If the Bears fall flat this season there will be hell to pay for everyone in that organization. There will be a new head coach, new general manager, and yes, new quarterback. Dak Prescott has improved at a rapid pace since his sophomore season and his skills as a passer, mechanics, and abilities could vault him into the number one spot in 2016. Prescott has lost many pieces to the NFL from last year's team, but if he can succeed and continue to improve he will prove he is the man for this spot in a wide open quarterback class.
The 2015 draft for the Raiders was a mixed bag. On one hand they had a good first two days, on the other they had a terrible third day. With Mario Edwards, Amari Cooper, Clive Walford, and Jon Feliciano on board the offense is almost good and the defensive front impressive, but more work is needed. The Raiders have had an excellent camp by all reports, this means they need to build for the next step. Left tackle Donald Penn is getting a little long in the tooth -32 years old- and needs to be replaced within the next year or two. Ronnie Stanley would have been the first tackle off the board in 2015 had he entered the draft, so it makes sense to take the best left tackle in two drafts here to pair with an emerging franchise quarterback.
Stanley is athletic, smart, and good fundamentally. Stanley's quickness and athleticism allow him to slide well, mirror blockers, and get blocks down field in the run game. Stanley would be an upgrade on the offensive line and his presence may even help extend the career of Penn by moving him over to the right side. Stanley has started every game since his sophomore season.
The Jets need a new identity. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers some pieces in place to create an identity in 2015; the Jets do not. The Jets need a talented, hard nosed, respectable on field leader who can also get the job done. Could military intervention save this team? What about a graduate of Fork Union Military Academy who comes from a family of athletes? Christian Hackenberg is a tall -6'4-, straight back, military high school graduate that was the top pocket passer in the nation during his senior year of high school. Hackenberg has all of the physical and mental tools to be an outstanding leader and player for a team that needs both.
Duplicating the magic made in Seattle will be difficult yet Gus Bradley is the guy that may be able to do it. He inherits a team with a bunch of young talent, a franchise quarterback in place, and a good first draft. The key to success early is defense and Bradley knows he needs a true top cover man. Kendall Fuller -younger brother of Kyle-, is arguably the best cornerback in the country. Last season saw him gather fifteen pass breakups, add to that he is unafraid to tackle with 4.5 for a loss. To recreate Seattle's success, the Jags need a Seattle defense, and Fuller is a great piece as the best overall corner in the draft.
Tennessee needs to draft for talent first rather than scheme. That seems to be what they did in 2015 taking highly talented quarterback Marcus Mariota followed by troubled, raw, yet highly talented receiver Dorial Green-Beckham in the next round. While Tennessee already has a set of very good pass rushers off the outside the NFL is trending with a "the more pass rushers you have the better" mentality. Joey Bosa is a finesse pass rusher that uses his arms well and takes advantage of opportunities presented rather than using pure strength and slashing double teams. If Bosa can show that he can use his physical tools more consistently he will be an excellent addition in Tennessee.
Right now Tampa Bay has Larry English as their starting defensive end and they didn't address the issue in the draft. Addressing the issue at defensive end will be key to solidifying Tampa Bay as one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. NKemdiche isn't a nose tackle but the fact remains that he is strong, very athletic, and has potential to be extremely versatile, as he has started at defensive end and played defensive tackle. Nkemdiche does need to work on using his hands better but his potential is through the roof, and a rare physical talent for Lovie Smith to mold.
I may be a rare breed, but I have faith in head coach Jay Gruden. Gruden's coaching style relies on a three to five year plan of building, and rebuilding players and teams. It worked in the Arena League, and it worked as offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. If given time Gruden can turn Washington around, but he has a lot of work to do. The Redskins have holes all over their roster and an inept front office. If Gruden can get play-stealers -guys who don't make the plays, just steal them from other teams- then he has a good chance of turning things around.
Aggressive going after both the ball and the tackle Jalen Ramsey is a star in the making. Causing fumbles, taking away catches, and generating plays all over the field. Ramsey would be a huge upgrade over 35-year-old Ryan Clark.
The Bills and Rex Ryan have a lot of talent , but any transition will need players capable of playing positions in a new scheme. Scooby Wright is a beast with instincts that are off the charts. He can play Rush Linebacker, Inside Linebacker, STUD, and WHEEL in both the 43 and 34. Wright finished 2014 with 163 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, and practically every defensive award ever created. Rex Ryan will be salivating like a dog over a steak to get Wright.
As a franchise the 49ers are a mess. With the massive exodus in 2015 the team was left reeling. Former coach Jim Harbaugh obviously was the glue that held the group together. The current rebuilding process will not be smooth but needs to start up front. If 2015 was about defense, 2016 has to be about offense. Add to that, Joe Staley is a 31-year-old left tackle. Laremy Tunsil is the best player available at a position of need. Tunsil excels in pass protection, using his feet, and getting to the second level in the running game. Right now Colin Kaepernick is gearing up for a rough season, 2016 could be much easier than 2015 with Tunsil.
