Patrick makes the picks for every NFL team in the draft if he was their GM in his first NFL Mock Draft!
The 2015 NFL Draft is a week away, which means teams have stopped bringing players in for pre-draft visits and are putting the finishing touches on their draft boards. It’s also mock draft season. This first one is a “what I want to happen” mock where I’m making (not projecting) the picks, acting as each team’s general manager. I’ll have another out next week that’s a “what I think will happen” mock, where I’ll project picks.
This is a pretty easy pick for me. Off-field concerns aside, Winston is an NFL-ready starter who has shown he can make all the throws and excel in the face of pressure. I can’t say that about any other QB in this class. Tampa Bay has the weapons to help Winston, and I’m confident that his talent will help him hold his own playing behind a so-so offensive line.
Here’s the wild-card to the top 10. Tennessee has three options here: Take Marcus Mariota, trade down, or take Leonard Williams. I’m not sold on Zach Mettenberger as a long-term solution at the game’s most important position. So I take Mariota knowing that I have a good QB teacher in Ken Whisenhunt and a player in who will work hard to fit any scheme. The luxury here is that Mettenberger’s presence will give Mariota time to ease in while the Titans build a better offensive line and find a big-bodied receiver.
A receiver would work here, but after two years of spending top picks on offense, its time to get a building block on defense. This is a tough choice though: Leonard Williams or jack-of-all-trades Fowler. Neither one is a bad pick. Fowler isn’t an elite pass rusher yet, but he’s scheme-versatile and still has explosiveness and the potential to be an elite rusher. He will play a large majority of snaps right away at the LEO rusher spot for the Jaguars and hold the edge against the run well too. That’s the type of player Gus Bradley has been looking for since taking over as head coach in 2013.
Hold off on crying Leonard Williams. Sure, Williams has the talent to deserve this spot (arguably any spot in the top five), and sure, he’d fill a need too. But here’s the biggest misconception with teams drafting this high: it’s easy to forget they have a lot of positions of needs, and a general need for adding talent. So, the only way to make a “bad” pick this high is by poorly evaluating a player’s talent. Taking a talented player who’s a winner but doesn’t fill the biggest need isn’t a bad pick. White is a winner and a great talent, so I’m confidently taking him here. Furthermore, I’ll argue that receiver is as big a need as any other. White can win big and win small, a rare combo that would do wonders for Derek Carr. I also don’t think the one-year wonder label with White is a negative.
Here’s an example similar to the Raiders. The Redskins lost Brian Orakpo and need a pass-rusher to replace him. Vic Beasley is on the board. But Williams is an upgrade at three-technique, where I can stick him right away and he’ll make my entire defense better. That’s a win in my book. However, this differs from Oakland because I’m not comfortable taking Beasley in the top five due to his tendency to avoid contact. Orakpo won by taking contact straight on, and Beasley’s lack of ability to do so won’t help the rest of my defense like having Williams would.
This isn’t a sexy pick by any means, and I’d probably go with a rusher if there was one I felt comfortable taking. But Scherff will make the Jets’ offense better as a whole, and that’s just as important. I love his toughness and strength in the run game, which will be helpful for the run-first Jets. Scherff will likely start his career at guard, and shore up an interior line that struggled last year. With the Jets’ adding weapons at receiver, pass protection will be key as well.
Yeah, the Bears need defensive help. But I can’t pass up Cooper here, especially with the edge players available being either a poor fir or not as safe as Cooper. He’s a great compliment to Alshon Jeffery (who’s a free agent after the season) and gives the Bears great depth at the position. Good edge players and defensive backs who can contribute right away will be available at the top of round 2, but I’m not as confident the receivers that will likely be around will be as impactful or as safe as Cooper is.
The severe lack of a pass rush has been ignored for too long, so I’m going with Ray here. He’s kind of a tweener fit-wise, but I like him best in a 4-3 front. His play against the run needs work, but new head coach Dan Quinn’s background in coaching defensive linemen will help. I’m looking for a player who can get into the backfield consistently. His first-step quickness allows him to do just that.
