NFL Mock Draft 2.0

April 21st, 2015 by Ryan Waterman | Filed under Eagles, Football, General, NFL.

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With ten days remaining until all eyes are on Chicago, this will be my second and final NFL Mock Draft. Between the time of my first mock, and the publishing of this one, I have gone over a lot of aspects that go into draft selections.  I have micro-analyzed pretty much every aspect of every team in the draft. There have been some significant changes made to this version.

#1- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston (QB/Florida State)

I still believe that Winston is the best option for the Bucs here. His athleticism is extraordinary, and if he can overcome his off-field immaturity, Winston will be a force in the NFL.

#2- Tennessee Titans: Leonard Williams (DT/USC)

This pick marks the first shakeup in this version of the mock draft. In my previous mock, I had the Titans moving this pick to Cleveland for a king’s ransom that included Josh Gordon. This time around, I have the Titans selecting Williams. Williams is an incredibly talented, athletic freak. The 6’5″, 305lb defensive stopgap impressed at USC, with his run stopping ability. He’ll provide an instant upgrade to a weak Titan defense.

#3- Jacksonville Jaguars- Dante Fowler (OLB/Florida)

Much like my last mock, the Jaguars stick with Fowler.  Gus Bradley came over from Seattle, and saw first-hand just how instrumental a pass rush can be in the success of a defense. Bradley finds himself a defensive cornerstone in the very-talented ex-Gator.

#4- Oakland Raiders- Vic Beasley (OLB/Clemson)

Heading in the opposite direction of my first mock, the Raiders will look to fill their defensive holes this time around. The Raiders once upon a time had a defense that was feared.  Now, they’re laughed at.  Oakland has managed to shore up some holes in the pass-rush with the additions of Justin Tuck, and Khalil Mack.  However, their weak side still remains exactly that….weak!  Beasley’s presence on the field will provide an immediate spark and boost to the Raiders defense. His ability to get to the quarterback, coupled with that of Tuck and Mack’s will once again make the Oakland defense one to be feared.

#5- Washington Redskins- Shane Ray (OLB-DE/Missouri)

Unlike my first mock, the Redskins focus their attention on the pass rush, this time up.  The departure of Brian Orakpo came as a big blow, to an already depleted Washington pass-rush. In his time with the ‘Skins, Orakpo tallied 40 sacks over a four-season span. Jay Gruden and Dan Snyder will turn their attentions to Ray, in an effort to fill that void, left by Orakpo.  Despite his hamstring injury preventing him from taking part in combine workouts, Rays talent potential is too large for Washington to pass on.

#6- New York Jets- Randy Gregory (OLB/Nebraska)

Despite Gregory’s failed drug test, his outstanding talent will keep him in as a top 10 pick. The Jets surprisingly enough, have a relatively solid team on paper. A good offense, led by Brandon Marshall will look to find its’ groove, while a defense led by the returning “prodigal son” Darrelle Revis, will look to dominate the league.  With Revis and Cromartie once again manning a revamped secondary, “Gang-Green” will set it sights on improving their already dominant pass-rush.

#7- Chicago Bears- Kevin White (WR/West Virginia)

I still believe that Chicago would like to fill the void left by the Brandon Marshall trade, with a younger, yet just as talented Brandon Marshall. Amari Cooper fits that description. While White may be slightly smaller than Marshall, he has all of the tools to fill the void left by Marshall’s departure.

#8- Philadelphia Eagles (via Atlanta)- Marcus Mariota (QB/Oregon)

With practically all pass-rush options eliminated, the Falcons find themselves on the phone with Chip Kelly. It’s no secret that Chip is very fond of his former QB Marcus Mariota, and would like to bring him into the fold.  But, he just won’t give up the future for it.  Well, Kelly finds a break here with the Falcons.  The “Dirty Birds” are in need of a pass rusher, and coincidentally enough, the Eagles have a pass-rusher (albeit, an unconvential pass-rusher) on the trade market.  When the Falcons go on the clock at #8, Chip gives Thomas Dimitroff a call, allowing them to hammer out a deal that sends 20th overall and Mychael Kendricks to Atlanta in exchange for Marcus Mariota. Chipper strikes again!

