1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
With three weeks remaining until the NFL’s version of "D Day," Winston remains at the top of virtually everyone’s draft board. Clearly talent trumps whatever off-the-field troubles he’s had, at least in the minds of the people who’ll be paying him to resurrect their fallen franchise. In this case it’s the Bucs, who’ll rally behind their native son, confident he can make the pirate ship a place to be feared again. One thing to keep in mind, though: the track record on Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks having NFL success is woeful.
2. Tennessee Titans -- Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Yes, he’s all over board on mock drafts, a couple suggesting he’ll even be sitting there for the Eagles at 20. But don’t hold your breath. Chip Kelly can’t be the only one who thinks the current Heisman winner is a franchise NFL quarterback. As the draft gets closer and speculation heats up, the likelihood is Mariota’s stock will continue to rise rather than fall. No one wants to miss out on a potential game-changer. In fact, don’t be totally shocked if the Titans keep him for themselves rather than trade him. And if they do deal, the Eagles might not be the only team interested.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Leonard Williams, DE, USC
Williams is the consensus non-QB plum of the draft. With 20 sacks and 26 ½ tackles for losses in his three-year Trojans’ career, he’s established himself as a versatile force on the D-line. For a team like Jacksonville which is just start to put the pieces in place, he’s a nice one for Gus Bradley’s defense.
4. Oakland Raiders -- Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida
There’s a lot of talk they’ll go for West Virginia receiver, Kevin White — and they may if Fowler’s gone. But the 6-foot-3, 250 pound Fowler is too good and too versatile to pass up, especially for a team that continually has Al Davis spinning in his grave. Not only did the combine boost his stock significantly, but who can afford to pass up a big time pass rusher? Then again, with the Raiders, who seem to delight in showing up the so-called experts, you never know.
5. Washington Redskins -- Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
Dan Snyder has never really cared what people think about him and the way he runs his team — just look at his team’s name for proof of that. So who better to take a chance on a kid many would avoid after testing positive for marijuana during the combine? Gregory’s 17 ½ sacks in two seasons at Nebraska are a testament to his pass rushing skills, plus he’s solid against the run. ut you have to wonder about the maturity level and sheer stupidity of a player who couldn’t keep off the grass knowing his future is at stake. Apparently, not if you’re Dan Snyder.
6. New York Jets – Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
New coach Todd Bowles already has fortified his defense with the return of free agents Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Now he’ll bolster his defensive line with Ray, as pass rushers continue to fly off the draft shelf. The 6-foot-3, 245 pound Ray, was SEC Defensive Player of the Year with 14 ½ sacks and 22 ½ tackles for losses. He might be a little small by NFL standards. But his speed and athleticism figure to make up for it.
7. Chicago Bears – Kevin White, WR, Virginia
In a draft that’s supposed to be loaded with quality receivers, the 6-foot-3 White is considered the best of the bunch. He’s a burner, who figures to catch loads of balls — even with erratic Jay Cutler throwing them — though probably not quite the 109 for 1,447 yards he did last season. And with the departure of Brandon Marshall to the Jets, there’s a spot for him to step right in. If he’s gone Alabama’s Amari Cooper could be their man
8. Atlanta Falcons -- Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
The last of the elite pass rushers stays close to home, where he’ll try to bring new coach Dan Quinn’s defense back to respectability. After setting a school sack record (33), then excelling at the combine Beasley has risen up the ranks. A two-time first team All-America, the 6-foot-3, 245 pound Beasley can play either inside or outside, depending on scheme. Not only that, but he’s considered a class act off the field, too.
9. New York Giants -- Brandon Scherff, T, Iowa
Eli Manning will be happy to get some protection from the Outland Trophy winner, who’s considered the top offensive lineman in the draft. After loading up on receivers, then signing running back Shane Vereen away from the Patriots, Tom Couglin needs someone to do the work in the trenches to keep them in one piece. Versatile enough to play guard or tackle, if he pans out and Manning has time to find his targets, the Giants offense should take a huge step forward.
10. St. Louis Rams -- Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Last season Nick Saban called on the explosive Cooper for 124 catches for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns. Even on a juggernaut like Alabama, that’s impressive. Now he becomes the prime target for Nick Foles in his new home, the kind of tall, rangy receiver with speed he didn’t have in Philadelphia. Cooper catches everything in sight and can make the spectacular play as well. Put it this way: New NFC West opponent Richard Sherman has a legit challenge.
11. Minnesota Vikings -- Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The top cornerback in the draft, Waynes offers a dynamic blend of size, speed (4.31 in the 40 yard dash) and athleticism. He’ll need all of that going against NFC North QBs Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler.
12. Cleveland Browns – DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
This pick is said to be on the block, especially if Mariota’s still on the board here. If not look for the Browns to go after the talented wideout who was Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target in 2013, then bounced back from a broken foot last season to finish up strong. The question for the Browns is who will be throwing to him? Sam Bradford (if you believe the rumors)?
13. New Orleans Saints -- Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
As long as Drew Brees is around offense hasn’t usually been the problem way down yonder. But the other side of the ball, where Rob Ryan calls the shots, is another story. Plugging the 6-foot-2, 339 pound Shelton into the lineup to stuff the run and create space for the edge rushers to get to the quarterback could help get the Saints marching in the right direction.
14. Miami Dolphins – La'el Collins, T, LSU
Most think he’s the best Collins available — and remember there are three of them considered first round worthy. The 6-foot-4, 305 pounds Collins should solidify the Dolphins offensive line, giving improving quarterback Ryan Tannehill a little security. He’s a good run blocker, too.
