As everyone who’s followed UKEndZone or myself know I’m not a fan of ‘mock drafts.’ It usually involves an algorithm of sliding your big board into team needs and spitting out a thirty-two team list. I prefer the ‘If I was GM’ mock draft, crafted and invented by ‘Robbo in the field’. Unlike a mock which is a projection of what you think will happen this is what would happen if I were the general manager of each of the thirty-two franchises.
As always, some things to remember;
- Positions – Players are listed at their current college position. Players will shift throughout the process and their rank will be changed when that information comes to light.
- Movement – As the process continues there will be movement and likely major moves as we get more accurate measurables and intangible reports.
- Grades – Grades are based on a scale that is detailed here.
- Opinion – Remember these rankings are MY opinion and mine alone. Feel free to share your opinion but abuse based on a draft ranking is unwarranted.
Winston and Williams are 1A and 1B on my board. The character concerns are there but he’s one of the most polished quarterback products in a decade. It’s a simple pick.
I’m extremely tempted to take Marcus Mariota here. I fully believe in Mariota’s abilities on and off the field. He can play and win from the pocket if required and with a more imaginative coach he can do deadly things outside of the pocket as well. But the roster in Tennessee is the barest in the league. The club has to get better on the interior (offensive line and defensive line) before building with skill position talent. Williams isn’t just one of the best players in this class he’s one of the best players for a long time. He perfectly fits new defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau’s philosophy as he can be moved all over the defensive front in a 4-3 or 3-4.
The quarterback situation in Jacksonville scares me. I wasn’t a Bortles fan pre-draft last year and he didn’t do much to change my mind in 2014. Now, the team around him, particularly his line, is not flooded with talent. But I’d certainly have to ask myself the question, as unusual as it may be to spend two top-five picks in a row on a quarterback, how does he grade compared to Marcus Mariota? But I think it’s another case of building the franchise interior before panicking over Bortles. Dante Fowler is the perfect scheme fit for coach Gus Bradley. He can move all over the formation standing up at linebacker or playing with his hand in the dirt. He has a relentless motor and an unparalleled worth ethic.
I missed on Derek Carr last year. I thought he was a system guy and he looked much more than that in 2014. Now it’s time to give him the best weapon possible in the draft. To me, that’s Cooper. I feel much safer with Cooper than fellow elite receiving prospect, Kevin White, who had just one outstanding collegiate season. Cooper played in a pro-style offense, with pro concepts and combinations.
I can’t see Mariota getting out of the top-five. Trades aren’t allowed in the WIDGM Draft, but Mariota is too valuable as a commodity to let slip past this point. Washington has one of the largest organisational decisions of anyone around the league. To re-up with RGIII or to cut ties after the 2015 season? I think the best thing the Redskins can do is bring in Mariota, see how he handles Jay Gruden’s offense compared to Griffin, redshirt him behind RGIII for a season and make a decision on which player offers the team the best chance to win going forward at the end of the year. It’s costly to spend a top-five selection on a player who would not play (in my plan) next season. but it’s a pick that would be worth it down the road.
At six Kevin White offers fantastic value. The Jets don’t necessarily need a receiver and edge-rushers Randy Gregory and Shane Ray make great sense as well. But White has a chance to be an offensive superstar and I could not pass that up. He stretches the field vertically better than anyone in the class, makes difficult contested plays, is a consistent big play waiting to happen and plays with a confidence and swagger that’s been lacking on the Jets offense.
Gregory is the best edge-rusher in the class and is in the discussion from picks three to seven. The failed drug test at the combine is a concern due more to the responsibility of knowing the date of the test rather than the drug he failed the test for. He’s the best 3-4 OLB in the draft and causes chaos in backfields.
Ray is a talented player who gets pushed of the block more than Gregory but has elite instincts and a nose for the ball. The Falcons desperately need to improve their defense and Ray is exactly the sort of high ceiling player new head coach Dan Quinn can get the best out off.
Scherff has me breaking one of my biggest draft rules – ‘don’t draft an offensive lineman in the top-ten.’ Reduced practice time has hurt incoming offensive lineman as much, if not more, than any position in the league. I’m making an exception for Scherff who can play both right tackle and guard from day one in the league. The Giants have the quarterback and elite weapons. They need defensive help and offensive line help. Scherff is the highest rated player on my board (#7) at nine and fits the Giants biggest need.