Scherff would be ideal here, but Gregory offers pass rush help that the Giants need. He’s lean for a four-man front and needs to keep weight on, but on tape he’s as good as any rusher in the class. There’s risk here with Gregory’s failed drug test and inability to keep weight on, but an NFL strength program should help in that area. I’m willing to gamble on the drug history too as long as I have a specific plan for how to keep him clean.
The Rams do this thing every draft where they ignore their pressing need for an every-down playmaker on the outside. That ends now with Parker, who’s kind of like a Kevin White light version because he wins big and small. He’s absolutely worthy of a top 10 pick.
What’s a safer way to solve quarterback uncertainty than by grabbing one of the best running back prospects in recent memory and a top ten player in this draft? Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell had solid rookie years, but neither is a Gurley-type player. Plus, just like the Vikings, why take the No. 4 receiver over the top player at another position? Both West and Crowell would take some carries as Gurley eases back into the speed of the game as he recovers from his torn ACL. I’ll admit passing on Danny Shelton was really tough since the Browns were gashed up the middle last year, but I’m not regretting anything with Gurley.
The Saints have a lot of holes to fill after this offseason’s load of transactions, but rusher was a glaring need even before. Dupree’s stock is trending up, unsurprising for a guy who beat Jadeveon Clowney’s 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. Unleash him and his explosive ability off the edge in a situational role in his rookie year while he refines the other parts of his game.
With Waynes gone, I won’t reach for a corner unless I’m comfortable with Marcus Peters’ character concerns. (I am comfortable with them, but just not this high). I’ll take Perriman, who has sub-4.3 speed but also the ability to come down with tough catches. My only concern is that he will drop some passes, but he’s still an upgrade on the departed Mike Wallace.
I’m in the camp that thinks Shelton is a deserving top ten pick, and he’s a great match for a team Bears, so this is a nice get for the 49ers at 15. Shelton is a high-motor player who makes plays all over the field (80 tackles last season. 80!). Justin Smith’s retirement leaves a big hole up the middle, and Shelton is a quick fix.
I’m not as high on Beasley as others because of his lack of power and tendency to avoid contact, but he still offers an explosive first step that will help him get in opponents’ backfields as a rookie. This is about where I’d feel comfortable taking him. With Jadeveon Clowney coming off microfracture surgery, Brooks Reed departing in free agency and Whitney Mercilus a free agent after the season, pass rush depth is welcome. Plus, picture a trio of Beasley, J.J. Watt and Clowney. That’s how to win games in the pass-happy NFL, given my less-than-stellar quarterback situation.
With Beasley gone, filling the pass rush need doesn’t make sense here. With Phillip Rivers entering the last year of his contract, the Chargers are in win-now mode. Protecting Rivers has been an issue, so taking Flowers is a win-now move in my mind, since he could start right away on the right side and kick D.J. Fluker inside to guard. He’s probably the top tackle on some teams’ boards, since not all teams likely view Scherff as a tackle.
The Maclin signing doesn’t stop me from continuing to upgrade a beleaguered receiving corps. A bigger, more physical receiver to compliment Maclin would be nicer, but I’m comfortable with Agholor here. He’s fast, wins after the catch and has the ability to take the top off a defense. That’s a great fit in Andy Reid’s West Coast offense and for Alex Smith’s skill set.
Even with Gurley already in tow, I still want to create a friendly situation for QBs by getting a receiver. But with this pick from Buffalo, Armstead shores up a defensive line that saw a lot of shuffling and struggles in 2014. He’ll bring good pressure from the inside at the 5-technique and is a good value at this point. I’m comfortable waiting on receiver and offensive tackle until Day two, where I can find good contributors at each of those positions.
The Byron Maxwell signing shouldn’t stop the Eagles from continuing to upgrade in the secondary. If not for character concerns, Peters would be long gone. Thankfully for the Eagles, he’s not gone, and he’s the physical corner that Chip Kelly loves. I know the Eagles need help at receiver, but Peters is too talented to pass on here. I’ll get a receiver later.
