Danny Shimon
NFP Fresh Voices


With the 2016 NFL draft less than 24 hours away here is my take on how the first two-rounds of the draft might play out.

1. LA Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California

Rams make the big splash and trade up to the top spot to select local boy Jared Goff and make him the face of the franchise.

2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, NDSU

Eagles take my top rated quarterback in Wentz. Even with the limited amount of starts at NDSU, Wentz played in a Pro-Style system and is the most ready to play signal caller between he and Goff.

3. San Diego Chargers: DeForest Buckner, DT, Oregon

Rumored to be taking an offensive tackle to protect Phillip Rivers, the Chargers decide to go defense and take Oregon’s Buckner. Where he will be a building block along the Chargers defensive front.

4. Dallas Cowboys: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State

The need pick here would have been Bosa, but the Cowboys go with the top defensive back in the draft in Ramsey, who when paired with last year’s first rounder Byron Jones, gives Dallas two very versatile and athletic back-half defenders.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

If Myles Jack’s knee was 100% healthy he would be the pick here, but Gus Bradley and GM David Caldwell can’t afford to have their last two top picks both be entering 2016 coming off major need surgeries. So they “settle” for Bosa who could be one of the draft’s better pass rushers.

6. Baltimore Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens have the top offensive lineman fall down to them filling a major need. They wanted a pass rusher but with Bosa and Buckner gone they opt to protect Joe Flacco’s blindside.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

The draft’s first “Wow” moment comes here when Chip Kelly picks his quarterback in Paxton Lynch. This selection should be followed shortly by a trade of Colin Kaepernick to another team. Lynch has length, arm strength, and mobility to go along with good accuracy downfield. He will need some time to adjust and might not play right away, but he will be a very good NFL quarterback.

8. Miami Dolphins(via Trade With Cleveland): Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

The Dolphins will trade back-up into the spot they had previously held and shipped off to the Eagles as a part of the Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso trade to select Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. The former Buckeye will fill a major need for Miami and also help alleviate some of the offensive burden off the shoulders of Ryan Tannehill.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

Tampa Bay selects the local kid Hargreaves to help improve a secondary that allowed 31 passing touchdowns last season. There are some rumblings that the Bucs might go with Sheldon Rankins at this spot, to help improve their interior pass rush so this pick might still in flux.

10. New York Giants: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

The Giants stop the Myles Jack fall and select the UCLA linebacker. Jack is one of the most talented defensive playmakers in this draft and if it was not for the uncertainty surrounding the knee he would not have been available for New York. Meantime the Giants are ecstatic to get Jack and add him to a defense that, if you factor in their free agent acquisitions, should be an improved unit next season.

11. Chicago Bears: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

With their free agent acquisitions, that helped fill holes on both offense and defense, the Bears have the luxury of picking the best available player at this spot, and that happens to be Stanley. The former Golden Domer will come in and compete right away with last year’s starter Charles Leno for the starting left tackle position.

12. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

Saints look to improve their interior pass rush by selecting Rankins, who down at the Senior Bowl practices was unblock able in one-on-one pass protection drills. Rankins interior push should complement the outside rush provided by Cameron Jordan.

13. Cleveland Browns(via Trade with Miami): Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

Rumors are that the Browns might still look to move down from this spot to try and collect more picks, but if they stay here they select Conklin out of Michigan State to play right tackle and fill the void left by Mitchell Schwartz departure to Kansas City.

14. Oakland Raiders: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss

GM Reggie McKenzie gambles here on talent and goes with Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche who, if he can eliminate his off-field distractions, can be one of the most talented defensive line prospects in this draft. The Raiders will rely heavily on Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr, and Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, to motivate and bring out the best in Nkemdiche.

15. Tennessee Titans: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

The Titans were expected to go offensive lineman here, but instead go with the best player available and give defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau another weapon on defense with Floyd. Floyd can lineup at linebacker or defensive end, and will add speed and quickness to the Titans defensive front.

16. Detroit Lions: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

Detroit fills a major need at right tackle with the selection of Decker, who should start right away. The Lions had journeyman Michael Ola start seven games at right tackle last season.

17. Atlanta Falcons: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State

One of the fastest linebackers in Darron Lee goes to the Falcons whose head coach emphasizes speed, speed, and more speed on defense. Seems like a perfect fit for me.

18. Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama

Alabama center Ryan Kelly is one of the best interior lineman in this draft, and he will help try solidify a unit that almost got Andrew Luck killed last season.

19. Buffalo Bills: Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama

Buffalo finds a running mate for underrated inside linebacker Preston Brown, while Rex Ryan also gains a defensive leader and future defensive captain in Ragland. Having been coached by Nick Saban at Alabama Ragland comes to the NFL well-prepared and should make an immediate contribution.

