1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: He’s essentially been pegged to be the top pick since he declared. And with all the vetting Lovie Smith and his staff have done over the months since, there’s seemingly nothing to alarm or dissuade them from calling the former Seminole’s name first.
2. Tennessee Titans – Leonard Williams, DE, USC: Most everyone who’s filed a mock draft slots either Williams or quarterback Marcus Mariota here. This is the most intriguing pick in the draft, because Mariota could be selected here – but no one knows by whom. As the Philip Rivers trade whispers grow, it could be the San Diego Chargers picking here. But we say head coach Ken Whisenhunt stays pat, coaches-up current quarterback Zach Mettenberger, and selects arguably the draft’s best player in Williams.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dante Fowler, Jr., LB, Florida: This may be the second-most obvious pick, outside of Winston. The Jags need an outside rusher for Gus Bradley’s scheme, and Fowler just may be the premiere rusher in the draft.
4. Oakland Raiders – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia: White and Amari Cooper have been the two names most associated with Oakland. White is the better athlete, while Cooper is more polished. Either will immediately help budding quarterback Derek Carr, so smart money says general manager Reggie McKenzie does it the “Raider way” and selects the guy who is bigger, stronger, and faster.
5. Washington Redskins – Vic Beasley, LB, Clemson: The former Tiger looks the part of a fearsome pass rusher. And he may be the most explosive of all the rushers, despite bulking up significantly since he played his final down at Clemson – from 225 pounds to 246 at the combine.
6. New York Jets –Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama:The Jets don’t really have a need for another receiver after trading for Brandon Marshall, but when arguably the most refined wideout in the draft is still sitting there, it’d be hard for new general manager Mike Maccagnanto pass on the former ‘Bama star. This move definitely gives struggling quarterback Geno Smith a real fighting chance at redemption.
7. Chicago Bears – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: Yes, theBears have needs on defense, but, like the Jets, when arguably the best player at his position falls into their laps, they have no choice but to select the former Oregon star. The prior teams picking above Chicago don’t have a desperate need at the position — although the Jets could throw a wrench in that. But with the Bears’ new coaching staff not being married to incumbent signal-caller Jay Cutler, new offensive coordinator Adam Gase will be pounding the table for management to steal Mariota. Gase worked with Peyton Manning in Denver, so he knows a thing or two about prolific passing offenses, and he’ll do his best to transform Mariota into a guy who’s as deadly in the pocket as he is running a spread attack.
8. Atlanta Falcons –Alvin “Bud” Dupree, LB, Kentucky:Missouri linebacker Shane Ray could’ve gone here, but with his turf toe issues — and now his boneheaded marijuana possession just days before the most important day of his life — have put his stock in serious jeopardy.Dupree is a versatile rusher and would be a good fit for new head coach Dan Quinn’s attacking defense, as the former Seattle defensive coordinator tries to re-enact that Seahawks defense.
9. New York Giants – Danny Shelton, DT, Washington: Yes, most pundits have Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff as the obvious pick here, but with someone as dynamic as Shelton still on the board, it’ll be difficult for general manager Jerry Reese to pass up Shelton. The Giants have needs along both lines, but with only Johnathan Hankins as the lone interior threat, the fierce Shelton would instantly upgrade the defensive tackle unit and also be a fan favorite due to hiss affable nature off the field.
10. St. Louis Rams – Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa: The Rams have a need for a game-changing wideout to help ease Nick Foles’s transition, but in a deep receiver class, they can still get that help in the second round. The Rams have more pressing needs on the offensive line, and Scherff is the best lineman in this class.
11. Minnesota Vikings – DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville: It’s splitting hairs between the top-three wideouts on most people’s draft boards, so whomever nabs Parker will not be disappointed. Teddy Bridgewater made steady progress last season, and with the addition of mercurial Mike Wallace, and the hopeful ascension of the immature Cordarrelle Patterson, Parker could be the deep threat that offensive coordinator Norv Turner needs to make his offense go.
12. Cleveland Browns – Nelson Agholor, WR, USC: The Browns seemed so doomed that it almost doesn’t matter who they select. But since they have to draft someone, they finally strike gold with this pick. Not many know about the former Trojan, but he’s widely considered the second-best route-runner in the draft, has sure hands, can beat you deep – and unlike the Browns’ first-round picks of last year, Agholor doesn’t have any off-field blemishes.
13. New Orleans Saints – La’el Collins, G, LSU: He’d be a great replacement forthe since-banished Ben Grubbs, who was traded to the Chiefs in March. Collins has a mean streak in him and has the potential to play right tackle or either guard position in the NFL. He’s a good fit for what the Saints are trying to do with the new power-running game being installed.
14. Miami Dolphins – Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State: There’s a need at corner for a Dolphins defense that’s loaded in the pass-rushing department. The former Spartan is arguably the top-rated cornerback due to his 4.3 time in the 40-yard dash, his excellent deep-ball skills, and man-coverage ability to lock down receivers with his aggressive bump-and-run technique.
