It's time for a mock draft, New York Giants fans! I guarantee you'll have your fill and most definitely more than that of these as we head on to our inexorable march towards the 2015 NFL Draft.
The draft is a great thing. It is a time when all fan bases have something to hope for. It's a time when you look for players who could possibly put you over the edge. It's about bragging rights, and it's about finding that next star that you can gush about. It's about finding that next Odell Beckham Jr.
I'm going to be doing this first round mock by myself. 'Raptor22' has already posted his, and Jesse will be posting one soon. Let's get started!
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-14 (.486 SOS)
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - An easy choice for me. Mariota is my second-rated player in the entire draft, and he fills perhaps the biggest need for the Buccaneers. A smooth passer that contrary to popular belief can, and has, made throws in tight windows. The 'scheme' concern is legitimate and I think he'll need some time to learn, but his ability to move, feel pressure, and make those outside the pocket throws are scheme independent.
2. Tennessee Titans: 2-14 (.506 SOS)
Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska - I've heard rumors that the Titans are not looking for a quarterback. Are they true? I have no idea. However, I definitely believe they need an edge rusher to replace the departed Akeem Ayers. Gregory is among my top three prospects in this draft and he'll fill both value and need for the Titans as they get the 3-4 prospect version of Ezekiel Ansah.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-13 (.514 SOS)
Leonard Williams, DT, USC - The Jags have a few glaring needs, and while defensive line might not necessarily be one of them, it presents both great value (Williams is my top rated player overall) but also gives Gus Bradley an elite moveable chess piece a la J.J. Watt (note: not comparing talent, just versatility of position) for his multiple type defense.
4. Oakland Raiders: 3-13 (.570 SOS)
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama - Many scouts say that Cooper would be the third or fourth wide receiver drafted if it was 2014. He's my fourth overall pick in this scenario. 2014 was a weird year, but talent is talent and Cooper has it in boatloads. A nicely framed player that runs routes and beats press much better than his size would indicate. He doesn't have the body control that Beckham does (who does?) but he's got a large catch radius and consistently gets open enough to be considered a number one wide receiver.
5. Washington Redskins: 4-12 (.496 SOS)
Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri - Not a difficult choice here. Explosive burst, great bend and insane aggression, Ray can fill in for Brian Orakpo should he leave and pairs him up with the explosive Ryan Kerrigan. I know there are some very good offensive linemen out there, but I don't know that I'd pick any of them over Ray. The last of my "elite" prospects available in this draft as well.
6. New York Jets: 4-12 (.543 SOS)
Jameis Winston, QB, FSU - Now let me be clear, I'm not a fan of Winston. I ranked him as my 35th overall prospect but he's far and away in another league compared to the other QBs left on the board. I see him as a more accurate Blake Bortles, with decent speed to move around in the pocket and escape, terrific accuracy and he comes from a pro-style offense, so he knows how to read through progressions and can make NFL caliber throws.
His decision making on the field (and off it, too, kinda) is questionable, however. He's got open guys at times, but just doesn't target them and makes too many boneheaded mistakes in my head. I like the way Mariota handles pressure much more than I do Winston. That being said, the Jets should take Winston if he's there. If you think there's a chance this guy can be a franchise QB, you take it.
7. Chicago Bears: 5-11 (.529 SOS)
Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford - I think Peat, along with Ereck Flowers, are the only "true" very good left tackle prospects in this draft. The Bears could definitely stand to have an upgrade along their offensive front, regardless of who their QB is going to be. Peat is aggressive, balanced, and an elite pass protector. He'll keep that QB upright.
8. Atlanta Falcons: 6-10 (.482 SOS)
Dante Fowler, Jr., DE, Florida - The highest rated pass rusher left on my board, Fowler is scheme versatile and adds good length, an absurd motor, leadership qualities and speed to an anemic and frankly, quite pathetic Falcons pass rush. They badly need an upgrade here if they are to compete for the NFC South next year and he's a very strong one.
9. New York Giants: 6-10 (.512 SOS)
Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa - It was honestly between Scherff and La'el Collins for me. I have Collins rated exactly one position higher than Scherff, but they are certainly on the same tier and for any and all purposes pretty much equal in my eyes at this point. Both are left tackles for their respective teams, but I think both are due for a change in position in the pros. Collins looks to be a better run blocker, while Scherff holds his own as a better pass protector. Collins is more consistent, while Scherff had a few ups and downs this year while dealing with injury, though Scherff I'd say is more athletic. Both can play right tackle or guard, however I feel like Scherff ends up being a better guard and Collins ends up being a better tackle. That's why I went with Scherff.
I know the argument about drafting an interior offensive lineman high. It's a great one and something that vacillate on in terms of subscribing to. However, if you think a guy like Scherff is the next Zack Martin, then I think for the sake of Eli Manning and offense, you draft him and let him go at guard for the next decade. Who knows how many years Manning has left and he's steadily declined in performance under pressure, so the Giants need to do all they can to help him in that regard.
10. St. Louis Rams: 6-10 (.531 SOS)
Devante Parker, WR, Louisville - The story goes that the St. Louis Rams would have drafted Odell Beckham had the Giants let him go, so we know they could use a wide receiver. Kenny Britt had a good year for them, but he's a ticking time bomb at this point. Tavon Austin hasn't shown enough to warrant supreme trust in him, and Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey are decent enough contributors. No number 1 wide receiver, however, and the athletic and smooth Parker changes just that.
11. Minnesota Vikings: 7-9 (.475 SOS)
La'el Collins, OT, LSU - The Vikings have found their franchise in Teddy Bridgewater, now it comes time to protect him. Matt Kalil struggled, but I still think he could be the answer at left tackle. Collins, as mentioned before can play anywhere. They have Phil Loadholt at right tackle, and could move Collins inside to shore up the interior of that line and not only protect Bridgewater, but get running lanes for the running back as well.
12. Cleveland Browns: 7-9 (.479 SOS)
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia - Too easy of a pick, right? I mean, c'mon now, they've got very few weapons in the passing game with Josh Gordon essentially Will Hill'ing himself into the doghouse of Mike Pettine and Jordan Cameron getting oft injured. White provides an explosive vertical threat for them.
13. New Orleans Saints: 7-9 (.486 SOS)
Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington - A great blend of need and value, Thompson provides the middle level of that defense with an infusion of athleticism and aggression. He could be a Daryl Washington type player at WILB for the Saints if they choose to stay in a 3-4, or could be a speedy threat as a WILL should they move to a 4-3. In either case, stocking up on defense is never a bad option for NOLA this season.
14. Miami Dolphins: 8-8 (.512 SOS)
Landon Collins, S, Alabama - It's difficult to see the Dolphins go defense here, especially since that unit was a near dominant one for them, but I think Collins provides good value along with a filling a nice need here. He's a terrific hitter and has very good range for a strong safety, so he'll shore up a weak spot in the soft zones underneath in coverage.
15. San Francisco 49ers: 8-8 (.527 SOS)
Trae Waynes, CB, MSU - Easily my top corner in this class, Waynes is an aggressive cover corner who likes to be physical with wide receivers and prefers to play in a man scheme. I think he runs very well and though he's got tight hips sometimes, he makes it work. Get him on a 49ers team and let him run as part of that secondary to help take advantage of that strong pass rush.
16. Houston Texans: 9-7 (.447 SOS)
Cody Prewitt, S, Ole Miss - A bit of a reach, as his stock has dropped quite a bit, but I think it makes a ton of sense. Kendrick Lewis is replaceable at FS and the Texans need a fair bit of help on the back end. I'm not going to relent on my comparison of Harrison Smith to Prewitt, and I think he'll ultimately test well enough to be worth the draft spot.
17. San Diego Chargers: 9-7 (.512 SOS)
T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh - Kind of an easy pick as well. No secret the Chargers need help up and down that offensive front. Clemmings could certainly be considered as a left tackle prospect or a guard. Some actually have him higher than this, but I think this is a good spot for him. He moves very well, but from the games I've seen, he's had a few slip ups.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: 9-7 (.512 SOS)
Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson - I know they drafted Dee Ford last year, but with Justin Houston about to hit the jackpot and Tamba Hali as a potential cap cut, it's easy to see them double down on linebackers. Beasley has a tremendous first step and his speed/bend are the best in this class. With Phillip Rivers and Peyton Manning in the division, let him go wreak havoc.
