By now, with the NFL Draft just a few days away, you have read countless mock drafts where columnists and reporters predict what is going to happen. As we all know, that is impossible to do as we have no idea what’s going on in those war rooms. That’s why for this mock draft, I went in a different direction. Instead of predicting who would go where, I pretended that I was the general manager of every NFL team. If I was the one making the decisions, what would I do? The only rule in this draft was that no trades were allowed since we are only doing the first round.
Analysis for each player was taken from the 2015 PhinManiacs Draft Guide, which is now available for purchase and download for only $5. It has just under 350 pages with over 300 scouting reports and three big boards! It's certainly a fantastic deal and one you can't miss out on. If you would like to purchase the draft guide, please click here. You will be able to download it as soon as you put your payment information through.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston – Quarterback
This one seems pretty obvious. The Buccaneers desperately need a quarterback and I believe that Winston will have a great NFL career. Last offseason, general manager Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith decided that they would rather get rid of Darrelle Revis, an absolute stud, and replace him with several good players. Well, just about all of those players they brought in are gone because they didn’t live up to expectations.Winston has the arm strength to make throws to all levels of the field and the accuracy to move the chains. Coming from Jimbo Fisher’s pro-style offense, Winston is no stranger to making NFL reads and taking snaps under center. The one thing that truly allows Winston to stand out from other college quarterbacks is the amount of window and anticipation throws. He never leaves yards on the field and consistently leads his receivers.
2. Tennessee Titans – Dante Fowler, Jr. – Outside Linebacker
This one is a tough one because there are a lot of great players but there is no consensus on who really is the best one. The Titans have some tough luck because I believe that Marcus Mariota will only be good if he falls in the right system and with the right team. That’s why this pick should be Dante Fowler, Jr. At over 260 pounds, Fowler can easily play as a 4-3 defensive end but I feel his best fit is standing up in a 3-4 front which will unveil his vaunted versatility. There were times during Florida games in 2014 where Fowler seemed like the only player trying in the defensive front. He has a knack for getting involved in every play and his violent style of play makes him a terror for ball carriers. Fowler also has the constant motor which can sometimes be rare for athletic edge rushing prospects. He explodes off the snap and has good fight with his hands.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Amari Cooper – Wide Receiver
Head Coach Gus Bradley is known for his defensive prowess so he can work with various types of players and get the right guys to fit into his system. The Jaguars desperately need help on offense and need a guy for their young quarterback, Blake Bortles. Cooper is the best wide receiver in this draft and he will make an immediate impact from day one. He runs very crisp, fluid routes and can adjust his frame to allow for a bigger target for the quarterback to throw to. While the ball is in the air, he has the focus and hand eye coordination to high point the ball to give him the best chance of making the catch. His overall skill set can be compared to a mix of Julio Jones and Torrey Smith, but his production and overall feel for the game will make him a consistent contributor for a long time.
4. Oakland Raiders – Kevin White – Wide Receiver
Just like the Jaguars, the Raiders need someone to grow with their young quarterback, Derek Carr. They drafted linebacker Khalil Mack last year and he looks like he is going to be an absolute stud for the next 7-10 years. Now, it’s time to start shaping the offense for the future as well. While White had only one breakout season at West Virginia, he is considered by many, including me, to be the second best wide receiver in the draft. Maybe the most physically gifted WR in this draft class, White possesses a huge frame, long arms and the quickness needed at this position. White has huge hands and the ability to go get the ball at its highest point when it’s in the air. He has a huge catch radius, and good awareness of where he is on the field. He’ll make a bunch of nice sideline catches. He is a guy that can work at any level of the field. He will be production in the screen game, can run the quick routes and uses his big body to win the jump balls.
