I've continued the trend of producing a mock draft before this year's NFL Draft. I know I'm looking forward to the event in Chicago to see how things pan out.
Here are my predictions; granted some of the picks that I have predicted are what I would do and not potentially what the GMs will do (particularly the Cowboys pick), but give it a read and see what you think.
I've made some bold predictions and we'll see how they work out; Khalil Mack was my predicted number one overall selection and that turned out pretty good! I'll say now that I'm a Bears and Alabama Crimson Tide fan.
1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
I wouldn’t but the Bucs will: they have a huge need at the position and Winston’s pro day did nothing but help his case for going number one. He has proved that he has a great football mind and could become one of the league’s premier field generals if it all goes his way but the dark cloud of “character issues” still hangs over him, as it did with the infamous Mr. Football last year.
2 New York Jets (TRADE) - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Again, I wouldn’t but if the Titans decide to stick with Zack Mettenberger and trade then the Jets will be interested. I would give Geno Smith a chance with his new number one receiver but Mariota might be too tempting for the Jets. If Mariota can become a more accomplished “pro-style” passer then his ceiling could be massive. The deal works for Tennessee as well, they have multiple needs and more picks would be very welcome.
3 Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Williams, DT, USC
If the two quarterbacks go in the first two picks, Gus Bradley and David Caldwell will be ecstatic. While Jacksonville need much more help on the offensive line rather than on defence, Leonard Williams may be the best player in this draft and the Jags will relish his inside pass rush and accomplished run stuffing play style. He will be a huge boost for this defence.
4 Oakland Raiders - Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Derek Carr needs a number one target and this year’s draft is stacked at wide receiver; at number four it’s a straight choice between Amari Cooper and Kevin White. White is a big-play player with great height and athleticism while Cooper has a proven track record and is the best route runner in the draft; the Raiders probably can’t go wrong with either of the elite receivers in this draft.
5 Washington Redskins - Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida
For me, Fowler is the best player available this year behind Amari Cooper and the Redskins will love it if he is still around at 5. He will be a great partner for Ryan Kerrigan in the Washington pass rush, especially after Brian Orakpo departed for Tennessee. Despite the need, there is not an offensive lineman on the board that is worth the fifth overall pick, especially with Fowler available.
6 Tennessee Titans (TRADE) - Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
With what can be assumed to be the first of a few picks that the Titans will receive from the Jets, Tennessee will look to take maybe the best pure edge rusher in the draft. He has an explosive playing style and plenty of talent that could be refined with guidance from veteran Brian Orakpo. With Orakpo, Morgan and Beasley the Titans would have a fearsome pass rush.
7 Chicago Bears - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
There wasn’t a better receiver than the star Alabama wideout in all of college football last season and he proved his quality against the best the SEC had to offer, for example Vernon Hargreaves III. He is a polished player who can walk straight into the team and as a Bears fan I know more than most how much Chicago needs a wide receiver to partner Alshon Jeffery and especially after free agency where the linebacking core was addressed. I originally had Danny Shelton here but a top ten pick is probably too high for him and Ferguson and Ratliff can do a job a nose tackle.
8 Atlanta Falcons - Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
There is no doubt than Atlanta need help on the pass rush and there will be another DE/OLB picked here, with the position being so deep this year. I still have reservations about Ray, comparing him to Bears bust Shea McClellin. But he is, for many, the best player on the board here; he has potential to be a pro bowler.
9 New York Giants - Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Aside from free safety there is no greater need for Coughlin’s squad than on the O-line. Scherff is a great run blocker but may see his pass protection exposed in the NFL, which means this may be a little high, but the Giants definitely need help in the trenches and there isn’t a free safety good enough here. However, the Giants are notorious for their “draft the best player available” policy.
10 St. Louis Rams - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The Rams could definitely use an early selection on a cornerback to add to a secondary that will need to step up to match the unbelievable pass rush that has been assembled in St. Louis. If the Giants decide against Scherff at nine then I can see him going here instead to help the other side of the ball for the Rams and replace Jake Long.
