Picking the Picks
Who goes where Thursday Night?
This year’s draft will be an interesting one to say the least, a lot of questions surrounding both top QB prospects Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston on whether either of them can live up to their college success and become a team’s franchise quarterback because there are a lot of teams in need of one that are drafting in not only the top 5 but the top 10 as well.
Will Chicago or San Diego make a surprise move and trade up to snag Mariota despite having two proven QBs already in place? Could the Browns dump Manziel, move up and snag the stud prospect from Oregon or will Chip Kelly force his hand in Philly and turn another Duck into an Eagle? Will this year’s crop of WRs be better than last year’s talented group? Who will select the stud DT from USC? Are the Jets the prime landing spot for Mariota or do they go edge rusher? Do they even select at 6? Do they trade back? Move up? Who will take the big risks this year? We’ll find out soon enough.
*This mock will not have any trades. All teams will select from the spots they’re currently in.
1st Overall Pick – Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Jameis Winston, QB Florida State
There’s been a lot of waffling on whether Jameis should be taken first overall, not due to his play but because of all his notable off the field troubles many NFL scouts and executives don’t believe he’s ready to be handed a franchise. I understand all the questions but this kid is a special talent who I believe is the quarterback the Buccaneers are looking for. He’s got a cannon for an arm, he’s a very bright player too and he’s got the build to be a successful NFL QB. With a Ben Roethlisberger body type I believe if Jameis can right the ship off the field this kid can guide the Bucs to a promising future. Already with two extremely talented wide outs in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson Winston should have no problem tossing the ball up to these two huge targets.
2nd Overall Pick – Tennessee Titans
Leonard Williams, DT USC
The most talented player in the draft and first on almost everyone’s big board the freak from USC will take his talents down south to Tennessee where he will make an instant impact on last year’s 27th ranked defense. At 6-5 320 lbs Williams is an athletic monster who is just way too quick to be that large. Many people think the Titans should go for Mariota here but I think it’s way too risky here especially if you’re unsure about him being “the guy” you go BPA here and there’s no player in this draft that’ll help out a team that’s already added Brian Orakpo and brought back Derrick Morgan. Teams will have a tough time dealing with that defensive line.
3rd Overall Pick – Jacksonville Jaguars
Dante Fowler, OLB Florida
I wasn’t sure whether to go offense or defense here. Since Blackmon has basically been a bust since he’s gotten into the league maybe they go Kevin White or Amari Cooper here to give second year starter Blake Bortles a deep threat and a decent offensive weapon for him. I think they go with Fowler simply because of the deep WR talent in this draft and they need someone who can put pressure on the quarterback. He’s not as fast as some of the other edge rushers in the draft but he’s definitely the strongest, most versatile and in my opinion the most NFL ready OLB in the draft. The Jags defensive minded head coach Gus Bradley will love keeping this player in the state of Florida.
4th Overall Pick – Oakland Raiders
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
It’ll be a tossup for Oakland on who to take here. It’s about dead even on who the better WR is between Cooper and West Virginia stud Kevin White. I don’t think there’s really a wrong choice here I think Cooper is the more polished and NFL ready WR of the two but White is also a freak of an athlete at 6-3 215 lbs either of these special talents will please second year QB Derek Carr. The Raiders are in need of a deep threat and of some weapons to help out their young QB and I think Carr to Cooper will be music to Raiders’ fans ears for years to come.
5th Overall Pick – Washington Redskins
Randy Gregory, DE Nebraska
A lot of people think the Redskins will go offensive line here but I don’t think they want to pass up on a guy who could end up being the best pass rusher to come out of this draft. While they do have Kerrigan and Trent Murphy rushing the passer but they need depth at the position after losing Brian Orakpo to the Titans in FA. Although there are questions about Gregory after he failed a drug test some scouts say he’ll fall out of the top 10 which I think is ridiculous considering his talent level. This could end up being the best player to come out of this draft.
6th Overall Pick – New York Jets
La’el Collins, OT LSU
I’m sure most Jets fans will groan and moan about the Jets passing on Mariota and being “stuck” with Geno for another year but if they come to their senses a bit they’ll give Geno another shot with a disciplined coach, an actual offensive coordinator and some actual weapons in an offensive system that he’s comfortable with it’s very possible Geno can be “the guy” for the Jets. You cannot take a QB if you’re not 100% sure on him being the franchise guy and I don’t believe the Jets think he’s it. Collins is a plug and play guy for the Jets at RG but they also realize D’Brickashaw Ferguson is getting older they need a replacement for him. LT is one of the most important positions in the NFL, it’s not a sexy pick at all but it’s an important one and Collins can be a cornerstone for the Jets line for a decade.