19. Cleveland Browns (own first-round pick of Buffalo Bills, 9-7 -- .516 SOS)
Eddie Goldman, DT ,Florida State - I have Danny Shelton rated higher, but I think the Browns need a 5-technique more than a nose tackle. Goldman has a freakish blend of speed and power that will allow him to take on the strong side and collapse the pocket from the edge. Let him free things up for Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: 10-6 (.490 SOS)
Bernardrick McKinney, ILB, MIssissippi State - "Big people beat up little people" which defines Chip Kelly's mantra. McKinney certainly fits that approach. Opinions have been quite mixed on him, and the reason, I think for that, is the lack of aggression I see sometimes. He has all the tools. I've seen him shed blocks, make plays in the backfield, go sideline to sideline, and pick the right gaps to blitz. He has to have consistency though. Could make it work as DeMeco Ryans' replacement.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: 10-5-1 (.498 SOS)
Danny Shelton, DT, Washington - Shelton, I think, is vastly underrated. He reminds me of our own Johnathan Hankins. He moves unnaturally fast for a big man and can clog two lanes at once. Put him next to Geno Atkins and you've got the dominant Bengals front line that you're used to seeing, and that spells trouble for the OLs in the AFC North.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5 (.451 SOS)
Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami - I know that Pittsburgh has Kelvin Beachum as their left tackle, but I'd much rather have him over on the right. Marcus Gilbert is a true guard and I don't see him as a great tackle. Shifting everyone over for Flowers makes sense, and could potentially give the Steelers an elite level offensive line with Flowers/Gilbert/Pouncey/Decastro/Beachum to continue to create holes for Le'veon Bell and allow time for Ben Roethlisberger.
23. Detroit Lions: 11-5 (.471 SOS)
Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State - Poor, poor Detroit. What an awful game. In any case, with Ndamukong Suh most likely not being back and Nick Fairley also hitting free agency, the Lions need some help down low. Bennett is a hurricane in the middle and is a strong pass rusher. He'd help cool the loss of these guys a bit.
24. Arizona Cardinals: 11-5 (.523 SOS)
Alvin Dupree, OLB, Kentucky - The Cardinals were desperate for a quarterback that could command a potentially potent offense, but I'm not going to make a huge reach for one right now. So let's take a look at the defense. My prior man crush, Alex Okafor is doing a nice job out in the desert, but he's pretty much alone right now. Adding a top caliber pass rusher would be smart if the Cardinals want to maintain their hard hitting defense.
25. Carolina Panthers: 7-8-1 (.490 SOS)
Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M - I think Ogbuehi is nowhere close to the top five player I've seen in some places. He's got major balance and foot speed issues. Usually those aren't fixable, but he's also a supreme athlete and the flexibility he has is outstanding. Let him develop and he could eventually become a top tier offensive lineman. The Panthers clearly need one.
26. Baltimore Ravens: 10-6 (.475 SOS)
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin - Justin Forsett was an incredible story, but I don't see how he, Taliafierro, and Bernard Pierce make a great tandem next year. Gordon falls due to lack of positional value, but it would be just like Ozzie Newsome to take a superior talent like Gordon to add an incredible game-changer to his offense.
27. Dallas Cowboys: 12-4 (.445 SOS)
P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State - I want to hope and pray they don't make it any further than this. They need a secondary. Brandon Carr is awful and making $10 million/year next year. Morris Claiborne is a gigantic bust. Williams has a big frame and can run. He'll certainly be a nice contributor for the Cowboys.
28. Denver Broncos: 12-4 (.521 SOS)
Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon - Definitely some good centers here. Grasu is more of a 'move' center in the mold of Weston Richburg. Denver needs some youth on it's offensive line, so it can kick Manny Ramirez to guard and have a building block in place for the OL of the future.
29. Indianapolis Colts: 11-5 (.479 SOS)
Nate Orchard, OLB, Utah - This draft is flush with pass rushers and Orchard is a really good one with 18 sacks on the year, and he's done it with a tremendous burst and understanding of pad level. Having him on the Colts defense would seriously improve their teeth and tighten their grip on the AFC South for sure.
30. Green Bay Packers: 12-4 (.482 SOS)
Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA - The Packers were forced to play Clay Matthews at inside linebacker. He was ... okay, but nothing to write home about. They need an athletic three-down inside linebacker to help improve overall team speed. The Packers are a dangerous team, but really only because of their offense. They could become truly dominant with a defense that everybody else has to respect.
31. New England Patriots: 12-4 (.514 SOS)
Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan - This might just be my de facto pick for New England until something better comes along. The fit is just too good. They've done well with the shorter, quicker receivers like Edelman and Amendola, but Tom Brady just wrecks stuff with Rob Gronkowski. Give him another matchup nightmare in Funchess and watch him go to work.
32. Seattle Seahawks: 12-4 (.525 SOS)
Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State - Seattle cannot go back to having Doug Baldwin as their top wide receiver. Give Russell Wilson a huge target to throw to and that offense becomes even more potent. Think about what Kelvin Benjamin has been able to do for Cam Newton. Same principle applies here.