Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The best thing about the annual NFL Scouting Combine is the unfiltered access to the prospects themselves.
So much of professional football is based on pure physical ability, but the truly special talents separate themselves with intangibles -- things like work ethic, maturity and leadership skills.
A stopwatch can't measure ambition, desire or hunger. Pure brute strength can't mask a low football IQ, short-area quickness means little without an instinct for the game, and the Wonderlic couldn't tell the Cleveland Browns that Johnny Manziel has the mental makeup of a 15-year-old.
And that's why, in the end, the NFL Draft is really just a crapshoot, a snapshot in time of a glorified educated guess.
That said, the more you prepare, the better the chances are you make a prudent decision and dozens of NFL personnel people departed Indianapolis this week after doing their due diligence on the class of 2015.
Here's our current snapshot as The Sports Network rolls out its latest mock draft, the post-combine edition:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State - Bucs coach Lovie Smith spent most of his time in Indy trying to rationalize any red flags with Winston so everyone can lock in No. 1 in their mocks barring another off-the- field incident.
"Let's talk about the elephant in the room," Smith said. "(Winston's) been accused of a crime. There's an allegation. I have faith in our court system. He went through it. He went through the school justice system and he was cleared. He went through our court system and he was cleared, exonerated."
Smith did make sure to say Oregon's Marcus Mariota, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, is still in the equation even though few are believing the subterfuge.
"I think, in the end, it will be a clear decision on who we should take," Smith said. "It will be obvious to see who the best player is to lead our franchise, to lead our team next year and get out of that cellar."
It already is obvious and it's Winston.
"To me, I think (Winston has) told us an awful lot with how he's handled (all the controversy)," the veteran coach said. "It's not like he's getting ready to go into the NFL and scrutiny is coming his way. He's gone through it a couple years now and he's answered the bell. That's what you have to do. You have to have tunnel vision and do your job. Looking from the outside, that's what he's been able to do."
Previous Pick: Winston
2. Tennessee Titans - Leonard Williams, DT, Southern California - Forget Mariota here. Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt really likes Zach Mettenberger and his pocket presence. Meanwhile, the veteran coach isn't about to change his whole offensive philosophy for Mariota, so if the Titans can't trade out, expect them to take the highest-rated player in this draft in Williams, who ran a 4.97-second 40-yard dash and had a nearly nine-foot broad jump at 6-foot-5 and 302 pounds in Indy.
Williams is versatile and could be a star at defensive end or defensive tackle in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. With Dick LeBeau joining Ray Horton in Nashville, Williams should excel as a 5-technique.
"One of the biggest things that made me so versatile in my career is I played for three different D-line coaches while I've been at USC -- Pete Jenkins, Ed Orgeron and Chris Wilson -- and three defensive coordinators as well," Williams said. "I've played in a lot of defensive schemes. With that came moving around a lot. The versatility came."
Previous Pick: Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dante Fowler, OLB/DE, Florida - The Jags have gone offense in the first two years of the David Caldwell/Gus Bradley era (left tackle Luke Joeckel and quarterback Blake Bortles), and it's now time to get the "Gus Bus" a difference maker on the defensive side.
Nebraska's Randy Gregory may be the best pure pass rusher available, but concerns about his size are a real issue so look for Jacksonville to go the safer route with Fowler, who weighed in at 261 pounds and may be the most well-rounded of the highly regarded edge players in this draft.
"I can do it all, some linebacker, some defensive end, I can do both," Fowler said. "I can rush really good and I can drop back in coverage. I like to go out there and mess with the receivers, I can play in the flats and in the curls. I can play everywhere."
Previous Pick: Williams
4. Oakland Raiders - Kevin White, WR, West Virginia - Derek Carr showed plenty of potential as a rookie quarterback in 2014, but he needs some help outside the numbers if he plans to take the next step. The lengthy White moved past Alabama's Amari Cooper as the top receiver on the board by running a 4.35 40 at 6-3 and 215 pounds.
"Everyone dreams of being the first draft pick at their position," White said. "I think I put a lot of fear in defensive backs just because I block so well and when I come off the line I'm quicker than they expect. By the time they realize it, it's already a done deal."
Previous Pick: Cooper
5. Washington Redskins - Danny Shelton, DT, Washington - The massive Shelton had a great Senior Bowl week in which he showed really impressive movement skills for a 340-pound player. He followed that up with a good showing at the combine, solidifying himself as a top-10 pick and a potential Vince Wilfork clone. The Redskins have Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy on the outside and could use a real difference maker in the middle.
