Top five 2016 NFL Draft prospects by position

With Reese's Senior Bowl practices now complete, here's an updated look at the top five prospects at each position.


  1. Jared Goff, California
  2. Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
  3. Connor Cook, Michigan State
  4. Paxton Lynch, Memphis
  5. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

The 2016 class doesn't feature a sure-fire franchise quarterback, but there are several intriguing prospects with the potential to develop into quality starters early in their respective careers. Goff is a polished pocket passer with a mix of arm talent and athleticism that perfectly fits a West Coast offense. Wentz has shot up the charts as a big-bodied passer with A-plus arm talent and terrific movement skills. He solidified his status as one of the top quarterbacks in the class with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl. Lynch is a wild card of the pack as an ultra-talented playmaker with remarkable athleticism for his size. He struggled down the stretch, but a strong performance in workouts could send his stock soaring heading into draft day.

Running backs

  1. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
  2. Derrick Henry, Alabama
  3. Alex Collins, Arkansas
  4. Devontae Booker, Utah
  5. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech

Teams looking for workhorse runners are certainly in luck this year with several enticing options at the top of the board. Elliott is a dynamic "three down" back capable of producing explosive plays as a runner or receiver on the perimeter. Most impressive, he is a punishing blocker in pass protection, which will make it easy to put him on the field from Day 1. Henry is a big-bodied "one-cut" runner with exceptional speed and athleticism. He needs to room to be effective, but teams employing zone-based blocking schemes could view him as the best option in the class. Kenneth Dixon has flown under the radar despite impressive production, but his solid showing at the Senior Bowl has convinced some scouts that he could thrive as a feature back at the next level.

Wide receivers

  1. Corey Coleman, Baylor
  2. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
  3. Josh Doctson, TCU
  4. Michael Thomas, Ohio State
  5. Will Fuller, Notre Dame

The 2016 crew lacks the pizzazz of previous classes, but astute evaluators will find several role-specific playmakers in the early rounds. Laquon Treadwell is a classic WR1 with the size and ball skills to do the dirty work between the hashes. He has recovered nicely from a gruesome leg injury in 2014 to re-emerge as solid red zone threat as a junior. Coleman is an explosive touchdown maker with speed to burn. Despite his limited exposure to the route tree, teams looking for "catch-and-run" specialists will covet his skills at a premium. Doctson is a dynamic red zone weapon with a knack for winning 50/50 balls in the end zone.

Tight ends

  1. Hunter Henry, Arkansas
  2. Nick Vannett, Ohio State
  3. Bryce Williams, East Carolina
  4. Jerrell Adams, South Carolina
  5. Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky

The recent success of athletic tight ends in the NFL will prompt scouts to value physical traits over production at the position. Henry is a polished tight end capable of making an impact from Day 1 as a "Y" (conventional tight end) or "H" (movement tight end). His experience playing in a pro style offense should help him become an immediate contributor as a rookie. Williams is a long, rangy pass catcher with sneaky route running skills. He has a knack for creating separation between the hashes.

Offensive tackles

  1. Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
  2. Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
  3. Jack Conklin, Michigan State
  4. Taylor Decker, Ohio State
  5. Shon Coleman, Auburn

Franchise left tackles are always viewed as hot commodities on draft day. With several intriguing options at the top of the 2016 class, teams looking to find an answer at the position could be in luck this year. Laremy-Tunsil is a polished technician with quick feet and exceptional body control. He is a "plug and play" blocker capable of stepping into the starting line up from Day 1. Ronnie Staley is a long, athletic blocker with the tools to snuff out elite rushers off the edge. He is a top five talent with the potential to emerge as a Pro Bowler early in his pro career. Shon Coleman isn't a household name, but he could soar up the charts as the draft draws closer.

Offensive guards/centers

  1. Cody Whitehair, Kansas State (OG)
  2. Joshua Garnett, Stanford (OG)
  3. Vadal Alexander, LSU (OG)
  4. Ryan Kelly, Alabama (C)
  5. Nick Martin, Notre Dame (C)

Interior blockers are important cogs on the offensive line, but few are selected early due to the premium placed on offensive tackles and other marquee positions. Cody Whitehair has a chance to come off the board on Day 1 as a rugged blocker with strong hands and * body control. Joshua Garnett is the next Cardinal offensive lineman to make his way to the NFL. He is not only technically sound, but he displays adequate functional strength to move defenders off the ball. Alexander could parlay a strong Senior Bowl week into a spot within the Top 50 selections.

