2016 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Round 1

1. Carolina Panthers- Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
I think everyone can agree that the Panthers are going to select a quarterback, whether it’s going to be Newton or Gabbert is another topic for a different day. New head coach Ron Rivera recently said this about Cam Newton: ”I’ve seen all I need to see as far as him throwing a football, I’m already convinced.”  To me, with Rivera saying that, Newton will be the guy.

Other draft possibilities:
Trade down- I haven’t heard anyone mention this, but I think it makes the most sense. One player isn’t going to turn the Panthers into contenders. They have more holes than picks, and trading the first pick for a player and two picks would benefit them more than drafting anyone one player (assuming a new CBA is in place before the draft). Would any team meet the Panthers asking price is the question?

Blaine Gabbert, QB- The other quarterback. They could like Gabbert better.

A.J. Green, WR- If they think Clausen can be their guy, they’ll get him the best offensive weapon available.

Patrick Peterson, CB– To me, he’s the best player in the draft.

Marcell Dareus, DT- A safer pick than the two quarterbacks that fills the next biggest need.

2. Denver Broncos- Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
The resigning of Champ Bailey allows the Broncos to address their biggest area of weakness. The Broncos were dead last in the NFL with 23 sacks and they ranked 31st in the league allowing 154.6 rushing yards per game.

Other draft possibilities:
Nick Fairley, DT- 
They might like Fairley better since he was the most dominating defensive player this season.

Patrick Peterson, CB- Cornerback isn’t the biggest need, but Bailey isn’t getting younger and Peterson is the best player in the draft.


3. Buffalo Bills- Von Miller, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
Miller was the best player at the Senior Bowl. He’s an elite pass rusher and it’s going to be hard for Chan Gailey to pass on him, especially since he coached him at the Senior Bowl. He ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the combine and has drawn comparisons to Clay Matthews.

Other draft possibilities:
Cam Newton/Blaine Gabbert, QB- If Buffalo realizes that Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t a franchise quarterback, they’ll take one of these two depending on who Carolina takes, although, they could go that route in round two.

Marcell Dareus, DT- I had Dareus mocked here in my first mock, if he’s available he could be the pick. But I don’t see him making it past Denver.

4. Cincinnati Bengals- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
The Bengals offense is going to look completely different in 2011. I think they trade Palmer and Ochocinco and I don’t see them resigning Owens or Benson. This leaves a ton of holes on offense. Quarterback is deep in this draft class which is why I have the Bengals selecting the top rated offensive player in Green over Blaine Gabbert.

Other draft possibilities:
Blaine Gabbert, QB- If they do indeed trade Palmer, Gabbert could be his successor.

Trade down- They could need a QB, RB, and WR so trading down to acquire more picks wouldn’t shock me.

5. Arizona Cardinals- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Everyone would expect this pick to be a quarterback, but I think there is a zero percent chance of Gabbert or Newton being taken here if they’re available. Ken Whisenhunt is on the hot seat, and he needs to please his best player Larry Fitzgerald who asked for a quarterback to be brought in via trade or free agency, specifically Kevin Kolb. Bringing in a rookie quarterback is not what Fitzgerald wants, and it’s not the guy you want leading your team when your job is on the line. I see them trading for Kevin Kolb like Fitzgerald asked for. If that does happen, the Eagles could own this selection where they would without hesitation take Peterson, who I believe is the best player in the draft.

Other draft possibilities:
Von Miller, DE/OLB- 
Miller is probably the number one player on the Cards big board. He won’t get past five, if he even gets that far.

Robert Quinn, DE/OLB- They need a pass rusher and there’s a chance both Miller and Peterson won’t be available at five.

6. Cleveland Browns- Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
After an explosive combine it’s no longer a reach to select Jones at number six. The Browns need a play maker for Colt McCoy, and Jones should be an easy choice.

Other draft possibilities:
A.J. Green, WR- If he somehow slips to six, the Browns will take him over Jones.

Robert Quinn, DE/OLB- Quinn will be considered here, but DE is the deepest position in the draft and I think the Browns address that position on day two.


