1. Tampa Bay: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
It’s become pretty much crystal clear that Winston is going to Tampa, and he’s going to a place where he’ll be inheriting some talent. Despite being oft-injured, Doug Martin is still only two years removed from a near 1500 yard season, and can be a big factor if healthy. Add in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, and Winston has a good chance to be successful in Tampa Bay. His attitude and IQ are definitely a question mark, but there is no denying the talent he possesses.
2. Tennessee: Leonard Williams, DT/DE, USC
There may be some Titan fans calling for Mariota here, but the truth is Tennessee has much bigger needs. The Titans were eaten alive on the ground last year, giving up 137 yards a game last season. Leonard Williams is ranked by many as the best overall player in the draft, and is the type of player who can come in and make a big difference on a defense.
3. Jacksonville: Dante Fowler Jr, LB/DE, Florida
The Jaguars pass rush wasn’t terrible last year, but it was largely anchored by Chris Clemons who will turn 34 this year. Fowler is a superstar caliber player, who will provide a huge boost in defending the run, and rushing the passer. There’s several players of this ilk in the draft including Randy Gregory, Shane Ray and Vic Beasley but Fowler is the best of the bunch.
4. Oakland: Kevin White, WR, West Virgina
The Raiders actually may have found a diamond in the rough in quarterback Derek Carr, but he needs someone to throw at. Andre Holmes and James Jones are solid #3 receivers, but a young quarterback needs to have a star, and that’s what Kevin White is. Overshadowed by Amari Cooper throughout the season, White had an outstanding combine, and has propelled himself past Cooper and into the top 5.
5. Washington: Vic Beasley, DE/LB Clemson
The Redskins pass rush was abysmal last year, with Ryan Kerrigan being the only player to generate any pressure on the quarterback. Vic Beasley had an interesting year stock wise, as he was highly regarded going into the season, fell off after an average year at Clemson, but jumped right back up after a terrific combine. Washington will likely have the choice between Ray, Gregory and Beasley, and Beasley just edges out the other two talent wise.
6. New York Jets: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
The Jets have a few potential options in this spot, that being if they don’t trade the pick for someone drooling over Mariota. While Mariota is definitely an option for the Jets, they may want to see what Smith and Vick can do with a star like Brandon Marshall. The offensive line needs a definite upgrade though, otherwise it won’t matter how good their receivers are. The Jets gave up 47 sacks last year, and you can’t be successful if there’s no time to throw. There’s several good options in regards to offensive linemen, but the 2014 Outland Trophy winner is the top of the class.
7. Chicago: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
This pick has almost reached automatic status. Chicago is switching to a 3-4 defense, and Shelton is the perfect fit for that scheme. Shelton tips the scale at a whopping 340 pounds, but isn’t just an immobile big man, as he registered 9 sacks and 92 combined tackles last year. Plus with the Bears losing Stephen Paea, they’re in need of a run stuffing lineman, and that’s what Shelton is.
8. Atlanta: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
Atlanta was next to last in sacks last year, only registering a measly 22 all season long. Shane Ray is a pure pass rusher, and a pure pass rusher is what Atlanta desperately needs. Ray registered 14.5 sacks last season at Missouri, and is a perfect fit for the Falcons, who need a total makeover defensively.
9. New York Giants: Randy Gregory, DE/LB, Nebraska
The Giants didn’t have a bad pass rush last year by any means, but their leader in that regard is Jason Pierre-Paul and while he was franchise tagged for the upcoming season, there’s no guarantee he will return the following season. Randy Gregory was once thought to be a possible top 3 pick, but his stock has dropped off a tad because of injury concerns. Gregory is without a doubt a top notch pass rusher, and as long as he can stay healthy, he will be a dangerous man off the edge for years to come.
10. St. Louis: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The Rams may finally be in a position to be a dangerous team this season. They looked like they had a shot last year until quarterback Sam Bradford was lost prior to the season due to injury. Now Bradford is an Eagle, and the Rams have another quarterback who had an injury riddled season in Nick Foles. The Rams do have to address the tackle position however, as they released Jake Long and don’t seem to have any intentions of re-signing Joe Barksdale. St. Louis won’t get their hands on Brandon Scherff, but Andrus Peat isn’t far behind in talent level. If the Rams can solidify their offensive line, and keep their quarterback healthy they have a real shot at making a run at the postseason next year.
11. Minnesota: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The Vikings actually defended the pass well last year, but there is no doubt they need an upgrade at the cornerback position. Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn are solid #2 or #3 corners, but Minnesota really lacks that shutdown corner and that’s what Trae Waynes is. Waynes isn’t huge, but stands at a solid 6’1 and was far and away the best corner in college football last year. He only registered one interception, but that’s largely due to the fact that quarterbacks just stopped throwing at him.