#9- New York Giants- Brandon Scherff (OT/Iowa)

Tom Coughlin still goes offensive line, as he knows that Eli will need protecting in order to remain healthy.  But, a bit of a twist this time around. Despite having a boatload of options available to him, Manning will be practically ineffective if he can’t remain upright.  Selecting Scherff will likely shift Justin Pugh to the inside, which should in theory strengthen not only the pass protection, but the run blocking too. 

#10- St Louis Rams- Amari Cooper (WR/Alabama)

Don’t ask me how Cooper slips this fall, but Les Snead and Jeff Fisher will not even hesitate to snag up their future #1 receiver.  Cooper showed at Alabama, exactly why he’s a #1.  He’s a big guy, that puts 100% effort in on all plays.  Nick Foles will be happy with this selection.

#11- Minnesota Vikings- Landon Collins (S/Alabama)

Exactly as my last mock, Mike Zimmer adds another young stud to his defensive secondary. Collins is viewed as the best safety in this class, and for good reason.  Not only is he a very physical, punishing tackler, but he can also defend the run extremely well. Pairing Collins with Harrison Smith will provide Minnesota with a quarterbacks nightmare for the foreseeable future.

#12- Cleveland Browns- Danny Shelton (DT/Washington)

Having deemed the price for Mariota too high, the Browns turn their attention to the defense.  Shelton has drawn comparisons to Vince Wilfork, the centerpiece of the Patriots defense over the past decade. While he has a long way to go in justifying those comparisons, Shelton certainly could live up to the hype. At 6’2″, 339lbs, Shelton has garnered a reputation as a dominant run-stopper, that can demonstrate a “bull-rush” when getting to the QB. His lone weakness is that he rarely incorporates any moves to his pass-rush, and is just a straight “rusher”.

#13- New Orleans Saints- Shaq Thompson (OLB-S/Washington)

Thompson is a extraordinarily, versatile athlete. As a Washington Huskie, Thompson spent time at tailback, while manning the outside linebacker position.  Drawing comparisons to Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks, Thompson has also met his fair share of criticism and doubters.  One of the major knocks on him, remains that he’s too small. Coming in at 6-0″, 228lbs, Thompson has shown the ability to play at safety. Having the possibility of being a three-positon player on your team is too tempting to pass up.  But, having the possibility of a good three-position player on your team, is practically impossible to pass on.

#14- Miami- DeVante Parker (WR/Louisville)

Outside of Kenny Stills, the Dolphins have no sure thing at wide receiver.  Parker has the potential to be “the guy” in Miami. Parker will give Miami a play-making receiver, the likes of which they have significantly lacked. At 6-3″, Parker  can present mis-matches for defensive backs. The Dolphins finally find their go-to-guy for Ryan Tannehill.

#15- San Francsico 49ers- Erik Kendricks (ILB/UCLA)

This pick is a no-brainer for the 49ers. Following the devastating departure of all-pro Patrick Willis, young phenom Chris Borland hung up his cleats at the prime age of 24 years old. Kendricks will fill a monstrous void left by these departures, as he is a three-down linebacker. The brother of current Eagle Mychael Kendricks is the type of player that can make plays from sideline-to-sideline. He may not make the “flashy” play, but he makes his presence felt. Smart pickup for the Niners.

#16- Houston Texans- Jalen Strong (WR/Arizona State)

With the recent departure of Andre Johnson, Houston now has a need at wide receiver. It’s obvious that the Texans want to emphasize DeAndre Hopkins as the teams’ new #1 wideout, but all top receivers need a complementary piece. Strong will give Houston a big, physical presence to go after jump balls.  He’s as dependable as they come, and nobody works harder on the field than he does. 

#17- San Diego Chargers- Todd Gurley (RB/Georgia)

The Chargers have dealt with life minus Ryan Matthews before. But, they always knew that he’d wind up returning. This time, life without Matthews is permanent. The former Charger tailback departed earlier this month for the Philadelphia Eagles, leaving a gaping hole in the backfield of San Diego. The team made no effort to fill that need through free agency, leading people to assume that they’ll go running back in the draft. By passing up on Melvin Gordon, the Bolts strike it rich with Todd Gurley. The oft-injured running back will be coming off of his second knee reconstruction surgery, but has the talent to be a top tailback. With this pick, the Chargers make it clear that they are looking ahead to the future.

