Updated: April 26th
|1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jameis Winston (QB Florida State)|
Through all the annual pre-draft smokescreens it seems pretty clear at this point that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have settled on Jameis Winston as their guy at number one. 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 Bucs aren't always going to conform to what I believe to be common sense.
|2) Tennessee Titans - Leonard Williams (DT/DE U.S.C)|
|I'm not going to die on this hill come April 30th but it still seems most logical to me for Tennessee to stay at two and take Leonard Williams, the best player in the draft, and roll with Zach Mettenberger. All along it seemed the Titans would take their chances with Mett, but the tide seems to be turning in the favor of Mariota as we near draft day; ownership maybe? You can't go wrong with Mariota, and maybe I just believe too much in Mettenberger but I like the combination of Leonard Williams and Mett better than Mariota and nothing. Maybe this is all posturing for the Titans to make a move down in the draft with Cleveland, Philly or San Diego; who knows? As for now I'm just giving you my take; but check back on Thursday though!|
|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 the 2015 NFL Draft, but it is my belief that Dante Fowler will be the first one off the board on April 30th 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. He's the guy .... unless Leo Williams is on the board; stay tuned!
|4) Oakland Raiders - Amari Cooper (WR Alabama)|
|Who Oakland picks at four will largely be determined by where Marcus Mariota goes. If Mariota goes two that means either Leonard Williams or Dante Fowler will be available. If Williams and Fowler go 1/2 though, it means Oakland will be selecting either Amari Cooper or Kevin White. Although Kevin White has made it clear who he believes is the best receiver in the draft, and there are many on his side, we still like Cooper by a hair. 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. Giving Derek Carr a running mate and a proven game-changer in Amari Cooper would give add a dangerous feel to this offense.|
|5) TRADE! Cleveland Browns - Marcus Mariota (QB Oregon)|
I'm not saying this is necessarily what the Browns will do, even though there have been legitimate reports suggesting it might, but it's definitely what they should do! You can throw out all the cliches you want about building through the draft and conserving draft picks, but in the end we all know the NFL is a quarterbacks league; if you don't have a quarterback you aren't going win games, plain and simple. And based on what we saw from Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown last year I don't know how many games the Browns can even expect to be competitive in. I know Browns fans won't like our projected trade, but basically it comes down to Cleveland's willingness to give up the 19th pick. Would you be willing to give up a guy like Breshad Perriman or Malcom Brown for Marcus Mariota? You know my answer!
|6) New York Jets - Vic Beasley (OLB Clemson)|
It doesn't matter what the Jets are throwing out there about how much they love Geno Smith, they should be devastated to see Marcus Mariota go off the board one pick before them. Mariota would be the perfect guy to put on the big stage and eliminate the never-ending quarterback controversy, but on the positive side Smith did show some signs last year and Vic Beasley would not be a bad consolation prize at all. With defensive minded Head Coach Todd Bowles coming over he'll be looking to add some speed and firepower to a Jets defense which currently lacks speed on the edge. The lightning quick Vic Beasley has arguably the fastest first step of any of the outstanding pass rushers in this draft, and could wreak havoc playing behind Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson.
|7) Chicago Bears - Danny Shelton (DT Washington)|
New staff, new scheme and a complete overhaul of personnel; the Bears are in total rebuild mode on the defensive side of the ball. Every effective rebuild starts with a strong defensive line and if Washington's Danny Shelton is available at seven, Chicago would jump at the chance to add a cornerstone. The 335 pound Shelton was one of the most productive defensive players in all of college football last year and followed that up with an Aaron Donald esque show at the Senior Bowl. 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. In Vic Fangio's new 3-4 scheme Shelton has the ability to play nose tackle or fill a Haloti Ngata type role at the five tech.
|8) Atlanta Falcons - Alvin "Bud" Dupree (DE/OLB Kentucky)|
We've had Randy Gregory slotted here for a long time, and though his off-field issues aren't helping him any, us moving Bud Dupree one spot ahead has more to do with Dupree than it does to do with Gregory. The more and more scouts study Dupree the harder it becomes to poke holes in his prospects. He's a three year starter who produced at an incredibly high level, he tested off the charts at the Combine and his interviews in pre-draft meetings have left teams falling in love with the player and person. When compared with Gregory, Dupree's production was higher in college, you could argue Dupree offers more schematic versatility and he comes with no off-field baggage whatsoever.