Defensive ends

  1. Joey Bosa, Ohio State
  2. Shaq Lawson, Clemson
  3. DeForest Buckner, Oregon
  4. Kevin Dodd, Clemson
    5 (tie). Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
    5 (tie). Jonathan Bullard, Florida

Pass rushers are viewed as the second-most important position on most draft board. Thus, teams are willing to invest heavily in edge players with a knack for getting to the quarterback. Joey Bosa is generating significant buzz in scouting circles after dominating the Big Ten for the past two seasons. With legacy (dad, John, was a first-round pick for the Miami Dolphins in the 1987 NFL Draft), instincts and a non-stop motor, Bosa is poised to come off the board as the first edge rusher in the 2016 class. DeForest Buckner is a long, athletic edge defender with a high-revving motor and versatile skills. The Oregon standout should be an impact defender from Day 1 after refining his technique as a senior.

Defensive tackles

  1. A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama
  2. Jarran Reed, Alabama
  3. Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
  4. Andrew Billings, Baylor
  5. Kenny Clark, UCLA

The 2016 defensive tackle class is arguably the deepest position in the draft. There are not only several blue chip talents at the top of the board, but there are plenty of quality starters that can be found on Day 2. A'Shawn Robinson is a monster interior defender with the size, strength and length to dominate opponents as a one- or three-technique. Robert Nkemdiche is one of the most talented defenders in the draft, but character concerns could lead to a draft day slide. Reed lived in Robinson's shadow at 'Bama, but it's possible the rugged interior defender hears his name called before his teammate based on his rock-solid showing in Mobile.


  1. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
  2. Myles Jack, UCLA
  3. Reggie Ragland, Alabama
  4. Darron Lee, Ohio State
  5. Su'a Cravens, USC

The transformation of the NFL into a "spread and shred" passing league has changed the job description for linebackers. Defensive coordinators are searching for athletic linebackers with safety-like cover skills. Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith are nursing injuries, but each player is considered a dynamic defender with game changing potential. How well they progress from their ailments will determine whether they are drafted where their talent and potential merits. Ragland plays like a 10-year veteran on the second level. Although he is ideally suited to play on the inside, he displayed a little versatility by lining up at outside linebacker during the Senior Bowl.


  1. Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky
  2. Leonard Floyd, Georgia
  3. Kamalei Correa, Boise State
  4. Kyler Fackrell, Utah State
  5. Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech

The proliferation of 3-4 defenses in the NFL has prompted more teams to convert long, rangy athletes into stand up linebackers on the edge. While 4-3 teams will categorize these players as defensive ends or Sam/Will linebackers, teams running the 3-4 will tag them as "elephants". Spence is a character risk, but evaluators will have a hard time ignoring his dominance at the Senior Bowl as an explosive pass rusher off the edge. He was nearly unstoppable in one-on-one drills and team drills, which suggests he could blossom as a "closer" at the next level. Leonard Floyd is an explosive athlete with promising rush skills. He hasn't posted elite production, but his athleticism will intrigue teams looking for a rangy edge defender.


  1. Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
  2. Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
  3. Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
  4. Eli Apple, Ohio State
  5. Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

The pass-happy nature of the NFL continues to make "lockdown" corner hot commodities on draft day. Jalen Ramsey is a versatile talent in the secondary with the potential to make immediate contributions as a cornerback, safety or slot defender as a pro. He has a knack for making splash plays in the back end, but is also one of the best tacklers in the college game. Vernon Hargreaves is a natural cover corner with a feisty demeanor and polished skill set. Despite lacking ideal physical dimensions, he plays like a CB1 in most systems. Eli Apple is soaring up the charts based on his size and solid skills as a cover corner.


  1. Jeremy Cash, Duke
  2. Vonn Bell, Ohio State
  3. Darien Thompson, Boise State
  4. Karl Joseph, West Virginia
  5. Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah

The emergence of dominant tight ends has led more NFL defensive coordinators to place a greater emphasis on acquiring safeties with dynamic skills in the box. Jeremy Cash is a tackling machine with solid instincts and awareness. He is ideally suited to play near the line as a hybrid linebacker with the potential to change the game as a tackler or blitzed off the edge. Bell is a natural "MOF" safety with a nice feel for the game. He capably covers tight ends in space, but also shows enough athleticism to handle slot receivers down the field. Thompson impressed coaches with his high football IQ and superb communication skills at the Senior Bowl. Coaches could view him as a Day 1 starter based on his excellent intangibles and sticky cover skills.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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