With the Senior Bowl set to kick off this week, draft season is in full swing. The hiring of Scot McCloughan and the fact that the Redskins actually have a first round draft pick has Redskins nation buzzing with excitement for the draft.
With many holes to fill, the Redskins could go a variety of different ways with their pick at number 5 overall, including trading back from that position. Lets see what the writers think about how the first round might shake out:
1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Mariota didn’t have his best performance in the National Championship, but that likely won’t prevent him from being one of the first two picks in the draft. Mariota isn’t a finished product, he has some fumbling concerns and he is the definition of a system quarterback. However, in the right fit I have no doubt he can be a franchise quarterback. Mariota possesses the ability to extend plays and throw on the run much like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, and does a pretty good job of protecting himself from unnecessary hits.
2) Tennessee Titans: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Winston has all the physical tools you want. The Florida State product has the size and athletic ability to be a franchise quarterback. However, Winston has shown some trouble with interceptions, and has a few very poor throws on his tape; pair that with his off the field concerns and this is a pretty risky pick for the Titans. But this is a quarterback's league, and every year teams reach for quarterbacks higher than they should likely be picked. 2015 will be no exception. I would be shocked if more than one of the top to signal callers makes it past the top 6 or so picks.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DT, USC
With the top two quarterbacks off the board, Jacksonville is thrilled to be able to select Leonard Williams who is largely regarded as the number one overall prospect. The Jags have some young pieces on defense, and adding Williams will only increase the strength of the unit. Williams is a disruptive interior player who plays the run just as well as he rushes the passer. Williams is flat out disruptive and lives in opponent’s backfield.
4) Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The Raiders had one of their best drafts last season, and as a result have a lot of young talent to work with but still have a roster that needs quite a bit of work. Quarterback Derek Carr was one of the players selected in the Raiders very successful 2014 draft, however, the Raiders lack weapons for the second year signal caller to toss the rock to. Amari Cooper will provide Oakland with an immediate upgrade, and provide the Raiders with a complete receiver who can do it all from short screens to the home run ball there isn’t much Cooper doesn’t do well. The Raiders should be building around their promising young signal caller, and adding Cooper would be a great way to start that process.
5) Washington Redskins: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa (Pick made by Ken Meringolo)
I vow to use one of the upcoming Hogs Haven drafts to venture away from the offensive line. Just for a second. Just to see how it feels...but not today.
The more I think about this pick, and this is the second time I have done this already, the more I honestly believe that taking the best offensive tackle on the board sets up this franchise for the long haul. It's not just about BPA. It's not just about need. To me, this pick is philosophical. What are we going to build this team around? It has to be the line of scrimmage (which will allow me to justify a DT at some point). This town remembers what happens when you build an above average offensive line, even if Dan Snyder does not. This draft spot gives us the opportunity to commit to an organizational direction and philosophy. I don't think we lose talent-wise on the deal either, as Scherff is widely seen as the top offensive tackle in this draft. (I can't shake the feeling that Andrus Peat is going to overtake him by draft day.)
6) New York Jets: Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
Todd Bowles likes to rush the quarterback, under Bowles the Cardinals defense blitzed the quarterback more than most NFL teams. Bowles will have a tough decision to make here, with two of the top rated pass rushers still on the board in Randy Gregory and Shane Ray, but Bowles goes with possibly the purist pass rusher in the entire draft class in Ray. The Jets have holes at corner and quarterback but there aren’t any prospects at those positions that warrant a pick in the top six so the Jets go with the best player available and improve an already solid defense by adding the Missouri product.
7) Chicago Bears: Randy Gregory, DE/LB, Nebraska
The Bears defense is a mess, they need help across the board. With their lack of depth at the safety position Landon Collins is tempting here, but ultimately Gregory is too tempting to pass up. Gregory has all the physical tools and is a raw prospect with unlimited potential, he can stand up and rush or rush with his hand in the dirt and will ultimately improve a defensive unit that John Fox will inherit that is not very good.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Dante Fowler, Jr., OLB, Florida
The pass rushers continue to come off the board. Atlanta has another defense that needs a lot of help and one of those needs is rushing the quarterback. Luckily for the Falcons arguably the best player available is pass rushing specialist Donte Fowler, Jr. Fowler has a fantastic motor and is relentless in rushing the passer, he is physically strong at the point of attack and has all the tools to be a fantastic stand up pass rusher. Watch out for Fowler to rise up draft boards, as he and Shane Ray will likely blow up the combine, but for now Atlanta is happy to take the former Gator at #8.
9) New York Giants: La’el Collins, OT, LSU
The Giants could use help on the offensive line, or a pass rusher, so Vic Beasley was considered here, but ultimately the Giants invest in a very solid prospect in Collins. The LSU prospect has experience at both guard and tackle and certainly has the physical tools to be a plug and play type player. Collins has some impressive tape and will likely impress at the senior bowl which could cause his stock to rise a bit, but for now New York will welcome him to the big apple at #9.
