2016 NFL Draft: Big Board 26-50

26. Michael Thomas – WR – Ohio State

The nephew of former #1 overall pick, Keyshawn Johnson, Thomas too has the ability to be a successful WR at the next level. Thomas is a really well rounded prospect that is lacking a trump card. Thomas has flashed as a plus route runner at times and shown good burst as a ball carrier in the open field. Thomas has some of the best hands in this draft as he's had 5 drops over the past two years. He should settle in as a nice WR2 in the NFL.

 

27. Christian Westerman – OG – Arizona State

Westerman is an impressive athlete who is a wrecking ball in the run game and one of the best interior pass protectors. Westerman allowed only a single sack in 2015. What stood out most watching him is his physicality and athleticism in space and how easily he made combo blocks look. Top guard in the class, in my opinion.

28. Jonathan Bullard – DT – Florida

Bullard first step in arguably the best in this class. When you combined that with his heavy hands it’s no wonder he’s such a disruptor in the pass and run game. Bullard is likely a 3-tech or defensive end at the next level. One knock against Bullard is that sometime he gets too far up field and runs himself out of plays.  

29. Andrew Billings – DT - Baylor

If you haven’t figured this out yet I have my type. I love players who are able to collapse a pocket and cause disruption and throw plays off script. Billings has out of this world strength. In 2010 as a High School senior he squatted 800 lbs., benched 500 lbs., and dead lifted 705 lbs. Probably the best pure NT in this class.

Tier 4

30. Jarran Reed – DT – Alabama

Reed is the best run defender in this class. He’s an immovable object at the point of attack and easily able to shed and find the ball-carrier. Reed is raw as a pass rusher and for that reason he may be a 2-down player in the NFL.

31. Vernon Hargreaves – DB – Florida

Hargreaves’ quick feet and smooth back pedal make him look like a natural in the secondary. Although a bit undersized he possesses impressive ball-skills and toughness on play-by-play basis. He struggled as a press corner in 2015 and at the end of the day he might be best suited in the slot. When watching him I kept seeing Casey Hayward, which isn’t a knock.

32. Will Redmond – DB – Mississippi State

Redmond is very similar to Hargreaves. Redmond has above average movement skills and a brash confidence too his game. He’s fearless coming up in the run game, although he’s prone to whiffing at times due to having his dead down. Redmond unfortunately tore his ACL in October, which is likely the reason why he’s not a more popular name at this point in the draft process. 

33. Cody Whitehair – OG – Kansas State

Whitehair played LT his senior season but will likely move inside to either guard or center. Whitehair has a calmness to his game due to his masterful technique and strong hands. He’s always in control whether he’s on the move in the run game or dropping his anchor in the pass game. A “high floor” prospect.

34. KeiVarae Russell – DB – Notre Dame

Russell is an experienced outside corner with great size and speed. Showed impressive ball skills in the games that I watched and ability to click and close to defend passes or come up and lays a lick.

 

35. Karl Joseph – S – West Virginia

Joseph plays with a fearless aggression. He’s only 5’9” but don’t let his size fool you. He’s an enforcer out there on the football field. Joseph has displayed outstanding range at times to go along with his impressive ball-skills. Had 5 INT before tearing his ACL in 2015. If Joseph cleans up his tackling he’s got the talent to be one of the best all-around safeties in the league.

36. Reggie Ragland – LB – Alabama

Ragland is your throwback LB who is a hammer in the run game. My main concern with him is if he can be more than a 2-down player. Alabama used him as a pass rusher at times this year and it makes you wonder if they didn’t trust him in the passing game. He tested out as an average athlete by NFL standards so maybe I am being a little too hard on him.

37. Cardale Jones – QB – Ohio State

Jones is definitely a wild card in this draft. I choose to view him through the 2014 lens rather than 2015 because he will not be running Urban Meyer’s system in the NFL. During OSU’s title run you saw all of Jones’ tools on display. The moment is never too big for him. He relishes it.

38. Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis

Lynch is another toolsy QB displaying functional mobility and a cannon of an arm. The most impressive aspect of Lynch’s game is how cool he was under pressure. Per Pro Football Focus, he was accurate on 70.3 of his passes under pressure for 6 TD and 0 INT in 2015. I couldn’t help but think of Colin Kaepernick when watching Lynch, but with considerably less speed and more touch as a passer.

 

Tier 5

39. Jack Conklin - OT - Michigan State

Conklin excels as a mauler in the run game but I have questions about his feet in the passing game. While he had a tremendous college career Conklin can make it looks ugly at times. Conklin can get off balance in his pass-set and struggles to recover. I think his best fit might be a RT. 

40. Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama

The 2015 Heisman winner is a tantalizing blend of size, speed and power. Henry has better feet than advertised but would function best in a downhill running game. Henry breezes through arms tackles but one thing that I noticed is that most of his power is generated through momentum, not powerful jackhammer leg drive, like a Marshawn Lynch. I see Henry more as a LeGarrette Bount that is actually able to be a productive short yardage back.

41. William Jackson – DB – Houston

Jackson had an incredible 2015 season hauling in 5 INT and defending 28 passes. Jackson is a long limbed burner (4.37) with exceptional ball-skils and makeup speed. Like Jalen Ramsey I though he struggled with quick twitch receivers and got a little too grabby at times. He’s got all the tools be a dominant DB.

42. Mackensie Alexander – DB – Clemson

You got to love the confidence that Alexander plays with. He plays bigger than he’s listed (5’10”) and has had impressive stretches as a man coverage corner. Alexander didn’t give up a TD his last 24 games at Clemson and also never had an INT in college. I’m not sure which one is more impressive. Alexander would often times get turned around in coverage and susceptible to giving up easy completions underneath. Clemson asked a lot out of him.

43. Leonard Floyd – LB – Georgia

Floyd is an interesting player. I think his success in the NFL will largely be dependent on where teams have him line up. Some view him as this elite edge rusher but he only wins with speed. He lacks strength and doesn’t convert speed to power at the point of attack. But that’s expected when you’re built like a WR. I think he’s best suited to be an off-ball LB who comes down on occasion to rush the passer. His speed may then catch lineman off guard.

44. Jeremy Cash – LB/S – Duke

Cash described his position at Duke as a “Strike Safety”. Cash could be seen lined up in coverage in the slot but mainly his presence was felt in the run game. Racked up 212 Tackles, 28.5 TFL, 8 Sacks, 7 Forced Fumbles, 2 INT the past two seasons. Cash would be perfect in the Deone Bucannon role. Already has his Masters Degree

45. Kevin Dodd – Edge – Clemson

Dodd became a household name with his 3-sack performance in the National Championship game. What isn’t mentioned is that Dodd was taking advantage of Alabama’s worst lineman and Bama never bothered to send help in the form of TE OJ Howard because he was busy racking up 200+ receiving yards. Now that’s not to say that Dodd doesn’t have talent. He’s got some bend coming around the edge as a pass rusher and does a nice job in the run game. Best fit is probably a 4-3 DE.

46. Austin Johnson – DT – Penn State

Johnson is stout in the run game and showed more ability this year to get after the passer. I thought Johnson did a great job of dropping his anchor and maintaining his ground vs. double teams. Johnson racked up an impressive 78 tackles as a Senior showing his ability to slip off blocks and great awareness in the run game.

47. A'Shawn Robinson – DT - Alabama

Robinson is another run stuffing lineman who still hasn’t developed much of pass rushing game. Again, every team needs run stuffers, and Robinson excels at this but I also believe you can find players with this skillset later in the draft and in Free Agency for cheap.

 

48. Kenny Clark – DT – UCLA

Clark’s bull rush is a thing of beauty. There are times when he literally folds the opposing lineman up like a chair. Clark was too inconsistent for my liking. Often disappearing for stretches. The ability is there and he’s just 20 years old so I see him as a possible upside play but there are a handful of DT that I would look too first. Time will tell if that is the wise decision.

 

49. Will Fuller – WR – Notre Dame

Fuller’s blazing speed (4.32) will immediately add a deep element to any offense. He’s prone to drops, 3rd highest drop rate in this draft class, and because of this you’ll constantly be in an emotional rollercoaster with him. He’s basically Ted Ginn Jr. You’ll have to take the good with the bad and hope he turns in the dynamic WR2 that he’s capable of.

50. Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota State

If you’ve read this far you’ll find this years media darling. Wentz has everything you can’t teach so to speak. He has impressive size, mobility and arm strength. There are still parts of his game that need major fine-tuning, notably footwork in the pocket, progressing through reads, and deep ball accuracy. But NFL teams seem sold that his high character and work ethic will prevail. I think he’s much more of a project than advertised and I hope he’s able to sit a year or so in Philly.

Just Missed: Joshua Garnett - OG - Stanford, Jason Spriggs - OT - Indiana,  Paul Perkins - RB - UCLA, Leonte Carroo - WR - Rutgers, Austin Hooper - TE - Stanford, Kenneth Dixon - RB - Louisiana Tech