"Honestly it's all exciting," Shelton said when asked about being a potential top-10 selection. "I never pictured myself in this position."
Previous Pick: Shelton
6. New York Jets - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - Mariota is a project if you plan on running a traditional pro offense because his mechanics, particularly his footwork, aren't up to snuff, but his athleticism, live arm, football IQ and work ethic make him a gamble who will pay off in the end. New Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan has some rope, making this the likely landing spot for the former Oregon star.
"For any rookie quarterback, it's going to be an adjustment stepping up to this new level," Mariota admitted. "I'm going to continue to absorb as much as I can, learn from all the people I can and do my best in whatever situation I get into."
Previous Pick: Mariota
7. Chicago Bears - Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri - Some wonder whether Ray, who did not participate in drills at the combine due to a toe injury, can play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but at 6-3 and 245 pounds, he will have to if he wants to excel in the NFL. The Bears will be making the move to a 3-4 scheme under John Fox and will need edge players who can get to the quarterback. Ray has the first step to create havoc early in his career.
"I've never really realized it," Ray said when asked about his innate ability to get off the football quickly. "I just kinda key the ball, and get a good step. I learned as a defensive lineman that's the best thing you can do. Most of the time, you get a good enough (first step), you're able to beat offensive linemen out of their stance. As I started understanding that was a skill that I have and an advantage I've been blessed with, I just kind of used it more to my advantage, and it worked out for me."
Previous Pick: Fowler
8. Atlanta Falcons - Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska - You know new Falcons coach Dan Quinn is going to want to bolster the front seven immediately and Gregory is the kind of edge rusher who could complement some manageable parts on the interior like Paul Soliai and second-year man Ra'Shede Hageman. Gregory is a rangy 6-6 prospect with the speed to make a big difference around the corner. He is, however, undersized and could get bullied at times, especially in the run game.
"At Nebraska, I was taught a lot about technique and that is one of the things I credit them with, preparing me for the next level," Gregory said. "I think that is something a lot of guys at the next level take for granted, and don't really focus on that. So me, even at 235 pounds, I still think I set the edge pretty well because of my technique and I think I use my strength well for what I weigh. I just did 24 on the bench (at 225 pounds) so I'll only get stronger."
Previous Pick: Ray
9. New York Giants - Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa - The Giants are still in the midst of rebuilding a porous offensive line and taking the powerful Scherff could enable them to kick incumbent right tackle Justin Pugh inside to guard, where he should be much more effective. The 6-5, 320-pound Scherff is a drive- blocking machine who projects as a very safe pick.
"You always want to be the best of the best," Scherff said. "You want to set your goals high. I'm pretty versatile. I feel like I can play guard and tackle."
Previous Pick: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
10. St. Louis Rams - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama - The Rams haven't had a real No. 1 receiver since the days of Torry Holt, and if Sam Bradford, or anyone else for that matter, is ever going to succeed at the QB position in St. Louis, the Rams need to provide an elite-level talent outside the numbers. Cooper should arrive in the NFL as a sharp route-runner with plus hands and tremendous short-area quickness.
"Every time I run a route, I try to make it seem like I'm running a different route than I'm actually running so I can get open," Cooper explained. "I certainly want to be the best receiver, not just in this class, but overall, wherever I go, and I'm going to work hard to try to be that."
Previous Pick: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pitt
11. Minnesota Vikings - La'el Collins, OT, LSU - The Vikings need plenty of help on the left side of their offensive line and Collins could serve two masters, taking over immediately for descending veteran left guard Charlie Johnson and providing insurance for underachieving left tackle Matt Kalil, who will get one more chance to prove he can be the player he was as a rookie. Collins is the best pure drive blocker in this draft, which fits in nicely with Norv Turner's philosophy on offense.
"I've always had a mentality of a defensive lineman, and I was able to bring that over to the offense," Collins said. "But, also bring intelligence over to play offensive line. For me to go out there with that mentality and just get after it is something I bring to the table."
Previous Pick: Scherff
12. Cleveland Browns - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville - The Browns are probably the most dysfunctional team in the NFL right now and Ray Farmer's first draft has already been labeled a disaster. With Josh Gordon suspended yet again, getting a rangy receiving threat like Parker would make a lot of sense for whomever is playing QB for Cleveland in 2015. Parker brings a big body to the dance, along with soft hands, very good body control and the leaping ability to high-point the football.
