By Harrison Peltz
In the midst of all the manziel-licious scandals taking place in the NFL, an intriguing draft class is forming. This class is much more than just Winston and Mariota: defensively, this class looks incredibly strong (see any picture of Shawn Oakman ever).
It’s nearly impossible to predict how the first round of an NFL draft will play out, but the least we can do is try. So, here it is. My Weekly Sports first ever mock draft!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1st overall): Jameis Winston (QB-Florida State).
He’s the best quarterback in the draft class and the Bucs need a quarterback. It’s that simple. The Bucs are feeling immense pressure from their fans to select a quarterback, and rightfully so, as the Bucs haven’t had a legit signal-caller since… lol. To me, this is a no-brainer. I like Winston over Mariota here because he’s so much closer to being a finished product… on the field.
Tennessee Titans (2nd overall): Leonard Williams (DT-USC).
If the Titans think Marcus Mariota is worth their time with the second overall pick, they’re very wrong. They’ve got a roster loaded with gaping holes, which makes me feel like it’s unnecessary for them to reach at what may be just a system-quarterback at #2 overall. When you have so many needs, you take the best player. Williams is a physical freak and his hair, like his frame, is absolutely massive. Leonard Williams and Jurrell Casey would compose arguably the best interior d-line tandem in the league, and quickly. Some say Randy Gregory here, I just don’t find his production at the collegiate level impressive enough to take at #2, though his raw talent certainly fits the bill.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3rd overall): Brandon Scherff (OT-Iowa).
The Jags have found their guy in Blake Bortles. That being said, it’s going to be a lot harder for him to develop in the same division as JJ Watt without sufficient protection. I happen to love Luke Joeckel, but Scherff can play either side of the line, so there shouldn’t be conflict. This Iowa product has great size (6’5, 320 pounds) and moves exceptionally well.
Philadelphia Eagles (Trade with Oakland, 4th overall): Marcus Mariota (QB-Oregon).
There! I said it! Chip Kelly wants his guys and is trying to keep it quiet, though rather unsuccessfully, to keep down the prices of moving up. Moving on, let me set the record straight: I am not a believer in Marcus Mariota… unless he’s on the Eagles. He literally couldn’t be a better scheme fit; the Eagles and Ducks have the same scheme. Literally. By the way, the Raiders trading down is a nice move: Carr is no savior and Charles Woodson will not live forever. This team could use the extra picks (I’d say at least two first rounders and a second rounder) to plug up holes at receiver, corner or on the O-Line.
Washington Redskins (5th overall): Shane Ray (OLB/DE-Missouri).
Randy Gregory sliding past 5? Yup.
In my opinion, Shane Ray is the best pass rusher in the draft. The beast from Mizzou finished the year with 14.5 sacks– absurd. The Skins pass rush was anemic this year, as they only amassed a lowly 36 sacks. Makes sense. In addition, it seems more and more likely that the Redskins are going to lose Brian Orakpo, arguably their best player, this offseason. Gregory and Ryan Kerrigan make a very formidable pass rushing tandem.
New York Jets (6th overall): Amari Cooper (WR-Alabama).
I didn’t let Amari fall this far just because I’m a Jets fan. The only other team I could envision going wide receiver before the Jets is the Raiders, but I have the Eagles trading up to scoop up Mariota– the Jets ideal pick at this spot according to many fans.
That being said, Amari Cooper is dirty good, and drafting him means the Jets won’t have to sign Percy Harvin in the off-season. Win-win.
Chicago Bears (7th overall): Landon Collins(S-Alabama).
The Bears secondary was horrendous this year, as they finished 30th overall in pass yards allowed per game. Landon Collins is not only athletic in the air, but is also a great run supporter, something the Bears are certainly in need of.
Atlanta Falcons (8th overall): Randy Gregory(DE-Nebraska).
I know, everyone else has him going 3rd overall. They say he’s the best pass rusher in the class. If he’s the best pass rusher, why’d he only have seven sacks this year? I understand that seven is quite impressive, yet there are plenty of other pass rushers who are just as athletic and had way more production. He’s also crazy undersized at 240 pounds. I’m calling bust on this one. Mark my words.
New York Giants (9th overall): Shaq Thompson (LB-Washington).
Probably the most athletic defensive player in the draft. He’s also extremely versatile. He’s my early frontrunner for defensive rookie of the year. This guy literally played running back in college while doubling as a linebacker and also taking snaps at safety. Has the quick feet and ball pursuit of Brian Urlacher when he left New Mexico in terms of size/speed factor. Nice pick here by the Giants, who can plug him in immediately as a weak side linebacker in their 4-3 scheme, and, who knows, he may even take some handoffs when Rashad Jennings goes down again.
