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Lance Zierlein's top 50 prospects for 2016 NFL Draft

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Last updated: April 26, 2016

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1

Laremy Tunsil - OT, Ole Miss

From a talent and technique standpoint, Tunsil is easily cleanest offensive lineman in the 2016 draft and might be the cleanest prospect period.

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2

Myles Jack - LB, UCLA

While UCLA asked Jack to do a little bit of everything, an NFL team is more likely to simplify his tasks and set him into attack mode to maximize his outstanding physical traits.

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3

DeForest Buckner - DE, Oregon

Buckner has similar power to former teammate Arik Armstead, but is a much better pass rusher and has a chance to become a dominant force in the NFL.

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4

Ezekiel Elliott - RB, Ohio State

While he's had to handle a heavy workload over the last two seasons, Elliot should still come out of the gates as one of the most productive young running backs in the league.

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5

Jalen Ramsey - CB, Florida State

Ramsey has all-pro potential and traits, but could use a little more bravado and attitude play in and play out.

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6

Joey Bosa - DE, Ohio State

Bosa might not have the pure edge speed to be an elite pass rusher, but his hand usage and ability to generate push as a bull-rusher should make him a very good 4-3 base end or a 3-4 outside linebacker.

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7

Vernon Hargreaves - CB, Florida

With top-notch ball skills and exceptional instincts that drew praise from Alabama's Nick Saban, Hargreaves possesses the football makeup to become a Pro Bowl cornerback.

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8

Carson Wentz - QB, North Dakota State

3

Wentz is still in a developmental phase, but has the mental and physical building blocks of a future, franchise quarterback.

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9

Ronnie Stanley - OT, Notre Dame

While Stanley's core power is still a concern, he showed improved strength and run blocking prowess this year and should be ready to come in and start right away for a team looking to protect a high-­end quarterback.

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10

Jared Goff - QB, Cal

2

While Goff is a little leaner in the lower body than teams might like, he has good size, an NFL arm, advanced pocket mobility and the field demeanor of a franchise quarterback.

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11

Leonard Floyd - LB, Georgia

1

Floyd is painfully thin and will struggle to match up with the strength of NFL players, but he is rangy in space, plays with a good motor and has traits as a pass rusher that would be a mistake to ignore.

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12

Reggie Ragland - LB, Alabama

2

Ragland is a confident and capable early starter in the league who has the temperament to become one of the premier run­-stopping inside linebackers in the pro game.

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13

Jack Conklin - OT, Michigan State

1

Conklin has some physical limitations, but he's got solid technique and exactly the field demeanor that offensive line coaches will be looking for.

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14

A'Shawn Robinson - DT, Alabama

1

If Robinson can improve his leverage issues and pass rushing, he has All-­Pro potential; however, he's not a sure thing to become a star.

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15

Robert Nkemdiche - DT, Ole Miss

2

Nkemdiche's talent and frame are worthy of an early selection, but his lack of high-­end production and character concerns could cause him to slide. With that said, he has the talent to be an impact starter in the league.

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16

Sheldon Rankins - DT, Louisville

2

Everything about Rankins' game screams "winning football player." He has been extremely productive as a bull­rusher and edge rusher and he can hold the point of attack or play in gaps.

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17

Darron Lee - LB, Ohio State

11

Lee's athletic traits and ability to make plays should make him a starter, but he won't unlock his full potential unless he gets strong enough to handle the rigors of playing linebacker in the NFL.

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18

Will Fuller - WR, Notre Dame

1

Fuller doesn't check all the boxes with his slight frame, below-average hands and limitations with his game-­by­-game production, but he possesses the coveted ability to hit the big play and score touchdowns.

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19

Laquon Treadwell - WR, Ole Miss

3

Treadwell is at his best when he has a clean, two-­way go off the line of scrimmage and he could be a challenging size matchup from the slot. While Ole Miss used him underneath quite a bit, he runs quality downfield routes and has the ball skills needed to become more of a vertical receiver than an underneath, possession guy.

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20

Kevin Dodd - DE, Clemson

4

Dodd already looks the part of an NFL defensive end and his desire to make plays coupled with his physical traits and talent should have him shooting up draft boards.

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21

Shaq Lawson - DE, Clemson

2

Lawson's frame and game are easily translatable to the NFL, but his average athleticism and pass rush skills will likely have teams viewing him as a 3­-4 edge setter or a 4-­3 base end.

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22

Hunter Henry - TE, Arkansas

2

By far, the premier tight end in the 2016 draft. Henry should come in and become a very good NFL starter.

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23

Chris Jones - DT, Mississippi State

1

Ascending prospect whose production this season matched the flashes he showed on tape. Jones has the quickness off the snap to disrupt in the gaps and the strength to control the point of attack.

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24

Cody Whitehair - OG, Kansas State

1

With his combination of functional strength and body control, Whitehair might be one of the safest offensive linemen in the entire draft. Whitehair has the ability to be a very good starter with a ceiling that could reach the All-Pro level.

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25

Jarran Reed - DT, Alabama

1

Reed's lack of pass-rushing ability creates a potential glass­ ceiling on his draft stock; however, teams looking for a battle-­tested run ­stuffer will find an instant upgrade who should be able to come in and start immediately if needed.

