL Draft.
I have taken the time to go over the top prospects for the 2016 draft. I have also made educated guesses about where each team will be picking in the first round next spring. This has allowed me to come up with my 2016 NFL Mock Draft.
Go through and see which player I have being selected by your favorite team next April. But, if you are more interested in who your favorite team will be taking in the first round on April 30th this year, then be sure to check out my 2015 NFL Mock Draft.
Joey Bosa would be a top-five pick in the 2015 NFL Draft if he were eligible after the season he had for the national champion Buckeyes. There is no consensus top pick in the 2015 draft, but Bosa is likely to be the consensus No. 1 next year.
The Raiders have Donald Penn at left tackle for now, but he’ll turn 33 before the 2016 season. They should be looking for a blind-side protector for Derek Carr for the long haul, and Tunsil should be the top tackle in the 2016 draft.
It’s hard to believe that Jones has shot up draft boards so quickly after just three collegiate starts, but there’s no denying his skill set. If the Browns don’t trade up for say, Marcus Mariota, in the 2015 draft, then they’ll be looking for a QB in 2016.
The Buccaneers have tried to solidify their defensive end position through draft picks and free agency, but they’ve failed. They really need another pass-rusher to put alongside Gerald McCoy, who is the only player on their roster who consistently gets after opposing quarterbacks.
There has been a rumor that the Titans could trade for Jay Cutler in exchange for the No. 2 pick. If that doesn’t happen, the Bears will still be looking for a quarterback next spring either way. Connor Cook may be the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft. He would have likely been the 3rd quarterback taken if he declared for the 2015 draft, but he’ll hope to improve his stock for 2016.
The 49ers will miss out on the top three receivers in the 2015 NFL Draft, but they should have a good shot at getting a great one in 2016. They will certainly take a step back this coming season and will get a high draft pick as a result. Laquon Treadwell would be the consensus No. 1 wideout for 2016 if not for a knee injury he sustained last year. He’ll have a chance to prove his worth at Ole Miss this season.
The Redskins really need help in their secondary at both cornerback and safety. There isn’t a player good enough in the secondary to be selected No. 5 overall in 2015, but there will be in 2016. Vernon Hargreaves is the top projected corner in the 2016 class and could easily be a top-five pick.
Sure, the running back position has taken a turn for the worst in terms of the NFL Draft, but rarely do you find a talent like Ezekiel Elliott. The Jaguars desperately need a running back after Toby Gerhart was a huge bust last year. Finding a running game for Blake Bortles is a must.
I could see Connor Cook going here if the Bears don’t take him at No. 5 and take Hackenberg instead, but I believe that Cook is the better pro prospect. The Jets will still need a quarterback next season once Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith show that they are not NFL quarterbacks.
Roddy White will turn 35 midway through the 2016 season, so the Falcons need to find his eventual replacement. They lost Harry Douglas this offseason as well. They need to find a No. 2 receiver for the long term opposite Julio Jones, and Boyd would be that guy.
If the Giants take an offensive tackle at No. 9 overall in 2015 instead of say safety Landen Collins, they’ll need to find a safety in 2016. Jalen Ramsey is a top-10 prospect and the best safety in the 2016 class.
The Rams should be solid at cornerback in 2015, but both Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson have expiring contracts at season’s end. That will likely lead to the Rams’ top need at cornerback. Kendall Fuller would be a good pick for them at No. 12.
Jelani Jenkins is the only three-down linebacker on the Dolphins’ current roster. Koa Misi is a great run-stuffer for the first two downs, but the Dolphins desperately need a third linebacker. Do-it-all Myles Jack would make for a good pick here at No. 13.
The Texans are banking on Jadeveon Clowney’s knee to return to 100%. Either way, they still need a pass-rusher opposite him going forward. They should be able to find one at No. 14, and the best available at this point would be Leonard Floyd out of Georgia.
Ronnie Stanley likely would have been a top 10 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft had he declared. However, the offensive tackle position next year is much deeper at the top. Stanley could drop out of the top 10 because of it. If the Giants don’t take a tackle at No. 9 in 2015, they could get Stanley at No. 11 in 2016. Either way, the Vikings need a tackle after Matt Kalil struggled mightily in 2014.
