Updated: March 1st
|1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jameis Winston (QB Florida State)|
Let me start by saying this; if anyone thinks that Jameis Winston has cemented himself as the number one overall pick already I'll direct you to the immortal words of Jim Mora. Do you really think the Bucs are going to tip their hand this early in the process; and at the NFL Combine no less??? The Winston/Mariota debate is far from over. My gut still tells me that Winston, a guy who has been consistently irresponsible, a guy who has thrown 28 interceptions in two seasons, a guy who may have a throwing shoulder injury, and a guy who may or may not still pursue professional baseball is not number one overall caliber. All that being said, I do see why some believe in Winston, but maybe more importantly I've come to appreciate the "knucklehead factor" and realize that teams like the Buccaneers aren't always going to conform to what I believe to be common sense.
|2) Tennessee Titans - Leonard Williams (DT/DE U.S.C)|
|Zach Mettenberger or Jameis Winston? Zach Mettenberger or Marcus Mariota? Those are really the only two questions that matter for the Titans this offseason; they'll have the opportunity to draft at least one of the two high-profile quarterbacks but would they truly be better off than with what they already have? I don't think anybody has ever doubted Mettenberger's talent and with a year of experience under his belt Ken Whisenhunt might just be content to see his development through and instead decide to fix the Titans 31st ranked run defense. Leonard Williams is regarded by many as the top overall talent in this draft and fits perfectly at defensive end in the 3-4 defense Dick LeBeau will be running.|
|3) Jacksonville Jaguars - Dante Fowler (DE Florida)|
Gus Bradley's Jags gave up over 25 points per game last year; though they have some promising pieces in place, they lack a foundation stone that they can truly build around. There are a lot of good pass rushers in this draft, but it is my belief that Dante Fowler will be the first one off the board on draft day and a future All-Pro at the next level. If you wish to start from physical traits he's the prototype at 6'3" and 275. He produced in a big way for Florida this past year, proving to be NFL-ready in terms of technique. Then there's his work ethic and maturity which has been lauded. Fowler checks every box and stands to be a dominant force at the next level.
|4) Oakland Raiders - Amari Cooper (WR Alabama)|
|After a stellar NFL Combine performance most mock draft's now have Kevin White in this slot. It's easy to see the logic there and I understand why people prefer White, but I still give Cooper the slight edge. Cooper and White are neck and neck, very comparable prospects, the only difference in favor of Cooper for me is the level of competition he produced against in college. Believe it or not the Oakland Raiders have more than a couple pieces in place and could potentially be trending upward for the first time in a while. Giving Derek Carr a running mate and a proven game-changer in Amari Cooper would give add a dangerous feel to this offense.|
|5) Washington Redskins - Danny Shelton (DT/DE Washington)|
Why not? One of Washington's biggest needs is for a defensive lineman and does anybody have a bad thing to say about Danny Shelton? The 335 pound Shelton put on a Aaron Donald esque show at the Senior Bowl and should only continue trending upwards after the NFL Combine. Shelton shows amazing quickness and hand use for a guy his size and I was recently blown away by a stat showing that Shelton played the second most snaps of any defensive tackle in the country. Washington's number one need is for a safety and although I like Landon Collins, he's not a top five prospect. Morgan Moses will probably get another year at right tackle, and with Kerrigan and Trent Murphy at OLB I have a hard time seeing them go there. Shelton can entirely change the way offenses look at Washington's defense.
|6) New York Jets - Marcus Mariota (QB Oregon)|
This has to be the dream scenario for New York Jets fans. Yes the Jets could certainly use a wide receiver or an edge rusher, but you have a better chance of landing one of those in the second round than a franchise quarterback. There won't be any viable upgrades available via free agency and it's extremely hard to see a completely new regime sticking with Geno Smith for another season. Marcus Mariota is not Andrew Luck, but he's a much more talented passer than people give him credit for. We shouldn't assume Mariota can't be a pocket passer just because he hasn't been asked to do it before. With his talent, work ethic and IQ he has more than enough in him to be a star.
|7) Chicago Bears - Vic Beasley (OLB Clemson)|
Halfway through the season nobody imagined that pass rusher would be a need for the Bears, but after Lamarr Houston's ACL tear and Willie Young's Achilles the position has become a concern. Even if those two bounce back healthy the Bears need playmakers on defense, and would get a huge boost from the explosive Vic Beasley. In a loaded class of pass rushers Beasley got his off-season campaign off to a great start by lighting up the NFL Combine. Backing up his record breaking All-American career at Clemson, Beasley has made a strong argument for being the second pass rusher off the board. And it doesn't matter whether the Bears run a 3-4 or 4-3 next year, Beasley is a fit for either.
|8) Atlanta Falcons - Randy Gregory (DE/OLB Nebraska)|
Atlanta ranked second to last in the NFL in sacks last year, and as a group their pass rushing unit has been one of the worst in football for a couple years now. Whatever scheme the Falcons decide to run next year, adding some edge rushers to get after the quarterback is a must. Right now concerns about Randy Gregory's weight and also his knee have him "falling" out of the top five, but he'd present an outstanding value for the Falcons with the eighth pick. Gregory is still a rare elite talent, but when you're comparing him with similarly elite talents like Dante Fowler and Vic Beasley those minor issues might cause him go just a little bit lower than some people expect.