|9) New York Giants - Randy Gregory (DE Nebraska)|
Best player available and it's a defensive lineman??? It's hard to see the Giants passing on Randy Gregory with the ninth overall pick. We know the G-Men are never shy about drafting pass rushers no matter how much depth they have and with their history of coaching up defensive lineman they could be the perfect team to develop Gregory's massive potential. If the Giants were to draft for need they would have to reach for Landon Collins or an O-Lineman like Brandon Scherff or Andrus Peat, but with the ninth overall pick they can get one of the draft's elite talents in Gregory and defensive end may turn out to be a need soon enough considering J.P.P's uncertain contract status.
|10) St Louis Rams - Kevin White (WR West Virginia)|
With the Rams recent resigning of Kenny Britt I was tempted to have them pass on a receiver, but Kevin White or Amari Cooper would simply be too good to pass up at ten. The Rams have a lot of solid receivers on the roster but no true number one, a gamechanger for defenses to fear. A physically imposing receiver with 4.35 speed, White is everything you look for in a big-time wide receiver and there are many who feel he could be top five pick. He'd be the best value for St Louis, but if they choose to address need instead they could consider LSU's La'el Collins to help alleviate their offensive line concerns.
|11) Minnesota Vikings - Shane Ray (DE Missouri)|
There are some who feel Shane Ray could be a top five pick, but concerns about his strength might bump just a peg or two lower than people expect. 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. If Minnesota keeps improving at this pace, they have a chance to make some serious noise in the NFC next year!
|12) TRADE! Washington Redskins - Landon Collins (Safety Alabama)|
In the reverse RG3 trade the Redskins are in the ideal position to trade back from the fifth spot as they can still move down to 12 and fill their needs. Washington has done a tremendous job upgrading their talent on defense this offseason, but aside from taking a flier on Dashon Goldson their safety position remains a major questions mark from last year where Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark struggled mightily. 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.
|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. Veterans Keenan Lewis and Brandon Browner make for decent stopgaps at the cornerback position, but long-term this has to be an area of concern for the team. The fans and media always want to hear about team needs, but overall this is about taking the best player available and the quite simply the Saints can't afford to pass on a potential shutdown cornerback in Waynes at 13.|
|14) Miami Dolphins - Todd Gurley (RB Georgia)|
It's been refreshing to see recent reports suggesting that NFL teams do realize just how special of a talent Todd Gurley is. Knee injury or not he is a top five prospect in my mind, and as he continues to check out medically there's a chance he's not even available at this point on draft day. For the Dolphins, they've quietly had such a nice offseason that they don't have a glaring need that they desperately need to address and could be in position to make a luxury selection here. I see many mocks with DeVante Parker, but they can still get a stud receiver in round two. Top cornerback Trae Waynes is off the board. They could go O-Lineman, but they did just spend two of their first three picks last year on lineman. Why not just take the best available player?
|15) San Francisco 49ers - Kevin Johnson (CB Wake Forest)|
|It's been a rough off season for GM Trent Baalke who forced out his entire coaching staff and now has seen his talent and leadership erode on both side of the ball through free agency and retirement. What was a short time ago one of the deepest rosters in football now has questions marks all over the field. They could go any number of ways with this pick, Benardrick McKinney, Arik Armstead, and don't count out a wide receiver; but cornerback will present the best value and it too is a need. Wake Forest's Wake Johnson could be the perfect fill in for either Chris Culliver or Perrish Cox who both left via free agency. Johnson displays a coveted blend of length, speed and physicality with the ability to play in almost any coverage scheme. He's experienced and NFL ready.|
|16) Houston Texans - DeVante Parker (WR Louisville)|
For the first time ..... ever, the Houston Texans are in need of a number one wide receiver. There's nothing wrong with Deandre Hopkins but I'm not quite sure he's a true number one, and even if he is the Texans need to add more than just Cecil Shorts to this thin position group. Taking advantage of a deep crop of receivers the Texans could get excellent value by drafting a potential number one receiver in DeVante Parker with the 16th pick. Possessing the size, speed and ball skills to be dominant receiver outside the numbers Parker could alongside Hopkins could a dynamic duo out wide, which could prove to be especially important considering the uncertainty of their quarterback position.
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