NFL Mock Draft 3.0

April 30th, 2015 by Ryan Waterman | Filed under Football, General, NFL.

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Just over twenty-four hours remain until the spolight shines bright on the Windy City.  Starting this Thursday night, the NFL’s most exciting period will take center stage.  Two-hundred fifty-six youngsters will have their name called over the span of this three-day event. A number of others will find their ways on to NFL rosters as UDFAs (UnDrafted Free Agents). In my previous mock draft, I stated that it would be my final mock.  However, after long consideration and research, I have decided to go against what was said and created a third mock draft.  I can assure everyone that this will be final one. There are some new faces to this mock, as things have significantly changed in 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. Although, there is a ton of risk that goes into this pick. When most people look at Jameis, they see Michael Vick.  Unfortunately, when I look at Winston, I see Jamarcus Russell.  

#2- Philadelphia Eagles (via Tennesee Titans)- Marcus Mariota (QB/Oregon)

This is about as obvious, as one pick can get.  However, it’s also the most difficult one to predict.  There are a number of teams that are looking to trade up for Mariota, as many consider him to be a “QB of the future”.  The New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, and Cleveland Browns are all teams that join the Eagles in the Mariota chase.  The lone difference between the Birds and the other three?  Only Chip Kelly will be crazy enough to pay the asking price.  The Titans are able to squeeze the Eagles for Sam Bradford, Mychael Kendricks, #20 Overall, their 2016 1sr round pick, and Fletcher Cox.

#3- Atlanta Falcons (via Jacksonville Jaguars)- Leonard Williams

The Falcons strike for the second blockbuster trade in back to back picks.  Atlanta uses this pick to land their defensive cornerstone for years to come. Williams is arguably the best player in the draft, and has the game-changing ability to put a defense on his back.  This pick kick starts the Falcons climb back to the top…

#4- Oakland Raiders- Amari Cooper (WR/Alabama)

Similar to my first mock, I have Oakland turning their attention back to the offensive side of the ball.  They have already found their defensive cornerstone in Khalil Mack. The teams also believes that they have obtained their QB of the future in Derek Carr.  The only problem is, that all good QBs need a top receiving option (see: Aaron Rodgers), which Oakland does not possess. Cooper is viewed as the consensus #1 wide receiver in this years draft. At 6-1″, 210lbs, Cooper has very few weaknesses.  He is thought to lack the elite size needed, but makes up for that in his incredible football IQ, his strength and physicality, and his “explosive, game-changing speed”.

#5- Washington Redskins- Dante Fowler Jr (OLB/Florida)

The Skins’ despertely need to replace the void left by Brian Orakpo, and they also need to significantly upgrade their pass rush. Washington uses this pick to land their defensive cornerstone for years to come. Fowler is one of those rare “total package” linebackers.  He is seen as the most complete linebacker in this draft, and for good reason.  Running a 4.6 40-yard dash, Fowler is regarded as the quickest back in this class.  His explosiveness off of the line makes him a nightmare to block, and while he is still figuring out how to put all of his tools together, the Falcons can use all of the defensive help they can get.

#6- New York Jets- Todd Gurley (RB/Georgia)

The Jets already have themselves one of the league’s best defenses, on paper. Their offense is also coming together very nicely. Many experts peg them as one of three teams to have interest in trading up for Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, however Owner Woody Johnson has already gone on record stating that he believes Geno Smith is a better signal-caller than Mariota.  If Johnson truly believes that, the choice is pretty clear here. By selecting Gurley, the Jets shore up the last “obvious” weakness. Gurley has the potential to be a great back in the NFL, but he also comes with a ton of baggage and risk. The oft-injured back is coming off of three straight knee injuries, including his second ACL tear in the same knee.  Very risky pick here, for “Gang Green”.  But, John Idzik believes in taking risks.

#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. Kevin White fits that mold. While White may be slightly smaller than Marshall, he has all of the tools to fill the void left by Marshall’s departure.

#8- Jacksonville Jaguars (via Atlanta Falcons)- Randy Gregory (OLB/Nebraska)

The Jags desperately need to improve their pass rush.  This pick helps them achieve that, and then some.  Once upon a time, Gregory was thought to be a legitimate candidate for the 1st overall pick.  Between that time and now, Gregoy has failed a drug test, which has attributed to his slip down the draft board.  However, Jacksonville’s need  for pass-rushers means that Gregory doesn’t fall far.