#18- Kansas City Chiefs- Cameron Erving (C/Florida State)

Is an explanation truly needed for this pick? They lost Rodney Hudson via free agency to a division rival, leaving a monumental gap in the middle of that offensive line. It’ll be tough to replace the production, and protection skills that Hudson brought to the table. But, Erving is a sufficient replacement.

#19- Cleveland Browns- La’el Collins (OT/LSU)

Cleveland needs to address their offensive line. With Joe Thomas on one end, the Browns have found themselves in need of an upgrade over Mitchell Schwartz on the right side. Collins is a big, strong, physical blocker that knows how to get the run game going. Despite the question of his best fit, Cleveland selects this behemoth of a man and plugs him in on the right side, immediately.

#20- Atlanta Falcons (via Philadelphia)- Arik Armstead (DE/Oregon)

Atlanta finally finds their pass-rusher. This 6-8″ physical specimen has the potential to be a very special player. His ability to play both the run, and pass, is a talent that makes him super attractive come draft day.  Despite his talents still being raw, his potential ceiling is too high to ignore.

#21- Cincinnati Bengals- Bud Dupree (OLB/Kentucky)

With the news of Terrance Newman’s departure, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bengals go secondary with this selection. However, I feel that a pass rusher is their biggest need. The Bengals recorded 20.0 team sacks last season, yet not one single sack came from a linebacker. Not one. That has to change this season if Cincy wants to find themselves playing farther than usual into the winter. Dupree is a rather interesting option, though. His on-field play is brilliant, but extremely inconsistent. He has a niche for getting to the QB, but has a difficult time with constant success in that regard. If he can find consistent success and realize his full potential by going pro, you’ll be hearing a lot more about Alvin “Bud” Dupree.

#22- Pittsburgh Steelers- Trae Waynes (CB/Michigan State)

Pittsburgh’s secondary is in flux.  They recently lost Ike Taylor to retirement, which hurts the secondary badly. Relying on Cortez Allen and William Gay on the outside, the Steelers have no true presence in the nickel. That is, until Waynes comes to town. At worst, Waynes becomes a nickel in the Pittsburgh defense.  But, he also has the talent and intangibles to overtake either Allen or Gay for one of the starting positions. 

#23- Detroit Lions- Eddie Goldman (DT/Florida State)

The Lions didn’t exactly have a “blueprint” offseason, if they were looking to improve their team. Not only did they lose Nick Fairley and Reggie Bush. But, they also lost one of the best defensive players in the game today in Ndamukong Suh. This is a necessary pick for Detroit, if they want to avoid missing the playoffs next season. Goldman is a dominant run stopper, but there are serious questions about his pass rushing ability. If he can ever consistently find his way to the QB, he can be one of the elite DTs in the NFL

#24- Arizona Cardinals- Melvin Gordon (RB/Wisconsin)

It’s no secret that the Cards are not exactly “sold” on Andre Ellington.  It’s also no secret that Arizona has nobody to replace Ellington if he goes down hurt.  Out of 32 possible games, Ellington has missed only five games. As seen last season when Ellington went down, the Cards crumbled because of a lack of options behind him.  Gordon is looked at as an “inside the tackles” runner, which is what Bruce Arians wants.  Arizona’s thinking not only thinking present-day with this pick, but their also looking towards the future. 

#25- Carolina Panthers- Andrus Peat (OT/Stanford)

Carolina’s top priority this season should be protecting Cam Newton. They witnessed first-hand last season, exactly what could happen if there’s a significant lack of protection for their franchise QB. Over the past two seasons, Newton has been brought down a staggering 81 times. 81 times, man. With Carolina’s defense taking a significant step back last season, it seems that the only way for the Panthers to find their way back to the playoffs, would be for Newton to lead the way. For Newton to lead the way, he’ll need to remain upright. Selecting Peat is an excellent start.

#26- Baltimore Ravens- Breshad Perriman (WR/Central Florida)

With the departure of Torrey Smith, the B0altimore Ravens are now left with not only no deep threat, but no true #1 receiver. At Central Florida, Perriman has broken out over the seasons.  Perriman is a big, strong, aggressive receiver, that possesses all of the tools to make it in the NFL. It’s just a matter of if he can put all of those tools together. 

