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2016 NFL Draft: BTSC 4-Round Mock Draft: Pre-Combine Edition

With the 2016 NFL season now in the books and the NFL scouting combine less than a week away, lets take a look at where the draft stands now before the Underwear Olympics makes us question absolutely everything we thought we knew about these kids after at least three years of college football game tape.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

***TRADE*** 1. Los Angeles Rams: Carson Wentz QB, North Dakota State

Team needs:WR/OL/CB/S/OLB

2016 free agents: Brian Quick, Nick Fairley, Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Mark Barron

In 2012 the St. Louis Rams accepted a King's Ransom from the Washington Redskins for the right to move up and draft Robert Griffin III, now will the new Los Angeles Rams give one up for the right to select Carson Wentz, who is quickly shooting up draft boards and is now seemingly the favorite of every QB-needy team in the draft? Moving into a new stadium and in a new city, the Rams will need to make a splash like this to draw interest from a fickle L.A. fan base. Armed with the 15th pick as well as two second-round picks, it would probably take at least their 2017 first round pick in addition to get this deal done. With one of, if not the, best defensive lines in the NFL and a potent running game, a franchise QB may be all that stands between the Rams becoming legitimate contenders in the NFL.

Carson Wentz has a big frame at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds with good athleticism and mobility both within the pocket or on the run, and has solid arm strength to make all the NFL throws. As with most QB's who come from the college ranks, especially those who play in the bowl subdivision, Wentz needs to do a better job of reading defenses. Specifically in his case, Wentz needs to have a better internal clock and learn to throw the ball away when the play is over, as evidenced by his 10 career fumbles lost. He'll likely need a redshirt rookie season to get acclimated to the speed of the NFL so it's possible that the Rams may hold onto Nick Foles for another season, plus his contract can be voided in 2017.

2. Cleveland Browns: Jared Goff QB, Cal

Team needs:QB/RT/S/WR/OLB/RG

2016 free agents:Tashaun Gipson, Mitchell Schwartz,Travis Benjamin

Rumor has it that Johnny Manziel isn't long for Cleveland, and he will be cut in March. In any event the Browns will likely be looking to spend yet another first round pick on a QB for the third time in four years.

As of now it appears that their are multiple teams looking to trade ahead of the Browns to secure Carson Wentz. The next best available QB is Jared Goff. Despite being a little undersized, Goff can make every NFL throw. He has accuracy, pocket awareness, and the ability to read defenses. Because of the spread offense at Cal, Goff will likely still need time to adjust to the pro level but he is more NFL ready than Paxon Lynch and Carson Wentz.

3. San Diego Chargers: Laremy Tunsil OT, Ole' Miss.

Team needs:OC/DE/WR/TE/S

2016 free agents:Eric Weddle, Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, Joe Barksdale, Kendell Reyes

While Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner, or possibly even Robert Nkemdiche, would fill bigger needs for San Diego, the Chargers simply cannot pass on the opportunity to pick the best player in this draft class. Tunsil could replace free agent Joe Barksdale at RT, and move over to LT when King Dunlap's contract is up.

Laremy Tunsil is one of the best offensive tackle prospects to come along in a while, drawing comparisons to Ravens HOF'er Jonathan Ogden because of the combination of his size and power mixed with his speed and agility. Tunsil could be a cornerstone LT for the next decade+.

4. Dallas Cowboys: Myles Jack LB, UCLA

Team needs:RB/DE/DT/CB/S/LB

2016 free agents:Greg Hardy, Rolando McClain, Jeremy Mincey, Ron Leary

The Cowboys, whose staff coached at the Senior Bowl, is just one of the teams that have become enamored with Carson Wentz. They need a long-term option to backup the ever-brittle 36 year old Tony Romo, although it's likely that they will go after RG3 or Johnny Manziel should he be released.

Dallas will likely use this pick on defense. They need help practically everywhere. They would've taken Ryan Shazier in 2014 had the Steelers not selected him one pick before they were on the clock, and still find themselves in the market for a play-making, athletic rover with the speed to cover sideline-to-sideline, especially given Rolando McClain's free agency and Sean Lee's numerous injury issues. Many consider Joey Bosa as the highest rated pass-rusher in this draft class, and with Greg Hardy's pending free agency Bosa could be in play for Dallas, but they have spent recent early round picks on Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory.

Myles Jack is undersized but he can blitz the edge with speed and he can cover sideline-to-sideline similar in the mold of Ryan Shazier. Unlike Jaylon Smith, Myles Jack's knee injury occurred early enough in the season that Jack is expected to be a full participant in training camp. Jack is one of the top five players in this draft class when healthy and his coverage skills are on par with the likes of Tampa Bay's Lavonte David.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Joey Bosa DE/DT, Ohio State

Team needs: OT/DT/DE/OC/CB

2016 free agents: Marcedes Lewis, Stefen Wisniewski, Brian Anger, Andre Branch, Chad Henne

The Jags have one of, if not the, worst secondaries in the NFL. Someone like Jalen Ramsey will appeal to HC Gus Bradley because of his elite size and athleticism, but rumors are that the Jags would prefer to upgrade the pass-rush and the best player on the board is Joey Bosa, who would be a long-term compliment to 2015 first round pick Dante Fowler, especially since Chris Clemons is 34 year old and will likely be a cap casualty.

Joey Bosa has the size and power to play 5-technique, the speed and agility to play 3-4 OLB, and enough combination off everything to slide into the 3-tech on obvious passing downs. Bosa is practically a pass-rushing Swiss Army knife that could be used in any defensive scheme.

6. Baltimore Ravens: Jalen Ramsey CB/S, Florida State

Team needs: WR/OLB/S/RB

2016 free agents: Courtney Upshaw, Kelechi Osemele, Justin Tucker

The Ravens have several age, injury, and depth issues to address, and as usual will likely take the best player available instead of reaching for a need. Current LT Eugene Monroe has only played 17 games in two seasons since signing a new five-year deal in 2014. With Monroe out of the lineup, the cap-killing QB Joe Flacco is getting beaten up so Ronnie Stanley will definitely be in play here. The Ravens could also take Jalen Ramsey or Vernon Hargreaves to pair with Jimmy Smith. Even though 36 year old Steve Smith has said that he is coming back for one more season, and even though the Ravens spent their 2015 1st round pick on Breshad Perriman who missed his rookie season due to injury, the Ravens could also take Laquon Treadwell.

There are rumors that NFL teams are split on their opinions of Jalen Ramsey. Part of problem is whether or not his permanent position is at cornerback or safety. As a CB Ramsey excels in tight man coverage but has issues playing off-man or zone, and would work best as a boundary CB in a press heavy scheme similar to the way that the Seahawks use Richard Sherman. As a safety he could be a ballhawking center-fielder, and while he is considered an elite prospect at safety he's not on-par with the likes of an Earl Thomas.