20. New York Jets: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

Another “Wow” moment happens here when the Jets go with TCU receiver Josh Doctson. With starters Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker having good seasons last year, the Jets look to add some depth and talent behind them. Doctson increased his stock immensely at the scouting combine where he displayed better speed than anticipated and some terrific lower body explosiveness.

21. Washington Redskins: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

The Redskins add a talented run defender in Reed who, just like Ragland, comes well-coached and prepared for the NFL by Alabama’s Nick Saban.

22. Houston Texans: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

Houston continues adding to their offense this off season by selecting Baylor’s speedy playmaker Corey Coleman. Coleman will give the Texans offense the element of speed which will help draw some of the attention away from DeAndre Hopkins on the other side.

23. Minnesota Vikings: LaQuon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

Minnesota gets lucky and has what many might consider the best receiver in the draft drop right to them. Treadwell will help balance out the Vikings offensive attack by supplying size on the outside and in the red zone. He will be a good compliment for the quicker and shiftier Stefon Diggs on the opposite side of the formation.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

Seeing a run on receivers happen right before their pick, Cincinnati goes on the defensive and selects the third Crimson Tide defensive player in this first round in Robinson. Robinson, who looks like he is 40 years old, is just 21 years old and at the moment is a better run defender than pass rusher. With the Bengals he will have a chance to back-up and learn from one of the best defensive tackles in football in Geno Atkins, who can help Robinson improve as a pass rusher.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

Rumors are that head coach Mike Tomlin loves Joseph and has banged the table for him in predraft meetings. As long as the knee checks out medically, the Steelers will have selected one of the most underrated players in the draft.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

Big, long corner who can play zone or man-to-man and likes to get his hands on a receiver, Eli Apple sounds tailor made to be a Seattle Seahawk and the newest member of the Legion-of-Boom.

27. Green Bay Packer: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

Packers look to fill the void left by BJ Raji’s retirement with Vernon Butler. Butler has the size, strength, arm length, and power coupled with quickness not usually seen with players his size to play any position along the defensive line.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: William Jackson III, CB, Houston

Losing Sean Smith to the Raiders forces the Chiefs to go cornerback in the first round for the second year in a row. Jackson is a press corner, who needs to add strength, but has shown to have good ball skills.

29. Arizona Cardinals: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

Having added Chandler Jones in a trade earlier this off season pass rusher was not a dire need, but in this case Lawson was too good to pass up. Lawson is the type of physical defender that GM Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians love having on their defense.

30. Carolina Panthers: Artie Burns, CB, Miami

Losing Josh Norman, coupled with the possible retirement of Charles Tillman made cornerback a vital position of need for Carolina. Burns has good size with long arms and is comfortable in either press or zone coverage.

31. Denver Broncos: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M

The defending Super Bowl Champions look to add to their offensive line with A&M’s Ifedi. He is a massive, well-built thick bodied offensive right tackle who eventually might be moved inside to guard. Ifedi would be able to backup two positions along the offensive line, or possibly start inside for Denver as a rookie.

Second Round

1. Cleveland Browns: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
2. Tennessee Titans: Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech
3. Dallas Cowboys: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
4. San Diego Chargers: Noah Spence, Edge, Eastern Kentucky
5. Baltimore Ravens: Emmanuel Ogbah, Edge, Oklahoma State
6. San Francisco 49ers: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mackenzie Alexander, CB, Clemson
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
9. New York Giants: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
10. Chicago Bears: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
11. Miami Dolphins: Keanu Neal, S, Florida
12. Tennessee Titans: TJ Green, DB, Clemson
13. Oakland Raiders: Su’a Cravens, S, USC
14. Tennessee Titans: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
15. Detroit Lions: Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
16. New Orleans Saints: Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State
17. Indianapolis Colts: Jihad Ward, DE, Illinois
18. Buffalo Bills: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
19. Atlanta Falcons: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
20. New York Jets: Kamalei Correa, OLB, Boise State
21. Houston Texans: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
22. Washington Redskins: Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
23. Minnesota Vikings: Deion Jones, LB, LSU
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State
25. Seattle Seahawks: Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
26. Green Bay Packer: Nick Martin, OG/C, Notre Dame
27. Pittsburgh Steelers: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
28. Kansas City Chiefs: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
29. New England Patriots: Devontae Booker, RB, Utah
30. New England Patriots: Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers
31. Carolina Panthers: Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State
32. Denver Broncos: Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU

Danny Shimon is a graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. 

