2016 NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Round 1

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /
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Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports /

6.) Baltimore Ravens: DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon (6’7 | 291 | 5.00)

It was an injury-ravaged season for the Ravens, but it seems almost unfair letting GM Ozzie Newsome pick this high in the draft. Traditionally Newsome has been one of the best drafters in the league and has his choice of multiple potential impact players this year. He’s stuck to the best player available mantra his whole career with the Ravens and it just so happens that this year the best player left on the board actually fills a significant need for the Ravens after the loss of starting DE Chris Canty.

A defensive line of Buckner, Timmy Jernigan, and Brandon Williams could be among the best in the league and improve an uncharacteristically mediocre run defense (13th in the league). The Ravens have more glaring issues elsewhere (secondary, wide receiver), but can address those later in the draft.

7. San Francisco 49ers:  QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis (6’7 | 244 | 4.81)

Chip Kelly is saying all the right things about resurrecting Blaine Gabbert’s career and fixing Colin Kaepernick’s issues, but Lynch is a much better fit for Kelly’s offensive scheme. He’s mobile, gets rid of the ball quickly, has experience running the read option that Kelly was so successful running with Mariota, and will have some time to develop before Kelly realizes that both Gabbert and Kaepernick still suck.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

8.) Cleveland Browns: LB Myles Jack, UCLA (6’1 | 245 | 4.56)

There have been conflicting reports on Jack’s knee but from everything I’m hearing is that he’s about 80% right now with plenty of time before the seasons starts. The Browns inside linebackers have been ineffective the last few seasons but with the free agent addition of Demario Davis and drafting Jack gives them two above-average ILBs, one who can stop the run between the hashes in Davis and one who can do everything in Jack. He can be a sideline-to-sideline run stopper, cover backs, tight ends, and slot receivers, and blitz effectively from anywhere on the field. Jack may be the best Browns running back from day one as well.

9.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Shaq Lawson, Clemson (6’3 | 269 | 4.62)

The Bucs have a good pass-rusher in DR Gerold McCoy and that about it. They did sign DE Robert Ayers this off-season, but last year was the first effective pass-rushing season of his career. They need help in a few other spots as well, but nothing as glaring as the need for a pass-rushing defensive end.

There were some questions about Lawson after a red-flag on his should at the combine, but it was cleared at his re-check last week. Lawson’s elite productivity last season (12.5 sacks, 24.5 TFLs), motor, and nasty on-field demeanor should get him drafted in the top ten and give the Bucs a weapon off the edge.

10) New York Giants – RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio St (6’0 | 225 | 4.45) 

The Giants could very well draft an offensive tackle for the third year in a row, since they still somehow can’t protect Eli Manning, but a running back who can make things happen without huge holes might be a better option. The Giants have a bunch of mediocre running backs and Elliott has the potential to be special. He’s also an accomplished pass blocker who would give the Giants a dangerous weapon as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. Right now the Giants have three backs with distinct roles, but Elliott may be better than all of them at their respective roles. I think the Giants will address the O-line early in the draft, but Elliott is too special of a prospect to pass up.

Next: Picks 11-15