11 Minnesota Vikings - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Teddy Bridgewater is a very talented prospect under center but needs a playmaker in order to excel and his college teammate from Louisville could be the answer. He is huge and can consistently win the ball in the air but needs a little refinement to his game when running routes. Bridgewater and Parker will once again make a dynamic duo in Minnesota as they were in Louisville.
12 Cleveland Browns - Danny Shelton, NT, Washington
Shelton is an interesting prospect, I’ve seen some mock drafts where he goes top five, I don’t think he will but with an ideal nose tackle build and a surprisingly athletic inside pass rush game he could be a perennial pro bowler. More importantly for the awful run defence of last year, Shelton can help shut up shop in the face of inside runs. Chicago could be interested but Cooper is definitely a better prospect at this stage.
13 New Orleans Saints - Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
Rob Ryan’s defence needs some more talent to allow the Saints to become competitive again; they could look to replace Cameron Jordan who is reportedly on his way out of New Orleans but I see them drafting a quality 3-4 edge rusher. Bud Dupree is a great talent and can make big plays consistently and drafting him this low is slightly insulting for the lad and he could easily go to the Titans, Bears, Falcons or the Giants.
14 Miami Dolphins - Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
The Miami defence is definitely on the up after free agency and Jalen Collins would be a great fit across from Brent Grimes and improve the defence with his coverage. His height is a huge plus point and partnered with immense speed he will be weapon in this league. He needs some improvement and is a work in progress but the veteran Grimes alongside him will be very beneficial.
15 San Francisco 49ers - Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon
I originally had TCU’s Paul Dawson here especially after Willis and Borland left the game but his atrocious combine performance makes it impossible to take him this high. However, there is another big need with Justin Smith on the cusp of retirement; the long Arik Armstead will be a good addition on a needy D-line. Malcom Brown is an option here and some think him to be the better player but Armstead is the perfect fit as a 5-technique in San Francisco.
16 Houston Texans - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
It is quite conceivable that Houston looks for an Andre Johnson replacement here but with the top three receivers off the board, I just can’t see it, especially with DeAndre Hopkins on the roster. A cornerback would be a smart choice at 16 and with only two gone; Marcus Peters is the next best player despite the clear deficiencies and character concerns. He’s a risk but could become huge.
17 San Diego Chargers - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
I cannot see a non-running back pick here. The only choice facing the Bolts is which one; personally I think Tevin Coleman is the best running back in the draft (mark my words) but the former Wisconsin star, Gordon, will be San Diego’s choice due to his proven rushing and ability to be a threat in the passing game with both catching and blocking.
18 Kansas City Chiefs - DJ Humphries, OL, Florida
Alex Smith was sacked 45 times last season and despite injuries on the offensive line; they need to improve in the trenches. With great size and strength coupled with technical improvement in the NFL, this former No. 1 tackle prospect out of high school could become an elite starter: he took Shane Ray out of the game against Mizzou showing his quality.
19 Cleveland Browns - Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
According to scouts he is one of the most pro-ready offensive tackles available this year and could help the Browns. This is a solid pick, potentially even looking to a future life without Joe Thomas as well. But with continued coaching for a big and powerful talent, the Browns could enter the season with the one of the league’s premier O-lines.
20 Philadelphia Eagles - Landon Collins, S, Alabama
The Eagles have had a polarising off-season and some see it continuing with Chip Kelly moving up in an attempt to get Mariota but I just can’t see it happening with the Jets in the mix for the QB. They need help at wide receiver after Maclin departed but safety is a pressing need. Most have counted out Collins in Philadelphia because he doesn’t fit their scheme and is not athletic enough but, having watched ‘Bama a lot recently I think he’s a huge talent and it’s an insult to see him fall out of the top ten; the Eagles’ Alabama links will see this too. Plus, Collins is the only safety worth a 1st round pick.
21 Cincinnati Bengals - Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Some say Brown is the number one DT in the draft but I don’t see him ahead of Shelton or Armstead, however, the Bengals will be very happy to take him 21st overall given their poor pass rush. Their current NT, Peko, has was a liability in both run and pass defence but Brown who can play both 3-4 and 4-3 is a really athletic big guy who can get into the backfield quickly. The Bengals could really improve a struggling D-Line with this pick.
