Posted Sunday, March 6, 2016.
I did this the past five years, and I thought it would be pretty fun to do it again. It's exactly what it sounds like - if free agency occurred in a draft format, who would be the top picks? I've excluded all the free agents who are either restricted or franchised.
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Real 2016 NFL Mock Draft
Tennessee Titans: Kelechi Osemele, G/OT, Ravens. Age: 27.
The Titans are almost certain to select Laremy Tunsil in the 2016 NFL Draft. They need to find better protection for Marcus Mariota, who was hit too many times during his rookie campaign. The best lineman in free agency is Kelechi Osemele, who can slide into right tackle and still allow Taylor Lewan to be stationed on the blind side.
Cleveland Browns: Alex Mack, C, Browns. Age: 30.
Alex Mack opted out of his contract, meaning the Browns stand to lose one of their few great players. They don't want Mack to leave, and they can prevent that from happening in this NFL Free Agent Mock Draft. Unfortunately for the Browns, this isn't reality.
San Diego Chargers: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Rams. Age: 27.
The Chargers need to upgrade their secondary. Both the cornerback and safety positions have to be bolstered, as Brandon Flowers struggled last year, while Eric Weddle won't be back. Janoris Jenkins is the top corner on the market, and he can shore up the former hole.
Dallas Cowboys: Malik Jackson, DE/DT, Broncos. Age: 26.
I have the Cowboys selecting Joey Bosa in my 2016 NFL Mock Draft. The defensive line needs to be addressed with Greg Hardy gone and Randy Gregory facing a suspension.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Eric Weddle, S, Chargers. Age: 31.
Eric Weddle is coming off a down year, but he was hurt. He's still a terrific safety, and he would provide a huge boost to a reeling Jacksonville secondary that was often torched in 2015.
Baltimore Ravens: Leon Hall, CB, Bengals. Age: 31.
The Ravens get to steal a top defensive player from a rival, which has to sound like a pretty sweet deal. Everyone knows how bad Baltimore's secondary is, and Leon Hall would obviously provide a huge boost.
San Francisco 49ers: Danny Trevathan, ILB, Broncos. Age: 26.
The 49ers didn't expect both Patrick Willis and Chris Borland to retire last offseason. Their defense suffered as a result, so they'll be searching for help next to NaVorro Bowman this offseason. They probably won't be able to land someone as talented as Danny Trevathan, but the 49er fans who refuse to show up to games now can only dream.
Miami Dolphins: Alex Boone, G, 49ers. Age: 29.
The Dolphins have some major issues on the interior of their offensive line. Both guard spots have to be upgraded, and Alex Boone makes a ton of sense for them. Evan Mathis is a higher-rated guard, but given his age, a team ready to win now needs to sign him; not a rebuilding one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: George Iloka, S, Bengals. Age: 26.
By now, everyone knows how awful Tampa Bay's secondary is. Both the cornerback and safety spots have to be bolstered. The Buccaneers are getting the top defensive back on the board with this selection.
New York Giants: Russell Okung, OT, Seahawks. Age: 27.
Russell Okung is frequently injured; otherwise, he'd be the No. 1 pick in this free agency mock draft. Still, the Giants would love to have him to improve their poor blocking. Okung would be a great complement for Ereck Flowers - when he's on the field, at least.
Chicago Bears: Ryan Schraeder, OT, Falcons. Age: 28.
The Bears are another team that has major issues on the offensive line. They'll definitely be in the market for someone like Ryan Schraeder, the top pure right tackle in this free-agent class.
New Orleans Saints: Evan Mathis, G, Broncos. Age: 34.
Evan Mathis makes sense for the Saints. They have just one or two more years remaining to contend with Drew Brees before he either retires or completely declines. Thus, it would be a smart decision to bring in a talented guard who is also a couple of seasons away from hanging up the cleats.
Philadelphia Eagles: Tashaun Gipson, S, Browns. Age: 26.
The problems the Eagles have in their secondary are well documented. They have issues both at cornerback and safety, with the latter position being a problem because Walter Thurmond's contract has expired.
Oakland Raiders: Reggie Nelson, S, Bengals. Age: 32.
The Raiders just said farewell to one veteran safety, so why bring in another? Like Evan Mathis, Reggie Nelson would only make sense for a team ready to contend now. I'd argue that the Raiders are, especially with the Broncos set to regress with all of their free agents.
Los Angeles Rams: Robert Ayers, DE, Giants. Age: 30.
The Rams cut Chris Long this offseason, while William Hayes is set to hit free agency in March. Thus, there's a need at defensive end, and Robert Ayers would be a perfect bookend opposite Robert Quinn.
Detroit Lions: Damon Harrison, NT, Jets. Age: 27.
This free agency mock assumes that all players whose contracts expire enter the open market. In other words, there's no reason to expect anyone to re-sign. That includes Haloti Ngata, so the Lions could opt to upgrade him.
Go to 2016 NFL Free Agent Draft: Picks 17-32
Sorry for cutting this into two halves; I've received complaints about load times and putting the mock draft on two pages saves bandwith.
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