This is the first round of my first mock draft of the year. Things change so much during the draft preparation that preparing the first mock draft is like being a meteorologist. We can give an educated estimate but the winds can blow in any direction and make us look stupid. Without further ado here we go.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Mariota QB, Oregon
Nov 22, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) throws the ball before the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Quick Analysis: The Buccaneers have a lot of weapons and its time for them to get their quarterback. They will be tempted to take Jameis Winston but they know that Mariota is the wiser long term investment.
2. Tennessee Titans: Amari Cooper WR, Alabama
Quick Analysis: The Titans are not going to take a quarterback just to take a quarterback. Cooper may be the most talented player on the board. With Mariota going to Tampa, the Titans simply take the best play maker.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams DE, USC
Quick Analysis: The Jaguars need to get bigger and tougher up front on defense. This selection will go a long way for that.
4. Oakland Raiders: Shane Ray OLB/DE, Missouri
Quick Analysis: The Raiders like to go after the fast and flashy prospects. Shane Ray is a great pass rusher to put on the other side of Khalil Mack. They will have tremendous pass rush.
5. Washington Redskins: Jameis Winston QB, FSU
Quick Analysis: While some teams will be afraid to draft Winston, the Redskins will feel like they have no choice. The Redskins have no reason to bet on RG3, expect them to take risk on a quarterback again.
6. New York Jets: Kevin White WR, WVU
Quick Analysis: The Jets see no quarterback to save them on the board. They will go with Kevin White, they need a dominating receiver that can help Geno Smith or whomever takes snaps for this team.
7. Chicago Bears: Randy Gregory DE, Nebraska
Quick Analysis: The Bears need to get some game changing talent on the defensive side of the football. Gregory is a great pass rusher and is strong against the run as either a defensive end or an outside linebacker.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley OLB, Clemson
Quick Analysis: Vic Beasley is a versatile linebacker and a tackling machine. There is no doubt that the Falcons biggest problems come on defense. Beasley will be feared for years to come.
Sep 13, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Eric Kendricks (6) in action against the Texas Longhorns at AT&T Stadium. The Bruins beat the Longhorns 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
9. NEW YORK GIANTS: Eric Kendricks LB, UCLA
Quick Analysis: I know the Giants never draft linebackers, but it is time to break that trend. Kendricks is a superior athlete who fits in either a 4-3 or a 3-4. He has a high football IQ and has great acceleration for a linebacker. He will be the leader of the defense for years to come.
10. St. Louis Rams: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu CB, Oregon
Quick Analysis: The Rams need a corner and this is the best one on the draft board. Ekpre-Olomu besides having a sports writer’s nightmare of a name was a phenomenal part of Oregon’s underrated defense. Olomu will have to prove that he can come back at full strength from a knee injury that sidelined him for the College Football Playoff.
11. Minnesota Vikings: Brandon Scherrf OT, Iowa
Quick Analysis: This fills a big need for the Vikings. Scherrf is a top 10 talent who happened to fall out of the top 10 in this mock draft due to team needs. This is a powerful run blocker, whose long arms and great footwork make him a good pass blocker as well.
12. Cleveland Browns: DeVante Parker WR, Louisville
Quick Analysis: The Browns need another go to guy. The future of Josh Gordon is up in the air but the Browns may be tired of his troubled act. They will love Parker, who has a similar skill set with none of the Gordon drama.
13. New Orleans Saints: Shaq Thompson OLB, Washington
Quick Analysis: The Saints need defense more than anything. Shaq Thompson is a versatile pass rusher, who plays the run well from the outside linebacker position. He has a high motor and is a textbook tackler who put up ideal production with the Washington Huskies.
14. Miami Dolphins: Audrus Pete OT, Stanford
Quick Analysis: The Dolphins will keep investing draft picks in the offensive line, following the blueprint of the resurgent Dallas Cowboys. Pete has every physical tool to be a great left tackle.
15. San Francisco 49ers: Eddie Goldman DT, FSU
Quick Analysis: The 49ers need to get buffer upfront on defense. They have one of the best linebacker groups in football and now it is time to pay attention to the defensive line. Goldman has a great first step off the ball and is a gap filling machine.