7. San Fransisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner DE/DT, Oregon

Team needs:QB/ILB/CB/WR/OL/K

2016 free agents:Anquan Boldin, Alex Boone, Ian Williams, Phil Dawson

The hiring of Chip Kelly as head coach may have spared, or simply delayed the inevitable, Colin Kaepernick from meeting the chopping block this offseason. He's actually a good fit for Kelly's offense and Kelly's hubris will likely come into play, believing that he can revive Kaepernick's career. Of course Kelly could very well be the trading partner for the Titans to acquire his QB.

Here I'll simply rehash the same things I've said about Kelly during his tenure in Philly, that he likes to spend picks on players that he coached/recruited from Oregon and/or players in general from the Pac12.

DeForest Buckner is better than his former teammate and 49ers 2015 1st round pick Arik Armstead and has been compared to Arizona DE Calais Campbell, widely regarded as one of the best 3-4 DE's in the NFL. He would be insurance for, and eventually supplant full time, Glenn Dorsey who will be coming back from an ACL tear.

8. Miami Dolphins: Vernon Hargreaves CB, Florida

Team needs: DE/RB/LB/CB/SS

2016 free agents:Louis Delmas, Oliver Vernon, Lamar Miller, Rishard Matthews, Kelvin Sheppard

Miami's pick should come down to DE or CB, unless Myles Jack is available, which could be swayed by the pending free agency of Oliver Vernon as well as to whether or not they keep a 33 year old Cameron Wake who will be returning from a torn Achilles. Provided that they at least re-sign Vernon, the Dolphins have to have more at CB besides a soon-to-be 33 year old Brent Grimes.

Vernon Hargreaves is an elite cover CB, with smooth acceleration and blanket coverage skills. While he's only 5-foot-11, and not the 6-foot and above type that is all the rage in today's NFL, he's still an elite prospect despite falling off at the tail end of last season.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Emmanuel Ogbah DE, Oklahoma State

Team needs: DE/DT/CB/OT/RB/S

2016 free agents:Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey, Mike Jenkins, Chris Conte

As with the Dolphins, the Bucs will likely be looking at the available CB's and DE's, and should he be available the Bucs would probably give a lot of consideration to Ronnie Stanley. The only dependable pass-rusher on Tampa's roster is Gerald McCoy, and Alterraun Verner has been a massive free agent bust.

Ogbah is a freak of nature, similar to the Giants 2014 draft pick Owa Odighizuwa except without the injury issues and much better pass-rushing technique. He has a great combination of size and speed, and after registering 11 sacks and 17 tackles for loss in his sophomore season, Ogbah finished his junior season at OSU with 13 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss.

10. New York Giants: Shaq Lawson DE, Clemson

Team needs:OL/DE/DT/LB/CB

2016 free agents:Prince Amukamara, Jason Pierre-Paul, Robert Ayers, Cullen Jenkins, Hakeem Nicks

The Giants finished the season with the worst pass defense in the NFL. For the most part it's a failure in all three levels of the defense, but the Giants trademark for so long was it's dominating, fierce defensive line. That's no longer the case. An athletic freak at DE like Emmanuel Ogbah or Shaq Lawson would make sense, as would A'Shawn Robinson given that the Giants also like girth at DT.

Much like Bud Dupree in 2015, Clemson's Shaq Lawson is a physical freak at 6-foot-3, 270 pounds. He uses his excellent size and speed to rush the passer and hold the edge against the run. He got the better of fellow first round pick Ronnie Stanley when Clemson played Notre Dame. But also like Dupree, he's still considered extremely raw in terms of technique and will be a bit of a wildcard come draft night, and his stock will be all over the map.

11. Chicago Bears: Ronnie Stanley OT, Notre Dame

Team needs:QB/LB/OT/CB/DE/RT

2016 free agents: Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Will Montgomery, Jarvis Jenkins, Ryan Mundy

Chicago will likely continue to rebuild the defense unless an elite OT prospect slips. They need upgrades at both inside linebacker spots as well as another outside linebacker to pair with Pernell McPhee. They are probably the first team that will consider Jaylon Smith. If Ronnie Stanley isn't available I'd imagine that HC John Fox would be willing to gamble on Noah Spence.

Ronnie Stanley is a steal here and will likely be too valuable for the Bears to pass up, despite their glaring needs on the defense. He has elite athleticism to mirror defenders with ease and an ideal frame at 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds. Stanley would provide a massive upgrade at LT over Charles Leno.

12. New Orleans Saints: Noah Spence DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky

Team needs:QB/WR/TE/CB/DT/DE/S/WLB

2016 free agents:Ben Watson, Kevin Williams, Kai Forbath, Chris Owens, Rafael Bush

An upgrade in the secondary should be the Saints primary objective, but with the top two DB's off of the board N.O. should look to upgrade their pass-rush. They need another DE to pair with Cameron Jordan and a replacement for free agent Kevin Williams, who will be 36 years old before the start of the 2016 season. While a DT may be a bigger need, a pass-rushing DE is too much to pass up.

Noah Spence was exiled from the Big10 for multiple failed drugs tests and landed at Eastern Kentucky where, after an arrest for public drunkenness, he is said to have been a model citizen. While there he continued to develop his pass-rushing prowess and is now considered one of the top pass-rushers in this draft class, showing impressive first-step explosiveness and power while at the Senior Bowl. If teams are at ease with his off-the-field past Spence could come off of the board even earlier than this.

13. Philadelphia Eagles: Paxton Lynch QB, Memphis

Team needs: QB/OT/OG/DE/S

2016 free agents:Sam Bradford, Cedric Thornton, Walter Thurmond, Nolan Carroll

The word around the rumor mill is that Sam Bradford is looking for 25 million per year, which is definitely not going to happen, and if the two sides cannot come together then the Eagles will need to find a long-term answer at QB.

Paxton Lynch's season did not finish as expected and as such his stock is falling. He has all the tools necessary to succeed at the pro level but is still incredibly raw, and at this stage he compares to Blake Bortles when Bortles was coming out of UCF, and could see Carson Wentz leapfrog him in draft.

14. Oakland Raiders: Mackenzie Alexander CB, Clemson

Team needs:LT/RG/DE/WR/S/CB/SLB

2016 free agents:Donald Penn, Justin Tuck, Charles Woodson(retirement), Aldon Smith, Khalif Barnes

The Raiders are finally starting to show signs of life after what seems like forever in the NFL basement, but they still need a lot of help moving forward. Perhaps the biggest need will be at LT, where not only Donald Penn but also Khalif Barnes is a free agent as well. They could use replacements for Aldon Smith and Justin Tuck at DE, but did spend a 2015 second round pick on Mario Edwards jr. The Raiders could take a CB to upgrade a woeful secondary.

Because Mackenzie Alexander is only a redshirt sophomore he will likely experience serious growing pains as he adjusts to the NFL, but three seasons from now he could very well be regarded as not only the best CB from this draft class but one of the best CB's in the NFL. His man-coverage skills are elite, but with absolutely zero experience with zone coverage Alexander will likely be relegated to slot CB during his rookie season.