If Sam Bradford is going to succeed he needs to stay healthy, and the combination of thirty-three year old Jason Peters and Lane Johnson probably aren't going to accomplish that. While Johnson is young and will get better, -perhaps replacing Peters- Peters is at the end of his career and won't be a viable option at left tackle much longer. Drafting an aggressive, intelligent player like Conklin will allow the Eagles to get rid of the aging Peters and create a younger, more capable duo at tackle.
Last season at the ripe age of thirty-three, Roddy White finally showed signs of slowing down. White has missed five games over the past two years and his yards per catch has dipped by over two yards per catch in that time frame. In the past two seasons White has failed to reach a thousand yards receiving for the first time since 2005-2006.
Duke Williams is a stud, powerful, big body, can play the slot as he did in his first season or on the outside as he did at his community college, and has tremendous hands. Williams is also an excellent route runner, can separate well and is good with the ball in his hands. Williams is prone however to mental mistakes -trying to make plays where there are none, occasionally holding the ball low while making a move- that can be corrected with time.
The Houston quarterback situation is terrible at the moment with Brian Hoyer, who is a good leader and decision maker, but terrible at making players around him better. Then there is Ryan Mallett, who has a strong arm and decent down field accuracy but not much else. Finally you have Tom Savage, a second year player who looked overwhelmed in his first two professional games. Overall nobody in the group has looked good in the preseason and the entire group could be gone after 2015.
The Ohio State quarterbacking situation is not resolved and Urban Meyer is foolishly thinking about running a two quarterback system, even then, that gives us a chance to see Cardale Jones on the field more. Last year Cardale Jones is the rawest quarterback on Ohio State's active roster. Jones also have more upside and star potential than any quarterback currently at Ohio State. If Jones wins the starting position for Ohio State he will have an entire season to refine his game, show scouts what he is capable of, and surge into round one there is little doubt he can do better than Patriots backup #1, and Patriots backup #2.
The Panthers lost DeAngelo Williams during free agency, Jonathan Stewart has only played a full season once since 2010, and hasn't had a one thousand yard rushing season since 2009 -his only 1,000 yard rushing season-. The Panthers need to move on from the old group of running backs.
Ezekiel Elliott is a great running back with good speed. Elliott is coming off an eighteen-hundred yard, eighteen touchdown season and is an early front-runner for the 2015 Heisman Trophy. Elliott had 52 rushes of ten or more yards -2nd in nation-, and ten touchdowns of ten or more yards. Elliott could give Cam Newton the running game he needs at his back.
The Vikings have a glaring issue at defensive end with Brian Robison being 32 and on the decline -four and a half sacks in 2014-. Shawn Oakman has an excellent motor, a physical player but needs to work on his hands. Oakman could make a huge difference in Minnesota.
I am a fan of Josh McCown, I am also someone who likes to give quarterbacks coming off injuries or years where they have been banged up a pass on a season where that occurs. That said, McCown is thirty-five years old and is probably through in a couple years. In that vain, Johnny Manziel has the mentality of a teenager and after a long stint in rehab for an unspecified issue, is still trying to recover his career. Manziel is still worlds behind McCown, a career backup and will miss the remainder of the pre-season due to elbow soreness.
The Browns seem to be interested in the Michigan State star, even going as far as visiting his old high school coach. Conner Cook is a player who could go in the top ten, do drop to the bottom of the first round. Cook is an excellent leader, has good accuracy and arm strength, and good mechanics. Like his predecessor, Kirk Cousins, Cook's greatest strengths are his leadership and intelligence. Cook does everything well but has yet to have a breakout season. If he can put together that type of season he could vault himself into the top spot in the 2016 class.
Previous Selection: Cardale Jones, Quarterback
The Dolphins lost quite a bit at receiver and while they gained Devante Parker in the draft and Greg Jennings the team still needs help. Jennings will turn thirty-two years old right after the start of the regular season, and thirty-three at the start of the 2016 season. Add to that, that Jennings hasn't had a one thousand yard receiving season since 2010. Pairing Boyd, who many see as a poor man's Larry Fitzgerald, with Parker could be a huge deal given Ryan Tannehill's big arm and how effective the Miami defense has potential to be.
The Rams completely bombed the 2015 draft, reaching for players they didn't have to reach for, rounds early in some cases. Other than a few players the Rams draft needs don't change -with the exception of quarterback Nick Foles-. Speaking of Foles, this is a make or break year for two of his receivers, Brian Quick, and Tavon Austin.
Treadwell is a huge bodied receiver -6'2, 229- with great hands and length. His athletic ability is also outstanding with excellent leaping ability. Treadwell is however, a bit raw. His route running needs work as does his ability to separate using his hands. I believe that Treadwell has the potential to be a star.
The Broncos are hurting all over the roster, but with the loss of Terrance Knighton a hole opens in the middle of the defense. This pick came down to raw talent and Sutton had more of it. Sutton is a good player who plays the run and pass equally well. Sutton also has the anticipation and hips to play safety, nickle, dime, and outside. While not excelling in any one area, Sutton can do it all very well. Cameron Sutton has five interceptions in the past two years, he has ample size -6'1-, 189- athletic ability, and ball skills -twenty pass break-ups and five interceptions in two seasons- to make a dynamic player.