Follow Danny on Twitter @dshimon56
































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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


When I did my first “final” mock draft yesterday, I inadvertently left out Paxton Lynch, so here we go again. Obviously with the Lynch addition, there are some changes from yesterday. For the record, I expect at least two more trades within the top 10.

Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff – QB – California – Personally, I like Wentz better but I’m hearing that Goff is the Rams guy.

Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota St – I think that the Eagles wanted Wentz all along as he has the best upside of the two quarterbacks.

San Diego Chargers – Laremy Tunsil – OT – Mississippi – This could very well be a defensive pick but for now the Chargers get a player who can help keep Philip Rivers on his feet.

Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa – DE – Ohio State – A week ago I would have gone with Myles Jack, but with both Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence getting suspended, the Cowboys don’t have a pass rusher.

Jacksonville Jaquars – Jaylon Ramsey – DC – Florida State – David Caldwell adds another strong player to the defensive side of the ball.

Baltimore Ravens – Ron Stanley – OT – Notre Dame – The selection not only fills a need, but gives the Ravens the best player available.

San Francisco 49ers – Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis – With the 49ers saying that there is a good chance Kaepernick gets traded this weekend, they have a huge need for a quarterback. Lynch may be Kelly’s type because of his great athleticism and passing skills. He played in an Oregon type offense at Memphis.

Cleveland Browns – Ezekiel Elliott – RB – Ohio State – I think Elliott goes in this slot but it may not be to the Browns.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vernon Hargreaves III – DC – Florida – Hargreaves is from the Tampa area so this will be a very popular selection in the Tampa Bay area. And by the way, it also fills an important need.

New York Giants – DeForest Buckner – DT – Oregon – The Giants took care of defense in free agency and may go offensive tackle here but Buckner is too good to pass on.

Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson– OLB – Clemson – A strong edge pass rusher that the Bears need. A big 5-technique could also be in play here.

New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Rankins – DT- Louisville – Rankins gives the Saints a versatile defensive lineman who can be an explosive inside pass rusher.

Miami Dolphins – Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama – I know, this is a surprise but The Dolphins need a RB and I’m a big fan of Henry’s

Oakland Raiders – Reggie Ragland – ILB – Alabama – Personally I feel this is too high for Ragland, but the Raiders are said to be enthralled with his traits.

Tennessee Titans – Jack Conklin – OT – Michigan State – The Titans would have selected a tackle had they stayed at one, Conklin is the best one available, though he probably goes higher.

Detroit Lions – Leonard Floyd – LB – Georgia – Floyd gives the Lions and combo OLB/Edge pass rusher. The Lions could go for a pure DE here also.

Atlanta Falcons – Myles Jack – LB – UCLA – Who knows how far Jack will fall, my guess is here.

Indianapolis Colts – Eli Apple – DC – Ohio State – The Colts would prefer an O-Linemen, but the top ones are gone. Apple gives them a tall, long corner who matches up well against the taller receivers in the league.

Buffalo Bills – Kevin Dodd – DE – Clemson – With Mario Williams gone, the Bills have a strong need for an edge rusher. Dodd gives them an excellent replacement.

New York Jets – William Jackson III – DC – Houston – The Jets would prefer a quarterback, but there is not one worth taking at this time.

Washington Redskins – A’Shawn Robinson – DT – Alabama – Robinson has the versatility to play the 5-tech or on the nose.

Houston Texans – Corey Coleman – WR – Baylor – Coming from the Baylor offense, Coleman isn’t the most polished receiver, but he has by far the most talent.

Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson – WR – TCU – Docson is the most ready to play receiver in this draft class. He can help the Vikings right away.

Cincinnati Bengals – Darron Lee – LB – Ohio State – The Bengals got rid of A.J. Hawk. Here is his replacement.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Mackenzie Alexander – DC – Clemson – The Steelers have don an inordinate amount of work on corners. Alexander is the best corner available.

Seattle Seahawks – Jarran Reed – DT – Alabama – Reed can play either tackle spot in the Seahawks defense.

Green Bay Packers – Emanuel Ogbah – DE – Oklahoma State – Ogbah can play OLB or at the 5-tech in the Green Bay defense. He is one of the better natural pass rushers in this draft.

Kansas City Chiefs – Artie Burns – DC – Miami – Burns replaces Sean Smith who was lost to the Raiders in free agency.

Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Kelly – OC – Alabama – Kelly is the highest rated interior offensive lineman in the draft. Can play center or guard and will start right away.

Carolina Panthers – Chris Jones – DT – Mississippi St. – Jones is young and raw, but has a lot of upside. Needs to play with a bit more consistency.

