With the NFL Draft 20 days away, staff writer Dalbin Osorio kicks off Mock Draft Season here at Turn On The Jets. Before jumping right in, first we’d like to ask that you guys help out our own Kevin Bauer. He is participating in a 5K to raise money for cancer research. Second, we’d love to see all of you at our Draft Party in New York City.
There will be no trades in this mock…
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Selection: QB Marcus Mariota
Why? With the report yesterday that Bucs ownership is not sold on Jameis Winston due to character concerns, I think the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner becomes the first player taken. There are questions about Mariota’s ability to transition to the pro game, but there is no denying that he is a talented quarterback. I’ve compared him to a more athletic Alex Smith multiple times, and I think he’s exactly the kind of quarterback the Bucs can bring along slowly due to the presence of Mike Glennon on the roster.
2. Tennessee Titans
Selection: Kevin White
Why? Ken Whisenhunt has come out repeatedly this offseason and said that the Titans like last year’s 6th round pick Zach Mettenberger. I don’t think this has been a smokescreen at all, as Mettenberger played better towards the end of the season for the Titans. If they are really committed to Mettenberger they’re going to need to get him a game changing wide receiver. They pass on Amari Cooper and take the former West Virginia Mountaineer to be Mettenberger’s number one wide receiver.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Selection: Leonard Williams
Why? Adding Julius Thomas to pair with Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson takes the Jaguars out of the running for Amari Cooper. Instead, Gus Bradley goes with the best player in the entire draft in Leonard Williams. Williams slides into the Jaguars 4-3 defense and joins Tyson Alualu, Jared Odrick, and Chris Clemons to form a very good defensive line.
4. Oakland Raiders
Selection: Amari Cooper
Why?: The Raiders went with Khalil Mack last year in the first round, and this year they go with a technically sound wide receiver to give to their young quarterback. It’s tempting for them to take Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley with this pick, but with Khalil Mack and Sio Moore as the OLB bookends, they pass. Cooper fits opposite James Jones, and gives Derek Carr a legitimate weapon in an offense that sorely lacked them last year.
Selection: Dante Fowler, Jr.
Why?: Losing Brian Orakpo to the Titans puts Washington in the market for an outside linebacker to fit their 3-4 defense opposite Ryan Kerrigan. Fowler is the most complete OLB/EDGE player in the draft and is ready to play today. He is as good at stopping the run as he is at rushing the passer, and is going to be a menace for the rest of the NFC East.
6. New York Jets
Selection: Vic Beasley
Why?: If the draft breaks this way, the New York Jets will have a chance to draft either the top quarterback in the draft or the best pure pass rusher in the draft. Jet fans will be clamoring for Jameis Winston with this pick, as questions still linger about Geno Smith. However, I think Maccagnan elects to compete the transformation of the Jets defense by selecting the best pure pass rusher in the draft. A front seven of Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson, Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, David Harris, and Vic Beasley with the improvements to the secondary gives the Jets arguably one of the best defenses in the NFL. This is also an ideal scenario for the Jets because if Winston falls a team will try and trade up so they can accumulate more picks. In this mock, the pick is Beasley.
7. Chicago Bears
Selection: Devante Parker
Why?: With John Fox committing to Jay Cutler for at least another year, the Bears pass on Winston as well and draft Parker to replace Brandon Marshall opposite Alshon Jeffry. Parker gives the enigmatic Cutler a different kind of weapon than he’s used to, but sets him up nicely for a rebound next season.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Selection: Trae Waynes
Why?: For the record, I don’t have Waynes in the top 32 on my Big Board. However, I do think ALOT of teams are enamored with him and new Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn knows that he needs two press corners to run his scheme. Marcus Peters is better than Waynes but I think Quinn opts for him. He has good ball skills, but essentially didn’t become a first round prospect until the combine.
Selection: Brandon Scherff
Why?: The Giants spent money on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last year, and he and Prince Amukamura were pretty inconsistent, so a player like Landon Collins to fill one of their safety holes and help their secondary isn’t entirely out of the question. However, the Giants were horrible on the offensive line and they opt for Brandon Scherff with their first round pick. I have questions about Scherff’s ability to play left tackle at the next level, but he immediately improves the Giants offensive line whether at LT or at LG.
10. St. Louis Rams
Selection: Landon Collins
Why?: The Rams, in my opinion, addressed their quarterback situation when they traded for Nick Foles. This puts them out of the running for Winston. They could target a wide receiver here, but Jaelen Strong might be a reach at 10 and Jeff Fisher seems comfortable with Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt. The only hole the Rams have on defense is at safety, and in this mock draft they take the best safety in the class with the 10th pick. He will get tons of opportunities thanks to the front seven, and will make a very good defense that much better.
