I don't know why I insist on posting a mock draft every single year. I think I just like guessing in the slim, slim hope that I will look smart. This is last year's mock draft I posted. My favorite part is how I mock Peter King saying the upcoming draft is just so incredibly unpredictable, as if this doesn't happen every year. If an unpredictable draft happens every year then doesn't that mean the draft is actually predictable? Peter is doing it again this year, saying how there are no sure things in this draft like there have been in the past. This is, of course, revisionist history. Without further ado, here are my attempts to guess at the draft order, and yet again, I won't predict trades. This thing will be torn apart by the first trade, I do realize that.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jameis Winston, QB
I feel like if Jameis Winston was more well-liked then his struggled with interceptions would have been written off as resulting from having lost so much offensive talent around him at Florida State after the national title in 2014. Winston would be tagged with the "he's just a winner" label regarding how he may struggle in games, but then will come up big when his team needs him. Interestingly, I don't see either the excuse or the label given to him. I'm notoriously bad at judging QB's coming out of college (except Blaine Gabbert...I never liked him), but other than what seems to be a semi-long windup I think Winston really has a chance to be a good QB. But again, I really didn't like the Cam Newton pick. There is sort of a "curse of Jimbo Fisher QB's" thing that should bother me (Ponder/Manuel/Russell) more than it does. And yes, Winston has growing up to do. Most athletes coming to the pros from college do. At least I'm getting this pick right.
2. Tennessee Titans- Marcus Mariota, QB
I'm dying to pick Leonard Williams here just to be different in the hopes I nail the pick, but this is supposed to be who I think each team will pick. The Titans have been waving this pick around, but I think if they like Mariota as well as it's claimed they do then they will draft him here. I can't imagine what offer would make the Titans move out of this spot if they really think Mariota is a franchise QB. Heck, would three first round picks be enough to move out of this spot if Mariota was only a Top-10 QB? Probably not for me. It's a quarterback league.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars-Vic Beasley, OLB/DE
I don't think the Jaguars are going to keep this pick, so it will probably be another team picking. I'm not entirely sure where Beasley fits in on a defense honestly, but he's the type of speed freak who can get to the quarterback. That sounds like a good role. He's not great against the run supposedly. Still, David Caldwell seems to consistently pull some bullshit in the draft and I think the talk of Cooper or Leonard Williams here is a way to get another team to move up so the Jags can draft Beasley a little later in the upper first round and get a pick or two out of it. I don't know if Beasley will be an All-Pro guy, but ESPN not having him as a first round pick is absolutely ridiculous.
4. Oakland Raiders- Leonard Williams, DE
Jack Del Rio is an defensive guy and the Raiders have quite a few needs. I think they should draft a receiver here, but it seems the Raiders like Leonard Williams a lot more than I do. I don't think he's going to be terrible, but I'm not sure he'll be the force that the Raiders are going to want. I will say this, not giving Derek Carr more to work with is a mistake. This isn't quite as deep of a receiver class as last year's draft and I would take White or Cooper.
5. Washington Redskins- Dante Fowler Jr, DE/OLB
I don't really love this pick for the Redskins. I am not sure the Redskins keep this pick, so it may not matter. I don't know who to pick. My gut says Amari Cooper, but the Redskins lost Orakpo in free agency and they probably feel like they don't need a #1 receiver with Garcon and Jackson on the roster. I'm not saying that's right, but Fowler will help give the Redskins a stronger pass rush and they can worry about other spots later in the draft.
6. New York Jets- Kevin White, WR
I prefer White to Cooper, so maybe that's affecting my decision. Yes, Todd Bowles is a defensive guy, but he also coached in Arizona where he saw what having Larry Fitzgerald and a strong group of receivers can do to help a quarterback that isn't so talented. The Jets have upgraded the defense in the draft and they are giving whoever the quarterback is a fighting chance with White/Marshall/Decker as the three-wide depth chart. This is good news for Geno Smith if it happens. Maybe he'll forget he's in the NFL and think he's back at WVU.
7. Chicago Bears- Danny Shelton, DT
I feel like I know John Fox fairly well and a defense that can't stop the run won't last long when he's the head coach. He had Kris Jenkins in Carolina and Terrance Knighton in Denver, while the Bears need a run-stopper. Fox prefers his defense to rush four at the passer and get to the quarterback that way (which coach doesn't prefer that, but Fox seems to really prefer that). His first pick as Bears coach will be a defensive pick me thinks and he loves his run-stoppers who can also get pressure on the quarterback up the middle.