5. Washington Redskins – Marcus Mariota – Quarterback
I know I’m going to receive some flak for this but let’s look at reality here. I don’t think Robert Griffin III will ever turn out to be a franchise quarterback in Washington. Sure, he may end up doing well somewhere else but I think there is too much damage that has already been done. Simply put, Griffin needs a change of scenery. I mentioned earlier that Mariota needs to fall within the right system and the right coach. His improvement as a pocket passer from his freshman to junior year is noteworthy, but there is still progress to be made. Mariota’s arm strength will do just fine at the NFL level, but it is by no means elite. There are games in which he appears to be a very accurate passer, but others where throws will consistently sail on him. I believe that Jay Gruden can be that guy who builds a system around Mariota and someone who pushes him to be the best he can possibly be.
6. New York Jets – Todd Gurley – Running Back
As the owner of this website and as a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan, I hate making this pick. A lot of you will hate this pick too because of how high it is. However, I view this situation the same as the Jaguars. Todd Bowles is an awesome defensive coach and the defense in place there is already one of the best in the league. They don’t need any more pieces there. With Mariota off the board, they still don’t have a franchise quarterback. Gurley would allow them to be a ground and pound team and he’ll take a ton of pressure on whoever is starting under center in 2015. What makes Gurley special is his balance and power. He’s able to run through arm tackles like they’re nothing. He has a good sense of how to run in short yardage situations and will never go down easy. The Georgia back also displays very solid athleticism. Before the injury, Gurley showed the ability to stop and start with the best of them. The ability to accelerate and outrun the defenders angle is a must for NFL backs and Gurley does it on a regular basis.
7. Chicago Bears – Leonard Williams – Defensive End
Do I expect Williams to fall this far on Thursday? No. Then again, this mock draft is based on if I was the general manager for all these teams. This one is an obvious pick because Williams is one of the best players in the draft First off, he is extremely versatile along the defensive front. He can dominate with his elite combination of power moves and explosiveness at the defensive tackle position, or he can move outside to the end position and be used to create mismatches by using his speed, agility and finesse moves to get to the quarterback off of the edge. He almost always delivers a devastating first punch to the offensive lineman across from him, gaining leverage by keeping his pads down allowing him to get the upper hand from the very beginning. Once he has leverage, Williams uses good hand technique and extended arms in combination with seamless lateral agility to shed off blocks and get to the ball carrier or the quarterback.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Vic Beasley – Outside Linebacker
The Falcons desperately need help at the linebacker position as their defense was one of the worst in the NFL in 2014. Drafting Beasley will allow head coach Dan Quinn to build his defense around him. Beasley’s athleticism shows in everything that he does. His ability to explode off the snap and bend the edge and contort his body however he needs to is a trait desire by NFL edge rushers. His speed and quickness also allows him to drop into coverage but that’s not where he will win at the next level. Beasley has the college production to show and should be an immediate producer. He’ll be able to roam around the field and make the impact plays that Atlanta simply wasn’t able to make last season. They’ll still have a ton of work to do on defense but this is a good start for the new regime.
9. New York Giants – Brandon Scherff – Offensive Guard
The jury is out on Scherff as some say he doesn’t have the arms and quickness to play tackle. However, I believe that he can be coached up to compensate for his weaknesses and move to the left tackle position in New York. Scherff has excellent football smarts and has reportedly been impressive in team interviews. He excels in run blocking and has very good lateral movement. This would solidify their offensive line and allow Weston Richburg to move back to the center position, which is where he fits best. The Giants had problems with their line in 2014 but this will go a long way to helping build that fortified wall for Eli Manning and their running backs.
10. St. Louis Rams – Andrus Peat – Offensive Tackle
No matter how hard the Rams try, it just seems like they can never get their offensive line fixed. Two years ago, they signed Jake Long but now he’s basically out of the NFL after suffering another torn ACL. It’s early but so far, Greg Robinson has been a bit underwhelming, especially for someone who was drafted second overall in 2014. Peat is considered by many to be the best offensive tackle in the draft and hopefully, he’ll be able to help solidify the line. The huge tackle wins with his strength and has the look of a starting left tackle in the NFL. The biggest standout part of Peat’s game is his power. He knows how to use his size and length. He has overall been a good pass protector throughout his career displaying solid technique.
