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Player Selected: Florida OT D.J. Humphries
Analysis: Experience is an issue with Humphries; he made just 19 starts at Florida. Still, he has the size, athleticism and footwork to develop into a starting NFL left tackle. He just needs seasoning and quality coaching.
Player Selected: Clemson LB Vic Beasley
Analysis: The Falcons inability to stop opposing offenses has been an issue that has persisted far too long. Hiring Dan Quinn as the team’s head coach was a good first start to rectifying this issue. Drafting Beasley is a good second step. Beasley is a better version of Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin, who Quinn coached in Seattle. He’s an active pass rusher with exceptional athleticism. He could be a liability against the run, a lesser problem in an NFC South that lacks high-level running backs.
Player Selected: UCF WR Breshad Perriman
Analysis: Next to Kevin White, you could argue Perriman had the next best combination of height, weight, and speed. Unlike White, though, his production wasn’t consistent enough to warrant a top 20 pick. As a result, he fell to the Ravens in the later stages of round one. He’ll have the privilege of learning from Steve Smith Jr. this season.
Player Selected: N/A
Analysis: Last year, the Bills packaged their 2015 first-round pick with the No. 9 pick to move up six spots to select Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins. Time will tell if the move ends up being a good one, though Watkins has shown promise when he’s been healthy.
Player Selected: Washington LB Shaq Thompson
Analysis: Ron Rivera’s Cover-2 defense is among the most underrated in all of football. What has made it work so well over the last two seasons has been the stellar play of its linebackers, particularly Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. Thompson will join this group, likely on the weakside. Undersized but athletic, Thompson is a bit similar to former Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks, who slid in the 1995 NFL Draft due to his size. The Panthers, undoubtedly, are hoping Thompson if half the player Brooks was.
Player Selected: West Virginia WR Kevin White
Analysis: Measurables put White into the top 10. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he runs a blazing 4.35 forty. His size and athleticism makes him a matchup nightmare for the rest of the NFC North. Pairing him and Alshon Jeffery gives the Bears two unique receivers under the age of 26. With Matt Forte leading the way at running back, Chicago has surrounded Jay Cutler with a ton of talent. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a defense behind him.
Player Selected: Texas A&M OT Cedric Ogbuehi
Analysis: An ACL tear against West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl had many expecting a freefall for Ogbuehi. Cincinnati’s doctors obviously feel he’s on his way to a full recovery. Ogbuehi has outstanding size and footwork. He’s also athletic enough to get to the second level. As long as Andrew Whitworth remains healthy, the Bengals should be able to ease him along slowly before having him step in as their starting left tackle in 2016.
Players Selected: Washington DT Danny Shelton & Florida State OL Cam Erving
Analysis: Needing to get more physical on both sides of the ball, the Browns beefed up their offensive and defensive lines. First, they grabbed Shelton with the No. 12 pick. The Washington defensive tackle had 90 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 2014. As a prospect, he was much closer to USC’s Leonard Williams than the mainstream media talked about. Cleveland added Erving seven picks later. Other than Jameis Winston, there was no better-graded player on Florida State in 2014. Erving is a dominating run blocker. His versatility allows the Browns to look at him at right tackle and center.
Player Selected: Connecticut CB Byron Jones
Analysis: Jones was the second lowest rated player in my top 100 (No. 70) to hear his name called in round one. There’s no denying his combination of athleticism and size, but he doesn’t look smooth and his instincts are suspect. A shoulder injury could also be worrisome, but Dallas’ doctors most certainly gave the green light. I wonder if Dallas had Odell Beckham Jr. in mind when turning in Jones’ card.
Player Selected: Missouri LB Shane Ray
Analysis: I counted my chickens before they hatched. Like many, I thought Denver was moving up to take a tackle ahead of Carolina. I was wrong. Instead, they made a move to end Ray’s freefall. The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Ray is a highly active player near the line of scrimmage. He displays amazing burst of the edge, and is relentless once he locks onto a ball carrier. Wade Phillips has to be licking his chops with the thought of putting Ray on the field with DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller.
Player Selected: Duke OG Laken Tomlinson
Analysis: Duke Football was actually fun to watch the last two seasons, in large part because of receiver Jamison Crowder’s big-play ability and Tomlinson’s physicality. His strength is impressive; he has the ability to anchor against anyone. He and Larry Warford will have their way with most defensive lines. They could be especially problematic for the Packers.