I would really have liked a pass rusher since the Bengals were dead last in the NFL in sacks. But I’m still happy with Collins, who is a good value at this spot and should start right away somewhere on the line. He’ll eventually move to tackle if current starting tackles Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith aren’t re-signed following this season.
This is a great pick for the Steelers. Jones is a super athlete who could start at corner or safety, both of which saw significant attrition last year. I’ve got significant pass-rush concerns too with Jason Worilds’ retirement and Jarvis Jones’ slow progress, but there’s not really anyone who offers immediate help at that spot like Jones does for the secondary.
The Lions’ front four was the most dominant in football last season, and now the two key pieces are gone. I want to recreate the area where the Lions won a season ago. Haloti Ngata was a great pickup, but won’t be a long-term solution since he’s 31 and entering the final year of his contract. Brown is an immediate-impact player who should quickly become an every-down tackle.
No Melvin Gordon, what? Thanks for asking. First, Kendricks is absolutely deserving of a first-round pick because of his fluidity in coverage and ability to diagnose plays quickly. Second, the Cardinals could really use an upgrade on Larry Foote and his coverage ability (or lack thereof). Kendricks fits there. There’s enough depth at RB where Arizona can still get a good one in the later half of the second round or even the third round. Plus, with Gordon, you’re getting a similar back to Andre Ellington (who was a fifth-round pick). I’d like to find a back with more power.
This is a difficult one. The Panthers have glaring, and I mean glaring, needs at receiver and offensive line. A receiver like Dorial Green-Beckham is tempting, but I place the priority on protecting Cam Newton and go with Peat, who has the upside of a great NFL left tackle. He’ll start off on the right side with Michael Oher tentatively penciled in on the left side.
The secondary was such an Achilles heel of the Ravens that passing on a good value and need-filler like Johnson isn’t the best move. He’s not a ball-hawk, but wins with technique and is pretty consistent. I now have a good pair of young corners with Johnson and newly-extended Jimmy Smith.
Johnson going the pick before stings, but the Cowboys still get a good player and a solid value with Collins, an in-the-box safety and physical presence. I didn’t pass on Gordon because of Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle, but rather because I’m not a big fan of taking running backs in the first round, especially in such a deep draft. Don’t get me wrong, I like Gordon, but Gurley was the only one I was willing to make an exception for since he’s a cut above the rest. I’ll also take the best player at a thinner position and a position of need, and still get a solid back in round 2.
I’m not sure there’s a better match between prospect and team than this. Fisher is an elite athlete for the position, and those types of tackles excel in new head coach Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme. And it fills a need; the Broncos must protect Peyton Manning better. Fisher is an upgrade over Chris Clark at right tackle.
I actually have a fair amount of needs to address this draft, but protecting Andrew Luck might be the biggest one. Humphries is unpolished but still moves well and could fill in at guard his first year in the league. I considered an edge rusher and defensive back here, but opted to go with Humphries.
Rowe brings depth, athleticism and versatility to Green Bay’s secondary, but won’t have to be plugged into a starting spot right away. He can start out as the nickel back or push either one of the starting safeties for snaps. The competition will help elevate the play of everyone in this secondary, which underachieved at times the last couple seasons. Rowe has seen his stock rise and I think both the teams picking after the Packers would give him a long look.
31. New Orleans Saints – Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma
The Saints could double up on defense, and Eric Rowe would have been a nice fit with this extra pick from Seattle. But Drew Brees lost two key weapons in Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, and Marques Colston isn’t getting any younger. Finding a big and physical target to develop should be a priority. Green-Beckham is absolutely worth the risk for me. The Saints are a solid spot for the raw but immensely talented player to land. They’ll be some bumps initially, but the long-term payoff could be huge.
The Pats are tasked with replacing two irreplaceable players in Darrelle Revis and Vince Wilfork. Goldman is not a complete player, but his ability to hold gaps and attract double teams pairs well with 2014 first-rounder Dominique Easley’s ability to get into opponents’ backfields and pursue plays from behind. That’s a pretty good start to replacing Wilfork.