2016 NFL DRAFT REVIEW

A few days on from the event and another NFL Draft is complete. As with previous years I really enjoyed it; watching the process of the picks and trades as they happen whilst piecing together each teams Draft class is always interesting.  The NFL showing live and uninterrupted coverage on their website was a welcome addition too.

All of the previews and discussions leading up to the Draft and analysis from the NFL Combine, pro days and workouts helped to increase the anticipation. The players that declared for the Draft and took part in these tests had scouts and coaches dissecting the results and watching individual game film to identify who they wanted.

I was especially interested in these results this year as I watched so much more college Football in 2015 than I ever had before. In past Drafts I have known a fair amount about players and enjoyed viewing highlights, but immersing myself in the entire season and getting a full grasp on the conferences, divisions and teams meant I was familiar with so many of this year’s entrants that it added extra excitement to seeing who would go where and how each round would unfold.

I have always liked analysing players and felt proficient doing so. The knowledge I gained throughout the college season of the majority of talent in this Draft made me take note of as many Combine numbers as possible to see which prospects were helping or hindering their chance to be drafted early.  I used these numbers along with my own judgement from watching games to put the players into order by position.  (I’m sure I may not be evaluating all of these results in the best way possible i.e. which drills are the most important for certain positions…but I was happy enough with my system!)

The players were ranked in this order but not for a mock Draft. Mocks have never appealed to me as they rarely seem to take into account how much can happen throughout the course of a Draft, as occurred about a week before the first night when the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles traded up for the numbers 1 and 2 picks respectively.  I did, however, decide to rank players to put them into a Top 100 list – predicting who the first 100 players selected would be.

It was easy based on the Combine and media hype to identify who had a good chance to make the 100.  In other cases it was tougher (like choosing who was best between my 4th, 5th and 6th offensive guard!) and a couple of times deciding between two players could simply go either way.  Having all of these notes available as references on players during the Draft allowed me to follow who was chosen sooner or later than I was expecting.

As the Draft went on it was apparent how many teams were putting together a strong set of picks. In fact, I don’t remember a Draft where so many teams came away looking as though they had done such a good job.  It was interesting seeing which areas of the field most teams were targeting; one thing that surprised me was the number of cornerbacks taken in the first three rounds.

Below are the first 100 picks of the Draft. The first round attracts the majority of the attention and headlines every year and 2016 was no different, so I have included a small amount on each first round pick and thereafter something on any pick I think is worth a mention.

