With the 2015 NFL Draft coming within the week, it is time for us to mock the first round of the draft, and predict where this generation’s future stars will be headed.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston QB Florida State. The Bucs need a complete overhaul, and they should grab franchise QB when they have the chance. If Jameis Winston cleans off his off field act, he could be a high end quarterback in five years. If not, he could be out of the league in five years. Winston is the ultimate boom or bust.
2. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota QB Oregon. The Titans will be bombarded with trade offers for the second overall pick, whether it is from Philly, San Diego or even the Jets. But unless an offer comes by that makes the RG3 deal look cheap, Tennessee should pull the trigger and grab Mariota themselves. They need a QB and while Leonard Williams is a popular pick here, the Titans already have a capable DT in Jurrell Casey. The Titans offense is essentially a blank slate anyway, so they won’t have a problem crafting it around Mariota’s strengths.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr. DE Florida. The Jags are set with their defensive tackles, but they lack a pass rush to take advantage. Grabbing the explosive Dante Fowler Jr could change that in an instant.
4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper WR Alabama. Had a tough time deciding between Cooper, Kevin White and Leonard Williams. While Williams is the superior prospect, the Raiders have a bigger need at wide receiver, as potential franchise QB Derek Carr needs someone to throw to. They can’t afford to mess up Carr’s development. Cooper gets the edge over White since he has a more impressive body of work in his college career.
5. Washington Redskins: Leonard Williams DT USC. Williams hasn’t been projected to go this low, but the Redskins sure aren’t complaining. They have a lot of needs all over the field, so they go best player available and grab Williams to set the edge as a 3-4 pass rusher and rush defender.
6. New York Jets: Vic Beasley OLB Clemson. The Jets would have loved to have Mariota slip to them, but since he’s gone, they’ll have to wait to add a QB. Instead, the Jets should build on top of what is already a fearsome defense by getting Vic Beasley to spruce up their pass rush.
7. Chicago Bears: Kevin White WR West Virginia. The Bears were a late season train wreck and on draft day, they come with a lot of holes, especially on defense. However, their biggest need is arguably wide receiver, with Brandon Marshall being traded to the Jets. The Bears should replace him with Kevin White, one of the budding stars of the Combine. Pairing White with Alshon Jeffery should hopefully restore what is at least on paper a good offense.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Trae Waynes CB Michigan State. The Falcons were initially associated with pass rushers here, like Randy Gregory and Shane Ray. Ever since then, the two had their stock plummet. The Falcons still need the best defensive player available here, and I think they go DB here and grab Trae Waynes.
9. New York Giants: Brandon Scherff RT Iowa. This one is an easy pick. Odell Beckham Jr is a one man offense, but if Eli Manning doesn’t have time to throw, then Beckham won’t be making too many catches. That’s why the Giants should draft Brandon Scherff with this pick as he is the best lineman available.
10. St. Louis Rams: Ereck Flowers RT Miami. It seems like the Rams need a new offensive lineman every year, and this year is no different. They go with the strongest lineman available with Ereck Flowers.
11. Minnesota Vikings: Marcus Peters CB Washington. Peters is like the defensive version of Jameis Winston. Skilled on the field with a lot of personal problems. At this point in the draft, teams take some risks, and the Vikes could strike it rich if Peters pans out.
12. Cleveland Browns: Danny Shelton NT Washington. Despite the improved record, Cleveland was still the same old dumpster fire we all know and love. The Browns have a lot of needs on both sides of the ball to address, and nose tackle Danny Shelton is the best player that fills those needs.
13. New Orleans Saints: Alvin Dupree OLB Kentucky. Dupree is the first of many Kentucky Wildcats to get drafted this year, and he goes to New Orleans, who could really use his pass rush.
14. Miami Dolphins: DeVante Parker WR Louisville. Another easy pick. The Dolphins are helped their defense tremendously by signing Ndamukong Suh, and now can focus on their biggest need. DeVante Parker should slot in to become Ryan Tannehill’s number one target, replacing the disgruntled Mike Wallace.
15. San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead DE Oregon. The Niners had an offseason to forget so far, and its time to pick up the pieces and replace old parts. Arik Armstead could be someone to rebuild the defense around, especially since its too early to pick up an inside linebacker. Armstead could play alongside and then take over for Justin Smith.
16. Houston Texans: Todd Gurley RB Georgia. The first running back taken goes to a team that already has a capable back in Arian Foster. Foster has been getting up there in age and workload though, and having Gurley in a Carlos Hyde role could rejuvenate the Texans offense.