Denver Broncos – Connor Cook – QB – Denver doesn’t have a quarterback who is good enough to start in the NFL. Cook is by far the best quarterback left on the board and has starter traits.

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Greg Gabriel
The Director's Report


A month ago we never would have thought that QB’s would be the first two picks of the 2016 NFL Draft. After trades we all know that it’s now a lock.

Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff – QB – California – Personally, I like Wentz better but I’m hearing that Goff is the Rams guy

Philadelphia Eagles – Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota St – I think that the Eagles wanted Wentz all along as he is the best upside of the two quarterbacks.

San Diego Chargers – Leremy Tunsil – OT – Mississippi – This could very well be a defensive pick but for now the Chargers get a player who can help keep Philip Rivers on his feet.

Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa – DE – Ohio State – A week ago I would have gone with Myles Jack, but with both Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence getting suspended, the Cowboys don’t have a pass rusher.

Jacksonville Jaquars – Jaylon Ramsey – DC – Florida State – David Caldwell adds another strong player to the defensive side of the ball.

Baltimore Ravens – Ron Stanley – OT – Notre Dame – The selection not only fills a need, but gives the Ravens the best player available.

San Francisco 49ers – Myles Jack – LB – UCLA – If there wasn’t a question about Jacks knee, he may have gone a few slots higher.

Cleveland Browns – Ezekiel Elliott – RB – Ohio State – I think Elliott goes in this slot but it may not be to the Browns.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vernon Hargreaves III – DC – Florida – Hargreaves is from the Tampa area so this will be a very popular selection in the Tampa Bay area. And by the way, it also fills an important need.

New York Giants – DeForest Buckner – DT – Oregon – The Giants took care of defense in free agency and may go offensive tackle here but Buckner is too good to pass on.

Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson– OLB – Clemson – A strong edge pass rusher that the Bears need. A big 5-technique could also be in play here.

New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Rankins – DT- Louisville – Rankins gives the Saints a versatile defensive lineman who can be an explosive inside pass rusher.

Miami Dolphins – Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama – I know, this is a surprise but the Dolphins need a RB and I’m a big fan of Henry’s

Oakland Raiders – Reggie Ragland – ILB – Alabama – Personally I feel this is too high for Ragland, but the Raiders are said to be enthralled with his traits.

Tennessee Titans – Jack Conklin – OT – Michigan State – The Titans would have selected a tackle had they stayed at one, Conklin is the best one available, though he probably goes higher.

Detroit Lions – Leonard Floyd – LB – Georgia – Floyd gives the Lions and combo OLB/Edge pass rusher. The Lions could go for a pure DE here also.

Atlanta Falcons – Darron Lee – LB – Ohio State – Lee is in the mold of Myles Jack, an athletic versatile playmaker.

Indianapolis Colts – Eli Apple – DC – Ohio State – The Colts would prefer an O-Linemen, but the top ones are gone. Apple gives them a tall, long corner who matches up well against the taller receivers in the league.

Buffalo Bills – Kevin Dodd – DE – Clemson – With Mario Williams gone, the Bills have a strong need for an edge rusher. Dodd gives them an excellent replacement.

New York Jets – William Jackson III – DC – Houston – The Jets would prefer a quarterback, but there is not one worth taking at this time.

Washington Redskins – A’Shawn Robinson – DT – Alabama – Robinson has the versatility to play the 5-tech or on the nose.

Houston Texans – Corey Coleman – WR – Baylor – Coming from the Baylor offense, Coleman isn’t the most polished receiver, but he has by far the most talent.

Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson – WR – TCU – Docson is the most ready to play receiver in this draft class. He can help the Vikings right away.

Cincinnati Bengals – Jarran Reed – DT – Alabama – Reed will be an excellent complement to Geno Atkins in the Bengals front four.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Mackenzie Alexander – DC – Clemson – The Steelers have don an inordinate amount of work on corners. Alexander is the best corner available.

Seattle Seahawks – Chris Jones – DT – DT – Mississippi State – Jones is a bit raw, but has tremendous upside. The Seahawks can afford to wait on that talent.

Green Bay Packers – Emanuel Ogbah – DE – Oklahoma State – Ogbah can play OLB or at the 5-tech in the Green Bay defense. He is one of the better natural pass rushers in this draft.

Kansas City Chiefs – Artie Burns – DC – Miami – Burns replaces Sean Smith who was lost to the Raiders in free agency.

Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Kelly – OC – Alabama – Kelly is the highest rated interior offensive lineman in the draft. Can play center or guard and will start right away.

Carolina Panthers – Vernon Butler – DT – Louisiana Tech – The Panthers would love to take a corner here, but there are none rated high enough to take at this time.