  1. Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams – The quarterback class this year does not appear to be as strong as recent years, but the Rams made Jared Goff the number 1 pick. Goff looks like the best of the QB bunch and it seems a good fit; trading up to number 1 and taking a California kid is a story that matches the scale of the Rams move back to Los Angeles. Goff likes to spread his throws all over the field so the team added some weapons later in the Draft to further help him become the face of the franchise.
  2. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles – With the Rams selecting Goff, it was left for the Eagles to get Wentz as their new signal caller. I’m not as high on him as most are and it’s a big leap for him to come straight into an NFL offense from small school North Dakota State. The Eagles will need to adapt their offense a little to make it right for him.
  3. Joey Bosa, DE, San Diego Chargers – Joey Bosa was touted as one of the country’s top defensive talents while at Ohio State. Then pre-Draft some reports had him falling a little bit. Then the Chargers made him the top defensive pick after all.  He’s a player I like watching and I can’t wait to see how he fits into San Diego’s defense.
  4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys were linked with Elliott for a long time and they could not resist his college production. Running behind the strong offensive line Dallas have assembled will help Elliott immensely.
  5. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars – Jacksonville gets one of the top players in the Draft by selecting Jalen Ramsey. He’s tough, smart and versatile and instantly upgrades the Jags secondary.
  6. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Baltimore Ravens – A pick unanimously seen as solid and safe. The Ravens have some tough defenses to deal with in their division and choosing a brand new OT is a good start to combatting that.
  7. DeForest Buckner, DE, San Francisco 49ers – Buckner is reunited with Chip Kelly who was his coach at Oregon. He is a good player and a powerful tackler who fills a need for the team.
  8. Jack Conklin, OT, Tennessee Titans – After watching him during the season and on tape I like Conklin a lot, he also had a good Combine. Tennessee traded up to get him and continue to build a good young offense.
  9. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Chicago Bears – Floyd’s value rose throughout the Draft process and I always enjoy seeing the Bears take a linebacker so I like the pick.
  10. Eli Apple, CB, New York Giants – The Giants have received some bad press for this selection, maybe as they had others needs to sort out. I like Apple so am probably in the minority in thinking the Giants made a good choice here.
  11. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I certainly prefer Apple to Hargreaves, who goes to his home town to play for Tampa Bay. This pick feels too high, but as I said earlier, far more cornerbacks went earlier than I was expecting.
  12. Sheldon Rankins, DT, New Orleans Saints – Rankins was my top DT so this looks like a smart selection for the Saints who needs to improve the defensive line.
  13. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Miami Dolphins – If you haven’t heard about Tunsil’s Draft night – strap in! He was projected as a possible number 1 pick for the Titans before they traded that away. When he arrived for the event he was still expected to be in consideration for a top 5 selection.  Then minutes before the Draft began, one of his personal social media accounts was hacked showing a video of him taking drugs, which caused teams to disregard him completely.  He actually didn’t tumble too far as the Dolphins grabbed him to upgrade their offensive line, banking on his off-field problems not affecting his on-field play.
  14. Karl Joseph, S, Oakland Raiders – This feels like a bit of a reach from the Raiders. Joseph is a talented safety when he’s good, but he has had an injured and inconsistent couple of years. The Raiders are putting together a nice defense and based on his potential, Joseph could be another big piece.
  15. Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns – It took longer than I thought to hear the name of a receiver called and I did not think the first would be Coleman’s. He wasn’t even in my top 3 receivers before the Draft – typical Browns!
  16. Taylor Decker, OT, Detroit Lions – I thought the Lions would also go with a receiver here, but they had been linked with Decker so this shouldn’t be a big surprise.
  17. Keanu Neal, S, Atlanta Falcons – I don’t see it with Neal and had him going late in the second round. Perhaps this move shows a lack of depth at safety and the Falcons were not willing to wait a round for him.
  18. Ryan Kelly, C, Indianapolis Colts – Kelly was the best center entering the Draft and the Colts always looked like they were going to take him as added protection for Andrew Luck.
  19. Shaq Lawson, DE, Buffalo Bills – This is a no-brainer for the Bills, who had a great Draft. Lawson was one of the primary reasons Clemson were unbeaten right up to the national championship game and this feels like a really good fit.
  20. Darron Lee, OLB, New York Jets – Lee is a linebacker who plays with real speed and backed that up at the Combine. He could thrive under the Jets coaching staff.
  21. Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans – Fuller is quick across the ground but his hands are a little inconsistent. Houston followed up this pick by taking Braxton Miller in the third round in order to give new quarterback Brock Osweiler as many targets as possible.
  22. Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins – I like this pick, especially as I didn’t see the Redskins going wide receiver here. Washington were another team that had a great Draft and it all began by choosing Doctson.
  23. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings – Treadwell was my top receiver in this year’s class and probably fell this far due to a perceived lack of speed. What he can do well is challenge anyone for the catch one-on-one. I’ve enjoyed watching him play for more than two years now and he’ll get the chance to make plays in Minnesota’s offense.
  24. William Jackson, CB, Cincinnati Bengals – Jackson’s stock increased after some fast times at the Combine. The Bengals nabbed him ahead of their arch rivals, who were picking next.
  25. Artie Burns, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers – With Jackson taken from them, Pittsburgh chose Artie Burns with another defensive back pick that feels a bit high. Burns could have been their man all along and he’ll be thrown into a good defensive system.
  26. Paxton Lynch, QB, Denver Broncos – Brilliant! It had been talked about but until Denver traded up to get Lynch I didn’t think it would happen. I really like Lynch, if you judge the quarterbacks on potential alone he is easily the best in the Draft.  Denver is the perfect team for him – good quarterback coaches, the best defense in the league and an offense that will fit him.  It’s a great place for us all to find out if he can realise that huge potential.
  27. Kenny Clark, DT, Green Bay Packers – This is a pick that fills a need for the Packers. It also shows the class depth at defensive tackle as there were still names available at the position I thought would go before Clark.
  28. Joshua Garnett, OG, San Francisco 49ers – I was a little surprised the 49ers traded from the top of the second round to the bottom of the first to take the first guard off the board. Garnett would likely have still been there in round two but if you like the player, then why not go get him?
