Published April 28, 2015
Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It's ironic that everyone's final mock draft begins to trickle out just as the deception heats up in NFL front offices around the country.
About the only thing we really know about Thursday night is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will bat at the top of the order and keep Jameis Winston from lugging all of that baggage out of the Sunshine State.
And even that thesis has been challenged by the Marcus Mariota supporters who insist that the Bucs brought in offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian because they have experience with the spread offense and could help Tampa Bay take advantage of Mariota's gifts.
Over-thinking, however, can lead to issues that never really existed in the first place so if you're scoring at home, take the gimme (Winston to Tampa) and then start in on the calculus (trying to figure out where Mariota ends up).
For me, it's time to lock down my early impressions as we are T minus two days and counting.
So without further ado, here's The Sports Network's latest and final mock draft: the "mock-ing stops here" edition.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State - If you are still hedging on Winston to the Bucs, remember that Lovie Smith finished 2-14 in his first season and there are no more five-year plans in the NFL. Forget about the clock ticking, another poor season could spell Smith's demise in Central Florida and he needs the plug-and-play option, not the triangle prospect who could develop down the road.
Previous Pick: Winston
2. Cleveland Browns (trade with Tennessee) - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - Making a mistake is an error in judgment, adhering to it is a character flaw. Ray Farmer must understand Johnny Manziel isn't the answer in Cleveland and the Browns have to move on even if it means trading three first-round picks (Nos. 12 and 19) and another next year to jump up and snare Mariota, the anti- Manziel. If the Ducks Heisman Trophy winner ultimately fails in Cleveland, it certainly won't be due to immaturity, addiction or a shoddy work ethic.
Previous Pick: Leonard Williams, DT, Southern California (to Tennessee)
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama - Jags GM Dave Caldwell shocked the world last year when he took Blake Bortles at No. 3 overall and whispers say he's planning on doing it again by snaring Cooper instead of Florida edge rusher Dante Fowler, the perceived pick.
On the surface taking another receiver one year after selecting both Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second round doesn't make a lot of sense but the ultimate goal here is making sure Bortles succeeds. Surrounding a QB with skill-position talent like Cooper, Lee, Robinson and free-agent pickup Julius Thomas at tight end will make things that much easier.
Previous Pick: Dante Fowler, OLB/DE, Florida
4. Oakland Raiders - Leonard Williams, DT, Southern California - Wide receiver is the natural fit in Oakland and West Virginia's Kevin White will be there for the taking but when the best player in the draft slips to No. 4 because of circumstance you rush to the podium, hand in the card, and quietly say thank you to whatever deity you hold dear.
Williams is a versatile prospect who can play up and down the defensive line with some throwing up names like Reggie White and J.J. Watt as comparisons. That might be a bit much but Williams should be a Pro Bowl-level player early in his career.
Previous Pick: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
5. Washington Redskins - Dante Fowler, OLB/DE, Florida - The Redskins were never really in the Mariota hunt because owner Daniel Snyder would never have let coach Jay Gruden move on from Robert Griffin III, a stance amplified when the 'Skins picked up RG3's fifth-year option earlier this week. From a need standpoint, the O-line is a better fit inside the Beltway but Fowler is second to Williams on most big boards and you can never have enough pass rushers in this league.
Previous Pick: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
6. New York Jets - Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford - If you are a Jets fan be very afraid because persistent rumors say new GM Mike Maccagnan is enamored with Peat, a nice player who has been given a first-round grade by most but one who belongs nowhere near No. 6 overall.
Previous Pick: Mariota
7. Chicago Bears - Kevin White, WR, West Virginia - With Brandon Marshall now with the Jets, Chicago needs some help outside the numbers opposite Alshon Jeffery and White is the most physically gifted receiver in this draft. He's not as polished as Cooper but has the bigger upside.
Previous Pick: Cooper
8. Atlanta Falcons - Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson - Atlanta needs a pass rusher and Beasley is a freak off the edge thanks to his rare speed/strength ratio. If Beasley was 6-foot-5 instead of 6-2, he would top Fowler and be pushing Williams on most boards.
Previous Pick: Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky
9. New York Giants - Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa - The Giants are a talent- deficient bunch right now and could go in a number of different directions but bolstering the offensive line to help extend Eli Manning's stretch as a competent option at the QB position makes the most sense. Scherff is this year's Zack Martin, the best offensive lineman in this draft and a very safe pick who could project either inside at guard or outside at right tackle.
