Each NFL Draft we see plenty of grades on how well each team drafted and while those are fun to do its really hard to really evaluate how good each teams class is. A much easier way is to wait three to four years to see how each player has done leading into what could be their second contract. For the past nine years we’ve looked back three years at the previous draft to see how this class ended up being. The 2016 Draft took place in Chicago for the second straight year and was highlighted by the two top quarterbacks taken one and two. Without further ado here is our 2016 NFL Draft Review reviewing the first round, notable later round picks along with best and worst drafts.
2016 NFL Draft Review
1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff QB California
Los Angeles gave up quite a bit to move up with Tennessee to get Goff. Intially it looked as if the Rams missed on Goff as he looked lost while 2nd overall pick Carson Wentz was tearing it up. It wasn’t till the Rams replaced Jeff Fisher with Sean McVay that Goff really hit his stride earning a Pro Bowl invite this past year as he lead the Rams to the Super Bowl. Now Goff may just be a system quarterback thriving under McVay, but it is hard to ignore that he has the talent to succeed in the NFL and made it to the Super Bowl.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz QB North Dakota State
Much like the Rams the Eagles wanted to move up to secure the quarterback they wanted and actually did two trades to get from 15 all the way to second overall. Wentz was never suppose to start day one as Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel were brought in. However injuries thrust Wentz into the lineup and shown that he is one of the top young quarterbacks in the league. The only negative is that Wentz has struggled to stay healthy with the Eagles needing Nick Foles two consecutive seasons to come in and play in the playoffs.
3. San Diego Chargers: Joey Bosa DE Ohio State
When the Chargers took Bosa it was a bit of a surprise mainly because they were a 3-4 team and he wasn’t linked to them in the process. After a brief holdout Bosa came in and has been the Chargers best pass rusher regardless of him standing or in a two point stance. With the exception of some injuries Bosa is on pace to be one of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott RB Ohio State
Normally I’m not a fan of running backs taken early but if you are going to it needs to be an elite back like Elliott. Elliott stepped in day one and helped the Cowboys establish new identity as a ground and pound ball control offense that minimized the amount of time their poor defense was on the field. Outside of Elliott’s suspension for off the field issues he has been the Cowboys best player overall.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey CB Florida State
We all knew that Jalen Ramsey was a talented player but with only one year of experience at cornerback we never knew that Ramsey would turn into a dominant shut down corner as fast as he did. Ramsey is in the conversation for top cornerback in the league but he is very outspoken which has lead to some trade rumors and could be the reason he may be traded at some point.
6. Baltimore Ravens: Ronnie Stanley OT Notre Dame
An athletic tackle at Notre Dame who had experience on both side of the line Stanley was an easy top ten pick. And while Stanley hasn’t made any Pro Bowl appearances he has been the anchor of the Ravens offensive line since he came into the league. This isn’t a sexy pick, getting a high end starter is worthy of a top 10 pick.
7. San Francisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner DE Oregon
For the second straight year the 49ers took a 6’7 defensive end from Oregon with the hopes of having Buckner and Armstead anchor the defensive line in their 3-4 defense. Buckner has been the 49ers top defensive lineman both as a defensive end in their three man front or when San Francisco moved to a four man front. Buckner gives the 49ers a good pass rusher from the interior and was able to get production despite no talent around him. Imagine what he could do now with two good edge rushers.
8. Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin OT Michigan State
Personally I wasn’t a huge fan of Conklin going in the top 10 because of value but Conklin was an instant success starting all 16 games and was graded by Pro Football Focus as the 5th best tackle in the NFL. An ACL injury in the playoffs during his second season really complicated matters heading into his third year causing him to miss several early games but a concussion and another knee injury caused him to miss even more time. When healthy Conklin has been a high end tackle but questions about his injuries meant the Titans did not pick up his 5th year option. Playing a full year will be crucial for Conklin.
