The 2016 NFL draft is in the books. All those mock drafts are a thing of the past. The names of the 253 players drafted are set in stone.
Now all that’s left is years and years of Monday morning quarterbacking, starting with this breakdown of the best and worst developments of the draft.
Robert Nkemdiche going to Cardinals
Because of his off-the-field concerns and his inconsistent production, Mississippi defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche could have been drafted anywhere from early in the first round to Day 3.
The Cardinals drafted him with the 29th pick in the first round, and it’s an ideal landing spot for a prospect like Nkemdiche. The franchise has a good track record with players who have a checkered past. Tyrann Mathieu missed an entire season after failing a drug test and later was arrested for possession of marijuana. Arizona took him in the third round of the 2013 draft, and in 2015 Mathieu was a First Team All-Pro safety.
Nkemdiche was arrested for marijuana possession after falling out of a window and that worried some teams, but if the Cardinals can keep him on the straight and narrow and get the same contributions they’ve had from Mathieu, this will be a brilliant pick.
Bengals sticking it to Steelers in Round 1
It’s pretty much a given at this point that players will fight either before or during games between the Bengals and Steelers.
After what happened in the first round of the draft, it’s only a matter of time before the scouts start going at it.
The Steelers were in desperate need of a cornerback, and William Jackson III almost made it to them at No. 25. But the Bengals snapped him up at No. 24.
The Bengals needed a receiver after losing Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones in free agency. But Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, John Doctson and Laquon Treadwell all were gone by the time the Bengals picked. Treadwell went to the Vikings, one spot ahead of them.
So instead of taking a receiver the Bengals figured that if they’re going to lose to the Steelers in the playoffs, they might as well take advantage of the higher pick and draft the player the Steelers want. According to this tweet from Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, even Jackson was surprised to hear from the Bengals.
Jackson led the nation with 23 passes defended last season and returned two of his five interceptions for touchdowns. Did the Bengals really need him? Not as much as the Steelers did. The Steelers were 30th in the NFL against the pass in 2015. The Bengals were 20th. The Steelers allowed a 90.9 passer rating. The Bengals allowed a 78.9 rating.
The Steelers still drafted a cornerback, but Artie Burns is no William Jackson III. Not yet anyway. The two cornerbacks will be linked throughout their careers. It will be a nice sideshow to the Bengals-Steelers rivalry.
Bengals drafting Andrew Billings in fourth round
Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings is another player on the Steelers’ draft radar who the Bengals drafted. Unlike William Jackson III, however, the Steelers and the rest of the NFL had plenty of chances to get Billings. He was projected to go in the first or second round, but slid all the way to the fourth round.
Part of the reason Billings dropped is because it doesn’t make sense in today’s NFL to draft a two-down player, but the 6’1″, 311-pound Billings could be a steal in the fourth round. He’s the Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year, making 14 tackles for losses in 2015 and 30 in three years at Baylor. He also registered 5.5 sacks in 2015.
The Bengals chose Geno Atkins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft with the 120th overall selection. Billings was the 122nd pick. History could be repeating itself.
Jaguars getting two dynamic defenders
Not only did the Jaguars get two guys who could have been top-three picks at No. 5 and No. 36, they also added a couple of Swiss Army knives to their defensive tool box.
Jacksonville drafted Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey with the fifth pick. The All-American can play any position in the secondary.
Myles Jack, who went undrafted in the first round after revealing that he might need microfracture surgery at some point in the future, can do just about anything on defense from the inside linebacker spot. He can stop the run. He can rush the passer. He drop back in coverage. Oh, and the 6’1″, 245-pounder also played running back at UCLA, so perhaps he could see some goal-line work on offense.
On top of all that, it turns out according to Adam Schefter of ESPN that Dr. James Andrews said Jack won’t need microfracture surgery. This gamble could pay off big for the Jaguars.
Mr. Irrelevant might be relevant
The Titans traded away the first pick in the draft but traded for the last pick and got a player who should have been chosen the day before.
Southern Mississippi cornerback Kalan Reed’s career got off to an awkward start because his Mr. Irrelevant jersey was actually a Broncos jersey. The only reason he won’t be able to live that down is because unlike most Mr. Irrelevants he’s not going to be forgotten anytime soon.
Pro Football Focus had Reed going in the second round of its mock draft, one pick after Eli Apple. Reed led Conference USA with four interceptions and 17 passes defended in 2015. He returned two of his interceptions for touchdowns and he’s willing to bang his body around in run support.
Reed could be the latest in a long line of late-round steals at cornerback. Fifth-rounders Josh Norman and Richard Sherman are the most notable of that lot. But Reed doesn’t have to come close to that kind of productivity to give the Titans a solid return on their investment.
He just has to be relevant.
Kalan Reed is a hell of a player. If he gets given a shot he can be far more than Mr Irrelevant: pic.twitter.com/gD3dAlSoBt
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) April 30, 2016
Buccaneers drafting a kicker in second round
The Buccaneers, who have had five straight losing seasons and need to put each one of their draft picks to good use, wasted one on a kicker in the second round.
Sure, Roberto Aguayo of Florida State made all 198 of his extra-point attempts in college and 88.5 percent of his field-goal attempts. However, he made only five of 10 field goals from beyond 40 yards in 2015 according to NFL.com.
Aguayo is the 11th kicker taken in the first or second round since 1966. The two most recent ones, Sebastian Janikowski in 2000 and Mike Nugent in 2005, are still in the league. The pressure is on Aguayo make the parallel between him and Janikowski go beyond Florida State. If he doesn’t, the Buccaneers will learn that Day 3 and undrafted free agency is when you go after kickers. If a guy can’t hit or take a hit, he shouldn’t be drafted on Day 1 or Day 2.
Jets’ quarterback déjà vu
The Jets’ decision to draft Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round felt eerily similar to 2013, when they took Geno Smith in the second round.
A lot of people were lukewarm on both quarterbacks. In 2013, the Jets drafted Smith because Mark Sanchez was regressing. This year, they drafted Hackenberg at least partly because of their contract stalemate with Ryan Fitzpatrick.
At some point, the Jets have to go all-in on a quarterback. They either need to sign Fitzpatrick or take a shot at landing the best quarterback in the draft class and not hedge their bets in the second round with a risky prospect like Hackenberg.
Hackenberg’s completion percentage went from 58.9 to 55.8 to 53.5 in his three years at Penn State and there seems to be all sorts of excuses for his decline, including lousy pass protection. He was sacked 104 times but it might have helped if he didn’t hold on to the ball so much.
Hackenberg is NOT a legit option as your starting QB this year Jets fans, trust me.
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) April 30, 2016
The Jets have drafted 11 quarterbacks since 1999. That’s more than any other team, even the Browns. Think about that for a second.
This quarterback class
Not only is this Jets draft reminiscent of 2013, but this entire quarterback class could be a reminder of that draft’s motley quarterback crew that included EJ Manuel and Mike Glennon as well as Geno Smith.
With so many teams needing quarterbacks, it’s natural for quarterbacks’ draft stock to inflate as the draft gets closer and it’s understandable if they get overdrafted. But Jared Goff and Carson Wentz seem a little underwhelming for a quarterback duo taken first and second overall.
Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, last year’s first and second picks, both won the Heisman Trophy in college. Winston didn’t lose a game at Florida State until going up against Mariota and Oregon in the 2014 national semifinal. Mariota was 36-5 at Oregon.
In 2012, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were the 1-2 combo at the top of the draft. Luck didn’t win the Heisman, but he finished second in the voting both times and went 32-7 as a starter at Stanford. Griffin won the Heisman in 2011 and threw just 17 interceptions in four years at Baylor.
The Redskins thought enough of Griffin to trade a boatload of draft picks to get him, and look what happened. Just like the Redskins in 2012, the Rams and Eagles pushed all their chips to the middle of the table for Goff and Wentz.
Goff threw 96 touchdown passes at Cal, but went 13-23 as a starter and those nine-inch hands are a concern. Wentz won two national championships at North Dakota State, but those are FCS titles. Wentz played against teams that are early-season cupcakes on the schedules of FBS schools. North Dakota State fattened up in September against schools like Incarnate Word. That’s not going to prepare anyone for the NFL.
Some quarterbacks with the brightest resumés have disappointed in the pros after being drafted first or second. Goff and Wentz both come with caution labels.
Laremy Tunsil fallout
The tale of Laremy Tunsil is familiar around the football world. The projected No. 1 pick until the Rams-Titans trade, Tunsil saw his draft stock plummet like the crash of 1929 after the infamous gas mask video surfaced on social media.
Little cleanup from Thurs night: without video, Ravens would have taken Laremy Tunsil at No. 6; fell to Miami at 13. Lost money: $7 million.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 30, 2016
Ravens coach John Harbaugh denied on NFL.com that the video had anything to do with the Ravens choosing Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley over Tunsil. Even if Stanley was slightly ahead of Tunsil on the Ravens’ board, that video probably squashed any on-the-clock debate.
The Titans traded from No. 15 to No. 8 and had a chance to draft Tunsil after all, but decided to take Jack Conklin of Michigan State instead.
And so the Mississippi tackle kept tumbling until he was rescued by the Dolphins at No. 13.
Tunsil and his agent say that his social media accounts were hacked. It seems someone was out to get Tunsil. Athletes have to be smart enough to watch what they’re doing when there are cameras around, especially if this inspires a wave of copycats. What if dozens of Twitter accounts are hacked minutes before the 2017 draft? Perhaps it’s a good idea for draft prospects to act like there’s always a camera on them.
Jerry Jones’ big mouth
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said at the team’s post-draft press conference that he regretted not getting a deal done for Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch on Thursday night.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jones said he should have “overpaid” the Seahawks for the 26th pick so he could get Lynch. Instead, the Broncos swung the deal and drafted Lynch.
It’s also no secret that the Cowboys tried to trade up in the fourth round to draft Michigan State’s Connor Cook.
How does all this make Dak Prescott feel?
The Cowboys finally found Tony Romo’s heir apparent in the fourth round, taking the Mississippi State quarterback with the 135th pick. And Jones continued to put his foot in his mouth when trying to compliment Prescott. He twice called him a “heady player.”
In other words, everything below the neck is a hunk of junk.
Romo might not have a plate in his collarbone, but Prescott should have a chip on his shoulder.