8. Atlanta Falcons- Brandon Scherff, OT/OG
This is a tough pick because the Falcons need pass rushers in the worst way, but they also need to shore up an offensive line that got beaten up last year. I am not sure the Falcons won't try to trade up more than they will try to trade back and get another pick to move out of the #8 spot. It's tough for the Falcons that Gregory and Ray have off-the-field issues because they could use that talent. Maybe they still take one of them here. I say protect Matt Ryan and find a pass rusher later in the draft. And yes, I know pass rusher is a big need, but the Falcons were beaten up on the offensive line last year.
9. New York Giants- Ereck Flowers, T
I am going to hate myself (okay, not really) if Amari Cooper is the pick here. I really, really want to mock Cooper here, but the eternal fight for the Giants to improve their offensive or defensive line takes precedence in what I think the Giants will do. I wouldn't be surprised to see Randy Gregory get picked in this spot. I read on Walter Football there is another issue that NFL teams know about that the public/media doesn't know about regarding Gregory, but I also read this on Walter Football, so who knows if it's the truth? Maybe the issue is that scouts think Gregory is stupendously stupid, which is what was reported yesterday. Either way, I think Gregory is absolutely astoundingly talented and could be the pick here if the Giants have the balls. So yes, I basically just sort of picked two guys in this spot and actually picked Flowers. Sue me.
10. St. Louis Rams- Andrus Peat, T
Peter King, who basically works for the Rams it seems to me sometimes, thinks the Rams are taking a tackle. Greg Robinson did not work out in his rookie year like the Rams thought he would. This doesn't seem like the right pick here, but I can't figure out who else the Rams would select if they didn't go offensive tackle. I'm not feeling a wide receiver and the Rams really don't have a ton of other huge needs without reaching. They have to protect Nick Foles, so Peat is the choice.
11. Minnesota Vikings- Devante Parker, WR
It's fashionable to say the Vikings will pick a CB here, but with the team saying this is a big year for Corradelle Patterson (that may be how he spells his first name, maybe not, I'm too lazy to look it up), I can't help but think the Vikings find a corner later and give their franchise quarterback another offensive weapon to work with. Maybe it will be an offensive lineman, but as you can tell, I'm a big fan of giving a quarterback offensive players in the draft. The Colts proved how this can work wonders. Plus, Parker and Bridgewater already have great chemistry.
12. Cleveland Browns- Amari Cooper, WR
So the Browns would run to the podium to make this pick, right? Maybe not, but I would. The Browns still need wide receivers and I can't think how Cooper fell this far in my mock. If the Browns are gutsy they would take Todd Gurley. I really, really think he's going to be a stud and their running game was awful last year. Maybe they are a little shy about taking a RB so early after the Trent Richardson Experiment and wide receiver is really a much greater need.
13. New Orleans Saints- Bud/Alvin/Simon/You & Me Dupree DE/OLB
I'm not sure what his name will be in the NFL, whether it is Bud or Alvin, but the Saints need defenders in Rob Ryan's defense. Supposedly this is too far for Dupree to fall, but we will see. Knowing Sean Payton, he'll draft Todd Gurley in this spot and force me to cheer against a guy who I think will be an absolute stud. In my mind, Dupree will be the guy.
14. Miami Dolphins- Todd Gurley, RB
Trae Waynes is just sitting there, begging to be taken. He's considered to be among the top corners in the draft, so I could easily see him being taken by the Dolphins. They could go with an offensive lineman too, but this is the part of the draft where the pick each team takes will be based partly on need, but mostly on what players are available. There are a lot of players with similar talent levels in this part of the draft. Todd Gurley would give the Dolphins the type of consistent running game that they have lacked and he'll be Ryan Tannehill's best friend because of that.
15. San Francisco 49ers- Trae Waynes, CB
I have seen Arik Armstead mocked here repeatedly. I can't help but think it's going to be another player simply because of that. It will be a defensive player if you ask me, so the questions becomes which defensive player. The 49ers lost two corners in the offseason and Waynes is one of the three best corners in the draft (or one of the three guys considered to be the best). I think this pick makes too much sense for it to happen. I wouldn't mind mocking a linebacker like Eric Kendricks here, but I think the 49ers feel they can get a guy later in the draft like they got Borland/Bowman at the linebacker spot in the third round.