11. Minnesota Vikings
Selection: Erick Flowers
Why?: Flowers has been a fast riser ever since the combine, and I think he lands in Minnesota as the bookend on the offensive line to Matt Kalil. Flowers will replace Phil Loadholt at RT eventually and give the Vikings two young offensive linemen ensuring that Teddy Bridgewater remains upright. Flowers is an interesting prospect because he is good, but you are drafting him more for his potential than what he is right now.
12. Cleveland Browns
Selection: Bud Dupree
Why?: The temptation to draft Winston will be here for Cleveland, but I think they pass on him in favor of one of the more underrated pass rushers in the draft. I think the Browns opt for defense instead of offense with the first of their two first round picks. Dupree is going to be a beast at the next level and Cleveland getting him at 12 is great value.
13. New Orleans Saints
Selection: Randy Gregory
Why?: The failed drug test will cause Gregory to fall into a spot where he will most likely start opposite a stud in Cameron Jordan. Gregory is better than Shane Ray, but not as good as Beasley, Fowler, or Dupree. Still, in a 3-4 he fits better than Ray and will take advantage of numerous one on one matches as Jordan attracts a lot of attention.
14. Miami Dolphins
Selection: La’El Collins
Why?: The Dolphins draft the best offensive lineman in the draft at 14. Collins slides right into left guard next to Brandon Albert and gives the Dolphins a very good left side of the offensive line. With the additions the Dolphins have made, adding Collins really gives them a home-run start to the offseason.
15. San Francisco 49ers
Selection: Danny Shelton
Why? The 49ers need an infusion of talent and they have a hole with the retirement of Justin Smith. They added Darnell Dockett in free agency, but Shelton is a monster at 6’2″ and 339 pounds. He is good at stopping the run and rushing the passer, and is a very good value pick at 15.
16. Houston Texas
Selection: Jameis Winston
Why?: The best quarterback in the draft falls to 16, where Bill O’Brien takes Winston with no reservation. Winston instantly becomes the best quarterback on the Texans roster, but can be brought along as slow or as fast as O’Brien wants because of the presence of Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Winston automatically elevates Houston to a threat to Indianapolis in the division, and with Cecil Shorts, DeAndre Hopkins, and Arian Foster, Winston ends up in the very best possible situation for him.
17. San Diego Chargers
Selection: Shane Ray
Why?: Ray is a bit overrated for me, but he lands in a very good spot at 17 with the Chargers. Ray gives the Chargers another presence off the edge to pair with Melvin ingram and, because of a lack of talent on the defensive line, is able to be used as a movable piece. Ray should benefit from playing in front of a very good linebacker core.
18. Kansas City Chiefs
Selection: Preston Smith
Why?: The Chiefs have a hole on their defensive line and Preston Smith fills that. Smith would start at defensive end in the Chiefs 3-4 and make things very difficult for offensive coordinators in the AFC West. With Tamba Hali and Justin Houston as stand up rushers off the edges, Smith gives them another pass rusher to worry about. Bob Sutton will coach him up, and Smith could end up being a defensive rookie of the year candidate.
19. Cleveland Browns
Selection: Jaelen Strong
Why?: Adding Strong to the newly signed Dwayne Bowe allows whoever the Cleveland Browns quarterback is to have two weapons on the outside. There was temptation to go QB here, with a reach like Brett Hundley, but the Browns play it safe and walk out of the first round with two impact players.
20. Philadelphia Eagles
Selection: Arik Armstead
Why?: Malcolm Brown is on the board at this point and is a better prospect than Armstead, but Chip Kelly opts for the former Oregon Duck instead. Armstead joins Kiko Alonso, Byron Maxwell, and Walter Thurmond in a revamped Eagles defense that is vastly improved from a year ago. Brown is tempting, as is Brett Hundley, but Chip opts for familiarity.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Selection: Dorial Green-Beckham
Why?: As raw a wide receiver as you’ll probably find in this draft, but with the potential to be Randy Moss, DGB comes off the board at 21. And he ends up playing opposite AJ Green and in an offense with Jeremy Hill, Giovanni Bernard, and Tyler Eifert. Questions about Andy Dalton still exist, but on a team that doesn’t have many holes the Bengals can afford to take a chance on a potential difference maker that could help Dalton elevate his game to the next level.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
Selection: Malcolm Brown
Why?: The Steelers become the beneficiary of Chip Kelly bypassing Malcolm Brown, and they snag him at 22. Brown is a perfect fit within the 3-4 as a prototypical nose tackle. He will occupy blockers and make life easier for Ryan Shazier, Lawrence Timmons, and the rest of the linebacker core.
