It's mock draft time, and at Stampede Blue we have several writers who have released their mock drafts. I take my first shot at it today, and it will be fun to see just how wrong I am when the first round actually rolls around on April 30. Anyway, without further ado, here's my (sure to be wrong) first round mock draft:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
This one is probably the easiest of them all in this year's mock draft. Though there might be some decision to make between Winston and Marcus Mariota, it seems as if Tampa Bay is leaning heavily toward Winston, and it's hard to blame them. The Bucs need a franchise quarterback, and Winston is as good of a bet as any quarterback in this draft to become that.
2. Tennessee Titans: Leonard Williams, DT, USC
The Titans really might have been the worst team in the NFL last year, but they hold the second pick. It works out in the end, however, as they nab the best player in the draft class in USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams. There's a chance that they could target Mariota here, but it seems more likely that they'll roll with Zach Mettenberger at quarterback (for better or for worse) and take Williams.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida
The Jaguars are that rare team picking early in the draft but not entertaining any discussion about drafting a quarterback, as they got their man last year in Blake Bortles. The Jaguars do need a lot of help elsewhere, however, and they land a rising pass rusher in Dante Fowler Jr.
4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Derek Carr had a nice rookie season, but the Raiders need to get him someone to throw to. Amari Cooper - who I still think is the best receiving prospect in the draft - would be a good fit for Oakland and seems to be the kind of player that they would like. Cooper would join the dynamic offense led by Derek Carr and Trent Richardson, but perhaps slowly but surely the Raiders could continue to improve their football team.
5. Washington Redskins: Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
Don't rule out Marcus Mariota here, as new general manager Scot McCloughan doesn't have any allegiance to Robert Griffin III, but owner Daniel Snyder does. Randy Gregory very well could fall in the draft after a positive drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine for marijuana, but reports have said that teams knew he would have such issues, and talent-wise he's a very good prospect - one that could really help Washington out.
6. New York Jets: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The Jets have a new defensive-minded head coach in Todd Bowles, a shiny new secondary led by Darrelle Revis, and a good new wide receiver in Brandon Marshall. If they get a quarterback, that could go a long way toward helping the Jets take significant steps forward in 2015. I'm not convinced that Geno Smith is the answer, and the Jets shouldn't be either (emphasis on shouldn't). Drafting Marcus Mariota would be a great selection for the Jets here.
7. Chicago Bears: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
The Bears are transitioning to a 3-4 defense this season under new head coach John Fox, and one of the most important positions on the field in that scheme is the nose tackle. Perhaps not coincidentally, it's also hard to find a great nose tackle at the NFL level (just ask the Colts, who still haven't found one through three years of the Chuck Pagano era). As such, the Bears shouldn't pass up on Danny Shelton here.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Under new head coach Dan Quinn, I'd expect the Falcons to have a defensive emphasis in this draft, as they do have good pieces on the offensive side of the ball. Arguably the biggest need the Falcons have this offseason is a pass rusher, and Vic Beasley would be a very good option here in the first round.
9. New York Giants: Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa
The Giants' offensive line right now has a lot of question marks, and they need to surround Eli Manning with protection moving forward. The best offensive line in the draft, Iowa's Brandon Scherff, should still be available here and should be a target for New York to improve their line for Manning.
10. St. Louis Rams: La'El Collins, OT, LSU
Arguably the biggest need for the Rams this offseason is at their right tackle position. So while this might be a bit high for La'El Collins to go in the draft, the Rams could consider him to help shore up one of their biggest holes. They traded for quarterback Nick Foles this offseason and one of the best things they could give him to try to help him succeed would be good protection up front.
11. Minnesota Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The Vikings were a pleasant surprise in 2014, as without Adrian Peterson and with a rookie head coach (Mike Zimmer) and a rookie quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater) the team still finished 7-9, but they've still got some holes that need to be addressed. One of those is the cornerback position, and by drafting Trae Waynes here the team would significantly improve their secondary.
12. Cleveland Browns: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The Browns current wide receiver position is stacked with names such as Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, Taylor Gabriel, Andrew Hawkins, and Travis Benjamin, among others. While the signing of Bowe could help, they clearly need to further address the wide receiver position for quarterback Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel (or whoever else it is starting in 2015). Some consider Kevin White to be the best receiver in the draft, and without a doubt he would be a very good selection for Cleveland here.
13. New Orleans Saints: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
The Saints should have one focus this offseason, and that's defense. They really need help on that side of the football and seem to be positioning themselves to heavily address that area. They have two first round picks this year, and there seems to be no better option with their first one in the draft than by taking Missouri defensive end Shane Ray to help their pass rush.
14. Miami Dolphins: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The Dolphins are actually quietly having a very good offseason after an impressive 2014 season to build on, and it's clear that the next step for them is to get to the playoffs. Ryan Tannehill has shown himself to be a good quarterback for Miami, and they should continue to surround him with receiving weapons. They have Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry and adding Louisville's DeVante Parker to the mix would help once again to take that next step toward the playoffs.
15. San Francisco 49ers: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
The 49ers have had one of the worst offseasons in recent memory, and one of the most notable of the moves that were made were the retirements of inside linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. That leaves yet another hole for the 49ers to address, and at pick number 15 they could go a number of different options, but I have them taking inside linebacker Eric Kendricks to fill that hole left by the retirements of Willis and Borland.
16. Houston Texans: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The Texans lost the greatest player in franchise history in Andre Johnson this offseason, and while they have DeAndre Hopkins as their number one wide receiver, they could use another player at that position for quarterback Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, or whoever ends up starting, and Jaelen Strong could be an intriguing option.