Previous Pick: Scherff
10. St. Louis Rams - Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami-Florida - The Rams need help opposite Greg Robinson at tackle and will reach a bit for Flowers, a raw prospect with great size and a high ceiling.
Previous Pick: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
11. Minnesota Vikings - Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky - Vikings GM Rick Spielman has admitted he would like to trade down and accumulate more picks. Most have Michigan State corner Trae Waynes going here but Mike Zimmer still has confidence in the 36-year-old Terence Newman so Minnesota may shift its focus to the fast-rising Dupree because Brian Robison is aging at left end and the depth behind him is virtually non-existent. Dupree, who models himself after the 49ers' Aldon Smith, is a natural rusher with long arms and solid closing speed off the edge.
Previous Pick: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
12. Tennessee Titans (trade with Cleveland) - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville - The best way to help Zach Mettenberger is to get him some help at the skill positions and Parker brings a big body to the table, along with soft hands, very good body control and the leaping ability to high-point the football.
13. New Orleans Saints - Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon - Sean Payton may be an offensive coach but he is on record saying the Saints have "to bring in some (defensive) guys that we feel like can help us play right away." At 6-7 Armstead is a boom-or-bust type with the kind of ranginess that makes NFL teams salivate.
Previous Pick: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
14. Miami Dolphins - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia - The signing of Greg Jennings could signal a change in direction for the Dolphins, who remain very pedestrian in the backfield with Lamar Miller and Damien Williams. Gurley is a transcendent prospect, maybe the best at the position since Adrian Peterson, and he could sneak into the top 10. The former Georgia star certainly won't slide past this spot after a medical recheck of the torn ACL he suffered in November of last year came back clean.
Previous Pick: Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
15. San Francisco 49ers - Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest - Most draftniks don't think so but a lot of NFL scouts believe Johnson is the best cornerback in this draft thanks to his light feet, and fluidity while turning his hips to run. The Niners lost both Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver in free agency so they have to replenish at the position.
Previous Pick: Mario Edwards, Jr., DT, Florida State
16. Houston Texans - Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida - Andre Johnson is now in Indianapolis so the Texans need an alternative opposite DeAndre Hopkins and Perriman is a player on the rise, a big receiver with the blazing speed and an NFL pedigree (his father Brett was the ex-Lions receiver)
Previous Pick: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
17. San Diego Chargers - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin - It's conceivable the Chargers go offensive line but running back is the greater need because the 5-6 Branden Oliver is currently penciled in to take the place of Ryan Mathews, who fled to Philadelphia in free agency. Gordon isn't quite the prospect a healthy Todd Gurley is but he has the vision, natural balance and strength to be a bell cow.
Previous Pick: Gurley
18. Kansas City Chiefs - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State - The Chiefs have one solid cover corner in Sean Smith but he is scheduled to be a free agent in 2016 so snaring Waynes, an undersized but very physical corner could be a viable option.
Previous Pick: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
19. Tennessee Titans (from Cleveland through Buffalo) - Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut - The Titans haul for Mariota continues here as they bolster their secondary with the athletic Jones, a physical freak who has been moving north on most draft boards after strong workouts at the combine and his pro day.
Previous Pick: La'el Collins, OL, LSU (to Cleveland)
20. Philadelphia Eagles - Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon - If Chip Kelly is unable to get the apple of his eye (Mariota), his second goal could be to fortify an offensive line that has already moved on from veteran guard Todd Herremans and could be on the verge of doing the same with Evan Mathis. Meanwhile, Jason Peters is aging at left tackle.
Kelly's Oregon bias is real as evidenced by the fact he already has nine Ducks on his roster and was on the verge of acquiring Dion Jordan before the enigmatic Dolphins edge rusher was shut down for the season after providing a diluted sample on a drug test. Fisher is really light on his feet and could develop.
Previous Pick: Jones
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Danny Shelton, DT, Washington - Most observers have Shelton landing in the Buckeye State with Cleveland at No. 12 overall and he likely will if the Browns don't swing the deal for Mariota. If that does happen, however, Shelton will slip a bit but still end up in Ohio with the state's better brother. Domata Peko did not play well for the Bengals last season and Shelton has really impressive movement skills for a 340-pound player.
Previous Pick: Peat
22. Pittsburgh Steelers - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington - The Steelers secondary was a mess last season when they ranked 27th in pass defense and the offseason depth chart at cornerback looks very shaky. If it weren't for off- the-field issues Peters may have been regarded as the best corner prospect in this class and the top man-to-man coverage option in the process. Pittsburgh could be desperate enough to take the plunge here.
