As the 2016 NFL draft draws closer, it's time to finalize our draft tier rankings, which uses our grades to separate prospects into segments. This is helpful when comparing players who are close to each other in the rankings. It also helps with predicting where players will come off the board during the first three rounds of the draft.
Here's the final version of our draft tiers for 2016, covering players with first-, second- and third-round grades (in parentheses next to each player's name). As you'll see, this class is lacking truly elite players, but it has a ton of depth in the middle rounds. Teams will have a lot of good talent to choose from in the latter half of Day 2.
For reference, I put how many players were featured in each tier last year. Here's the full breakdown:
This is the elite class of prospects in the 2016 NFL draft. They should be starters from Day 1 and project as perennial Pro Bowl players.
2016: 0 players
2015: 2 players
A notch below the elite class but still worthy of a top-20 pick in most drafts. Expected to be plug-and-play starters
2016: 8 players
2015: 7 players
1. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Grade: 94)
2. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Mississippi (94)
3. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State (93)
4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (93)
5. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame (93)
6. DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon (92)
7. Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State (92)
8. Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA (92)
I like all of these players. I really do. But none of them quite rise to the level of Jameis Winston and Leonard Williams last year, both of whom cracked my top tier and went on to have productive rookie seasons. Bosa is the most pro-ready player in this class, while Tunsil and Jack have the highest ceilings. Elliott, who's certainly in play for Dallas at No. 4 overall, is the rare exception to the RB rule, much like Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley.