2016 NFL Draft – Mock First Round Picks 1-31

2016 NFL Draft

In spite of injury concerns, Laremy Tunsil will most likely be the #1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.


 
Team needs are courtesy of NFL.com. Scouting reports courtesy of cbssports.com
 

2016 NFL Draft – First Round

We match team needs, which may change after free agency, with overall player ranking, which may change after the combine. The Patriots do not have a first round pick this year.
 

Pick 1 – Tennessee Titans

2015 record: 3-13
Top need: Offensive tackle
Other needs: Cornerback, safety, running back
 
The Titans look like they were able to hit with their selection of Marcus Mariota last year, but the best way to help him build his confidence and grow as a quarterback is to make sure he is surrounded with a balanced attack and quality tackle play to keep him protected.
 
The pick is Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil. A three-year starter at left tackle, Tunsil allowed only one sack as a true freshman starter in the SEC. Tunsil was never named first-team All-SEC or SEC offensive linemen of the week mainly because he didn’t play a full season in college.
 
A preseason All-American, Tunsil started only five games in 2015. The other issues (injuries, NCAA suspension) will be thoroughly vetted by NFL teams and are of greater concern than his talent level. In 28 career games, he allowed only two sacks and will be only 22 in August.
 

 

Pick 2 – Cleveland Browns

2015 record: 3-13
Top need: Quarterback
Other needs: Wide receiver, defensive line, inside linebacker
 
The Browns took another swing at the franchise quarterback spot two years ago and that looks like a miss now. They must keep trying to find that guy.
 
The pick is Cal quarterback Jared Goff. A Marin Catholic and North Coast (Calif.) Section legend, Goff, a four-star recruit, was handed the keys to Cal’s future almost immediately after signing with the team, Goff steadily impressed over his first seasons before emerging as arguably the best quarterback prospect in the nation in 2015.
Goff impressed as a true freshman, completing 60.3 percent of his passes for 3,508 yards and an 18-10 touchdown to interception ratio. He shattered those numbers in 2014 (62.1 percent/3,973/35-7) despite a lackluster supporting cast and entered his junior campaign with 19 school records already under his belt.
 
Goff was 7-5 in 2015, passing for 4,719 yards with 43 touchdowns and a 64.5 completion percentage. He had 467 yards and six TD passes in Cal’s first bowl game since 2011, a win over Air Force.
 

 

Pick 3 – San Diego Chargers

2015 record: 4-12
Top need: Defensive line
Other needs: Safety, wide receiver, offensive line
 
The pick is Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa who racked up 26 sacks and 51 tackles for loss in three seasons with the Buckeyes. An All-America and first team All-Big Ten player in 2015, he was constantly double-teamed while being held to only 5.0 sacks. But he remained an impact player with 16.0 tackles for loss while consistently freeing teammates to make plays.
 
Also named the Big Ten Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year, and One of the stars of Ohio State’s National Title run in the 2014 season as a unanimous first team All-American, Bosa was a top high school recruit and lived up to that high billing, leading the Buckeyes with 21 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks as a sophomore. As a freshman, Bosa burst onto the national scene with 7.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.
 

 

Pick 4 – Dallas Cowboys

2015 record: 4-12
Top need: Cornerback
Other needs: Quarterback, running back, defensive tackle
 
Ramsey started all 41 games the past three seasons for the Seminoles (10-3) and finished with three interceptions, 180 tackles (including 15 for loss) and 23 pass breakups. He began his career by becoming the first true freshman to start at cornerback since Deion Sanders before moving to safety and helping lead the Seminoles to the 2013 BCS National Championship. Ramsey was a second-team selection to The Associated Press All-American team as well as a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection.
 
Ramsey is a true hybrid safety-corner who frequently lines up over the slot in Florida State’s scheme. He covers well enough to play corner but projects best as safety where he has the frame, top-end speed and run stopping ability to excel.
 

