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Value vs. Need will shape top of NFL Draft

When I decided I wanted to be a sportscaster right before entering high school, I started focusing on one area in particular – the NFL Draft.

At the time, Mel Kiper Jr. owned the market when it came to evaluating prospects and previewing the draft on TV. That’s who I wanted to be when I grew up.

When I was in high school, I created my own website which focused on the NFL Draft. I was doing mock drafts before mock drafts were really cool and actually got a lot of hits on my site over the years.

As the years went on, real life stepped in and I no longer had time to run the website. But I still loved looking a mock drafts in the months leading up to the event.

Now look, we all know that mock drafts are horribly inaccurate. Even experts that do them admit as much. They are still fun, though.

With that said, here is my mock draft for Thursday’s first round. I did have a few predicted trades to add to the enjoyment.

1. Tampa Bay – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

He’s an idiot, but he’s also the most talented QB in the draft.

2. Tennessee – Leonard Williams, DE, USC

Everyone seems to have Mariota going here. Yes, Tennessee won’t be short on trade offers, but will it be worth trading down too far and missing out on such an elite talent like Williams? It’s similar to the Texans last year, who took the best player available instead of trading down or picking a QB they weren’t in love with. I think in the end, the Titans play it safe and keep the pick to select Williams.

3. Jacksonville – Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

Like Tennessee, the Jags’ phone will be ringing with teams wanting to move up for Mariota. But again, are the extra picks worth it if you lose out on a perfect fit like Fowler? Jacksonville probably won’t think so.

Marcus Mariota4. TRADE: New York Jets (from Oak) – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

I think here is where a Mariota trade will happen. If the Jets offer a second rounder to move up from six, then Oakland will bite. It seems like the Jets are selecting the next savior every two years, but Mariota may actually be the guy to end the revolving down in the Meadowlands.

5. Washington – Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

After losing Brian Orakpo in free agency, they need a pass rusher. Beasley or Dupree will fill that need.

6. TRADE: Oakland (from NYJ) – Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Perfect scenario for the Raiders. They get an extra pick by trading down, and still get Cooper.

7. TRADE: Cleveland (from Chi) – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

I’d love for Chicago to take a stud WR like White, but that defense is still a wreck. With an extra first in their pocket, the Browns can afford to ship off a second rounder to jump ahead of St. Louis and others and take White. The Bears meanwhile move down to focus on the defense.

8. Atlanta – Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

The Falcons may get a little antsy and try to move up, but I think they’ll still get that pass rusher they want staying at No. 8.

9. New York Giants – Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa

The Giants could go several ways with this pick. It could also be a hot trade commodity, with teams trading up to get Waynes or Shelton. If they stay here, the Giants go with the best offensive lineman in the draft.

10. St. Louis – Devante Parker, WR, Louisville

They’ll look to trade up to get Cooper or White. Parker isn’t a bad consolation prize, though.

11. Minnesota – Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

The Vikings have made it quite clear they indeed to get a cornerback early in this year’s draft. Makes sense to take the top one available in Waynes.

Danny Shelton12. TRADE: Chicago (from Cle) – Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

Chicago needs an anchor in the middle for its new 3-4 defense. Shelton is the perfect fit in the mold of a Haloti Ngata. Not a flashy pick, but a smart one.

13. New Orleans – Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska

The Saints need playmakers on that defense that was abysmal last year. Gregory may like to smoke up a lot, but at this spot, he’s worth a risk for New Orleans.

14. Miami – Byron Jones, CB, UConn

The Dolphins will probably have plenty of discussions about moving up to get a receiver. Their back-up plan will be in the secondary. Jones isn’t the most polished, but his combine numbers will entice a team like Miami.

Todd Gurley15. TRADE: Dallas (from SF) – Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia 

With Houston and San Diego both possibilities to get Gurley, the Cowboys package a few other picks to trade up and get the stud RB.