Denver Broncos – Connor Cook – QB – Denver doesn’t have a quarterback who is good enough to start in the NFL. Cook is by far the best quarterback left on the board and has starter traits.

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Dr. David Chao
The Training Room


As draft day approaches, there is a plethora of information and mock drafts which are all affected by medical grades. I will take this opportunity to analyze the top medical issues for the 2016 draft. It is widely acknowledged that medical evaluations are an important factor in the decision making process.

All team physicians won’t agree on a player’s medical grade, just like scouts won’t necessarily agree on a player’s talent. Even though each team acts independently, a consensus on medical grade is typically reached. It is not uncommon for team medical staffs to trade information and consult with each other.

Below are my top medical issues for a few key NFL draftees. Using the format of last year’s top NFL draft medical issues column, the assessments are categorized into red, yellow and green light ratings. This is for simplicity as teams certainly utilize more sophisticated grading systems.

I have not examined any of the following players or seen their medical records. If I had, I would not be allowed to comment based on federal privacy laws (HIPAA). For these evaluations, I utilize public reports combined with my knowledge as a practicing orthopedic surgeon/sports medicine specialist, my almost two decades of experience as a head team physician and my insight from having attended 19 NFL Scouting Combines. Injured players also now commonly post video of workouts and I take that information into consideration as well. Like a traffic light, the ratings are subject to change as more facts become known with a physical examination.

RED Light issues:

Indicates a serious medical issue that should cause a team to stop and reassess. These players aren’t undraftable, but their draft position will likely be affected by the evaluation of team doctors. When a player is red flagged, it doesn’t mean he can’t play football. It just means there is an issue to cause a team to stop and pause. Usually a “red M” goes on the players draft board magnet as a reminder.  A general manager will have a long discussion with his medical staff prior to a final decision. They may need surgery, be recovering from surgery or have significant longevity issues. One or more teams will likely have taken these players off their draft boards due to medical risk while others will be willing to take a risk based on need or value.

Jaylon Smith, LB Notre Dame:

This is the tragedy of this draft. I worried about nerve injury as soon as I saw the unfortunate New Year’s Day injury. When I later saw video of Smith wearing the ankle foot orthosis (AFO) that indicated a peroneal nerve palsy existed, I predicted a “medical redshirt” year for 2016 and a tumble from top pick to a Day 3 late round flyer before his Combine medical exam. His injury is much more than an ACL tear. It also includes his lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and the posterolateral corner (PLC), which is confirmed for the first time by recent comments from his surgeon indicating “all the structures on the lateral side of his knee” were damaged. Even without the foot drop issue, this is a daunting recovery. To my knowledge, no NFL linebacker has ever played wearing an AFO. Is Smith talented enough to beat the odds and do so? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean he would still be the “generational” linebacker that he was projected to be. While it is possible the nerve could wake up, it would be beating the odds to think there would be 100% recovery. Smith has longer odds than Marcus Lattimore (not reported to have a nerve issue) who retired after two years of rehabilitation with the 49ers and never played a down. I give Smith a lot of credit for working hard and having a great attitude. The workout videos, while impressive, still show the affects of the foot drop on the left side. The use of the bungee cord dampens explosiveness and helps hide the nerve palsy, but it is still evident. I hope I am wrong and Smith beats the odds to return. He has an excellent surgeon who is optimistic of a full recovery. His doctor also happens to be the Cowboys head team physician. We will see if this gives Dallas enough confidence to select Smith before Day Three.

Myles Jack, LB University of California Los Angeles:

The worry here is not the meniscus but the articular cartilage. Putting together various reports, Jack has an osteochondral defect (osteochondritis dissecans-OCD) which involves a lack of blood to the underlying bone, thus putting the overlying cartilage at risk. This condition is congenital and not directly related to the meniscus issue. There is no question that Jack can play NFL football today. How long his knee will hold up is the question. If this piece breaks off, there is no simple surgical fix as there is a divot left in the bone surface. Results depend on the size and location of the OCD lesion. Ultimately, re-growing articular cartilage is the ‘holy grail” of orthopedics. All 32 NFL head team physicians will form their own opinions but any OCD lesion has to worry a team. Just like all scouts don’t universally agree on player evaluations, doctors each will have their own take on medical risk. Unlike Jaylon Smith, Myles Jack will still be drafted high but his knee will affect his draft stock.

Brad Sylve, CB Alabama:

Torn Achilles the day before his Pro Day and had repair surgery. Despite great speed, he still might not have been drafted pre-injury. However, now he is definitely a free agent. Sylve is unlikely to be ready for training camp, which is where he would get his reps to make a squad. He likely will have the equivalent of a medical redshirt year and try to catch on next season.