7th Overall Pick – Chicago Bears
Kevin White, WR West Virginia
The John Fox era in Chicago will begin by bringing in the 6-3 WR from West Virginia to replace Brandon Marshall whom they traded away this offseason. White along with Alshon Jeffery will form a nice tandem out there in the Windy City and hopefully Jay Cutler can right the ship for Chicago it could be a big boost for them. Chicago could also go defense here, there defense really hasn’t been the same vaunted and fearsome defense it’s been known for its entire existence. I just think the White/Jeffery combination is too good to pass up on here
8th Overall Pick – Atlanta Falcons
Vic Beasley, OLB Clemson
Dan Quinn gets a beast in Beasley with his first pick as an NFL head coach. The defensive mastermind who previously called plays for the best defense in football in Seattle will get to bring in a very physical player but many scouts say he’s too short to be a DE so Quinn will most likely move him to OLB like the way he used Cliff Avril who’s a similar build to Beasley. Atlanta really hasn’t had feared pass rusher since John Abraham. Beasley can definitely change that in a heartbeat under the tutelage of Dan Quinn
9th Overall Pick – New York Giants
Brandon Scherff, OT Iowa
Probably the most glaring need for the Giants is on the offensive line which was ranked 20th overall in the NFL but 30th in run blocking and 13th in pass blocking. Scherff can play both tackle and guard on the line would be an instant starter for Big Blue who had a ton of injuries last year but even when had a difficult time keeping Eli Manning off his back last season. Scherff is a big physical lineman who isn’t afraid to get in your face, he’s what scouts like to call a “big ugly”. Scherff would most likely play left guard for the Giants and they’d move Weston Richburg to his natural center position. Scherff like Collins who I had the Jets taking at 6 will be a cornerstone on the Giants offensive line for years to come.
10th Overall Pick – St, Louis Rams
Trae Waynes, CB Michigan St.
The defensive front is absolutely phenomenal in St. Louis with Quinn, Long, Donald and Brockers heading the defensive line in Greg Williams’ base 4-3 Defense but other than Janoris Jenkins he doesn’t really have a big physical corner on the outside to help him. Waynes can become the Rams top corner very soon I think he’s the best corner in this draft and will soon be able to take on teams top WR. This will have Williams foaming at the mouth being able to leave his two corners on an island and sending that front four at the QB. The Rams will soon have one of the league top 10 defenses with Waynes, Jenkins and their front four
11th Overall Pick – Minnesota Vikings
Devante Parker, WR Louisville
The Vikings got desperate in the offseason and traded for struggling Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace, a guy who’s really been a shell of himself since his days in Pittsburgh. The Vikings need to get Teddy Bridgewater who showed a ton of promise in his rookie season a viable deep threat and weapon for their offense. Parker, a familiar face to Bridgewater who was the QB at Louisville a few years would no doubt love for his team to bring his buddy in. A big receiver at 6-3 he can also fly down the field and can separate from corners rather easy as well as go up and get the ball. The Louisville connection will be loved in Minny for years to come.
12th Overall Pick – Cleveland Browns
Marcus Mariota, QB Oregon
Yes, that’s right the Manziel experiment in Cleveland is over after just one season. Mariota will try to solve the QB problem that’s been plaguing them for centuries basically. Mariota can be that guy for the Browns, a QB who took care of the ball better than any quarterback in the history of college football throwing 87 TDs to just 11 interceptions in his 4 year career at Oregon. That’s right 11 interceptions in the 4 years of at Oregon. Which is just absolutely unheard of and would be huge for a team that turns the ball over way too much. It’s very possible that the Browns trade up from this spot to select Mariota fearing that a team like Tennessee or the Jets will take him and they do have two first rounders’ which could entice a team to trade back and collect picks.
13th Overall Pick – New Orleans Saints
Shane Ray, DE Missouri
The Saints really don’t have a dominant pass rusher who can really get after the quarterback and Ray can be that guy that Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan would love to use in his defense. Ray is a freak of an athlete who will definitely be a project player, very raw but no question can come off the edge and just blow by guys and get to the quarterback. The Saints have holes all over the place the two most glaring needs are on the offensive and defensive line so I wouldn’t be shocked if they took a look at Peat from Stanford here, but I think they bring in a guy who can apply pressure up front. Ray will be their guy
14th Overall Pick – Miami Dolphins
Marcus Peters, CB Washington
Peters is an intriguing prospect to say the least, between him and Waynes they’re clearly the two best cornerbacks in the draft. Peters is as physical a corner and athletic a corner you’ll find in this draft too. Some might argue that he’s better than Waynes but he’ll fall because of his numerous off the field issues he encountered at Washington. Reports he clashed with the coaching staff and was also ejected during a game this season too before he was eventually dismissed from the team. The Dolphins need a big physical corner to go along side Brent Grimes who had a great year for Miami last year but adding Peters would help out that fearsome defensive front that added Suh this offseason. Peters can lay the wood like no other prospect in this draft he needs maintain consistency more often, if he does the Dolphins will have found a gem this late in the draft.
