Well, we've finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel. It's time for my final mock draft. Last time, I did a 7 round Giants only mock. This time I'm mocking the whole first round. This is the one that counts, and its a difficult line to walk between trying to project who the teams will draft, and who will be the better players
1 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - Tampa has said that Wintson's off-field issues won't effect their pick. It won't if they've made up they aren't going to take Winston. Simply put, I believe that even though Winston has been in a pro-style offense, Mariota is the better prospect.
2 - Tennessee Titans
Jameis Winston, QB, FSU -- One way or the other, I think these QBs go back-to-back. Mariota going first threw a curveball to the rest of the league, and if the Titans believe in Zach Mettenberger, then this is a prime scenario to trade down. If they don't, then Winston is an automatic upgrade to their offense. Win-win.
3 - Jacksonville Jaguars
Dante Fowler Jr. EDGE, Florida -- He said he'd be surprised if the Jags didn't take him, so I'll save him the surprise. Fowler isn't the same kind of athlete that Vic Beasley is, but he is incredibly versatile and a better run defender -- important given Jacksonville's woeful run defense.
4 - Oakland Raiders
Leonard Williams, DL, USC -- Williams just couldn't fall any further. Adding talent around Derek Carr should be their biggest priority, but you don't pass on the best player in the draft. Willams with Khalil Mack behind him is the makings of a terror.
5 - Washington Redskins
Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa -- Washington very well could use this pick to replace Brian Orakpo, but they still have Ryan Kerrigan, and have sunk a lot of money in their defense this offseason. Instead, I'm shoring up a sieve of an offensive line.
6 - New York Jets
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama -- They could go Andrus Peat here, but I can't let the top-rated wide receiver fall any further. Brandon Marshall is their No. 1 receiver, but Cooper will be there for the long haul. He's a good athlete and a plus route runner, and should let Eric Decker get similar match-ups like he did with the Thomases in Denver.
7 - Chicago Bears
Kevin White, WR, WVU -- The Bears may have gotten a fifth-round pick for Brandon Marshall, but that trade created a void in their offense. White fills that void and brings a similar brand of physical football as Marshall and Alston Jeffery, but adds a level of athleticism that both receivers lack.
8 - Atlanta Falcons
Malcom Brown, DT, Texas -Dan Quinn will likely be bringing Seattle's hybrid defense to Atlanta, so a "Bruce Irvin" type seems like it would be the pick. However, apart from their secondary, it's the big uglies that make the defense run. Brown has the size and strength to two-gap, and the athleticism to be a one gap penetrator.
9 - New York Giants
Alvin 'Bud' Dupree, EDGE, Kentucky - There were four or five ways I could have gone here: DeVante Parker, Shane Ray, Andrus Peat, La'el Collins, or Bud Dupree.
I ultimately went with Dupree for a couple reasons. I'm going to assume that the Giants feel they can find some serviceable receivers out of Soup Harris, Corey Washington, Juron Criner, and Chris Harper. Jerry Reese said that he would only move Justin Pugh inside for a dynamic right tackle. And while I think Peat could be that, there are enough inconsistencies in his game to make me wonder if he will ever reach his ceiling. La'el Collins is, I think, the most likely offensive lineman. He hails from LSU, is a brute of a blocker, and is reportedly a great team leader.
However, I'm just not comfortable taking a guard this high. So, it came down to Ray vs. Dupree. I get the feeling from people inside the NFL or who have their roots there -- former players, scouts, and GMs. Folks like that -- are much higher on Shane Ray than pretty much everyone outside is, so I think he could be a legitimate option here. However, with confirmation from Dan Hatman that the Giants have a definite philosophy that "big guys beat up smaller guys," and his truly elite measurables, I'm opting for the 270-pound Dupree.
*EDIT* This draft was written before Ray was pulled over Monday. That has knocked him way down, and out of consideration at 9, size and injury considerations aside. While I believe his size and pro day performance wouldn't necessarily dissuade NFL GM's because of his production, competitive fire, and explosive tape, the abysmal decision on top of his other concerns is just too much.
He checks all the boxes athletically, and he is well-suited for Spags' zone blitzing scheme. He also reportedly has very high character and is a team leader. He might not be the nasty brute that Collins is, or the QB hunting hellspawn that Ray is, but he can certainly get after the QB. With Robert Ayers, George Selvie, and possibly Jason Pierre-Paul on one-year contracts, adding depth to the foundation of the Giants' defense is definitely a good idea.
10 - St. Louis Rams
Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford - The Rams offensive line dropped from 13th in the league in 2013 to 31st in 2014. Greg Robinson has yet to live up to his draft position, and while an injured Rodger Saffold was their best lineman, that's really not saying much. Peat could probably step in and play either tackle position, letting Robinson play the other tackle position, or the remaining guard position, whichever works best.
11 - Minnesota Vikings
Devante Parker, WR, Louisville - This just works out too nicely. Parker was Teddy Bridgewater's number one option at Louisville, and that connection gets renewed. The opportunity to give a young franchise QB a very good receiver he has a pre-existing relationship with is too good to pass up.
12 - Cleveland Browns
Randy Gregory, EDGE, Nebraska - After dealing with the fallout of their first-round picks from 2014, this is a bit unlikely. However, if Gregory is able to convince teams his character isn't an issue, this is a great value at a thin position.
13 - New Orleans Saints
Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF - The Saints traded away Jimmy Graham, and in doing so lost their biggest offensive weapon and mismatch. Perriman has his issues with drops, but he brings a Demarius Thomas-level of athletic mismatch, and the combination of Perriman and Brandon Cooks would let the Saints run circles around defenses.
14 - Miami Dolphins
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State - The Dolphins have a dangerous defensive line. Cam Wake and Suh alone should give offensive coordinators nightmares. But the back end doesn't quite match the front end. Waynes should help keep the ball in QBs hands long enough for the rushers to get home.
