On the eve of the 2015 NFL Draft, it’s time for one more foray into the smokescreens and BS to determine what might actually transpire in Chicago on April 30.
1. Buccaneeers – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
If they haven’t backed away from Winston’s off-the-field red flags at this point, either the Bucs are putting up the best smokescreen ever or they’re comfortable with him as the face of their franchise going forward.
2. Browns (from Titans) – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Sounds like the rest of the top five want to trade down, but all Tennessee has to do is convince one of them they’re taking Mariota to get their asking price. Either the Browns or Chip Kelly bite.
3. Jaguars – Dante Fowler, DE, Florida
Some late steam building for Amari Cooper, but it’s a deep WR class and Gus Bradley is a defensive guy. Plus, Fowler/early Round 2 DT will be better than Williams/early Round 2 edge rusher.
4. Raiders – Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Turning over a new leaf, the Raiders eschew the Combine 40 and bank on the prospects of a Carr/Cooper hookup for the next decade.
5. Redskins – Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Had been mocking edge rushers like Vic Beasley to the Redskins, but ultimately they’ll play it safe (and smart) here and solidify the o-line.
6. Jets – Leonard Williams, DT, USC
The scary thing is, the Jets might actually be able to trade down from this spot and still get Williams—who might just be the closest thing to a sure thing in this entire class.
7. Bears – Vic Beasley, LB, Clemson
Wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears moved down either, even if it’s just with the Falcons for Atlanta’s edge rusher of choice.
8. Falcons – Shane Ray, LB, Missouri
Desperate for an edge rusher, which off-the-field red flags to the Falcons opt to overlook—Ray’s or Randy Gregory’s?
9. Giants – Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
Still not seeing the Giants taking a wideout here, but with Kevin White still on the board a trade down wouldn’t surprise.
10. Rams – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Expect a serious draft-room debate over White vs. Trae Waynes, with White’s upside finally winning over defensive-minded Jeff Fisher.
11. Vikings – Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Lots of good scenarios for the Vikings here: a top corner for Mike Zimmer’s defense, a target for Teddy Bridgewater… and the way Minnesota works the draft board, maybe both on Day 1.
12. Titans (from Browns) – Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
Sticking with the Peat plan here, as a clean pocket for Zach Mettenberger can only help the decision to pass on Mariota look like the right one.
13. Saints – Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky
Rob Ryan won’t complain about an edge rusher falling into his lap at 13. In fact, with all the buzz on Dupree it’s surprising he’s still on the board here.
14. Dolphins – DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The previous mock had Miami trading up to get Parker; in this iteration he slides to them at 14—though they’ll need to be wary of the Chiefs moving up ahead of them to snag one of the top three receivers.
15. 49ers – Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
Eric Kendricks continues to gain first-round steam, but unless the Niners feel compelled to reach a bit for linebacker help Amrstead remains the selection here.
16. Texans – Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Houston could go multiple directions with this selection, but the one that makes the most sense is a safety who was receiving top-10 buzz earlier in the draft season.
17. Chargers – Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
This pick will provide plenty of clues about the Bolts’ intentions with Philip Rivers. Erving says they want to keep him around—and upright.
18. Chiefs – Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
Betting that Devin Smith or Sammie Coates will be available on Day 2, the Chiefs snag a cornerback to slow down Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Derrick Carr.
19. Titans (from Bills via Browns) – Danny Shelton, DL, Washington
Shelton is another guy generating late buzz that suggests he may not be in the Green Room this long. But if he is, the Titans have just turned a shot at Marcus Mariota into foundations on both lines for the next decade.
20. Eagles – Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
The previous mock stayed between the lines; this one goes full-on Chip Kelly and thinks outside the box. Perriman’s size and speed in Chip’s offense? If he squeezes competent quarterback play out of Sam Bradford and Perriman’s hands are better than expected, more fodder for the genius file.
21. Bengals – Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Despite late buzz the Bengals might be eyeing the opposite side of the line—and Texas A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi—we’ll stick with the selection of d-line help here.
22. Steelers – Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Pittsburgh weighs the character red flags of Peters and Randy Gregory over their need for an edge rusher and help in the secondary.
23. Lions – La’el Collins, OL, LSU
There are some gaping holes in Detroit’s offensive line, and if the late off-the-field issues regarding Collins are cleared he’s the likely pick here.
24. Cardinals – Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
This pick might boil down to whether the Cardinals feel they can wait for Gurley’s knee to fully heal—or if they even need to wait.
25. Panthers – Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona
While Carolina would love to bolster Cam Newton’s protection, pairing Strong with Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen is too tempting to pass up.
26. Ravens – Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
Hardly a stretch to replace Torrey Smith with another speed guy, and with Ozzie Newsome’s wish list at cornerback gutted it’s a logical direction.
27. Cowboys – Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Okay, we’ll bite. Gordon’s Cowboys t-shirt, the team’s glaring need at the position… it all falls into place for Gordon to be the most impactful fantasy rookie of 2015.
28. Broncos – D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida State
Makes too much sense for Humphries and his quick feet to protect Peyton Manning and zone block in Gary Kubiak’s scheme for years to come.
29. Colts – Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
Not just a need pick for Indy, as Kendricks is one of the guys getting plenty of late steam to sneak into the bottom of the first round. This area is also when you will start seeing playoff teams trading out of Round 1.
30. Packers – Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami
Had Kendricks mocked here in 2.0 but with Indy beating the Pack to the punch they have options. The most likely is Perryman, though Benardrick McKinney isn’t off the board.
31. Saints (from Seahawks) – Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
Maybe the Saints flip the tables and grab one of the more recognized corners with the earlier pick and hope there’s still edge rushing help here. But Dupree/Jones would be a welcome shot to their defense.
32. Patriots – Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
In the unlikely event the Patriots actually make the 32nd pick of the first round themselves, they’ll take advantage of the swing-for-the-fences opportunity with a falling stud like Gregory or Dorial Green-Beckham. Champs can take chances like that.