 

Pick 5 Jacksonville Jaguars

2015 record: 5-11
Top need: Cornerback
Other needs: Safety, center, outside linebacker
 
Jacksonville must add more talent and competition for their starting secondary spots. Hargreaves lacks ideal size, but has the instincts, aggressiveness and elite cover skills to develop into a good outside starting cornerback in the NFL.
 
It isn’t often that a true freshman comes into the SEC and is an immediate standout, but that’s precisely what Hargreaves accomplished in 2013, earning first team All-SEC honors from the media and league coaches after tying Janoris Jenkins’ freshman record at Florida with 11 pass breakups and intercepting three passes.
He was even better as a sophomore, leading the conference with 13 pass breakups and intercepting another three passes, including one in the end zone with just 1:20 remaining to seal Florida’s Birmingham Bowl win over East Carolina. Hargreaves was a consensus All-SEC pick and earned first team All-American honors from several outlets
 

 

Pick 6 – Baltimore Ravens

2015 record: 5-11
Top need: Offensive line
Other needs: Cornerback, outside linebacker, wide receiver
 
More talent for Joe Flacco on offense anywhere can’t hurt. The pick is Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley’s play in 2015 exposed some of his issues. Had he turned pro in 2015, he would have likely been the top offensive lineman selected and there is still an abundance of traits scouts appreciate in Stanley, including upside. He has experience at right tackle (13 starts in 2013) and left tackle (27 starts the past two seasons) with athleticism to suit any offensive scheme.
 
Stanley has the prototypical frame, length and athleticism for a left tackle prospect, and he doesn’t have a lot of holes in his game. While he needs to be crisper in terms of technique, he’s an effective run blocker and he doesn’t lose many one-on-one matchups in pass protection.
 

 

Pick 7 – San Francisco 49ers

2015 record: 5-11
Top need: Quarterback
Other needs: Inside linebacker, Offensive tackle, wide receiver
 
The 49ers hoped that Colin Kaepernick would somehow turn it around, but he didn’t and they know it’s time to move on even with Chip Kelly. The 49ers are almost assured of being in position to take a first-round quarterback for the first time since making Alex Smith with the first pick of the 2005 NFL Draft.
 
The pick is North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. A two-year starter who went 20-3 for the Bison, Wentz thrived in North Dakota State’s wide-open offense, taking snaps from under center and shotgun with several pro-style reads, including left-to-right and high-to-low progressions. Although he didn’t consistently face top competition at the FCS level, Wentz performed well in high pressure situations, including the 2014 and 2015 FCS national championship games.
 
Wentz played in the 2015 title game after returning from a broken wrist sustained in October and claimed the Most Outstanding Player award in both championship games he started and won. While he missed eight games due to injury as a senior, he had a streak of 143 consecutive passes without an interception and looked healthy in January where he returned to the starting lineup to lead NDSU to a fifth consecutive FCS championship. There’s no questioning his football intelligence, maturity and leadership skills.
 

 

Pick 8 – Miami Dolphins

2015 record: 6-10
Top need: Cornerback
Other needs: Inside linebacker, offensive tackle, offensive guard
 
Adding talent to the cornerback position should be one of Miami’s top priorities, as Brent Grimes turns 33 this summer and the rest of the roster isn’t where it needs to be at that position. The pick is Clemson corner Mackensie Alexander.
 
After redshirting in 2013, Alexander earned a starting job in 2014 and set a school record for on-field snaps by a freshman. He had his share of youthful mistakes and his production was less than stellar (21 tackles, zero interceptions), but he also flashed athletic upside.
 

 

Pick 9 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2015 record: 6-10
Top need: Defensive end
Other needs: Cornerback, safety, offensive guard
 
Tampa’s defense is based on upfield pressure, but has only one defensive end in place and needs to find a true edge man for the right side. The pick is Oregon defensive ed Deforest Buckner. Buckner doesn’t have the same athleticism and ceiling as former teammate and 2014 first round pick Arik Armstead, but has similar measureables and was a more consistent player in 2014.
 
Oregon’s defense struggled in 2015, but that was no fault of Buckner’s. He decided to return for his senior season and continued to stand out, starting all 13 games and finishing with 10.5 sacks, 17.0 tackles for loss and 83 total tackles despite facing a steady stream of double- and triple-teams.
 

