In the final hours before the biggest moment in many of these players lives, speculation and chaos is commonplace. Before the big day, it’s only right to try and predict the madness.
This mock draft will not feature trades, but trade value of notable picks will be discussed. I base this off only what I think the team should do as I have no sources not available to everyone else. Let’s get things started!
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston – QB – Florida State: There’s very little doubt about the pick here. It goes without saying Tampa thinks they are a few pieces from contending in a very weak NFC South. Jamies is one of the better QB prospects to come out of college in recent memory, and the Buccs will be happy to put him in a situation where he can win immediately with reliable pass catchers in Vincent Jackson and star in the making Mike Evans. The Buccaneers have spent the past few months talking to his former coaches, his family, his friends, teammates, everyone he’s ever bought a hot pretzel from. Any talk that the Buccaneers might trade out of this pick is simply not rooted in reality. One of the few locks of this whole draft.
- Tennessee Titans – Marcus Mariota – QB – Oregon: If you don’t have a QB, you don’t have anything. The disappointing stint with Jake Locker has come to an end, leaving Nashville in a pit of a predicament. There’s no doubt the team has an affinity for second year QB Zach Mettenberger whom they drafted last year. However, there’s also no doubt that he isn’t a long term answer. The Titans could potentially take Leonard Williams here and try to build their defense to respectability, but trading back is not likely. The Titans have a longer road than many to reach relevance. Another year of Mettenberger with a player like Beasley would be nice, but he wouldn’t add what Williams would. What is probably the worst roster on paper in the NFL needs to commit to starting the rebuilding now. Tennessee has a chance to draft a very talented player in the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in Mariota to be the face of a franchise that hasn’t had someone to be excited about since 2009 in Chris Johnson. Mariota, with a limited receiving corps should be able to settle into a comfortable groove in his first couple starts by running a simple offense based on the short throw, similar to what Oakland did with Carr last year. While not a fit for what Whisenhunt likes in his field general, Mariota should be a starter day one and while he probably won’t contribute to the win total immediately, the Titans will be happy they pulled the trigger.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Dante Fowler – EDGE – Florida – It’s time for Gus Bradley to finally take that heat off the edge he hasn’t had since leaving Seattle. When looking at the Jaguars defense, there’s not much to get excited about in any one given area. The secondary is currently very weak, but taking a DB here or trading back would be very ill advised. DT Sen’Derrick Marks enjoyed a productive season before ending near the finish line in one of the more depressing injuries of 2014. Even though the Jags signed Oderick from the Dolphins this offseason, they still lack pressure off the edge. Jacksonville has players that can get pressure from the inside without help from the outside, but not vice versa. Dante Fowler is one of the best players in this class, and a perfect fit in Gus Bradley’s defense. Fowler played all around the line and off it at times for Florida, and will demand attention whenever he’s on the field. Fowler won over coaches at the Combine with his attractive personality and work ethic in addition to being some kind of mutant athletically. Look for the Jaguars to have that draft card filled out awfully quickly on draft day
- Oakland Raiders – Leonard Williams – DT – USC- Often regarded as far and away the best player in this draft, Oakland has a real shot at developing a top 5 front 7 in the NFL in a year or two, and it starts now. Last year, the Raiders took SUNY school hopeful (Go Lakers) and bona fide stud Khalil Mack. Mack enjoyed a devastating rookie campaign despite not racking up numbers in the sack collum. While disruption does equal production, what an opportunity it would be for the Raiders to just lay it on. Williams was far and away the best defender in college football, making a living in opponents backfield. He’s an elite 3 technique and can rush the passer on third downs as well as frustrate opponents to no end by disrupting running plays. So Oakland’s drafted what very well could be a top 3 player at his position in Mack, and now can add his running mate. Interior pressure is inherently more valuable in the NFL because it’s harder to find and it doesn’t allot a QB to climb the pocket to escape pressure. In a division with weak offensive lines, the Raiders are on their way to making great strides to returning to relevance again. This is a no brainer pick if he’s available.
- Washington – Brandon Scherff – OT/OG – Iowa: Washington is in a very strange place as far as QB play. Will we ever see the old Robert Griffin III again? We’ll certainly never know if he’s playing through bumps and bruises if he can even play at all. You might remember last year RGIII was flattened by the pass rush and not one offensive lineman stopped to peel their QB off the turf. This is concerning for several reasons. You want an offensive lineman who will go to war for your QB, and you also have a group of five guys who were just unable to do their job right. Trent Williams, one of the better LT’s in the league has been holding it down from his spot on the blindside, but he needs help. If Washington is serious about the development of RGIII, they need to invest some talent in that offensive line. Some people may mock a pass rusher here, but they have stated they feel good about their D line depth, still retaining Ryan Kerrigan, Jason Hatcher and Trent Murphy who was drafted last year. Scherff is a big, mean mammoth of a man who anchored Iowa for the past few years. A workout warrior, Scherff has incredible measurables and strength. He played tackle in college but he projects as an all pro guard in the pros. And if that doesn’t work, he can always switch to RT. Scherff is one of the safest picks in this years NFL draft, something Washington could use in space: Safety (In more ways than one)