A number of teams will want to trade back from their original first-round slot. The supply will likely outweigh the demand, or teams could settle for less “value” in return. There might only be 10-15 consensus first-round talents in the 2015 class, and many, many more second-round evaluations (likely even more than usual). It takes two to agree on a trade involving draft picks. If teams stick to their traditional value chart, we could see fewer and fewer deals.
However, if teams trust their own judgment and make up their own rules of value, a number of small moves and trades could take place to land specific targets rather than settle for a remaining group of players. It is Mar. 18, we have no clue.
And with that, here is how I view the first-round.
1. Tampa Bay Bucs - QB Jameis Winston, FSU - I still think Marcus Mariota has a chance to be selected here, much more than given credit for. But mocks are for what I think will happen, and all signs point to Jameis. I like the selection, as Winston can be a quality starter in the NFL.
2. Tennessee Titans - QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon - Could Ken Whisenhunt stick with a sixth-round quarterback who has a slow process, confined to the pocket and has ended the last two seasons injured? Sure, but it would be stubborn. I don’t think Mariota has to land in Philadelphia or with Chan Gailey to be successful. He has foundation quarterback traits, in terms of eye level, pocket movement, success inside and outside of structure, and (yes) progressions. I am intrigued by the Chargers interest in Mariota.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - EDGE Vic Beasley, Clemson - Prospects like leonard Williams, Shane Ray and Dante Fowler have been mocked here. I think Vic Beasley fits the scheme the best, and that is one factor which causes variance in grades among teams. Beasley has tremendous edge speed, bend and will take the inside lane once tackles become wary of the outside line.
4. Oakland Raiders - WR Kevin White, WVU - I already ranked Kevin White *just* ahead of Amari Cooper prior to the Combine. White’s forty was outstanding, but it would be a stretch to compare his entire performance to some of the best we have seen from receivers. Still, at 6’3” and 215 lbs, White has the ability to win in the “big” and “small” receiver games.
[RELATED: NFL Draft Profile: Kevin White]
5. Washington Redskins - DL Leonard Williams, USC - Some will call this a “fall.” Not really. He could certainly be drafted earlier, but Williams (like every prospect) has his issues. Now, the positives in terms of strength, length and counter moves outweigh the negatives, but lasting until pick No. 5 seems reasonable. Williams also tested like an average NFL athlete among defensive linemen (non-EDGE).
6. New York Jets - WR Amari Cooper, Alabama - There is no reason to be down on Amari after the Combine. In fact, he solidified his evaluation. Amari wins with little wasted movement, burst and quickness when running routes to separate. That showed in his 3-cone and 20 yard short shuttle. The vertical was well below average, which matches his lack of proficiency in contested catches (albeit improving). His traits translate very well.
[RELATED: NFL Draft Profile: Amari Cooper]
7. Chicago Bears - DT Danny Shelton, Washington - This is way too early for Danny Shelton, but if the Bears are going to run predominantly odd man fronts, they do not have a player on their roster to consistently man the middle. John Fox has a history of investing in these types of players, namely Kris Jenkins and Ma'ake Kemoeatu. Shelton needs a rotation up front to maintain his effectiveness. His Senior Bowl performance is being overhyped. But again, that does not mean I think he is a “bad player.”
8. Atlanta Falcons - EDGE Dante Fowler Jr, Florida - Fowler is ahead of the game in terms of hand use and length to win on first contact, but don’t bank on him using movement skills or explosion to consistently come out on the positive side of one on one matchups. The Falcons added some pass rushing help in free agency, but they need more.
9. New York Giants - EDGE Randy Gregory, Nebraska - I know Gregory weighed 238 pounds at his pro day, but he plays with much more functional strength than that. There were absolutely times he was late off the ball and in a reactionary stance, but he also flashes explosion to win around the edge or convert speed to power. He has the level of ability to win in both phases of pass rushing. And he’s better against the run than frequently given credit for.
10. St. Louis Rams - OL Brandon Scherff, Iowa - The NFL loves to mimic what has been successful in recent years. Last year? Power and athletic tackles moving to guard (Zack Martin, Joel Bitonio). I think Scherff can stay at tackle, but a team might really value him inside. Nick Foles lacks functional mobility to succeed against pressure, so keep adding to his offensive line.
11. Minnesota Vikings - CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State - There was a report that Waynes dealt with cramps or a leg injury, which led to poor change of direction drills at the Combine. Waynes has makeup speed, but my question is the separation he allows on breaks. Mike Zimmer has a history of being connected to defenses that invest picks and/or money in corners.
12. Cleveland Browns - EDGE Shane Ray, Missouri - Ray will workout soon, which does matter for edge players. He has an outstanding motor and can turn the corner, but I question if his traits on their own will stand up to other edge rushers’ success in this class.
13. New Orleans Saints - EDGE Alvin Dupree, Kentucky - Bud’s measurables are outstanding, but of the top rushers I am most wary of his tape. The issue with Dupree is flexibility, as he does not take enough advantage of the step advantage he gains through quickness and explosion.
14. Miami Dolphins - LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA - Jelani Jenkins is a good player who has a history of injuries. Kendricks is one of my favorite prospects in this class, because he makes an impact moving forward and back. His comfort in coverage is uncommon. True every down linebackers are difficult to find.
15. San Francisco 49ers - DL Arik Armstead, Oregon - Some might consider this a bit early for Armstead. An immediate or future replacement for Justin Smith is necessary. Armstead was off and on at times, but when he combined flashes, like in the College Football Playoff, the results speak for themselves.
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