15. San Francisco 49ers – Randy Gregory, LB, Nebraska: He only fell this far due to off-field concerns about his failed marijuana test at the combine. But athletically, Gregory is as talented as any pass rusher in the top-10. He’ll give an immediate boost to a linebacker unit that’s in turmoil thanks to early retirements and free-agent defections.
16. Houston Texans – Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF: He’s the most polarizing of all the wideouts in the draft, due to his intoxicating speed (4.24 at his pro day) and his penchant to drop some passes. Head coach Bill O’Brien will coach him up, and find it too enticing to pass up a player with such amazing ability and NFL bloodlines, as his dad Brett had a successful career at wideout as well.
17. San Diego Chargers – Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: No way he slips past the running back-needy Chargers – especially now that his ACL is repaired and he’s on schedule to be ready for Week 1. When healthy, he’s the best back in the draft and would be a boon to an offense that lost Ryan Mathews.
18. Kansas City Chiefs – Malcom Brown, DT, Texas: Pair him with the immovable yet nimble Dontari Poe, and the Chiefs will field a terrifying defense up the middle to go along with their awesome linebacker unit.
19. Cleveland Browns – Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon: He can dominate against the run, but also has enough ability to harass the passer. Think Chris Canty as a comparison, as the 6-foot-7 Armstead can be a nice addition to a Browns defense that had some free-agent defections this offseason. And at 292 pounds, he can add bulk without diminishing his athletic ability.
20. Philadelphia Eagles – Landon Collins, SS, Alabama: He’s a need and the best safety in the draft, so it’s a win-win for the Eagles. Yes, fans would love to see Chip Kelly move up to grab Mariota, but that price tag is too rich, even for the risk-taking Kelly. Philadelphia stays pat and selects a guy who is also versatile enough to play linebacker in the nickel defense.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida: They get criticized for their playoff failings, but they should also be lauded for their prudent draft ways – good enough to make the postseason four years straight. The Bengals customarily stand pat and trust their board, so it makes sense for them to select the best player remaining, and Humphries is athletic enough to be a fixture for years on a Bengals offensive line that may see some changes following next season.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Marcus Peters, CB, Washington: The retirements of cornerback Ike Taylor and safety Troy Polamalu leaves the back-end bare. Peters is arguably the most talented cornerback in the draft – and he’ll let you know all about it. He’s just too good a player to pass for a defense that needs the infusion.
23. Detroit Lions – Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State: He won’t fully replace the production void left by the defections of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. But teamed with new acquisition Haloti Ngata, Goldman could be a very good fill-in, as he’s a dominating run defender.
24. Arizona Cardinals – Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin: As electrifying as Andre Ellington can be, he is not built to be a team’s linchpin ball carrier. Gordon is built that way and would make Ellington an excellent change-of-pace back, giving head coach Bruce Arians a great 1-2 punch at the position.
25. Carolina Panthers – Ereck Flowers, OT, Florida: He’s big (6-foot-6, 330 pounds) and nasty and admitted he likes to maul people. He hits every checkmark for the Panthers, who need a lot of help to protect franchise quarterback Cam Newton. Flowers will be an immediate starter at right tackle.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri: Quarterback Joe Flacco insists the Ravens’ receiving corps will be just fine, even with the defection of Torrey Smith to the 49ers. We’re not buying it, and general manager Ozzie Newsome likely isn’t either. Newsome is never afraid of taking chances and picking unconventionally, so adding the mercurial Green-Beckham won’t be a shocker. He’ll mature and nurture under another once-troubled wideout in veteran Steve Smith, Sr.
27. Dallas Cowboys –Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest: They really wanted one of the top-two running backs, but with Gurley and Gordon already gone, they stay true to their board and get much needed help at the cornerback position.
28. Denver Broncos – Cam Erving, C, Florida State: Erving is a perfect fit in Gary Kubiak’s one-cut running, zone-blocking scheme, as the former Seminole can play anywhere on the offensive line. Erving will likely settle into the starting center role, but can also be an upgrade at right tackle for a Broncos unit that will be auditioning for the role during mini- and training camp.
29. Indianapolis Colts – T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: The Colts aren’t a great rushing team, and there are far too many instances of quarterback Andrew Luck running for his life or being obliterated in the pocket. Clemmings helps solves those issues.
30. Green Bay Packers – Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson: When scouts put on film of Beasley, they also leave wondering who was that other guy flashing on the field. That was Anthony, who is very explosive. He fits perfectly inthe Packers’ 3-4 defense, as he’ll play in the middle and allow All-Pro Clay Matthews to move back to his customary outside linebacker position.
31. New Orleans Saints – Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami: This is the pick traded the Saints garnered from the Seahawks in the Jimmy Graham deal. But while a tight end may make sense, there aren’t many options with first-round grades. Maybe Maxx Williams of Minnesota, but head coach Sean Payton has already said he expects big things from holdovers Benjamin Watson and Josh Hill. Dorsett would be a nice complement for Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston, and a legitimate deep threat on that Superdome turf.
32. New England Patriots – Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke: He’s a fast riser on many mock drafts and sneaks in the first round due to his athletic ability and football acumen – two attributes that Bill Belichick loves. Tomlinson is tough and hardworking, and isn’t about flash. He just gets results – and that’s the Patriots’ way.