We are a little over a week away from the 2016 NFL Draft. With two big trades taking place since my original mock draft, it’s time to update my predictions.
First round action is scheduled for Thursday, April 28th at 8:00 EST. Rounds 2-3 will follow on Friday with rounds 4-7 on Saturday.
Trying to project how it will unfold is no easy task and near impossible to get right. A big part of that is all the trades that take place on draft day.
I’ve studied the offseason moves and picked players that fit both the schemes and needs of each team.
As you will see, this year’s first round only has 31 picks. That’s due to the Patriots losing their top pick due to Deflategate.
For a consensus view of the first round, check out our NFL mock draft database.
Los Angeles Rams
2015: 7-9 (3rd NFC West)
The Rams gave up a lot of picks to move up to the No. 1 spot and grab a franchise quarterback. While nothing has been made official, the rumor is that they will be taking Goff out of Cal.
2015: 7-9 (2nd NFC East)
Philadelphia traded out of the No. 8 selection to move up to the No. 2 pick. The Eagles have got assurance from LA that they will be taking Goff, allowing them to grab their guy in Wentz.
San Diego Chargers
2015: 4-12 (4th AFC West)
The Chargers could go one of two ways here. They either go with Tunsil to take over at left tackle or Ramsey to sure up the secondary. I have to believe that protecting Philip Rivers is the bigger priority.
2015: 4-12 (4th NFC East)
The Cowboys no longer have to second guess themselves about taking a quarterback. Dallas can instead focus their attention on improving their defense. They could be tempted to take Bosa, but the bigger need is in the secondary. Ramsey makes perfect sense for the Cowboys here.
2015: 5-11 (3rd AFC South)
I have the Jaguars taking the best player on the board and that’s Bosa out of Ohio State. Jacksonville would essentially be adding two top 10 defensive ends with this pick. Last year they selected Dante Fowler Jr. with the No. 3 selection, but he never played a snap in 2015. If Bosa isn’t the pick for Jacksonville, look for them to go with Jack out of UCLA.
2015: 5-11 (3rd AFC North)
Baltimore has some options here. They have needs on the offensive line, defensive front and corner. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley or corner Vernon Hargreaves would be a nice addition. However, I think they look to improve in the trenches on defense. Buckner is a perfect fit for the Ravens scheme.
San Francisco 49ers
2015: 5-11 (4th NFC West)
It’s anyone’s guess which direction the 49ers will go in Chip Kelly’s first draft with the team. Kelly has proven he can put up points on offense and it’s to early to take a wide receiver. We saw Kelly make a big trade to land Kiko Alonso last year with the Eagles. I have to believe Jack is on San Francisco’s radar. He can fill the void left by Willis and learn from one of the best in Bowman.
2015: 3-13 (4th AFC North)
You have to wonder exactly what the Browns are thinking. Cleveland has been in search of a franchise quarterback for quite some time. They are in prime position to potentially change that with the No. 2 pick. Instead they trade down. Do they really think RGIII is the long-term answer? For RGIII to have success, the Browns need to be able to run the ball. Elliott is easily the best back in this draft and I have Cleveland pulling the trigger.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2015: 6-10 (4th NFC South)
Tampa Bay desperately needs to upgrade their front seven on defense. Their biggest need comes at defensive end who can get after the quarterback. There’s a lot of players on the board who can fill this need. My guess is they go with Floyd out of Georgia, who has the versatility to help out at number of positions.
New York Giants
2015: 6-10 (3rd NFC East)
New York spent some cash to sure up the defense in free agency. That allows them to address a big need on the offensive line, most notably at tackle. Taking Staley out of Notre Dame makes perfect sense. It allows them to move Flowers back to right tackle and keep Pugh inside at guard.
2015: 6-10 (4th NFC North)
The Bears went into the offseason needing to improve the offensive line. They signed Bobby Massie from Arizona, but that doesn’t exactly make them better. I’m not sold on Massie or Charles Leno being the answer at left tackle. Chicago can solve this problem by drafting Conklin out of Michigan State. It also would ensure that Kyle Long can move back to his natural position at guard.
New Orleans Saints
2015: 7-9 (3rd NFC South)
If you watched the Saints last year, you know the defense was a major problem. Most notably the play up front on the defensive line. New Orleans couldn’t stop the run or put pressure on the quarterback. With the depth at defensive tackle in this draft, look for the Saints to target a pass rusher. I have them selecting Lawson out of Clemson, who is rising up draft boards.
2015: 6-10 (4th AFC East)
The Dolphins traded for Byron Maxwell, but he’s not a lock down corner by any means. More help needs to be on the way. Miami can fill a big void and snag a potential steal at this point in the draft with Hargreaves.
2015: 7-9 (3rd AFC West)
The Raiders appear to be on the verge of turning the corner and being a serious threat in the AFC. They still have some holes to fill and one is at defensive tackle. Several ratings have Rankins as one of the top 10 prospects overall. He would have a chance to flourish right away and turn Oakland’s front four into one of the best in the league.
2015: 3-13 (4th AFC South)
I still think offensive tackle is the top priority for the Titans. If they want Mariota to reach his full potential, they have to improve up front. Decker might not be as good as Tunsil, but they have a solid left tackle in Taylor Lewan. Grabbing Decker to start at right tackle is a wise move.