YELLOW Light issues:

Indicates a significant medical issue that needs to be taken into account. As the color indicates, a general manger needs to slow down and factor in his team’s medical assessment. As a reminder, typically a “yellow M” is placed on the players draft magnet. If two players are rated the same, it might be less risky to select the non-yellow light player.

Shaq Lawson, DE Clemson:

Was called back to medical rechecks for a shoulder issue. Lawson finally acknowledged his shoulder injury by saying it is now finally ready by sending video to all 32 teams this weekend. He claims he hurt it his freshman season where it “popped out”. Lawson played three years with a brace and claims there is no issue with it. When a shoulder dislocates and requires reduction, there is a very high chance of a labral tear. It is something he can play with in a brace. The NFL team that drafts him may have him undergo immediate surgery or choose to have him play with a brace and have surgery next offseason. I don’t believe this will completely deter suitors from drafting him but it does warrant a closer look and may affect his draft position.

Devontae Booker, RB Utah:

Suffered a torn meniscus and bone bruise. Booker said he was 70% at his Pro Day. The concern is the bone bruise as it would be unusual for the meniscus to still bother him at four plus months from surgery. Teams will have to take a closer look at the bone contusion issue before making a final decision on Booker.

Karl Joseph, Safety West Virginia:

Tore his ACL in October 2015. Seems on track for a good recovery but likely will not be ready to practice day one of training camp. Joseph may not return to full form until the middle of this coming season. Teams will have to consider his rehab progress before selecting him.

Laquon Treadwell, WR Ole Miss:

Fractured fibula and dislocated right ankle in 2014. The injuries are all healed now and he played well in 2015. Treadwell ran a somewhat slow 4.63 in the 40-yard dash which opened up questions on the ankle. It could be because he is a big physical receiver but teams will want to make sure it is not due to sequela of the ankle fracture/dislocation causing the loss of speed where perhaps there is early ankle degenerative changes.

GREEN Light issues:

Indicates a definite medical issue, but one that has healed or should have minimal long term effect. These player injuries have been evaluated by the medical staff and are a “go” as the color indicates. These players have known injuries that shouldn’t scare away a general manager.

Carson Wentz, QB North Dakota State University:

Missed second half of season with a right throwing wrist injury. By reports of the surrounding circumstances and his post-operative cast, he appears to have had a scaphoid fracture. Because it is his throwing hand, teams will have cause to take a good look. Scaphoid fractures can be problem fractures, but when diagnosed and treated quickly, they usually heal well. Assuming x-rays show the bone is healed, there should be little risk here.

Jared Goff, QB California:

Had right shoulder surgery after his freshman year. As a likely #1 pick and franchise QB, any throwing shoulder issue is always a potential concern. Goff played three more years after the surgery. The procedure was to fix a separated (not dislocated) shoulder. Technically, the procedure was to his AC joint and not his ball and socket true shoulder joint so there should be no worries here.

Scooby Wright, LB Arizona:

Had lateral meniscus tear and was scoped at the beginning of season and returned to play within a month. Subsequently suffered a foot sprain. His injury issues should be minimal at this point.

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Matt Pearce
NFP Fresh Voices


Every draft class has its strengths and weaknesses.

The biggest strength of the 2016 NFL Draft is clearly the defensive line, where an insane amount of talent is about to enter the NFL.

When evaluating draft prospects, I classify defenders by the following positions: defensive linemen, edge defenders, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties.

Defensive linemen is basically a combination of 4-3 defensive tackles and 3-4 defensive ends. So, if you are looking for a player like Joey Bosa, he won’t be in this article, as I have him as an edge defender.

With this in mind, here are my top 20 defensive linemen in the 2016 NFL Draft.

1. DeForest Buckner, Oregon

Buckner is the near unanimous choice as the best defensive lineman and that is for good reason. Returning for his senior season, the 6-foot-7, 291 pound lineman added another 10.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss to his impressive résumé. He plays just like you would expect a player his size to and is a better prospect than former Oregon teammate Arik Armstead who was drafted at No. 17 last year. Buckner is a better run defender than pass rusher right now. He is best fit as a 3-4 defensive end and is a lock to be selected in the top 10.

2. Chris Jones, Mississippi State 

While you may know Chris Jones from his unfortunate mishap while running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, he is a legitimate first round prospect. He recorded only 8.5 sacks in college, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. Watch his film and you see a defender that was constantly influencing the game. Mississippi State moved him all over their defense, playing end, tackle and even as a blitzing linebacker at times. He needs to become more consistent, but this is a player who fills every size requirement (6-foot-6, 310 pounds with long arms and big hands) while putting together impressive tape in the SEC. He is a top 15 player for me.

