Marc and I are putting our heads together again this year to try and predict how the first round of the draft goes down.
I (Chris) will be taking the odd numbers, and Marc’s got the evens.
1. Tampa Bay: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Mariota is safer off the field, but Winston is a pro style QB with the arm to make all the throws, and pretty rare field vision for such a young player. Those kind of guys don’t come around very often.
2. (*Trade*) San Diego: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Ken Whisenhunt did wonders for Philip Rivers when he was the offensive coordinator in San Diego. That relationship will be key as the Titans give up the #2 pick. Rivers immediately makes the Titans a playoff contender.
3. Jacksonville: Leonard Williams, DT, USC
I was torn between Williams and Fowler… I think that the Jags probably need an edge rusher more than an interior guy, but the ceiling on Leonard Williams is possibly the highest of any player in this draft. Gus Bradley could move him all over the line and create matchup problems.
4. Oakland: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
It sounds cliche but the Raiders love speed at the wide receiver position and they’ll get plenty of it and more with White. He will be a fantastic addition to the already rising star in Derek Carr and will provide him with a deep threat for years to come.
5. Washington: Vic Beasley, OLB, Washington
In possibly a mild upset, Beasley is the first edge rusher off the board. Prior the combine it looked like Vic may rely too much on just his speed, but he proved in Indianapolis that he can put on bulk and still retain his crazy athleticism.
6. New York Jets: Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
The Jets have locked down their cornerbacks and now they address the pass rush. The interior line is very good in New York but now Ray gives them a true speed rusher with the number one goal being to get to the other team’s quarterback.
7. Chicago: Dante Folwer, OLB, Florida
The Bears signed McPhee, and I think Cooper makes sense as a Marshall replacement here, but Fowler is possibly the top edge rusher in this draft and too good to pass up at this point.
8. Atlanta: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
With the huge run on edge rushers, the Falcons have to go to their “Plan B” which means shoring up their offensive line. They do that by taking the top O-line prospect in the draft in Scherff. I won’t be surprised to Scherff moved to the interior at some point but either way he instantly upgrades the line in Atlanta.
9. New York Giants: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
Flowers’ stock has be steadily rising, and the Giants really have resembled the Steelers’ throughout Ben and Eli’s careers. The Steelers’ have finally gotten Ben protection, now the Giants try to do the same for Eli.
10. St. Louis: T. J. Clemmings, OT, Pitt
The Rams recently sent veteran tackle Jake Long packing after a series of injuries. Clemmings is probably a bit of a reach here in this spot but this is a pick based more on potential than anything else. He’s incredibly athletic and if he can polish his technique with the right coaching he could be a stud.
11. (*Trade*) San Francisco: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The Vikings traded for Wallace, have a high pick in Patterson, and really like Charles Johnson, so they make a move. The Niners jump the receiver-needy Browns to grab Cooper. If they expect Kaepernick to earn his big contract they need to get him more than just Torrey Smith to throw to.
12. Cleveland: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Danny Shelton is probably a safer pick to help shore up the Browns’ defensive line but with Josh Gordon suspended for the 2015 season, the Browns are desperate for receiving help. Parker is an athletic beast who catches the ball well. He might be a reach here but Cleveland has to solidify the position with both White and Cooper off the board.
13. New Orleans: Alvin “Bud” Dupree, Kentucky, OLB
The Saints could use help on offense but with a run on receivers, they’d happily take the top pass rusher left (without a failed drug test). Dupree fills a big need and also is at the top of the board here.
14. Miami: Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas
With the elite wide receivers off the board, the Dolphins get a guy who will help keep double teams off of newly signed Ndamukong Suh. Brown is large and athletic so offenses may have to pick their poison when it comes to who to double on the Dolphins’ defensive line.
15. (*Trade*) Minnesota: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Perfect situation for the Vikings, who move down and still get their guy. Zimmer brought in his buddy Terrence Newman, but he’s almosy 37 years old. Xavier Rhodes and Waynes would be a great duo to have in a division with Aaron Rodgers.
16. Houston: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
With a genuine need at receiver, running back and offensive line, the Texans chose to instead help the back end of their defense. Collins is capable of stepping in right away and makes a nice tandem with free agent Rahim Moore. Good coverage in the secondary means more time J.J. Watt and company to get to the QB.