"I believe I can get yards after the catch. I'm able to break tackles," Parker said. "My weaknesses is probably blocking. I need to work on that."
Previous Pick: White
13. New Orleans Saints - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State - The Saints had significant issues on the defensive side of the ball this past season and need a serious talent upgrade, especially on the back end. At 6-1, Waynes has the size and length NFL teams crave on the outside, but he needs to bulk up a bit and get more physical.
Previous Pick: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
14. Miami Dolphins - Malcom Brown, DT, Texas - Miami may release veteran defensive tackle Randy Starks, who didn't perform all that well last season anyway, while fellow interior lineman Jared Odrick is set to be a free agent. Brown is the stoutest option inside after Shelton, with the strength to dominate at the point of attack and the natural quickness to penetrate gaps.
"You can put me anywhere," Brown said. "I already know how to play the positions. I played end, stand-up end, all that last year. I played nose the previous two years, freshman and sophomore years. I can do it all."
Previous Pick: Parker
15. San Francisco 49ers - Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State - You simply can't replace a Justin Smith and the 49ers will likely do everything they can to convince the three-time All-Pro to play one more season. But if they can't get that done, getting a big body like Goldman could be a sound Plan B.
Previous Pick: Goldman
16. Houston Texans - T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pitt - Houston has a Texas-sized hole at right tackle and Clemmings is a natural for the right side of the line, often playing with a nasty disposition.
"As of right now, it is all talk," Clemmings said of being a first-rounder. "I don't get into what the media says and people think because things change on draft day a lot. I know the work that I've put in and I am trusting that everything will work out."
Previous Pick: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
17. San Diego Chargers - Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford - It's all about protecting Philip Rivers in Ron Burgundy's town and the Chargers already re- signed left tackle King Dunlap and claim to be sticking with D.J. Fluker on the right side, but the slow-footed Fluker would be better served by sliding inside to guard, leaving a spot for Peat, who has far better physical skills for the edge.
"I played right tackle in high school a little bit," Peat said. "In college, I played all left tackle, but I've been working since the season was over in a right-handed stance, too, just to prepare myself for both."
Previous Pick: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (Fla.)
18. Kansas City Chiefs - Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State - The Chiefs went through an entire NFL season in the most offensively skewed era in pro football history without throwing a TD pass to a wide receiver. Translation: They need a pass catcher badly and Strong is the best one left on the board, a 6-3 physical nightmare for opposing defensive backs.
"(I'm) physical, dominant, (with a) huge catch radius," Strong said of his skills. "Anything you throw in my vicinity, I'll try to go get it."
Previous Pick: Strong
19. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo) - Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (Fla.) - The Browns would like to move right tackle Mitchell Schwartz inside and the 6-6, 330-pound Flowers could be a road-grader on the right side.
"I enjoy run blocking," Flowers said. "I'm still working on every part of my game. I think I still have my best ball ahead of me and haven't come close to touching it, so I'm just working on everything."
Previous Pick: La'el Collins
20. Philadelphia Eagles - Jalen Collins, CB, LSU - The guess here remains that Chip Kelly will not mortgage the future to go get Mariota and instead attempt to rebuild his shaky secondary. Collins is what NFL teams look for in cornerbacks these days, a long 6-2 player with the capability to be physical, along with the closing speed to make up for a mistake in coverage.
Previous Pick: Waynes
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky - The Bengals' pass rush was dismal last season outside of Carlos Dunlap. Dupree, who models himself after Aldon Smith, projects as a productive pass rusher with long arms and solid closing speed off the edge.
"I just like how (Smith) turns the corner and how he uses his speed a lot," Dupree said. "He's an athletic guy, a guy that I see myself being like."
Previous Pick: Dupree
22. Pittsburgh Steelers - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington - Cortez Allen was a mess last season and Ike Taylor is a free agent on the downside, making cornerback the biggest need in the Steel City. From a pure football perspective, Peters is regarded as perhaps the best cornerback prospect in the 2015 draft class and the top man-to-man coverage option in the process. He comes with plenty of baggage. though, and was kicked out of UW.
"I just (have to) learn from my mistakes," Peters said. "I made some immature decisions at the University of Washington and it hurt me truly. So I've just got to learn from my mistakes and grow from it."