3. Sheldon Rankins, Louisville

After dominating at the Senior Bowl, Rankins firmly put himself into round one, and he’ll probably hear his name called in the top half of the round. If you are looking for a three-technique, then he is your guy. He has the quickness to shoot gaps and disrupt plays. Weighing in at 299 pounds and being only 6-foot-1, he isn’t going to be a fit for every defense. However, put him in a defense that let’s him attack upfield and everything will be fine. Productive interior pass rushers can be hard to find, which is why Rankins will go early in the draft.

4. Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

Since I don’t have access to specific information regarding off-the-field incidents and medicals, these rankings only take into account on-field talent, which is why Nkemdiche comes in at No. 4. The talented, but troubled, defender has been hyped as a future first round selection since committing to Ole Miss. An elite athlete with undeniable talent, he will put together stretches of quality, disruptive film and follow it with some not so good film. He is still a raw player and never fully put it together at Ole Miss. However, he has the traits that NFL teams are looking for on the defensive line. Questions about him off the field will cause him to fall.

5. Jarran Reed, Alabama

Alabama’s front seven was nearly impenetrable at times last year and one of the main reasons for that was the play of Reed. The 6-foot-3, 307 pound nose tackle dominates at the point of attack and can be nearly impossible to move. He is by far the best run-defending defensive lineman in the draft. While he is a dominant run defender, he doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher. Despite this lack of pass rush, Reed is still a first-round prospect because of his elite run-stuffing ability. Quality nose tackles have a huge impact on defenses and they usually aren’t asked to do much in terms of rushing the passer, so don’t worry too much about his pass rush.

6. Andrew Billings, Baylor

While Reed is the prototypical, run-stuffing nose tackle, Billings is the rare playmaker at the position. With a combination of power and speed that doesn’t come around very often––especially for players who are 311 pounds––he had 25.5 tackles for loss the past two seasons. There are times you see him running around the field and wonder how he is a nose tackle. Teammate Shawn Oakman received all of the hype entering the season, but there is not doubt that Billings is a better player and prospect by a significant margin.

7. Kenny Clark, UCLA

A prospect who I feel doesn’t get talked about enough on the defensive line is Clark. He is a strong run defender who holds his spot and occupies blockers. UCLA ranked 88th in the nation in run defense last season, but that wasn’t his fault. One player can only do so much. For example, he had strong showings against Arizona and Nebraska, but the two teams each ran for over 300 yards against the Bruins. As a pass rusher, Clark possesses a strong bull rush. Expect to see him come off the board in the early to middle part of the second round.

8. Jonathan Bullard, Florida 

Bullard is a player who can play multiple spots on the defensive line. He can line up at defensive tackle and end in a 4-3 defense and defensive end in a 3-4 defense. At the NFL Combine he said he is best fit as a three-technique. However, he would be undersized here at 285 pounds. A quick player off the line, he makes his biggest impact on opponent’s ground game. With his ability to penetrate gaps and disrupt plays, he would be best utilized in a one-gap scheme.

9. Austin Johnson, Penn State

I feel like Johnson is the forgotten defensive tackle in this draft class. Penn State had one of college football’s best defensive lines in 2015, and he was the glue that held it together. As the one-technique, he constantly took double teams that freed up Carl Nassib and Anthony Zettel. Johnson isn’t the type of player who will be making flashy plays all game, but he is a strong run defender who occupies blocks and doesn’t let offensive linemen move him around. With 6.5 sacks in 2015, don’t discount his pass rushing ability either. As a player who does the dirty work of a defense and is always hustling, Johnson is one of my favorite players in the draft.

10. A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

In general, Robinson is one of the more highly rated defenders in the draft. However, I have him at No. 10 in my defensive line rankings. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like him as a prospect. I actually like what he brings to the table as a run defender. The reason I have him at ten is because I don’t see much pass rush from him. He wasn’t a productive pass rusher at Alabama, and I’m not sure these traits will develop for him at the next level. As a 3-4 defensive end, you would like to have pass rush from him to select him in the first round. A 3-4 defensive end that doesn’t rush the pass well is still a valuable asset as long as the player is a quality run defender, which Robinson is. A run defending 3-4 defensive end isn’t a player that you take in a first round, but it is a nice piece to add on day two of the draft.

11. Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech

The first prospect from a non-Power 5 conference, Butler made easy work of the competition in Conference USA, recording 23 tackles for loss the past two seasons. Put together his quality tape with a 6-foot-4, 323-pound body with above-average hand size and arm length and you get a NFL prospect who teams will want. Butler is best fit as either a one-technique in a 4-3 defense or a five-technique in a 3-4 defense. It is a good year to be a fan of the Bulldogs, as they have two players that should come off the board by the end of day two in Butler and running back Kenneth Dixon.

12. Maliek Collins, Nebraska

An athletic defensive tackle who likes to attack upfield, Collins is the three-technique to look for on day two. Over the past two seasons, he recorded 23 tackles for loss, but only four sacks. This lack of sacks is concerning, but the entire Nebraska defense struggled in 2015 due to a scheme change. At some times last year he played a blitzing linebacker role, despite his 6-foot-2, 311 pound frame. He has the appearance of a more productive professional than collegiate player.

13. Jihad Ward, Illinois

Every draft there are players that are selected high on the basis of potential. One of these players this year is Ward. In two seasons in Champaign, spent playing defensive end and defensive tackle, he recorded only 4.5 sacks. In fact, he had only 3.5 tackles for loss in 2015. However, this is a player who looks the part (6-foot-5, 297 pounds) and at times flashes the ability to be a quality player. He doesn’t have much defensive line experience and was a wide receiver only a few years ago. Give Ward to one of the better defensive line coaches in the NFL and he could become a special player.

14. Hassan Ridgeway, Texas

University of Texas football has been struggling in recent years, but it produced a good one in Ridgeway. With 9.5 sacks in two years as a starter, a solid argument could be made that he was the Longhorns’ best player. When he was on the field he played well, especially as a run defender. However, conditioning issues and minor injuries limited him to a rotational role that saw him play only about 50 percent of snaps. If these two problems don’t carry over to the NFL, then Ridgeway will be a fine player.

15. Sheldon Day, Notre Dame 

Day is a classic example of a college player who is going to be knocked for being undersized at the next level. At 6-foot-1, 293 pounds, he comes in as one of the smaller defensive tackles in recent draft classes. In college he was able to win on quickness and a non-stop motor, but will this work in the NFL? He can struggle at the point of attack and against double teams. At the Senior Bowl he looked good at both defensive tackle and end. Day may not be an every down player in the NFL, but he should be a player that gives quality snaps in multiple spots, especially as a three-technique.

16. Javon Hargrave, South Carolina State

To be drafted from the FCS level a player needs to have extremely good film. Hargrave goes well beyond this measure. In 2014, he recorded 16 sacks, including a whopping six in one game, and he added another 13.5 in 2015. Watching his tape, it seemed like he impacted every other play and he loved his swim move. In terms of projecting him to the NFL, he is going to face a steep transition in the level of competition. He will no longer be able to just rely on athleticism. Anytime a player is as productive as Hargrave was, especially as a defensive tackle, the NFL is going to take notice.

17. Bronson Kaufusi, BYU

Kaufusi spent 2014 as an outside linebacker in BYU’s 3-4 defense, but made the move down to defensive line in 2015. At 285 pounds, this is where he will play in the NFL. A four-year contributor with 26 career sacks, he has been on the map for a while now. However, a lot of his sacks weren’t a result of his work, but more from mistakes on the offensive line and plays taking a long time. He should be drafted in the third round.

18. Adolphus Washington, Ohio State

The fact that we are still discussing day two prospects at player No. 18 is a testament to the depth and quality of the defensive line class. Considered to be a potential first round pick earlier in the process, Washington is now more likely to go later on day two. He has shown the ability to be a disruptive defender, but it isn’t always there. He played as a three-technique at Ohio State, but he should be able to transition to a 3-4 defensive as a defensive end if need be.

19. Willie Henry, Michigan

Henry’s testing numbers from the NFL Combine are above-average in all areas and it is easy to see that on film. His quickness when playing is obvious and is his biggest attribute. He plays fast and aggressive, but this can also be turned into a negative, as he was heavily penalized (multiple offsides penalties and a silly personal foul against Michigan State). He also has some experience at defensive end. Henry is another player who needs to be able to play more consistently.

20. D.J. Reader, Clemson

Reader is one of the biggest defensive linemen in the draft. He weighed in at 327 pounds at the NFL Combine, but was reported to weigh more at other times. On the field, he uses this size well and his strength is evident. Clemson mostly asked him to clog run lanes in the middle of the line and he did just that. He doesn’t have much pass rushing ability, but that isn’t what a team will be drafting him for. Select him in the middle rounds of the draft and a team will have a dependable run stuffer.

Matt Pearce is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp and is a journalism student at the University of Nebraska. Follow him on Twitter@Matt_Pearce13

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