11. Minnesota Vikings – Trae Waynes – Cornerback
Trae Waynes isn’t for every team in the NFL. He needs the right system to succeed and the Vikings will be able to provide that for him. Waynes has prototypical size and speed for the cornerback position. He has good, long arms and great straight line speed. This combination of size and speed makes it extremely difficult to throw it deep on him. He does a great job of running with the deep receiver and using his big body and aggressive hands to close out passing lanes. Waynes is also a good tackler. He does a good job of squaring up his target and has the ability to make the tough open field tackle.
12. Cleveland Browns – Devante Parker – Wide Receiver
The Browns have so many holes on their roster so it’s hard to figure out where to begin. Their quarterback situation is a mess, they have a bunch of aging receivers and while they made some noise in 2014, there are plenty of questions heading into 2015. Adding Devante Parker will give them a young, stud wide receiver to help take some pressure off whoever is under center. Parker provides any NFL team with an instant target for their quarterback to aim for. He is terrific when the ball is in the air. His body control is the best in this year’s draft and has the hands to bring down almost any pass. With only three drops this past year, Parker is as sure handed as it gets in this class.
13. New Orleans Saints - Danny Shelton – Defensive Tackle
The Saints need a lot of help all over their defense but a good way to start filling holes and winning in the trenches is with defensive tackle Danny Shelton. Shelton has the ability to move outside and make a play downfield on a wide receiver or running back in the open field. He is almost impossible to stop one-on-one on the line because he uses his big body so well. Adding Shelton will help start the foundation of the defensive line and they’ll be able to continue to add around him for years.
14. Miami Dolphins – Marcus Peters - Cornerback
If one of the top three wide receivers were on the board, they would be picked here. If Todd Gurley was still available, he would be picked here after the wide receivers. However, they have all been snatched up so Peters it the pick. Of course, this is a polarizing topic because there are many who want him in Miami and there are many who don’t want him in Miami. However, he is an impact player and will put fear into the opposing offense every single week. He has tremendous physicality and doesn’t shy away from bigger running backs or receivers. He has good pursuit to the ball carrier and has a knack for making the big turnover. Peters is at his best as a press man coverage as he delivers a good first punch and doesn’t allow the receiver to gain any separation in the first five yards.
15. San Francisco 49ers – Arik Armstead – Defensive Tackle
There is a lot of smoke in the real world about Armstead and the 49ers and here in this mock draft, it’s no different. Armstead shows physicality at the point of attack as well as a burst to penetrate and get into the backfield. He is a dangerous bull rusher and offers nice schematic versatility as a 3-4 lineman or 4-3 defensive tackle. He’ll give the 49ers a nice boost on defense and will help solidify their defensive line.
16. Houston Texans – Nelson Agholor – Wide Receiver
After releasing Andre Johnson this offseason, the Texans need to re-build their wide receiver corps and Agholor is a good place to start. He benefits from having a large athletic frame, but also from gaining separation from defenders with his quickness and long strides. He has a chance to be a very productive player both inside and outside with a good feel for either position. Agholor is a playmaker through and through. If he can catch a ball in mid-stride, he has the unique ability to ‘glide’ through defenses on his way to big chunks of yards along the way. Agholor averaged just under 16 yards per catch in his three years at USC.
17. San Diego Chargers – Melvin Gordon – Running Back
This is another pick that seems to be too obvious. The Chargers lost Ryan Mathews to the Philadelphia Eagles and don’t really have a bell cow they can rely on. Phillip Rivers, assuming he’s still with the team after the draft, isn’t getting any younger and the team needs a stud running back it can rely on to help take some pressure off. Gordon is at his best once he gets to the second level. His moves in the open field are madden-like. He’s able to sink his hips and keep defenders off balance. Once he clears the defense, good luck catching him.