7. San Francisco 49ers- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
New regimes means new quarterbacks and that’s exactly what the Niners are looking to do.

Other draft possibilities:
Prince Amukamara, CB- 
Gabbert could be long gone and Amukamara fills the next biggest need.

Robert Quinn/Aldon Smith, DE/OLB- They need a pass rusher and Quinn or Smith could provide that.


8. Tennessee Titans- Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
The Titans need their ‘Albert Haynesworth’ back. Fairley, once the top player in the draft, had a very impressive pro day to lock his top ten status.

Other draft possibilities:
Ryan Mallet, QB- 
I don’t care what anyone says about character issues, Mallet is the best quarterback in the draft. Somehow the Titans might be able to snag him in round two. I don’t get it?

Robert Quinn/Aldon Smith, DE/OLB- The Titans are another team that could use a pass rusher.


9. Dallas Cowboys- Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Cowboys secondary is their biggest weakness. Remember, Rex Grossman torched them for four touchdowns in their last meeting. Offensive line is deep, they can protect Romo on day two.

Other draft possibilities:
Tyron Smith, OT, USC- Without Romo, Dallas’ season was lost. They need to protect him.


10. Washington Redskins- Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
Only one Redskin had more than 2.5 sacks, and that was Brian Orakpo. That’s not a good stat if you’re a Redskin fan. Adding Quinn could give the Redskins the best pass rushing duo in the NFC in a few years.

Other draft possibilities:
Julio Jones, WR- 
Highly unlikely he’ll be available at ten, but the Redskins need a play making receiver if they cannot resign Santana Moss.

Jake Locker, QB-Shanahan loves Locker. Trading down to grab Locker is possible, or they might even take him at ten.

11. Houston Texans- Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
With Wade Phillips bringing in the 3-4 system to Houston, the Texans will be looking to acquire pass rushers to fit the new system.

Other draft possibilities:
Prince Amukamara, CB- 
Houston was dead last in passing yards against, so Amukamara isn’t out of the question.

J.J. Watt, DE/DT- 
They could chose for their five-technique first.


12. Minnesota Vikings- Cameron Jordan, DE/DT- California
Ray Edwards is a free agent, and their pass rush was surprisingly bad this season. Jordan is one of the best pass rushers in the draft, and the best one available.

Other draft possibilities:
Quarterback- They could elect to take Jake Locker with this pick, or trade down to to get him or Christian Ponder.


13. Detroit Lions- Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Clearly the Loins need to have Stafford play a full 16 game season if they want to conted in the NFC North. If the board plays out like this, the Lions won’t think twice about taking Smith.

Other draft possibilities:
Prince Amukamara, CB- 
It’s possible Dallas takes Smith leaving Amukamara on the board. If Houston passes on him, he won’t get past Detroit.

Akeem Ayers, DE/OLB- Ayers stock has dropped after running a 4.80 40 at the combine, but he improved that at his pro day.


14. St. Louis Rams- Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
If the Rams can’t land Jones, they’ll look to upgrade their defensive line. As someone brought to my attention, with the low demand for 4-3 personnel, the Rams could move back into the early 20s and still get Liuget.

Other draft possibilities:
Julio Jones, WR- Jones is the Rams number one target, but I don’t see him falling out of the top ten.

Ryan Kerrigan/J.J. Watt, DE- They could opt for an end rather than a tackle.

Mike Pouncey, OG-The Rams could also make sure Bradford stays on his feet as much as possible. Trying to protect your franchise QB is never a bad idea.


15. Miami Dolphins- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Without free agency, the draft is the only way to upgrade at the running back position. This pick could change if a CBA is in place and they end up signing DeAngelo Williams. The only concern with Ingram is his knee, which has been said to be 100%. If he falls further than this, consider him a steal.

Other draft possibilities:
Trade down- The Dolphins don’t have a second round pick, so I wouldn’t be shocked if they traded down to get a quarterback they like.