9. Chicago Bears: Leonard Floyd OLB Georgia
Looking for pass rushing help in their new defense the Bears moved up to take Floyd dubbing him the “Aaron Rodgers Hunter.” While Floyd has never developed into the elite pass rusher that you would want out of a top 10 draft pick, but when he’s been on the field he’s given the Bears an athletic speed rusher that compliments Khalil Mack very well.
10. New York Giants: Eli Apple CB Ohio State
It’s not that Apple wasn’t considered a quality prospect but he was considered a late first round prospect at best, so when he went 10th overall it was considered a big surprise. Apple had talent but struggled to fit in with the team and missed games for disciplinary reasons. After all the issues Apple was traded to the Saints for a 4th round pick where he played well.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves CB Florida
Viewed as largely the consensus top cornerback it was quite the pick for the Buccaneers who were looking to add a quality third cornerback their duo of Brent Grimes and Alterraun Verner. However Hargreaves has struggled to live up to his draft slot struggling to make an impact while the Bucs have used 5 early round picks (Rounds 1-3) on cornerbacks the past two drafts. Tampa Bay did pick up Hargreaves 5th year option, but don’t be surprised that if he struggles in camp that he is let go.
12. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins DT Louisville
A broke leg cost Sheldon Rankins his rookie season but six sacks during his second season were a big hep to the Saints drastic defensive turnaround and the reason he was drafted in the first place. Rankins improved to 8 sacks this past season but an ruptured his Achilles during the playoffs. New Orleans hopes he can bounce back from injury again picking up his 5th year option.
13. Miami Dolphins: Laremy Tunsil OT Mississippi
A video released minutes before the draft from his hacked twitter account of Tunsil smoking weed through a gas mask and talks about taking money from Ole Miss caused Tunsil to plument down the draft despite him being considered a top 5 prospect. Tunsil excelled at guard during his rookie season before moving out to left tackle the past two years. While he hasn’t earned any major accolades Tunsil is a quality starting tackle who is still getting better each game.
14. Oakland Raiders: Karl Joseph S West Virginia
A hard hitting safety that possessed elite closing speed, Joseph was the perfect fit for Jack Del Rio’s Seattle style defense as their strong safety. So much that Joseph was named to the All Rookie team. But when Del Rio was fired and Paul Guenther came in, Joseph’s lack of coverage skills were exposed and the Raiders even shopped him at the trade deadline. Joseph’s 5th year option was declined along with the Raiders using a first round pick on Johnathan Abram signal his time in Oakland may be ending sooner rather than later. In the right system Joseph was a good pick, but the Raiders just don’t run that anymore.
15. Cleveland Browns: Corey Coleman WR Baylor
This draft will go down in Browns history as they once had the second overall pick and could have taken Carson Wentz but ended up trading down twice and taking Coleman who couldn’t make it two years on their roster and is now on his third team. Coleman was a tremendous athlete who thrived with the ball in space but he wasn’t asked to run more than three routes in college and he was never able to develop in the NFL.
16. Detroit Lions: Taylor Decker OT Ohio State
Not as sexy pick here by the Lions but they felt that they needed a new left tackle so that they could move Riley Reiff and get better at two positions. Decker was lights out his rookie year starting every game and helping the Lions get to the playoffs before a shoulder injury caused him to miss games in year two. Decker is never going to be an elite tackle but he is very talented in pass protection and in a league where finding quality starting offensive lineman is hard, getting a guy like Decker is a good get.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Keanu Neal S Florida
Neal was drafted to be the Falcons version of Kam Chancellor in Dan Quinn’s Seattle Style Cover 3 scheme. Being aggressive coming forward this was a great fit as Neal was asked to fill lanes in the run game and be an underneath coverage defender. If his importance to the defense was not know already, when Neal went down with an ACL injury early in the season (along with Deion Jones) the Falcons defense really suffered. I may have not liked the pick initially, but it’s be a great fit for Atlanta.
18. Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly C Alabama
One of the main strengths of the 2018 Indianapolis Colts was their offensive line and you can trace part of it’s creation to taking Ryan Kelly here. After years of getting beat up Andrew Luck needed some protection and finally got some. Kelly has come in and been a rock in the middle of their offensive line in what is one of the best young groups in the NFL.
19. Buffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson DE Clemson
I was not as high on Shaq Lawson as some other analysts who were projecting him to go in or around the top 10 (I had him 33rd overall) but felt that the Bills got a good fit for their defense and was a better value here at 19. However Lawson never really lived up to the hype he created in college and at the Combine. Only accumulating 10 career sacks and being pushed further and further down the depth chart it was no surprise that the Bills declined his 5th year option.
20. New York Jets: Darron Lee LB Ohio State
With Todd Bowles being named the head coach of the Jets they drafted Lee to fill the Deone Bucannon role as the speedy space linebacker. Lee started off slow but really came into his own during year three. But that was for not as the Jets fired Bowles, replaced him with Todd Bowles and then signed CJ Mosley to big money. Lee will get a shot to start next to Mosley but with his option not being picked up, it could be signaling how the Jets really feel about him.
21. Houston Texans: Will Fuller WR Notre Dame
When healthy and on the field Will Fuller showcases his elite speed and connection with quarterback Deshaun Watson to provide big plays down the field. However Fuller is often injured and has missed nearly a third of the games over his three year career. A great weapon but has to stay healthy if the Texans want to become a contender.
22. Washington Redskins: Josh Doctson WR TCU
Possessing good size and body control Doctson was thought to be one of the top receivers in this class and was drafted to be the Redskins number one receiver. Instead Doctson has struggled with injuries and just been widely inconsistent. Over three years Doctson has only 8 touchdowns to go with his 1,100 yard receiving in a time where they needed someone to step up and be their go to receiver. But Doctson has never been someone who can create separation and has to win on contested catches, something his two former quarterbacks were’t always known for doing. Maybe that will change with Dwayne Haskins coming in.
Pick Grade: D
23. Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell WR TCU
After big receivers like Calvin Johnson, AJ Green and Julio Jones took over the NFL, teams were looking for their next version. That may have been why we loved Treadwell so much. Instead Treadwell’s lack of elite traits were hid in college where he could beat up on small defensive backs in one on one coverage. With the Vikings he could barely see the field despite being healthy. With less than 600 total yards and just one touchdown the only thing keeping him on the roster is the Vikings lack of depth.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: William Jackson CB Houston
It was a bit of a surprise for the Bengals to draft Jackson because they normally only take players from major conferences early in the draft. But that shows how much they liked Jackson despite being loaded at the position. Jackson battled through a pec injury that cost him his rookie year and then talent at the position to earn his way into the starting lineup at the end of year two. Jackson isn’t going to be one of the elite cornerbacks in the league but is a quality starting cornerback in the NFL. Solid double here for the Bengals.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Artie Burns CB Miami
After getting shredded in the playoffs the Steelers knew that their straight zone defense had to be tweaked making the need for man corners. That need and a good combine caused the Steelers to reach for Burns here. Labeled as a reach, Burns never was able to prove the doubters wrong consistently getting beat in coverage and falling out of the starting lineup. With the recent pick of Justin Layne and his 5th year option being declined, it’s only a matter of time before the Steelers move on from this bust.
26. Denver Broncos: Paxton Lynch QB Memphis
Lynch was suppose to be the next franchise quarterback for the Broncos but we should have known instantly when he couldn’t be out former 7th round pick Trevor Siemian. Even with the offense struggling the coaches didn’t trust Lynch to come in and see what he could do. Heading into year three the Broncos brought in veteran Case Keenum to be the starter and cut Lynch before the season started.
27. Green Bay Packers: Kenny Clark DT UCLA
An elite run stuffer in college with some pass rushing upside he was drafted to help solidify the Packers defensive line. Clark quickly emerged as a starter for the Packers as he has continued to showcase his talents stopping the run. In an added bonus Clark enjoyed his best year in year three where he also chipped in with 6 sacks.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Garnett G Stanford
This pick was horrible in more ways than one as Garnett wasn’t worth a first round pick (112th in our rankings) and a poor fit in Chip Kelly’s offense that stressed athletic ability while Garnett was better in a phone booth. This proved out over time as Garnett struggled and then was replaced by Mike Person.
