After reading the various mock drafts out there I figured anyone can do it. Hell, Mel Kiper Jr. used to sell his opinion to agents just to get players ranked higher on his big board. In the end, it only really matters what happens beginning April 30th. So I will take a look at the first two rounds (64 picks) in quarters for the sake of exhausting smart phones and slow-loading laptops. You’re welcome.
1. Tampa Bay – Jameis Winston. After RapeGate, The Runaway Crab Legs, Fuck Her In the Pussy (because that’s something he actually said), and point-shaving accusations you’d think Winston would be all out of chances. Usually even the best players fall back a bit due to “character issues”, but those players tend to be guys projected in the 10-20 range at best. Jameis Winston has the talent and NFL skills to make an impact sooner than later for an extended period of time. My only concern is how the Bucs are going to manage all of these immature personalities leading a football team? You’ve got two of the biggest studs at WR in the game (Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans) and you want to add a guy that would be a dead-end in life if he didn’t have any athletic ability? Have fun with that one.
2. Tennessee – Leonard Williams. While pretty much every skill position is of need, the Music City has been their best when able to run the ball effectively and play smash-mouth defense on the other end. Now that was really about 10 years ago when Eddie George was around, but the Titans have had their moments here and there in recent years. Making a play for Marcus Mariota might look good on the surface, but he’s not ready to come in start and the front office continues to back second-year man Zach Mettenberger. This makes drafting Williams the obvious play. He becomes the dangerous outside threat on the edge and continues to improve a solid unit.
3. Jacksonville – Randy Gregory. I know Dante Fowler is slotted in this position on a lot of media outlets, but so is Leonard Williams. So who really knows? Something we do know is that Gregory is one of the most explosive ends we’ve seen in a long time and this is the year to finally start putting in work on the defense. Blake Bortles is the real deal and there’s enough mediocre receiving talent in free agency/a deep draft class AND Justin Blackmon may actually learn to stop drinking and driving some time before next season. If somehow they lured DeMarco Murray in with more money than he’s worth this could be an intriguing squad. Then again they could totally go for a linebacker.
4. Oakland – Kevin White. The Raiders never have smart drafts. And by never, I mean not in a long time. Last year actually wasn’t a bad one. We just won’t see how good Khalil Mack is until he’s playing in a relevant game. Still, the need to continue to add to an old defense (by design, because they spent a shit ton of money in free agency on over-the-hill players) is an obvious one. But this is the Raiders and they won’t do the obvious thing. In a pass-heavy league with a hit-or-miss prospect beginning his second year (Derek Carr), Oakland will likely look for a big-time threat to look for deep. Yet again we see a player with a great combine come through and “become the best player at his position”. White had lots of reception last year. They also throw a lot in Morgantown. If you’re drafting a WR, I still think you take Amari Cooper. He’s got sure hands and knows how to run a precise route.
5. Washington – Vic Beasley. What do you do the year after the drama of RG III and all the other injuries that screwed your season? You go get another freakish athlete to play the hybrid LB/DE position that draft dud Brian Orakpo has left open. Beasley looks like more of a sure thing, but so have many other players. There’s really no need to upgrade the offense outside of QB (and that won’t happen early on) and OL, so the natural spot to choose some help is at LB.
6. NY Jets – Marcus Mariota. The Jets don’t need a canon-armed QB, they just need a smart, athletic, steady guy to come in and play. Geno Smith just doesn’t cut it and Michael Vick was done years ago. There are certainly other pressing positions of need, but this is easily the most PR-friendly pick for a city in need of some star power. If for some reason Mariota isn’t available there’s a chance the J-E-T-S look at a CB to finally replace Revis Island or another WR to stretch the field.
7. Chicago – Dante Fowler. Since Brian Urlacher retired the Bears haven’t had a stalwart at the MLB position. Fowler has that kind of talent. He won’t make the Bears a good defense overnight, but it’s a start. Provided he’s available at 7, then he doesn’t get by Chicago. Other DEs and LBs will be looked at, but offense won’t be much of a concern even if Brandon Marshall is long gone. With a serviceable D-Line (how old is Jared Allen) and okay corners the choice is obvious.
