1.Tampa Bay Buccaneers:Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
It looks like we won’t have to wait long to see where the supremely talented Winston and his truckload of baggage will end up. The Bucs desperately need a quarterback so they stick with the former Florida State star and 2013 Heisman winner. This could be a complete disaster.
2.Tennessee Titans:Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
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Mariota had a brilliant career at Oregon but the 2014 Heisman winner was exposed by Ohio State in the National Championship Game last month. Still, like the Bucs the Titans need a franchise quarterback since the Jake Locker experience has been a mess to say the least. In the right system, Mariota could be great in the NFL.
3.Jacksonville Jaguars:Leonard Williams, DE, USC
The perpetually rebuilding Jaguars need many things but at least quarterback Blake Bortles looks decent. Offensive linemen are always a safe bet but I’m thinking they go for Williams who is regarded as the top defensive player in the draft. He had a great showing at the Underwear Olympics (NFL Combine) for what that’s worth.
4.Oakland Raiders:Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Al Davis is long gone but the Raiders are still going to be the Raiders so how could they possibly pass on the best wide receiver in college football? Cooper was a man among boys at Alabama so he will be Derek Carr’s best friend in no time. This seems like the most obvious pick in the first round.
5.Washington Redskins:Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
In most cases, you don’t end up at this point of the draft without having a million issues. The Redskins are no different; Gregory would bring a pass-rushing threat and playmaker to Washington’s awful defense. I look forward to hearing RG III’s opinion on this pick.
6.New York Jets:Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The Jets begin life post-Rex with what should be a fascinating draft. They clearly need a quarterback unless you somehow believe in Geno Smith. Still, assuming that Winston and Mariota are already drafted here, they will settle for the top cornerback on the board.
7.Chicago Bears:Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Chicago’s defense has fallen apart in recent years so they grab the best fat guy in this year’s draft. To allow your defensive ends and linebackers to make plays, it’s key to have that immovable object in the middle.
8.Atlanta Falcons:Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Atlanta needs pass rushers, guys that can get after the opposing quarterback and mask some other deficiencies on their average defense. The best defensive player in the ACC doesn’t have to go far to play for his first NFL team. He could make an impact right away.
9.New York Giants:Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa
The Giants offense line has been a weakness for years, one of the reasons that Eli Manning and the team as a whole was so up and down. Here’s betting that Tom Coughlin takes the top offensive lineman in this draft class. Guards normally aren’t this highly regarded but Scherff is seen as a sure thing.
10.St. Louis Rams:Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
In recent years, the Rams haven’t been afraid to make big trades on draft day. Plus, Sam Bradford is on the trading block so don’t be shocked to see St. Louis possibly move up to get either Winston or Mariota. If they don’t get them (or another QB in free agency), look for the Rams to draft Peters who is a lockdown cornerback.
11.Minnesota Vikings:T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
This pick could hinge on if Adrian Peterson will ever play another game for the Vikings. If not, they might be tempted to draft Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon. Otherwise, the best offensive tackle is a good consolation prize.
12.Cleveland Browns:Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The Browns obviously can’t ever count on Josh Gordon so it’s time to find their next No. 1 receiver. White tore it up at the combine but Devante Parker had a better college career so it’s a tough call. For laughs, Cleveland could always go for another quarterback as well.
13.New Orleans Saints:Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
Last year, New Orleans’ offense wasn’t what they had been for years but the defense is still the weaker part of their team. Ray was the best defensive player in the best conference so he figures to be an impact player. The Saints haven’t had a dominant pass rusher since they won the Super Bowl in 2010.
14.Miami Dolphins:Dante Fowler Jr., LB, Florida
Since they can’t draft a new head coach (zing), the Dolphins will settle for an in-state collegiate star. Fowler would help Miami’s underwhelming linebacking corps.
15.San Francisco 49ers:Devante Parker, WR, Louisville
Crazy Jim Harbaugh is gone so who knows what the 49ers will look like the next few years. Colin Kaepernick needs more weapons on the outside and rumors have them moving on from Michael Crabtree so Parker would be a nice fit.
16.Houston Texans:La’el Collins, OT, LSU
Ryan Mallett can’t possibly be a starting quarterback on a good NFL team and Arian Foster’s shelf life is rapidly expiring so Houston could be bold in this spot. Still, a quality offensive tackle is hard to come by and Collins would improve Houston’s sketchy offensive line.
