It’s finally here, our annual NFL Draft Preview for the first round of this year’s draft. It looks to be a great draft where we have lots of talent. So here we go with the preview!
1. Tampa Bay-Jameis Winston, QB Florida State
This is pretty much a consensus first overall selection even though I think Marcus Mariota is going to be a better pro than Jameis Winston. We’ve all seen how talented he is,but he has serious maturity issues off the field that need some serious work. If he wants to avoid being the next Ryan Leaf, he’s gotta get his act together-and fast.
2. Tennessee-Marcus Mariota,QB-Oregon
While I think Mariota is going to be the better pro, unfortunately he isn’t going to be the top pick. He will be the Titans’ choice for their quarterback of the future, and the future is now. While he doesn’t fir Ken Whisenhunt’s scheme, the Titans need to take talent over all else and the need for a franchise signal-caller is and has been a glaring one. Unless, the Titans trade with the Chargers or Eagles, I expect them to select the Oregon QB here.
3. Jacksonville- Leonard Williams, DT-USC
At this point in the draft,the Jaguars will more than likely take the top player available. That player is USC’s Williams. Williams is quick to shed tacklers and is tough at the point of attack. In a division where you’ve got Andrew Luck and have to play him twice per season,you’ll need a guy that can get to him, and Williams can be that guy. Dante Fowler, Jr. from Florida is also an option at this pick.
4. Oakland-Amari Cooper,WR-Alabama
The Raiders finally have a quarterback in Derek Carr and now he needs somebody to throw to. I think the guy they should get is Amari Cooper out of Alabama. He’s extremely explosive and has great durability and has even been known to be a game-changing player,something this team hasn’t had in a very long time. He does need to work on not dropping the ball as much as he did in college, but I think Cooper is the safe bet for Oakland and they need wideouts.
5. Washington- Dante Fowler,Jr.,DE-Florida
While an edge rusher isn’t a glaring need for Washington, it is probably a good idea for them to have some depth there following the departure of Brian Orakpo to Tennessee. Fowler more than provides that. He’s very physical, quick,and plays at an elite level. Should the Redskins not select him, expect them to get with an offensive lineman like a La’ El Collins or Brandon Scherff.
6. N.Y. Jets- Vic Beasley,OLB-Clemson
Beasley is rated as high as fifth on some draft boards,but I have him going to the Jets at the sixth pick. While he is a dangerous pass rusher and is very agile and athletic, he has some character issues to work on and will have to adjust to life as a linebacker in the NFL. Still,he is a great prospect and New York would be a great place for him.
7. Chicago- Kevin White,WR-West Virginia
The Bears need a wide receiver to compliment Alshon Jeffery and White looks to be that guy. White was impressive at the combine and his draft stock has been on the rise. He’s also quite the big target just like Brandon Marshall was before he was sent packing to the Jets. I think White will be the kind of target Jay Cutler would love to throw to because he can get open downfield and is a big playmaker when he is downfield.
8. Atlanta- Alvin Dupree,DE-Kentucky
The Falcons are in a big need of a pass rusher and Kentucky’s Alvin Dupree is a solid Top-10 prospect. A very dangerous and quick pass rusher, Dupree can make a big difference on an Atlanta team that needs help in that department. He can play both linebacker and defensive end and would probably play better as a linebacker. I think he would make a great addition to this Falcons defense.
9. N.Y. Giants- Brandon Scherff,OT-Iowa
This pick makes a lot of sense for the Giants,who need to get some protection on the interior for Eli Manning. Scherff would be a big upgrade and he’s being compared to Zack Martin of the Cowboys,who made a big impact last season for Dallas. I originally had LSU’s La’ El Collins at this spot,but he is falling down other mock drafts,so Scherff is the guy at the ninth spot.
