Article by Adam Stites, courtesy SECCountry.com
The 2016 NFL Draft, like every NFL Draft, promises to include plenty of SEC talent sprinkled across the first round, but it could be some Ole Miss prospects that lead the way.
Almost every NFL mock believes that the No. 1 overall selection made by the Tennessee Titans will be Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil to protect the blindside of former Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.
In a survey of 44 mock drafts (listed at the bottom), over 80 percent believe Tunsil will be the first player off the draft board. However, the landing spots for wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche aren’t as clear, although both are projected to go early.
A clear consensus has emerged. Only a handful of mock drafts predict the Tennessee Titans will pass on Tunsil, and only two think he will escape the first three picks.
The crazy outlier of the group comes from Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus, who thinks that Tunsil slips out of the top 10 before finally getting scooped up by the Chicago Bears.
Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is considered the top wide receiver in the draft class by most, but it’s not a consensus. No one believes in Treadwell more than Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead who projects the receiver to be taken No. 3 by the San Diego Chargers, while NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, The Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli and Draft Breakdown’s Jeff Risdon all think he goes 20 picks later to the Minnesota Vikings.
Either way, Treadwell is one of three SEC players who is considered a unanimous first round pick in the 44 mock drafts and San Francisco is the landing spot most associated with the Biletnikoff Award finalist.
There’s a huge variance in opinions regarding Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, and it mostly has to do with off-field concerns. He’s one of the nation’s most dynamic athletes, and Justis Mosqueda of Draft Breakdown and Bleacher Report believes it’s enough to make him the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Seven mock drafts don’t even include Nkemdiche in the first round, though.
Most mock drafts think the middle of the first round is the range for Nkemdiche, with 26 projecting him to go between the 14th and 22nd picks. The Buffalo Bills lead the way with seven mock drafts projecting the team to take Nkemdiche with the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins just behind with six each.
Mock drafts used:
ESPN (Mel Kiper) – Feb. 18
NFL.com (Chad Reuter) – Feb. 17
San Diego Union-Tribune (Eddie Brown) – Feb. 17
Yahoo (Eric Edholm) – Feb. 17
NFL.com (Daniel Jeremiah) – Feb. 16
Walter Football (Walter Cherepinsky)– Feb. 16
FanSpeak (Steve Shoup) – Feb. 16
Metro U.S. (Matt Burke) – Feb. 15
CBS Sports (Dane Brugler) – Feb. 15
CBS Sports (Rob Rang) – Feb. 15
CSN Mid-Atlantic (Ben Standig) – Feb. 15
Bleacher Report (Justis Mosqueda) – Feb. 15
Walter Football (Charlie Campbell) – Feb. 15
Baltimore Sun (Jon Meoli) – Feb. 15
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Charean Williams) – Feb. 12
DraftTek (Staff) – Feb. 12
NESN (Staff) – Feb. 12
247Sports (Luke Rodgers) – Feb. 11
Rotoworld (Josh Norris) – Feb. 11
Draft King (Lou Pickney) – Feb. 11
Sports Illustrated (Chris Burke) – Feb. 10
Florida Times-Union (Hays Carlyon) – Feb. 10
Toronto Sun (Dan Bilicki) – Feb. 10
Sporting News (Eric Galko) – Feb. 8
Bleacher Report (Matt Miller) – Feb. 8
TheScore (Dan Wilkins) – Feb. 8
SB Nation (Dan Kadar) – Feb. 8
Draft Breakdown (Jeff Risdon) – Feb. 8
Newsday (Nick Klopsis) – Feb. 8
CSN Philly (Jared Sherman) – Feb. 8
USA Today (Nate Davis) – Feb. 8
NJ Advance Media (Darryl Slater) – Feb. 7
ESPN (Todd McShay) – Feb. 3
Pro Football Focus (Steve Palazzolo) – Feb. 2
USA Today (Jon Ledyard) – Feb. 1
Arizona Republic (Bob McManaman) – Jan. 29
Draft Countdown (Scott Wright) – Jan. 26
USA Today (Jonah Tuls) – Jan. 26
FOX Sports (Peter Schrager) – Jan. 26
NFL.com (Lance Zierlein) – Jan. 22
NFL.com (Bucky Brooks) – Jan. 17
Washington Post (John Harris) – Jan. 13
TheBigLead (Jason McIntyre) – Jan. 13
CSN Philly (Paul Hudrick) – Jan. 11