The Arizona receiving core is on the brink of an overhaul. While John Brown has a lot of potential as a deep threat and Michael Floyd is proving he can be a star, nobody else can be counted on as a long term answer. Larry Fitzgerald is thirty-two years old and in the twilight of his career, I wouldn't count on him much longer. Marquez North has great speed, good hands, and has the size that if paired with Floyd could create matchup nightmares for opponents.
Right now the Ravens are relying on age and age alone to get a pass rush as Elvis Dumerville -31 and Terrell Suggs -32 are getting a little bit old for their age. While still productive at the moment, that won't last forever. Calhoun is a good pass rusher that uses his hands well and has a strong motor. Calhoun excelled off the edge standing up on the rare occasions when Michigan State used the 34 Under/Over and could do the same in Baltimore.
Jason Pierre-Paul blew off his finger in a fireworks accident but will be back in six weeks after his amputation. Nobody knows at this point how bad the situation is. In case Paul never recovers fully, the Giants will need his replacement. Emmanuel Ogbah is a redshirt sophomore who had eleven sacks and three passes deflected in 2014.
New Orleans Saints: Kris Frost, Inside Linebacker, Auburn
New Orleans is officially in rebuilding mode. While they did a good job in the 2015 draft, they need to do more in the 2016 edition to be competitive again. The Saints continue to hurt against the run and while drafting Stephone Anthony at number thirty-one will help, it won't plug the hole. Kris Frost has the size -6'2, 240-, tackling ability, and speed to get to the ball carrier from anywhere on the field. If he can improve his hip flexibility he could be a force to be reckoned with.
The Bengals top two cornerbacks are over thirty years old -Leon Hall -30- and Adam Jones (31)- while the forth -Dre Kirkpatrick- has under-performed. While Kirkpatrick still has the ball skills -three interceptions in 2014- and youth to turn into a prime player, the rest of the group is thin as Darqueze Dennard is currently fifth on the depth chart.
This is almost a value pick for the Bengals as Hargreaves falls due to lack of fundamentals. Hargreaves is an athletic marvel but got torched by Amari Cooper for over two hundred yards and three touchdowns in 2014. Hargreaves has to prove he can cover elite players because he will be facing players like Cooper every day in the NFL. Pairing Hargreaves with Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick could be what all three players need to break out.
James Ihedigbo has had two excellent seasons, but he will be thirty-three by the middle of the 2016 draft. As a career backup, Ihedigbo may have a couple more seasons in him, but by age thirty-four, or thirty five, at latest, he will be done. Karl Joseph is a great run support safety, and a great athlete. Joseph needs to improve his anticipation but has the athletic ability to make up for some of that.
The Charger have an abundance of 34 defensive ends that include rising star Corey Liuget. The problem is everywhere else. The Chargers were 26th in run defense in 2014, giving up 124 yards per game, 4.5 yards per rush, and eleven rushing touchdowns. The Chargers have to get better up front to advance in the playoffs.
A'Shawn Robinson is an athletic powerhouse in the middle of a defense. Robinson can stuff the middle by taking up blockers and penetrating deep. Playing for Nick Saban's varied 34 defense also ensures a short learning curve. Robinson's presence would instantly improve the run defense.
The Cowboys are loaded both offensively and defensively, but that doesn't mean they can't upgrade. Antwaun Woods has potential to be a great player in the Dallas 34. He would be joining a strong rotation including Henry Melton, Nick Hayden, and Tyrone Crawford. Adding Woods in with those three could make a good defensive rotation into a great one.
The Steelers don't have many holes with the exceptions of the defensive backfield and tight end -Heath Miller is about to turn 33-. With no strong tight end to add the best available option is a ball hawking cornerback. Zack Sanchez had thirteen breakups as a freshman and six interceptions with eight breakups this past season. Sanchez would be a great addition to a team nearing the end of its run, to make a potential run at another ring.
The Seahawks lost Max Unger in the trade that brought them Jimmy Graham. That loss in the interior of the offensive line will be felt this season, but if the Seahawks can nab Mike Matthews, the situation will be resolved. Mike reminds me so much of Bruce Matthews -Position, face, body build, etc- I nearly put Bruce Matthews in the text box on instinct. Mike makes all the line calls at Texas A&M, he is a great pass protector, and athletic in run support.
For years the Patriots have been loaded with talent and been able to make luxury selections in the first round. If the Colts are not already at that point, they will be by next year. Frank Gore may have two years left in the tank after a prolific career in San Francisco, creating a talent gap. DeVontae Booker is a speedy, back, with great hands and powerful legs. If he can learn to hold the ball high and tight he could become a very productive player in Indianapolis for a long time.
The Packers are going to be working with a patchwork interior linebacking core this year as they let go of their starters Brad Jones and A.J Hawk without replacements. This is a huge issue and has to be addressed soon. The Packers may try rookie Jake Ryan at the spot, but that doesn't guarantee success. Reggie Ragland is a beast against the run -95 tackles his junior -season, and good against the pass -3 pass deflections and an interception -. Ragland would fit perfectly in Green Bay.