12. Cleveland: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
There’ll be a large amount of Cleveland fans calling for Mariota here, but the truth is that it’s too early to give up on Manziel. On top of that, what would be the use in drafting a quarterback without providing him weapons? Josh Gordon is suspended, and while the Browns signed Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, they need a #1 threat. Amari Cooper can be that #1 threat, and all of a sudden the weak Browns receiving corps becomes a very dangerous group.
13. New Orleans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Yes, the Saints still have Drew Brees, and yes he is still a very, very good NFL quarterback. Drew Brees is also 36 years old, and with the Saints looking like they’re on the decline, getting themselves a replacement could prove very, very beneficial. Mariota will gain great experience learning under one of the NFL’s best, and will have time to adjust to the NFL instead of being instantly thrust into the spotlight.
14. Miami: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The Dolphins receiving corps is beyond terrible after the loss of Brian Hartline and the trade of Mike Wallace. Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry are both solid options, but after that the Dolphins have Rishard Matthews, LaRon Byrd and Matt Hazel who combined for 13 receptions and 143 yards last year. They did add tight end Jordan Cameron, but the Dolphins desperately need to add another target for Ryan Tannehill. DeVante Parker is a good combination of size, and while he’s showed some flaws in his route running, he is the type of receiver too good to pass up.
15. San Francisco: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
San Francisco has had about the worst offseason imaginable. Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree have moved on, Patrick Willis retired, Chris Borland retired and Justin Smith may retire. On top of all that, the 49ers vastly overpaid for Torrey Smith and only replaced Gore with the injury prone Reggie Bush. After a disappointing 2014-15 campaign, it doesn’t look like things will get any better for the 49ers. With losing Borland and Willis though, it’s very clear that linebacker is the position they need to address. Benardrick McKinney is the more traditional linebacker compared to the versatile Shaq Thompson, and also plays inside unlike Thompson who slots outside. McKinney would fit in well as Willis’s replacement, and can help the Niners get their rebuild under way.
16. Houston: La’el Collins, OT, LSU
Duane Brown is still a top tier tackle, but the same can’t be said for Derek Newton on the other side. He’s not terrible but an upgrade would be very helpful in helping to make Ryan Mallett’s life easier. Mallett is already going to be missing a good #2 receiver without Andre Johnson, and not having time to throw certainly won’t help him.
17. San Diego: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
This pick is almost a no-brainer. San Diego’s run game was abysmal last year, and Ryan Mathews moved on to Philadelphia. This pick will likely be either Melvin Gordon or Todd Gurley, but Gordon definitely gets the edge because Gurley’s health is a question mark. Gordon is a powerful, downhill back who also possesses real explosiveness if he can get to the outside.
18. Kansas City: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
This is a major risk for Kansas City, but provides a huge reward if it pans out. There is no questioning Green-Beckham’s talent, but there is absolutely a reason to question his character. Green-Beckham was cited twice for marijuana possession while at the University of Missouri before ultimately getting dismissed from the school. On the other hand, he’s 6’5 and 235 pounds and still runs a 4.49 40 yard dash. The Chiefs did pick up Jeremy Maclin, but a team that didn’t have any receiver touchdowns last year needs more than one guy, If he can keep his attitude in check, Green-Beckham has the potential to be a superstar.
19. Cleveland: Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky
The only real source of pass rush the Browns had last year came from linebacker Paul Kruger. Cleveland couldn’t get good pressure from their ends, and as a result it could leave their secondary vulnerable at times. In addition, they had the worst run defense in football giving 141 yards per game and they just lost their big tackle Ahytba Rubin to Seattle. Alvin Dupree is unlike the other defensive ends in the draft, as he weighs in at 267 pounds and fits the bill of a more natural defensive end rather than a linebacker/end. Not only can he provide pressure from the outside, he can also help stop the run which as previously mentioned was a glaring issue for the Browns last year.
20. Philadelphia: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The Eagles have had a wacky offseason. They traded LeSean McCoy, seemed to replace him with Frank Gore and then did replace him with DeMarco Murray. They also sent Nick Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford and let standout receiver Jeremy Maclin walk. The Eagles really lack a true receiving threat at the moment with Jordan Matthews and the disgruntled Riley Cooper as their top two options. Strong is a playmaker, who was especially good on back shoulder throws in college. He can immediately slot in as the Eagles to wideout, and give Sam Bradford a big target to throw at.
21. Cincinnati: Cameron Erving, C, Florida State
Cincinnati doesn’t necessarily have an individual position on the offensive line that needs an upgrade as much as they just need to upgrade it as a whole. Erving is a rare specimen of player that can slot in well at any position on the line. He’s listed as a center, but can also play guard and tackle and would likely see himself playing several different positions throughout the year.
22. Pittsburgh: Landon Collins, SS, Alabama
Troy Polamalu is still starting caliber, but his body is starting to wear down. He missed 4 games last year, and 11 games three years ago. Polamalu will be 34 this April, and you can see through his stats that he’s declining. His tackles have started to drop, and he didn’t record a single interception last season. Landon Collins at one point was projected to be a top 10 pick, but his stock has slipped slighty and now should be hanging around at 22. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to find 1st round worthy strong safeties, so the Steelers would be smart to grab the hard-hitting Collins.
