1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14) – Jameis Winston (QB/Florida State)
For a while, I have been hesitant to mock Winston first overall due to his maturity issues as well as the fact that Marcus Mariota had a super season. My opinion between the two changed when they faced off last month. Winston is the superior quarterback to Mariota mainly due to his build, and arm strength – something you must have to be successful in today’s NFL. Winston will always come with the maturity concerns, which is why the next three months are so vitally important. Winston needs to show that he has grown up and that he is prepared for life in the NFL, otherwise teams may be afraid of selecting him.
2. Tennessee Titans (2-14) – Randy Gregory (DE/Nebraska)
The only quarterback Tennessee would consider at this spot is Winston. Mariota does not fit Ken Wisenhunt’s system and Zach Mettenberger showed promise during his rookie season before he was injured. That said, the Titans defense was essentially a group of traffic cones in 2014, aside from Jurrell Casey and impressive rookie Avery Williamson. Tennessee needs an elite edge rusher and Gregory more than fills that role.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13) – Leonard Williams (DT/USC)
Help at offensive tackle is needed after the beating Blake Bortles received, but they need help on the right side and you do not use a third overall draft pick on a right tackle. Williams is a tenacious interior pass rusher who can also stuff the run and is versatile enough to slide to the edge in a 3-4.
4. Oakland Raiders (3-13) – Amari Cooper (WR/Alabama)
Oakland needs a playmaker on offense while Derek Carr continues to develop. Shane Ray is also an option here, but Oakland can easily look past him after taking Khalil Mack last year. Cooper will be an interesting player to watch as the draft process unfolds. He entered the season as the undisputed top wide receiver, but had issues with drops during the season which could hurt his draft stock.
5. Washington Redskins (4-12) – Shane Ray (DE/Missouri)
I considered Mariota here, but Washington has too many quarterbacks at the moment and need to figure that mess out before adding another into the fold. Their pass rush, on the other hand, needs an upgrade. Talented, but oft-injured Brian Orakpo is a free agent and the team will likely move on from him and the salary he is expected to command. If that happens, a new pass rusher will be needed across from Ryan Kerrigan.
6. New York Jets (4-12) – Marcus Mariota (QB/Oregon)
When a team hires a new had coach and general manager like the Jets did, then a new quarterback is going to be brought in as well, unless your team has Peyton Manning. The Geno Smith Era is all but officially over and the New York media will feast on a new young quarterback for the Jets.
7. Chicago Bears (5-11) – Danny Shelton (DT/Washington)
The Bears need to fix their defense, but it still hasn’t been announced what type of system will be used. Danny Shelton could force the team to move into a 3-4. The massive nose tackle has already drawn comparisons to Dontari Poe and some even consider him the superior tackle to Williams.
8. Atlanta Falcons (5-11) – Dante Fowler Jr. (OLB/Florida)
Atlanta is in desperate need of an upgrade in their pass rush. Osi Umenyiora looks done and the Falcons failed to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks throughout the season.
9. New York Giants (6-10) – Brandon Scherff (OT/Iowa)
The Giants luck out and land the top tackle in the draft. With Justin Pugh likely moving inside and William Beatty turning 30 next month, the Giants can use Scherff on the right side for a season or two before kicking him over to the left.
10. St. Louis Rams (6-10) – Andrus Peat (OT/Stanford)
Jake Long can’t stay healthy enough to be relied upon. Greg Robinson played well once he was moved to tackle, but given the Rams inability to protect the quarterback over the past few seasons, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them double-dip at the position for added protection.
11. Minnesota Vikings (7-9) – DeVante Parker (WR/Louisville)
Minnesota needs weapons for Teddy Bridgewater, especially in the face of Adrian Peterson’s uncertain future. Greg Jennings is a likely cap casualty and Cordarrelle Patterson has an uncertain future in the organization after a fallout in midseason. Parker has drawn comparisons to AJ Green.
12. Cleveland Browns (7-9) – Alvin Dupree (DE/Kentucky)
Jabaal Sheard is a free agent and Barkevious Mingo has failed to meet expectations. Cleveland made strides at times this season, but must improve their pass rush if they want to build upon it.
13. New Orleans Saints (7-9) – Vic Beasley (OLB/Clemson)
Beasley is a tad bit undersized, but makes up for it with a great motor and sheer strength. New Orleans is another NFC South team who struggled all season to get to the quarterback and will need to improve in the offseason.
14. Miami Dolphins (8-8) – Shaq Thompson (OLB/Washington)
Though not a pass rusher, Thompson possesses a great blend of athleticism, strength and speed to become one of the game’s better strongside linebackers. Thompson has experience at safety and running back and shows great ball instincts. This is not Miami’s biggest position of need, but Thompson is the top available player and would make an immediate impact on this roster.
