One of the most common misconceptions about the NFL Draft is that there are 32 first round talents in the class. While there are 32 players taken in the first round, there aren’t 32 players that have a first round grade on most teams draft boards. Instead, around a dozen or so players will end up with a first round grade come April. 

The rest of the players taken in the first round are second round talent. While there might not be “first round talent” left on the board around pick 25 or so, teams simply have to make a selection at their spot because someone has to make one. For example, the Lions most likely had guard Laken Tomlinson as a second round talent, but selected him with their first round pick in 2015 because they needed to make a selection, they liked him and they decided to pick him up a little early rather than risk him getting picked up by another team.

In the 2016 NFL Draft, the situation is no different. We can identify a dozen or so players that will likely end up with a first round grade when teams finalize their draft boards. Let’s take a moment to learn a bit about them.

Players listed in alphabetical order.

Bosa, Joey

College: Ohio State, junior

Position: defensive end/edge rusher

H/W: 6-6, 275 lbs.

High School: St. Thomas Aquinas (FL)

Recruit Ranking: #4 strong-side defensive end, #37 overall

Joey Bosa played a limited role during his freshman campaign but burst onto the scene as a sophomore during Ohio State’s championship run. He dominated offensive tackles on a weekly basis and, by the end of the season, NFL teams were using him to base their evaluations of offensive linemen. He’s big, strong and damn near unblockable. Even if he doesn’t record a tackle, Bosa affects the play by driving offensive tackles into the quarterback. He lives in enemy backfields and even has a mortgage on a house he built back there. I have him mocked at No. 7 to the Dolphins, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Titans at No. 1 and the Ravens at No. 3.

Goff, Jared

College: California, junior

Position: quarterback

H/W: 6-4, 215 lbs.

High School: Marin Catholic (CA)

Recruit Ranking: #15 pro-style quarterback, #219 overall

While he wasn’t highly regarded coming out of high school, Jared Goff won the quarterback job at Cal as a true freshman. He has put up amazing stats, but Cal as a team hasn’t won many games with Goff as a starter (mostly due to their lack of talent overall). Goff might not be as physically ready for the NFL (only 215 lbs.) as other quarterback prospects, but has special arm talent and amazing accuracy as well. I have him mocked to the 49ers at No. 5, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Browns at No. 2 and the Bears at No. 10.

Hargreaves, Vernon

College: Florida, junior

Position: cornerback

H/W: 5-11, 192 lbs.

High School: Wharton (FL)

Recruit Ranking: #1 cornerback, #3 overall

Vernon Hargreaves won the starting cornerback job as a true freshman at Florida and has been one of the best players in the SEC from the moment he stepped on the field. He is the definition of a true No. 1 cornerback and has performed well against some of the top receiver talent in the SEC. His height may be a concern, and it will be interesting to see what he actually checks in as at the Combine, but NFL teams will fall in love with his physicality and ball hawking skills. I have him mocked to the Cowboys at No. 5, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Ravens at No. 3 and the Jaguars at No. 8.

Jack, Myles

College: UCLA, junior

Position: linebacker

H/W: 6-1, 245 lbs.

High School: Bellevue (WA)

Recruit Ranking: #10 outside linebacker, #212 overall

One of the most exciting players in college football over the past three seasons, Jack has done it all for UCLA. He plays linebacker, covers receivers as a slot cornerback and even carried the ball as a running back. He stepped away from UCLA after a knee injury sidelined him for the season, but he should be healthy by the time the regular season rolls around. He is the definition of an explosive athlete and can play any linebacker position in the NFL. I have him mocked to the Bears at No. 10, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Cowboys at No. 5 and the Dolphins at No. 7.

Lynch, Paxton

College: Memphis, redshirt junior

Position: quarterback

H/W: 6-7, 245 lbs.

High School: Trinity Christian (FL)

Recruit Ranking: #84 pro-style quarterback, #1857 overall

A player that was barely recruit out of high school, Paxton Lynch has blossomed at Memphis into a very good NFL prospect. He has NFL-ready size and an arm that can make any throw in the game. Teams will question his transition from AAC play to the NFL, but quarterbacks like Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles have proven that QBs can successfully transition from a lower level of conference play. I have him mocked to the Browns at No. 2, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Cowboys at No. 5 and the 49ers at No. 6.