2015: 7-9 (3rd NFC North)
I could see the Lions reaching for Treadwell with this pick, but they did add Marvin Jones in the offseason. I have Detroit looking to fill a big void at defensive tackle. Keep in mind they lost both Suh and Fairley last offseason. They did add Haloti Ngata, but he’s 32 and well past his prime. Reed make a lot of sense for Detroit if they go defense in the first round.
2015: 8-8 (2nd NFC South)
There will be those that project a pass rusher for the Falcons in the first round. Hard to argue after they finished last in sacks in 2015. However, they used their top pick last year on Vic Beasley and added Derrick Shelby in free agency. I believe their two biggest holes are actually linebacker and safety. They can fill one of those by taking Ragland out of Alabama.
2015: 8-8 (2nd AFC South)
I know that Spence comes with some red flags, but teams are willing to reach for edge rushers. Spence has all kinds of potential and would be an ideal fit for Indianapolis. The Colts desperately need someone who can get after the quarterback.
2015: 8-8 (3rd AFC East)
Rex Ryan is a defensive minded guy and hasn’t been shy about taking defensive players in the 1st round. You could argue Buffalo needs a pass rusher after totaling just 21 sacks in 2015. However, Ryan is a guy who likes to bring pressure from all over the field. Not just rely on one guy. Filling a big hole at inside linebacker makes more sense to me.
New York Jets
2015: 10-6 (2nd AFC East)
I originally had the Jets reaching for an offensive tackle with this pick. That’s no longer the case after trading for Ryan Clady. New York can instead focus on getting someone to target opposing quarterbacks. Dodd out of Clemson is worth the risk at this point and fills a big need.
2015: 9-7 (1st NFC East)
Washington could target one of the top defensive lineman after losing Terrance Knighton. However, they likely can wait to address that need later in the draft. That’s the strategy I see the Redskins using, as I have them filling another hole at corner with Jackson.
2015: 9-7 (1st AFC South)
This might come as a surprise with Treadwell still available. The key here is that while Houston needs help at wide receiver, Treadwell is very similar to that of DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller is a much better compliment to Hopkins. He’s got game-changing speed that will take the top off defenses. New signal caller Brock Osweiler will love this selection.
2015: 11-5 (1st NFC North)
Minnesota is another team that is in need of help at receiver. Unlike the Texans, they aren’t going to pass up on Treadwell. With the respect defenses have to give to stopping AP, Treadwell could be in for a monster rookie season.
2015: 12-4 (1st AFC North)
The run on wide outs continues, as I have the Bengals taking Doctson out of TCU. Keep in mind Cincinnati lost both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Another option here is Corey Coleman out of Baylor.
2015: 10-6 (2nd AFC North)
Pittsburgh typically focuses on the interior with their first round picks. It wouldn’t surprise me if they continued on that path, but I expect them to make an exception. I have the Steelers addressing a glaring need at corner by taking a shot on Fuller out of Virginia Tech. Keep in mind Fuller was once considered a top 10 talent.
2015: 10-6 (2nd NFC West)
The Seahawks could use some help on the offensive line, but not a lot of great options this late in the first round. Instead, I have them filling a void on the defensive side of the ball. After losing Brandon Mebane in free agency, they could use a new interior presence. Ogbah is great fit for what Seattle likes to do on that side of the ball.
Green Bay Packers
2015: 10-6 (2nd NFC North)
Green Bay has a few different directions they could go with this pick. They could use some help at linebacker, but not a lot of great options on the board at this point. I have them taking Billings out of Baylor, who would be a nice replacement for B.J. Ravi.
Kansas City Chiefs
2015: 11-5 (2nd AFC West)
Last year the Chiefs hit a home run in the draft with corner Marcus Peters. After losing Sean Smith in free agency, Kansas City could use some help at corner. Apple out of Ohio State is raw, but has big upside. Could end up forming quite a 1-2 punch with Peters.
2015: 13-3 (1st NFC West)
The Cardinals had hoped they could address the center position in free agency. That wasn’t to be. Luckily for Arizona they can fix that issue with their first pick. Kelly out of Alabama is the top rated player at his position and worth the reach at this point in the first round.
2015: 15-1 (1st NFC South)
I could see the Panthers reaching for a safety with this pick, but I think the bigger need is at offensive tackle. The Broncos pass rush exposed the Panthers tackles in the Super Bowl. Ifedi is definitely worthy of consideration if Carolina decides to go this route.
2015: 12-4 (1st AFC West)
The Broncos lost Malik Jackson in free agency and I look for them to fill that void with Robinson out of Alabama. Robinson was originally going in the top 15, but has fallen down boards of late. Could be an absolute steal for Denver. Other options here are Robert Nkemdiche out of Ole Miss and Chris Jones out of Mississippi State.
You won’t see many of the NFL win totals adjust after the draft no matter who a team takes. Rookies just rarely have that big of an impact.
Sometimes the early NFL odds that have been released will change and you can use that information to update the expected win total of a team and take advantage of your win total wagers.
I think it’s important for handicappers to have a full grasp of the team needs of each franchise so they can better prepare for the season. I go through each team thoroughly so my premium and free NFL picks are top notch once the season starts.
The draft and free agency are the two ways teams fill gaps, if they do then you would think they would be improved. Teams that don’t help themselves likely will remain in the basement of their divisions.
For more draft coverage check out the MockDraft database at DCProSportsReport.com.