It is that time of the year again for the NFL Draft, beginning on April 30 and concluding on May 2. Here’s my mock draft predicting all 32 picks in the first round.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: The consensus prediction for the number one pick is Winston, who is considered the top quarterback in the draft. Despite all his off-field problems, Winston is the most pro-ready of the position due to his size, accuracy and arm strength. He is a proven winner who Tampa Bay needs for the future.
- Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: Mariota will likely be selected next. He could go to the Titans, but it is possible that they may trade with a team who covets Mariota more. His arm strength, speed and ability to throw out of the pocket makes Mariota a dynamic quarterback.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr, DE/OLB, Florida: Jacksonville stays in state with the selection of Fowler. Considered one of the top-edge rushers, Fowler is versatile and athletic for his size. Head coach Gus Bradley keeps building his defense with Fowler on the edge.
- Oakland Raiders: Leonard Williams, DT, USC: The Raiders once again get one of the best players in the draft by choosing Williams. He has key tools such as explosiveness, power, size and athleticism, all of which Oakland will love on its defense alongside Khalil Mack.
- Washington Redskins: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson: With the loss of OLB Brian Orakpo, Washington found his replacement in Beasley. One of the more natural pass rushers in the draft with his quickness, Beasley will benefit playing across from Ryan Kerrigan.
- New York Jets: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: Under new management, the Jets go with the safe pick of Amari Cooper on offense. Considered one of the top receivers in the draft, Cooper adds depth to the group with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker already there. The only question is who will be throwing the ball.
- Chicago Bears: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska: Many would think the Bears would draft a wide receiver to replace Brandon Marshall, but with Cutler as quarterback a wide receiver is not going to turn things around immediately. With new head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, the Bears aim to rebuild its defense with the selection of Gregory. Despite his off-field issues, this is can be a boom pick for the Bears.
- Atlanta Falcons: Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri: New head coach Dan Quinn wants to rebuild the Falcons defense and he does that by selecting Ray to be an upgrade for the poor Falcons’ pass rush. Ray possesses quick speed when jumping off the snap and finds the ball quickly. (Editor’s note: This mock was done prior to the Monday, April 27 news of Shane Ray being cited for marijuana possession).
- New York Giants: Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa: Offensive lineman are never flashy picks, but the Giants have the top lineman prospect in the draft with the intent of protecting Eli Manning. Sherff continues the tradition of Iowa offensive lineman in the first round as a terrific run blocker and possessing quick lateral movements as a pass blocker.
- St. Louis Rams: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia: The Rams lack dynamic playmakers on offense and need to address that. White possesses good hands and quick acceleration when separating away from defenders. He is also strong when it comes to obtaining yards after a catch.
- Minnesota Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State: Vikings fans will have to wait for a wide receiver later on in the draft since head coach Mike Zimmer adds to his up-and-coming defense with the selection of Waynes. Waynes played a lot of man-to-man coverage alone in college, which the Vikings need in a cornerback in order to compete in the NFC North.
- Cleveland Browns: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville: With the suspension and many problems of Josh Gordon, the Browns take Parker as their new number one target for the quarterback whomever that may be.
- New Orleans Saints: Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky: The Saints have many holes to address. With their first pick in the first round they address the OLB position. Dupree is the highest rated OLB on the board at this point. Dupree is considered a development project by scouts but has the athleticism and physical ability to develop.
- Miami Dolphins: Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida: Miami needs to improve its wide receiving core for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Despite signing Greg Jennings, the Dolphins select Perriman who has risen on draft boards as a large and aggressive receiver who uses his strength to make catches.
- San Francisco 49ers: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington: The Forty-niners have many holes on defense, and Shelton will start their rebuilding process. As a top nose tackle in the draft, with his massive size to clog the middle, Shelton can learn from veterans like Justin Smith.
- Houston Texans: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC: With long time wide receiver Andre Johnson gone and young quarterbacks, the Texans draft Agholor to pair with DeAndre Hopkins. As one of the smoother route runners and pass catchers, Agholor should help improve the Texans offense.
- San Diego Chargers: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: Despite his injury concerns, when healthy, Gurley is considered the top running back prospect and has been compared to Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson. He is a tough prospect for the Chargers to pass on.
- Kansas City Chiefs: La’el Collins, OL, LSU: With some of the top receivers off the board, the Chiefs go for value when drafting Collins to improve the offensive line instead of reaching for a wide receiver.
- Cleveland Browns: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas: Considered one of the better interior prospects, Brown can be another piece to an up and coming Browns defense with his ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Byron Jones, CB, UCONN: This is speculation because nobody knows what Chip Kelly will do, but at this pick he chooses a cornerback to fulfill a need. Jones has great athleticism, which showed at the combine and seems like a Chip Kelly pick.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford: With both offensive tackles entering the final years of their contracts, the Bengals get value drafting Peat as one of their key lineman for the future.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest: A cornerback is the biggest need for the Steelers since it has been a weakness for the past couple seasons. Johnson can improve the secondary with his good-coverage ability.
- Detroit Lions: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin: With Gordon still on the board, the Lions pull the trigger and pass on a defensive tackle. Adding Gordon could create a more balanced offense for the Lions, especially with Gordon’s ability for big runs.
- Arizona Cardinals: Shaq Thompson, ILB, Washington: Cardinals need help from the linebacker position, and Thompson is a good fit. With his versatility, Thompson is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft and has the athleticism the Cardinals are looking for in the position.
- Carolina Panthers: Landon Collins, S, Alabama: Carolina’s strength is defense, and it strengthens with the addition of Collins to secondary. Collins is a solid defender especially tackling in the open field.
- Baltimore Ravens: Eric Rowe, CB, Utah: Cornerback is one of the more eminent needs for Baltimore, and the Ravens take a safe pick in Rowe. He isn’t a big-name prospect but has all the abilities needed to play the position at the pro-level.
- Dallas Cowboys: Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon: It was a surprise fall for Armstead in this mock, but Dallas once again gets great value in the first round. Armstead could be a good fit on the Cowboys’ defensive line, especially with the teachings of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
- Denver Broncos: D.J. Humphries, OL, Florida: Offensive tackle is a big need for Denver, especially with an aging Peyton Manning as quarterback. Humphries is one of the top prospects still on the board, and the Broncos fill a need in the first round.
- Indianapolis Colts: T.J. Clemmings, OL, Pittsburgh: Colts require a right-tackle position, and Clemmings could fill that need right away. Clemmings is considered one of the more athletic lineman in the draft, which could help keep Andrew Luck upright.
- Green Bay Packers: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA: This was a tough pick to make with cornerback Marcus Peters on the board, but the Packers passed due to his off-field issues. Thompson usually finds cornerbacks in later rounds. Drafting Kendricks finally gives the Packers the athletic inside linebacker they have been missing for years.
- New Orleans Saints: Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan: The Saints traded away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, and the team needs to find replacements for Brees. Funchess may be a stretch at 31, but he can develop into Jimmy Graham’s role with Drew Brees throwing the ball.
- New England Patriots: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington: After losing cornerbacks Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner, the Patriots take Peters. He is considered the most talented cornerback prospect, but his off-field issues are why he isn’t picked earlier. Patriots have taken players with similar issues before.