  29. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Arizona Cardinals – A scary pick! Nkemdiche has a lot of talent, but off-the-field issues caused him to slide. The Cardinals already have a mean defense and adding Nkemdiche could turn out to be terrific value.
  30. Vernon Butler, DT, Carolina Panthers – Butler is a player who I heard discussed as a high pick more as the Draft approached. It seems the Panthers were aware of the talk too and selected him to play on their defensive line.
  31. Germain Ifedi, OT, Seattle Seahawks – Seattle allowed the Denver Broncos to trade with them for the number 26 pick, so they traded down to the final pick of round one and still got the player I think they wanted here. Ifedi appears to be a strong addition who is versatile enough to play tackle and guard. Just the sort of offensive lineman the coaches like.
  32. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Cleveland Browns
  33. Kevin Dodd, DE, Tennessee Titans
  34. Jaylon Smith, OLB, Dallas Cowboys – Smith is thought to be as good as any player in this Draft, but a horrible knee injury in the final game of his college career ruined his chances to be taken early. Worrying reports that he may not even be ready to play in 2016 circulated and his Draft stock plummeted. The Cowboys selected him right near the start of round two, which is still earlier than most people predicted.  If Smith returns at a high level this is a huge value pick.
  35. Hunter Henry, TE, San Diego Chargers
  36. Myles Jack, OLB, Jacksonville Jaguars – Another quality linebacker who dropped out of round one due to injury concerns was Myles Jack. Since being picked up at this spot by the Jaguars, Jack has stated he is healthy and ready to go. By adding Jack to their first selection, Jalen Ramsey, the Jaguars have acquired two of this year’s best defensive prospects – great drafting!
  37. Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs
  38. Xavien Howard, CB, Miami Dolphins
  39. Noah Spence, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa Bay could also have a steal by taking pass rusher Noah Spence, who was another player that could of gone higher but for the dreaded off-the-field troubles. If the Buccaneers get what they are hoping for from Spence he will be a threat off the edge of their defensive line.
  40. Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
  41. Reggie Ragland, ILB, Buffalo Bills – Ragland is clearly the best interior linebacker in the 2016 Draft. He is yet another defender who fell into the second round due to questions about his health. More than happy to get him here were the Bills – as I mentioned earlier, I really like their Draft this year.
  42. Kamalei Correa, OLB, Baltimore Ravens
  43. Austin Johnson, DT, Tennessee Titans – This is the point at which my top 100 took its first miss, I didn’t expect so many defensive tackles to go early. Johnson fits the Titans system really well.
  44. Jihad Ward, DE, Oakland Raiders
  45. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans – I was really intrigued to see which team would take Henry. The Heisman trophy and national championship winner is a big, strong runner who the Titans will use as a tandem with DeMarco Murray in their backfield. I look forward to seeing if he can do it in the NFL.
  46. A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Detroit Lions
  47. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
  48. Jason Spriggs, OT, Green Bay Packers
  49. Jarran Reed, DT, Seattle Seahawks – Based on Reed being one of my top DT’s I think the Seahawks get a really good value pick here that also fills a need in the middle of the defensive line.
  50. Nick Martin, C, Houston Texans
  51. Christian Hackenberg, QB, New York Jets – The Jets quarterback situation is a little uncertain at the moment. Last season’s starter Ryan Fitzpatrick wants a bigger contract and Geno Smith is still there although it seems to have been forgotten how well he played at the end of 2014. Adding Hackenberg to the mix does not feel like a wise decision.
  52. Deion Jones, OLB, Atlanta Falcons
  53. Su’a Cravens, S, Washington Redskins – The Redskins continued their strong Draft by choosing Cravens, a safety who is also big enough to play as a hybrid-type linebacker. The sort of player I assumed coaches would love to get their hands on in the first round.
  54. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Minnesota Vikings
  55. Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
  56. Cody Whitehair, OG, Chicago Bears
  57. T.J. Green, S, Indianapolis Colts
  58. Sean Davis, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers
  59. Roberto Aguayo, K, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Near the end of round two the Buccaneers traded up for…a kicker! I knew Aguayo would get picked on the second night as he’d been talked about as one of the best kickers to enter a Draft for a number of years.
  60. Cyrus Jones, CB, New England Patriots
  61. Vonn Bell, S, New Orleans Saints
  62. James Bradberry, CB, Carolina Panthers
  63. Adam Gotsis, DT, Denver Broncos
  64. Kevin Byard, S, Tennessee Titans
  65. Carl Nassib, DE, Cleveland Browns
  66. Max Tuerk, C, San Diego Chargers
  67. Maliek Collins, DT, Dallas Cowboys
  68. Will Redmond, CB, San Francisco 49ers
  69. Yannick Ngakoue, OLB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  70. Bronson Kaufusi, DE, Baltimore Ravens
  71. Darian Thompson, S, New York Giants
  72. Jonathan Bullard, DE, Chicago Bears
  73. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins need another running back but taking Drake here appears to be a bit high considering other names still on the board at the position. He will most likely feature on special teams having proved himself to be a dangerous returner.
  74. KeiVarae Russell, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
  75. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Oakland Raiders
  76. Shon Coleman, OT, Cleveland Browns
  77. Daryl Worley, CB, Carolina Panthers
  78. Joe Thuney, OG, New England Patriots
  79. Isaac Seumalo, OG, Philadelphia Eagles
  80. Adolphus Washington, DT, Buffalo Bills
  81. Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
  82. Le’Raven Clark, OT, Indianapolis Colts
  83. Jordan Jenkins, OLB, New York Jets
  84. Kendall Fuller, CB, Washington Redskins – Kendall is the fourth Fuller brother drafted into the NFL. His name would have been called earlier if not for a knee injury. By adding Fuller to the signing of Josh Norman and picking up Su’a Cravens in the second round, the Redskins have a much improved secondary.
  85. Braxton Miller, WR, Houston Texans
  86. Leonte Carroo, WR, Miami Dolphins
  87. Nick Vigil, ILB, Cincinnati Bengals
  88. Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Green Bay Packers
  89. Javon Hargrave, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers
  90. C.J. Prosise, RB, Seattle Seahawks – I predicted the Seahawks would get Prosise. He’s a strong runner who, as an ex-receiver, can also catch the ball well.
  91. Jacoby Brissett, QB, New England Patriots
  92. Brandon Williams, CB, Arizona Cardinals
  93. Cody Kessler, QB, Cleveland Browns
  94. Nick Vannett, TE, Seattle Seahawks
  95. Graham Glasgow, C, Detroit Lions
  96. Vincent Valentine, DT, New England Patriots
  97. Rees Odhiambo, OG, Seattle Seahawks
  98. Justin Simmons, S, Denver Broncos
  99. Joe Schobert, OLB, Cleveland Browns
  100. Connor Cook, QB, Oakland Raiders – Number 100 is Connor Cook. He won a lot of games at quarterback for Michigan State but questions about his leadership and attitude put some teams off. If those concerns are true, Cook may not like going to Oakland to be a backup to Derek Carr.