15. Tennessee Titans - A'Shawn Robinson DT, Alabama

Team needs: OG/OC/ILB/NT/S

2016 free agents: Sammie Lee Hill, Al Woods, Zach Brown, Byron Bell

A popular mock draft pick for the Titans if they stay with the first overall pick is Laremy Tunsil who many, myself included, believe is the best prospect in this draft class. It would allow Tennessee to move 2014 11th overall pick Taylor Lewan to the right side, and move 2015 3rd round pick Jeremiah Poutasi permanently to left guard. While it is plausible, it may also be unlikely that the Titans would want to retroactively burn their 2014 11th overall pick on a right tackle or that Taylor Lewan would relinquish the prestige of being a blindside protector without causing some kind of internal organizational squabble. It's more likely that the Titans will keep Lewan at LT, Poutasi at LG, and use a pick later on to fill the need at RT. For the Titans, Laremy Tunsil is their plan B if they cannot trade back.

New Titans GM Jon Robinson has basically stated that the first overall pick is on the trading block. Without a need for a LT or a QB Tennessee will most likely auction off that pick to the highest bidder, and in this case it's the Rams. Other likely trading candidates would be the 49ers if they move on from Colin Kaepernick, or someone like the Cowboys who seem to have become enamored with Carson Wentz, or any team looking to draft a QB that will want to leapfrog the Browns at 2. After trading back the Titans will likely be looking at the best available CB's, and are rumored to really like Jalen Ramsey, of course if they trade back this far he, and all of the top rated CB's, will all be off of the board. Lesser needs would include a replacement for Zach Brown and an upgrade over free agent Sammie Lee Hill at NT.

Robinson is a little raw as a pass-rusher but the tools are there. He sports a powerful 6-foot-3, 320 pounds frame with a good first step quickness and is almost impossible to block one-on-one. If not for his inconsistency Robinson could go much earlier than this and still may.

16. Detroit Lions: Vernon Butler DT, Louisiana Tech

Team needs: DT/DE/OT/S/OC/CB

2016 free agents: Haloti Ngata, Jason Jones, Manuel Ramirez, James Ihedigbo, Josh Wilson

Without a doubt the Lions have to do more to protect Matthew Stafford. After having invested early picks on Riley Reiff, Larry Warford, and Laken Tomlinson, the Lions need another OT regardless of whether or not they move Reiff to a more natural position of RT. After losing Ndamukong Suh in free agency the Lions have to replenish their pass-rush at DT as well as finding a long-term starter opposite of Ziggy Ansah. Of course after Calvin Johnson's retirement, the Lions will need to find his replacement somewhere.

The Lions are rumored to love Vernon Butler. With a powerful 6-foot-3, 315 pounds frame and the quick-twitch athleticism of a much smaller, 3-technique DT, Butler is scheme versatile and after putting on a clinic at the Senior Bowl has firmly secured his place in the first round.

17. Atlanta Falcons: Reggie Ragland ILB, Alabama

Team needs:OT/OG/OC/DE/S/WR

2016 free agents:Chris Chester, Kroy Biermann, Jake Long,Tony Moeaki, Phillip Wheeler

It's likely that the Falcons will use this pick to continue to rebuild their awful defense, but unfortunately there isn't a safety worthy of this pick. They could also use a rusher opposite of Vic Beasley, but will likely take advantage of a very good crop of linebackers. Atlanta could take Laquon Treadwell as a replacement for Roddy White who has been in decline for years now.

Reggie Ragland isn't quite the athlete that his predecessor C.J. Mosley was at Alabama, but he plays with toughness and instincts and can be a factor is all phases of the defense. The Falcons need a leader of the defense and Ragland, or Jaylon Smith if he passes a physical, could be that guy.

18. Indianapolis Colts: Taylor Decker OT, Ohio State

Team needs:OT/OG/OC/S/ILB

2016 free agents:Greg Toler, Dwight Lowery, Adam Vinatieri, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener

Indy has to do a better job of protecting their golden boy Andrew Luck. If the Colts can't draft an offensive lineman to help Luck, the next best thing would be a workhorse to take the pressure off of him like Ezekiel Elliot.

The scouting community seems to be fairly split on their assessment of Taylor Decker. He has an ideal NFL frame at 6-foot-7, 315 pounds with solid athleticism and very good strength, but his height is a slight detriment to his skills-set because he has problems lowering his pad level and in effect losing leverage against rushers. I equate him to a slightly more athletic version of the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Adams when he was coming out of OSU, and as such I personally feel he is a much better fit at RT.

19. Buffalo Bills: Robert Nkemdiche DT/DE, Ole' Miss.

Team needs:RT/QB/WR/WLB/TE/OG

2016 free agents:Cordy Glenn, Nigel Bradham, Richie Incognito, Ron Brooks

Who would've thought it would have taken Rex Ryan to finally right the ship in Buffalo? With a seemingly solid roster the Bills can afford to go with the best player available, assuming that they re-sign Cordy Glenn. They do need offensive line help and another WR to pair with Sammy Watkins. Rumors are that the Bills will release Mario Williams, and they may need a long-term option to succeed 32 year old Kyle Williams who will be coming back from a knee injury.

Robert Nkemdiche is the former number one overall rated player in the nation for the 2013 recruiting class. After two solid but unspectacular seasons Nkemdiche was finally playing up to his potential this past season, he put on a clinic in Ole Miss.' upset over Alabama, but rumors of maturity issues combined with an injury related to falling out of a window while high on synthetic marijuana have put his draft stock in bit of a free fall. At 6-foot-4, 296 pounds, he has the size of a DT but the speed of an edge rusher, and would be a very versatile weapon in any defensive scheme, and someone like Rex Ryan will take a gamble on Nkemdiche in the late first round.

20. New York Jets: Leonard Floyd OLB, Georgia

Team needs: QB/OT/OG/WR/RB/ILB

2016 free agents:Ryan Fitzpatrick, Muhammad Wilkerson, Chris Ivory, Demario Davis, Willie Colon

The Jets biggest issues are on offense, where they have a lack of playmakers outside of Brandon Marshall and capable players to block for them, but the best value would be to continue to upgrade an already stout defense. At ILB, Demario Davis is a free agent who needs to be replaced anyway and David Harris has been in rapid decline for years. On the outside they don't have much besides Lorenzo Mauldin with a 35 year old Calvin Pace set for free agency.

Leonard Floyd could be the ultimate Swiss Army knife of this draft class. During his time at UGA Floyd has played both inside and outside linebacker as well as the "Star" position which is basically the nickel safety position. He has a lightning-quick first step and can bend the edge with speed, and Floyd has a great inside counter move as well. Add to that the experience he gained this past season with dropping into coverage and Floyd is an ideal candidate to play LB in the modern pass-happy NFL. At a lean 6-foot-4, 230 pounds he does have trouble shedding blockers but has gotten remarkably better converting speed-to-power in the pass-rush.

21. Washington Redskins: Andrew Billings DT, Baylor

Team needs:QB/ILB/S/CB/RT

2016 free agents:Kirk Cousins, Alfred Morris, Kedric Golston, Keenan Robinson

The most unexpected of the 2015 playoff teams, Washington does have several needs to address including upgrades at both ILB positions as well as at safety. On the defensive line they need a long-term replacement for free agent Terrance Knighton as well as depth in general. Offensively they absolutely need an upgrade at OC.