16. Houston Texans- La'el Collins, OT/G
Man, this is a tough pick because I've seen a bunch of receivers mocked here. I always think that means a team has done a great job with a smokescreen and won't choose a receiver at all. I think the Texans could use offensive line help and if they don't choose a wide receiver here then upgrading the tackle or guard spot with Collins could be the next choice. Currently, the Texans depth chart on the inside of their line could use an upgrade and Collins can play multiple spots on the line.
17. San Diego Chargers- Cameron Erving, G/C
It's tempting to take a running back here, but the Chargers really need to upgrade the interior of the offensive line. I know, I know, two straight interior linemen in my mock draft. This will never happen because the NFL likes shiny prospects that are difference makers and interior linemen are boring...until you don't have any good ones. It's a good pick too since running backs can be had later and Ameer Abdullah could be available in the second round.
18. Kansas City Chiefs- Nelson Agholor, WR
The Chiefs were awful at wide receiver last year. I don't want to put too much of the blame on Alex Smith, but I would probably like to put more on him than others are putting on him. At some point, a lack of touchdowns from the receivers also reflects on the quarterback. Andy Reid does what he wants and upgrading the receivers shouldn't be done simply because the Chiefs overpaid Jeremy Maclin. I can see Andy Reid loving the thought of Agholor and Maclin on either side to keep the defenses honest and catch the ball in space.
19. Cleveland Browns- Arik Armstead, DT/DE
I think this is a good choice for the Browns here. Armstead is from the "unproven, but look at his size!" mold, but he would provide some versatility for the Browns along the defensive line. He's huge and could make a good edge rusher or interior guy on passing downs for the Browns. I don't believe the Browns will go offensive line with this pick, but my picks are probably going to be 80% wrong anyway.
20. Philadelphia Eagles- Jake Fisher, T
Yes, he went to Oregon so it's a cliche to say the Eagles will pick him. I simply don't believe that Chip Kelly will pick a wide receiver here because he's proven this offseason he believes he can find guys who can fit his offensive scheme and make it work. It won't work without an athletic offensive line to block for Sam Bradford and Fisher is used to play in up-tempo offenses at Oregon. I think Fisher will play guard since the Eagles are hell-bent on getting rid of Evan Mathis. Of course, I should expect Chip Kelly to go with a running back here or take a guy projected to be a fourth round pick.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- Randy Gregory, DE/OLB
One of the more underrated aspects of the Bengals defensive decline last year was the lack of a pass rush. They got Michael Johnson back after being on loan to the Buccaneers for a year, but Randy Gregory is the best pass rusher available at this spot and I don't think the Bengals get shy about picking him. Weirdly, I can see them taking a wide receiver in this spot as well. After last year in the playoff game against Colts, it was obvious that if half of the receiver depth chart gets injured then Dalton is going to struggle. Of course, that can be said for nearly any QB.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers- Byron Jones, CB
The Steelers have had success identifying really good receivers later in the draft, and while it may be tempting to pick another position of need on defense, they need corners badly. I think it will be Byron Jones over Kevin Johnson. Every year the Steelers seem to have a guy fall to them and I can't figure out who that will be this year. So I go with need and one of the best players still available.
23. Detroit Lions- D.J. Humphries, T
I have no idea who the Lions will pick. Melvin Gordon makes too much sense for it to happen and I don't know if the Lions are really going to spend a first round pick on a DT after letting two first round DT's go in free agency. I'm tempting to mock a cornerback here, but they need to keep the offensive line strong and they can start Humphries at RT if necessary and then move him over to LT at some point in the future.
24. Arizona Cardinals- Grady Jarrett, DT
Not a terrible position for the Cardinals to be in. There are a couple offensive linemen available, Melvin Gordon is available, defensive linemen and there are cornerbacks to choose from. Again, this is the part of the draft where there are guys who seem to all be similarly talented. Gordon is probably the obvious pick at first glance, but the Cardinals are going into the season with interior linemen that I'm not confident will hold up against the run. Jarrett is a big guy who may not be an ideal nose tackle, but he can play end or nose tackle in the Cards' 3-4 defense.