16. Houston Texans: Landon Collins SS, Alabama
Oct 18, 2014; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) tries to avoid the sack from Florida State Seminoles defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (90) during the first quarter at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Quick Analysis: The Texans will love this hard hitting enforcer at the strong safety position. Collins has rare coverage ability for a strong safety and is an impressive athlete.
17. San Diego Chargers: La’el Collins OT, LSU
Quick Analysis: Collins is a tough run blocker with great athletic ability. I’d like to see him work on pass blocking footwork, but he is just what the Chargers ordered.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Trae Waynes CB, Michigan State
Quick Analysis: The Chiefs love man to man coverage, something that Waynes specializes in. Waynes is a very athletic corner that just looks like a player fit to be a Chief.
19. Cleveland Browns: Brett Hundley QB, UCLA
Quick Analysis: What a difference a year does not make. The Browns quarterback situation was an absolute mess last season. The Browns must be nervous that they made a poor decision with Johnny Manziel. It is conceivable they could draft Hundley and try to trade one of their other two quarterbacks, either Manziel or Brian Hoyer.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Alvin Dupree DE, Kentucky
Quick Analysis: The Eagles can’t resist taking Dupree because he is quite frankly a steal in this point of the first round. The aggressive Eagles always need pass rushing talent.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Bennett DE, Ohio State
Quick Analysis: The Bengals love versatile players in their front 7. Bennett has long arms and a huge frame that allow him to get inside of offensive linemen and bully them around. He has a great explosiveness off the ball.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Peters CB, Washington
Quick Analysis: The Steelers desperately need help in the secondary. Peters fits what the Steelers defense has always done. He can play zone or man effectively. Character issues will not scare Mike Tomlin; Peters was dismissed from the Huskies apparently for his attitude.
23. Detroit Lions: Benardrick McKinney OLB, Mississippi State
Quick Analysis: McKinney is a fantastic talent. He is a good pass rusher but his game is complete. He plays his game with passion and with a high motor, making him fun to watch. He fits perfectly in Detroit.
24. Arizona Cardinals: Devin Funchess WR, Michigan
Quick Analysis: The Cardinals will value his huge frame and his ability to make the how-in-the-world-is-that-even-fair catches. With tight end size and receiver speed, Funchess will be hard to cover.
25. Carolina Panthers: Ereck Flowers OT, Miami
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Quick Analysis: Flowers will bring toughness to the Panthers offensive line. This is a good investment in the effort of protecting Cam Newton.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Jaelen Strong WR, Arizona State
Quick Analysis: The Ravens know that Steve Smith is a short term solution at wide receiver. Strong would fill his role perfectly, whenever he retires.
*The following draft pick order is subject to what happens in the remainder of the NFL Playoffs so I just did my best guess. Yes, I have the Seattle Seahawks repeating.
27. Indianapolis Colts: Dante Fowler Jr. LB, Florida
Quick Analysis: Fowler is a steal in the back end of the first round. With the longevity of Robert Mathis running out, Fowler could be a great addition to this team.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Malcolm Brown DT, Texas
Quick Analysis: Cowboys scouts would not have to travel far to have to evaluate this Longhorn defensive tackle. He is the Cowboys kind of lineman, a big old space eater.
29. Green Bay Packers: Cameron Erving OT,FSU
Quick Analysis: Erving would be a welcomed addition to the Packers offensive line, especially because he can play multiple positions.
30. Denver Broncos: Sammie Coates WR, Auburn
Oct 4, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers receiver Sammie Coates (18) gets past LSU Tigers linebacker Kendell Beckwith (52) during the first half at Jordan Hare Stadium. Auburn beat LSU 41-7. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
Quick Analysis: Can Peyton and company ever have enough weapons? Coates will be a great deep threat and an added element to the Broncos impressive offense.
31. New England Patriots: Ben Koyack TE, Notre Dame
Quick Analysis: The Patriots are inclined to find a tight end to pair with Gronkowski. This would be a monster combination.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Melvin Gordon RB, Wisconsin
Quick Analysis: Running backs don’t typically start going until the second round. That being said this is a smart pick for a team that may not retain Marshawn Lynch. Even if the Seahawks bring back Lynch it might behoove them to find another “Beast Mode” before their current version is done.