The NFL never sleeps.
Super Bowl 50 isn’t even a week old, and free agency, which begins March 9, already is a hot topic around the sports world. While teams are building their free-agent boards, the draft scouting process is well underway and will continue through the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis later this month.
Here’s our NFL Mock Draft 3.0, with five key players highlighted.
1. Tennessee Titans (3-13): Lareny Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Tennessee gave up 54 sacks this season, the most in the league. This is not the situation you want your franchise quarterback and former No. 2 overall draft pick to be in. So many young quarterbacks have had their careers derailed because they took too many hits and sacks early on.
Tunsil has tremendous size, athleticism and awareness for a left tackle. He’s also able to pass and run block effectively. The Titans could sure up their left tackle position for a decade by drafting the Ole Miss lineman.
2. Cleveland Browns (3-13): Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
The Browns probably will go one of two ways with this pick: Carson Wentz or Paxton Lynch. They need a quarterback in the worst way. Cleveland ranked 21st in passing yards per game and 30 in points scored. The Browns have a couple of decent running backs, but there’s a gaping hole at the most important position in the league.
Wentz has all of the physical attributes at 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds. His arm strength is fantastic, he’s hard to take down and he runs well outside of the pocket. He’s also not afraid to take a hit in order to step up and make a throw.
The concern with Wentz is his lack of quality competition playing at North Dakota State. He didn’t play against FBS defenses every week like Lynch and Jared Goff did. There have been plenty of good quarterbacks to come out of small schools, though, including Tony Romo.
3. San Diego Chargers (4-12): Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
4. Dallas Cowboys (4-12): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
6. Baltimore Ravens (5-11): Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
The Ravens, because of injuries, had a group of receivers with very little talent when the regular season ended. Steve Smith Sr. is coming back, which is great news for Baltimore, but this team still needs another threat in the passing attack, preferably someone who can develop into the No. 1 wide receiver of the future.
Treadwell could be that guy as the best receiver in this class. He has great speed, route-running ability, hands, strength and agility. He also can make tough catches in traffic and take advantage of quarterback Joe Flacco’s arm strength downfield.
7. San Francisco 49ers (5-11): Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
8. Miami Dolphins (6-10): Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10): DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
10. New York Giants (6-10): Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
11. Chicago Bears (6-10): A’Shaw Robinson, DT, Alabama
12. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
13. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9): Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
14. Oakland Raiders (7-9): Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
The Raiders ranked 26th in passing yards allowed per game and gave up 25 touchdown passes as well. The retirement of probable Hall of Famer Charles Woodson leaves a huge need at cornerback for Oakland, and Alexander should be the best one available. His coverage skills are excellent, and he has the speed and agility to make up ground whenever he’s beaten, which isn’t often. Alexander didn’t have any interceptions for the Tigers in 2015, but that’s because quarterbacks rarely tested him.
15. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Jared Goff, QB, California
16. Detroit Lions (7-9): Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
17. Atlanta Falcons (8-8): Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
Spence’s pass-rushing skill would be a good boost to a Falcons defense that ranked dead last in sacks with just 19 through 16 games. He’s also an ideal fit in a 3-4 defense, which is what Atlanta plays under head coach Dan Quinn.
18. Indianapolis Colts (8-8): Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
19. Buffalo Bills (8-8): Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
20. New York Jets (10-6): Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
21. Washington Redskins (9-7): Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
22. Houston Texans (9-7): Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
23. Minnesota Vikings (11-5): Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
24. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4): Tre’Davious White, DB, LSU
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6): Vadal Alexander, G, LSU
26. Seattle Seahawks (10-6): Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
27. Green Bay Packers (10-6): Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
28. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
29. Arizona Cardinals (13-3): Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska
30. Denver Broncos (12-4): Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
31. Carolina Panthers (15-1): Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
The New England Patriots lost their first-round pick as NFL punishment over Deflategate.
Thumbnail photo via Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports Images