Green Bay Packers
Player Selected: Arizona State DB Damarious Randall
Analysis: Maybe Randall isn’t a conventional choice for the Packers, but he’s an intriguing one. The Arizona State safety is a good tackler (106 in 2014) with superb coverage skills. In fact, the role Randall played for the Sun Devils is pretty much the same role Micah Hyde played for the Packers last year. Why select Randall if Hyde is already fulfilling a hybrid role in Green Bay? My best guess is the Packers want Randall to be their slot corner, while keeping Hyde in his current role. Casey Hayward, a free agent following this season, will then kick outside opposite of Sam Shields. Randall certainly gives the Packers a more versatile secondary. However, what does he offer that Hayward and Hyde don’t already bring to the table?
Player Selected: Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson
Analysis: Johnson was the only player on Wake Forest really worth watching. His length gives him tremendous upside as a press corner. Once he grows into his body and becomes stronger, he could develop into the third or fourth best corner from this class.
Player Selected: Miami (FL) WR Phillip Dorsett
Analysis: The Colts used their first-round pick on a player who’ll probably be the No. 4 receiver on their depth chart in 2015. New England fans must love that. Dorsett is an explosive athlete, but it’s hard to imagine him playing more than 50 percent of Indianapolis’ snaps unless second-year receiver Donte Moncrief has already fallen out of favor. If so, then Indy wasted a third-round pick on him a year ago. Maybe the Colts foresee Dorsett as T.Y. Hilton’s long-term replacement. Hilton will be a free agent after this season.
Player Selected: Florida DE Dante Fowler Jr.
Analysis: I don’t fault the Jaguars for taking Fowler, as the franchise hasn’t had a consistent pass rusher since Tony Brackens. Yes, it’s been that long. Fowler Jr. reminds me a lot of Adalius Thomas, who had an up-and-down career. With Gus Bradley guiding him, Fowler has a chance to have a better career.
Kansas City Chiefs
Player Selected: Washington CB Marcus Peters
Analysis: Andy Reid not drafting a rusher, defensive tackle, or offensive lineman with his first pick is a shocking development. Part of me believes John Dorsey made this call and not Reid. This choice is all about defending Demaryius Thomas and the Denver passing game. In addition, don’t be surprised if the Chiefs also had Amari Cooper in mind while making this selection.
Player Selected: Louisville WR DeVante Parker
Analysis: A good way to describe Parker is he’s a poor man’s version of Amari Cooper. That’s hardly a bad thing, as Cooper might be the best college receiver to come out in nearly a decade. The Dolphins, who needed a No. 1 receiver on the outside, resisted the urge to move up to draft Parker. They waited patiently, allowing the process to play out. He fell into their lap, and now Miami has a receiving corps that features Parker, Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills, and Jarvis Landry.
Player Selected: Michigan State CB Trae Waynes
Analysis: If you go back and re-watch Minnesota’s two games against Green Bay, you’ll notice the Vikings did a terrific job of covering Jordy Nelson. Yes, on a Thursday night in Lambeau, Nelson got loose for a 66-yard touchdown. That was an exception, however. Xavier Rhodes did a terrific job of covering him. With the selection of Waynes, the Vikings can now matchup with Randall Cobb, the Packers other all-pro caliber receiver. Watching Rhodes and Waynes duel with Nelson and Cobb will be the highlight of this rivalry for the next few years. Somebody should contact Vince McMahon and have him book a tag team match for next year’s Wrestlemania.
New England Patriots
Player Selected: Texas DT Malcom Brown
Analysis: Thou shall not criticize Bill Belichick. That‘s among the many draft day commandments. Seriously, try to find footage of one of the television pundits taking Belichick to task for a pick. Nobody does it. With picks like Brown, it’s hard to find any criticism. Brown’s a terrific run defender, and he’s making steady progress as a pass rusher. He reminds me of Buffalo defensive tackle Kyle Williams.
New Orleans Saints
Players Selected: Stanford OT Andrus Peat & Clemson LB Stephone Anthony
Analysis: The Saints made it an off-season priority to get tougher. Many people took that to mean they wanted to improve on defense. I’m sure that’s on their mind, but they also need physicality on offense. That’s why they acquired center Max Unger earlier in the off-season, and it’s why they drafted Peat with the No. 13 overall pick. He’s a mauling run blocker with the athleticism, length, and size to play left tackle. The Saints took Anthony with No. 31 pick, a selection they acquired (along with Unger) from Seattle when they traded Jimmy Graham. Anthony’s stock rose dramatically following a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and NFL combine.
Player Selected: Miami (FL) OT Ereck Flowers
Analysis: Flowers looks the part on paper. He’s strong, quick, and has long arms (34 inches). He’s better at run blocking than he is at pass blocking. He gets too grabby, which will drive Tom Coughlin crazy.