The Rams already boast one of the most ridiculous position groups in all of pro-football, defensive line, and at pick ten have been taken out of the Mariota sweepstakes. The pick to me came down to Ereck Flower, OT, and DeVante Parker, WR. Parker is an elite vertical threat, star receiver in the making. He’s a savant at high-pointing, competing and catching the football and would be a dream for new Rams quarterback Nick Foles.
Flowers comes off the board with the next pick. Minnesota needs line help to protect their young quarterback. Flowers is the number one ‘pure tackle’ on my board and he can play anywhere along the line. He’s a vocal locker room leader and shows a nasty streak on the field.
Shelton has the potential to be a defensive anchor. He’s a two-gapping run-stuffer who sets the tone with a nasty side. The Browns have two picks in this years draft (as they did last year) and they have to be used on known commodity players. There’s some work-ethic concerns (as with last years two first round selections) but he’s a known prospect on the field.
Collins is one of my favourite players in the draft and I love the idea of him combining with Jairus Byrd one of the finest safeties in the league. The Saints were shredded on defense all of last year and Collins certainly constitutes an upgrade.
I have Armstead rated as the tenth player on my board so he’s a great value pick at ten. It’s not a major need for the Dolphins (it’s actually a strong suit) but you throw out the freakishly athletic Armsted with Ndamukong Suh, Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake and you have one of the best defensive front rotations in the league. Taking Armsted also helps facilitate a Dion Jordan trade to Philadelphia.
There are big differing opinions on Odighizuwa. I’m a big fan. He’s a gamble but I think the Niners need to gamble to try to bring in some studs. At times his tape does not reflect his freakish athletic ability and that is a concern, but it does flash. He’s highly competitive and fairly versatile.
Green-Beckham is another player who is receiving a huge variety of opinions. He’s a Pro Bowler on the field and undraftable off it. The Texans need another outside threat after losing Andre Johnson and adding Cecil Shorts who’s a threat from the slot. Beckham is a physical threat and the Texans need to surround whoever plays quarterback with as many pass catchers as possible
The more I watch Gurley on tape the more I fall in love. On tape he’s a legitimate top-five pick, the only issue is his health and how much of an impact will he have next year. The Chargers may need an impact player in 2015, particularly with Philip Rivers only getting older, but Gurley is just too great of a value pick for him to slide any further. Gurley has the chance to be an All-Pro running back. Teaming that with Philip Rivers and a strong passing attack could be deadly for the next five years.
Erving is the most versatile offensive lineman in the class. He’s listed as a Center but he played some tackle in college and could easily start his career as a starting guard in the league. The Chiefs do need receiver options and both Jaelen Strong (Arizona State) and Devin Smith (Ohio State) are available. But the receiver class runs deep and versatile offensive lineman don’t. The loss of Rodney Hudson to the Raiders only confounds things for the Chiefs. The pick of Erving a terrific prospect makes too much sense.
The Browns need to supplement their first pick with another uncomplicated pick. Waynes is as talented as cornerback in the class and comes with none of the off the fields concerns Marcus Peters has. An offensive weapon is another option but with McCown and Manziel it’s best for the Browns to load up on defense.
I’m not as big of a fan as most of Vic Beasley. He’s an incredible athlete with unbelievable physical attributes and workout numbers. The tape however tells a different story. He struggles against longer physical tackles and has major lapses in the run game. But he flashes unique traits on and off the field and is a gamble I’d take in the middle of the first round. He’s a perfect fit for Chip Kelly and his philosophy on and off the field. He’s a workout warrior and would completely buy in to all aspects of the Eagles regime. It’s the best fit for him and I would not be shocked to see the Eagles move up to go get him.
The Bengals are a key difference maker away from winning a playoff game. Strong has a chance to be a true difference maker if he’s paired with another elite receiver. He’s a physical deep threat in the ilk of Alshon Jeffrey. Alongside AJ Green he could be an immediate contributor that pushes the Bengals to the second round of the post season. I’d also look at Andrus Peat to come in and help the offensive line but an offensive weapon is what I think is needed.
