I’ve been debating on whether or not to even bother with a mock draft this year, but with just over 24 hours to go until the real deal I just can’t resist. I’m just doing a two round mock because after that we’d get into players I’ve never heard of and I really wouldn’t have any idea what I was talking about. The picks you’ll see here are based on a hybrid approach of what I would do, what I think teams need to do, & what I think is most likely to actually occur. I have no inside knowledge about salary cap issues, contract negotiations, or what players may or may not do or where they may go in the future. The truth is that the NFL Draft is somewhat of a crapshoot. Tim Tebow was a first round draft choice, while Tom Brady lasted until the sixth round. In the same year that Kurt Warner went undrafted Heath Shuler was selected 3rd overall. It may be random, but it’s fun randomness. I’ll watch. You’ll watch. It’ll be a good weekend. Enjoy.
1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
QB Jameis Winston (Florida St.)
If it were me I’d trade out of this spot for a boatload of picks. I’m just not a Jameis Winston fan. While I think it is too harsh to compare him to Jamarcus Russell, I do believe that Winston is more trouble than he is worth. Guys like him always have a posse, and I think it’d be beneficial for him to get as far away from his posse as possible. He’s too much of a celebrity in Florida and needs distance from any environment that may feed into his sense of entitlement. Unfortunately for all involved that’s not going to happen. No one is going to offer the Bucs enough for this pick, and the suits there will roll the dice. Hopefully the 275 miles between Tampa & Tallahassee will be enough for Winston to stay out of trouble.
2 Washington Redskins (via trade w/ Tennessee Titans)
LB/DE Dante Fowler (Florida)
It’s way too soon for the Titans to give up on 2014 sixth round pick Zach Mettenberger, who I think can be a solid NFL quarterback. I’d trade this pick, and I think Tennessee will. The question is to who?? Philly is probably too far down at #20 to jump into this spot. Cleveland has the ammo to make the swap, but I think they are likely to play it safe this year after the botched pick of Johnny Football in 2014. The Jets?? Maybe. St. Louis?? It’s unlikely. There’s been a lot of talk about San Diego swapping Philip Rivers for this pick, but I’d be surprised if they actually pulled the trigger. At the end of the day I think it is extremely possible that a team jumps into this spot…but NOT for a quarterback.
3 Jacksonville Jaguars
LB/DE Vic Beasley (Clemson)
The Jags reportedly were set to take Fowler, but the trade messes up the detail. No worries though. Beasley is just as good…maybe better.
4 New York Giants (via trade w/ Oakland Raiders)
DT Leonard Williams (USC)
The Raiders are said to be willing to trade out of this spot, and so they shall. The Giants braintrust will sprint to the podium to choose Williams.
5 Tennessee Titans (via trade w/ Washington Redskins)
DE Bud Dupree (Kentucky)
So the Titans traded down and Marcus Mariota is still on the board. What to do?? They could trade down again and amass even more draft picks, but let’s not get crazy. They’ve had their fun and now it’s time to get down to business. Dupree might be just a bit of a reach here, but I think the gamble just might pay off.
6 New York Jets
RB Todd Gurley (Georgia)
I predicted before he was even drafted that Geno Smith would be a bust and thus far that has been the case. However, I think it is way too early to give up on him, especially when Mariota is far from a slam dunk choice. And while the receiving tandem of Brandon Marshall & Eric Decker hardly strikes fear in opposing defensive backs they are good enough that the Jets don’t have to spend a 1st round pick on a wideout. Conversely, a backfield of Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, & Stevan Ridley just ain’t gonna cut it, though they do provide quality depth that will enable the Jets to ease Gurley into action coming off an ACL tear during his junior season at Georgia.
7 Chicago Bears
WR Kevin White (West Virginia)
Jay Cutler is the most overrated quarterback in the NFL, and folks are starting to figure that out. Does that mean the Bears jump on Mariota here?? I don’t think so. The insufferable Cutler would be even more gloomy than usual if he had to train his replacement, and that wouldn’t be good for anybody. So I think the Bears make the safe choice and bolster their receiving corps.
8 Philadelphia Eagles (via trade w/ Atlanta Falcons)
QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon)
A few things are in play here. Both pass rushers that the Falcons coveted…Fowler & Beasley…are off the board. Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly is foaming at the mouth while simultaneously dancing a jig because Mariota is still on the board. #2 was too high for Philly to leap to, but #8 is more palatable. And the Browns are just a few picks away. So at this point Kelly practically has an orgasm as he lands the player he wanted all along.