 

Pick 10 – New York Giants

2015 record: 6-10
Top need: Defensive end
Other needs: Linebacker, defensive back, wide receiver
 
We’ve been able to peek into the world of what life without a healthy Jason Pierre-Paul looks like and it is not pretty. The Giants need another pass rusher as soon as possible. Competition must be created at that position.
 
The pick is Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson. Lawson entered the 2015 season with more buzz than production, but officially broke out as a junior with an FBS-leading 24.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. He has a great looking frame, strong makeup intangible wise and plays with passion. While he is an excellent run defender he still has some technical development as pass rusher particularly using his hands more effectively in combat.
 

 

Pick 11 Chicago Bears

2015 record: 6-10
Top need: Outside linebacker
Other needs: Offensive tackle, defensive line, quarterback
 
The pick is UCLA outside linebacker Myles Jack. Jack emerged as one of the most exciting and versatile players in the entire country as a true freshman, earning All-American recognition and becoming the only player in the history of the Pac-12 to win Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.
 
Jack’s 75 tackles in 2013 ranked fifth on the team and were second among true freshmen in UCLA history to only future All-American (and NFL All-Pro) safety Kenny Easley. Jack led the Bruins with 11 passes broken up, scored seven touchdowns as a running back (and another on an interception return), blocked a punt against Oregon and for his exploits was named a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player.
 
Jack is a versatile linebacker who has the athleticism, range and explosiveness to contribute in multiple facets; however, the third year junior had his 2015 season cut short appearing in just three games after suffering a torn MCL in his knee. Jack underwent surgery to repair the knee.
 

 

Pick 12 – New Orleans Saints

2015 record: 7-9
Top need: Defensive line
Other needs: Outside linebacker, cornerback, offensive guard
 
The Saints are having trouble stopping teams through the air. If the Saints can find a quality pass rusher who can consistently threaten off the edge, that will go a long way in helping their secondary as well.
 
The pick is Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson. A two-year starter in Alabama’s 3-4 base defense, Robinson lined up everywhere from the zero- to six-technique positions on the right side of the defensive line, showing the ability to two-gap as a five-technique or anchor at nose tackle.
 
Robinson became a full-time starter in 2014 as a sophomore, recording 49 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss, splitting his time between nose tackle and five-technique spots. He started all 15 games as a junior in 2015, finishing with 46 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks to earn First Team All-SEC honors. Robinson is not a finished product, but his talent is undeniable.
 

 

Pick 13 – Philadelphia Eagles

2015 record: 7-9
Top need: Quarterback
Other needs: Offensive line, safety, pass rusher
 
The quarterback spot is a massive hole for Doug Pederson. The pick is Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch.
 
A fourth-year junior and three-year starter, Lynch has outstanding mobility for a tall quarterback. He shows above average accuracy on most throws, but must refine his footwork (particularly with consistency of balance and weight transfer). He needs a lot of polishing in the mental aspects of playing QB in the NFL and could hit some early bumps in the road. But Lynch has the skill set to become a dangerous playmaker.
 

 

Pick 14 – Oakland Raiders

2015 record: 7-9
Top need: Cornerback
Other needs: Safety, offensive line, inside linebacker
 
The pick is Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland. A do-it-all linebacker for Nick Saban’s defense, Ragland finished second on the team in tackles (95) and third in tackles for loss (10.5) in 2014, adding four passes defended and an interception. He continued his ascent in 2015, being voted the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
 
He handles his business like a pro, he’s well respected by teammates and coaches, and he was a tone-setting leader on the Crimson Tide defense. He has the size, speed, instincts and toughness to develop into a good starter.
 

 

Pick 15 – Los Angeles Rams

2015 record: 7-9
Top need: Quarterback
Other needs: Wide receiver, center, defensive back
 
Another year, another draft in which the Rams need to find a wide receiver they can build their passing game around because that guy doesn’t appear to be on the roster — still. Even if the Rams finally find a true WR1, do they have a quarterback they trust to build around? That’s becoming extremely doubtful.
 