|9) New York Giants - Landon Collins (Safety Alabama)|
It wasn't a great year for the Giants defensively, giving up 25 points per game, and on top of that all three of the Giants safeties from last year, Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown and Quentin Demps are free agents this spring. With Rolle being 32 and Brown and Demps playing nothing better than average football new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could look to bring a new leader on the back end. Landon Collins is a polarizing safety prospect among draft analysts this year but at the very least he's reliable. Collins is an extremely heady football player who's always in the right place at the right time. Some nagging injuries held him back from showing his full potential last year, but as long as he's healthy I'm convinced he'll be a top notch safety at the next level.
|10) St Louis Rams - Kevin White (WR West Virginia)|
With the tenth pick the Rams seem to be sitting in a comfortable position. They'll either be able to draft their QB of the future if Winston or Mariota falls to them, or they'll take one of the two dominant wide receivers in this year's draft. Honestly it wouldn't be a bad idea to move up five spots and trade up for one of the quarterbacks, but if they don't, Kevin White or Amari Cooper would be a big boost to whichever other quarterback they decide to go with next year. The Rams have a few solid receivers but no true number one like White who just followed up his breakout season with a tremendous performance at the NFL Combine.
|11) Minnesota Vikings - Shane Ray (DE Missouri)|
I know you haven't seen this in many mock drafts, but what besides Everson Griffen would preclude the Vikings from taking a pass rusher? 32 Year old Brian Robison? Scott Crichton? If an edge rusher like Shane Ray happened to be the top guy on the Vikings draft board, he should be the pick. Shane Ray and his lightning quick first step would make for a dynamic duo with breakout star Everson Griffen and give the Vikings one of the best pair of young pass rushers in the league. Many mocks has Minnesota taking a receiver, but I think they're set with Charles Johnson, Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright. And at offensive tackle, Matt Kalil is going to get one last season to figure things out.
|12) Cleveland Browns - Alvin "Bud" Dupree (OLB Kentucky)|
It wasn't long ago that the Browns were one of the up-and-coming teams in the league; but boy did that positive vibe take a quick 180! Now with needs at quarterback, wide receiver, defensive line, offensive tackle, tight end and pass rusher; who knows what the Browns are going to do in the draft. We've had them taking wide receiver DeVante Parker for a long time, and while that could still happen I think Alvin "Bud" Dupree has passed him up in terms of value. Edge rushers are a lot harder to find than wide receivers and Dupree just keeps on looking better than better. After a breakout senior season at Kentucky, Dupree followed it up with an impressive Combine performance and is only adding to the depth of this year's pass rushing class.
|13) New Orleans Saints - Trae Waynes (CB Michigan State)|
|What the Saints need most is a pass rusher. They needed one last year and with Junior Gallette's off-field troubles they could quickly become in desperate need of one. However, the best pass rusher in our current mock draft scenario is Eli Harold and he just doesn't stack up with the draft's top cornerback Trae Waynes. Moving on, the Saints have a lot of needs on defense with cornerback certainly being one of them. Keenan Lewis had a mediocre season coming over from Pittsburgh and first round bust Patrick Robinson is a free agent. They did take Stanley Jean-Baptiste, but he hasn't shown enough yet to make the Saints pass on a potential shutdown cornerback in Trae Waynes.|
|14) Miami Dolphins - DeVante Parker (WR Louisville)|
2015 will be the make it or break it year for both Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill in Miami so look for them to focus this off season on loading up on as much offensive ammunition as possible. Mike Wallace hasn't fit with the Dolphins offense and looks to already be done with the squad, and Brian Hartline looks to be in the same boat. Jarvis Landry had a great rookie year but in Louisville's DeVante Parker they'd be adding a number one type receiver would give Tannehill an exciting 1-2 receiving duo out wide; with no off field headaches! A size/length/speed prototype who can win jump balls and work after the catch, DeVante Parker can make an immediate impact for the Dolphins.
|15) San Francisco 49ers - Sammie Coates (WR Auburn)|
|Michael Crabtree is a free agent at the end of the season, and combined with Stevie Johnson's near five million dollar cap hit, Anquan Boldin might be the only starting receiver to return for San Francisco next year. If they decide to go receiver here they'll have plenty of options and I personally am a big supporter of Auburn's Sammie Coates. He's the type of deep threat with size you can just chuck the ball deep to and trust he'll come down with it more often than not. Coates also answered a lot of doubters at the Senior Bowl by looking sharper than expected as a route runner and eliminating the drops many were concerned with.|
|16) Houston Texans - Jalen Collins (CB L.S.U)|
It's time we wake up on LSU's Jalen Collins! Collins has been getting a little more buzz lately, but he's still one of the most underrated players in this year's draft and I fully expect him to continue rising up boards as the process progresses. Collins hasn't made as many plays on the ball as some flashier cornerbacks, mostly because teams never threw at him, but his man cover skills are as good as there are in college football. Up front the Texans have created arguably the best young front seven in all of football, but Johnathan Joseph is past his prime and Kareem Jackson is an unrestricted free agent.
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