2016 NFL Draft Winners, Losers, Surprises & Disappointments
It took three days, 253 picks, a selfie with the commissioner and a social media hacking, but the 2016 NFL Draft finally ended late Saturday night in Chicago. Which franchises and players fared best (and worst)? Find out:
2016 NFL Draft: Winners
Jacksonville Jaguars — For the second consecutive year, the Jacksonville Jaguars landed one of the best hauls of the NFL Draft. Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack were among the best athletes available in the draft and both players landed on the roster of this rising AFC South team. Questions about Jack’s knee aside, both defenders should make this Jags’ draft class one to remember for years, especially with sack master Yannick Ngakoue out of Maryland factored into the mix.
Minnesota Vikings — The reigning NFC North champs got even stronger, adding Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell in the first round and stealing Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander in the second. The Vikings also added Linebackers Kentrell Brothers and Stephen Weatherly for depth.
Seattle Seahawks — The Seahawks have become an NFC juggernaut because of drafts like this one. Seattle reinforced their offensive line in the first round with Texas A&M's Germain Ifedi and then added Alabama defensive lineman Jarran Reed in the second round. Running backs C.J. Prosise of Notre Dame and Alex Collins of Arkansas should help replace Marshawn Lynch, too.
Brock Osweiler — The Houston Texans’ new franchise quarterback may have just gotten a bonus to his $72 million free agent contract: his new team restocked their weak offense with receiver Will Fuller, center Nick Martin and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller — all of whom will help Osweiler succeed.
2016 NFL Draft: Losers
Cleveland Browns — You’d think with a staggering 14 picks that the Cleveland Browns would have to get this draft right. You'd be wrong. After trading the second-overall pick to the Eagles, who loved quarterback Carson Wentz more than Cleveland did, the Browns went out and loaded up on wide receivers (5) and linemen (4). Yet, they walked away with very few blue chip talents, save for first rounder Corey Coleman of Baylor. Worse, they still don’t have an answer to their quarterback of the future question; USC’s Cody Kessler isn’t it. At least they didn't draft Johnny Manziel again.
San Francisco 49ers — For the second consecutive year, both Chip Kelly and the San Francisco 49ers had bad drafts. Unlike last year, those missteps only impact one team now. The Niners drafted three cornerbacks and three offensive lineman, one of whom wasn't noted gas mask-wearer Laremy Tunsil — the best OL in the draft. San Francisco also didn’t get an impact quarterback (sorry, Jeff Driskell). They did get 6-foot-7, 291-pound DeForest Buckner of OREGON seventh-overall, because Chip Kelly.
New Orleans Saints — New Orleans only had five picks, but they didn’t get anyone to address their biggest defensive weaknesses: cornerback and an edge pass rusher. Defensive tackle David Onyemata is as big as a building with feet, but can he play at an elite level? We’ll see.
DeMarco Murray — Remember when DeMarco Murray got off to a really bad start after signing with the Philadelphia Eagles last off-season? The Tennessee Titans do. They went out and took Alabama running back Derrick Henry in the second round even after trading for Murray this off-season. Sure hope DeMarco is renting in Tennessee.
Lower Picks That Could Surprise
Tyler Matakevich, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers — When you hear names like Luke Kuechly and Paul Posluszny when describing a player’s comparables, he’s worth drafting, especially in the seventh round. The Steelers grabbed former Temple tackling machine Tyler Matakevich, who should help them right away on special teams. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Matakevich become a regular on the team’s defense, too.
Andrew Billings, DT, Cincinnati Bengals — Heading into the 2016 NFL Draft, defensive lineman Andrew Billings of Baylor expected to be taken in the second-round or higher. Somehow, All-American Billings lasted to the fourth round, when the Bengals nabbed him with the 122nd-overall pick. He’s too good a player not to make an impact, especially on all the ballcarriers of the 31 other teams that passed on him. Cincy’s Geno Atkins will benefit from his presence, too.
Rico Gathers, TE, Dallas Cowboys — Rico Gathers was easily the best power forward taken in this draft, lasting all the way to the sixth round! Yes, Gathers played basketball — not football — at Baylor, but it’s very easy to see how his athleticism (6’8”) might translate to the gridiron. How many 6’8” defensive backs are there? Right. Add Gathers to Dallas' first round selection Ezekiel Elliott, and the Cowboys added two athletic weapons.
High Picks That Might Disappoint
Christian Hackenberg, QB, New York Jets — Do the Jets know they don’t have to take a quarterback in every draft? Do they know that Penn State is not exactly ‘Quarterback U’? Do they know its 2016 (and not 2013)? Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg was thought of as a first-round talent in 2013, but he spent the last two years proving he wasn’t that good. The bright side? Maybe this means the end of Geno Smith and/or Bryce Petty in New York.
Josh Garnett, OL San Francisco 49ers — Former Stanford lineman Josh Garnett was likely the best guard in this draft, but he would have almost certainly been available to the Niners in the second round without having to trade three picks to get him. It’s not so much that Garnett won’t be a good pro as it is that he won’t be as good as the 40 or so players who were available when he was taken. That’s disappointing.
Keanu Neal, S, Atlanta Falcons — Former Florida safety Keanu Neal is a phenomenal athlete and a very physical defensive back, but he was a reach at the 17th-overall pick. Let’s hope former Gators defensive coordinator — and current Falcons head coach — Dan Quinn knows something that the draft pundits don’t.