8. Atlanta – Shane Ray. The passing game is very good. The run game is bad (but not good compared to the D). So getting anyone that can tackle is an upgrade. Just the fact that the Falcons start a guy better known for being married to a Real Housewife of Atlanta (Kroy Biermann) than actually playing football should tell you all you need to know. Would a RB help? Hells yes. Is it realistic at this spot in the draft? Definitely not. So keep drafting for need. Or continue to come up just short.
9. NY Giants – Andrus Peat. When was the last time a Stanford OL got drafted high and sucked? I won’t count Johnathan Martin (because he never got to see things through after bitching out because of “bullying”). But Peat is a talented dude and Eli needs someone to protect him. Yes, Manning needs to protect the ball, but some of those turnovers were rushed throws. The Giants need help on D, but this pick could pay major dividends.
10. St. Louis – Brandon Scherff. Another program seemingly churning out quality OL prospects has been Iowa. The Rams still need a QB, but I’d rather have a good OL to protect a bad QB than the other way around. A few other tackles and guards will be available as will WRs, but the Rams aren’t as far off as you might think. Their defense is Top 5-ish and a solid, consistent running game with the ability to get some easy yards passing would be a huge boost for a team with few expectations a year ago.
11. Minnesota – Amari Cooper. Why has he fallen so far? You might point to his size (he’s barely 6 feet tall). Or how about his pedestrian 40 time at the combine? Well I think you’re an idiot. The kid didn’t win the Biletnikoff for no reason. He can still run pretty quick, but it’s his route-running that makes him so superior (much like Marvin Harrison). Besides, unless your name is Mike Wallace and all you do is run go-routes then who cares about straight-line speed? Cordarelle Patterson has been disappointing and Greg Jennings hasn’t been a good fit. Teddy Bridgewater and Charles Johnson need another young guy to join in on the fun (even if AP is allowed to come home).
12. Cleveland – Dorial Green-Beckham. What can you do as a follow-up to drafting Johnny Manziel? How about not drafting someone too high again? The defense has arrived and while getting another quality safety to help out Donte Whitner (likely through free agency) or someone on the D-line, they really need someone to fill the Josh Gordon void. Now taking on guys with issues (especially domestic abuse issues) is going to be a big red-flag for everyone through free-agency and the draft going forward, I really think the Browns will take a chance on DGB. The other Beckham is a former #1 high school player and stud. It took him some time to acclimate to the college game at Missouri, but one he did he was very good. He never got to play at Oklahoma. Will he get to play in Cleveland?
13. New Orleans – Trae Waynes. In desperate need of a defense and possibly a running game, this first priority is cornerback. And there’s no better prospect in the draft than Waynes. He’s athletic, physical, and big enough to help on the run. If the Saints want to get better, this is the first step in the draft.
14. Miami – Devante Parker. Brian Hartline was never the answer, but he was productive and cutting him leaves Jarvis Landry as the possession guy. I have a feeling Mike Wallace won’t stick around long. He had a pretty good year, but still wanted to ball more. He had character issues at the end of the season. And now he won’t take a pay cut. Parker will be younger, cheaper, and comparable considering he’ll be a rookie.
15. San Francisco – Jaelen Strong. Coming from a pass-heavy attack, Strong has tons of upside and current skill to step in and help right away. Colin Kaepernick was bad this last year and some of the burden is on the WR unit. Michael Crabtree probably won’t be back, Anquan Boldin is finally slowing down, and Stevie Johnson wasn’t the answer either. Bruce Ellington is still a nice prospect but hardly a sure thing. Might be a year left with their defense to make something happen.
16. Houston – La’el Collins. Gotta protect the few guys on offense they do have. They don’t need to find a replacement for Andre Johnson right away (when they trade him) though a QB would be nice. The defense needs some work, but isn’t as big of a need as the offensive lines. Finding someone to protect whoever is handing off to Arian Foster is probably the most important thing to address in the draft.