The first day, and round, of the NFL Draft begins tonight at 8 PM. Last year, I went a bit overboard with my mocking and it came out horribly wrong. This year I am deciding to go with a more minimalist approach, with hopes that with less focus on style and more on substance I'll get it more right. Let's face it though. It's the NFL Draft, nobody has figured this thing out yet. Let's get to the picks shall we?
1. TAMPA BAY- Jameis Winston, QB (Florida State): It seems to be a foregone conclusion at this point that the former Heisman winner is staying in Florida. The NFL Draft usually doesn't swerve us at the top like the NBA one does.
2. TENNESSEE- Marcus Mariota, QB (Oregon): Whether it be to Tennessee or a team making a Godfather trade offer, Mariota is going number two. It'd be idiotic to let a talent of his caliber slip down the draft board.
3. JACKSONVILLE- Leonard Williams, DE (USC): Jacksonville, do your fans a favor here and just take the best player this draft has to offer. Don't get cute with a wide receiver or running back at three. Take Williams and solidify your defensive line for a decade.
4. OAKLAND- Amari Cooper, WR (Alabama): The old Raiders regime would take the flashier of the receiver prospects in Kevin White or Devante Parker. What they need is a dependable set of hands for Derek Carr to throw to in any situation on the field. That description fits Cooper like a glove.
5. WASHINGTON- Dante Fowler Jr., LB (Florida): The Skins defense is an abomination. They need help everywhere and Fowler is the best defensive player available at five. If they go a different route, say Vic Beasley or Bud Dupree, it'll be understandable. This pick just HAS to be on a defensive player.
6. NEW YORK JETS- Kevin White, WR (West Virginia): The Jets made several key acquisitions the past two seasons at wide receiver. However, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are old dogs by NFL standards. If they're ever going to have success with Geno Smith under center, they need a guy like White to help him.
7. CHICAGO- Danny Shelton, DT (Washington): The Bears are another team with many holes to fill. I just think the draft is deeper on the O-Line than it is on the D-Line. Shelton will help clog the middle in one of the worst defenses the NFL had to offer in 2014.
8. ATLANTA- Vic Beasley, LB (Clemson): The Falcons gave up more yards than any other team in 2014. The offense needs some work but that can be addressed in later rounds. Beasley is the most sensible option for the Falcons new coach, defensive minded Dan Quinn.
9. NEW YORK GIANTS- Brandon Scherff, G (Iowa): The Giants love their midwestern hoss linemen. Scherff fits anywhere Tom Coughlin wants to put him on the line. Until further notice, the protection of Eli Manning should be the Giants' top priority this offseason.
10. ST. LOUIS- Andrus Peat, OT (Stanford): It looked like the Rams were attempting to build a wall for fragile QB Sam Bradford over the past few drafts. Bradford is gone now but St. Louis still needs to protect new QB Nick Foles. Peat is the top tackle on the board to work opposite last year's first round pick Greg Robinson.
11. MINNESOTA- Devante Parker, WR (Louisville): The Vikings got their quarterback last year in Teddy Bridgewater. They need another young offensive weapon to pair with their new main man. Todd Gurley is shooting up draft boards but I think Parker is the better pick for Minnesota here.
12. CLEVELAND- Shane Ray, DE (Missouri): Ray looks to be in danger of falling out of the first round with his recent marijuana arrest. Last year though, Cleveland didn't hesitate in taking a top troubled talent in Johnny Manziel. Ray is a potential Top 7 talent, Cleveland shouldn't let him drop past here.
13. NEW ORLEANS- Bud Dupree, LB (Kentucky): There are plenty of reasons that this pick makes sense for New Orleans. I've settled on it because there isn't a more New Orleans-y name in this first round than Bud Dupree.
14. MIAMI- Trae Waynes, CB (Michigan State): If Miami is ever going to usurp the Patriots in the AFC East, they are going to need to slow Tom Brady down. Waynes is the best corner available which can only help in that mission.
15. SAN FRANCISCO- Arik Armstead, DT (Oregon): The 49ers once vaunted defense has been seriously depleted this offseason through shock retirements and much needed departures. Armstead will help plug a hole at either defensive tackle or end, whichever one is most pressing for new coach Jim Tomsula.
16. HOUSTON- Breshad Perriman, WR (Central Florida): Andre Johnson is now a Colt. The Texans have DeAndre Hopkins to fill that void. Perriman will be perfect to slot in as Hopkins's number two. The former Golden Knight is shooting up the first round after his workouts. He shouldn't fall past the middle of round one.
