The 2016 NFL Draft board is starting to take form. As players decide whether to stay in school or make the jump to the NFL, teams and draft analysts start to set their big board.
This big board does not reflect where a player might be drafted, but rather where he stacks up compared to the rest of the 2016 NFL Draft class. Starting with the top-50 players, let’s take a look at how I view this class so far.
A mountain of a man, Tunsil checks off nearly every box for a future left tackle. He has the size, quickness off the snap and strength to be successful in the NFL. His strong punch and great balance only add to his attacking style. Any team in need of their franchise left tackle needs to look no further.
Bosa is an explosive EDGE athlete that has terrific strength. While he is not the “perfect” prospect that some once dubbed him to be, Bosa is NFL ready. He uses an explosive first step and great hand placement to get where he needs to go. He can create pressure on the quarterback with ease, collapse running lanes or hold the edge with ease.
Another huge tackle prospect that has a big future in the NFL. His athletic frame and good strength allow him to lock defenders whether they try to use a power or a speed rush. He mirrors extremely well and has great hand placement. He struggles to set his anchor at times, but is more often dominant coming off the ball. His ability screams top-10 pick.
Buckner is a 6-7 monster who carries his 290 pounds extremely well. He is quicker and more agile than one would expect, allowing him to have the versatility to play nearly anywhere on the defensive line. He is strong enough to push interior linemen and quick enough to beat tackles. He is best fit for a 3-4 system, but Buckner is a complete prospect.
Despite having a knee injury end his season early in the year, Jack is still one of the best players on the board. He is not the ideal size for a linebacker, but his pure athleticism is off the charts – making him an intriguing prospect. He is strong in pass coverage, having even played some corner, but is stout and strong enough to be a very good run defender. Jack’s combination of speed, athleticism and football IQ make him a likely top-10 pick.
Lawson is a relentless defender with a stout build and great hands. He shows good lateral agility and good lower body flexibility, allowing him to prevent opponents from getting to the edge. His stack and shed ability combined with his pass rushing ability will impress teams in need of an edge defender.
2016 is not the year of the quarterback, but Goff has the upside to be a good NFL quarterback. He displays good arm strength and field vision – proving many times that he is not afraid to zip the ball into a tight window. He will need some seasoning in the NFL, but has a very high upside.
Ramsey is a fluid athlete that could be set for a move to safety in the NFL. He has good change of direction skills, flexible hips and ankles and good closing speed. He uses all this to react to passes and use his ball skills to make big plays. He also is good in run support – combine this with his frame and he is an ideal NFL safety in today’s game.
Speed, size, strong hands, toughness – Treadwell checks off all the boxes a NFL receiver needs. Treadwell is not going to amaze teams with sprinter speed, but uses long strides to get by defenders. His footwork was improved in 2015, but continued growth will help him become a more polished route runner in the NFL. He is also the type of player that shines when the lights are brightest, and should easily transition to being a number one receiver.
Smith suffered a major knee injury during his final game at Notre Dame. While he will likely fall due to medical concerns, his skill on the field is undeniable. Getting more information about his recovery time and process could move him, but he is staying put for now.
Hargreaves is not a big cornerback, but his combination of physicality, agility and recognition make him one of the top players available in the draft. He can play in any coverage scheme while providing terrific run support. He can be over-aggressive at times, but his ability to make plays on the ball outweighs that concern.
While Lynch is not a finished product, he is near the best this quarterback class has to offer. He has the ideal build for the position and the arm strength and touch to make every NFL throw. He excels in short and intermediate passes, but can get a little inconsistent with deeper passes. Seeing how he develops against elite competition will go a long way into determining his career path.
Elliot has a great combination of size, quick feet and power that will translate extremely well to the NFL. He uses great balance and burst to explode into the hole where he drives for every yard. Elliot is great at following his blocks, setting himself up for more yardage. His hands can be inconsistent, but have a good base to build on. He does need to work on his blocking as he tends to drop his head and go for kill shots over setting a consistent block with a good base.
Alexander could be the most confident player in the draft. He has tremendous man coverage skills, and make sure it is known on the field. He has a stout build, but fluid hips and great feet. He gives relentless effort and is very strong for someone his size.
Like other Alabama inside linebackers before him, Ragland has terrific instincts and a great first step. He reads plays with ease and gets downhill quickly. He wraps up well and rarely misses the tackle. While he does not have the best range, Ragland can get to the plays he needs to and prevent big running plays. A sure-fire starter from day one.
Nkemdiche is an athletic freak that can be a disruptive force from nearly anywhere on the line. He has a quick first step and good hip flexibility. He will likely fall, however, after off-field issues raised some major concerns during the offseason. The question teams need to answer is if the risk is worth the potential reward.
Reed is a massive defensive lineman who is extremely hard to move at the point of attack. He absorbs blockers to free up the linebackers to make plays. He is also a relentless player who looks to inflict damage on every play – whether on the ball carrier or an opposing lineman.
Bullard is a versatile, strong player that is extremely quick off the ball. He can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3 and create disruption with an explosive first step. He knows when to get his hands up to disrupt passing lanes and extends his arms well to create separation and find the ball. While some might be lower on Bullard, he will likely move up boards as the process continues.
Ogbah looks the part of an EDGE player in the NFL. Long arms, strong frame and good speed, he has many of the tools needed to become an impact pass rusher. He is extremely physical when going forward, but also appears to be fine dropping back into coverage. He still has room to grow his game, but has a very solid base for a NFL team.
Another strong player in the middle of the Alabama defense, Robinson has great size and good strength. He does not explode off the ball, but still finds a way to get himself into the play. HE does a good job absorbing blocks and shedding them. He might need to work on his strength to be successful in the NFL, but is a very solid player.
Clark has great strength on the line and moves opposing linemen with ease. He plays with great leverage and rolls his hips to get opponents on their heels. He anchors the middle of the line – eating up double teams and holding his ground. He is not the most explosive player and his feet can get slow as he gets late in games. Overall a great player to use in a defensive line rotation with starter potential in the near future.
Decker looks the part of a NFL left tackle. Tall, log arms and an even weight distribution. He uses his long arms and a strong punch to stone rushers and lock on. He does often come out of his stance high, or stands up too high and allows rushers to get into his pads. This is correctable, but could hurt his stock.
One of the more underrated players in the entire draft class, Spence is a fluid athlete that will press the edge in the NFL. He has an explosive first step, allowing him to gain the edge on a consistent basis. He does have a long list of red flags due to drug use, but reports have multiple people speaking highly of his character. He is an interesting prospect that teams will have to weigh risk versus reward on, but he could be an impact player very early in his career.
Floyd is absolutely relentless on the field. While he does not have the ideal frame, he does use good functional strength and heavy hands to get around blockers. The question on Floyd is if he was a scheme player, or an explosive edge rusher. He uses his hands well, but can be inconsistent with hand placement. He is a project, but has a high upside in the NFL.
Teams looking for a big outside receiver that is a true deep threat will be looking at Thomas. He is not the fastest receiver outside the numbers, but runs good routes and fights for the ball with strong, reliable hands. He has very good feet to help him get into his route, but is not the best athlete when trying to get back to the ball.