The NFL Combine rumbles to life this coming week. Defensive players are going to headline the 2016 NFL Draft class, and quite possible own many of the top 15 overall picks. Based on what's happening right now in free agency as teams release high priced veterans, my top 15 Mock looks like this right now:
1\ Tennessee Titans: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
2\ Cleveland Browns: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota
3\ San Diego Chargers: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
4\ Dallas Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
5\ Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
6\ Baltimore Ravens: Laquan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
7\ San Francisco 49ers: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
8\ Miami Dolphins: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
9\ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
10\ New York Giants: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
11\ Chicago Bears: Mackensie Alexander, DB, Clemson
12\ New Orleans Saints: Shon Coleman, OT/OG, Auburn
13\ Philadelphia Eagles: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
14\ Oakland Raiders: Andrew Billings, NT/DT, Baylor
15\ Los Angeles Rams: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
... The Rams taking Noah Spence at #15 overall might be a stretch, but - with Chris Long being released - he makes sense. So would Reggie Ragland, a throw-back middle linebacker head coach Jeff Fisher may lean toward. The one thing about Spence that could remove him from the first round all together is his off field issues with drugs. He could follow in the path of 2015 NFL Draft day fall-er Randy Gregory, who went from a top 5 prospect to waiting until the second round to hear his name called...
The drug issues for players coming out of college - along with domestic abuse problems - is something the NFL needs to take a hard look at as it wrestles with its public image. Awarding a young player with millions of dollars - because his college team has booted him in many cases - is flat out counter productive for the player and the NFL. Why not impose a year ban on a college player entering the NFL Draft if he's run afoul of the law? Make him clean up his mess BEFORE entering the draft... Like Spence, players kicked off teams find their way to smaller NCAA programs. They take an opportunity - hopefully? - to straighten themselves out, but there's no guarantee they've done so outside the glare of top BCS programs.
Presented with a possible year of having an every day job to make ends meet - and the serious $$$ they lost for being an idiot - they may just get their acts together before heading to the NFL...
The NFL Combine in 2016 doesn't really get my blood racing. On the surface, this Draft Class looks rather mediocre. From top to bottom, I don't see many players I'd tout as "Day 1" starters in the NFL. The lone exception could be Ole Miss wide receiver Laquan Treadwell, who seems to have both the talent and polish to step in as a #2 at the very least? Laremy Tunsil has all the measurable-s, but we've seen virtually every offensive tackle taken in the top 5 of the past few NFL Drafts flounder at least a bit...
The biggest surprise - to me, anyway - is former USC tackle Matt Kalil, taken by the Minnesota Vikings with the 4th pick overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. He's being mentioned as a release candidate right now, and could hit free agency...
Have a great weekend, and make sure to stop by Turf Show Times during the NFL Combine. Our very own Joe McAtee will be "LIVE" at the Combine, and keeping you up to date, minute by minute... Follow him on Twitter to get all the breaking news: https://twitter.com/3k_