15 - San Francisco 49ers
Danny Shelton, DT, Washington - No team has had a worse 2015 than the 49ers. They've lost good coaches and franchise players, and their new head coach was their defensive line coach about four months ago. Despite being a 330-pound tackle, Shelton is tremendously athletic and shows the kind of heart for the game that the team could really need right about now.
16 - Houston Texans
La'el Collins, OL, LSU - The Texans would probably hope for a receiver to pair with Andre Hopkins, but there isn't good value here. Instead, they are getting the top offensive lineman on the board to help give Ryan Mallett the time to find Hopkins. Personally, I'm in the camp who think Collins is a guard, but he should get a chance at tackle.
17 - San Diego Chargers
Cam Erving, C, FSU - The Chargers went though more centers than Philip Rivers has goofy expressions. Erving is a former left tackle who moved to center out of necessity, and excelled at the position. With more experience and coaching, he should only get better.
18 - Kansas City Chiefs
D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida - Another team that could hope for a wide receiver to fall, the Chiefs also wind up drafting a lineman. Humphries could be the top left tackle in the draft, though there is no tape of him playing at more than 285 pounds. He is a tremendous athlete who does a lot of things you want to see from a tackle, and Andy Reid loves drafting linemen.
19 - Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills)
Vic Beasley, EDGE, Clemson - This is a pure value pick, but with two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in the division, getting one of the top edge rushers in the draft is not a bad idea. Beasley has an explosive first step, but his size could limit him at the next level, however if he gets the hole shot on the OT, there's nothing they can do.
20 - Philadelphia Eagles
Ronald Darby, DB, FSU - I was sorely tempted to mock Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, a talented but injured Duck to the Eagles, but I just couldn't. Darby is a remarkably athletic corner who should also have the ability to play free safety, giving Chip Kelly some flexibility in bolstering his secondary and getting his first round pick on the field.
21 - Cincinnati Bengals
Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest - Johnson is in an interesting place in the media. Analysts are bringing his name up pretty consistently, but he still doesn't seem to be getting much recognition. However, he is a polished cover corner with solid size, two things the Bengals could use.
22 - Pittsburgh Steelers
Damarious Randall, FS, Arizona St. - If the 49ers have lost the most, the Steelers are close behind. They are undergoing a forced defensive rebuild, and with a secondary that has been severely weakened Randall makes a lot of sense.
23 - Detroit Lions
Michael Bennett, DT, OSU - The Lions have lost two first-round defensive tackles, and two of the most disruptive DTs in the game. Bennett is undersized, but he is very athletic and has a habit of living in the opponent's backfield. He would look very good next to Hiloti Ngata and Ziggy Ansah.
24 - Arizona Cardinals
Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA - Who knows when (or if) Daryl Washington is going to be available for the Cardinals. Kendricks could play either inside or outside linebacker, and provides the same kind of defensive whirlwind that Washington did.
25 - Carolina Panthers
Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon - Are the Panthers really going to rely on Michael Oher at OT? Fisher is a right tackle in college, but he is ridiculously athletic and has tackle feet, period. He can play either side, and would be an upgrade.
26 - Baltimore Ravens
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia - Supposedly Gurley passed his latest checkup with flying colors, and despite being out of the "friend zone" with Justin Forsett they still need a running back. Gurley is a true three-down back with more speed and agility than a back his size has any right to. He also has great hands to bring a lot of the same offensive threats as Ray Rice once did.
27 - Dallas Cowboys
PJ Williams, CB, FSU - Williams is a talented cornerback, but his stock has taken a hit from off-field issues. But when has Jerry Jones cared about those? After forever being immortalized by Odell Beckham, the 'Boys just have to draft a corner.
28 - Denver Broncos
Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon - With Wade Phillips taking over their defense, it will likely be changing to the same kind of one-gap 3-4 he ran in Dallas and Houston. That just happens to be a defense Armstead, who compares to Calais Campbell and J.J. Watt, is perfectly suited for.
29 - Indianapolis Colts
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin - The Colts signed Frank Gore, but he is definitely on the downside of his career. Gordon has worked to become a true three-down, all purpose back, and the Colts could certainly use one of those to help keep the veteran fresh for a full season.
30 - Green Bay Packers
Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington - The Packers have been at their best when their defense is getting the ball back in the offense's hands. That is one thing Shaq Thompson does very well. He has more defensive stops than you'd expect from a 2-way player his size, but he also has a real nose for the ball and a knack for taking the ball away from opposing offenses.
31 - New Orleans Saints (via Seattle Seahawks)
Shane Ray, EDGE, Missouri - Ultimately, I think Ray is a good young man who made an incredibly bad decision. But I think NFL teams are much higher on him than many people are on the outside. The Siants probably did their homework on him up with the thirteenth pick. If they are comfortable with his character, they can't let him slip past their 2nd pick. The talent, value, and fit are too great to ignore, and after all the hits Ray has taken this offseason, he is set to tear up the NFL.
32 - New England Patriots
Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan - Funchess is a former tight end who transitioned to wide receiver his final year in college. I've long felt that he is the type of player that few in the league would know what to do with, and Bill Belichick would make everyone wonder how they could have let him pass. Funchess would fit right in with Gronk and Tim Wright.
There, that's it. My last mock draft of the year. You know, unless I decide to do a 2016 mock draft on the Sunday after the draft, or something like that. Oh, and my weekly mocks for the 2016 season. Well, let's at least say this is my last mock draft of the week. I would be happy taking Dupree, and I don't think I'd be really upset with any of my five options. Of course with that being said, I fully expect Jerry Reese to take somebody completely off the wall. All that's left to do is wait and see how I did.