15th Overall Pick – San Francisco 49ers
Arik Armstead, DT Oregon
Amid the chaos that has gone on in San Francisco with the coaching and upper management leading to the departure of Jim Harbaugh coinciding with the promotion of Jim Tomsula to head coach. Things got even worse when stud linebacker Patrick Willis decided to call it a career, along with probably the most surprising retirement that stunned the NFL in Chris Borland and Justin Smith inching closer to retirement as well. The Niners defense isn’t as fearsome in years past but if Aldon Smith can come back at full strength along with Navarro Bowman they’ve got some pieces to rebuild that once dominant defense. Armstead’s biggest advantage is his massive size at 6-7 he’s able to stretch out and disrupts the QB’s vision and is extremely light on his feet so he can drop back into coverage if needed.
16th Overall Pick – Houston Texans
Eric Kendricks, ILB UCLA
The Texans had a nice bounce back season after a disastrous 2014 which saw them get the first pick and select Jadeveon Clowney who was injured most of rookie year but should be a huge asset to the Bill O’Brien’s defense this year along with arguably the best defensive player in the league in JJ Watt. Where the Texans struggle most though is at the linebacker position, with Brian Cushing being as injury prone as he is and Brooks Reed signing with the Falcons the Texans LBs are most vulnerable. Kendricks is just a “football guy” I guess would be the best way to put it, he just does everything a linebacker should and a guy who has a nose for the football. He is undersized which does hurt his draft stock a bit but he can definitely be a guy they can plug in and he’d make an immediate impact on the defense.
17th Overall Pick – San Diego Chargers
Todd Gurley, RB Georgia
Ah yes the first running back to come off the board is the stud coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered during the middle of his phenomenal season at Georgia. Some argue that had he stayed healthy he would’ve won the Heisman. Gurley is a between the tackles running back but with an explosiveness through the hole that is absolutely fascinating to see, he can shed tacklers like nobody’s business and will absolutely wear down defenses with his physicality. Some questions about his durability and if he can stay on the field after his ACL injury this year and also missed some games due to an ankle injury. With Ryan Mathews gone to Philly, the Chargers lack any explosion in the backfield and Gurley will give them exactly that once he returns from the PUP list. I’m aware of the past few years that taking a RB in the first round isn’t exactly ideal but I think Gurley will change that thinking in due time. He’s a special talent that will help Mike McCoy and their offense.
18th Overall Pick – Kansas City Chiefs
Cameron Erving, Center Florida State
Chiefs’ fans will be screaming for a WR here but I don’t see one that they can reach for in round1 I think they’ll address that in the later rounds with the depth there is in this WR class. The Chiefs lost their center Rodney Hudson to Oakland so they have no experience at the position, Hudson did just start playing center this year after being mainly a left tackle but was moved to center this year and his tremendous play turned him into a first round pick. His combine results and showing at his Pro Day solidified his case as a first rounder, Chiefs fans will upset now but will be happy when this big wall is anchoring there line for a long time.
19th Overall Pick – Cleveland Browns (Acquired from Buffalo)
Danny Shelton, DT Washington
Shelton is an absolute monster of a human being posting a 6-2 339 pound frame the mammoth from Washington really stood out at the Senior Bowl but also took some flak for having a poor Pro Day. He’s a monster on the inside who can take on almost any double team and beat them with ease and has one of the more impressive bull rushes of any prospect in the draft. Also at 339 lbs. Shelton can get to the ball quicker than a man that size should. The Browns were the worst run defense in the NFL and new coach Mike Pettine will love to plug this big man right in the middle to stuff the run and who can also get to the passer. Pettine will use Shelton the same way he did Marcell Dareus in Buffalo, Shelton will be a very good pro and Browns’ fans will grow to love the big man very soon.
