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 Feb. 25, we have no clue.
And with that, here is how I view the first-round.
1. Tampa Bay Bucs - QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon - I’m surprised that few are giving Mariota a chance at No. 1. It is not even March, and many have locked Jameis Winston into this pick. Going through old blurb archives shows media reports drastically change. I will stick with Mariota until something concrete comes out.
2. Tennessee Titans - QB Jameis Winston, FSU - Many who follow the Titans are certain Ken Whisenhunt will stick by Zach Mettenberger. If I was in his position, recognizing teams are rarely in a position to select a quarterback talent like Winston or Mariota would trump my feelings about sticking with a sixth-round passer with limited mobility who is coming off back to back seasons which ended in injury. Because of Whisenhunt’s “type,” he could feel more confident in Winston than Mariota.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - DL Leonard Williams, USC - Placing Williams in Jacksonville’s defense is interesting. He would likely play the “big” end role and move inside in smaller personnel groupings. His ability to control his opponents with length, hands and power stands out in this class. He is not the most athletic defensive lineman, especially when at end, but that strength compensates.
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.
5. Washington Redskins - EDGE Vic Beasley, Clemson - The story arch for Beasley has been fun to observe. From 220 lbs to 235 lbs and arriving in Indy at 246 lbs, Beasley kept all of his straight line speed, change of direction flexibility and explosion. He can make his strength stronger and use that lateral speed to create counter opportunities.
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.
7. Chicago Bears - S Landon Collins, Alabama - Bears fans might understand better than any other fan base that bad safety play can cripple a defense. Collins is being called solely a box safety. That is limiting his talent. He’s not a true single high safety, but Collins can rotate and give a defense new looks while still being aggressive when moving forward. There is a sizable gap between Collins and the next true safety.
8. Atlanta Falcons - EDGE Randy Gregory, Nebraska - This would be breaking the trend of “Boy Scouts” the Falcons have been attached to during previous drafts. But losing changes processes, for right and wrong. Gregory’s weight surprised many, but if he played close to that he showed a good amount of functional strength. He has the level of ability to win around and through his opponent.
9. New York Giants - EDGE Dante Fowler Jr, Florida - It seems JPP will get the franchise tag. Regardless, creating disruption on the edge is a priority for the Giants. Fowler has a lot of straight-line speed and quickness, which he couples with length, hands and angles. Do not expect him to bend and change direction as well as others. Fowler is ahead of the game because he does not rely on his athleticism to win.
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. If the Rams can’t find a viable quarterback, why not continue to add to the 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. Still, Waynes seems to be the top corner in every anonymous scout’s mind.
12. Cleveland Browns - WR DeVante Parker, Louisville - I keep reading Browns fans saying the team’s decision makers do not believe in drafting receivers early. That is not true, and reports stated they were seriously considering selecting Brandin Cooks last year. Parker is a threat in contested catches and has yards after catch ability for his size.
13. New Orleans Saints - EDGE Alvin Dupree, Kentucky - Bud did not go through the 3-cone and 20 yard short shuttle at the Combine, but his athletic fingerprint is similar to that of Cameron Wake’s. 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. Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler are not. 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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