This is it people. The final mock draft of the season. Can you feel it? The draft is officially on our doorstep.
It will be an interesting experiment to see how things turn out as the draft will be moved from New York to Chicago. The draft has been held in New York every year since 1965 and since 2006 has been held exclusively at Radio City Music Hall.
One of the interesting hurdles will be the shrinking of space. Radio City is an immense stage with a capacity to hold just over 6,000 fans. In Chicago the draft will be held at The Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University, a capacity of 3,901.
To make up for the some 2,000 lost seats the NFL has constructed Draft Town, a 900,000 square foot encampment for all things NFL. The fan festival will be located outside among Grant Park and Congress Circle. The festival will last three days, starting the Tuesday before the draft.
But that’s enough of the logistics. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty. This our final mock draft of the season with each team’s first two selections predicted just for you. Of course our mock draft can’t predict any trades though some seem logical (*ahem* San Diego and Tennessee; New England or Baltimore out of the first *ahem*). Let’s get to it then, PPI’s three-round mock draft.
1.) Tampa Bay Buccanneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida St.
(Rd2: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M)
The Bucs are rebuilding, there’s no doubt about it. And what better way to turn the page than by drafting your franchise quarterback and his blindside protector? Some risks here though, given Winston’s off-field incidents and Ogbuehi’s injury concerns.
2.) Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
(Rd2: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami)
We could very well see our first trade happen at this point. But for the sake of our mock draft, lets stay put. Mariota is the man and Dorsett, with the first pick in the second-round, instantly the Titans deep threat.
3.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
(Rd2: Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia)
Our first surprise! The Jags shocked everyone last here in the three spot and do it again this year. A deep edge rushing class allows them to do this. Harold, played with his hand in the dirt and standing up. That versatility is something coach Gus Bradley covets.
4.) Oakland Raiders: Dante Fowler, DE, Florida
(Rd2: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma)
The Raiders could go a lot of different ways at this point. But for our mock draft, Fowler gets the nod. Oakland is very thin at defensive end and being able to take, arguably, the best rusher and one of the best receivers in this year’s class? That’s a good haul by first-year coach Jack Del Rio.
5.) Washington Redskins: Leonard Williams, DT, USC
(Rd2: Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke)
Like the Bucs, the Redskins are in rebuild mode even if they don’t want to admit it. The smartest way to start over is by building from the inside out. Williams can be the building block for the entire defense and Tomlinson can pave the way for running back Alfred Morris.
6.) New York Jets: Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
(Rd2: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona St.)
Dupree has been moving up draft boards steadily. With concerns growing around fellow rushers Randy Gregory and Shane Ray, Dupree greatly benefits and finally breaks into the Top 10 of our final mock draft. Strong, early in the second round, gives them a dynamic slot man.
7.) Chicago Bears: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
(Rd2: Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma)
The Bears added enough pieces for their new 3-4 defense through free agency. That allows them to take White in the first-round and Phillips in the second. Phillips is the mountain in the middle, that the Bears need to make their 3-4 run smoothly.
8.) Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
(Rd2: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA)
The leading rusher for the Falcons last season was Kroy Biermann with 4.5 sacks. FOUR AND A HALF SACKS! Atlanta focuses on building a serious pass rush with Beasley and Odighizuwa. That’s a combined 18 sacks they have added from last season.
9.) New York Giants: Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa
(Rd2: Damarious Randall, S, Arizona St.)
The G-Men have learned from watching their division rival Cowboys, who have built probably the best o-line in the league by investing early round picks. Scherff is the Giants answer to the Cowboys’ Zack Martin. Randall, a dynamic player who has risen throughout the draft process, goes early in Round 2.
10.) St. Louis Rams: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
(Rd2: Eric Fisher, OT, Oregon)
The Rams defense is scary good. That allows them to focus on the offensive side of the ball in the early rounds of the draft. Parker had over 800 yards last season despite playing in just seven games. In Round 2, Fisher gives the Rams a bookend to last year’s first-round pick Greg Robinson.
11.) Minnesota Vikings: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St.
(Rd2: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington)
Coach Mike Zimmer had dynamic defenses while coordinating the Cincinnati Bengals. He now is building one in Minnesota. Waynes, gives the Viks a cornerback tandem that can handle division rival gunslingers Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. Thompson, is the moveable chess piece defensive coaches love.
12.) Cleveland Browns: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
(Rd2: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota)
Shelton to the Browns has been another consistent throughout our mock drafts. So nothing new there. After losing Jordan Cameron via free agency, the Browns effectively have no serious threat at tight end. Williams, is the most complete tight end in the draft and is a Day One starter in Cleveland.
13.) New Orleans Saints: Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
(Rd2: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU)
Gregory, will be one of the most intriguing prospects to watch. His talent is lock Top 10, however positive drug tests in college and at the combine has definitely raised questions. He falls happily to coordinator Rob Ryan and his defense. The same scenario hovers around Collins.
14.) Miami Dolphins: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
(Rd2: Tre Jackson, OG, Florida St.)
Another big twist in our final mock draft. Gurley, has been rising all along the draft process and some reports say Gurley could be fully recovered from a torn ACL in time for Week 1. And if he’s not, Lamar Miller can handle duties. Now with a new running back, the Phins snag the behemoth that is Jackson. He’ll pave the way for Gurley for years to come.