As the Draft moved into round four I checked my top 100 list which showed I scored 80. I’m very happy with that, as it was my first real try and I would have been pleased to score a bit less.  The result shows that all the time I spent as preparation wasn’t wasted…I think!  The players on my list who were not called in the first 100 picks are below.

101.  Charles Tapper, DE, Dallas Cowboys
102.  Josh Perry, OLB, San Diego Chargers – So close to a couple more with two players on my list going at 101 and 102. Like Tapper a pick before, Perry will add real effort and speed to the defense.
111.  Miles Killebrew, S, Detroit Lions
112.  Malcolm Mitchell, WR, New England Patriots
117.  Pharoh Cooper, WR, Los Angeles Rams
122.  Andrew Billings, DT, Cincinnati Bengals – One of the biggest fallers of the Draft was Andrew Billings. I thought he had a chance to go as early as the first but he slid all the way to the Bengals in round four.
134.  Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens
135.  Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys – Prescott is one of my top quarterbacks in the Draft and will go to Dallas to sit and learn the pro game behind veteran Tony Romo. I hope he gets a chance to play.
136.  Devontae Booker, RB, Denver Broncos
139.  Cardale Jones, QB, Buffalo Bills
142.  Ronald Blair, DE, San Francisco 49ers – I made the decision to put Blair in my top 100 more with my heart than my head. I enjoyed watching him play for small school Appalachian State and was glad to see him drafted.
144.  Connor McGovern, OG, Denver Broncos – The Broncos get a bit of a steal in McGovern who had a really good Combine and should have gone sooner.
150.  Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
151.  Joe Dahl, OG, Detroit Lions
161.  Christian Westerman, OG, Cincinnati Bengals
171.  Alex Collins, RB, Seattle Seahawks – With the likes of Dixon, Booker and Howard all going late, I really missed on running backs. Add to that Alex Collins, who I really like and was pleasantly surprised to see him taken by the Seahawks after they had selected C.J. Prosise in round three. How many running backs does it take to replace Marshawn Lynch?!
184.  Jerrell Adams, TE, New York Giants
233.  Jalen Mills, S, Philadelphia Eagles
234.  Vadal Alexander, OG, Oakland Raiders
250.  Scooby Wright, ILB, Cleveland Browns – Scooby Wright was an addition to my top 100 because I saw some good highlights on film and decided having Reggie Ragland as the sole interior linebacker was not enough at the position. It turns out that was wrong!

As with all rookie classes, I look forward to seeing how they all develop in the NFL and which players prove themselves at their respective teams. Next for them will be the rookie minicamps and off-season workouts where they will get the chance to earn a spot on the roster.

Even into the final round there were still some good picks being made. I cannot remember being into the whole Draft as much as this one and look forward to next year.