Andrew Billings has been a personal favorite of mine since last season. As a high school senior he beat Olympic weightlifting champion Mark Henry's Texas state weightlifting record. At Baylor, he was virtually impossible to block one-on-one. He can play NT but still has the speed to chase down ball carriers 20 yards downfield.

22. Houston Texans: Ezekiel Elliot RB, Ohio State

Team needs:QB/OG/DE/RB/NT

2016 free agents:Shane Lechler, Brandon Brooks, Ben Jones, Jared Crick, T.J. Yates, Nick Novak

Unless the Texans want to roll the dice on Connor Cook and his maturity issues, they will have to try and fill needs at RB or DE. They would have taken Todd Gurley in 2015, and quite possibly Melvin Gordon too, so if he's available Ezekiel Elliot would be the likely pick as a long-term replacement for the oft-injured Arian Foster.

Ezekiel Elliot is a beast, with the ability to run over defenders or hit the hole with quickness and a second gear to break off runs for big gains. He exploded onto the national scene in his sophomore season during Ohio State's run to the National Championship.

23. Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell WR, Ole' Miss.

Team needs:OT/OG/WR/WLB/SS

2016 free agents:Chad Greenway, Terrence Newman, Robert Blanton, Kendrick Ellis, Matt Asiata

If the Vikings could protect Teddy Bridgewater a little better they could be serious contenders some day. While they're at it, Minnesota could use a true number one WR. On the defensive side, Chad Greenway is a 32 year old free agent and they desperately need a SS to pair with Harrison Smith.

Getting Laquon Treadwell here is simply a value pick. Mostly thought of as a potential top-5 pick, it's rumored that he will run a 4.65 40 at the combine, which will dramatically alter his draft stock, and would make him more Alshon Jeffery than Mike Evans. Treadwell came back nicely from a nasty leg injury suffered during his sophomore season. He provides a big target with a huge catch radius but a lack of separation speed could see him tumble out of the first round if that projected 40 time holds true at the combine.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Thomas WR, Ohio State

Team needs: FS/SS/LB/WR/DT

2016 free agents:Leon Hall, Andre Smith, Reggie Nelson, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, George Iloka, Vincent Rey

Will Andy Dalton ever win a playoff game? With a loaded roster the Bengals will once again have the luxury of simply taking the best player available, although depending on free agency the Bengals could have needs at WR as well as both safety positions. While DT isn't a big need, it could still be addressed early in the 2016 draft. Brandon Thompson is a free agent, and more importantly Domata Peko has been in decline for a few years now.

Michael Thomas, the nephew of former Tampa Bay WR Keyshawn Johnson, has good size and is an excellent route runner with the athleticism and shiftiness to make long gains after the catch.

25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaylon Smith ILB, Notre Dame

Team needs: CB/SS/LT/LG/DL/QB2

2016 free agents:Kelvin Beachum, Ramon Foster, Steve McLendon, Willie Gay, Antwon Blake, Sean Spence, Brandon Boykin, Will Allen, Robert Golden, Bruce Gradkowski, Darrius Heyward-Bey

Before we get into the pick itself let's start this off with a quick rundown of the Steelers top needs. Let's see...secondary, secondary, and more SECONDARY am I right? Even if the Steelers re-sign Willie Gay, and I'm assuming that Brandon Boykin will not re-sign, then the Steelers top three starting CB's will be Gay, Cockrell, and 2015 2nd round pick Senquez Golson. So we can pencil in Golson as a long-term starter(hopefully), and even though he had his moments in 2015 Ross Cockrell is far from a sure thing(2017 RFA), Willie Gay is an at least average starter who at 31 years old will likely re-sign on a reasonable three-year deal. And of course the Steelers could re-sign Tomlin favorite and Steelers fans ire of scorn Antwon Blake. Could the Steelers upgrade from that squad? Of course they could, but is it a dire need given how little value the Steelers put on the CB position, probably not. Whether or not you're a fan of Mike Mitchell at FS, everyone has to agree that he is at least a slightly above average starter, and he's locked into a contract in which he won't see free agency until 2019. At SS the soon-to-be 34 year old Will Allen is a free agent, likely to be re-signed to a minimum one-year deal. His heir apparent will need to be drafted at some point soon, either this year or in 2017. I'm also assuming that the Steelers will also re-sign Robert Golden who provides quality depth at the position.

While elsewhere the biggest issues facing the Steelers could be on the offensive line. Both starting LT Kelvin Beachum and starting LG Ramon Foster will be free agents. If I had to guess I'd say that the Steelers do re-sign the 30 year old Foster to a modest 3-5 year deal, but the fate of Beachum is somewhat complicated by his coming off of an ACL tear and his Backup Alejandro Villanueva playing surprisingly well in his absence. The Steelers couldn't come to terms with Beachum on a deal before the start of the 2015 season, and combine that with Villanueva's play and Beachum will likely find some other city to call home going forward. Although it's worth mentioning that Beachum has stated that he emphatically wants to return to Pittsburgh. Regardless of whether or not Beachum is re-signed it's unlikely that the Steelers will spend an early pick(rounds one or two) on an offensive lineman unless by some miracle an elite talent falls in the draft.

Something I've seen debated vigorously within the comments section of nearly every draft related article here on BTSC recently is whether or not the Steelers should use an early pick for depth purposes on the defensive line, despite the fact that Cam Heyward is not only one of the top 3-4 DE's in the NFL and signed a six-year extension last offseason, but that 2014 2nd round pick Stephon Tuitt is really coming into his own opposite of Heyward. Using a first or second round pick on a player who, while he may be the best player available, will have little long-term value as a future starter just doesn't make sense unless the Steelers see said player as the long-term option at NT. You're not going to draft someone early so they can steal reps from quality starters, and you're not going to draft someone early who's only going to contribute 10-15 snaps per game for the entirety for his rookie contract unless there's an injury. As is always the case, if an elite talent like DeForest Buckner were to fall into the Steelers lap, or A'Shawn Robinson who has the size and power of a NT but still has the first-step explosiveness of a 3-4 DE, of course the Steelers should jump on them. Yes Steve McLendon is a pending free agent, and yes he could definitely be upgraded, but as has been said by many on BTSC , in the modern NFL you don't spend an early pick on a NT who's going to come off of the field on obvious passing downs. Plus, Steve McLendon will likely be re-signed to a modest deal.

Another lively debate is the future of ROLB Jarvis Jones, especially given that soon-to-be 38 year old James Harrison will be playing out his final year before retirement. Do the Steelers view Jones as a bust and could his 5th year option be declined, we'll find out soon enough I suppose. If it's picked up the OLB debate becomes a moot point until next offseason. The Steelers aren't really the type of organization to give up on it's players unless there are off-the-field issues, so my guess is that Jones' option will be picked up. But should Harrison decide to hang up his cleats instead of playing out the final year of his deal, the Steelers will likely draft a pass-rusher for depth at some point.