17. San Diego: Cameron Erving, C/G, Florida State
Danny Shelton would be a great pick here, but typically when you see a team grab a new quarterback, their next pick is a player to help that young signal caller. With Nick Hardwick retiring, the Chargers grab a highly athletic center, with the ability to play all 5 position in an emergency.
18. Kansas City: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
With Jeremy Maclin coming on board, I moved away from a WR here. Peat gives the Chiefs some flexibility at tackle especially if former number one Eric Fisher continues to struggle. Peat isn’t as athletic as Clemmings but he’s a solid run and pass blocker and the Chiefs need him.
19. Cleveland (From BUF): Danny Shelton, NT, Washington
The Browns would have to be pretty ecstatic if Shelton was here at this point. If they want to have any shot at slowing down Le’Veon Bell and Jeremy Hill, having a guy like Shelton in the middle is a good start.
20. Philadelphia: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
The Eagles have a few options at safety but the chance to get Collins can solidify the position immediately. There are questions about his coverage abilities but he has the speed to get better. He also is tremendous against the run and will bring some aggressive attitude to an Eagles’ defense that could use it.
21. Cincinnati: Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
I think the Bengals would like to go OT here, but there was a pretty decent run on them already. DT is still an option, and a big need but the Bengals have to get to the QB. Michael Johnson coming back helps but he was awful in Tampa and no longer has Mike Zimmer around to keep him motivated. Gregory’s a risk, but may be worth risking here.
22. Pittsburgh: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE/OLB, UCLA
Kevin Johnson, the corner from Wake Forest is very intriguing here but I think the Steelers go for a guy that will solidify an OLB position for years to come. Owa is not a skilled pass rusher but he will not get beat in the running game and he fits the the ‘elephant’ role Keith Butler is looking for in terms of a guy who can stand up or put his hand in the dirt.
23. Detroit: La’El Collins, OT, LSU
There’s some debate on where Collins’ best fit would be on the OL, but the Lions aren’t too concerned as they could use help at either tackle or guard, so they bring in Collins and let things unfold in camp where he’ll play.
24. Arizona: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
The Cardinals need to find a compliment to Patrick Peterson on the other side and Bruce Arians has to be delighted to see Johnson still on the board here. He might be the most “pro-ready” of all of the corners in the draft and has good size and instincts. Running back is a possibility here too but the Cards can’t pass on Johnson.
25. Carolina: DJ Humphries, OT, Florida
The Panthers haven’t done a great job of helping out their young Quarterback early in his career. They started last year getting him a big target in Kelvin Benjamin, but they seriously need some help at tackle, and reach a little here to get one.
26. Baltimore: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The Ravens are desperate for wide receiver help with Torrey Smith off to the Niners. Strong is not a speedster, but at 6′ 2″ he’s a load and a very good athlete with a vertical jump of over 40″. He should develop into a very dependable receiver.
27. Dallas: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Dallas would love to land Adrian Peterson, and he’d love to play there… But the Vikings are not going to trade him there just because that’s what he wants. Gordon would provide a great value at this pick, and probably be a stud right away behind that OL.
28. Denver: AJ Cann, G, South Carolina
With the top tackles off the board, new coach Gary Kubiak is still in need of guys on the line that can fit his zone-blocking scheme and Cann seems to be that guy. His presence will help solidify the interior line.
29. (*Trade*) Atlanta: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The Falcons move up here to grab a hometown hero and player that in a couple years we all may be saying was the steal of this draft. Atlanta’s offense could be the best in the NFL if Gurley has a full recovery. The Colts move down to stock up on defense in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
30. Green Bay: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
A.J. Hawk is now in Cincinnati and the Packers need a hammer in the middle of the 3-4 who can tackle and can run. Hendricks fits this bill and Green Bay will be lucky to get him because there are several teams ahead of them who might take Kendricks.
31. New Orleans (from SEA): Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
The Saints needs weapons for Drew Brees but word is they’re going to focus more on the run game and they like what they have in tight end Josh Hill. They continue to re-stock the defense with talent here and have two dangerous athletes in Dupree and Armstead.
32. New England: Bryon Jones, CB, UConn
The Patriots have two glaring needs with the departures of Vince Wilfork and Darrelle Revis. In this instance, the Pats will go with the athletic freak from nearby in Jones. Bill Belichick does a masterful job of molding young defensive backs and Jones will be no different.
*Tennessee trades the 2nd overall pick for Philip Rivers.
*San Francisco trads up with Minnesota
*Falcons trade up with Colts