2016 NFL Mock Draft: Projected First-Round Picks As Free Agency Starts

by NESN Staff

March 10, 2016

NFL free agency began Wednesday, and many teams made major signings with the hopes of competing for the Super Bowl next season.

Every team — particularly ones that lost important players in free agency — still has many needs up and down its roster, and the draft could be the best place to find a replacement. So let’s look at our NFL Mock Draft 5.0, free-agency edition.

1. Tennessee Titans (3-13): Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
2. Cleveland Browns (3-13): Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
3. San Diego Chargers (4-12): Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
4. Dallas Cowboys (4-12): Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
6. Baltimore Ravens (5-11): DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Terrell Suggs is 33 years old and coming off a torn Achilles injury, so the Ravens need an edge rusher who’s capable of chasing down running backs and getting to the quarterback. Buckner fits the bill. He was a force to be reckoned with at Oregon, tallying 11 sacks and 83 combined tackles last season.

7. San Francisco 49ers (5-11): Jared Goff, QB, California
8. Philadelphia Eagles (7-9): Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10): Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Sure, the Bucs have a pretty good wide receiver tandem in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. That said, they should take the best player available approach if Treadwell still is here at No. 9. He has the talent of a top-five pick, and his high skill allowed him to tally 82 receptions for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Treadwell has the speed, strength and route-running ability to make an instant impact in a Bucs offense led by 2015 No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston at quarterback.

10. New York Giants (6-10): Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
11. Chicago Bears (6-10): Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
The Bears’ pass defense was pretty average last season. It had the second-fewest sacks in the NFL with eight, and it also allowed 7.5 yards per pass attempt, tied for the eighth-most in the league. Hargreaves would give Chicago a ball-hawking defensive back who could cover the opponent’s best or second-best receiver. Hargreaves’ speed and quickness were primary factors in him tallying 10 interceptions over three seasons in Gainesville.

12. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

13. Miami Dolphins (6-10): Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
14. Oakland Raiders (7-9): Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
15. St. Louis Rams (7-9): Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
16. Detroit Lions (7-9): Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
17. Atlanta Falcons (8-8): A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
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): Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
22. Houston Texans (9-7): Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Conklin is a quality pass and run blocker, which satisfies a need on a Texans offensive line that must be improved after the free-agent additions of quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller. Conklin played a key part in the Spartans averaging 151.3 rushing yards per game and totaling 24 rushing touchdowns last season.

23. Minnesota Vikings (11-5): Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
24. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4): Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
25. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6): Vadal Alexander, G, LSU
26. Seattle Seahawks (10-6): Sheldon Rankings, DT, Louisville
27. Green Bay Packers (10-6): Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Henry is the best tight end in the 2016 draft class, and it’s a position the Packers struggled a bit with last season. Richard Rodgers showed some flashes of being productive, but he’s not an elite player nor a long-term solution for Green Bay.

Henry is a quick, agile route runner and has good enough hands to catch passes in traffic. He’s also a pretty good blocker, which allows him to be on the field in both pass and run situations. His size (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) makes him a great red-zone target, and few quarterbacks are better at squeezing passes in a tight window than Aaron Rodgers.

28. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
29. Arizona Cardinals (13-3): Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska

30. Carolina Panthers (15-1): Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
31. Denver Broncos (12-4): Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Henry led the nation with 2,219 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns this season, and he won the Heisman Trophy as a result. He’s a low first-round, high second-round projection with good upside. He’s a hard runner and protects the ball well, which scouts like. Henry also is a quality pass blocker, and that would allow him to play a lot of snaps in all different play packages as a rookie.

Starter C.J. Anderson could leave the Broncos as a restricted free agent, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a chance on a talented running back who also just won a national title.

The New England Patriots lost their first-round pick as NFL punishment over Deflategate.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Feb 26, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry participates in drills during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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