20th Overall Pick – Philadelphia Eagles
Landon Collins, Safety Alabama
The Eagles went out and addressed a need in FA by signing former Seahawk Byron Maxwell to a big money deal and brining in Walter Thurmond as well. They let Carry Williams go and he eventually signed with Seattle, the Eagles secondary is far from fixed though with question marks at the safety position with Malcolm Jenkins and Earl Wolfe the penciled in starters as of now. Landon Collins is far and away the best safety prospect in this draft class in my opinion and he’d immediately make an impact for Chip Kelly’s defense which was ranked 28th overall last year and 31st in the passing game. Collins has very quick hips and can change direction real quick plus he’s an excellent tackler and he loves to try and rip the ball away from the opposing team. He will bring that Alabama nastiness he imposed for the Crimson Tide for three years to an Eagle team that’s desperate for some physical secondary play. Needs to work on his hands as he did drop a lot of potential interceptions in college and needs to work on not falling for play action as much, NFL QBs will have a field day if he can’t figure that out.
21st Overall Pick – Cincinnati Bengals
Andrus Peat, OT Stanford
The Bengals are aging on the offensive line and can use some youth upfront and Peat will give them that. Andrew Whitworth is 33 and he and Andre Smith are impending free agents who’ll want to be paid big bucks. Peat at 6-7 has massively long arms and it’s very possible that his thighs are tree trunks I’m still waiting for confirmation that they are in fact his thighs and not actually tree trunks he had implanted in him. Despite his massive size he is very light on his feet and is an excellent pass blocker, and he can be the blind side pass protector the Bengals are looking for. He needs to work on his run blocking and needs to be more of a nasty player and has even been labeled as “soft” by some scouts.
22nd Overall Pick – Pittsburgh Steelers
Jalen Collins, CB LSU
The Steelers lost Troy Polamalu to retirement as well as cornerback Ike Taylor so Mike Tomlin and his crew sans Dick LeBeau are going to need to revamp their old and beat up secondary with some youth and Jalen Collins will certainly bring some much needed athleticism to the Steel City. Collins is quick but he can also keep up with players for a long time, receivers find it hard to separate from him. He can jump routes very well and he is an excellent tackler which is a huge positive for a corner and also a big priority if you’re going to play for the Steelers. Though Collins does tend to struggle on his back pedal and he’s very inexperienced as a starter he will need a season or two to develop but he will eventually become the Steelers top corner.
23rd Overall Pick – Detroit Lions
Malcolm Brown, DT Texas
The Lions went from having one of the toughest defensive fronts in the league to that position being one of their biggest needs. Losing Fairley to the Rams and Suh to the Dolphins absolutely killed the Lions and this is where the big DT from Texas comes in to play. Despite the acquisition of Haloti Ngata the Lions are weak up front, Brown is a very blue collar kind of player loves to do the dirty work to make the tough plays. Brown is very quick off the ball and he is able to make plays away from the ball and can locate the ball quickly, he can also get his hands up in the passing lanes and his athleticism lets him get up and block passes. He needs to work on his technique and learn how to finish tackles better. He’s obviously not Suh but Brown is a nice player who can have a solid career in the NFL for a long time.
24th Overall Pick – Arizona Cardinals
Melvin Gordon, RB Wisconsin
The Cardinals are getting a running back who can go for 0 to 60 in a heartbeat which they haven’t had in a long time. With their stingy defense the Cardinals need to find some way to put up points, they’ll get a big lift from Carson Palmer returning from a torn ACL but there’s question marks on how affective he’ll be. Larry Fitzgerald is still a threat but he’s getting up there in age, Michael Floyd is a nice player and John Brown came out of nowhere to have a significant impact on their offense but with no real running game the Cardinals are just a one dimensional team. Having Gordon in the backfield will certainly change that, he’s got the speed but is also a very patient back, and he’s got deceiving power in which he can mow through defenders. He’s a decent athlete and needs to work on catching the ball out of the backfield but he certainly provides added depth and a punch in an offense that needs it desperately.
25th Overall Pick – Carolina Panthers
D.J. Humphries, OT Florida State
The Panthers need to keep Cam Newton on his feet in order to be a viable threat and Humphries can be that guy for the Panthers. A big athletic guard at 6-5 Humphries has tremendous durability for a guy his size. In fact a lot of people around the league say he looks like more of a tight end than an offensive lineman, he’s extremely quick off the snap and can move side to side in such fluid motion. Handles the bull rush excellently with his tremendous upper body strength. If Humphries can shake off his inconsistencies and maintain that fire and drive he can be a fantastic player and if he stays healthy he’ll only get better. A very good piece on an offensive line that has some weak spots.
