2016 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Round 1
21.) Washington Redskins – NT Andrew Billings, Baylor (6’1 | 311 | 5.00)
The Skins got decent production from NT Terrance Knighton, but not enough that they wanted to spend the $3-$4M it would have cost to re-sign him, which leaves them with a hole in the middle of their defensive line. Billings is a freak athlete for his size and was a top five run defender in CFB last season (PFF). He also has ridiculous stamina for his size, playing the fifth most snaps off all 3-4 nose tackles last season. That’s pretty much the opposite of “Pot-Roast” Knighton who seemed to need a rest after every few snaps.
Billings has the ability to be a consistent anchor on a d-line with talented DEs like ex-Bear Stephen Paea, Kendell Reyes, and Chris Baker on either side of him. Billings bursts low off the line, driving back interior linemen into the pocket and even has enough strength to bull-rush double-teams and collapse interior pockets.
Billings is a bit of a one-trick pony in that he can collapse pockets against multiple blockers, but struggles to disengage to stop the run. He’s basically a bull-rusher who fires off low enough to drive blockers into the backfield disrupting plays. If a QB steps up in the pocket, Billings can get to him but his short arms keep him from separating to do much else. There are still very few players who can consistently generate the interior push that Billings can provide and whether he makes the tackle or not, it’s still a very disruptive trait and worth a first round selection.
22.) Houston Texans – WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (6’2 | 221 | 4.64)
The Texans have a Pro Bowl receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and added some new weapons in QB Brock Osweiler and RB Lamar Miller, but have very little talent at receiver outside of Hopkins. Adding a legitimate top-15 talent like Treadwell to the Texans receiving core all of a sudden gives them one of the most talented offenses in the weak AFC South division.
Before a gruesome broken leg at the end of the 2014 college football season, Treadwell was projected to be a sure thing top 10 pick. After a grueling rehab process Treadwell was able to re-establish himself as a top college receiver. He’s not as elusive as he was pre-injury but transformed himself into a possession receiver who uses his size to shield defenders, make tough catches, and became a red zone weapon. Treadwell has an Alshon Jeffery ceiling which would make a dangerous combo with an explosive option on the other side of the field in Hopkins.
23.) Minnesota Vikings – WR Josh Doctson, TCU (6’3 | 203 | 4.43)
There might not be a better pairing of QB and receiver than Teddy Bridgewater and Josh Doctson. Bridgewater is an accurate thrower who leads receivers well and has a veterans’s poise in the pocket, but does not throw the deep ball well. He had success last year leading shifty slot receiver Stefon Diggs on short routes and giving him room to maneuver after the catch but couldn’t connect with deep threat Mike Wallace all season.
Bridgewater just didn’t have the arm to take advantage of Wallace’s speed and Wallace doesn’t adjust well enough to under-thrown balls to make plays. Wallace has an awful fit and is gone now, but the Vikings need at least someone who can stretch the field and keep defenses from loading up the box against Adrian Peterson. That’s where Doctson comes in.
In the 4+ years that I’ve been analyzing film in depth, I’m not sure I’ve seen a player better at adjusting to poorly thrown deep balls and high-pointing them as consistently as Doctson. He has the size and speed to be a legitimate deep threat for any QB, but his ability to come back to the ball and catch it at it’s highest point is an ideal trait for Bridgewater’s sub-par deep throws. The combination of AP’s dominant running ability, the explosive Diggs over the middle and Doctson’s ability to get deep outside the hashes, could transform Minnesota’s mediocre offense into one of the better attacks in the NFC. As a Bears fan I hope it doesn’t happen.
24.) Cincinnati Bengals – WR Corey Coleman, Baylor (5’11 | 194 | 4.40)
The Bengals lost their 2nd & 3rd receivers in the off-season (Marvin Jones & Mohammad Sano) so need to add another weapon across from A.J. Green. Corey Coleman might be the most explosive receiver in the draft and will face a lot of 1-1 coverage with defenses focused on Green. Coleman should be able to beat most NFL corners in single coverage and the combination of Green, Efiert, Giovani Bernard, and Coleman could cause all sorts of problems for AFC defenses. They still have questionable QB Andy Dalton under center, but if Dalton plays well this offense could be tough to stop after adding the ultra-explosive Coleman to the mix.
25.) Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Eli Apple, Ohio St (6’1 | 199 | 4.34)
I have Apple ranked as the 2nd best corner in the draft, so the Steelers getting him at 25 is a steal. He’s got the size, speed, ball skills, and aggressiveness against the run to be a top ten pick and could fix a big problem for the Steelers right away. Pittsburgh will also get last year’s 2nd round pick Senquez Golson back from injury, who was my top rated slot corner last year. So the Steelers are basically adding two of my favorite corners from the last two drafts to a secondary that needs a lot of help.
Apple is one of the youngest players in the draft, has ideal length for a corner, is aggressive verse the run and plays the ball as well as any corner in this draft. Adding a ball-hawking slot corner in Golson to the mix and all of a sudden, the Steelers have turned a weakness into a potential strength. I would add one more corner in this draft just to be safe, but Apple and Golson is a good start to fixing a secondary that was a big problem last season.
Next: Picks 26-28