10. St. Louis- Erick Flowers,OT-Miami
The Rams need to bolster their offensive line to protect Nick Foles and Miami’s Erick Flowers has jumped up to #10 on my board to fill that need. At only 20-years old, Flowers is powerful as a run blocker, has no trouble blocking speedy pass rushers,and has a lot of upside. The Rams should be happy with him should they select him with this pick.
11. Minnesota-Trae Waynes,CB-Michigan State
Dubbed as a perfect corner for Mike Zimmer’s scheme, Waynes’ stock has risen slightly as of late. I originally had Waynes going to San Francisco at No. 15, but the selection by the Vikings at 11 makes more sense. He’s more than capable at lining up with opposing top receivers and he’a another corner who can line-up alongside Xavier Rhodes.
12. Cleveland-Danny Shelton,NT-Washington
The Browns need a lot of help with their defensive line and stopping the run. Enter Danny Shelton.
Shelton is a very strong presence and has a great burst off the snap. He fills a 4-3 line very well,something Cleveland really needs if they’re ever going to compete not only for a playoff berth,but against their AFC North counterparts,too.
13. New Orleans- Randy Gregory,DE-Nebraska
Once a projected top five selection, Nebraska’s Randy Gregory has had some off the field issues (failing a drug test at the combine) that may make teams second guess picking him. I still think he gets picked in the first round,and New Orleans is where I have him headed. He’s a great pass rusher and very quick. His weight is low for a defensive end at 235, but he is 6-5. He would be great for the Saints,I wouldn’t be surprised if he fell further,but I have a feeling he lands here.
14. Miami-La ‘El Collins,OT-LSU
Some draft boards have DeVante Parker or Todd Gurley going here,but I have LSU’s La’ El Collins going to the Dolphins. Collins is very agile and has a great ability to sustain blocks. In college,he was a reliable pass protector,which I’m sure Ryan Tannehill will appreciate should Miami selects him here.
15. San Francisco-Jalen Collins, CB-LSU
The 49ers need a lot of help in secondary after Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver have departed to other clubs. Collins has great straight-line speed,has ideal size,and at times can be called upon to defend the run. The 49ers could also nab a receiver here,but their needs are more in their secondary more than anything.
16. Houston- Shane Ray,DE/OLB-Missouri
Houston should bloster their defensive line and Shane Ray is falling to them. Ray is a very versatile guy who can play either defensive end or linebacker. He’s also a very quick and speedy player who could give AFC South opponents fits and a hard time. His stock has fallen a little due to being caught with marijuana,but I don’t think it will phase the Texans from selecting him here, he’s a steal!
17. San Diego- Todd Gurley,RB-Georgia
Ryan Mathews has left for Philly,leaving a void in the San Diego backfield. Todd Gurley looks to be the guy that can fill the void. He wasn’t healthy last year at Georgia,but he is a very explosive back who can be a threat to score on any given carry. He can also be valuable as a kick returner. I think he is a perfect fit for the Chargers who are looking to life after Mathews.
18. Kansas City- DeVante Parker,WR-Louisville
Kansas City wideouts failed to score any touchdowns last season, I think that’s something that’s probably gotta change,don’t you? Louisville’s DeVante Parker has great size and great ability to make great sideline catches. He isn’t the speediest guy,but he can make plays downfield. Also, with him,Travis Kelce,Dwayne Bowe,and Jeremy Maclin gives Alex Smith plenty of guys to throw to,even in the red zone.
19. Cleveland-Breshad Perriman,WR-UCF
Josh Gordon is not coming back this season (or maybe ever?),which leaves the Browns needing a receiver. Perriman is a great big play threat who tracks the ball well and presents a size/speed mismatch. He does drop the ball from time to time,but that shouldn’t prevent Cleveland selecting him with their second first-round draft choice here.
20. Philadelphia-Byron Jones,CB-Connecticut
The Eagles could use some secondary help and Byron Jones may be the perfect fit. He has been compared to Prince Amakamura and is a reliable tackler. The big question is if he has recovered fully from shoulder surgery last October. He also possesses great hand-eye coordination which Chip Kelly has gotta love. The Eagles could get a receiver to replace Jeremy Maclin,but I think they’ll choose a corner here.