26th Overall Pick – Baltimore Ravens
Jalen Strong, WR Arizona State
Torrey Smith is now a 49er, Steve Smith who seems to never lose energy is getting up there in age the WR depth in Baltimore is screaming for attention. Strong underwent surgery for his wrist but doctors did clear him so that shouldn’t affect his draft stock that much. At 6-2 Strong can go up and get those 50-50 balls and is not afraid to fend off any DB which is huge if you’re going to make it in the NFL. He’s got magnets for hands and is very smooth out of his break and although he’s not that fast he’s excellent going downfield for verticals with long and decisive strides. He’s extremely affective in the red zone which is what Flacco needs desperately. Needs to work on how to judge the deep ball and needs to be tougher after the catch and try to shed would be tacklers. Cannot take plays off either.
27th Overall Pick – Dallas Cowboys
Alvin Dupree, DE Kentucky
With both Gurley and Gordon off the board here it wouldn’t make sense for them to reach this late in the first round when they’ve got so many glaring needs and the RB class being very deep the Cowboys should try and solidify that defense and Dupree can help them out there. He’s a physically gifted player who relies on that to get to the quarterback, with long arms and a great burst off the snap count he can also turn it on and off deceiving lineman and just blowing by them. Dupree can also fall back into coverage too with that athleticism, however he does struggle to break free of blockers and scouts say he lacks football strength. Dupree will not be an every down edge rusher his rookie year but the more snaps he gets the more polished of a player he’ll become.
28th Overall Pick – Denver Broncos
T.J. Clemmings, OT Pittsburgh
New head coach Gary Kubiak needs big and athletic offensive lineman in his West Coast offense and Clemmings fits that to a “T”. He’s got the long arms and very broad shoulders as well as very thick thighs but he moves like a gazelle. He is a very flexible lineman and can bend rather easily from his lower body, an excellent run blocker who explodes to the second level with ease. He’s also very aware of things around him and picks up things real quickly. We all know how immobile Peyton Manning is so adding Clemmings to a line that already has stud left tackle Ryan Clady the Broncos keeping Peyton on his feet will be very beneficial for the Broncos and their offense.
29th Overall Pick – Indianapolis Colts
Ereck Flowers, OT Florida State
The Colts are an excellent team they don’t have a lot of holes but one that stands out is an important one which is on the offensive line. Like any team though in order for your QB to be successful you need to keep his jersey clean. Flowers is excellent in both run and pass game, his quick and has good side to side movement, gets to the second level well and his wide base helps cover a large area while in pass protection and can push defenders back with ease in that case. He does struggle against quicker defenders and can be fooled by the swim move rather easily. Needs to work on getting off on the snap better also.
30th Overall Pick – Green Bay Packers
Kevin Johnson, CB Wake Forest
The Pack lose Tramon Williams and Davon House to free agency they’re going to need somebody to cover opposing teams WRs. Johnson is a tall lengthy build of an NFL corner and has the natural cover skills that a true cornerback needs to have to succeed. He has the quick hips that’s crucial for a corner to have, he is extremely fluid in motion and loves going up for balls vs. any receiver, excellent in baiting quarterbacks and has a great first step not to mention great hands to pick the ball off. Though with his aggressiveness Johnson does get burned quite a bit especially on double moves and despite his willingness to go up for the ball Johnson’s 6 foot frame makes it extremely difficult for him to win the battle. Johnson can step in from day one, I think he’s best suited covering smaller slot guys who he can bump with, he just to learn not to be to jumpy and he’ll be fine.
31st Overall Pick New Orleans Saints (From Seattle Seahawks)
Eric Rowe, CB Utah
I had the Saints select DE Shane Ray with their 13th pick and I think they’ll go defense again with the pick in which they got after trading Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks. Rowe loves to harass opposing receivers with his physicality from the line of scrimmage and on. Shows great coordination to turn and run and has great acceleration to keep up with receivers. Knows how to disrupt passes and can go up and rip the ball out of receiver’s hands with ease. Like the previous pick Johnson Rowe has a tendency to get burned on a double move and many scouts believe his small size (6-1) projects him more as a safety. He also needs to limit his arm extension when covering a receiver he’ll get called for it every time in the NFL. We know the Ryan brothers love physical corners and Rob Ryan will certainly love this kid and utilize his special skill set immediately.
32nd Overall Pick – New England Patriots
Byron Jones, CB Connecticut
The Super Bowl champs lost their two premier corners to free agency in Revis and Browner but were able to save face by re-signing McCourty and keeping him at safety but they need someone to play corner and Jones can do that very well. He’s an extremely smart player and uses his instincts and his great closing speed to break up passes and is a great tackler which Belichick loves. He is also a very heady player and a vocal leader which is a trait not many players this late in the first round. Does need to work on his change of direction and needs to get lighter on his feet. Had an excellent combine which is how his draft stock has risen but there are questions about his shoulder after suffering a season ending shoulder injury which made him miss the last seven games of the 2014 season.