17. San Diego Chargers: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The Chargers had one of the top quarterbacks in football last year in Phillip Rivers, but they need to surround him with more weapons, particularly at the running back position. They have Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown, but they could really stand to upgrade and they could do that by taking the best running back in this draft in Todd Gurley.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Cameron Erving, C, Florida State
The Chiefs lost starting center Rodney Hudson in free agency to the Raiders, and there's really only one center in this year's draft who is projected to go in the first round: Florida State's Cameron Erving. He is a good offensive lineman and would really address a need for Kansas City. This would be a good move for the Chiefs.
19. Cleveland Browns (from Buffallo Bills): Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas
With their first of two picks in the first round I had the Browns taking a wide receiver, so with their second pick I have them addressing the defensive side of the football. Cleveland could really stand to upgrade their defensive line and Malcolm Brown would provide a very good defensive tackle option for them moving forward.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
The Eagles' biggest weakness in 2014 was their secondary, and in particular their safety position. In this year's draft class, there's really only one player even worth considering in the first round, and that's Alabama's Landon Collins. He could be a potential target for a number of teams in the first round, but the Eagles snatch him at number 20 overall.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
This pick for the Bengals isn't so much for 2015 as it is for the future. The Bengals have a pretty good offensive line right now, but before long they could undergo quite a change with several of their linemen due to hit free agency in a year. With Andrus Peat sliding to their pick, it wouldn't be a surprise for Cincy to grab him and find a role for him this year while looking toward the future.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
I thought that the Steelers really needed to add a cornerback with their top pick last year, but instead they took linebacker Ryan Shazier, and while that was a good pick, they once again need cornerback help badly. As such, with Jalen Collins available here the Steelers need to seriously consider him, and in the end I have them adding the corner.
23. Detroit Lions: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
The Lions have uncertainty along their offensive line, and they will likely have a strong interest in adding help up front in the draft. The Lions want versatile linemen, and T.J. Clemmings could probably play many different spots along the line - whether it be tackle, where he played in college, or a move to guard, Clemmings would help out the Lions' line greatly.
24. Arizona Cardinals: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
The Cardinals could use someone to step in and replace Darnell Dockett, and Eddie Goldman has quietly been steadily rising in draft circles recently, making this a great value pick for Arizona by getting a player who can really help them defensively and can help anchor their defensive line.
25. Carolina Panthers: D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
Let's just be honest: if the Panthers expect Michael Oher or Jonathan Martin to be their answer at the tackle position, things probably won't work out too well for them. In 2014 their offensive line was a mess, and they absolutely must give Cam Newton more protection. Taking an offensive lineman should be a top priority, and D.J. Humphries is the best available at this pick.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
I think that this might be a slight reach to grab Dorial Green-Beckham in the first round, but there are plenty who think that the receiver should be valued in this area, and without a doubt he would help out the Ravnes by giving Joe Flacco another weapon and helping to replace Torrey Smith, who left in free agency.
27. Dallas Cowboys: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
The Cowboys lost the league's reigning rushing champion, as DeMarco Murray signed with the division rival Eagles, and while the Cowboys did sign Darren McFadden and still have Joseph Randle on the roster, they could really use a number one running back to add to a very good offense. Melvin Gordon would be a great pick for the Cowboys here.
28. Denver Broncos: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
The Broncos are going through some offensive line shuffling this offseason, and with quarterback Peyton Manning returning for another season, Denver needs to make it a priority to protect him. If Ereck Flowers really does fall to them, they should grab him and find a spot for him along their line, as Flowers would be a great addition as Denver looks to make one more run at the Super Bowl with Manning under center.
29. Indianapolis Colts: Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
Here's the pick you've all been waiting for, as the Indianapolis Colts finally roll around at number 29. I have said for a long while now that this pick needs to be focused on the defense, and particularly considering some of the names still available, there's really no need or reason for the Colts to address the offensive side of the football here. While safety is the team's biggest need, Landon Collins is gone by now and it's ill-advised to greatly reach for another safety here when the Colts could get a safety in the second or third rounds.
The team's second-biggest need currently is their defensive line, and while they seem content with the current players they do have, I'd have to think that a player like Armstead would appeal to them. He's still a pretty raw player but he has incredible talent and potential that would make coaches really like the kid and could cause the Colts to take him. Given the current state of the defensive line the Colts could have Armstead play a notable role right away, but this pick would also be with the future in mind and give the Colts a good defensive line prospect with a lot of talent to work with moving forward.
30. Green Bay Packers: Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
The Packers' biggest remaining need this offseason is at inside linebacker, and while I think Benardrick McKinney is the second-best inside linebacker in this class, he would be a great pick at number 30 if the Packers could get him. McKinney would provide the solid player in the middle of Green Bay's defense that they are looking for.
31. New Orleans Saints (from Seattle Seahawks): Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
As mentioned earlier, the Saints will likely have a very strong defensive emphasis in this draft, and after grabbing a pass rusher earlier in the first round, the Saints use their second pick in the round to add secondary help. Marcus Peters was kicked out of school but possesses great talent and would be a nice add for the Saints here to help improve their defense.
32. New England Patriots: Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
Rounding out the first round, the Patriots grab a defensive tackle to help fill the gap left by the departure of Vince Wilfork. Jordan Phillips is a good player who is particularly stout against the run - similar to Wilfork - and has great physical skills. As the Patriots look to defend their Super Bowl championship, adding Phillips to the mix defensively would be a good move for New England.