NFL Mock Draft season is rapidly approaching, and ESPN's Todd McShay gets an early start on the fun with his first 2016 NFL Mock Draft. As McShay points out, "a lot will change between now and April 28, including the draft order, team needs and the grades of many of our top prospects, as we continue our tape evaluations and dig deeper into intangibles and medical." McShay also uses underclassmen in this projection, some of whom may decide to stay in school another year.
That all said, taking a look at a mock draft is always fun, so it is time to dive into the first effort from McShay.
With the first overall pick, McShay sees the Tennessee Titans picking Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. The Cleveland Browns then end the Johnny Manziel experiment with the selection of Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch with the second pick, followed by the San Diego Chargers selection of Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and the Baltimore Ravens' selection of Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey. The San Francisco 49ers finish the first five selection with a pick of California quarterback Jared Goff.
Jumping to the Miami Dolphins' pick, with McShay listing them with the eighth overall pick, the team looks to continue to shore up the offensive line, one of their biggest needs. The team picks Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, about which McShay explains:
Stanley needs to improve his overall strength, but he has the ideal frame, length and athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL. He moves naturally and is comfortable in space. Stanley definitely benefitted from staying another year in school, as he has been more consistent with his balance and hand placement this season.
I do not think it is a horrible pick for the Dolphins, giving them a left tackle of the future behind Branden Albert, but it seems like the team suddenly becomes stacked with talent at tackle, while the guard positions remain unfilled. Albert is getting back into form after a devastating knee injury last year, and should still be playing at a high level come the 2016 season. Right tackle Ja'Wuan James has missed the last several games due to a toe injury, but should return before the end of the season and will be healthy come next year. Would Miami kick James or Stanley inside to guard? In that case, maybe it does make a little more sense. It also gives the team the ability to deal with an injury without Jason Fox having to hold his way through another game.
Miami enters the offseason with a lot of question marks and needs. The first domino to fall will be the hiring of a new head coach and the establishment of the offensive and defensive systems for the team. After that, free agency will help fill some of the needs, though it could open up some other holes if the team is unable to retain players like Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon, and Rishard Matthews. The Draft will be the third major event for Miami this offseason, where they will be able to find young talent to build the roster.
Needs for the team will include the offensive line, defensive end (especially if Vernon leaves), linebackers, cornerbacks, and safety. The team also has to decide what to do with Dion Jordan, who will come back to the team at some point this offseason, once he is re-instated by the league.
Again, Stanley is not a bad pick for a team with all sorts of needs, including protecting Ryan Tannehill for once, but it may not be the best pick. What do you think of McShay's way early projection? Where would you look with the first pick for Miami?