We won't even delve into the backup QB situation because Ben Roethlisberger has at least three more very productive seasons left in him, so if we're drafting a QB it's going to be a late rounder intended to be competition for Landry Jones, and not Ben's heir apparent.

So to recap, the Steelers definitely need a long-term solution at SS, will absolutely need a starter at LG if they fail to re-sign Kelvin Beachum AND Ramon Foster, they could use an upgrade at CB, and will definitely spend some picks at some point on improving the depth on the offensive and defensive lines.

The Steelers drafting philosophy has generally been to sit tight and let the draft come to them. As I've mentioned this in previous posts and comments, in the Kevin Colbert era the Steelers have only traded back once in the first round(Casey Hampton), and have only traded up twice in the same period(Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes). Also to consider, since the AFL/NFL merger the Steelers have never been without/not drafted in the first round. So while of course they could trade out of the first round to acquire more picks, it's very unlikely that they will do so.

So who's on the board that would interest the Steelers?

This is a very good draft for defensive linemen. If the Steelers were to spend a first round pick for depth purposes the likely culprit would be Alabama's Jarran Reed. That man was built to play in a 3-4 defense. He wouldn't offer much in the way of a pass-rush but he would be a stone wall against the run, and would be a big upgrade over Steve McLendon at NT. The next few defensive linemen are much better fits for a 4-3 defense, and as we've all seen with Ziggy Hood as a prime example, trying to fit a square peg into a round hole is simply a waste of a perfectly good first round pick.

In the event that the Steelers do decline the option of Jarvis Jones and James Harrison does indeed retire, there are plenty of options available as well. Kevin Dodd is fresh off of being the National Championship darling with a 3 sack performance, and both Jonathan Bullard or Shilique Calhoun would be intriguing options.

The only offensive lineman that I see being an option in the event that both Beachum and Foster sign elsewhere is Indiana's Jason Spriggs. He had a quality week of practice at the Senior Bowl and will likely rocket up draft boards once he shows off his athleticism at the combine, and he's an ideal fit for a zone blocking scheme.

The Steelers perceived biggest need at SS isn't likely to be filled here. While there is quality depth at the safety position in this draft class, it lacks star power at the top. It would take a miracle of sorts, either in the form of a previously undiagnosed medial condition to become public before the draft or an off-the-field incident, for the virtual top-10 locked Jalen Ramsey to fall this far, and he's the only safety projected to become a first round pick. Some have speculated that the Steelers could use this pick on Boise State's Darian Thompson but it would be a reach at this point.

So does that really leads us to where we've been so many times before in these mock drafts, the cornerback position. Yes it's true that the Steelers don't value the position as much, or perhaps it was Dick LeBeau who didn't value it. After all, the Steelers went a decade without spending a first or a second round pick at the CB position until they "retired" Dick LeBeau and then low and behold look what happened, they spent a 2015 second round pick on Senquez Golson.

The only CB's available that will enter the discussion are Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller and Ohio State's Eli Apple. Both have good size for the position, Fuller is 6-foot and 197 pounds and Apple is 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, and both have elite level athleticism. Both are very fluid athletes with the ability to mirror and go stride-for-stride with any WR. Both are also considered fairly raw. An important note is that both players have experience playing in zone concepts, something that is fairly rare in the college ranks, and something that the top CB prospects in this draft class don't have, so perhaps their transition to the Steelers defense would be a little more smooth.

Kendall Fuller comes from a de facto DB factory of a football family and was once considered one of the best CB prospects in this draft class before a torn meniscus in his knee robbed him of most of his junior season. In the much anticipated match-up of Fuller's junior season(before the injury) Fuller did not have his best game against a potent OSU offense and got abused by Michael Thomas. His 2014 tape is much better so it'll be important to distinguish whether an MCL sprain at the start of the season affected his play against OSU, and whether his injury issues are a thing of the past. He may have the higher upside between himself and his brother Kyle(Bears 2014 14th overall pick), but Kendall Fuller has a few technique issues to work on and it may take at least a season before he makes a substantial contribution to the defense. I will say that at this point Fuller is a little less raw than Eli Apple.

Eli Apple is equally strong playing off or press, zone or man coverage. As a redshirt sophomore he is predictably rough around the edges but as with Mackenzie Alexander, three years from now he could be considered one of, if not the, best CB's from this draft class. He does have a little of that Trae Waynes' "Mr. Handsy" to him when left to hold coverage for too long. He's also got a little of that Jason Verrett, extremely aggressive, fight-for-the-ball toughness to him which can be a blessing as well as a curse.

Overall these two CB's are very evenly matched. Both come with high upside but will likely take time to develop. I believe that if it comes down to the two of them the Steelers will take Eli Apple. Aside from an iron deficiency discovered during his redshirt season, and something that was quickly corrected, Eli Apple doesn't have anything in his injury history that should give the Steelers any cause for concern. He's also had more experience in zone coverage, and is more scheme versatile as well. Not that it would matter much but the Steelers also seem to have a preference for players from Ohio State, and Mike Tomlin will probably like that Apple is younger than Fuller with less wear and tear on his body, and would love the fire and intensity that Apple plays with. Despite all of that, it's extremely close between the two of them and I don't believe the Steelers could go wrong with either Eli Apple or Kendall Fuller.

Of course having said all of that, if he's available I simply see no way that the Steelers let Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith get past them. When healthy, Jaylon Smith is a three-down LB, a top three prospect in this draft class, and a player who can do it all at the linebacker position. He can rush the passer, drop into coverage, and be a real force against the run. He's got the skills and body type to play both inside as well as outside linebacker. With recent news that Smith could be ready for the start of the NFL season, after having suffered a torn ACL and LCL in his final game at Notre Dame, his stock has rebounded and he will could likely end up a top-15 pick. Smith will likely start the 2016 season on the pup list while he gets back into football shape.

The number one rule to being a successful team with regards to the draft is to take the best player available instead of reaching for a need, which is what the Steelers have done time and time again in the first round of the draft and it's served them well. Smith wouldn't contribute much in his rookie season, and will most likely spend most of 2016 redshirting while he rehabs his knee, but provided team doctors are comfortable that he will return 100% from injury, how do they not take a player who's being mentioned with the same fervor as Luke Kuechly and Patrick Willis were when they were LB prospects coming into the NFL draft?

Sean Spence is a free agent, and as valuable as he's been as a backup, Spence will likely be looking for a chance to start somewhere and for more money than the cash-strapped Steelers will be able to afford to offer him. I could see Spence going back home to Miami given the Dolphins need for help at LB. Soon-to-be 30 year old Lawrence Timmons is heading into the final year of his contract which will pay him an absurd 15 millions dollars. And while he's still a valuable member of the defense, Timmons trademark speed is in a noticeable decline. In addition to Timmons 2017 free agency we'll also likely say goodbye to Vince Williams who, like Spence, will be looking for more money and an opportunity to start. Williams could be looking to join his brother Karlos in Buffalo, where Rex Ryan would love to have a thumper of his caliber in the middle of the defense.

