1. T Laremy Tunsil
Ole Miss, 6-foot-5, 305 pounds
Tunsil is the class of this 2016 draft class and has been from the first day he set foot on the field at Ole Miss. He’s what NFL LTs are supposed to look and play like. He’s been my number one prospect dating back to the summer of 2015 and nothing has changed my thoughts on him.
2. CB/S Jalen Ramsey
Florida State, 6-1, 204 pounds
He transitioned over to cornerback for the 2015 season and played well; however, I’d play him at safety. His safety instincts are so far off the charts and he’s best when in “where’s Jalen?” mode (i.e moving all over the defensive formation). As a mobile, versatile chess piece at safety, I think he can be a turnover/big-play machine.
3. DE Joey Bosa
Ohio State, 6-5, 278 pounds
He’s not Von Miller. He’s not JJ Watt. He’s somewhere in between but he’s a skilled, powerful nearly 280-lb. man who can play both the run and pass equally well. He didn’t string together a double-digit sack season in 2015 and his critics point to that as a reason why he shouldn’t be in the top five. I don’t see the lack of sack production as an issue, not for a guy this wildly powerful and explosive.
4. OLB/S/RB Myles Jack
UCLA, 6-1, 232 pounds
I fell in love with Jack the very first time I saw him on the field as a true freshman. He tore his ACL early in 2015 and missed the majority of the season, but as a player, he more than deserves a top-four spot. He’s uber-athletic and can do anything asked of either an OLB, an ILB or a S; take your pick. He even carried the ball for the Bruins on occasion. The team that selects him will have a plan for his versatility … and it’ll pay off in a big way.
5. QB Jared Goff
Cal, 6-4, 215 pounds
The more I watched of his 2015 season, I became more convinced he’s the quarterback at the top of this list. What sold me, mostly, was the progress he made from sophomore to junior year. His frame filled out, he showcased a stronger arm and he threw the ball in all areas of the field competently. Teams will love his ball placement and ability to make every throw, even if he doesn’t have a howitzer of a right arm.
6. RB Ezekiel Elliott
Ohio State, 6-0, 221 pounds
As mentioned above, I don’t expect a running back to go in the top-six, but if it does happen, Elliott’s that guy. He excels with the RB trinity, if you will – run, catch and pass protection. He has former college athlete parents, he has track speed and he’ll get featured a ton more than he did in 2015, that’s for sure.
7. DE DeForest Buckner
Oregon, 6-7, 290 pounds
Heading into the 2015 season, Buckner wasn’t high on my list, as I had a mid-to-late first-round grade on him. But, in 2015, he decided he could take over games with his powerful hands and desire. His ranking took flight at that point. Once he realized what he could do, he made life miserable for linemen at the point of attack. He’s a ready-made 3-4 DE at the next level with his length, size and violent hands.
8. WR Laquon Treadwell
Ole Miss, 6-2, 210 pounds
Don’t overthink it. That was advice I got a long time ago from a current AFC personnel director and I’m going to heed that advice when it comes to Treadwell. The Ole Miss product won’t burn up the Combine track but his ability to win 50-50 balls allows him for some 40-yard dash margin for error, if you will. He has an outstanding catch radius and it’s my belief that he’ll eventually win at every area on the field.
9. DT Robert Nkemdiche
Ole Miss, 6-4, 280 pounds
Meet the draft’s most polarizing non-quarterback in this draft. The flashes of brilliance are blinding, but they’re not as consistent as they need to be for Nkemdiche to be a next-level superstar. Yet. Throw in the off-the-field issues and the scouts’ whispers and this could be an interesting ride through draft season for the former Ole Miss star.
10. QB Carson Wentz
North Dakota State, 6-5, 233 pounds
It’s clear when a guy just gets it. He knows he’s good. He knows he’s “The Man.” He knows that he can make every play anyone asks him to make. Wentz is that guy. What I love about him though is that he’s just a grounded young man from North Dakota, immune to the hype. But, confident? Absolutely. Some scouts say he won’t be a first rounder. Some say he may not get out of the top ten. Let him get to a place that develops quarterbacks with some weapons around him and watch him prosper.
11. CB Vernon Hargreaves
Florida, 5-11, 195 pounds
The son of a college coach is a cerebral corner blessed with transitional quickness and toughness. Former Alabama and current Oakland Raiders receiver Amari Cooper said that Hargreaves was the best he ever faced, bar none, in college.