9 Oakland Raiders (via trade w/ NY Giants)
WR Amari Cooper (Alabama)
The Bears made this an easy choice for Oakland.
10 St. Louis Rams
OT Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
The best player available also happens to be a position of need for the Rams. You gotta love it when things work out like that.
11 Minnesota Vikings
OT Andrus Peat (USC)
The Vikings have a plethora of needs, so they can go in a lot of different directions. There’s probably no one worth a team trading up for, so it is unlikely that Minnesota can trade out and stockpile extra picks. My philosophy is, when in doubt take a lineman.
12 Cleveland Browns
NT Danny Shelton (Washington)
As mentioned, I believe it is likely that the Browns will take the low key, safe approach this year. Football teams are built in the trenches, and Shelton address a need.
13 New Orleans Saints
WR Devante Parker (Louisville)
Yes quarterback Drew Brees is 36 years old, but I don’t think the Saints are going to find his successor this year, especially in the first round. The best thing New Orleans can do is give Brees another weapon. They traded away tight end Jimmie Graham. Marques Colston is a solid receiver but has lost a step or two. Brandin Cooks…all 5ft.10, 189 lbs. of him…is a good slot receiver, but not really a true top tier guy. I think the powers-that-be in The Big Easy would be thrilled to see Parker slide this far.
14 Miami Dolphins
CB Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest)
Word on the street was that the Dolphins really like Gurley, but he is off the board. So now what?? The top three receivers are gone as well, and there isn’t another one worthy of this choice. Johnson has been steadily climbing draft boards across the land, and he would certainly upgrade Miami’s defensive backfield.
15 San Francisco 49ers
CB Trae Waynes (Michigan St.)
It seems like ‘Frisco lost half their defense in the past several months. They have been to 3 out of the last 4 NFC title games and narrowly lost the Super Bowl just three years ago, but the 49ers are now in rebuilding mode. This pick has to be defense, and the best player available is Waynes.
16 Houston Texans
LB Eli Harold (Virginia)
This is a little bit of a reach, but needs are needs. The Texans’ defensive success revolves heavily around whether or not Ja’daveon Clowney lives up to the hype. Why not make his task a bit easier??
17 San Diego Chargers
RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin)
The Chargers’ suits will look like Usain Bolt taking this card to the podium.
18 Kansas City Chiefs
OT Ereck Flowers (Miami, FL)
It’s not a sexy pick, but anytime a team can upgrade their offensive line I think it is a good choice.
19 Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo)
TE Maxx Williams (Minnesota)
The Browns addressed the defensive line with their first choice. Now I think they need to replace Jordan Cameron, who they lost in free agency. Whomever ends up at quarterback for Cleveland is going to need weapons. The top tier receivers are gone, but we know how valuable a solid pass catching tight end can be in the NFL. This is a pick that the Browns received from the Bills last year so Buffalo could move up and select receiver Sammy Watkins.
20 Atlanta Falcons (via trade w/ Philadelphia Eagles)
LB/DE Shane Ray (Missouri)
The Falcons land in this position after trading with the Eagles so Chip Kelly could go get Marcus Mariota. I assume any such deal would include several other draft choices as well. At any rate, it works out great for Atlanta in this scenario, as Ray, a player once thought to be a potential Top 10 pick, tumbles a bit due to a foot injury, an unimpressive pro day, & an arrest for marijuana possession.
21 Cincinnati Bengals
OT La’el Collins (LSU)
The Bengals would have loved Shelton, but their in-state division rivals stole him away. Plan B…as always…is to add the best offensive lineman available.
22 Tennessee Titans (via trade w/ Pittsburgh Steelers)
OT TJ Clemmings (Pitt)
The Steelers could go in one of two directions…linebacker or defensive back. I like a third option…trading down to stockpile an additional pick or two. The Titans should have some extra ammo after trading out of the #2 position, and they use it here to trade back into the first round. With that pick they solidify their offensive line. Not bad for a day’s work.
23 Detroit Lions
DT Malcolm Brown (Texas)
The Lions lost both Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh in free agency. They also signed Hali Ngota away from Baltimore, but he’s a bit long in the tooth. More help is necessary, and this is it.
24 Arizona Cardinals
LB Eric Kendricks (UCLA)
The Cards would have loved to snag a running back, but with Gurley & Gordon both off the board there isn’t another tailback worth a first round pick. Kendricks fills a need and adds some youth to a defense that is getting a bit creaky.