#27- Dallas Cowboys- Jalen Collins (CB/LSU)

Morris Claiborne is extremely overrated, and Brandon Carr is highly overpaid. This pick is a selection of need for the Cowboys. If they want to come close to even sniffing another Super Bowl, they’ll have to significantly upgrade their secondary. In what will likely be a multi-draft project, Dallas takes a nice step forward by drafting Collins.

#28- Denver Broncos- D.J. Humphries (OT/Florida)

Denver’s offensive line is in a time of revamping. With the departure of Orlando Franklin to the division rival Chargers, Peyton Manning’s protection is now a concern in Denver. This 6’5″, 307lb behemoth is quick, has long arms, and is extremely talented. The only factor preventing him from being drafted higher, is his lack of consistency. One minute he’s a dominant blocker, while the next minute he melts like mush.

#29- Indianapolis Colts- TJ Clemmings (OT/Pittsburgh)

Andrew Luck needs better pass protection, pretty straight forward. Luck does a good job of avoiding sacks, but even the best quarterbacks won’t be able to overcome bad protection. Indianapolis reached the AFC Championship game last season, and fell short against the Patriots. If they wish to advance past that point, upgrading the line is a necessity. Not only for Luck, but for the newly acquired Frank Gore.

#30- Green Bay Packers- Kevin Johnson (CB/Wake Forest)

With the recent departures of Tramon Williams and Davon House, one of the NFL’s most stabilized and talented secondaries took a hefty step back. By keeping pretty much of the team’s homegrown talent, Ted Thompson has pretty much allowed Green Bay the luxury of re-loading their secondary through the draft. Johnson is viewed by many, as a top three corner in this draft class. The former Demon Deacon is quick off of the snap, consistent in his play, and very thorough in his tackling. The only knock on him, is his tendency to be over aggressive at times.

#31- New Orleans Saints (via Seattle)- Maxx Williams (TE/Minnesota)

The Saints made their second shocker of the offseason, by trading youngster Kenny Stills to Miami for Danell Ellerbe. That move leaves Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks to handle the workload of the pass attack. The selection of Maxx Williams will help take some of the pressure off of Colston and Cooks. Drawing comparisons to Cowboys TE Jason Witten, his big hands, and spring-loaded agility will make him an easy target for Drew Brees. Pairing him with Colston and Cooks could produce a tough to stop “three-headed monster” down in the Big Easy.

#32- New England Patriots- Marcus Peters (CB/Washington)

Perhaps the most obvious need in this draft belongs to the Patriots. Losing both Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner this offseason, the defending Super Bowl champs must now try to fill the void left behind. Petershas built a reputation in Tallahassee, both on and off the field. Peters is widely regarded as one of the best corners in the draft, but his issues off the field, will significantly hurt his draft stock. His on the field work is extraordinary, but he has some weakneesses.  Peters seriously lacks recovery skills, and is likely to get burnt by the likes of Brandin Cooks or DeSean Jackson. The physicality that he displays, is also likely to draw penalties. Despite his weaknesses, Peters’ strengthes allow him to standout from the rest of the class. Very rarely does Peters lose out on jump balls, even when he is mismatched. He’s also widely regarded as the best “press” corner in the draft.  When taking into account the good and the bad, the “Jedi Master” Bill Belichick deems Peters as a “can’t miss prospect”, and doesn’t hesitate to scoop him up.

Wrapping up my second mock draft, I’m gonna go on record, and say that Jameis Winston to Tampa is the only sure thing right now.  With draft day closing in, we should begin to learn more about each teams’ strategy.  No matter how the picks shake out, this year promises to provide one of the more interesting drafts in recent memory. April 30th cannot come soon enough!

SPECIAL EDITORS NOTE: Join yours truly, and some special guests on April 30th, for a special edition of Broad Street Breakdown [Call in number: (914-338-0014)]. Once the first round comes to a conclusion, we will go live to discuss how the picks shook out, in addition to analyzing any potential trades. In addition, the phone lines will be opened up to the listeners, as we discuss and analyze the Eagles 1st round selection.

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