12. OLB Noah Spence
Eastern Kentucky, 6-3, 254 pounds
If Robert Nkemdiche is the most polarizing prospect, Spence isn’t far behind. From a talent perspective, there are few, including those in the top five, that have the overall athleticism and physical gifts that Spence possesses. His oft-talked about off-the-field issues will linger for a while, though.
13. QB Paxton Lynch
Memphis, 6-7, 235 pounds
Although he displayed some frayed edges at the end of the 2015 season, there’s a ton to like with Lynch. He doesn’t have a Ryan Mallett/Matt Stafford-like arm but he can make every throw. It’s hard not to think about his performance v. Ole Miss that truly put him on casual fans’ radar screens.
14. OT Ronnie Stanley
Notre Dame, 6-6, 315 pounds
He’s an outstandingly, fluid athlete who can subsist at the left tackle position. He’s adept at getting separation on contact in pass protection but he’s not going to bury defenders at the point of attack in the run game.
15. ILB Jaylon Smith
Notre Dame, 6-2, 235 pounds
Smith’s knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl may preclude some teams with immediate needs from selecting him early on Day 1. That said, he can be a run-and-hit linebacker and stuff the A gaps on inside run plays. He spent a portion of the season at OLB in their sub-rush situations, which allowed him to showcase his ability to bend the edge and rush the quarterback.
16. CB Mackensie Alexander
Clemson, 5-10, 190 pounds
When I see Alexander, I can’t help but think of former Minnesota Viking Antoine Winfield. He was a tremendous zone corner who was the best I ever saw in run support. Alexander is better in man coverage than Winfield was coming out of college but the way he redirects and attacks short passes or runs gives me a Winfield vibe.
17. ILB Reggie Ragland
Alabama, 6-1, 259 pounds
Ragland is an old-school thumper that spent the week at the Senior Bowl working at 3-4 OLB. Although he didn’t thrive on the edge, he did thrive playing 3-4 ILB at Alabama. He’ll initially be a two-down inside player, but he’ll eventually be a three-down player like former Alabama LB Dont’a Hightower, who has become a vital cog for the New England Patriot defense.
18. DT Andrew Billings
Baylor, 6-5, 305 pounds
I can’t wait to see how many times Billings throws up 225 lb. at the Combine. Aside from my guilty pleasure of watching strong men lifting heavy things easily, that strength is his advantage playing inside as a prototypical 3-technique in even fronts.
19. WR Corey Coleman
Baylor, 5-11, 190 pounds
Coleman is a human stick of dynamite and there’s potential that he goes BOOM at any time. He wins outside the numbers and on catch-and-run situations, but he has to prove he can win inside the numbers on a consistent basis.
20. DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Oklahoma State, 6-4, 275 pounds
My biggest concern is that his motor runs hot and cold. He realized that this was his last year in college so he had it turned up to full throttle all season long. He has an explosive first step and the size to play 4-3 DE on either side.
21. OT Jack Conklin
Michigan State, 6-6, 317 pounds
He plays with excellent technique but he’s not an athlete in the class of Tunsil and Stanley. But, he has a nasty streak and loves to bury defenders in the run game.
22. OLB Leonard Floyd
Georgia, 6-4, 220 pounds
His length helps him in rushing the edge but his size, or lack thereof, is a significant concern.
23. DE Shaq Lawson
Clemson, 6-3, 275 pounds
Some think teammate Kevin Dodd is his equal or better but there isn’t a tougher player, physically or mentally, in this class.
24. DE/DT A’Shawn Robinson
Alabama, 6-4, 320 pounds
Teams aiming to stop the run must get their hands on a guy like Robinson. That said, he’s truly not a factor rushing the quarterback.
25. CB Eli Apple
Ohio State, 6-1, 198 pounds
This is what the Seahawks spawned a few years ago with their success with tall, long and physical corners. Apple still needs time but he has the attributes team seek.
26. DT Sheldon Rankins
Louisville, 6-2, 304 pounds
The more I think about watching him for the past couple of years and live at the Senior Bowl, he’s too low on this list. He’s better than 26, much better and that’s on me.
27. RB Derrick Henry
Alabama, 6-3, 241 pounds
There’s some concern about the tread off the tire he lost in 2015, but put him in Carolina’s offense or in Denver’s offense and those concerns will vanish.