Previous Pick: Johnson
23. Detroit Lions - Malcom Brown, DT, Texas - The Lions lost Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in free agency while adding Haloti Ngata and Tyrunn Walker. That's not a great trade off and more help is needed. Enter Brown, the stoutest option in this draft after Shelton with the strength to dominate at the point of attack and the natural quickness to penetrate gaps.
Previous Pick: Brown
24. Arizona Cardinals - Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State - The Cardinals would love either Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon at running back but with those two options off the board, it's time to bolster the offensive line in an effort to keep veteran QB Carson Palmer upright. Arizona released veteran Lyle Sendlein last month and Erving is the one no-doubt-about-it, plug-and-play option at the pivot in this draft.
Previous Pick: Gordon
25. Carolina Panthers - Nelson Agholor, WR, Southern California - Offensive tackle is a serious need in Charlotte but giving Cam Newton more help at the skill positions is also paramount and teaming Agholor with last season's star rookie, Kelvin Benjamin, will make the face of the franchise smile.
Previous Pick: D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
26. Baltimore Ravens - Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State - The Ravens need help at WR after losing Torrey Smith in free agency and should luck out here because Strong will slip a bit after a medical recheck of the former ASU star revealed a broken bone in his wrist.
Previous Pick: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
27. Dallas Cowboys - Landon Collins, S, Alabama - If the 'Boys are going to make a move for Adrian Peterson it might happen here but bolstering the defensive backfield would also be prudent. Collins is falling in most NFL teams' eyes because of his lack of coverage skills but he still belongs in the first round.
Previous Pick: Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State
28. Denver Broncos - La'el Collins, OL, LSU - Chris Clark isn't the answer at right tackle and the Broncos want Louis Vasquez inside where he is more comfortable. That opens the door for the 6-4, 305-pound Collins, a power- based, road-grader who could develop into a bully on the strong side.
Previous Pick: Flowers
29. Indianapolis Colts - Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State - Randall is small for a safety who has an in-the-box, mind-set but his effort level, athleticism and pure toughness has caught the eye of NFL scouts. Indy can't be comfortable counting on just Mike Adams and Dwight Lowery on the back end so Randall is in play here.
Previous Pick: Randall
30. Green Bay Packers - Eric Rowe, CB, Utah - The Packers need reinforcements at cornerback and Rowe is the type of versatile player that Dom Capers could have on the field very early.
Previous Pick: Peters
31. New Orleans Saints (from Seattle) - Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska - The Saints acquired this pick, along with Max Unger, when they sent Jimmy Graham to the Pacific Northwest. As stated New Orleans needs plenty of help on defense and Gregory is the best pure pass rusher in this draft, a player who likely would have been a top-five pick if not for a significant marijuana problem. Payton's desperation leads me to believe New Orleans is willing to take the chance late in the first round.
Previous Pick: Armstead
32. New England Patriots - Jalen Collins, CB, LSU - Both Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner have new homes so the Pats need help at cornerback and could be willing to take the chance on Collins, a player who once projected higher before a report of multiple drug test failures at LSU broke.
Previous Pick: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
33. Tennessee Titans - D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
34. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Donovan Smith, OT, Penn State
35. Oakland Raiders - Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami-Florida
36. Jacksonville Jaguars - Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
37. New York Jets - Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
38. Washington Redskins - Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
39. Chicago Bears - Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State
40. New York Giants - Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
41. St. Louis Rams - Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
42. Atlanta Falcons - Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
43. Cleveland Browns - Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
44. New Orleans Saints - Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami-Florida
45. Minnesota Vikings - Paul Dawson, LB, TCU
46. San Francisco 49ers - Mario Edwards, Jr., DT, Florida State
47. Miami Dolphins - Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
48. San Diego Chargers - Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke
49. Kansas City Chiefs - Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
50. Buffalo Bills - Garrett Grayson, QB, Colorado State
51. Houston Texans - Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
52. Philadelphia Eagles - Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
53. Cincinnati Bengals - T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pitt
54. Detroit Lions - Shaq Thompson, LB/S, Washington
55. Arizona Cardinals - T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama
56. Pittsburgh Steelers - Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami-Ohio
57. Carolina Panthers - Daryl Williams, OT, Oklahoma
58. Baltimore Ravens - P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
59. Denver Broncos - Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
60. Dallas Cowboys - Duke Johnson, RB, Miami-Florida
61. Indianapolis Colts - A.J. Cann, OG, South Carolina
62. Green Bay Packers - Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
63. Seattle Seahawks - Tre Jackson, OG, Florida State
64. New England Patriots - Ali Marpet, OL, Hobart