15.) San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon
(Rd2: Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson)
The draft is always filled with surprises…unlees you are the Niners in 2015. San Francisco was decimated on defense whether it be free agency, retirement, or old age. Armstead locks down a spot along the defensive front and Anthony helps fill the void left by the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland.
21.) Cincinnati Bengals: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
(Rd2: Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson)
The Bengals have built a high quality roster over the past few years and have no serious, serious need at any one position. The selection of Peat, is insurance as both starting tackles are entering the final year of their contracts. Jarrett, adds to the rotation in the middle of the defense.
22.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
(Rd2: Danielle Hunter, OLB, LSU)
This pick stays the same from our last mock draft with Hunter joining Pittsburgh in Round 2. The Steelers desperately need another outside linebacker after the retirement of Jason Worilds and the under-development of Jarvis Jones. However, the team simply can’t invest a first-round pick on linebacker three years in a row.
23.) Detroit Lions: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
(Rd2: Eric Rowe, CB, Utah)
The Lions took a beating along their defensive front via free agency. They did at Haloti Ngata via trade with Baltimore but he isn’t getting any younger and has one year left on his deal. Brown, this late, is a dream come true. Rowe, in the second, adds youth and versatility as he has experience at corner and safety.
24.) Arizona Cardinals: Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri
(Rd2: Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise St.)
Injury concerns have crushed Ray’s Top 10 selection hopes. In our final mock draft, the Mizzou edge rusher falls from the Jets to the Cards. Not that coach Bruce Arians is upset about it. Even if he is out a feared three-to-five months if Ray gets surgery, it is still a good investment. Ajayi on Day 2, gives the Cardinals offense a thunder and lighting combo with Andre Ellington.
25.) Carolina Panthers: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
(Rd2: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana)
Another player who could be taken long before this selection, for how we have mapped it out, Flowers falls to an elated Panthers organization. Flowers is the next franchise tackle and quarterback Cam Newton couldn’t be happier. Coleman, keeps the running back trend going in Round 2.
26.) Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
(Rd2: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan)
I can see the Ravens trading out of the first-round. If they stay, they go with Johnson. A four-year starter for the Demon Deacons, Johnson could be a big addition for an aging and underperforming secondary. Funchess, gives quarterback Joe Flacco a chess piece he hasn’t truly had before as Funchess can play tight end as well.
27.) Dallas Cowboys: Byron Jones, CB, UConn
(Rd2: Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio St.)
The star of the combine, Jones, makes his first appearance in our final mock draft. The hyper athletic and heady player, Jones has the size and ability to handle the bigger receivers in today’s game. The Cowboys continue to focus on defense, adding Bennett in Round 2.
28.) Denver Broncos: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
(Rd2: Carl Davis, DT, Iowa)
Another team focusing on building from the inside out. Clemmings, could be out of the picture here as concerns over a stress fracture in his foot have risen as of late. Regardless, I think he goes here. The Broncos are switching to a 3-4 defense and desperately need pieces up front to make it work. Davis can be the anchor.
29.) Indianapolis Colts: D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
(Rd2: Quinten Rollins, CB, Miami (OH))
The Colts need to protect their franchise quarterback. Humphries can bookend the line, opposite of Anthony Castanzo. Overall, Humphries is an intriguing talent as he could go higher or lower. He is the rare offensive tackle who needs to ADD weight. On Day Two, Rollins a raw prospect flashed serious talent in his lone season playing football at Miami Ohio, leading the team in interceptions.
30.) Green Bay Packers: Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami
(Rd2: Clive Walford, TE, Miami)
For the sake of value, I can certainly see the Packers trading out of the first-round. Inside linebacker is their most serious need and by all means, it is a serious need. If they stay, taking Perryman here is still a good choice as he compares to Chris Borland and Zach Thomas. Walford shores things up at their only offensive need.
31.) New Orleans Saints: Cameron Erving, OG, Florida St.
The Saints traded away Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs in a salary cap move. That leaves a big gap. Erving, can take over duties at left guard as a Day One starter. He also has the versatility to play center or tackle.
32.) New England Patriots: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida St.
(Rd2: Duke Johnson, RB, Miami)
Mount Wilfork no longer resides in Foxboro, ending a ten-year run with the team. Goldman tries to replace Vince Wilfork. He certainly has the size but is surprisingly quick as well. Johnson, could be the long-term answer. He is the Hurricanes all-time rushing leader.
50.) Buffalo Bills: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
(Rd3: Jeff Heuerman, TE, Ohio St.)
The Bills don’t pick until Round 2 thanks to trading up last year to take receiver Sammy Watkins. Kendricks, is smaller than ideal for the Bills 3-4 front, but his tape does the talking. With their second pick, Heuerman adds a blocker and safety valve at tight end.
63.) Seattle Seahawks: AJ Cann, OG, South Carolina
(Rd3: Alex Carter, CB, Stanford)
Seattle took a beating along their offensive line this offseason, losing both their starting left guard and center. Cann can replace one of those losses. Carter, gives Seattle another six-foot tall cornerback who excels in zone coverage. The Seahawks really love their Stanford corners, don’t they?
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