23. Detroit Lions
Selection: Eli Harold
Why?: The Lions have a hole at OLB, and they have their choice of taking the underrated Shaq Thompson or the more prototypical Eli Harold. I think the Lions play it safe and take Harold, who can start on their defense and have an impact from day one. Harold has risen fast since the combine (he isn’t listed in my top 32), and I had him as a round two prospect, but think he sneaks in to the end of round one and is taken by Detroit.
24. Arizona Cardinals
Selection: Todd Gurley
Why?: Gurley is the best running back in the draft, and Bruce Arians realizes that the best way to keep his starting quarterback upright and keep pressure off of his defense is by being able to run the ball. With Andre Ellington on the roster, Arians can afford to bring Gurley along at a slower pace as he recovers from his torn ACL. However, once he is healthy the Cardinals offense will reach another level because Gurley is that good and he will help elevate the Cardinals even further under Arians.
25. Carolina Panthers
Selection: Melvin Gordon
Why?: After years of no running backs being taken in the first round, this draft will see two taken back to back as Melvin Gordon goes to Carolina. Gordon will receive a ton of carries in Carolina, and will have the opportunity to make an impact right away. The Panthers have an average offensive line, so the temptation to go OL is there, but they won’t pass up a player like Gordon.
26. Baltimore Ravens
Selection: Sammie Coates
Why?: With the loss of Torrey Smith, the Ravens have a need at wide receiver and Sammie Coates would provide a lot of the same deep threat ability that Smith brought. Coates is also, a nuisance with the football in his hands and would be able to be lined up all over the field to create mismatches opposite Steve Smith.
27. Dallas Cowboys
Selection: Shaq Thompson
Why?: Shaq Thompson is an interesting case. I compared him a bit to Cameron Wake in my Big Board, just with much more coverage ability. Thompson is going to be very good, and he would learn from Sean Lee. In fact, if Lee is healthy him and Thompson never have to come for the field as both are skilled in coverage.
28. Denver Broncos
Selection: AJ Cann
Why?: The Broncos could theoretically target a WR or a TE at the end of round one, but I think they will opt for the best guard in the entire draft in AJ Cann. Cann starting next to Ryan Clady, with Manny Ramirez, Louis Vasquez, and Chris Clark to fill out the offensive line will give the Broncos a line that excels in both pass protection and run blocking.
29. Indianapolis Colts
Selection: Cameron Irving
Why?: The Colts made it to the AFC Championship game, and have added Andre Johnson to pair with TY Hilton. They also added Frank Gore to improve one of the worst rushing attacks in the league. With this pick, they take the future best center in the league in Cameron Irving. The former Seminole is that good, and only fell this far because he is a center. However, he will help both the passing game and the running game as Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton look to instill a more balanced offense. There is temptation to go defense, but Irving is too good to pass up.
30. Green Bay Packers
Selection: Andrus Peat
Why?: David Bakhtiari might get Aaron Rodgers killed one day, so the Packers make the smart choice and take Andrus Peat at 30. Peat is a finesse blocker, in the mold of Jets left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. However, he is still very good and should be a plus starter for the next decade. The temptation to take a wide receiver or a defensive lineman is here, but none offer the value that Peat offers.
31. New Orleans Saints
Selection: Maxx Williams
Why?: With the trade of Jimmy Graham to Seattle, the Saints need a tight end to operate in the middle of the field and to give quarterback Drew Brees another young weapon to pair with Brandin Cooks. Williams isn’t as good as Graham has been, but he does offer more as a blocker right now. He is inconsistent for sure, but that can be coached up. He will get a lot of opportunities and doesn’t have to be taken off the field on running plays. If the Saints can walk out of this draft with Maxx Williams, Randy Gregory, and the addition of Max Unger on the offensive line they would’ve rebounded nicely from what was a tumultuous season to say the least.
32. New England Patriots
Selection: Marcus Peters
Why?: Losing the best cornerback in football stings, although the Super Bowl win lessens that loss a bit. What would lessen it even more is if they draft Marcus Peters at the end of round 1. Marcus Peters is the best cornerback in this draft. He is a top 10 talent but teams might be scared away because of the issues that ended his season at Washington. Peters has gotten in front of all of this and apologized to his coaches for what happened. If there’s one coach that can reach Peters, it’s Bill Belichick.