17. San Diego Chargers: Malcom Brown NT Texas. If the Philip Rivers fiasco over reaches a fever pitch, the Chargers may have completely different plans. However, I think that will blow over in due time, so the Chargers should retool their defense instead of blowing up their playoff contender core.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Andrus Peat LT Stanford. The Chiefs already signed Jeremy Maclin to improve upon the zero wide receiver touchdowns they had last year. There’s enough need to require another WR selection here, but the Chiefs also need some blocking help, so they should grab Andrus Peat to keep both Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles off the ground.
19. Cleveland Browns: Breshad Perriman WR Central Florida. Despite the Johnny Manziel fiasco of last year, I don’t think the Browns are desperate enough to pawn off this pick to Philly for Sam Bradford. Instead, they use this pick to replace another malcontent, Josh Gordon, whose facing suspension of all of next season. Perriman should be the pick here.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Landon Collins SS Alabama. Philly would love to trade up to grab Mariota, but the sheer cost of moving up so much is too prohibitive even for Chip Kelly (and that’s saying something). The Eagles could use help either at wide receiver or safety. By picking Perriman, the Browns made the choice for Philly, so the Eagles instead pick safety Landon Collins.
21. Cincinatti Bengals: Jake Fisher LT Oregon. Left tackle is the Bengals’ biggest need, since Andrew Whitworth isn’t going to be playing forever. Getting Jake Fisher, the third Oregon player drafted so far, is going to secure the Cincy O-Line for Andy Dalton and give him time to lob it for AJ Green.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Randy Gregory OLB Nebraska. The two biggest needs for the Steelers are pass rusher and corner, and the Steelers are fortunate to get a top ten talent at this stage of the draft. His marijuana use scared off teams in the first third of the round, but he’s more than worth the risk here.
23. Detroit Lions: Eddie Goldman DT Florida State. The Lions are a team that could be in business for Melvin Gordon, but they will be kicking themselves for doing nothing about the gaping hole in the middle of the D-line after the departure of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. To fill the hole, the Lions should grab Eddie Goldman, one of the more disruptive linemen available.
24. Arizona Cardinals: Shane Ray OLB Missouri. Arizona had an amazing start to last season before injury after injury led to playoff collapse. They’re getting Carson Palmer back, so no need to reach for Brett Hundley. Their biggest need is at outside linebacker, and despite seeing his stock fall, Shane Ray is a great value here.
25. Carolina Panthers: DJ Humphries LT Florida. The Panthers could potentially trade out of the first round to fill out all their needs. However, judging from how often Cam Newton got sacked this year, it is clear that the Panthers need help on pass protection. Carolina shouldn’t miss out here, and should take DJ Humphries.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Jalen Collins CB LSU. This is where the possibility of Dorial Green-Beckham begins to take shape. However, despite there being clear need, the Ravens don’t take the risk here, and instead fill in another need by adding Jalen Collins to cover opposing wideouts.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Owamagbe Odighizuwa DE UCLA. I know, I won’t pronounce it either. The defensive end from UCLA is a physical freak, and could bring a lot to an otherwise weak Cowboys defensive line.
28. Denver Broncos: La’el Collins RT LSU. The Broncos are probably at the end of their championship window, so they should draft whoever could offer the most immediate help as they try to chase another Super Bowl. Orlando Franklin is gone, so it makes the most sense to add a new right tackle, and that guy is La’el Collins.
29. Indianapolis Colts: TJ Clemmings LT Pitt. What the Colts need is someone to clog up the middle of their defense. However, they also need offensive line help, and should work to keep Andrew Luck upright in the pocket. Therefore, TJ Clemmings is the pick here.
30. Green Bay Packers: Eric Kendricks ILB UCLA. The Packers should grab the best defensive player available here, and Kendricks is the guy here, and he could replace AJ Hawk, who was released.
31. New Orleans Saints: Byron Jones CB Connecticut. Tempted to add Maxx Williams here, but instead, the Saints should grab a corner here, and Byron Jones, one of the best corners at the Combine, should be the pick.
32. New England Patriots: Jordan Phillips DT Oklahoma. The Patriots could consider replenishing their paper thin interior line, but losing Vince Wilfork leaves a huge hole (literally and figuratively), in the D-line. Jordan Phillips is a guy who can anchor the run defense in a 3-4 while also holding his own in a 4-3, a good fit for the multiple defense scheme of Bill Belichick.