25. Carolina Panthers- Kevin Johnson, CB
The Panthers GM goes with best player available, so I would have to guess who I think is the best player on their board. It doesn't help the team has needs at a ton of positions. They've been interested in drafting safeties over the past few years (but just not done it), so Landon Collins could make sense and the GM stated he likes where they are at with wide receivers (I could like it more, but whatever, I'm not the GM). They have shown a ton of interest in Shaq Thompson and Thomas Davis isn't getting younger. I almost want to make that the pick, but I think the 4-5 tackles the team wants are off the board and they go with the highest rated player at a position of need. The Panthers could use this pick on any position except QB or TE.
26. Baltimore Ravens- Breshad Perriman, WR
I think I mocked a receiver to the Ravens last year as well. I'll just keep doing it until they draft one. They lost Torrey Smith and Steve Smith can't play forever. If Perriman falls this far then I see the Ravens taking him and worrying about their cornerback need a little later. It's popular to have Melvin Gordon get taken here, but I think the Ravens can get a running back to pair with Justin Forsett later on. Of course the draw of a guy like Marcus Peters could end up being strong.
27. Dallas Cowboys- Eric Kendricks, LB
The Cowboys got desperate at linebacker last year and I think the need to shore up the position for the inevitable Sean Lee injury causes them to choose Kendricks over other defensive players in this spot. Melvin Gordon is another popular pick for the Cowboys, but I file that under "conventional wisdom" that seems to be be so rarely correct. So I'm taking a guess (which all of these picks are guesses) the Cowboys go with Kendricks.
28. Denver Broncos- Maxx Williams, TE
Most mocks I looked at had the Broncos taking an offensive linemen in this spot. I think that's a definite need for them. Still, I can't help but mock a tight end in this spot to the Broncos. Kubiak loves using his tight ends and Manning likes throwing to his tight ends. Adding a talent like Maxx Williams to the offense could help make up for the loss of Julius Thomas and it makes sense to me based on the head coach and quarterback's wants. It's getting almost time for Manning to retire, so I have to think the Broncos will want to keep him upright, but also make sure the tight end spot is taken care of.
29. Indianapolis Colts- Cedric Ogbuehi, T
Landon Collins is the most popular pick of popular picks in this spot. The Colts do need safety help, but I'm not sure that comes before making sure Andrew Luck stays protected. Ogbuehi is coming off an injury, but if he had not suffered that injury then he could have been a Top-15 pick. The Colts have needs on defense, but Ryan Grigson has reached there before in the draft, but keeping Luck upright and healthy is of vital importance. It would be fun to see Melvin Gordon taken here, but I think the Colts will value a tackle higher.
30. Green Bay Packers- Jordan Phillips, DT
The Packers need corners too, but the way my mock is falling they could end up grabbing one at the end of the second round. But the Packers were gored by Marshawn Lynch last year and they need a rotation of interior defensive linemen to prevent this from happening again. Phillips fits that bill and the Packers can take care of their corner needs later in the draft. Besides, a good pass rush and preventing the other team from running the ball always makes the corners look better anyway.
31. New Orleans Saints- Melvin Gordon, RB
I don't see Gordon falling out of the first round and the Saints haven't been shy about drafting a running back in the first round before. Plus, they have churned through running backs in the past and drafted Mark Ingram with the hopes that he would stop this from occurring in New Orleans this season. Maybe not ironically, Melvin Gordon could replace Ingram and be that guy who stops a three or four-headed running back attack. I could see the Saints going with a receiver in this spot or possibly an offensive lineman. But the lure of getting Gordon probably would cause the Saints to select him.
32. New England Patriots- Marcus Peters, CB*
The Patriots seem to need cornerbacks and I don't see them selecting Landon Collins here. They need interior linemen as well, so Malcolm Brown could be in play. Most likely, the Patriots will trade this pick and move back a little, but if they keep the pick then I think Marcus Peters' talent will be too much to turn down. Yes, I am going with the cliche "The Patriots can take care of a troubled player and turn him on the right path" mantra the media pushes which never actually happens. I'm just kidding! The Patriots are going to select Jalen Collins because he's another talented corner...wait, he supposedly had drug issues in college? Nevermind, I was kidding about that too. Well, they need a pass rusher, so the best one on the board is Shane Ray. He has issues as well? Ugh, let's go offense. The Patriots could use another receiver, so the final pick is Devin Smith. He has speed and the Patriots could stand to upgrade at receiver. As of noon today, he hasn't had legal troubles.
*Real pick is Devin Smith, WR (I just wanted to show many guys could fall to this point based on personal issues)
Feel free to mock my mock draft. If I have time, I may update it with any trades that happen. We'll see.