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26

Vernon Butler - DT, Louisiana Tech

1

Butler has a raw but diverse skill set as a pass rusher that should excite NFL evaluators who see the potential of what he can be with more coaching and experience.

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27

Paxton Lynch - QB, Memphis

2

Unlike other size/speed quarterbacks like Vince Young and Colin Kaepernick, Lynch prefers to extend passing plays with his feet rather than bolting from the pocket, but he is still likely to make plenty of plays with his feet over the long haul.

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28

Derrick Henry - RB, Alabama

4

Henry needs early running room as he's not a creator in the backfield, but once he gets up a full head of steam, he is a nightmare with his ability to punish on the second and third level or take it to the house.

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29

Josh Doctson - WR, TCU

10

Doctson must prove he can play against press coverage if he is to reach his potential, but his ability to go up and win when the ball is in the air will endear him to quarterbacks.

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30

Jordan Howard - RB, Indiana

4

Howard has the optimal size and talent needed to strap the pads on and become a productive workhorse for a team looking for a true lead back.

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31

Corey Coleman - WR, Baylor

5

Coleman's issues with drops near the middle of the field could be a concern if teams see him as a slot receiver due to his lack of size. Regardless, he can line up outside and win and he offers immediate punt-return help.

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32

Jonathan Bullard - DT, Florida

3

Bullard will need to improve his pass rush and add necessary size, but he is an ascending talent whose game should continue to improve at the next level.

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33

Hassan Ridgeway - DT, Texas

2

Ridgeway has a rare combination of power and athleticism that give him the potential to impact the game on all three downs. His talent could make him the most impactful defensive tackle to come out of this draft, but his floor is lower than some due to concerns over health and conditioning.

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34

Emmanuel Ogbah - DE, Oklahoma State

4

Ogbah's power will serve him well against the run, but he will have to become more skilled as a pass rusher. He can play 3­4 outside linebacker or 4­-3 defensive end, and he might have value inside in sub­packages.

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35

Andrew Billings - NT, Baylor

14

With elite power and unusual closing speed for a big man, Billings has a chance to become something we rarely see -- a playmaking nose tackle with the ability to dominate at the point of attack.

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36

Le'Raven Clark - OT, Texas Tech

1

Clark is an ascending left tackle prospect with the elite foot quickness and length that NFL teams simply don't pass up for very long. Left tackles with his potential in pass protection carry first-round value and Clark has a Pro Bowl-upside with the floor of an average NFL starter.

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37

Eli Apple - CB, Ohio State

1

Apple will have to learn to trust his feet rather than grabbing so often or he'll find that quarterbacks and refs will find him often.

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38

Noah Spence - DE, Eastern Kentucky

5

His issues are well-­documented, but his recovery and turnaround is what has NFL teams excited. Spence has been accountable for his actions and worked just as hard off the field as he has on the field to change his life and attack his problems.

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39

Kenny Clark - DT, UCLA

NR

Clark has the strength and talent to be a plug and play 4-3 nose, but lack of size and concerns about his value on third downs could push his draft value into the second day.

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40

Mackensie Alexander - CB, Clemson

Alexander is a difficult evaluation because there are times on tape that he looks vulnerable to quickness off the line of scrimmage and he doesn't have the prototypical size of a top­-end NFL cornerback.

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41

Austin Johnson - DT, Penn State

NR

Johnson has the lower body power to become a block­eating nose tackle with the ability to keep linebackers clean, but his energy, pursuit and tackle production show that he is much more than that.

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42

Karl Joseph - S, West Virginia

1

Joseph's average size and subsequent durability will concern some teams due to his aggressive, attacking demeanor; however, Joseph is talented enough to become an early starter and high­-impact safety down the road if the medicals check out.

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43

William Jackson III - CB, Houston

1

While Jackson has the traits for the position, the league is turning into small and fast or big and strong at the receiver spot and handling those two elements could take a year or two for him to improve in before he becomes a full-­time starter.

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44

Taylor Decker - OT, Ohio State

4

Decker has the run-blocking prowess and mindset to be a long­time starter at right tackle, but might always be a little leakier in pass protection than offensive line coaches and quarterbacks might like.

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45

Sterling Shepard - WR, Oklahoma

2

Teams looking for a slot receiver who can make plays and rack up a high volume catch count on any given Sunday will find their man in Shepard.

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46

Artie Burns - CB, Miami (Fla.)

NR

Burns has length, speed, ball skills and abundant potential. Keep in mind he was limited in his growth at the position thanks to a spring track schedule, but he is still in the infant stages of reaching his pro potential.

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47

Willie Henry - DT, Michigan

3

Henry is an athletic 3-technique who should continue to add functional mass and power to battle and win at the point of attack.

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48

Tyler Boyd - WR, Pittsburgh

3

Boyd isn't a stand­-alone WR1, but he can be a very productive starter in a play-action attack that allows him to play to his strengths.

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49

Joshua Garnett - OG, Stanford

NR

Garnett looks to establish a new line of scrimmage on every running play and is a great fit for a team looking to impose their will between the tackles.

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50

Su'a Cravens - LB, USC

4

Cravens will help on special teams immediately and could become an early starter for a 4-3 defense looking for a playmaking weak­side linebacker.

Falling out: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame (No. 15); Germain Ifedi, OG, Texas A&M (No. 47); Charone Peake, WR, Clemson (No. 49); Keanu Neal, S, Florida (No. 50).

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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