Luckily, there were only three offensive tackles taken in the first 15 picks of the 2016 draft, and among them was a guy who was talked about way too much in the days leading up to the draft. The cool thing about this list is that it includes guys who will be some of the best players in the NFL – both on the offense and defense. This list includes some of the NFL’s future stars. But it also includes guys who will no longer be playing in the NFL (that means some of these guys will be heading to the CFL). There are future MVPs but there are also guys who will just be average starters, guys who will be bench players and guys who will be playing professionally elsewhere. It’s what happens after every draft, but this year included 15 guys who had pretty good rookie seasons.
There were a large number of guys you don’t normally see on the highlight reel. Except for three of the first four picks, offensive playmakers did not show up in the first half of the first round in last year’s draft. There were three guys people went crazy for early on, then there were athletes chosen that a lot of fans will forget about. But there are still a good chunk of guys that will prove to be major playmakers over the next five years. And one of these guys will be a league MVP earlier than most people would expect from the upcoming superstar. Although only a few of these guys will be stars, most of them will have a presence in the NFL. But it won’t be all of them. Here we look at the first 15 picks in the 2016 draft, and project what will happen to their careers in the next five years.
15 COREY COLEMAN
Corey Coleman was an All-American wide receiver out of Baylor and has the skill to go far in the NFL. Being on the Browns has been a frightening prospect for most players entering the league. Cleveland has not been good and many of the Browns picks have been duds since 2000. This pick was scary because Cleveland still doesn’t have a solidified starting quarterback. But with two picks in the first round (and the first pick of the second round), Cleveland is poised to fill the most important position on the field.
Of course, Coleman didn’t have the best rookie season. He missed time because of injury and caught just 45 percent of his passes. But the Browns have got to turn things around at some point, and the next few seasons will be a turning point for the franchise and Coleman is going to be a big part of that. You’ll see him in multiple postseasons over the course of the next five seasons.
14 KARL JOSEPH
This was a somewhat surprising pick because Karl Joseph played just four games during his final season at West Virginia and was recovering from an ACL injury. Making matters worse for the decision, he’s a safety that’s not even six-feet tall (he’s nearly 5’10’’). But he was a leader at the collegiate level, plus he was a great tackler and will prove to be one of the great blitzing safeties over the next five years.
There’s no way around it, but Joseph, who missed time again during his first season in the NFL, will miss a good chunk of time in the future. He’s proved to be injury prone. Although Joseph will have a few good seasons in the next five years, he’ll no doubt be sidelined for a season and miss a chunk of time at some point. But the time on the field will earn him a spot on any roster.
13 LAREMY TUNSIL
Laremy Tunsil had a huge following for an offensive tackle going into the 2016 draft. Tunsil was widely talked about, which doesn’t happen often for O-linemen. But he was a good pick, and he’ll likely prove to be an all star in Miami.
But since Tunsil is an offensive lineman, he’ll go largely unnoticed for the majority of his offensive career. Sure, he’ll get an interview or two once he’s selected to five-straight Pro Bowls, but no one in the league will know Laremy Tunsil’s name unless he screws up (like he did before the draft). It’s the unfortunate story for the big guys up front, but it’s the way it goes in the NFL. Tunsil played 14 games last season, and he’ll quietly lead the Dolphins offensive front for the next five years.
12 SHELDON RANKINS
The Saints seem to always need a lot of defensive help. That won’t change next year and Sheldon Rankins was thrown onto a defensive squad that couldn’t foster success from a rookie defensive tackle. Part of the knock against Rankins was that he was active for just nine games in his first season and he didn’t record one start (he missed time because of a broken fibula during practice in August). Rankins did record 15 tackles with four sacks and a forced fumble. But it wasn’t the expected performance after the play he posted at Louisville.
Although it sucks for Rankins, he won’t be playing in the NFL five years from now. Injuries and constant experimenting with the Saints defense will force him out of the league over the course of the next three seasons.
11 VERNON HARGREAVES III
This will be one of the league’s youngest superstars after the next couple of seasons as Tampa Bay takes over as the team to beat in the NFL. The Buccaneers have the playmakers on offense with Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and Doug Martin. Vernon Hargreaves III will be the leader of Tampa Bay’s defense as it builds up this offseason. The offense is nearly set, and the defense will surely rise up behind Hargreaves over the next five seasons.
Hargreaves was named to the All-Rookie Team by the Pro Football Writers Association, and it was deserving after 16 starts with 68 tackles, 10 pass deflections and one forced fumble. The cornerback will soon be one of the dominant pass defenders shutting down any teams top receiver.
10 ELI APPLE
Here we have the second of the three cornerbacks drafted in the first 15 picks of the 2016 draft. Eli Apple will still be in the league five years from now, but he won’t be guarding the opposition’s top receiver like Vernon Hargreaves will be. Apple will be a consistent player (he won’t start every game), but he won’t prove to be able to lock down the top wide receivers in the league. But Apple deserves some credit.
During Apple’s rookie season, he started 11 games and recorded 41 tackles, seven pass deflections, two forced fumbles and an interception. Although Apple will see more starts as his career progresses in the coming years, he won’t be the guy locking down the top receivers going against New York.
9 LEONARD FLOYD
The Bears had so many problems on both sides of the ball that you couldn’t blame them for grabbing an outside linebacker with this pick. Leonard Floyd, who was picked ninth overall, was selected by Chicago after the team traded its 11th pick and a fourth-round pick for the earlier selection. It seemed like a good pick as Floyd led Georgia’s defense and skipped his senior season in college because he was so good.