Player Selected: USC DL Leonard Williams
Analysis: Despite having one of the best defensive lines in football, the Jets stayed true to their board and made Williams the sixth overall pick in the draft. Williams is a dominating run defender and can kick inside and rush the quarterback in passing situations. He’s also tough as nails. One of his best performances of the season came against Stanford, a game he played in with a sprained ankle. Sometimes it’s easy to put your short-term needs ahead of the future. The Jets resisted that temptation, and they’re better off because of it.
Player Selected: Alabama WR Amari Cooper
Analysis: Watching Derek Carr and Cooper develop will be fun. The Raiders haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss went over that mark in 2005. Cooper, who makes playing football look easy, is a candidate to break that mark as a rookie.
Player Selected: USC WR Nelson Agholor
Analysis: Chip Kelly is building something interesting in Philadelphia. After refusing to pay blockbuster money to Jeremy Maclin, he finds his replacement in Agholor. The USC product is a terrific route runner, showing great recognition of coverage. He’s also very good after the catch, a valuable trait in Kelly’s offensive attack.
Player Selected: Kentucky LB Bud Dupree
Analysis: If not for Vic Beasley, more people would’ve left the NFL scouting combine raving about Dupree. Nevertheless, his production at the University of Kentucky was underwhelming. The Steelers are hoping he’s a late bloomer.
San Diego Chargers
Player Selected: Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon III
Analysis: I’m a little confused as to why the Chargers felt they needed to move up to secure Gordon. San Francisco originally held the No. 15 choice. They weren’t going to take him, as they have Carlos Hyde ready to become their full-time running back. The Texans, owners of the No. 16 pick, have all-pro Arian Foster lining up in their backfield. My best guess is the Chargers heard rumors of Dallas or Arizona trying to move up to select Gordon. It’s a minor complaint, as San Diego absolutely needed to land a running back. Gordon has the explosiveness to get around the corner and the lower body strength to run between the tackles. He makes this offense significantly better on day one.
San Francisco 49ers
Player Selected: Oregon DE Arik Armstead
Analysis: I projected this one in my March mock draft. Armstead looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane. He’ll need Jim Tomsula to coach him up for at least year before he steps in and contributes. Nevertheless, the high-upside prospect provides the 49ers with much-needed defensive line depth.
Player Selected: N/A
Analysis: To acquire Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks parted with their first round pick (No. 31 overall). They will not pick until No. 63 in the second round, where rumors suggest they’d like to land troubled receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Stay tuned.
St. Louis Rams
Player Selected: Georgia RB Todd Gurley
Analysis: In my final mock draft, I compared Gurley to Eddie George. Maybe Jeff Fisher agreed with that assessment. Assuming he’s healthy, this could be a home run for Fisher and the Rams. Gurley runs with power and speed. Much like Adrian Peterson, he will make any offensive line better. His ability to exploit even the slightest crease is rather remarkable. He’s also a very good receiver out of the backfield, an underrated part of his game. With names like Eddie George and Adrian Peterson coming up, it’s easy to see why the Rams felt the need to take Gurley with the No. 10 overall pick.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Player Selected: Florida State QB Jameis Winston
Analysis: One of the most decorated quarterbacks in college football history, Winston won his first 26 games as the Seminoles starting quarterback. He steps into a good situation in Tampa Bay. He has an already established receiving duo (Vincent Jackson & Mike Evans) and an ascending tight end named Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Player Selected: Oregon QB Marcus Mariota
Analysis: During the pre-draft process, Mariota must’ve won over Ken Whisenhunt. As offensive coordinator of Pittsburgh, he helped develop Ben Roethlisberger. In Arizona, he resurrected Kurt Warner’s career and he did the same for Philip Rivers in San Diego. All three are pocket passers, though Roethlisberger does extend plays with his legs. Regardless, this is a great example of a coach buying into a player despite him not fitting the scheme. Mariota has everything you want in a quarterback. He’s accurate with a great arm. His size and athleticism are outstanding. He also has a keen football mind. The latter likely sold the Titans on him. You need the football intelligence and work ethic to master an NFL offense. That’s what separates the best from the rest. By all accounts, Mariota checks the box here. His transition to the NFL will go smoother than people believe.
Player Selected: Iowa OT Brandon Scherff
Analysis: Scherff has the size, strength, and movement skills to play tackle in the NFL. He’s an amazing run blocker with brute strength. He also doesn’t commit penalties and is very rarely out of position. A discipline player with great physical tools, Scherff will be the foundation of Washington’s offensive line for years to come.