Mike Pouncey, OG- They could take him over Mark Ingram, or he could be the player they trade down for.


16. Jacksonville Jaguars- Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
With Aaron Kampman’s age, and having had two ACL injuries in the past two years, it’s obvious the Jags will be looking to replenish the defensive position.

Other draft possibilities:
Quarterback- Another team that could trade down for Ponder, Dalton, Locker, or Mallet.

J.J. Watt, DE- The Jags could opt for the other defensive end here.

17. New England Patriots- Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
It’ll be interesting to see what the Patriots do with all their picks. They have three of the first 33 picks this year, and Belichick always trades down so it’s very tough to predict what they’ll do. One of the positions they’ll be looking to add too is left tackle. Matt Light is a free agent, and Castonzo is the number two tackle in the class. Remember, protecting your franchise QB is rule number one!

Other draft possibilities:
Justin Houston, DE/OLB- New England could use some help on their pass rush.

Mike Pouncey, OG- I’ve mocked Pouncey to the Pats before, and if Castonzo is off the board, I think Pouncey will be heavily be considered.

Trade down- The Pats have three of the first 33 picks in this years draft. If a team like Buffalo or Arizona want to get back into round one to get a quarterback they like, the Pats will more than likely be the team the trade with.

Trade up- Here’s an option I haven’t heard. One position I feel the Patriots will be looking to draft early is wide receiver. If they like Julio Jones enough, I can see them trading up to get him. This isn’t a Bill Belichick type move, but they have the ammunition to do whatever they want.


18. San Diego Chargers- J.J.Watt, DE/DT, Wisconsin
With a hole at the five technique defensive tackle, this is basically a match made in heaven.

Other draft possibilities:
Cameron Heyward, DE/DT- 
There’s a chance Watt could be taken prior to this pick, Heyward would be the Chargers next choice.

Justin Houston, DE/OLB- The Chargers drafted Larry English to replace Shawn Merriman, but he didn’t play well at all. They could give him another year to develop, or they could upgrade the rush linebacker position with Houston.


19. New York Giants- Akeem Ayers, DE/OLB, UCLA
The Giants are going to be targeting a linebacker early in the draft as Keith Bulluck is a 34-year-old free agent.

Other draft possibilities:
Offensive Tackle- New York will be looking for a left tackle early too, and they could go that route round one, and linebacker on day two.

Mark Ingram, RB-I guess this is a possibility due to the injury concerns to Brashaw, but doesn’t Ingram have his own injury concerns?


20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
The Bucs number one need is a pass rushing defensive end, followed by cornerback and linebacker. I expect all three of these positions to be addressed in their first three picks. Bowers was once considered the number one prospect coming out before medical rechecks confirmed major concerns about his knee. Bowers at pick 20 is going to be very difficult for the Bucs to pass up.

Other draft possibilities:
Justin Houston, DE/OLB- Bowers injury could influence them to take Houston.

Adrian Clayborn, DE-Clayborn is still an option here, but only if Bowers and Houston are off the board.


21. Kansas City Chiefs- Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia
The Chiefs would love to add another pass rusher next to Tamba Hali.

Other draft possibilities:
Gabe Carimi, OT- Current right tackle Berry Richardson can be upgraded, and Carimi can fill that whole. He can also play left tackle if Brandon Albert struggles.


22. Indianapolis Colts- Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
The Colts will be selecting the best tackle available, and in this case, that’s Carimi.

Other draft possibilities:
Derek Sherrod/Nate Solder, OT- 
This pick will be one of the three tackles mentioned.

23. Philadelphia Eagles- Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
Vick needs to be protected if the Eagles want to contend in the NFC. The Eagles gave up way to many sacks which should not happen when you have the most elusive quarterback in the history of the game.

Other draft possibilities:
Prince Amukamara, CB-
Reid isn’t afraid to trade up to get the guy he wants. He did it last year with Brandon Graham, and he could do it this year with Amukamara. I think this is more likely to happen than landing Pouncey.