15. San Francisco 49ers -- Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
Even though he’s a Duck, following the Marcus Smith debacle it’s unlikely Chip Kelly would trade up for the 6-foot-7, 292 pounds Armstead, who’s considered a bit of a project. But the Niners have a history of developing players on the D-Line. With injury and Patrick Willis’ early retirement decimating the defense they may have the patience to wait for him.
16. Houston Texans - Andrus Peat, T, Stanford
He’s big (6-foot-7, 313 pounds) but agile for his size With the Texans transitioning to new quarterback, Ryan Mallett, they’ll need a good 0-Line to keep him upright. Arian Foster’s still around, so he’d appreciate it, too.
17. San Diego Chargers – Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The first running back taken is the workhorse from Georgia, who had the Bulldogs growling last year before tearing his ACL. But the rehab has gone smoothly and Gurley seems ready to pick up where he left off. Having lost Ryan Matthews to the Eagles the Chargers can use him.
18. Kansas City Chiefs -- Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
First they signed fellow Tiger Jeremy Maclin away from the Eagles. Now add the 6-foot-5 Green-Beckham, who won’t be confused with the Giants’ Odell Beckham, isn’t too shabby. Bottom line: You won’t see this Andy Reid Chiefs team go a whole season without getting a touchdown catch from its wide receivers.
19. Cleveland Browns -- Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Mike Pettine uses his second first-round pick on the runner-up for both the Outland and Bronko Nagurski trophies, who became the first defensive tackle to lead his team in both sacks (6 1/2 ) and tackles for losses (13) in a season since 1984. Another one whose stock rose after performing well at the combine.
20. Philadelphia Eagles -- Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Chip Kelly hasn’t sweat the departure of Nate Allen, perhaps knowing the rugged Collins will fall right in his lap. Sure, he was hot on the trail of Devin McCourty before the Patriots resigned him, but Collins would be a nice consolation prize. Of course, with Chip, it’s sheer guesswork, since anything — wide receiver, offensive line, even you know who — is possible.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Bud DuPree, OLB, Kentucky
Following the trend of players climbing the ladder coming off a strong combine, the Bengals go for the kid who compiled 23 ½ career sacks and made first team All-SEC this year. Hard to resist a pass rusher at any time, let alone when you’re a playoff team.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Peters has had issues off the field which have short-circuited his career, but he also has exceptional talent. Putting him in an environment like Pittsburgh, which has strong leadership and a sound foundation might reap benefits for both parties. With Troy Polamulu at the end of the line and the rest of the secondary in flux, Peters arrives at the perfect time.
23. Detroit Lions – D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida –
Winner of the Anthony Munoz as the top high school lineman, Humphries Gator career didn’t disappoint. The only problem was he missed a number of games due to injury. Some consider him the top pass blocking tackle in the draft, who could step into the lineup right away. Matthew Stafford won’t mind that.
24. Arizona Cardinals – Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
The Cardinals make a splash grabbing the Heisman runner-up, who briefly held an FBS rushing record 408 yards in a game and finished the season with 2,587 yards. Gordon can hurt you inside and out, with potential to break the long one. He comes to a team overdue for a real franchise back.
25. Carolina Panthers -T.J. Clemmings, T, Pittsburgh
Another project, Clemmings is still making the transition from defense. He’s also a former basketball player whose quickness and agility allows him to sometimes make multiple blocks on a play and lead the way on screens and sweeps. If they’re patient with him the Panthers should eventually be rewarded.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
The big knock on Collins is he has only 10 career starts, largely due to the quality of corners the Tigers had before him. But he’s dazzled them in those 10 starts, then had a strong combine that might even push him up higher than this. On the veteran Ravens he should have a little time to settle in.
27. Dallas Cowboys – Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Jerry Jones learned last year sometimes it’s smarter to pass on the high profile name (Johnny Manziel) for a guy who’ll truly improve your team. Now he does it again. Having lost Demarco Murray to the Eagles, there’s clamor in Big D to either find his replacement or another receiver to complement Dez Bryant. Instead the Cowboys go for this 6-foot-4, 336 pound run stuffer. After all, they need someone to tackle Murray.
28. Denver Broncos – Cameron Erving, C, Florida State
Another one who switched sides of the ball after red-shirting as a freshman, he alternated between center and tackle for the Seminoles. NFL teams seem to project Erving snapping the ball, though it’s unlikely he’ll get a much of a chance to hear Peyton Manning calling out to him “Omaha! Omaha’’ before he hangs ‘em up.
29. Indianapolis Colts -- Ereck Flowers, T, Miami
The Colts have loaded up offensively with Frank Gore and Andre Johnson, but still need to give Andrew Luck time to operate. Flowers may not do that yet, but has the reputation as a mauler in the run game. May take some time to develop, but has tremendous upside.
30. Green Bay Packers – Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
A little undersized at 6-foot-0, 188 pounds Johnson improved tremendously last season. He’s tough to beat, knocking away 15 passes, picking off three, while allowing just 24 receptions. But there are questions about his ability to come up and play the run.
31. New Orleans Saints – Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
Rated higher on some boards, the Saints get another piece to help rebuild their defense with the pick acquired from the Seahawks in the Jimmy Graham trade. He’s more of an edge rusher, making 14 ½ tackles for a loss last year and 8 ½ sacks in 2013. Teaming him with run stuffer Danny Shelton, the Saints’ earlier pick, should give the D an immediate boost.
32. New England Patriots – Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
Just what Tom Brady needs, another weapon. And we’re talking a game-breaker, too, with the ability to explode off the line and separate from defenders. The Buckeyes used him mainly as an occasional home run threat, resulting in only 931 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. Put him in Bill Belichick’s offense, where Brady can dial him up at any time, there’s no telling how much damage he could do.