17.San Diego Chargers:Todd Gurley, RB, Georiga
This could be a reach since running backs are not in vogue anymore in the first round but you have to believe that San Diego is sick of Ryan Matthews missing so much time every season with various injuries. Gurley and Gordon are both excellent so you can’t go wrong with either guy. No doubt, Philip Rivers needs some help from a consistent running game.
18.Kansas City Chiefs: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
Maybe my favorite stat from last season: Kansas City wide receivers combined for zero touchdowns the entire season. I still don’t know how that is possible. It has to be a lock that the Chiefs draft (or sign) a wide receiver that can help Alex Smith out.
19.Cleveland Browns:Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
The Browns can’t pass up the former Buckeyes star who shined in their run to the national title. It’ll take more than one guy to replace Gordon’s freakish talent.
20.Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
It’s no secret that the Eagles need better cornerbacks so you can’t go wrong with one from an SEC powerhouse that routinely turns out good pros. There have been rumors of head coach Chip Kelly wanting to reunite with his former Oregon pupil Mariota. That makes for a good story but I don’t think it is very likely to happen.
21.Cincinnati Bengals:Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
To survive in the AFC North, you need a good defense. The Bengals already possess a solid defense but it can’t hurt to add some depth with Thompson who was one of the best athletes in college football. Andy Dalton is lucky that he signed that insane extension, otherwise Cincinnati would be looking for his replacement here.
22.Pittsburgh Steelers:Landon Collins, S, Alabama
The Steelers were embarrassed by the Ravens on Wild Card weekend, thanks to the epic collapse of their secondary. Safeties aren’t regarded too highly in today’s NFL but Collins was the best one from the football factory known as Alabama. Troy Polamalu isn’t getting any younger or less reckless.
23.Detroit Lions:Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Reggie Bush’s days in Detroit could be over so the Lions go to their Big Ten neighbors for his replacement. This is assuming that Detroit re-signs Ndamukong Suh, if not then look for them to get a defensive lineman.
24.Arizona Cardinals:Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Do you trust Carson Palmer’s knees to hold up this season? Yeah, me neither. This is a reach but Hundley has first-round ability and Arizona has to get a solid backup quarterback so they are not left with the bums that played at the end of the season for them (Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley and Logan Thomas).
25.Carolina Panthers:Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
You have to think that Carolina will sign some wide receivers in free agency. If that’s the case, now they need to get some better offensive linemen to protect Cam Newton. Between his car accident and the terrible offensive line, Newton was really beat up last season.
26.Baltimore Ravens:Cedric Ogbuehi, OL, Texas A&M
Terrell Suggs isn’t getting any younger but Baltimore figures to not have many great options at No. 26 if they want a pass rusher. Justin Forsett unexpectedly had a really nice season in 2014 so they appear set at running back. They might as well get another big body to protect their franchise quarterback Joe Flacco.
27.Dallas Cowboys:Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
In their playoff loss to Green Bay, Dallas’ cornerbacks got torched by Aaron Rodgers so getting more depth in the secondary makes sense at the end of the first round. The Cowboys offense is pretty set although Jason Witten is getting long in the tooth. Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams is another name to watch here.
28.Denver Broncos:Nick O’Leary, TE, Florida State
Drafting Peyton Manning’s successor (sorry Brock Osweiler) is a good idea but of more immediate concern is the fact that Denver is unlikely to be able to re-sign both Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. I think that good pass-catching tight ends are harder to find so why not grab Jameis Winston’s favorite target?
29.Indianapolis Colts:Bernardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
As the AFC Championship debacle vs. New England proved, the Colts are light years away from being an NFL champion. The biggest issue is their awful defense. Having an athletic middle linebacker is a must if you want to go anywhere.
30.Green Bay Packers:Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon
Green Bay’s monumental collapse to Seattle in the NFC Championship had many causes but their defense is the unit most in need of an improvement. Without B.J. Raji, the Packers’ defensive line was pretty invisible. Armstead would bring versatility and athleticism.
31.Seattle Seahawks:Tevin Coleman, RB, Seahawks
Seattle has to be tired of Marshawn Lynch’s constant drama so it is a good idea to get a quality backup for him. Coleman can also catch passes out of the backfield. You know Pete Carroll has to still be waking up in a cold sweat wondering why he didn’t call a simple handoff to Lynch on 2nddown-that fateful play in the Super Bowl loss to New England.
32.New England Patriots:Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas
Trying to predict what the Patriots will do in a draft is a foolish chore but Vince Wilfork’s days in Foxborough are numbered. If New England doesn’t pick some scrub from Rutgers or trade down for 10 7thround picks in 2020, this is my best guess.