The Saints really need edge rushers to improve their defense. There have been rumors that they will trade Cameron Jordan, which would put them in the running for a five-technique like Robinson, who is one of the best prospects for that position in the 2016 draft.
The Lions really need a tackle to protect Matthew Stafford as offensive line play has been shaky at best throughout his career. Spencer Drango would be the best available at this position in the draft, and I look for the Lions to address their need here.
Yes, the Chiefs signed Jeremy Maclin this offseason, but he is injury-prone and perhaps not a true No. 1. They still need receiver help after going the entire 2014 season without a receiver catching a touchdown pass. Duke Williams should be the best wide receiver at this point and could be a legitimate No. 2 option opposite Maclin.
The Bengals did add a defensive end in Michael Johnson from Tampa Bay this offseason, but he quit on the Buccaneers and may not play for Cincinnati either. Unless Johnson rebounds, the Bengals will be looking for another pass-rusher next spring.
With Stephon Gilmore entering free agency prior to 2016, the Bills will be in the running for a starting cornerback. Leodis McKelvin will also be 31 entering his contract season. Buffalo should be looking at corners like Eddie Jackson from Alabama next spring.
Since Jonathan Stewart earned himself the starter’s job heading into 2015 with a big finish last year, the Panthers don’t necessarily need a running back right now. But they should be looking for one in 2016 if Stewart continues to be slowed by injuries. Henry was good enough last year at Alabama to split carries with T.J. Yeldon, and now he should shine as the feature back in 2015.
Yes, the Chargers have spent early-round picks on pass-rushers in recent drafts. Jeremiah Attaochu has showed promise, but Melvin Ingram hasn’t been able to stay healthy. The Chargers could use one of their top two picks on an outside linebacker in 2016.
The Cardinals’ biggest need is at outside linebacker. Since most of the top outside ‘backers will be gone by the No. 24 pick in 2015, they may be stuck waiting until 2016 to address it. They need to find an outside linebacker to help contain Russell Wilson. Carl Lawson from Auburn would be a good fit here.
The Eagles could upgrade the safety position in the 2015 NFL Draft, which is their biggest position of need. If they don’t get one in the first two rounds, they will likely need to find one next year. They need a safety with range who fits their defensive scheme, and Su’a Cravens from USC would be ideal.
The Ravens need to address the cornerback position soon. If they don’t use a first-round pick on a corner in 2015, they almost certainly will in 2016. Zach Sanchez would be a great fit opposite shutdown corner Jimmy Smith.
After losing Julius Thomas to the Jaguars this offseason, Peyton Manning could struggle to find an intermediate target in 2015. If that’s the case, the Broncos could use a first-round pick on the top tight end in the 2016 class in O.J. Howard.
Sean Lee is returning from a torn ACL, and the Cowboys elected to re-sign Rolando McClain this past offseason. However, McClain is on a one-year deal, so the Cowboys could be looking to upgrade the linebacker position next spring. Jaylon Smith would have to be on their radar.
The Steelers will be looking for secondary and linebacker help in 2015. I expect them to use their first-round pick on a cornerback, which still leaves a need at safety to replace the retired Troy Polamalu. Pittsburgh will at least see what it has in Michael Mitchell and Shamarko Thomas before snatching a first-round safety in 2015. If those two falter, they will certainly bee looking for a safety like Nate Andrews in 2016.
The Patriots will likely need to upgrade their pass rush in 2016. Chandler Jones will be a free agent at the end of 2015, and Rob Ninkovich will be a 32-year-old heading into a contract year. Even if the Patriots use the franchise tag on Jones, they’ll be looking for a long-term answer on the edge of their defense.
2013 first-round pick Datone Jones has basically been a bust. The Packers are likely to give him another chance, but if he doesn’t respond, they will need to find a replacement in 2016. Mississippi State’s Chris Jones is a good prospect.
The Colts had a great offseason. They added Kendall Langford to help out the defensive line, but he’s no more than a short-term fix. Shawn Oakman has the potential and athleticism to be a first-round pick, but his draft stock fell this offseason, which had him returning for one more year. He’ll learn a little more this season, and the Colts could be getting a steal here to upgrade their defensive line.
It’s amazing how the Seahawks just seem to have few needs year after year. Their only issues are depth along the offensive and defensive lines. That’s why I expect them to take the best available player to upgrade either, which would be DE/DT DeForest Buckner out of Oregon.