With regards to the draft the Steelers also like to keep a keen eye on their future needs, and in 2017 the Steelers could have Jaylon Smith and Ryan Shazier manning the middle of the defense. Pittsburgh could have the best 3-4 ILB tandem the NFL has ever seen, even more so than the 49ers had with Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman in their prime.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Kenny Clark DT, UCLA

Team needs:OT/OG/OC/DT/SLB

2016 free agents:Russell Okung, J.R. Sweezy, Jermaine Kearse, Brandon Mebane, Ahtyba Rubin, Bruce Irvin

The biggest issue in Seattle is their inability to protect Russell Wilson. Unfortunately none of the available linemen that would represent value for this pick are likely to register a high SPARQ rating, which is a test created by Nike to determine overall athleticism and also happens to be something that head coach Pete Carroll values highly with regards to the draft process. They could take Jason Spriggs but he would be a slight reach and there are other prospects who represent better value.

With so many other players on the defense getting new contracts it's very likely that the Seahawks will let Bruce Irvin walk in free agency, who is rumored to be heading to Atlanta to reunite with Dan Quinn, so they will need someone to play the "OTTO" position, and either Darron Lee or Su'a Cravens would be a good fit.

Despite having just an average size for the DT position, the 6-foot-3 and 308 pounds Kenny Clark has been relied upon to play DE, DT, and nose tackle for the Bruins. He has a very good combination of size and speed, being an anchor against the run and flashing the first-step explosion reminiscent of Geno Atkins, Clark could play any number of positions on the defensive line but would be best as a 3-tech under DT in a 4-3 defense.

27. Green Bay Packers: Jarran Reed DT, Alabama

Team needs:NT/DE/ILB

2016 free agents: BJ Raji, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Casey Hayward, James Starks, Mason Crosby, James Jones

The Packers have many needs in the front seven of their defense. They tried to play Clay Matthews everywhere but he's only one man. They did manage to re-sign Mike Daniels but need a long-term replacement for B.J. Raji and a do-over for first round bust Datone Jones.

Jarran Reed is a classic Packers-type of defensive lineman. At 6-foot-3, 315 pounds he's big and powerful, built like a tree and is practically an immovable object against the run. Unlike his fellow Alabama compatriot A'Shawn Robinson, there isn't much in the way of pass-rushing prowess with Reed, which will limit his appeal to strictly teams that employ a 3-4 defense.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Jason Spriggs OT, Indiana

Team needs: LT/RT/S/ILB

2016 free agents: Eric Berry, Sean Smith, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Husain Abdullah, Donald Stephenson

There's no need to question what the Chiefs should be shooting for here. Eric Fisher has been a massive bust and K.C. needs to take this opportunity to grab some offensive line help to protect Alex Smith.

This is probably the highest you'll see Jason Spriggs in any mock draft at the moment, but after the combine he's likely to shoot up the draft boards. A converted TE, Spriggs has an optimum build at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds and athleticism for a team employing a zone blocking scheme. He can mirror defenders with ease. His biggest drawback is a lack of power to drive defenders down field, but he has the frame to pack on more muscle once he gets into an NFL strength and conditioning program.


Team Needs: CB/WR/ILB/OG/OC

2016 free agents:Ryan Wendell, LeGarrette Blount

The Patriots biggest issues are at WR and CB. Their WR corps are solid but pretty unspectacular, while they did practically nothing to replace Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner at CB.

29. Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Dodd DE/OLB, Clemson

Team needs:OLB/OC/RT/CB/ILB/S

2016 free agents:Bob Massie, Sean Weatherspoon, Jerraud Powers, Rashad Johnson, Chris Johnson

Arizona really wanted Bud Dupree in the 2015 draft but when he was chosen by Pittsburgh they had to fill another need. In 2016 the Cardinals still find themselves needing help at OLB as well as on the offensive line.

That "other" DE from Clemson, Kevin Dodd is gaining some momentum as the better of the two between him and Shaq Lawson. While ranking second in the nation in tackles for loss with 23.5 behind Shaq Lawson, Dodd actually had more QB pressures. He definitely passes the eyeball test at 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, but some including myself are worried as to whether or not Dodd was a one-year wonder.

30. Carolina Panthers: Kendall Fuller CB, Virginia Tech

Team needs: LT/CB/S/DE/WR

2016 free agents:Josh Norman, Charles Tillman, Mike Tolbert, Roman Harper, Amini Silatolu

The Panthers number one priority this offseason should be finding a long-term solution at LT because it's not Michael Oher. Unfortunately unless the Panthers trade up they will likely find better value at other positions. Another issue that Carolina will have to address is at CB,  where they will have to pony-up big bucks to pending free agent CB Josh Norman, a former 5th round pick but has become one of the top CB's in the NFL. Even if they manage to re-sign Norman, Carolina still needs to replace 34 year old free agent Charles Tillman who will miss the offseason rehabbing from an ACL tear.

Prior to a season ending knee injury Kendall Fuller was being mentioned as perhaps the best CB in this draft class. At 6-foot and almost 200 pounds, he has the ideal size to go with excellent speed. While not as technically sound as his brother Kyle Fuller, the 14th overall picks for the Bears in 2014, because of his athleticism he does have a higher upside. His showing at the combine and pro day will likely have a dramatic effect on his draft stock.

31. Denver Broncos: Jack Conklin OT/OG, Michigan State

Team needs:OT/OG/TE/DE/ILB/OLB

2016 free agents:Von Miller, Malik Jackson, Brock Osweiler, Danny Trevathan, Evan Mathis

As long as Von Miller is re-signed, this pick will almost assuredly be used to upgrade the offense after spending several drafts rebuilding the defense. Plus, Derek Wolfe has already been re-signed and there are rumors that Denver is working on a new contract for Malik Jackson. In addition to needing a successor to Peyton Manning, provided that they do not re-sign Brock Osweiler, the Broncos have had several issues dealing with injury along the offensive line. A wildcard pick would be Hunter Henry as a long-term solution at TE.

A former walk-on, Jack Conklin is the classic blue-collar, mauler type in the run game with excellent strength but is not a great athlete, and needs to work on his lateral athleticism. As with Taylor Decker, Jack Conklin would be better served playing RT or possibly OG in the NFL.


32. Cleveland Browns - Corey Coleman WR, Baylor

Typically when a team drafts a QB in the 1st rd they get him some help in the 2nd.

33. Tennessee Titans - Derek Henry RB, Alabama

Bishop Sankey has been a complete bust.

34. Dallas Cowboys - Eli Apple CB, Ohio State

Orlando Scandrick is coming back from injury and Brandon Carr may be released for cap reasons.

35. San Diego Chargers - Adolphus Washington DT/DE, Ohio State

After showing promise early in his career, free agent Kendall Reyes has largely become a bust.

36. Baltimore Ravens - Darian Thompson FS, Boise State

Matt Elam has been a bust.

37. San Fransisco 49ers - Kenny Lawler WR, Cal

Anquan Boldin is a 35 year old free agent.

38. Miami Dolphins - Darron Lee OLB, Ohio State

Kelvin Sheppard is a free agent who needs to be replaced.