25 Carolina Panthers
OT DJ Humphries (Florida)
The top priority in Carolina is keeping quarterback Cam Newton healthy so he can do that thing that he does. To that end it is necessary for the Panthers to upgrade their offensive line.
26 Baltimore Ravens
WR Breshad Perriman (UCF)
The Ravens lost receiver Torrey Smith in free agency and Steve Smith is practically collecting social security. Perriman will benefit from the leadership of a veteran team as he transitions into the NFL.
27 Dallas Cowboys
DT Eddie Goldman (Florida St.)
Quarterback Tony Romo seems convinced that the Cowboys have a legitimate shot to win the Super Bowl. I personally don’t see it. Replacing running back Demarco Murray with Darren McFadden is like trading in a 2015 Audi for a 2010 Kia, but I don’t think there is a running back on the board that has value at this spot. It seems likely that Dallas will look at beefing up the defense here, and Goldman has been the subject of much positive chatter lately.
28 Denver Broncos
OT Eric Fisher (Oregon)
Much like the situation in Carolina, the Broncos need to focus on keeping their quarterback upright. This is probably Peyton Manning’s last chance to win another Super Bowl, and he’s got plenty of weapons. The defense was addressed last year, so now it’s time to add some youth to the offensive line.
29 Indianapolis Colts
S Landon Collins (Alabama)
All the talking heads seem to agree that the Colts’ biggest need is at safety. Who am I to disagree??
30 Green Bay Packers
CB Marcus Peters (Washington)
Linebacker Julius Peppers is 35 years old, but it would be a reach to choose his successor with this pick. Instead I think the Packers upgrade their defensive backfield. Peters has had some off the field issues, but I don’t think it’ll be a big deal in the long run, especially if he ends up with the right organization.
31 New Orleans Saints (from Seattle)
G Laken Tomlinson (Duke)
The Saints have this pick after trading All-Pro tight end Jimmie Graham to the Seahawks. With their first choice I gave them a receiver to soften the blow of Graham’s departure. In this spot I think they need to upgrade the interior of their offensive line. It’s not the kind of choice that excites fans, but it is a solid building block essential to championship teams.
32 New England Patriots
WR Nelson Agholor (USC)
What do you get the team that has everything?? Well, the truth is that the Patriots have rarely had top notch talent, especially at the skill positions. It is head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, & tight end Rob Gronkowski that makes this engine purr like a well fed cat. Is there a receiver or running back with good value in this spot?? Maybe. Rumors are that Belichick is enamored with Agholor. I think it is a little bit of a reach, but if anyone can afford to roll the dice it’s the Pats.
33 Pittsburgh Steelers (via trade w/ Tennessee Titans)
CB Byron Jones (Connecticut)
The Steelers find themselves in a very interesting situation. This pick almost certainly needs to be a cornerback, and there are 3 or 4 still available that seem like a good fit. My preference is for Jones because of his size & versatility. He can play at corner or fill in at safety, and may even be a good candidate to eventually move to safety full time.
34 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DE Randy Gregory (Nebraska)
The Bucs have their franchise quarterback, even if I’m not a huge proponent of the choice. Now they have other needs to address. Gregory was once touted as a Top 5 pick until it was discovered that he enjoys puffing the magic dragon a bit too much. In reality he probably won’t slide this far, but how ironic would it be if Tampa ended up with two problem children?? I’m not a militant anti-marijuana guy, but I believe it is an indicator of an attitude, the kind of person who doesn’t like rules and doesn’t believe they apply to him. Maybe it’s no big deal. Maybe Gregory ends up being a solid Pro Bowl player for a decade. But it’s also possible that his rebellious arrogance makes his stay in the NFL very short. Either way his talent makes him a steal in this round.
35 Oakland Raiders
S Damarious Randall (Arizona St.)
The Raiders added a top flight receiver in Round 1. I may be in the minority, but I am comfortable with Latavius Murray & Trent Richardson toting the rock, and I don’t think there is an offensive lineman with good value here. Randall has been the subject of increasing buzz, and the safety position is thin in this draft. Former Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson currently mans the position in Oakland, but he’s older than dirt.
36 Jacksonville Jaguars
RB Tevin Coleman (Indiana)
The Jags got a great pass rusher in the first round, so now they need to focus on the offense. Absolutely no one is sold on last year’s top pick, quarterback Blake Bortles, but he’s not going anywhere for now. Tight end is a position of strength, with both veteran Marcedes Lewis and newly signed free agent Julius Thomas in the fold. The receiving corps is young & talented. And then there is a ragtag group of running backs…Toby Gerhart, Denard Robinson, Storm Johnson, Bernard Pierce. Yikes. Both of this year’s elite tailbacks are off the board, but the second tier might produce a star or two. Coleman has been compared to Demarco Murray, and if that is true he’ll be another steal.