17. SAN DIEGO- La'El Collins, OT (LSU): Whether it be Philip Rivers, or Marcus Mariota, the Chargers need to protect their quarterback better. I've seen a lot of mocks with a running back here but San Diego has shown they could hit late in the draft at that position. Collins gives the Chargers a solid tackle to protect their QB's blind side.
18. KANSAS CITY- Marcus Peters, CB (Washington): This pick was a tough one with three quality corners still available at pick 18. I sided with Peters due to his big play capability. He is a bit of a risk having been dismissed from the UW team last year, but the reward may be too great to pass up.
19. CLEVELAND- Nelson Agholor, WR (USC): Barring that they don't use their picks to trade up to the second pick, Cleveland can take a chance and a safe pick in round one. I have them going out on a limb with Shane Ray at 12 while Nelson Agholor addresses a need at 19. The Browns' WR corps is wire thin so Agholor could make an immediate impact.
20. PHILADELPHIA- Dorial Green-Beckham, WR (Oklahoma): Chip Kelly is building an offensive monster in the City of Brotherly Love. He let Jeremy Maclin go this spring and could use a player of Green-Beckham's caliber as a replacement. There are character concerns but at pick 20 he's an absolute bargain.
21. CINCINNATI- Malcolm Brown, DT (Texas): The power of the Bengals' defense has always been up the middle. They still have Geno Atkins but Domata Peko is getting up in age. Brown provides them with an heir apparent to Peko to keep their strength strong for years to come.
22. PITTSBURGH- Byron Jones, CB (Connecticut): It has been ages since the Steelers used a first round pick on a cornerback. They need to get younger at this position though and a player like Jones fits perfectly. His super athleticism was on full display at the combine (world record 12' 3" broad jump) and scouts took notice.
23. DETROIT- D.J. Humphries, OT (Florida): Even with Ndamakong Suh in Miami, Detroit cannot panic pick a defensive lineman here. Matt Stafford needs a big body on his side of the ball for once. Humphries is a versatile lineman who could slot in one day one at right tackle.
24. ARIZONA- Randy Gregory, LB (Nebraska): Concerns over his mental health paired with a failed drug test is the only reason a player of Gregory's talent is available this late in the first round. The Cardinals struck gold on a risk/reward project in Tyrann Mathieu. They could get a similar bounty in Gregory.
25. CAROLINA- Cedric Ogbuehi, OT (Texas A&M): Cam Newton likes to run. He didn't have much choice last year though as his offensive line parted like the Red Sea on a consistent basis. The tackles need the most help right now and Ogbuehi gives them an option on either side of the line.
26. BALTIMORE- Todd Gurley, RB (Georgia): There is a very good chance that Gurley is going to be long gone before this pick. However, in this mock, the post-ACL tear Bulldog falls as the deposed Ray Rice's replacement in Baltimore. The city needs some good news for a change.
27. DALLAS- Kevin Johnson, CB (Wake Forest): Dallas, primarily Jerry Jones, needs to suppress every instinct they have saying to take Melvin Gordon here. Yes, DeMarco Murray is gone. BUT, running backs can be had at all points of the draft. Johnson fills a glaring hole in the Dallas D.
28. DENVER- Cameron Erving, C (Florida State): Peyton Manning wants one final run at a title. He is going to need all the talent he can in front of him. Cameron Erving can play every position on the line and kept the number one pick in this draft upright for two years.
29. INDIANAPOLIS- Ereck Flowers, G (Miami-FL): I feel like I've been saying quite often how this league's star QBs have been underprotected. As a Colts fan, I can say the worst of it probably came from Indy. They couldn't run the ball and Andrew Luck paid for it. Flowers gives them solid blocking and versatility at two positions on a weak O-line.
30. GREEN BAY- Landon Collins, S (Alabama): The Pack went safety last year with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Adding another Alabama safety in Collins gives them one of the best young secondaries in the NFC. They could use a corner here but Collins allows Green Bay to move some of their other secondary around to fill holes.
31. NEW ORLEANS- Phillip Dorsett, WR (Miami-FL): I had the Saints address the defense with their first round pick. I am giving Drew Brees another weapon with the pick they got from Seattle in the Jimmy Graham trade. Dorsett is no Graham but he is a speedy wideout that will give opponents fits alongside last year's first rounder Brandin Cooks.
32. NEW ENGLAND- Melvin Gordon, RB (Wisconsin): Why not? Either Bill Belichick will do what he does and trades out of the first round allowing a desperate team to come up and snag Gordon. That or he takes a lottery talent with the last pick of the first round and the rich get richer.
Leave a comment with what you think your team will do tonight or over the course of the three day event. Follow along on Twitter at both my personal account @TREVORutley and @B3WHYC3.
Image Credit: Draft logo (bloguin.com)