18. Kansas City Chiefs – Ereck Flowers – Offensive Tackle
Some say that Flowers will end up being the best offensive lineman in this class and has the potential to have a hall-of-fame career. While the Chiefs need help in numerous areas, upgrading their offensive tackle position will do wonders for Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles. Flowers is a very good athlete and moves well with his frame. He uses his size to get push in the run game. He finishes his blocks and displays a good level of toughness on the field.
19. Cleveland Browns – Bud Dupree – Outside Linebacker
Like Leonard Williams, I don’t expect Dupree to fall this fall in real life but you never know. Dupree is a freak athlete with positional versatility and very good collegiate production. He possesses dominant explosiveness and demonstrates great closing speed. When he was asked to drop into coverage, he was very capable. After adding bulk in the offseason, he has become strong holding up at the point of attack as well as using his upper body strength to separate from blockers. He’ll be a good pick for the Browns and will allow them to continue to solidify their defense.
20. Philadelphia Eagles – Phillip Dorsett – Wide Receiver
Some say the Eagles might go with a safety in round one on Thursday but I’m picking Dorsett here. His speed and awareness seems almost too perfect for Chip Kelly and his aerial assault that he loves to unleash each week. Dorsett will make defenses respect the top of the coverage, which will allow Kelly to do even more underneath. Dorsett is a guy that might not make every single play that comes his way, but you better believe that if he drops a pass, he’ll make up for the next one by taking a quick screen to the house. NFL teams will like his effortless speed, his quickness and tremendous route running, but what they’ll fall in love with is his infectious playstyle. He’s a gamer.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Landon Collins – Safety
The Bengals are interesting because it seems like they have all their pieces on offense but they need quite a bit of help on defense. That’s why Landon Collins is the pick here as he is someone who can control the top of the field and allow everyone else to do their work underneath. Collins is a willing and gritty tackler. He wants to be involved with every play and makes the play when he gets there. He shows the ability to man up most receiver and tight ends, but will struggle with shiftier small receivers. Collins has very good instincts and sees the field well.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kevin Johnson – Cornerback
The Steelers need a lot of help in the secondary and Kevin Johnson will start from day one. Some even say that Johnson may end up being the best cornerback in the draft. Johnson has all the traits scouts look for in a future #1 corner. Johnson is a smooth athlete that can play anywhere on the field. Teams will love that versatility and they will eventually be able to match him with the opponents’ top receiving threats. He shows outstanding ability to adjust to the ball. Johnson is a confident player who will accept the challenge of going against better opposition.
23. Detroit Lions – Malcolm Brown – Defensive Tackle
We all know the Lions have enough weapons on offense so it’s time to focus on their defense. After losing Ndamukong Suh to Miami, they’ll need to replace him, which is why the pick here is Malcolm Brown. He does a great job at the snap of delivering an initial blow to the offensive lineman and uses that punch to blow by their blocks at times. He also does a great job of focusing on the ball carrier in the backfield and does a good job in pursuit on his way to some big tackles. Brown has very active hands and does a good job of shedding blocks if he wins the leverage battle off the line of scrimmage. He will get drafted high because of his untapped potential and his natural ability.
24. Arizona Cardinals – Randy Gregory – Outside Linebacker
Randy Gregory is one of the best prospects in the draft but his off the field troubles will concern many teams, which is why him dropping to this point is realistic. The Cardinals aren’t a team to shy away from those with trouble and Bruce Arians seems to be the perfect fit for Gregory. He is very long, highly explosive, and very smooth for a pass rusher. He aggressively uses his hands to separate from pass blockers and sported an extremely quick swim move to beat offensive tackles both inside and out.