37 New York Jets
DT Arik Armstead (Oregon)
With Todd Gurley as the new feature back I assume new head coach Todd Bowles, a former defensive coordinator, will shift his concentration to the defense.
38 Washington Redskins
OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M)
The Redskins traded up in the first round to get a talented pass rusher. Now they upgrade on the other side of the ball.
39 Chicago Bears
DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (UCLA)
The Bears have a new head coach in John Fox, and he’s a defensive guy. After getting a new elite receiver in Round 1 I think the focus will be on defense. Good luck pronouncing the name lol.
40 New York Giants
LB Shaq Thompson (Washington)
I love the Giants. They’re so damn unpredictable. One never knows whether they’ll finish bellow .500 or win the Super Bowl. That kind of randomness extends to the draft as well. They moved up in the first round for an elite defensive tackle, but I don’t think they’re done upgrading that side of the ball.
41 St. Louis Rams
C Cameron Erving (Florida St.)
The Rams have a variety needs and could go in a number of directions. Erving is a center but can also slide over to guard if needed. That kind of flexibility is quite valuable in the NFL. He’s the best player on the board at this point, and a tremendous value for St. Louis.
42 Atlanta Falcons
G AJ Cann (South Carolina)
The Falcons gambled in Round 1 and won big, getting a Top 5 player with the 20th pick. The pick here is a lot less stimulating, but it’s a necessary building block that’ll pay dividends for many years to come.
43 Cleveland Browns
QB Brett Hundley (UCLA)
The Browns played it safe with their two first round picks, helping the defense with a massive nose tackle and providing the offense with a talented tight end that’ll be valuable to whomever the quarterback may be. Now the question must be asked…who will that be?? I’m not a fan of Johnny Rehab as an NFL quarterback regardless of whether he’s able to become a better person off the field. He’s just too small and his style doesn’t fit the pro game. I don’t believe that there are any can’t miss signal callers in this draft…not even Winston or Mariota. Having said that, I think Cleveland has to venture out on a limb here. Hundley is intelligent, articulate, & mature. He probably won’t start as a rookie, but with some good coaching he could become the guy in a year or two.
44 New Orleans Saints
CB Jalen Collins (LSU)
The Saints had two first round picks and added a top flight receiver as well as depth to the offensive line. Now what?? Well, for a team that appears to be solid across the board despite a 7-9 record in 2014, I think the “best player available” approach is probably apropos. In this case that’s Collins, another guy who apparently likes the ganja. That issue knocks him into the second round, but at this point the value is undeniable.
45 Minnesota Vikings
CB Ronald Darby (Florida St.)
The Vikes have a decent defensive backfield, but cornerback Terence Newman is 36 years old. An opportunity to groom a successor cannot be passed up.
46 San Francisco 49ers
LB Benardrick McKinney (Mississippi St.)
The surprising retirements of both Patrick Willis & Chris Borland (after his rookie year!!) has depleted the 49ers linebacking corps. They need to replenish.
47 Miami Dolphins
WR Phillip Dorsett (Miami, FL)
Current Dolphins’ receivers include Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, & free agent signing Jordan Cameron at tight end. Not bad, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another guy to the mix, especially since the 31 year old Jennings is probably a short term solution at best.
48 San Diego Chargers
OT Donovan Smith (Penn St.)
The Chargers got their new franchise running back in Round 1, so now they can address other needs. There seems to be some questions regarding the offensive line. That new tailback will need some holes to run thru, right??
49 Kansas City Chiefs
WR Dorial Beckham (Oklahoma)
The Chiefs added Jeremy Maclin in free agency, but the rest of the receiving group consists of De’Anthony Thomas, Jason Avant, & Junior Hemingway. In 2014 Kansas City had zero…yes zero…touchdowns to wide receivers. Maclin helps, but it couldn’t hurt to add another weapon.