22 Pittsburgh Steelers - Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
Randy Gregory would’ve been a top ten pick if he came without all the extra baggage. Multiple failed drugs tests create significant concerns, especially as one was at the combine, but nevertheless he’s an outstanding edge rusher who can really make an impact but he needs the right coaching to succeed: he’s got the raw talent. A risk but with massive potential upside. With Landon Collins off the board here and with the sudden departure of Jason Worilds, Gregory is the pick.
23 Detroit Lions - Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
One of the best defensive players of recent years, Suh, is out of Detroit and the Lions will look to replace him straight away. In my opinion, the space eating defensive tackle can play in the Detroit defensive system replacing Suh in the run defence game even if he lacks the capability to pass rush effectively.
24 Arizona Cardinals - Jordan Phillips, NT, Oklahoma
The Cardinals may need a running back but with only one NT on the current roster, the huge prospect out of Oklahoma who has great capability as a run stopper in a 3-4 defence, is a must. Scouts project him to become a Pro Bowl nose tackle.
25 Carolina Panthers - Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
If Carolina is going to be a great offense then they need another target to join Benjamin and Olsen for Cam Newton. It’s a shame for the Panthers that they have many needs; they will have to choose between WR, RB and pass rusher. Without any elite edge rushers left for the first round and with depth at running back for the second or third round, they will go with one of the draft’s top five receivers.
26 Baltimore Ravens - Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
With only Steve Smith Sr., at the ripe old age of 35, as a quality receiver and Dennis Pitta being so injury prone, Baltimore are another team who need to bolster their pass attack this year. Breshad Perriman is ridiculously fast and with some height as well and could be useful when run blocking. Under the guidance of Smith and new OC Marc Trestman, he could really excel.
27 Dallas Cowboys - Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
Best running back in the draft, period. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. The product of Indiana will be a steal at 27, believe me. A strong, powerful runner who directly compares to DeMarco Murray and therefore could be the ideal pick for Dallas who need a replacement to run alongside Darren McFadden and be able to take responsibility if/when McFadden gets injured.
28 Denver Broncos - La’el Collins, OL, LSU
It’s no secret that Denver need support on the offensive line after a poor season in the trenches. I can see them using multiple picks this draft on this area. After Julius Thomas’ departure, the Broncos need a tight end but they do have more pressing issues. Collins can come straight into the Broncos line-up and make a difference immediately with his experience in a really competitive conference.
29 Indianapolis Colts - Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
Another talent out of FSU, Erving could potentially be a starter next season for the Colts to give Andrew Luck more protection at center or guard, scouts predict him to be a “home run prospect” at these positions. It’s maybe too high to take a center but if he becomes the talent scouts think he can become then nobody will care.
30 Green Bay Packers - Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
Green Bay have a really talented roster and have arguably the least pressing draft needs, but tight end is definitely one of them. This is maybe a bit high for Williams but he’s the best tight end available and could be a real weapon in the passing game even if he needs blocking and route running refinement. However, they could go MLB here instead, eg. Paul Dawson.
31 New Orleans Saints - Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
The Saints need to try and replace Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills and will be frustrated with the amount of teams that are receiver-needy. Green-Beckham has the potential to be a Calvin Johnson-esk receiver in the NFL but his poor work ethic and character problems raise massive red flags. He has huge height, great speed but Is a raw talent but it’s a risk here, but every team wished they’d gambled on Dez Bryant or Mathieu.
32 New England Patriots - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Gurley could become a real talent further down the line but for the short term, teams will be put off by his torn ACL and poor durability. However, he is a powerful yet quick back but game-changing ability if he can return to his previous speed post-injury. The Patriots lost Ridley and Vereen but still have Blount and Gray so RB is not a desperate need considering the WR situation but with Gurley on the board here they’ll draft him.
On a final draft note, a final prediction I will make regarding the college players entering the NFL is that DeAndrew White (WR) out of Alabama will become a top quality, by which I mean potential Pro Bowl receiver; mark my words; I've seen him play a lot this season and I'm very confident despite playing second to superstar Amari Cooper.