 

#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- DeVante Parker (WR/Louisville)

The Rams strike out on trade attempts to move up for either Amari Cooper or Kevin White, but they still land their future #1 reciever in Parker. Parker is a tall, explosive playmaker, with great speed.  His 6-3″ frame also makes him a dangerous red-zone threat. Les Snead and Jeff Fisher overlook the injury concerns that Parker brings with him, and make him Nick Foles’ top target.

#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- Vic Beasley (OLB/Clemson)

The Jags land arguably, the best pass-rusher in the draft. Beasley’s ability to find the QB is unlike any other in the draft, this year.  In four seasons as a Tiger, Beasley tallied a little over 8 sacks per season, while two-time All-American, and two-time All-ACC honors. While the rest of his skill-set may need some seasoning, that doesn’t deter Atlanta from snagging the best 3-4 linebacker in this class.

#14- Miami- Breshad Perriman (WR/Central Florida)

With the departure of Mike Wallace, the Dolphins are now left with no true #1 receiver. At Central Florida, Perriman has broken out over the past few 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 time, before he can put all of those tools together. 

#15- San Francsico 49ers- Arik Armstead (DE/Oregon)

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.

#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- Melvin Gordon (RB/Wisconsin)

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. The Bolts strike it rich with Melvin Gordon. Gordon is looked at as an “inside the tackles” runner, which is what is needed to succeed in a defensively stout, AFC West  With this pick, the Chargers make it obvious that they’re looking towards 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- Jake Fisher (OT/Oregon)

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. Fisher is a very versatile lineman, as he’s able to man both tackle positions, or even move inside. Fisher’s incredible quickness off of the snap, makes him a very attractive option.  The only thing that may prevent Fisher from being a first-round pick, are his lack of power.  It is widely thought around the NFL that Oregon produces the weakest prospects in football.

#20- Tennessee Titans (via Philadelphia)- Trae Waynes (CB/Michigan State)

Tennessee helped solidify their defense, by acquiring young studs Mychael Kendricks, and Fletcher Cox.  With this pick, the Titans continue the defensive rebuild by selecting Trae Waynes.  Waynes is an elite defensive back prospect, that is amongst the best prospects in man coverage. Waynes has drawn comparisons to Darrelle Revis, for his ability to play “on an island” and succeed.  The only concern surrounding the Michigan State product, is his ability to adapt to the NFL style of play.

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

As a result 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- Kevin Johnson (CB/Wake Forest)

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 Johnson comes to town. Worst case scenario, Johnson is stuck at the nickel position because of his size.  However, it’s very obvious that 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- Shane Ray (DE/Missouri)

This is a true “value” pick.  Ray has top-5 talent, but his off the field issues and injury concerns cause the free-fall down the draft board. It was bad enough that Ray was dealing with an injury that could’ve possibly resulted in surgery, he was then cited for possession of marajuana. When healthy, the Cardinals have a phenomonal defense spearheaded by Patrick Peterson in the secondary, and Daryl Washington on the pass-rush front.  Adding Ray to that  group will make the lives of Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick very, very difficult.  

#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- Devin Smith (WR/Ohio State)

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.  Smith has drawn comparisons to DeSean Jackson, and has gained a reputation of being a “burner” at Ohio State. The Ravens receiving corps is paper thin right now, and they desperately need to make this selection.  

#27- Dallas Cowboys- Byron Jones (CB/UConn)

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 the freakishly-athletic Jones.

#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- Eric Rowe (CB/Utah)

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. Rowe is viewed by many, as a top five corner in this draft class. The former Ute is relatively consistent in his play, excels in run support, and his most attractive asset is in his ability to man both the corner position, as well as safety. The only knock on him, is that he lacks that “second gear speed” that most defensive backs possess. 

#31- New Orleans Saints (via Seattle)- Dorial-Green Beckham (WR/Oklahoma)

In addition to stunning the world by trading Jimmy Graham, 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 Dorial-Green Beckham will take an immense amount of pressure off of the aging Colston.  Green-Beckham’s large frame will compliment the speedy Cooks very well, and will provide the Saints with a potentially devestating receiving duo for years to come.

#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 final mock draft, I’d like to address the subject of draft rumors.  There will be rumors flying everywhere tomorrow, as the hours tick down until 8:00. The important thing, is to able to differentiate fiction, from reality.  In simpler words, don’t believe everything that you hear. With that said, enjoy the draft everyone!!

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.

Follow me on Twitter: @RyanW_TSP

 

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