25. Carolina Panthers – La’El Collins – Offensive Tackle
The Panthers desperately need help along their offensive line and Collins is one of the safest picks in the draft. Collins is a fluid athlete, and proved to be one of the most athletic offensive lineman at the combine. That athleticism, coupled with his versatility, is what makes him so valuable for a team. It’s also what separates him from his fellow classmates. Collins is tough as nails and loves blocking. He is an outstanding finisher as well. Collins may not always do it pretty, but he finds a way to get the job done.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Jaelen Strong – Wide Receiver
The Ravens lost Torrey Smith in the offseason and there aren’t any running backs left on the board in the first round. Their defensive pieces are in place so the pick here is Jaelen Strong to help re-build the offense. Strong has a prototypical body size at the receiver position and uses it very well to his advantage. He has a good frame and the body control to box out smaller cornerbacks to gain an advantage in tight windows. He isn’t going to blow by too many people with his straight line speed, but he has good quickness and the ability to shake off defenders at any point of his routes. He is athletic to go up and snag a ball out of the air, but sometimes doesn’t extend his arms fully to high point the catch.
27. Dallas Cowboys – Byron Jones – Cornerback
This seems like a perfect match for both sides. The Cowboys need a ton of help in the secondary and Jones, one of the fastest rising players in the NFL Draft, can play both cornerback and safety. Jones has all the desired tools of a top pro cornerback. He has prototypical size and length and utilizes them as a physical and effective press cover guy. He demonstrates the playmaking football intelligence and sufficient ball skills to take the ball away. But he also possesses great movement skills to run, cut, and stay with wide-outs in man coverage.
28. Denver Broncos – Jake Fisher – Offensive Tackle
The Broncos need to continue to re-build their offensive line and Jake Fisher is someone who can do that while starting from day one. Fisher is a player that didn’t get the attention he deserved during season, likely because of everyone focusing on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and their electrifying offense. He has a very good understanding of his job and how to properly use his gift of unique athletics.
29. Indianapolis Colts – Eddie Goldman – Defensive Tackle
The Colts were absolutely dreadful against the run last season so Eddie Goldman will begin to help them get over that hump and move forward. Goldman is your prototypical defensive tackle in the NFL. He has great size, great build, and the strength to do everything asked of a tackle at the next level. He carries his big body well, meaning he is very agile/quick despite his large frame. His strength allows him to use his bull-rush as a great tool to get the lineman back on his heels when attempting to block him.
30. Green Bay Packers – Jalen Collins – Cornerback
The Packers need secondary help and Jalen Collins will help. Although he has failed multiple drug tests at LSU, I believe that the Packers have the right people in place to keep him in check. Collins is one of the most physically gifted cornerbacks in this year’s class. He has great size, build and length for the position and has the speed to keep up with top end wide receivers in the NFL. He is a guy that will rarely get beat deep.
31. New Orleans Saints – Dorial Green-Beckham – Wide Receiver
Is there anyone out there surprised by this pick? I think in New Orleans, with Drew Brees in that locker room along with other established veterans, Green-Beckham will fall right into line without any trouble. His combination of size and speed is unlike anything we’ve seen since Calvin Johnson came out of Georgia Tech. A state champion (100 yard dash) in high school, DGB has incredibly long strides and the ability to high point the catch, making him tough to stop in man coverage. DGB will be used as a deep threat at the next level, but also in the WR screen game
32. New England Patriots – Cameron Erving
This is too good of a value to pass up. Erving will be able to play just about anywhere on the line and is a guy that Bill Belichick is going to love. As a center, he was able to create movement in the run game and showed good quickness. He has solid physical traits and will continue to get better as he plays more inside.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
Do you want in-depth analysis leading up to the NFL Draft? The PhinManiacs Draft Guide is now available for purchase and download for only $5. It has just under 350 pages with over 300 scouting reports and three big boards! It's certainly a fantastic deal and one you can't miss out on. If you would like to purchase the draft guide, please click here. You will be able to download it as soon as you put your payment information through.
Latest Dolphins News