The pick is Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. A three-year starter, Treadwell lined up inside and outside, leading the SEC in receiving in 2015. Treadwell was a five-star recruit and made an immediate impact but overcame adversity to climb back to the top of the mountain.
 
After his sophomore season was cut short in November by a gruesome leg injury, Treadwell had his best season as a junior in 2015, leading the SEC in receiving with 82 catches for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was All-SEC and received All-America honors.
 
Treadwell has exceptional ball skills and catching radius with strong hands to pluck away from his body or scoop off his shoelaces. He isn’t a sudden athlete, but plays with athletic twitch and power to be a threat after the catch.
 

 

Pick 16 – Detroit Lions

2015 record: 7-9
Top need: Offensive tackle
Other needs: Wide receiver, cornerback, inside linebacker
 
Riley Reiff is built to be a right tackle or a guard, and the sooner the Lions can lock in on a young, bell-cow left tackle and move Reiff to a more natural spot, the better off they will be. The pick is Michigan State left tackle Jack Conklin.
 
Conklin missed two games in 2015 as a junior, starting 12 games at left tackle and earning First Team All-Big Ten and All-America honors. Conklin was All-Big Ten and All-American as a redshirt junior and opted to enter the NFL draft, a considerable climb four years after arriving in East Lansing as a preferred walk-on and redshirt.
 
He is powerful drive blocker with a nasty disposition and the skill set to compete for a starting job early in his career. NFL edge rushers are more apt to expose his weaknesses in pass pro, so he may have to move from left tackle, where he’s started 23 games.
 

 

Pick 17 – Atlanta Falcons

2015 record: 8-8
Top need: Pass rusher
Other needs: Safety, inside linebacker, defensive end
 
Finding another pass rusher to go with Vic Beasley is a potential draft-day priority. The pick is Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd.
 
Floyd is a long-levered versatile linebacker with experience playing both on and off the line of scrimmage. His sack production dropped slighlty in 2014 (6 sacks) compared to 2013 (6.5 sacks), but Floyd spent far more time working off the line and dropping into coverage last season. He needs to continue to improve his strength and consistency versus the run, but Floyd has a unique skill set.
 

 

Pick 18 – Indianapolis Colts

2015 record: 8-8
Top need: Offensive line
Other needs: Outside linebacker, cornerback, free safety
 
Try as they might, the Colts are still trying to find the right combination along the offensive line. While they seem to have the left side of the offensive line put together, the right side needs to be addressed and quickly.
 
The pick is Ohio State tackle Taylor Decker. Decker leaves Columbus with 42 consecutive starts including 28 at left tackle.
 
He was named Big Ten offensive lineman of the year in 2015, when he was also All-Big Ten and a team captain.
Decker became a sophomore starter at right tackle in 2013 (14 starts) moving over to the left side and starting all 15 games during Ohio State’s national title run in 2014.
 
Decker must continue to improve his leverage and feet. He has the tools and awareness to develop into a starting tackle in the NFL.
 

 

Pick 19 – Buffalo Bills

2015 record: 8-8
Top need: Right tackle
Other needs: Defensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, kicker
 
It’s time to add depth all along the defensive line for the Bills. The pick is Baylor nose tackle Andrew Billings.
 
Billings became a full-time starting nose tackle as a sophomore in 2014 and finished third on the team leaders with 11.5 tackles for loss to go with a pair of sacks and nine quarterback hits. Billings finished his junior year with a team-high 15.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, adding 40 tackles and a forced fumble.
 
Billings is a converted offensive lineman out of high school who comes with exceptional athleticism and freakish weight room numbers. He must continue to develop more consistency with his technique, particularly taking the next step as a pass rusher.
 

 

Pick 20 – New York Jets

2015 record: 10-6
Top need: Outside linebacker
Other needs: Offensive line, tight end, quarterback
 
The missing ingredient has been a true edge bender at the outside linebacker spot. Finding an edge rusher should be an early round draft priority.
 
