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2016 NFL Draft results: Winners & Losers

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Niners Nation's Greg Valerio is back with winners and losers from the 2016 NFL Draft.

Draftmas is finally over, and we welcome all the new batch of NFL rookies throughout the league. Over the next following weeks, NFL clubs will get a chance to see all their scouting and research of these new incoming prospects start to come to fruition when the rookies attend their respective teams' three-day post-draft rookie minicamp. In the meantime, while it may be jumping the gun to grade out winners and losers on prospects who have yet to hit the field, we can look at the teams who appear to have hit the mark filling their needs, and those who fell short losing in the end. We continue our look into the winners and losers of the 2016 NFL Draft.


Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings finished the 2015 NFL season with a heartbreaking playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. With one of the most balanced rosters in the league, and plenty of young talent on both sides of the ball, the Vikings continued to get better through their selections in the draft. In drafting of wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, they have a potent duo of receivers with Treadwell as a dominant game controlling receiver, and the emerging athletically gifted Stefon Diggs.

The Vikings found tremendous value in the second round in drafting a cornerback with first round talent, in Mackensie Alexander. Alexander provides adequate depth and competition to a unit with the solid Xavier Rhodes, the aging Terrence Newman, last year on his contract Captain Munnerlyn, and the inconsistent 2015 1st rounder, Trae Waynes.

After the first two rounds, the Vikings added quality depth and competition addressing and filling key team needs. The Vikings interior offensive line was addressed in free agency with the Alex Boone signing, but the instability on the outside of the line was addressed with the drafting of offensive tackle Willie Beavers, adding competition to a group (Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt, TJ Clemmings, and free agent Andre Smith) searching for consistency.

The Vikings also helped their run game by drafting the best blocking tight end in this years' draft class in the powerful David Morgan. Moreover, Norv Turner got a big and athletic wide receiver that can stretch the defense in Germany's Moritz Boehringer. If you did not catch Boehinger's road to draft selection, I highly recommend watching the heartwarming and fun-filled moment here.

Baltimore Ravens: Ozzie Newsome once again showed the league why he's considered one of the best GM's in the NFL. The Ravens hit big right away in filling a huge need by drafting offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley in the first round. Moreover, after what seemed like a trade infused game of Fanspeak, Newsome made a couple of key trades in the second round netting an additional 4th and 5th rounder in 2016, their money rounds.

With the Ravens 2nd and 3rd round selection, they bolstered their defense with the drafting of an edge defender in Kamalei Correa, providing an influx of talent at the position, and drafting defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, who not only adds depth to a solid Baltimore defensive line unit, but a defensive end capable of rushing the passer.

When it came to the money rounds in the 4th and 5th round, the Ravens hit it out of the park with solid quality draft picks. In those two rounds they came away with cornerback Tavon Young, wide receiver Chris Moore, offensive tackle Alex Lewis, defensive tackle Willie Henry, running back Kenneth Dixon, and defensive end Matt Judon. They capped off the draft in selecting Navy phenom running back Keenyan Reynolds in the 6th, and the lengthy cornerback Maurice Canady in the 7th. The Reynolds and Dixon picks are intriguing from a college production standpoint, where the duo rushed for a combined total of 160 rushing touchdowns throughout their collegiate careers.

Need and value was addressed all across the board, and the Ravens came away with several high-character players and no durability issues, which should be music to the Ravens fan's ears after going through an injury-plagued 2015 season.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars ended up being the darlings of the draft. After a successful free agency in netting defensive tackle Malik Jackson, cornerback Prince Amukamara, safety Tashaun Gipson, offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum, center Mackenzy Bernadeau, and running back Chris Ivory, it was critical for the Jaguars to take a big step in the draft and knock it out of the park. And knocking it out of the park is what they did.

After contemplating choosing between Jalen Ramsey or Myles Jack with their first round pick, the Jaguars ended up selecting both of them in the end, how crazy lucky is that. Jack was selected with the 36th overall pick, and although there are some concerns in regard to his knee, the Jaguars came away drafting arguably the two best defensive players in the entire draft.

The Jaguars continued their defensive themed draft in adding edge defender Yannick Ngakoue from Maryland with the 69th overall pick. Although Ngakoue may have gone a bit sooner than expected, he definitely fills a need as the athletic explosive Leo edge rusher the Jaguars would like to have depth in. In the 4th round, Jacksonville continued to upgrade their pass rush in drafting defensive tackle Sheldon Day, a quick one-gap penetrator that makes a lot of plays on the ball.

After ranking 31st in 3rd down defense in 2015, it's obvious the Jaguars primary concern was rushing the passer as they capped the draft with two more defensive prospects destined to rush the quarterback in outside linebacker Tyrone Holmes (led the FCS in sacks at 18) and defense end Jonathan Woodard, a 'tweener that should provide solid rotational depth.

