Nick Whalen and George Kritikos recently completed a two round NFL mock draft after the combine in Indianapolis. Many selections will change after free agency concludes, but below are the results with Nick Whalen making all the post-combine odd-numbered choices and George Kritikos taking the even-numbered selections. We’ll be brining you the complete two round mock draft all week – we start with the first sixteen picks today.
1.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston QB Florida St
I view Mariota as the better prospect, but Winston is more pro ready and it seems that’s what Lovie Smith wants. Winston has a big arm, which will be a huge boost for the stocks of Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Tampa needs a leader and Winston stepped up in big games. The biggest questions for Winston’s career arc will be centered around his maturity and long release.
2.) Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB Oregon
I was torn between going Leonard Williams or Mariota here. Both were impressive at the combine and while the Titans are adamant on Zach Mettenberger as their guy, I don’t see them going after another position here. The far likelier scenario would be trading down, which would be a play for Mariota by the incoming team. The blistering 40-yard dash aside (4.52), Mariota threw well and supposedly interviewed very well with teams. He may be lagging in the pro-style offense experience, but he should be a quick learner for whichever team decides to select him here.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DL USC
Gus Bradley is a defensive minded head coach and he’s sick of his team finishing near the bottom in defense. Williams is the best player in this draft and instantly upgrades this defensive unit. He’s versatile and athletic enough to play all over the line, giving them a cornerstone to build around.
4. Oakland Raiders: Kevin White, WR West Virginia
I previously mocked Amari Cooper here but I think White has done enough to surpass him as the top receiver prospect in the draft. Between the college production (over 100 catches in 2014), confirming his size (his 6’3” listing was highly disputed prior to the combine), and registering an elite 40-yard dash time of 4.35, White is the combination of freak athlete (Oakland usually falls in love with them) and productive receiver that is in high demand in today’s NFL. He would instantly slot as the Raiders’ top receiver and Derek Carr’s first legitimate option.
5. Washington Redskins: Dante Fowler, OLB Florida
The rise continues for Fowler after a great combine performance. Getting after the quarterback is a premium and Fowler has a wide array of moves in his arsenal. Brian Orakpo is a free agent and coming off of another major injury. If the Redskins resign him, they could have one of the best duos with Fowler.
6. New York Jets: Amari Cooper, WR Alabama
Cooper is well known after his SEC record breaking year at Alabama, leading the nation with 124 receptions. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like the Jets need a receiver, but Percy Harvin is owed over $10 million next year and hasn’t been receptive to a pay cut. Cooper can play outside or in the slot and would be a great stable mate for Eric Decker and another option for Geno Smith. The focus for the Jets needs to be on the offensive side and this is a good first step.
7. Chicago Bears: Trae Waynes, CB Michigan State
Most perceptions of building the best defense would start with pass rushers. However, Seattle and New England have shown a great backfield allows more time upfront to get to the quarterback. Last season, Chicago spent a first round pick on Kyle Fuller and now they will have a duo for years to come. In a division with big receivers Calvin Johnson and Jordy Nelson, the Bears need to be able to matchup with bigger corners who can run.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Danny Shelton, DT Washington
The Falcons badly need defensive help. While a pass rusher like Vic Beasley or Randy Gregory would work here as well, Shelton has the ability to make the entire defense better. He is a monster against the run and possesses surprising pass rush ability for a man his size (339 pounds). Having him as part of a rotation will keep him fresh and occupy multiple blockers, making the pass rush opportunistic in finding the gaps Shelton creates. Shelton has been favorably compared to Haloti Ngata and he could have a similar impact for this defense.
9. New York Giants: Vic Beasley, DE Clemson
The Giants don’t know if Jason Pierre-Paul is returning, but even if he is coming back, they still need help getting after the quarterback. Beasley is very explosive and weighs 30 more pounds than the other option in Gregory. They thought long and hard about addressing the offensive line in this exercise, but the value of pass rushers was too great.
10. St. Louis Rams: Andrus Peat, OT Stanford
The offensive line underperformed in 2014 with Jake Long struggling to stay healthy and 2014 rookie Greg Robinson slow in his transition to the NFL. If the Dallas Cowboys taught us anything last year, investing in a quality offensive line improves all the skill players around it. With Peat, the Rams get the best tackle prospect in the draft and someone who can push Robinson, creating a solid pair of bookends for the next decade. The team could opt to move either Robinson or Long inside to replace Davin Joseph if they opt to let him walk this off-season (a smart option). Another option here is DeVante Parker but the team has invested too much at the position already to spend another high pick when there are additional needs.
11. Minnesota Vikings: Brandon Scherff, RT Iowa
Many are projecting the Vikings to take a pass catcher here, but I don’t see it. Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson fill that void perfectly fine. Spending the 11th overall selection on a wide receiver after shelling out a bunch of money to Jennings and spending a first round pick on Patterson a couple of years ago seems like a waste. Protecting young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater should be of the utmost importance. Scherff could step in day one and start for the Vikings.
12. Cleveland Browns: DeVante Parker, WR Louisville
This is a great outcome for the Browns as they could replace Josh Gordon immediately with Parker. Granted, they have many other needs on this offense but a great receiver would open up the running game and give Johnny Manziel an opportunity to have a legitimate option for those deep passes he likes to throw. Parker has a huge catch radius and should be a red zone threat right from the beginning. While this isn’t the best landing spot from a dynasty perspective, Parker is talented enough to overcome a bad situation.
13. New Orleans Saints: Randy Gregory DE/OLB Nebraska
Kind of a surprising fall for Gregory, considering he’s one of the most athletic edge defenders in this draft. However, he weighed in pretty light and there is no uncertainty he can gain the added weight and maintain his speed and athleticism on the field. The Saints need defensive playmakers and the shaky future of Junior Galette could force the team to look for a replacement. In Gregory, they would have that caliber of difference maker and someone they could use as a defensive building block.
14. Miami Dolphins: Marcus Peters, CB Washington
Miami could go in a few directions here, particularly offensive line, but with Scherff and Peat gone, this is the best plan B. Peters has a ton of question marks off the field, causing the drop in draft stock, but he may even be better long-term than Waynes. Elite ball tracking skills help with his less than elite speed (4.53 40-yard dash) with the playmaker label an apt one. We’re not sure if Marshawn Lynch is the best mentor, but the fact he is receptive to getting help for his behavior in the past is a positive sign. Having Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan will allow Peters to learn slowly, but Finnegan struggled last year and will be a free agent after the 2015 season.
15. San Francisco 49ers: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR Oklahoma
Surprise! The 49ers have a 65-year old Anquan Boldin, a shadow of himself in Stevie Johnson and Michael Crabtree is going to be a free agent. Basically, they don’t have anyone worth noting for the future. Beckham can step in right away and be the man. He has the size and athletic ability to support a passing game. This may be a bit early due to his character concerns, but he would be selected higher due to his talent.
16. Houston Texans: Shane Ray, DE/OLB Missouri
The uncertain future of Jadeveon Clowney and pending free agency of Brooks Reed makes this a position of need once again. Ray falls slightly here (partially due to a toe injury that prevented him from performing all the drills at the combine) but has a great running mate in J.J. Watt and could present another pass rushing nightmare for opposing offenses. He led the SEC in sacks last year at Missouri and should be able to contribute immediately for a top flight defense.