15. San Francisco 49ers (8-8) – Kevin White (WR/West Virginia)
San Francisco has a roster full of underacheiving wide receivers and needs an injection of youth. Michael Crabtree is also a free agent who has never lived up to the hype.
16. Houston Texans (9-7) – Trae Waynes (CB/Michigan State)
I feel that this is a bit of a reach, but Houston’s secondary struggled much throughout the season, which was masked by how incredible JJ Watt was.
17. San Diego Chargers (9-7) – PJ Williams (CB/Florida State)
Another player taken slightly early, but almost anyone San Diego takes will be a reach given their needs. The pass defense for the Charger was a liability in 2014 and will need to improve if they want to unseat Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
18. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) – Landon Collins (SS/Alabama)
I have mocked a wide receiver to the Chiefs for months now, but if Collins falls here the Chiefs almost have to take him, especially with Eric Berry potentially never playing again.
19. Cleveland Browns (7-9) – TJ Clemmings (OT/Pittsburgh)
A receiver is needed, especially now that Josh Gordon is suspended for the year, but Clemmings is the top player available and fills a need for the Browns at right tackle with Mitchell Schwartz moving inside.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) – Marcus Peters (CB/Washington)
Rumors have circulated that Chip Kelly wants to trade up in order to be able to draft Marcus Mariota, but I can’t see a way that reasonably happens. Washington gave up three first rounders and a second to St. Louis in order to move up four slots in 2012, how much would Philadelphia need to surrender to move up 18? Play at cornerback was a mess last season, so the team may look to use this pick to bolster their pass defense.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) – Arik Armstead (DE/Oregon)
The Bengals had one of the league’s worst units at rushing the quarterback as the defense as a whole struggled compared to recent seasons. The Bengals need an edge rusher if they want to bounce back.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) – Eli Harold (OLB/Virginia)
Pittsburgh brought James Harrison out of retirement because they were thin at linebacker this season. Jason Worlids is also a free agent, so the team may look to the draft for another young pass rusher.
23. Detroit Lions (11-5) – Eddie Goldman (DT/Florida State)
Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are both set to his the free agent market and there’s a good chance Detroit isn’t keeping both. Goldman will likely be the replacement for Fairley, with Suh receiving a franchise tag if necessary.
24. Arizona Cardinals (11-5) – Benardrick McKinney (ILB/Mississippi State)
Play at inside linebacker has been poor for the past few seasons in the desert. Melvin Gordon is an option here as well, or if a pass rusher falls to them, they could be taken here.
25. Carolina Panthers (7-8-1) – La’El Collins (OT/LSU)
Cam Newton needs protection. The Panthers entered last offseason with too many holes and not enough assets to fill them and got stuck limping through the season. Carolina needs to be dedicated to improving their offensive line and secondary this spring.
26. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) – Dorial Green-Beckham (WR/Missouri)
Though he was kicked off the team and transferred to Oklahoma, Green-Beckham is listed as a Tiger due to the fact that he never suited up for a game with the Sooners. Regardless, he has the talent to be on the top end of this draft, but character issues knock him down. I doubt Baltimore has problems taking a player based on his character issues given their track record.
27. Dallas Cowboys (12-4) – Melvin Gordon (RB/Wisconsin)
Dallas may lose DeMarco Murray since they clearly favor Dez Bryant over him. If he walks, drafting Gordon to handle the running game would be a no-brainer.
28. Denver Broncos (12-4) – Eric Kendricks (ILB/UCLA)
Inside linebacker was a clear weak point on Denver’s defense last season. Denver will look to fill the void with someone early in the draft.
29. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – Nate Orchard (DE/Utah)
Indianapolis failed to put any pressure on Tom Brady and were subsequently pummeled for it. Bjoern Werner was a healthy scratch in the AFC Championship Game due to poor play.
30. Green Bay Packers (12-4) – Devin Funchess (TE/Michigan)
Listed also at wide receiver, Funchess is a matchup nightmare waiting to happen. Inside linebacker is also a possibility, but with Kendricks and McKinney gone, Funchess may be too good to pass up.
31. Seattle Seahawks (12-4) – Malcom Brown (DT/Texas)
Seattle showed a lack of depth on the defensive line when Brandon Mebane went down. The team has the luxury to add depth with the top available player.
32. New England Patriots (12-4) – Sammie Coates (WR/Auburn)
Fun fact: only one starter on the Patriots offense was a first round draft pick (Nate Solder). New England needs to find more high-end quality at wide receiver because Brandon LaFell should not be one of their top guys.