50 Buffalo Bills
LB Kwon Alexander (LSU)
Buffalo didn’t have a first round pick because of the 2014 trade with Cleveland that enabled them to move up for wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Rex Ryan is the new sheriff in town and he’s a defensive guy but there are a lot of holes to fill on this team before they can even dream of challenging the despicable Patriots for the division title. LeSean McCoy was an outstanding get in a trade with Philadelphia, and I really like newly signed tight end Charles Clay. Watkins & the enigmatic Percy Harvin are an interesting pair of receivers, but who will throw them the ball?? I think it is way too early to give up on quarterback EJ Manuel, but it might be beneficial for him to ride the pine for a year behind Matt Cassel. I’d be surprised if Ryan didn’t try to upgrade the defense with this pick, and pairing Alexander with defensive tackles Mario Williams & Marcell Dareus could be interesting.
51 Houston Texans
WR Jaelen Strong (Arizona St.)
Receiver Andre Johnson departed Houston in free agency. I have every confidence that DeAndre Hopkins can fill the void and become a great target, but there’s still a deficiency at the position. Strong is the best wideout on the board and fits the Texans’ needs just fine.
52 Philadelphia Eagles
CB Eric Rowe (Utah)
The Eagles signed cornerback Byron Maxwell, formerly of Seattle’s Legion of Boom, in free agency. They also have former Boomer Walter Thurmond, who spent the past couple of seasons with the NY Giants (although I’m not sure anyone really noticed). Despite all of that I still think Rowe is a good fit. He can move over to safety either situationally or in the long term, and that kind of versatility is more than beneficial in today’s NFL.
53 Cincinnati Bengals
NT Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma)
The Bengals grab an upgrade to eat space in the middle of their defense.
54 Detroit Lions
RB TJ Yeldon (Alabama)
I don’t believe for a second that Joique Bell & Theo Riddick are a good enough running back tandem. Yeldon would have a legit opportunity to step into the starting lineup from Day 1.
55 Arizona Cardinals
RB Jay Ajayi (Boise St.)
The Cardinals keep missing out on running backs!! They couldn’t get either Gurley or Gordon in the first round, and Yeldon would have been the perfect battering ram compliment to the smallish & oft injured Andre Ellington. That leaves Arizona in a tough position. But I just don’t think they can go thru another season with only the unreliable Ellington in the backfield.
56 Pittsburgh Steelers
CB Alex Carter (Stanford)
My Steelers traded out of the first round but were still able to address a tremendous need at cornerback with the initial pick of this second round. They are on the clock again and the temptation to add even more depth to a depleted secondary is strong. However, they also need to upgrade their pass rush. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them trade down again, but I’ll be conservative here. A lot depends on if the team’s braintrust have confidence that defensive linemen like Cameron Heyward, Daniel McCullers, & Stephon Tuitt are capable of stepping up and fulfilling their potential. There are several possible replacements with good value in this spot. I’m going to have faith that those young guys will come thru and reach just a little bit to fill a need. Would the Steelers actually go back-to-back corners?? It’s possible. Carter is another guy with the size & skills to fill in at safety, and that could be quite an asset to this particular team.
57 Carolina Panthers
RB Duke Johnson (Miami, FL)
Running back DeAngelo Williams departed in free agency, leaving Jonathan Stewart as the primary runner. I have no doubt he can fulfill that role just fine, but Johnson would be a nice complement and make this new tandem an significant upgrade over the old one.
58 Baltimore Ravens
DE Preston Smith (Mississippi)
The once mighty Ravens defense has looked human the past couple of years. They don’t yet require a total rehaul, but they need to start getting some younger guys into the mix.
59 Denver Broncos
DT Michael Bennett (Ohio St.)
I really like the Broncos defense, but I think they’ll still try to add some youth.
60 Dallas Cowboys
RB Jeremy Langford (Michigan St.)
Now might be the spot to get a running mate for Darren McFadden.
61 Indianapolis Colts
DE Mario Edwards Jr. (Florida St.)
Colts’ defensive ends Robert Mathis & Trent Cole are both way past 30. It’s time to get younger on the defensive line.
62 Green Bay Packers
LB Denzel Perryman (Miami, FL)
The Packers have to get younger at linebacker.
63 Seattle Seahawks
WR Sammie Coates (Auburn)
Hey look…the Seahawks are finally on the clock. What they really need is a head coach & offensive coordinator who won’t make boneheaded goal line play calls that cost the team the Super Bowl. Unfortunately a team can’t draft that. Anyway, despite the addition of tight end Jimmie Graham this team still has an unimpressive, non-descript group of wide receivers. That can change right now.
64 New England Patriots
RB Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska)
LeGarrette Blount, Jonas Gray, & James White are the current running backs for New England. I think they can do better.