The only offensive player selected was quarterback Brandon Allen in the 6th round. Allen brings knowledge in a pro-style system, shows solid skills as a timing passer, and should ultimately end up being a solid backup at the next level. Job well done Jacksonville Jaguars.


Carolina Panthers: After an impressive 2015 campaign going 15-1, the Panthers hit the wall running into a stout Denver Broncos defensive exposing a critical weakness on the offensive side of the ball, their offensive line. Unfortunately, the Panthers did not address the unit in the draft, which is unfortunate since the offensive line is likely the main reason why they did not win Super Bowl 50 in the first place.

With their first pick in the draft, the Panthers selected defensive tackle Vernon Butler, a huge, athletically gifted, powerful interior lineman (one of my favorite prospects in the draft), but with Star Lotulelei, Kanwan Short, and recent free agent signing Paul Soliai entrenched at the position, drafting a defensive tackle when the more pressing defensive end/edge rusher position was needed opposite of Kony Ealy, was a head scratcher. Granted, the Panthers re-signed defensive end Charles Johnson to a one-year contract, but the 30 year-old has been plagued with nagging injuries. Moreover, the loss of Jared Allen to retirement just expands the need at the position.

Much was said about the 49ers "crazily" drafting three cornerbacks in this years' draft, but the Carolina Panthers drafted three cornerbacks as well. The difference is the 49ers drafted 3 corners out of 11 draft picks, whereas the Panthers drafted 3 corners (James Bradberry in the 2nd, Daryl Worley in the 3rd, and Zack Sanchez in the 5th) out of 5 draft picks. I get the need to draft a corner after the loss of Josh Norman, and veterans Charles Tillman and Cortland Finnegan, but I would have liked to have seen at least one of those picks addressing the offensive line.

The Panthers capped off the draft with selecting some solid depth at tight end in Montana's Beau Sandland. A raw version of Vance McDonald, Sandland is a quality development type prospect that could end up being a solid backup down the road. Nevertheless, the avoidance of an offensive line prospect in the draft is the stickler for me.

Laremy Tunsil: In what turned out to be the weirdest moment in the draft, social media exploded when right before the draft, a video of Tunsil smoking from a bong attached to a gas mask was making the rounds. Tunsil's Twitter account, as well as his Instagram account (texts of him asking for money from his college coaches), were hacked, resulting into some "questionable" decisions Tunsil made in his past coming to light in front of the entire world to see, during the most critical time in his career. Although the evidence of the hack was immediately deleted, the damage was ultimately done, resulting in a free-for-all drop down draft boards. Tunsil, arguably the top prospect in the entire draft, lost millions due to the fiasco and the deeds from an anonymous villain. The guy has some serious enemies.

Luckily, the Miami Dolphins provided sanctuary to the demoralized Tunsil drafting him with their first round pick (13th overall), and although the press conferences soon after were a PR nightmare, to add injury to insult, the Dolphins intend to play the best left tackle prospect in recent years, at guard. Go figure.

What about the San Francisco 49ers:

The 49ers knocked it out of the park with the selection of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, solidifying the 49ers defense line for the future, and more importantly, a prospect easily capable of collapsing the pocket and rushing the passer from the inside, which was severely lacking last year. I love the Joshua Garnett selection in the first as well. Not only do we find a needed addition in the interior line, but a nasty brawler who "likes to run through people's souls" (I will never get enough of that line). And although much is made about Garnett being more of a gap power scheme type prospect, Stanford ran mostly zone in 2015.

Originally, after Day 2 of the NFL Draft, I gave the 49ers an incomplete grade due to the selection of cornerback Will Redmond in the third round. My thinking was, although I loved the potential and talent (NFL Network's Daniel Jeremy mentioned a likely late first round talent if not for the injury) Redmond bestows, I was not convinced he would be ready for training camp as Trent Baalke, and Redmond himself, assured us. Due to all the success Team ACL has been for the 49ers, my optimism meter was not buying it. My contention has been, we are no longer in a position to collect future potential, we need the potential now, especially when that potential is a third round selection.

However, with all that being said, looking at the entire draft class as a whole, I would designate the 49ers complete draft in the winners category. All in all, the 49ers filled a lot of depth on a team that had needs practically everywhere. Solidifying the trenches was huge for me, and although the cornerback picks may appear to be excessive, I do think they will add a tremendous amount of competition to the position. I'm also a big fan of the three offensive skill positions (quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Kelvin Taylor, and the clutch wide receiver Aaron Burbridge) the 49ers drafted in the sixth round, and believe they will all develop quite nicely in Chip Kelly's system. If I was to give a letter grade, I'd give the 49ers a B+.