Floyd will be good in Chicago, but he’ll be signing another contract elsewhere within the next five years. The Bears will just be talked about for their struggling offense and lack of a leader as they consistently end up with one of the worst records in the league. It will suck early on for Floyd, but he’ll find a better organization once he hits the free agent market.
8 JACK CONKLIN
Although picking an offensive lineman isn’t an extremely popular pick early in the first round, the Titans lucked out here. The Titans have a young quarterback with an absolute star at the running back position. You need to protect those assets. This was the best possible decision for Tennessee and it will be part of the reason the team sees multiple postseason runs over the course of the next five seasons.
Jack Conklin was a first-team All-Pro selection last season. Sure, awards are often overlooked. But this award is something that rookies rarely see and you need to be really good to be considered. Conklin won’t be known by most fans, but he’ll be one of the best and most consistent players in the near future.
7 DEFOREST BUCKNER
DeForest Buckner was part of the reason that the 49ers weren’t completely laughed out of the league last season. San Francisco has a lot of questions going into next season, but more are directed at the team’s defense rather than its offense. Buckner is going to be contending for the Defensive Player of the Year award very soon. He’s a type of talent that doesn’t come around often (and he’s already been recognized as part of the All-Rookie Team by the Pro Football Writers Association).
Buckner is going to continue the success he saw in college at Oregon, and he’s going to build his great rookie season. Buckner will be the one of the deciding factors in San Francisco’s success over the next few years and he will be a staple in the defense for years to come.
6 RONNIE STANLEY
Here we look at the top offensive tackle in this year’s draft. The Ravens may want to focus on a quarterback in the near future, but for now their focused on protecting the aging Joe Flacco. That’s why the team used its sixth overall pick for the offensive tackle. There wasn’t many reasons to fault the Ravens. They selected an All-American from Notre Dame, which was seemingly a conservatively solid decision.
Although the two other offensive tackles picked this year will prove to have better career over the next five years, Ronnie Stanley will be a solid force on Baltimore’s front line. It won’t be the best decision of the first round, but it won’t be scrutinized too badly as we watch Stanley’s career play out.
5 JALEN RAMSEY
With the talented offensive linemen we’re seen in the later picks, it’s unfortunate Jacksonville didn’t capitalize. The Jaguars could have really benefited from getting some extra protection for Blake Bortles. There were three guys who could have changed the course of Jacksonville’s season. But the team went to strengthen its defense. The rough part was that Jacksonville needed help on both sides of the ball. The Jaguars, unfortunately, went for the defensive help instead of the much-needed offensive assistance.
In all fairness, though, Jalen Ramsey started in every game and posted some really good numbers. Not only did Ramsey record two interceptions that included a pick-six, the safety also posted 14 pass deflections and 55 tackles. Ramsey, who was another player selected to the All-Rookie Team by the Pro Football Writers Association, will continue his successful play as the Jags offense continues to get better.
4 EZEKIEL ELLIOTT
This was the best pick of the 2016 draft and it has already payed off. Dallas will see the benefits from Ezekiel Elliott for years to come, especially as his skill will lead him to the MVP award in a couple seasons. This year, Elliott will truly prove his talent as he will continue to succeed even as Dak Prescott begins to falter from time to time. Prescott had an equally good rookie season, but defenses will pressure him more and more.
That will provide some nice space for Elliott, who will attack as both a rusher and receiver. Elliot will not only prove to be the NFL’s best athlete in the next few years, he’ll be leading the Cowboys to multiple Super Bowl appearances.
3 JOEY BOSA
This defensive end filled a hole for the Chargers defensive front, but the team still suffered from major problems that caused a rough season last year. Regardless, Joey Bosa will prove to be worth the huge contract he signed initially. He’s a freak athlete. More so, Bosa started in just 11 games (because of a hamstring injury) but was still named the Defensive Rookie of the Year after he recorded 10 ½ sacks.
Now that the Chargers are in Los Angeles, Bosa is primed for a career that will be followed more than most players get to see. His in a huge sports network, and he’s really good. As long as he avoids missing major chunks of time, which he should be able to do, he’ll be regarded as one of the NFL’s best defensive players.
2 CARSON WENTZ
You can’t blame the Eagles for taking a quarterback here. In fact, you should applaud them. Philadelphia was working with a skilled Sam Bradford, who was unable to make it work on the Eagles offense. Bradford just had the best completion percentage last season with Minnesota, so, obviously something wasn’t working in Philadelphia.
This was the first time the Eagles drafted a quarterback in the first round since Donovan McNabb in 1999, so we all thought this was going to be another success story. Carson Wentz didn’t play terrible last season (he actually played better than any quarterback drafted in the first round). Wentz started all 16 games and recorded a 7-9 season with 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns. He won’t be a star in the coming years, but he’ll remain a fairly consistent starter and maintain a spot in the NFL as a backup for the following years.
1 JARED GOFF
Sorry Los Angeles, but here we see why you’re all more focused on the Chargers. After a few more seasons fizzling out in the NFL, Jared Goff will be tossed to the CFL. He just won’t prove to be good enough to stay in the NFL, and that will be party the Rams fault because they implemented him in the offense way too early.
Goff started seven games last season and lost every single one of those games. That was an awful way to end the season, especially for a rookie quarterback. Unfortunately, the Rams will have way too many holes to fill to surround Goff with the talent needed for a successful season. He’ll be pushed to the bench then soon pushed out of the league. But five years from now, he’ll be starring in the CFL making a respectable living.