2016 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Round 1

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

26.) Seattle Seahawks – DE Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

Nkemdiche could go anywhere from the top five to the 2nd round due to some questionable off-field issues, but there are no questions about his talent. He could play both inside or out and has the physical talent to dominate at either. The Seahawks need some young depth on the d-line and Nkemdiche has the talent to be an effective starter right away if he can stay out of trouble off the field.

27.) Green Bay Packers – NT Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech

Coming off a dominant Senior Bowl performance Butler has moved into the back half of the first round. At 6’4, 323 pounds with a surprising burst of the line and long arms, Butler has the potential to be a huge upgrade over the BJ Raji / Leroy Guiton combo at nose tackle for the Packers and improve both their run defense and interior pressure. It may take a year or two for Butler to take over the starting gig, but he should be an effective, borderline dominant, rotational d-linemen from day 1.

28.) Kansas City Chiefs – DE Matthew Bullard, Florida 

With starting DEs Mike Devito and Jaye Howard pending free agents the Chiefs could use an influx of young, powerful talent on the edge and Bullard can provide that in spades. He’s never going to rack-up a ton of sacks, but the Chiefs don’t need that from their DEs. What Bullard can provide is a powerful bull-rush off the edge and and a force against the running game.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

29.) Arizona Cardinals – OLB Leonard Floyd, Georgia

The Cards have been using retreads off the edge for the last few years and could use some young speed to rush the passer. Floyd has excellent length, a quick burst off the line and has shown the ability to beat tackles off the edge and get to the QB. Floyd has enough speed and athleticism to give the Cards the dangerous edge rusher they have been missing the last few seasons.

30.) Denver Broncos – OLB Darren Lee, Ohio St

The Broncos had the best defense in the league the last two seasons, but they have so many free agents that they are probably losing one of their Pro Bowl quality ILBs in either Danny Travathan or Brandon Marshall this off-season and will need a replacement for one of them. Lee is an elite athlete and has a higher ceiling than either player eventually. It won’t happen right away, but Lee has the size and athleticism (6’1 | 238 | 4.48) to contribute immediately and potentially be an upgrade over Travathan or Marshall.

31.) Carolina Panthers – OT  Jason Spriggs, Indiana

The Panthers came into the 2015 season with arguably the worst pair of offensive tackles in failed prospect Michael Oher and journeyman Mike Remmers. I wrote in my preseason preview that the Panthers had Cam Newton and that’s about it. They got excellent seasons from both Remmers and Oher, but can it last? There was a reason that Oher and Zemmers were extremely available coming into the season. The two of them made just a combined $2.5M guaranteed this season which is by far the lowest guaranteed payout for any starting tackle combo in the NFL.  While it worked well for the Panthers in 2015, it’s not a sustainable strategy.

The Panthers need some legitimate talent on the offense line and Spriggs had one of the best Senior Bowl performances of any offensive linemen and has the ability to become an above-average NFL left tackle. If Spriggs can emerge as a quality left tackle, it would allow Oher to move to the right side where his skill-set fits better and move Remmers to a swing tackle role.

¹ The order of the Broncos and Panthers picks could be swtiched depending on the outcome of next week’s Super Bowl

² Scouting reports on players are from a combination of watching games, individual player tape from Draftbreakdown, and various reports from CBS Sports, Walterfootball, NFL.com, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, and of course draft gurus Mel Kiper and Todd McShay.