16. Houston – Landon Collins, S, Alabama

I was leaning towards the Texans picking Collins even before word got out they were trying to trade D.J. Swearinger. Collins could provide Houston with a lot of versatility, playing safety, linebacker and special teams.

17. San Diego – Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

I actually think the Chargers could pull a shocker here and take UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. However, if they play it safe, Peat is probably the way to go.

18. Kansas City – La’el Collins, OL, LSU

Despite taking Eric Fisher No. 1 a few years back, the Chiefs’ offensive line is still a mess. Receiver could also be an option here.

19. Cleveland – Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon

After getting the receiver they need, the Browns can focus on shoring up their run defense with their second first rounder.

20. Philadelphia – Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida

Let’s be honest – no one has any idea what Chip Kelly will do here. Perriman’s physical skills may be tough for an offensive-minded coach like Kelly to pass up.

21. Cincinnati – Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri

The Bengals have never shied away from character risks, and based on talent alone, Ray is a steal here.

22. Pittsburgh – Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

It will probably be a toss up between Malcom Brown or Johnson here. The Steelers could also trade down if someone wants to move ahead of Detroit, Arizona and Baltimore to get Melvin Gordon.

23. Detroit – Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

If Gordon is available, the Lions will probably bite. Even though they have plenty of weapons on offense, but Gordon is too good to pass up here.

24. Arizona – Malcom Brown, DL, Texas

If Gurley and Gordon are gone, the Cardinals will take the best available defender and then turn its focus to prying Peterson away from the Vikings.

25. Carolina – Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

The offensive line hasn’t recovered from Jordan Gross retiring. A receiver is also possible here.

26. Baltimore – Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami

Will probably make an effort to trade up and get Gordon. If that fails, the Ravens will go with a speedster to replace Torrey Smith.

27. TRADE: San Francisco (from Dallas) – Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

The 49ers will probably miss out on Armstead if they trade down. But Goldman and an extra pick or two will make the move worth it.

28. Denver – Cameron Erving, C, Florida State

With Peyton’s health a question mark, the Broncos must do whatever they can to protect him. Erving fills a big hole at center.

29. Indianapolis – D.J. Humphries, OL, Florida

For a team that made the conference championship, the Colts have a lot of holes on their offensive line and defense. They have to start protecting Luck better, though, or those hits will start adding up.

30. Green Bay – Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

Peters is a character risk, but Green Bay has enough veterans to keep him in line.

Brett Hundley31. TRADE: St. Louis (from NO) – Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

Someone is going to trade into the bottom half of the first round to get Hundley in order to assure that extra year of control. If the Rams don’t pull the trigger, watch for the Chargers, Eagles or Browns to trade up.

32. New England – Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma

With Vince Wilfork off to Houston, the Patriots need a big body for the middle of their defense. Phillips would be a good fit.

Mad Ramblings

I made my remaining picks prior to the playoffs on Twitter:

Conference semis:

Washington over Atlanta in 7

Chicago over Cleveland in 7

Golden State over Memphis in 5

San Antonio over Houston in 6

Conference Finals:

Chicago over Washington in 6

Golden State over San Antonio in 7

Finals: Golden State over Chicago in 6

  • If I could redo my picks, I’d have Washington over Chicago in the East and Golden State over Houston in the West. The Cavs are hurt, the Bulls are playing sloppy, and the Rockets and Wizards are hot.
  • It’s (finally) an exciting time to be a Cubs fan. Kris Bryant and Addison Russell are in the majors and performing well, Joe Maddon is pulling all the right strings as manager, and the starting pitching has been solid. I thought the Cubs would be a year away from the playoffs, but now, I think they might even win the division.
  • The Astros are alone in first place in the AL West. Not sure if that will continue, but for now, it’s pretty exciting times for baseball fans in Houston.

Bear Down and Keep the Faith!

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About Joshua Buckley

I used to be a Sports Editor. Now I'm the Media Relations Manager at the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.

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