23. Detroit: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
The Lions defensive line took a huge hit this offseason as both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley left via free agency. Detroit did start to fill the void by acquiring Haloti Ngata from Baltimore, but Detroit runs a 4-3 meaning they need another tackle. C.J. Mosley is a free agent, and Caraun Reid only played in 5 games last year. Brown can slot in immediately and gain valuable experience playing alongside the 5 time all pro Ngata.
24. Arizona: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Shaq Thompson is a tremendously versatile player. He can provide an immediate upgrade over Matt Shaughnessy at linebacker, and can also slot in at safety if necessary. They could even put Thompson in at running back, though it’s doubtful they’d risk the injury. The Cardinals were the best team in the NFL until Carson’s Palmer injury, but notable flaws in their defense appeared as the season wore on, and one of those flaws came at outside linebacker.
25. Carolina: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
There was a very, very notable void left at tackle when Jordan Gross retired, and as a result Cam Newton was sacked 38 times last year. The Panthers signed Michael Oher in the offseason, but realistically, Oher isn’t that good. On the right side, Mike Remmers isn’t terrible, but he’s nothing special either. If the Panthers want Cam Newton to fulfill his potential, they have to provide him better protection. He’s got decent enough weapons receiving, but he has to be able to settle himself in the pocket and set his feet. If Carolina can get Newton the necessary protection, Cam may finally live up to the hype.
26. Baltimore: Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
The Ravens lost Torrey Smith to free agency, and right now their top receiver is the aging Steve Smith Sr. After Smith, the Ravens have nothing special at receiver with guys like Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro and Marlon Brown. Breshad Perriman’s stock skyrocketed after a terrific senior seasonand the big receiver could now find himself being selected in the 1st round. On top of having good size, Perriman also has great speed, registering an unofficial 4.40 40 yard dash time. A hamstring injury prevented Perriman from performing at the combine, but he has a chance to improve his stock even more with UCF’s pro day coming up on March 25th.
27. Dallas: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The Cowboys took a hit this offseason, losing superstar DeMarco Murray to Philadelphia in free agency. Dallas signed Darren McFadden, but he is no way a long term option. Last year marked the first time McFadden played all 16 games, and he has only rushed for over 1000 yards in one season, that being in 2010. Dallas’s offensive line is stellar, but they still need a better back than McFadden. Todd Gurley has some concerns in regards to injuries, but is an explosive back who could quickly fill the void Murray left.
28. Denver: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
The Broncos don’t need to address a whole lot, unless they can upgrade their ability to win big games via the draft. One huge void though is at tight end, as Jacob Tamme signed with Atlanta and Julius Thomas moved on to Jacksonville. Maxx Williams is the total package of size, speed and great hands and can easily replace Thomas and provide Peyton Manning a big target.
29. Indianapolis: Cody Prewitt, FS, Ole Miss
The Colts are a pretty deep team all around, but they are extremely thin at free safety, with Dewey McDonald being listed as the starter now even though he didn’t play a whole lot last year in a starting role. Cody Prewitt is a slight reach here, but he’s a heavy hitter, who already got a taste of big time competition while playing in the SEC.
30. Green Bay: Jordan Phillips, NT, Northern Iowa
B.J. Raji still hasn’t been re-signed by the Packers, and even if he does return to Lambeau next season, there’s no telling that he’ll fully recover from his injury. Letroy Guion, who filled in last year has moved on and isn’t likely to return after his arrest. With Green Bay sticking to their 3-4 defensive scheme, they’ll need to find a new nose tackle. Jordan Phillips is one of only a handful of nose tackles in the draft, and he should be able to take over for Raji, or learn from the veteran if he does return.
31. New Orleans (from Seattle): Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (FL)
The Saints addressed the quarterback position at #13 with Mariota, and now they need to find someone to block for him when he takes over. Zach Strief will be 32 in September, and has already started showing signs of decline. Strief is also a great mentor though, and would greatly help a young tackle in Flowers like he did with Terron Armstead. New Orleans doesn’t seem to be aiming for the Super Bowl any time soon with rumors swirling they’re looking to deal a number of their players. Superstar tight end Jimmy Graham was already dealt to Seattle for this pick, and don’t be surprised if more of the Saints veterans begin moving on.
32. New England: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
The Patriots badly need new cornerbacks after both Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis left via free agency. They signed Bradley Fletcher and still have Logan Ryan and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler (excuse me while I cry my eyes out). None of those three are everyday starters though. Marcus Peters has a big red flag with his attitude and off the field behavior, but is an incredibly talented corner who has superstar potential if he can keep himself out of trouble. Bill Belichick has shown in the past he’s not afraid to take chances on guys with attitude problems, so the behavior issues shouldn’t be too much of a concern to New England.