21. Cincinnati- Dorial Green-Beckham,WR-Oklahoma
OU’s Green-Beckham has great leaping prowess and a great catching radius, Some draft boards have receivers like Breshad Perriman and Jaelen Strong rated above Green-Beckham,but I think he will be a steal here and would work well as a second option opposite A.J. Green in Cincinnati.
22. Pittsburgh-Kevin Johnson,CB-Wake Forest
The Steelers will need somebody in the secondary with Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor now retired. Kevin Johnson of Wake Forest is very physical and will not be afraid to battle receivers. There aren’t many knocks on Johnson other than his thin frame which could use a little more weight,but I think Pittsburgh will enjoy having a competitor like Johnson in their secondary.
23. Detroit-Melvin Gordon,RB-Wisconsin
Reggie Bush is gone and wasn’t very healthy last season and Detroit could use a tailback in this draft. I think Melvin Gordon is that guy. The Heisman Trophy candidate is very explosive and is more powerful than one might think. Gordon is ready to compete at the next level and I think the Lions would be crazy to pass on him.
24. Arizona-Arik Armstead,DE-Oregon
Arizona’s defense is aging and there needs to be a long-term solution once guys like Cory Redding are gone. Armstead has great size at 6-7 and 292 lbs and is very fast for his size. He does have consistency issues and his durability is questionable,but I think the Cardinals will love having a guy like Armstead on the roster.
25. Carolina-Andrus Peat,OT-Stanford
The Panthers can use a well-balanced run and pass blocker and Andrus Peat is just that. He’s a very powerful drive blocker and anchors well against the bull rush. He was very good at Stanford and think he’ll be very good in Carolina.
26. Baltimore-Jaelen Strong,WR-Arizona State
The Ravens are in big need of an excellent weapon in the red zone and ASU’s Jaelen Strong is what they need. Strong is a great run-after-the-catch receiver and will use his size and quickness to his advantage. He’s an absolute steal in the late-first round that will give fans in Baltimore some excitement at that position.
27. Dallas-Landon Collins,S-Alabama
The Cowboys need help in their secondary and I won’t be surprised if they spend their first picks to bolster it. Collins is a hitter who is punishing and comes up with a splash play right when you need it. He can also contribute on special teams and should be able to play and contribute right away.
28. Denver-Cameron Erving,C-Florida State
The Broncos’ offensive line didn’t do the best job at protecting Peyton Manning and that’s gotta get fixed immediately. Erving is tough and aggressive with strong hands and great flexibility. He can also play other positions on the line and versatility is always a plus! Denver would be smart to improve the inside of their line to keep their aging quarterback standing upright in his final games.
29. Indianapolis-Malcom Brown,DT-Texas
Some draft boards have Brown as high as 17th, but my fear is that he may be a one-year wonder and may not be too consistent. However, he is still getting picked in the first-round and a good landing spot would be the Colts,who could use a guy who is disruptive on the line and has th ability to collapse the pocket.
30. Green Bay-Eric Kendricks,ILB-UCLA
While some draft boards have him in the second round, I think the Packers need to fill a void at interior linebacker and Kendricks to me is the best available. He’s a quality hitter who is reliable and has great durability. While undersized,he is a valuable guy who can make a big impact in Green Bay.
31. New Orleans-Nelson Agholor,WR-USC
The Saints need some playmakers on offense following the departures of Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills. Agholor is a very polished player and an advanced route runner. He isn’t overly fast and is a little undersized,but he can make big plays and is the kind of guy that Drew Brees needs as a target.
32. New England-Eddie Goldman, DT-Florida State
The Patriots absolutely need to fill the void Vince Wilfork leaves behind and Goldman would be a great name to do so. He’s quick for his size and can collapse the gap very well. You can use him in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme and I think New England would benefit a great deal if Goldman is added to their defensive line.
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