28. WR Tyler Boyd
Pittsburgh, 6-2, 200 pounds
I like his ability to play inside or outside and when I asked Texans QB Tom Savage (who throws to DeAndre Hopkins every day) about him, Savage’s eyes lit up.
29. OLB Kyler Fackrell
Utah State, 6-4, 244 pounds
He was out of place at the Senior Bowl playing 4-3 off-the-ball linebacker, but as a 3-4 OLB at the next level, he’s a perfect fit.
30. DE Kevin Dodd
Clemson, 6-5, 275 pounds
His performance in the national championship game loss to Alabama opened eyes, but many NFL scouts have been eyeing him for a while.
31. DT/DE Jarran Reed
Alabama, 6-3, 311 pounds
Ever try to move a tree stump? Yeah, me neither, but that’s what it must be like trying to move Reed off the spot.
32. OLB Darron Lee
Ohio State, 6-2, 235 pounds
He’s excellent playing in space and that’s why he’s so valuable at the next level.
33. WR Josh Doctson
TCU, 6-4, 190 pounds
He’s one of the best acrobatic/high-point receivers in this class and consistently wins in the end zone and outside the numbers.
34. OT/OG Shon Coleman
Auburn, 6-6, 310 pounds
He has upper body strength to twist and turn defenders at the point of attack, but his feet don’t always match. He has tackle attributes but I could see a future at guard as well.
35. WR Will Fuller
Notre Dame, 6-0, 180 pounds
Tick. Tick. BOOM. It’s just a matter of time before Fuller gets deep downfield and changes a game with a deep catch or a long catch-and-run play.
36. OT Jason Spriggs
Indiana, 6-6, 301 pounds
He started four years in an up-tempo, multiple attack at Indiana. He’s athletic and has feet to match, but good inside moves beat him consistently.
37. WR Michael Thomas
Ohio State, 6-3, 203 pounds
Keyshawn Johnson’s nephew is as skilled running routes, and selling his routes, as any receiver in this draft.
38. OT Taylor Decker
Ohio State, 6-7, 315 pounds
Ultimately, he needs to move out to right tackle and become a dominant run-blocking tackle.
39. TE Hunter Henry
Arkansas, 6-5, 253 pounds
For the second consecutive season, there aren’t a plethora of options at tight end, but Henry can play attached or unattached and catches everything thrown his way (only one drop in two years).
40. G Cody Whitehair
Kansas State, 6-4, 300 pounds
He moved over to guard (from left tackle at Kansas State) during the Senior Bowl and performed extremely well. He found his NFL position down in Mobile without question.
41. DT Jon Bullard
Florida, 6-3, 280 pounds
He’s probably best served playing 4-3 DE in a one-gap scheme. His quickness and strength at his size are next-level worthy but his lack of a true next-level position could be an issue.
42. DT Kenny Clark
UCLA, 6-3, 308 pounds
He was the power in the middle of the UCLA defensive line but I see similar power in bigger and more dynamic players in this draft class.
43. WR Braxton Miller
Ohio State, 6-1, 204 pounds
In his words, he’s a “playmaker, just get the ball in [his] hands.” That’s music to the ears of NFL teams needing such a threat.
44. DT Austin Johnson
Penn State, 6-4, 323 pounds
There were moments in Mobile at the Senior Bowl when offensive linemen couldn’t block him at all. He has the feet to play either DT spot in a 4-3 or even play the nose in a 3-4.
45. QB Connor Cook
Michigan State, 6-4, 219 pounds
He looks the part. He’s won some massively important games in his college career. But, in 2015, he left me with more questions than answers.
46. C Ryan Kelly
Alabama, 6-5, 290 pounds
Tough, but undersized, Kelly is the best center prospect in a deep class in 2016.
47. DT Vernon Butler
Louisiana Tech, 6-4, 325 pounds
Watching him in Mobile, I couldn’t get over the fact that he’s 325 pounds. In a deep defensive tackle class, he may get lost among the bigger names above him.
48. OLB Kamalei Correa
Boise State, 6-3, 247 pounds
He carves up tackles with his ability to rush the passer, as he wins with more technique than speed and power.
49. CB Will Jackson
Houston, 6-1, 185 pounds
His length and competitiveness make him the consummate next-level corner prospect.
50. WR Pharoh Cooper
South Carolina, 5-11, 208 pounds
Teams have been looking for the next Julian Edelman or Randall Cobb and Cooper might just be that guy in the future.