The pick is Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith. Smith’s draft stock took a hit on New Year’s Day when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament. He is recovering after surgery and expected to miss the 2016 season, but still has an immense skill-set.
 
Smith was a consensus All-American in 2015. He tied his career high with 9.0 tackles for loss to go along with a career-high 115 tackles, a sack, five passes defensed and two fumble recoveries in 13 games before suffering his knee injury. That came on the heels of 111 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and a pair of passes defensed as a sophomore.
 
Smith is a freakish athlete who makes plays on the football field that few others at the college level are capable of making. He has range, instincts and competitive drive combined with rare talent giving him the ability to impact the game on every snap.
 
He’s a far more disruptive pass rusher than the numbers suggest, has excellent cover skills and plays sideline-to-sideline as a run defender. He is on the lighter side, but he’s got the explosive power to overcome it.
 

 

Pick 21 – Washington Redskins

2015 record: 9-7
Top need: Center
Other needs: Defensive line, wide receiver, cornerback
 
Center could be addressed in the first round. The pick is Alabama center Ryan Kelly.
 
Kelly took over for Barrett Jones, the 2012 winner of the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center, and played well over the past three seasons, emerging as the top-rated senior center prospect by 2015. He finished his career with a national title win in his 35th career start, took home the Rimington Award as the nation’s top center in 2015 and shared the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy (top blocker) with Arkansas’ Sebastian Tretola.
 
Kelly is a three-year starter and team captain with the intelligence and technique to overcome his physical deficiencies and succeed at the NFL level. While he may never be a pro bowl caliber player he has the potential to develop into an effective starter and he should provide quality depth in the meantime.
 

 

22. Houston Texans

2015 record: 9-7
Top need: Quarterback
Other needs: Defensive end, running back, tight end
 
Arian Foster has been a key core member of the Texans, but injuries and salary concerns could usher him out of Houston and his backups simply aren’t good enough. The pick is Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
 
Elliott was able to generate monster stats during the 2015 season despite being the focus of nearly every opponent due to the struggles of the Buckeyes’ passing game. He caused a bit of a ripple following a loss to Michigan in November when he questioned the playcalling and told the media it was his last game in the Big House.
 
Within the Ohio State program, he is known as the ultimate team guy, something that is obvious on the field and with the way his coaches and teammates respect him off the field. Elliott gained legendary status in the state of Ohio with his performance down the stretch in 2014, recording back-to-back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances in the Big Ten Championship Game vs. Wisconsin (220 yards), Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama (230) and National Championship game vs. Oregon (246). He earned offensive MVP honors in the final two games and finished the 2014 season with 1,878 rushing yards, the second-most in school history, adding 18 touchdowns.
 

 

Pick 23 – Minnesota Vikings

2015 record: 11-5
Top need: Offensive tackle
Other needs: Offensive guard, wide receiver, safety
 
The Vikings would be wise to add a guard (or two) to compete for a starting spot as soon as the 2016 season. The pick is Kansas State guard Cody Whitehair.
 
A 50-game starter, Whitehair received All-Big 12 honors all four seasons at Kansas State, punctuated by his lone first-team nod as a senior. He has experience at guard and tackle, including the past two years at tackle, and played in all 51 games over his four-year career.
 
Whitehair became a starter as a redshirt freshman. He began his career at left guard and right tackle before moving to left tackle as a junior in 2014, earning Second Team All-Big 12 honors. Whitehair returned to left tackle as a senior captain in 2015.
 
Whitehair has started at tackle but lacks ideal length and projects to bump inside to the interior where his best fit might potentially be at center. He comes with outstanding make-up and has started in 38 of 39 career games in the last three seasons. While he is a technician he has room to improve his lower body power.
 

 

Pick 24 – Cincinnati Bengals

2015 record: 12-4
Top need: Wide receiver
Other needs: Nose tackle, linebacker, center
 
A.J. Green is the man at wide receiver, but free agency looms for four wide receivers on the Bengals’ depth chart and not everyone will be retained. The pick is Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman.
 