Nkemdiche, Robert

College: Ole Miss, junior

Position: defensive tackle/defensive line

H/W: 6-4, 296 lbs.

High School: Grayson (GA)

Recruit Ranking: #2 strong-side defensive end,#1 overall

The top player from the 2013 recruiting class, Rober Nkemdiche has been an unstoppable force for Ole Miss. He started at defensive end, but moved inside to defensive tackle during his freshman campaign. The off-the-field concerns will leave teams with questions, especially after his suspension from Ole Miss’ bowl game. The Combine and pre-draft interviews will be especially important for Nkemdiche as he tries to repair his draft image with general managers. I have him mocked to the Lions at No. 11, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Chargers at No. 4 and the 49ers at No. 6.

Ramsey, Jalen

College: Florida State, junior

Position: safety/cornerback

H/W: 6-1, 202 lbs.

High School: Brentwood Academy (TN)

Recruit Ranking: #2 cornerback, #15 overall

Jalen Ramsey has played it all for Florida State, from safety as a freshman to slot corner as a sophomore to No. 1 corner as a junior. While he is a good cornerback, he arguably has a very high ceiling at safety. Teams will love his versatility and his “alpha male” attitude that he brings to the field. I have him mocked to the Ravens at No. 3, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Cowboys at No. 5 and the Jaguars at No. 8.

Ragland, Reggie

College: Alabama, senior

Position: linebacker

H/W: 6-2, 252 lbs.

High School: Bob Jones (AL)

Recruit Ranking: #1 inside linebacker, #41 overall

Another talented Alabama linebacker, Reggie Ragland has the size and physicality teams will look for. He is quicker than his size gives off and hits like a truck as well. He may arguably be a more talented prospect than C.J. Mosley in the 2014 draft. I have him mocked to the Raiders at No. 14, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Dolphins at No. 7 and the Saints at No. 9.

Smith, Jaylon

College: Notre Dame, junior

Position: linebacker

H/W: 6-2, 240 lbs.

High School: Bishop Luers (IN)

Recruit Ranking: #1 outside linebacker, #2 overall

Jaylon Smith was the second overall player in the 2013 recruiting class and has lived up to that billing with the Fighting Irish. He is a long, athletic linebacker who has great closing speed and ball-hawking abilities as well. He is arguably the most athletic linebacker in the class and, like Myles Jack, has been known to cover receivers as a slot cornerback. I have him mocked to the Jaguars at No. 8, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Chargers at No. 4 and the Cowboys at No. 5.

Stanley, Ronnie

College: Notre Dame, senior

Position: offensive tackle

H/W: 6-5, 315 lbs.

High School: Bishop Gorman (NV)

Recruit Ranking: #13 offensive tackle, #127 overall

Ronnie Stanley passed up on the NFL last season, but has grown into an even better tackle prospect with another year under his belt. The anchor for Notre Dame’s offensive line for three years, Stanley is big, physical and rarely lets edge rushers get the better of him. I have him mocked to the Chargers at No. 4, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the 49ers at No. 6 and the Lions at No. 11.

Treadwell, Laquon

College: Ole Miss, junior

Position: wide receiver

H/W: 6-2, 210 lbs.

High School: Crete-Monee (IL)

Recruit Ranking: #1 wide receiver, #14 overall

Laquon Treadwell has drawn Dez Bryant comparisons, which is impressive for a receiver coming off of a serious knee injury in 2014. He a very physical receiver and embodies the “my ball” mentality when going up for a pass. He might not have elite speed, but has very good hands and is a superb route runner. I have him mocked to the Saints at No. 9, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Cowboys at No. 5 and the Lions at No. 11.

Tunsil, Laremy

College: Ole Miss, junior

Position: offensive tackle

H/W: 6-5, 305 lbs.

High School: Columbia (FL)

Recruit Ranking: #1 offensive tackle, #4 overall

A day one starter for Ole Miss, Laremy Tunsil is perhaps the best offensive lineman in the class. He sat out half of the season due to an NCAA investigation, but teams won’t be concerned with that moving forward. He has all the tools you want in a franchise left tackle and should be an impact player from the get-go. I have him mocked to the Titans at No. 1, but have also seen him commonly mocked to the Ravens at No. 3 and the Chargers at No. 4.

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