**Patriots lost their first round pick due to Deflategate***
29. Arizona Cardinals: Robert Nkemdiche DT Mississippi
The former number one overall recruit came to Mississippi with a lot of hype and continued to show flashes of dominance in college. However a bizarre injury after he fell from the 4th story of a hotel when drugs were involved. While Nkemdiche has stayed out of trouble he has struggled to make any impact with only 4.5 sacks over his three years.
30. Carolina Panthers: Vernon Butler DT Louisiana Tech
Butler was a future pick as the Panthers were already set with starters Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short but with Lotulelei’s contract coming up they wanted to groom Butler for when Star left. Instead Butler never secured his role and was beat out by Dontari Poe and his 5th year option not being picked up.
31. Seattle Seahawks: Germain Ifedi OT Texas A&M
The fourth Texas A&M offensive lineman to be drafted in the first round but by most people’s accounts (65th in our rankings) was considered to be a second round pick at best. But Ifedi was athletic which fit the Seahawks style. While Ifedi has been a starter all three years at two different positions he has basically kept his starting spot out of necessity.
Other Notable Picks
2nd Round, Pick #34: Jaylon Smith, Dallas Cowboys
2nd Round, Pick #35: Hunter Henry, San Diego Chargers
2nd Round, Pick #36: Myles Jack, Jacksonville Jaguars
2nd Round, Pick #37: Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
2nd Round, Pick #38: Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins
2nd Round, Pick #45: Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
2nd Round, Pick #47: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
2nd Round, Pick #52: Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons
2nd Round, Pick #56: Cody Whitehair, Chicago Bears
3rd Round, Pick #64: Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans
3rd Round, Pick #69: Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville Jaguars
3rd Round, Pick #81: Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
3rd Round, Pick #89: Javon Hargrave, Pittsburgh Steelers
4th Round, Pick #135: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
5th Round, Pick #150: Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
5th Round, Pick #165: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
5th Round, Pick #171: Alex Collins, Seattle Seahawks
UDFA: Robby Anderson, New York Jets
UDFA: Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Round 1: RB Ezekiel Elliot
Round 2: LB Jaylon Smith
Round 3: DT Maliek Collins
Round 4: DE Charles Tapper
Round 4: QB Dak Prescott
Round 6: CB Anthony Brown
Round 6: S Kavon Frazier
Round 6: RB Darius Jackson
Round 7: TE Rico Gathers
This draft class had it all as they got their franchise quarterback in the 4th round in Dak Prescott they also got a star running back with the first round pick and one of their best defensive players in linebacker Jaylon Smith. Those three alone could give them the top class in this draft. But they didn’t stop there by adding a starting calibers in Collins at DT and Anthony Brown who has been their slot cornerback. They even used a seventh round pick correctly taking a flyer on former basketball player Rico Gathers who has given them some depth at cornerback. All around good draft here and a reason why the Cowboys have made the playoffs twice and look to be a Super Bowl contender.
Round 1: DT Robert Nkemdiche
Round 3: CB Brandon Williams
Round 4: C Evan Boehm
Round 5: S Marqui Christian
Round 5: OT Cole Toner
Round 6: CB Harlan Miller
Arizona was coming off a great season that saw them just miss out on making it the Super Bowl but they followed that season up with a poor draft here and really set the foundation for Arizona to be picking number one overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Overall the draft class as a big disappointment as they failed to land anybody on day three that helped contribute to the team while third round pick Brandon Williams has been just a depth player. The biggest whiff was on Nkemdiche who the Cardinals took chance on. Hoping their culture would allow Nkemdiche to stay out of trouble (arrest leading up to the draft) he was albe ot , but has failed to live up to his hype and resulting in the Cardinals declining his 5th year option.