St. Louis Rams (10th overall): Dante Fowler Jr (DE/OLB-Florida).
The Rams are strong up front, but Dante Fowler is the best player on the board. My biggest problem with this team is Sam Bradford, but with Mariota gone, I see the Rams going with Fowler here. I’d say Kevin White, but I doubt the Rams want to swing and miss on another WVU receiver (Tavon Austin). Fowler paired up with Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald would be an intimidating front, to say the least.
Minnesota Vikings (11th overall): Kevin White (WR-West Virginia).
If Amari Cooper weren’t in this draft, Kevin White would have articles on articles written about him and why he’s the most freakish athlete the draft has seen in years. White’s size is perfect for an X receiver: he’s 6’3’, 210 lbs. His production was off the charts, racking up 1447 yards and ten touchdowns from a mediocre quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater would be a lot better of a player if he weren’t passing to Charles Johnson, and in White, he gets a big target, possession receiver in the mold of Larry Fitzgerald.
Cleveland Browns (12th overall): Devante Parker (WR-Louisville).
He will be selected by the Browns, and he will be a bust. I swear. I say this because I watched him drop an unguarded slant for a walk-in touchdown in his bowl game against Georgia. I also say this because he had five touchdowns this year. The guy’s a great athlete, and, consequently, great combine and the Browns will select him in hope that he’s their next (god forbid) Josh Gordon. They’ll be heavily disappointed come September when he’s still dropping passes.
New Orleans Saints (13th overall): Trae Waynes (CB-Michigan State).
Trae Waynes is hands-down the best man-to-man cover corner in this class. His “lack” of production is a result of the fact that the man he was guarding was usually not open. The Saints secondary has been a joke for years now, he fills the void.
Miami Dolphins (14th overall): Benardrick McKinney (ILB-Mississippi State).
The Dolphins feel pressured to fill holes in their roster quickly because they’ve construed an ill-conceived notion that now is the time to win with Tannehill. Personally, I think Tannehill’s high NFL ceiling is a myth, but the Dolphins don’t seem to think so. I see them reaching for a linebacker with nice size in McKinney, who is is solid, but certainly not worth a mid-1st round pick.
San Francisco 49ers (15th overall): La-el Collins (OT-LSU).
The 49ers horrific offensive line was a big reason why they were only able to put 19 points a game this year. La-el Collins could be a day one producer. Kaepernick needs consistency to develop and Jim Tomsula needs to find a solution now, so I see the 49ers grabbing Collins, a pro-ready tackle who’s been playing against the stout D-lines of the SEC. Not to mention, La-el is absolutely massive at 6’5”, 321 lbs.
Houston Texans (16th overall): Vic Beasley (DE-Clemson).
Just saying, I’m trying to find a reason why the Texans didn’t make the playoffs based on their stats, and I really can’t find one. If I were them, I’d take Alvin Dupree here. What? Alvin Dupree. Reasons: 1) I’m not a big believer in Jadeveon and 2) Dupree is dirty, and shouldn’t fall as far as he will. Houston’s linebacking corps have been worn down over the years, and Beasley should bolster them up nicely. He’s undersized, but his production was great, as he clocked 11 sacks throughout the year. A move to OLB seems plausible here, and he should provide a nice insurance possibility for the Jadeveon Clowney experiment.
San Diego Chargers (17th overall): Alvin Dupree (DE-Kentucky).
Hear me now. This guy’s insane. He will be the name you remember from this D-Line heavy class.
Kansas City Chiefs (18th overall): Ronnie Stanley (OL- Notre Dame).
Nice size and fills a need (Chiefs let up 49 sacks this year). A lot of people are unsure about Staley, but this is a team that lost Brandon Albert to free agency a year ago and has been nothing but disappointed by former 1st overall pick Eric Fisher.
Cleveland Browns (19th overall): Danny Shelton (DT-Washington).
Fantastic motor; this guy’s just a work horse. His tackles numbers are ridiculous for an interior lineman and he had four sacks in one game. Can play the 3, 4 or even 5 technique, and Mike Pettine should slide him into his scheme nicely as a 3 down player.
Oakland Raiders (Trade with Eagles, 20th overall): Jaelen Strong (WR-Arizona State).
They’ll be deciding between Strong and Devin Funchess, and hopefully they’ll be smart and take the guy who actually caught balls this year. Funchess had four touchdowns this year, while Strong had 10 touchdowns to go along with 1,100 yards. Strong has great size for an X receiver at 6’3, 210. He and Andre Holmes could make a formidable duo. Operation Develop Carr is go.
