As the regular season winds down, I thought it would be a good time to take a big-picture look at the 2016 NFL Draft class. We've seen several rookies make an immediate impact for their teams, and a good number of them arrived via Columbus, Ohio. Everyone in the football world would agree the Buckeyes produced the most talent in the 2016 draft class. Who's next on the list? I've ranked my top five 2016 draft classes by school:
1. Ohio State
Rookies:Joey Bosa (pick No. 3 overall), Ezekiel Elliott (No. 4), Eli Apple (No. 10), Taylor Decker (No. 16), Darron Lee (No. 20), Michael Thomas (No. 47), Vonn Bell (No. 61), Adolphus Washington (No. 80), Braxton Miller (No. 85), Nick Vannett (No. 94), Joshua Perry (No. 102), Cardale Jones (No. 139), Jalin Marshall (undrafted), Tyvis Powell (undrafted).
Skinny: The Buckeyes were the easy choice for No. 1 on this list. They produced 12 draft picks and most of them are already playing at a high level.
Bosa missed the early portion of the season, but he's been nearly unblockable since he entered the lineup. He's second among all rookies with 6.5 sacks. Elliott has been even more impressive. He leads the league in rushing and is in the discussion for league MVP. Apple has settled in and is a key contributor in the Giants secondary, while Decker has started every game at left tackle for the Lions. Lee has been inconsistent for the Jets, but he's made some plays for a struggling team. Thomas has been the most effective rookie pass-catcher in the league and quickly earned the trust of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Bell and Washington have been steady in their rookie campaigns for the Saints and Bills, respectively.
Miller has flashed for the Texans and Vannett has started a couple games for the Seahawks. Perry is a backup for the Chargers, but he's played in 12 games. Jones is the only member of the OSU draft class who hasn't seen the field this fall. He did show some positive signs in the preseason and looks like a long-term backup QB, at worst. That is one heck of a draft class, Plus Marshall has become a contributor for the Jets, and Powell has played in 8 games for the Seahawks.
Rookies:Vernon Hargreaves (No. 11), Keanu Neal (No. 17), Jonathan Bullard (No. 72), Antonio Morrison (No. 125), Demarcus Robinson (No. 126), Kelvin Taylor (No. 211), Alex McCalister (No. 240), Brian Poole (undrafted).
Skinny: There were 7 gators selected in the 2016 NFL Draft and 2 of them have quickly emerged as big-time players. Hargreaves has started every game at cornerback for the Bucs and he's a reason for their defensive turnaround this fall. He has only one interception, but he has been very reliable in coverage and aggressive in run support. Neal has been outstanding for the Falcons and belongs in the discussion for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He leads all rookies with 87 tackles and he's also forced four fumbles. Morrison and Bullard have flashed on occasion and both look like future starters for their respective teams.
3. Mississippi State
Rookies:Chris Jones (No. 37), Will Redmond (No. 68), Dak Prescott (No. 135).
Skinny: The Bulldogs had just three players selected in the draft, but two of the three have been stellar performers this fall. Prescott is the front-runner for Rookie of the Year, and he's also in the MVP discussion because of his consistent play this fall. Jones hasn't been ultra productive, but he's a very disruptive presence for the Chiefs defensive front. He's started 8 games this fall and provided a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
4. Notre Dame
Rookies:Ronnie Stanley (No. 6), Will Fuller (No. 21), Jaylon Smith (No. 34), Nick Martin (No. 50), KeiVarae Russell (No. 74), C.J. Prosise (No. 90), Sheldon Day (No. 103), Matthias Farley (undrafted), Romeo Okwara (undrafted).
Skinny: Smith was set to be the headliner of the Notre Dame draft class before he suffered an injury in his last college game (the Fiesta Bowl vs. Ohio State). He ended up sliding to the second round and he won't see the field this fall. However, several of his teammates have made an impact for their teams. Stanley has been a steady presence at left tackle for the Ravens, while Fuller has provided some explosive plays for the Texans offense. Prosise started two games for the Seahawks and displayed his potential as a runner/receiver in their offensive system. Okwara (Giants) has played in every game and recorded his first career sack last week.
Rookies:Leonard Floyd (No. 9), Jordan Jenkins (No. 83), Malcolm Mitchell (No. 112), John Theus (No. 145), Keith Marshall (No. 242), Chris Mayes (undrafted).
Skinny: The Bulldogs sneak into my top five primarily because of the play of Floyd. He has been an immediate-impact defender for the Bears. He leads all rookies with 7 sacks and he's produced consistent pressure in every game I've studied this fall. Mitchell has emerged as a reliable target for Tom Brady and should have a long, productive NFL career. Jenkins hasn't stood out, but he has started 8 games for the Jets. There were several other schools I considered for this spot, but Floyd gave the edge to the Bulldogs.