Peters is the number one corner on my board but I’m wary of his off the field record. He failed a drug test in 2011, suspended for a quarter in 2013 and suspended multiple times in 2014 for academic failures and for incidents such as head butting an opponent. It’s a bad list and lots of investigation needs to be done. Pittsburgh’s secondary is devoid of elite talent I’d bet on the ‘culture’ of a Mike Tomlin lead locker room and Rooney owned team to be the best landing spot for Peters who have Pro Bowl upside.
Peat has great measurable and may be the best pure left tackle prospect at the top of the draft. But his tape can be wildly inconsistent. The Lions needs more bodies on the inside despite adding Haloti Ngata but the importance for me is to solidify their offensive line and put the team on Matt Stafford. Can he carry the Lions to a championship game or not? Put the onus on him and surround him with players who make that job easier.
After finally hanging up on the Vikings (who turned down my offer for Adrian Peterson) the Cardinals should select the best back available. If Gurley unlikely falls I’d jump all over him but in this scenario Gordon is the best available. He has middle of the first round talent and the Cardinals can grab him at pick twenty-four.
The Panthers have to everything to surround Cam Newton with offensive help and at twenty-five Clemmings is the top player on my board. He’s a raw player with great upside and elite length for a tackle prospect. I’d consider another receiving prospect but my first priority is to protect Newton and the franchise.
I’ve only in the last twenty-four hours been able to pick up my jaw from the floor after seeing Baltimore steal Timmy Jernigan in the second round of last year’s draft. It was such an obvious and great Ozzie Newsome move. Now it’s time to double down and take another interior lineman from Florida State. Goldman is all bulk and a monster against the run, maybe the second best lineman against the run in the draft. There’s some concerns about his motor (as there was with Jernigan) but I think he can be a legitimate anchor in the league.
Dallas obviously need to look at the running back spot but in this scenario the top two backs are off the board and there’s no real value in reaching on Duke Johnson or Jay Ajayi here. The Cowboys defense needs more size and versatility and the best defensive player on my board is Malcolm Brown. Brown’s another great run defender and he has experience playing NT, DT and DE in both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts.
The Broncos are looking for ‘home run’ upside, difference making picks who can have an immediate impact in year one. I was tempted to take the best wide receiver left on my board but I still trust if Peyton Manning is healthy the offense will be fine in the regular season and a rookie pass catcher wouldn’t make a season changing difference. Defensively the Broncos need another edge rusher and the best on my board at twenty-eight is Bud Dupree. Dupree has an outstanding work ethic and impeccable character. He’s a true workout warrior and it shows on the field. He shows great range against the run and is violent and willing as an edge rusher from both the linebacker spot and at defensive end.
The Colts added some great veteran leadership and offensive difference makers in free-agency. It’s time to address a defense that still lacks real depth or elite talent. Harold is a quick riser on my board and would be tremendous value at twenty-eight. He’s a better edge rusher than Dupree but is below average against the run.
Green Bay must still be kicking themselves for last years missed opportunities and there’s not a great deal of areas they need to upgrade. The interior of the defense does need help but there’s no value picks at this spot. Kevin Johnson is the best player left on my board and he fills a hole left by Davon House.
At thirty-one I’m taking one of the Collins’ from LSU either La’El (OT/G) or Jalen (CB). We addressed part of the Saints defensive woes with the first pick in the first round (Landon Collins) and it’s time to continue that. Collins is up and down on tape but has great size and length to be a press man or man corner at the pro level. I trust Sean Payton as the best offensive play caller in football and Drew Brees, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, to figure out the offense. Spending two first round picks on defense is costly but certainly needed.
I don’t have Funchess listed as a first rounder nor is wide receiver a major need the Patriots need to address in the first round. But I salivate at the thought of how Josh McDaniels could use the versatility of Funchess in New England’s offense. He could slot in to twin-TE sets alongside Rob Gronkowski or split outside as a legitimate isolation wide receiver. He may not be the best player left on the board but it’s the best landing spot to take advantage of Funchess’ skill set.