Cincinnati Bengals (21st overall): Arik Armstead (DE-Oregon)
The Bengals had 20 sacks this year. That’s absolutely pathetic for a defense that made the playoffs. Arik Armstead is the most freakish talent of the draft on the defensive side of the ball, and Mel Kiper has him going as high as #8 overall. While I could see a team reaching on him, I think teams are going to be a little hesitant on the Ducks D-Linemen, who are rotated off the field after almost every play and used exclusively in situations that the coaches deem best, after the Dion Jordan experiment in Miami. Still, a nice value pick here for the Bengals.
Pittsburgh Steelers (22nd overall): Eric Kendricks (ILB-UCLA).
Steelers need to regain their defensive swagger. Eric Hendricks is an enforcer like no other who demolishes receivers that try coming over the middle. A bit of a project, I like his upside here. This guy can knock you out, but also is excellent in zone coverage. Should help get this Steelers defense to the Super Bowl caliber that they’re building towards.
Detroit Lions (23rd overall): Andrus Peat (OT-Stanford).
The Lions conceded 45 sacks this year. Peat is very experienced and play in a pro-style offense that called for a lot of pass protection. Seems like a good fit.
Arizona Cardinals (24th overall): Marcus Peters (CB-Washington).
The Cardinals will likely lose Cromartie in the offseason, and Peters is one of the only rookies that can fit-in to the Cardinals ball-hawk style secondary. He’s got great ball-skills, and if he learns to be a bit more conservative from mentor Pat Peterson, he can be a great addition.
Carolina Panthers (25th overall): Devin Funchess (WR-Michigan).
MISTAKE. They need help, but they’re not gonna get it from Devin Funchess. I’m not big on taking players solely due to their size and athleticism (see: Stephen Hill Debacle).
Baltimore Ravens (26th overall): Todd Gurley (RB-Georgia).
The Ravens are one more explosive player away from being a super bowl contender; I mean it. That being said, I have nothing against Justin Forsett, I just don’t think he’ll ever keep a defensive coordinator awake at night. Gurley was absolutely dirty in the games that he played this season. Had it not been for an ACL tear and a string of off the field question marks, he’d be going in my top 5.
Dallas Cowboys (27th overall): Hau’oli Kihaha (OLB-Washington).
His production this year was insane. 19 sacks to go along with a plethora of tackles, Kihaha is an absolute beast and his name kind of rhymes with ‘ravioli.’ The Cowboys pass rush this year was buns, but Kihaha can bring an instant spark to a front that lost Demarcus Ware a year ago.
Denver Broncos (28th overall): Maxx Williams (TE-Minnesota).
The Broncos will fail to re-sign Julius Thomas, and will end up lucky. Maxx Williams is a physical freak, and is one of my favorites for offensive rookie of the year. Check that vid of him hurdling a defender for a touchdown. Great athleticism and measurables to go along with solid production. Calls to mind some Rob Gronkowski, but he’s less confident in his routes and is more prone to a few drops. Still, Peyton (assuming a return) will bring him to the next level, and this is a great pick by the Broncos.
Indianapolis Colts (29th overall): Melvin Gordon (RB-Wisconsin).
The Colts can only rely on Andrew Luck to do so much. They definitely swung and missed on the Richardson trade, but the idea was right: they need a running back. Melvin Gordon’s numbers are insane, as are his acceleration and field vision skills. I see Melvin as a guaranteed 1,000-yard-a-season guy for a long time in this league. He’s durable and capable.
Green Bay Packers (30th overall): Sammie Coates (WR-Auburn).
Why not? The Packers were a coin-flip away from the super bowl. They don’t need drastic help at any position, really and Coates is the best player on the board. Sammie Coates is a fantastic route-runner and has breakaway speed to get behind the defense. Rodgers is one of the only quarterbacks in the league that can throw to him. The two of them make a dangerous downfield combo with a lot to be excited about. Plus, Coates provides insurance since the Pack really might lose Randall Cobb this offseason.
Seattle Seahawks (31st overall): Malcolm Brown (DT-Taxes).
With an injury to Brandon Mebane, the future of the Seahawks D-line is questionable. Malcolm Brown’s production was not fantastic, but he is a great run-stuffer, something the Seahawks could use. Plus, with Coates, Funchess and the rest of the top-tier receivers gone from this board, the Seahawks go with the best talent on the board, and that’s Brown.
New England Patriots (32nd overall): Tevin Coleman (RB-Indiana).
If Melvin Gordon were not to have had one of the most insane seasons in College Football history, Tevin Coleman would have been the running back of the year. He’s that good. This isn’t a stretch. Coleman quietly eclipsed 2,000 yards and averaged an extraordinary 7.5 yards a carry this season.The Pats are known for going for talent without regard to positional need.