2016 NFL Draft revisited: Ranking the top 10 players in the class

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NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2019" airs daily at 9 p.m. ET over the next two weeks, unveiling a new set of 10 honorees in each installment. In Episode 1, two guys from the 2016 NFL Draft class -- Carson Wentz and Derrick Henry -- were revealed at Nos. 96 and 99, respectively. With that in mind, NFL Network analyst and former No. 1 overall pick David Carr provides his own ranking: the top 10 players from the 2016 draft.

1
Ezekiel Elliott
RB
Cowboys

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 4 overall

Zeke has led the NFL in rushing yards in two of his three years in the league (while boasting the highest yards-per-game average in all three). Over 15 games last season, he racked up 1,434 rushing yards -- more than 100 yards clear of the next-best rusher (Saquon Barkley). Elliott is arguably the most valuable non-quarterback in the league, as he dictates coverage and takes a ton of pressure off Dak Prescott. Even with all the attention the Cowboys back receives from opposing defenses, I won't be surprised when he leads the league in rushing yards again this season.

2
Michael Thomas
WR
Saints

Draft slot: Round 2, No. 47 overall

Thomas has been a reliable target since Day 1 with the Saints, but he finally received nation-wide recognition in 2018 after finishing with career and franchise highs in receptions (125) and receiving yards (1,405). He has a big catch radius, great hands and a good feel in space. Some receivers run routes without knowing where they are in coverage, but Thomas' awareness makes him a huge threat in Sean Payton's offense.

3
Jalen Ramsey
CB
Jaguars

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 5 overall

Ramsey has been every bit the player the Jaguars envisioned -- and then some -- when they selected him fifth overall. Since 2016, Ramsey has allowed the third-lowest completion percentage (52.9) and fourth-lowest passer rating (71.6) in coverage among 98 cornerbacks with at least 200 targets, per Pro Football Focus. The two-time Pro Bowler is tasked with helping the Jags' ever-talented defense get back to its 2017 form, an effort the shutdown corner is certainly capable of leading.

4
Tyreek Hill
WR
Chiefs

Draft slot: Round 5, No. 165 overall

The league announced on Friday that Hill will not be suspended following its investigation of recent child abuse allegations. So, Hill is expected to report to training camp with the rest of the Chiefs' veterans on July 26 after being banned from offseason club activities since April. Strictly judging his on-field production, the 25-year-old has quickly established himself as the NFL's preeminent home run hitter at the receiver position. Last season alone, on throws of 20-plus air yards, he led the league in targets (42), receptions (18) and receiving yards (714) and was third in receiving touchdowns (six), per Next Gen Stats.

5
Joey Bosa
DE
Chargers

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 3 overall

Bosa has been better than I expected him to be when he came into the league, piling up 28.5 sacks over his first NFL 35 games. He doesn't have a ton of pass-rush moves, but is relentless in pursuit of the quarterback. Unlike many others, Bosa makes a lot of plays on his second effort because he simply refuses to stay blocked. This is why he's such a force when healthy.

6
Jared Goff
QB
Rams

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 1 overall

Goff has gotten better and better with each passing year, taking huge leaps in each of Sean McVay's first two seasons as Rams head coach. In 2018, he set career highs in several categories (64.9 completion percentage, 4,688 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns) and helped the Rams string together a 13-3 season that ended in the Super Bowl. Goff's postseason performance wasn't great, but the continuity on L.A.'s offense will allow him to immediately get back on track in September. With slot receiver Cooper Kupp back in the fold and hopefully a more healthy Todd Gurley, Goff should be headed for another career year.

7
Chris Jones
DE
Chiefs

Draft slot: Round 2, No. 37 overall

Jones is coming off a breakout campaign that saw him log 15.5 sacks. There are defensive players the quarterback must be aware of at all times, and Jones is certainly one of them, due to his explosive ability. He should make more noise in 2019, especially with Frank Clark joining the party up front.

8
Carson Wentz
QB
Eagles

Draft slot: Round 1, No. 2 overall

Wentz has shown great ability in his first three NFL seasons. Unfortunately, despite the Eagles making the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, Wentz has yet to play in a postseason game. He watched the Eagles soar to the franchise's first Super Bowl title two seasons ago after a torn ACL had ended his season in Week 14. Then a back injury sidelined him last year, with Nick Foles leading Philly to an upset playoff win at Chicago and a near-victory in New Orleans. Wentz has the capability to help the Eagles get back to the Super Bowl, but he must make better decisions on the field. He can extend plays as well as anyone -- and does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield when doing so -- yet he has a tendency to put himself in risky situations (as I point out in the video above). I love Wentz, but he must be available for his team when the postseason comes.

9
Deion Jones
LB
Falcons

Draft slot: Round 2, No. 52 overall

Jones is a dynamic playmaker for the Falcons' defense. This actually became even more apparent when he wasn't on the field for the majority of last season (missed 10 games with a foot injury), as the unit finished the year ranked 28th overall. The Falcons certainly appreciate his value, having just handed the 24-year-old a four-year, $57 million extension. With three pick-sixes in his three NFL seasons, Jones isn't a linebacker offenses can consistently beat in coverage because his sideline-to-sideline speed makes it extremely difficult for pass catchers to separate on shallow-crossing routes.

10
Kevin Byard
S
Titans

Draft slot: Round 3, No. 64 overall

The last spot on this list came down to a pair of Titans: Byard and RB Derrick Henry. I was initially tempted to go with Henry, given the way he took the league by storm last December, but Byard has established himself as one of the very best players at his position. With an NFL-best 12 picks and 24 passes defensed over the last two seasons, the former third-round pick out of Middle Tennessee State is an absolute ballhawk in the back end. He's also quite stout against the run (90 tackles in 2018), effective as a blitzer (two sacks, five QB hits last season) and as durable as they come (hasn't missed a game in three NFL seasons while leading the Titans' defense in snaps in each of the past two).

Follow David Carr on Twitter @DCarr8.

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