39. Jacksonville Jaguars - Xavien Howard CB, Baylor

Jacksonville needs help in the secondary.

40. New York Giants - Germain Ifedi OT, Texas A&M

The Giants have a big hole at RT.

41. Chicago Bears - William Jackson III CB, Houston

The Bears need a starter opposite of Kyle Fuller.

42. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Sheldon Rankins DT, Louisville

T.B. has no pass-rush except from Gerald McCoy.

43. ***TRADE*** Tennessee Titans (from L.A. Rams via Philadelphia Eagles) - Shon Coleman OT, Auburn

Tennessee will likely keep Jeremiah Poutasi at LG.

44. Oakland Raiders - Jeremy Cash S, Duke

Charles Woodson retired and Larry Asante is a free agent.

45. ***TRADE*** Tennessee Titans (via L.A. Rams) - Keanu Neal FS, Florida

Michael Griffin was released.

46. Detroit Lions - Johnathan Bullard DE, Florida

Jason Jones is a free agent.

47. New Orleans Saints - Hunter Henry TE, Arkansas

Ben Watson is a 34 year old free agent.

48. Indianapolis Colts - Su'a Cravens LB/S, USC

Jerrell Freeman is a free agent.

49. Buffalo Bills - Denver Kirkland OG/OT, Arkansas

Seantrel Henderson and Cyrus Kouandjio have both been busts at RT.

50. Atlanta Falcons - Jalen Mills CB/S, LSU

Atlanta released William Moore.

51. New York Jets - Cody Whitehair OT/OG, Kansas State

Willie Colon is a free agent.

52. Houston Texans - Christian Hackenberg QB, Penn State

Bill O'Brien gets his golden boy from Penn State.

53. Washington Redskins - Ryan Kelly OC, Alabama

The biggest reason for Washington's inconsistent running game is sub par play at OC.

54. Minnesota Vikings - Vadal Alexander OT/OG, LSU

The Vikings may cut Matt Kalil before his 5th year option goes into effect and pays him $11 mill.

55. Cincinnati Bengals - Austin Johnson NT, Penn State

Brandon Thompson is a free agent and Domata Peko is in decline.

56. Seattle Seahawks - Le'Raven Clark OT/OG, Texas Tech

Seattle has to protect Russell Wilson better.

57. Green Bay Packers - Braxton Miller WR, Ohio State

At the Senior Bowl Miller was described as either a tougher Randall Cobb or a more athletic Hines Ward.

58. Pittsburgh Steelers - Vonn Bell SS, Ohio State

What would a Steelers draft be without plucking a defensive player from Ohio state?

Vonn Bell may be the best pure strong safety in this draft class, or at worst the 1b to Jeremy Cash's 1a. He's a tough, instinctive player who can defend the run but still has the quick twitch athleticism to read and react. He's also used to cover the slot, and has the skills to shadow a WR down the field. With 12 career interceptions in two seasons starting for the Buckeyes, Bell isn't just a coverage guy but a playmaker in the secondary.

At only 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, Bell has only average size for a safety prospect. He also needs to improve his ability to anticipate routes, and may be a liability in a cover 2 scheme, something Pittsburgh has toyed with, until he does.

59. Kansas City Chiefs - Kentrell Brothers LB, Missouri

Derrick Johnson is a 33 year old free agent.

60. New England Patriots - Sheldon Day DT/DE, Notre Dame

Belechick loves to collect versatile defensive linemen and Dominique Easley is always injured.

61. Arizona Cardinals - Nick Martin OC, Notre Dame

Ted Larsen is a free agent who badly needs to be replaced.

62. Carolina Panthers - Shilique Calhoun DE/OLB, Michigan State

Charles Johnson may be a cap casualty.

63. Denver Broncos - Connor Cook QB, Michigan State

Rumors are that Manning is done in Denver, the question is whether Osweiler will stay.


64. Tennessee Titans - Artie Burns CB, Miami

Tennessee continues to rebuild their secondary.

65. Cleveland Browns - Joshua Perry OLB, Ohio State

The Browns were rumored to be shopping Paul Kruger, plus Barkevious Mingo has been a bust.

66. San Diego Chargers - Austin Hooper TE, Stanford

Antonio Gates is 35 years old and a free agent, as is Ladarius Green.

67. Dallas Cowboys - Alex Collins RB, Arkansas

Jerry Jones bolsters the Dallas RB depth with someone from his alma mater.

68. San Fransisco 49ers - Kyle Murphy OT, Stanford

The 49ers have had a hole at RT since Anthony Davis retired.

69. Miami Dolphins - Miles Killebrew SS, Southern Utah

Miami showed a lot of interest in Killebrew at the Senior Bowl.

70. Jacksonville Jaguars - Graham Glascow OC/OG, Michigan

Stefen Wisniewski is a free agent.

71. Baltimore Ravens - Carl Nassib DE, Penn State

Terrell Suggs is going on 34 years old and will be coming back from an Achilles injury.

72. Chicago Bears - Chris Jones DT, Mississippi State

Chicago continues to rebuild their defense.

73. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Paul Perkins RB, UCLA

Doug Martin is looking to "hit the jackpot" in free agency.

74. New York Giants - Harlan Miller CB, Southeastern Louisiana

Prince Amukamara is an injury-plagued free agent.

75. Oakland Raiders - Joshua Garnett OG, Stanford

Khalif Barnes is a free agent.

76. Los Angeles Rams - Josh Doctson WR, TCU

Brian Quick is a free agent and a former second round bust.

77. Philadelphia Eagles (via Detroit Lions) - Sebastian Tetola OG, Arkansas

Chip Kelly created huge holes at OG.

78. New Orleans Saints - Deon Jones OLB, LSU

The Saints set a record for the number of passing TD's allowed in a season and need a WLB who can cover.

79. Philadelphia Eagles - Karl Joseph S, West Virginia

Walter Thurmond is a free agent.

80. Buffalo Bills - Tyler Boyd WR, Pittsburgh

Robert Woods has been a second round bust.

81. Atlanta Falcons - Pharoh Cooper WR, South Carolina

Roddy White is on a serious downswing and Julio Jones can't be their only reliable target.

82. Indianapolis Colts - Jordan Jenkins OLB, Georgia

No one but 35 year old Robert Mathis can generate any pressure.

83. New York Jets - Kenneth Dixon RB, La. Tech

Chris Ivory is a free agent.

84. Washington Redskins - Tyler Matakevich ILB, Temple

Keenan Robinson is a free agent who needs to be replaced.

85. Houston Texans - Maliek Collins DT, Nebraska

Jared Crick is a free agent.

86. Minnesota Vikings - Landon Turner OG, North Carolina

Michael Harris is a free agent and Brandon Fusco needs to be replaced.

87. Cincinnati Bengals - Jayron Kearse S, Clemson

Reggie Nelson and George Iloka are both free agents.

88. Green Bay Packers - Beniquez Brown ILB, Mississippi State

GM Ted Thompson was rumored to really like Beniquez Brown at the East/West Shrine Game.

89. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jerald Hawkins OT, LSU

With Kelvin Beachum and Ramon Foster headed for free agency, the Steelers would be wise to grab an offensive lineman as insurance. It's likely that Foster will be re-signed just as it's likely that Beachum will find a new home after being unable to come to terms on a new contract, which would leave Alejandro Villanueva as the sole person on the roster to guard Ben's blindside. Due to a fluke in the CBA Mike Adams won't be a free agent until 2017, but after sitting out all of 2016 with back issues can he be depended upon should the need arise for him to start?

Jerald Hawkins beat out teammate and fellow draftee Vadal Alexander for the LT spot after La'el Collins left LSU for the NFL. At 6-foot-6, 305 pounds he has ideal length with long arms, solid athleticism and excellent footwork for an OT coming from a run-heavy team like LSU. He can get to the second level in a hurry and with ease, something that would be valued in Pittsburgh.

So why is this tube of wonderful still on the board at the end of the third round? Well it's because Hawkins will definitely need to work on his core strength in an NFL strength and conditioning program. For a prospect who's over 300 pounds, Hawkins body-type looks more like a TE rather than an OT, with fairly skinny arms and legs. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak may love Hawkins footwork but he'll have a lot of work to do on his hand technique. Depending on how well his frame fills out, Jerald Hawkins may be a better long-term option at OG based on his athleticism but lack of bulk.

90. Seattle Seahawks - Rashard Higgins WR, Colorado State

Jermaine Kearse has already stated that he won't be giving any hometown discounts.

91. Kansas City Chiefs - DeAndre Houston-Carson CB/S, William & Mary

Eric Berry and Husain Abdullah are both free agents.

92. New England Patriots - Jordan Howard RB, Indiana

LeGarrette Blount is a free agent.

93. Arizona Cardinals - Scooby Wright III LB, Arizona State

Sean Weatherspoon is an injury-plagued free agent and Kevin Minter can't cover.

94. Carolina Panthers - Joe Haeg OT, North Dakota State

Michael Oher was embarrassed by Denver's pass-rush in the Superbowl.

95. Denver Broncos - Antonio Morrison ILB, Florida

Danny Trevathan is a free agent.


96. Cleveland Browns - Christian Westerman OC/OG, Arizona State

Alex Mack will likely opt out, leaving Cam Irving to play either OC or RG.

97. Tennessee Titans - Dominique Alexander ILB, Oklahoma

Zach Brown is a free agent.

98. Dallas Cowboys - Jihad Ward DT/DE, Illinois

Greg Hardy is a free agent.

99. San Diego Chargers - Max Tuerk OC, USC

The carousel at OC since Nick Hardwick's injury and subsequent retirement has been laughable.

100. Miami Dolphins - Bronson Kaufusi DE, BYU

Even if Vernon Oliver is re-signed, Cameron Wake will likely be a cap casualty.

101. Jacksonville Jaguars - James Bradberry CB/S, Samford

Johnathan Cyprien is looking like an injury-plagued 2nd rd bust.

102. Baltimore Ravens - De'Runnya Wilson WR, Mississippi State

Steve Smith is 36 years old and coming back from an Achilles injury.

103. San Francisco 49ers - Tyler Johnstone OG/OT, Oregon

Alex Boone is unlikely to re-sign.

104. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Will Redmond CB, Mississippi State

Sterling Moore is  free agent.

105. New York Giants - Yannick Ngakoue OLB, Maryland

The Giants may have the worst LB corps in the NFL.

106. Chicago Bears - Kyler Frackrell OLB, Utah State

Chicago needs an OLB to pair with Pernell McPhee.

107. Los Angeles Rams - Deiondre' Hall B, Northern Iowa

The Rams won't be able to re-sign both Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.

108. Detroit Lions - Will Fuller WR, Notre Dame

Calvin Johnson retired.

109. New Orleans Saints - Kenyan Drake RB, Alabama

C.J. Spiller will likely be a cap casualty and the Saints are rumored to like Kenyan Drake.

110. Philadelphia Eagles - Devontae Booker RB, Utah

DeMarco Murray was a Chip Kelly bust signing.

111. Oakland Raiders - Kamalei Correa DE/OLB, Boise State

Aldon Smith has been suspended for a year.

112. Atlanta Falcons - Jack Allen OC, Michigan State

Mike Person needs to be replaced.

113. Indianapolis Colts - Hassan Ridgeway DT, Texas

Indy is looking to upgrade at NT.

114. Buffalo Bills - Alex McCalister DE/OLB Florida

Mario Williams will likely be released and the Bills will convert to a 3-4 defense.

115. New York Jets - Nick Vigil ILB, Utah State

Demario Davis is a free agent who needs to be replaced.

116. Houston Texans - Spencer Drango OT/OG, Baylor

Brandon Brooks and Ben Jones are both free agents.

117. Washington Redskins - Zack Sanchez CB, Oklahoma

DeAngelo Hall was so bad at CB that they tried him at safety.

118. Minnesota Vikings - Dadi Nicolas DE/OLB Virginia Tech

Chad Greenway is a 33 year old free agent.

119. Cincinnati Bengals - Eric Striker OLB, Oklahoma

Vincent Rey is a free agent.

120. Pittsburgh Steelers - Eric Murray CB, Minnesota

The Steelers have to draft a CB at some point don't they? With Ross Cockrell and Senquez Golson on the roster and at least Willie Gay likely re-signing the Steelers don't have to draft a CB early, but will likely spend a mid-round pick on the position as is their nature to do so.

So who do the Steelers pick? LSU's Rashard Robinson has the tantalizing size/speed combo, but a year away from football and off-the-field issues will likely scare them away. Notre Dame's KeiVarae Russell has the national notoriety be he'll be coming off of an injury-shortened season with a fractured tibia.

The player who seems to make the most sense from the Steelers prospective is the jack-of-all trades Eric Murray. He can play press, off, man or zone coverage, can blitz the edge, and is solid in run support. At 5-foot-11, 198 pounds he has solid/average size, but with one career interception he's not going to be much of a turnover machine for the defense.

The Steelers could give some consideration to Murray's teammate Briean Boddy-Calhoun, but even though he's a tough, physical defender Boddy-Calhoun only measured in at 5-foot-9 at the East-West Shrine game wherein he also failed to impress on the field.

121. Seattle Seahawks - Rashard Robinson CB, LSU

Seattle needs a dependable starter opposite of Richard Sherman.

122. Green Bay Packers - Joe Dahl OT, Washington State

G.B. lacks depth at OT and likes versatile, athletic linemen.

123. Kansas City Chiefs -Shawn Oakman DE, Baylor

Mike DeVito and Jaye Howard are both free agents.

124. New England Patriots -  Josh Forrest ILB, Kentucky

Jerod Mayo retired.

125. Carolina Panthers - Tyvis Powell S, Ohio State

Roman Harper needs to be replaced.

126. Baltimore Ravens (via Denver Broncos) - Cole Toner OT, Harvard

Kelechi Osemele is a free agent and Eugene Monroe is injury-prone.