The 2015 Biletnikoff Award winner (top college receiver), Coleman had 74 receptions for 1,363 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior for the Bears’ potent offense, catching five or more passes 10 times. He made six starts in 2014 and averaged 6.4 receptions per game, and was first-team All-Big 12 with 1,119 total yards and 11 touchdowns on 64 catches. He had 10 starts in 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2013 with 35 receptions while averaging 28.4 yards on 17 kickoff returns.
 
No receiver has starred in Baylor coach Art Briles’ system and gone on to produce similar NFL stats, but Coleman could break that streak. He has an athletic skill set at all levels of the field, and is one of the best deep threats in the draft with above average tracking and adjustment skills to make tough catches look easy.
 
Coleman is an explosive athlete with gamebreaking ability on offense and in the return game. He has average size and very good speed, but he’s raw as a route runner and blocker.
 

 

Pick 25 – Pittsburgh Steelers

2015 record: 10-6
Top need: Cornerback
Other needs: Safety, offensive guard, outside linebacker, tight end
 
The Steelers can’t stop the pass. There hasn’t been a bunch of turnover for the Steelers at the cornerback spot, but this might be the year we see some new blood added and not just for depth purposes, but as potential long-term starters.
 
The pick is Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple. A two-year starter at cornerback, Apple earned a starting role as a redshirt freshman and held his own the past two seasons, playing both man and zone coverages.
 
After redshirting in 2013, Apple earned a starting job as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and finished second on the team in passes defended (13), adding 53 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions. He started all 13 games as sophomore in 2015 and again finished second on the team in passes defended (eight), adding 33 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss and one interception to earn Second Team All-Big Ten honors.
 

 

Pick 26 – Seattle Seahawks

2015 record: 10-6
Top need: Offensive tackle
Other needs: Cornerback, wide receiver, defensive tackle
 
Seattle has starting defensive tackles due to hit free agency and would be wise to draft at that position and look to reload with younger, less expensive talent there. The pick is Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche.
 
Nkemdiche started his career outside as a defensive end before moving inside to tackle after adding weight, and is probably best suited at defensive tackle in the NFL. Nkemdiche started all 13 games in 2014 and finished with 35 total tackles, including four TFL and two sacks.
 
He’s a highly talented and versatile prospect capable of playing three-technique and/or LDE in a 4-3, as well as five-technique in a 3-4 front. Much like Leonard Williams (No. 6 overall to the Jets in 2015), Nkemdiche carries his weight extremely well and has unique fluidity for his frame. He should continue to refine his technique as an interior defensive lineman.
 

 

Pick 27 – Green Bay Packers

2015 record: 10-6
Top need: Inside linebacker
Other needs: Outside linebacker, offensive tackle, tight end
 
Green Bay has tried to play Clay Matthews all over the field, but he’s only one man and another one like him is needed whether it is at inside or outside linebacker. The pick is Ohio State outside linebacker Darron Lee.
 
A two-year starter in Ohio State’s versatile 4-3 base defense, Lee started his Buckeye career at safety, added muscle and moved to linebacker during his redshirt year, taking over for the departed Ryan Shazier at SAM linebacker in 2014 – playing the “walkout” linebacker role so he was asked to cover, blitz and consistently play in space.
 
Lee tallied 81 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions, earning Defensive MVP honors in the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. He started all 13 games in 2015 as a redshirt sophomore, finishing with 66 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks to earn Second Team All-Big Ten honors.
 
Lee is an undersized weak-side linebacker prospect with a good combination of athleticism, range, versatility and playmaking instincts. He fits today’s NFL game extremely well.
 

 

Pick 28 – Kansas City Chiefs

2015 record: 11-5
Top need: Offensive line
Other needs: Wide receiver, defensive line, outside linebacker
 
Help along the defensive front could be a possibility. The pick is Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
 
Reed earned second team All-SEC honors by the Associated Press by finishing fourth on the team with 56 tackles, including a sack, two pass breakups, eight quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery in 14 starts. Reed arrived in Tuscaloosa in January 2014 as a JUCO transfer and after a sluggish start, he settled in and showed improvements each week with his ball awareness and limb use.
 