Gabe Carimi/Derek Sherrod, OT- Tackle is the Eagles biggest need, but it’s been that way for about three years now and Reid keeps drafting defensive ends.

Jimmy Smith, CB-Cornerback is the Eagles second biggest need and Smith is the best available.


24. New Orleans Saints- Muhammed Wilkerson, DT, Temple
The Saints need numerous upgrades along their front seven and they could use their first three picks to adress those needs.

Other draft possibilities:
Da’Quan Bowers, DE- If Bowers knee injuries scare the Bucs away, the Saints will take a chance.

Cameron Heyward, DE/DT- If they like Heyward better, he could be the pick.


25. Seattle Seahawks- Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Smith is the best player available. He could go as high as pick 11 to Houston, so getting him at 25 is a steal.

Other draft possibilities:
Doesn’t make sense to me since they swapped 2nd round picks, and gave up a 3rd rounder for Charlie Whitehurst.

Mike Pouncey/Nate Solder, OL-Seattle will consider an offensive lineman if they stick with Whitehurst and Smith is off the board.


26. Baltimore Ravens- Cameron Heyward, DE/DT, Ohio State
“I know for a fact that if Cameron Heyward’s there at 26, the Ravens are not passing him up.” That was the statement made by Brian Baldinger on Path to the Draft. That’s good enough for me!

Other draft possibilities:
Torrey Smith/Titus Young, WR- 
The Ravens could reach for a wide receiver to stretch the field for Joe Flacco.


27. Atlanta Falcons- Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
If the Ravens don’t reach for Smith, Atlanta will. Michael Jenkins just isn’t consistent enough to get the job done and Atlanta needs a number two receiver next to Roddy White.

Other draft possibilities:
Brooks Reed, DE-
They could opt for a pass rusher opposite of John Abraham. Reed is the best pass rusher on the board.

Kyle Rudolph, TE- Tony Gonzalez looks to be entering his last year so Atlanta will need a tight end to replace him, but they might be able to snag him in round two.


28. New England Patriots- Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona
After addressing their offensive line with their first pick, New England will use this selection to upgrade their pass rush. Reed is the best available pass rusher.

Other draft possibilities:
Trade down- Read pick number 17.

Mark Ingram, RB-If Miami shys away from Ingram, he’d be a great value pick for New England at pick 28.


29. Chicago Bears- Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
The Bears gave up the most sacks in the NFL, they’ll definitely be targeting an offensive lineman early in the draft.

Other draft possibilities:
Marvin Austin, DT- 
Chicago also needs a replacement to Tommy Harris.

Torrey Smith, WR- Cutler lacks a true number one receiver, Smith could develop into that go-to guy.

Mark Ingram, RB- This would be interesting, and it’s definitely possible. Chester Taylor is going to be cut and Ingram is a great value this far in the draft.


30. New York Jets- Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Even with his inoperable foot condition, I think Taylor is too good to pass up this late in the first round.

Other draft possibilities:
Marvin Austin, DT- 
Taylor’s foot condition could scare teams away.


31. Pittsburgh Steelers- Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
Mike Pouncey is probably the number one player on the Steelers board, but no way he falls to 31. The Steelers need to protect Big Ben and they had a ton of  injuries across the offensive live last year. However, even with Sherrod and other top guards on the board, I think the Steelers address their biggest defensive need. There will be better lineman available in round two than corners.

Other draft possibilities:
Derek Sherrod/Danny Watkins, OL- 
The Steelers could easily select the top lineman on their board.


32. Green Bay Packers- Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Drafting for the Super Bowl champions is never an easy task, especially when they’re basically “drafting” Jermichael Finely and Ryan Grant. They don’t have a lot of holes, and upgrading the pass rush next to Clay Matthews is probably priority number one. They did give up more sacks than they wanted, and the running game wasn’t as good as it could have been, which is why I  have them taking Sherrod, the best lineman available.

Other draft possibilities:
Brooks Reed, DE/OLB- 
If Reed is there, he’ll be the pick.

Randall Cobb, WR- If they can’t retain James Jones, they’ll look for a receiver early.