Previous Pick: Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (Ohio)
23. Detroit Lions - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia - It looks like the Lions understand they need Ndamukong Suh back at all costs and they are also pushing for Nick Fairley to return, so you have to assume DT is off the table. Taking the immensely talented Gurley, who would project to go much earlier had he not torn his ACL in November, could solve the running back-by-committee approach that struggled at times last season. Gurley is a big, physical runner who understands how to stick his foot in the ground, and get north and south.
"I've been doing a lot of stuff," Gurley said of his rehab. "I've been doing light jogging, a little ladder work, a lot of strengthening for the quad and hamstring. Some hamstring curls, leg press, squats and all that."
Previous Pick: Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
24. Arizona Cardinals - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin - It's time to stop messing around in the desert and get a legitimate bell-cow back behind a 35- year-old Carson Palmer coming off an ACL injury. Gordon has the vision, balance and strength to be a top-tier back for years.
"It's hard to say if we're a devalued position," Gordon said of running backs. "Teams are just going with the picks they actually need. Maybe they didn't feel the running backs the last couple of years were first-round talent, I don't know. We just have to change that this year and show people that we're capable of going in the first round."
Previous Pick: Gordon
25. Carolina Panthers - Cameron Erving - OT, Florida State - When your tackles are Byron Bell, who is already gone, and Mike Remmers, it's time for an upgrade and Erving is the best one left at this point, a versatile player who started at both center and left tackle for the Seminoles after moving over from the defensive side. A raw prospect, Erving has the feet to turn into one of the best pass blockers in football with sound and patient coaching.
"It's definitely a good thing," Erving said of his versatility. "It's a big positive. I've always taken pride in what I do, so to be able to play center and tackle -- knowing that they can stick me in and play guard as well is definitely a plus."
Previous Pick: Erving
26. Baltimore Ravens - Landon Collins, SS, Alabama - Matt Elam took a step back last season and there isn't much next to him, so figure on Collins, the only safety with a first-round grade in this draft, to make Charm City his new home. Collins is too good to pass up at this point despite having some coverage deficiencies.
Previous Pick: Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
27. Dallas Cowboys - Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson - Despite a great season, the Cowboys don't have a lot of talent on the defensive side, and reclamation project Rolando McClain is a potential free agent and seemingly always on the verge of imploding off the field. Beasley isn't the most natural run defender, but he's an athletic marvel with the best first step of any linebacker in the college ranks.
"Coming from Clemson with a great coach like (Marion Ivy) really instilled in us great technique and discipline," Beasley said. "We just have to use what we learned in the film room and in the meeting room and apply it out there on the field."
Previous Pick: Beasley
28. Denver Broncos - Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota - The Broncos' top three tight ends are all scheduled to be free agents and it looks as if Denver is going to let Julius Thomas walk. Williams would be a nice replacement and resembles a younger version of Jason Witten, a true Y-back with the large catching radius and the ability to seal as an in-line blocker.
"He's a complete tight end in my opinion," Williams said of Witten. "He blocks. He runs routes. He makes plays for his team. That's what I want to be. I want to go to the NFL and be a complete tight end and make plays with my hands, but also in the run game by making complete blocks."
Previous Pick: Williams
29. Indianapolis Colts - Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon - The Colts could use help at running back, obviously, but with Gurley and Gordon gone, fortifying the front seven should be an option, especially with Armstead available, a raw but versatile player who could fit in as both a 5-technique or inside rusher in the nickel.
Previous Pick: Gurley
30. Green Bay Packers - Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma - The Packers haven't been able to stop the run consistently for years now and both B.J. Raji, who will be attempting to return from a torn biceps, and Letroy Guion, who has some serious legal issues to deal with, are free agents. Phillips is a big body with surprising athleticism who should be able to be at least a rotational player from Day 1.
Previous Pick: Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
31. Seattle Seahawks - P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State - The Seahawks understand Byron Maxwell is going to get overpaid in free agency, so that could open the door for Williams, the kind of long, physical cornerback Seattle loves.
Previous Pick: Brown
32. New England Patriots - Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma - The Patriots can obviously afford to take chances and the enigmatic Green-Beckham could provide the kind of outside threat Tom Brady hasn't had since Randy Moss.
"I know what's at stake," Green-Beckham said. "I know what type of person I am. I understand what the NFL is looking for (from) me as a person. I just want them to know I'm going to go out there and give it my all and showing everybody what I'm capable of doing and focusing on being the best player I can be."
Previous Pick: Collins
Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (Ohio)
Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State