He was the third leading tackler returning to the Crimson Tide defense in 2015 after finishing the previous season with 55 stops, including 6.5 for loss and five pass break-ups at the line of scrimmage. He’s a good athlete for his size, but his greatest asset is his ability to occupy space and make plays in the run game.
 
Reed has some off-the-field issues (July 2014 DUI), but his work ethic and football character are solid. To maximize his draft stock, he needs to show more consistent urgency disengaging from blocks in the run game and also offer more as a pass rusher.
 

 

Pick 29 – Arizona Cardinals

2015 record: 13-3
Top need: Safety
Other needs: Outside linebacker, cornerback, tight end
 
Adding additional playmakers to a defensive backfield that already includes Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu could help make the Cardinals formidable against the pass. The pick is Ohio State free safety Vonn Bell.
 
A two-year starter at safety, Bell lined up mostly as a single-high and nickel safety in Ohio State’s secondary and emerged as a defensive playmaker for the Buckeyes during the team’s national title run in 2014. He played mostly man coverage the last two years and held his own on an island, showing athleticism, timing and savvy that translates well to the next level.
 
Bell played in all 42 games during his career at Ohio State, finishing with 176 total tackles, 15 PBUs and nine INTs. He’s slightly undersized and can improve his consistency as a tackler, but Bell is the best cover safety in this draft.
 

 

Pick 30 – Carolina Panthers

2015 record: 15-1
Top need: Offensive tackle
Other needs: Defensive end, defensive back, running back
 
Ron Rivera understands the importance of a dominant defensive end and the Panthers will be keeping an eye out for that spot. The pick is Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence.
 
Spence displayed first-round talent at Ohio State, but was banned by the Big Ten for repeated failed drug tests and ended up at Eastern Kentucky in 2015. Spence spent one year rebuilding his image off the field and dominating on it at EKU, earning co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Ohio Valley Conference. He finished the season with 22.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks to go with 63 tackles, 15 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries.
 
Spence was coach Urban Meyer’s first five-star recruit to commit to the Buckeyes and was the team leader in sacks as a first-year starter in 2013 at Ohio State. He finished the season with 52 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks over his 12 starts.
 
Spence’s outstanding sophomore season led to All-Big Ten accolades and he was also named Academic All-Big Ten. However, he tested positive for a banned substance at the Big Ten title game and was suspended for the Orange Bowl and the first two games of 2014.
 
He claimed the failed test was due to someone slipping something into his drink, but the problem turned out to be far more severe – as he would later admit to having an issue with the drug Ecstacy since high school. Spence tested positive for ecstasy again in September of 2014 and was permanently banned from the Big Ten after his appeal was denied. Still, there’s a lot to like about his frame and his ability to play 34OLB or LDE.
 

 

Pick 31 – Denver Broncos

2015 record: 12-4
Top need: Offensive tackle
Other needs: Quarterback, offensive guard, tight end
 
Vernon Davis and Owen Daniels are a nice combination, but neither player is young and finding another combination tight end makes sense. The pick is Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry.
 
Henry excelled as a junior in 2015 (13 starts), finishing second on the team with 51 catches for 739 yards and three touchdowns. Henry earned first-team All-SEC honors and was named the 2015 John Mackey Award winner (nation’s top tight end).
A four-star tight end recruit out of high school, Henry was rated as the No. 2 recruit in the state and chose Arkansas over Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Stanford and Vanderbilt. He saw immediate playing time as a true freshman (seven starts) in 2013, recording 28 catches for 409 yards and four touchdowns, earning All-SEC Freshman honors. Henry started 10 games as a sophomore in 2014 and finished with 37 receptions for 513 yards and two scores, earning Second Team All-SEC honors.
 
He has prototypical size, a strong feel for routes and possesses excellent intangibles. Henry should continue to get stronger and become more consistent as an inline blocker.
 

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