10 St. Louis Rams: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
This isn’t the best case scenario for the Rams, and they could trade back if they are in this situation. However, they do still need help along the offensive line and the Rams decide to go with a prospect with arguably the highest ceiling of any tackle in the class. Clemmings was recently converted from the defensive to offensive line and has improved dramatically throughout his senior season, clearly becoming more comfortable on the offensive side of the ball. Clemmings is a physical blocker and packs one of the best punches off the line of scrimmage of any prospect I’ve ever watched. Clemmings could come in and start day one on the right side of the Rams line, giving them two talented young tackles for the future.
11) Minnesota Vikings: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
With Adrian Peterson’s future in question, the Vikings could really use a back to compliment Jerick Mckinnon, but it’s simply too early to take a running back here. The Vikings have some serious questions at left tackle, however the best tackle options are now off the board. Teddy Bridgewater has proven that he should be viewed as the guy moving forward, so the Vikings give the second year signal caller a former teammate in wide out DeVante Parker who is an explosive wide receiver that will add another element to the Vikings offense.
12) Cleveland Browns: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The Browns appear to be moving forward with Johnny Football, and with an already solid line and running back options, the Browns will look to add a big play receiver to compliment or replace the unreliable Josh Gordon. White blew up in his final year at Morgantown and was one of the best receivers in college football, giving the Browns another big play receiver they lacked with the suspended Josh Gordon and aging Miles Austin.
13) New Orleans Saints: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Beasley presents great value at this point, and due to the amount of talent at pass rusher in this draft the Saints are able to nab a very good one at #13. Beasley is a good pass rusher with great bend and explosion, something the Saints definitely need. There have been rumors that the Saints would like to draft Drew Brees’ eventual replacement but there is not a quarterback here worth taking, instead New Orleans focuses on getting after Cam Newton and Matt Ryan twice a year with Beasley.
14) Miami Dolphins: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Thompson could have a home at three positions in the NFL if he fully invested himself in any of them (LB, S, RB). However, Thompson has made it clear that his future in the NFL is at linebacker. Thompson is an athletic freak, a rare prospect whose football intelligence matches his athletic ability. The Washington product is a flat out playmaker, and is always around the ball. The Dolphins, who already boast a very good defense will get even better immediately by adding the rangy, athletic prospect.
15) San Francisco 49ers: Danny Shelton, NT, Washington
It didn’t take long for the next Huskie to come off the board, as the 49ers select Shelton with the 15th overall selection. With the release of Ray McDonald, and the retirement of Justin Smith, the niners could use some depth along their defensive front. Shelton is a fantastic athlete for his size and uses that athleticism to get to the quarterback. Shelton lived in the backfield on college, and under new head coach Jim Tomsula he likely will on Sundays too.
16) Houston Texans: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
No matter who is under center for the Texans in 2015 their offensive line needs some work. Flowers is a balanced blocker who uses good technique and pad level to be a very successful blocker at Miami. Flowers is another prospect who could be on the rise by the time the Texans are on the clock in May, but for now the Texans are happy to take him at 16.
17) San Diego Chargers: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Yes, I have Landon Collins falling a little bit further than most, but it’s just so rare to see a safety be picked in the top 10 hat I feel like somewhere between 15-20 is more practical. Not to mention that although Collins is a phenomenal in the box safety, he does not have the special range that will make him a quality free safety much like Earl Thomas possesses, if that were the case he would be picked much earlier. Regardless the Chargers have a great safety in Eric Weddle, and a promising young cornerback in Jason Verrett, so adding Collins would really make the secondary a point of strength on San Diego’s roster.
18) Kansas City Chiefs: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
Scouts are all over the map when it comes to Green-Beckham. He without a doubt possesses first round talent, however, some scouts have gone as far as to call the wide out "undraftable". So why do I think he will go #18 overall? Well, when you go the entire season without having a receiver score a touchdown you may look past the off the field issue and take a chance on the extremely talented Green-Beckham.
19) Cleveland Browns: Michael Bennett, DT, OSU
Bennett’s stock has been up and down all season for the senior, however, Bennett really exploded down the stretch all the way to the National Championship. The Browns were not the same up front when Phil Taylor went down with injury, and with big men up front you can never have enough depth. Adding Bennett would allow the Browns to rotate between Bennett and Taylor as well as provide some insurance for if Taylor were to go down again.
20) Philadelphia Eagles: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
The Eagles were torched all season through the air, and desperately need help at the cornerback position. Johnson isn’t the most well-known player, but that is largely because of Wake Forest being an underachieving team in general. Despite the team's poor season, the senior cornerback had a phenomenal year and possesses the size that scouts are looking for.
21) Cincinnati Bengals: Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
Dupree presents great value at this point, which goes to show how deep the draft is in pass rushers. Dupree wasn’t very well known until a solid senior season boosted his draft stock quite a bit. The Kentucky product likely hasn’t hit his potential yet, and has the physical tools to be an effective speed rushers in the NFL.
22) Pittsburgh Steelers: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The Steelers have a major need at cornerback, and Trae Waynes is one of the most complete corners in the draft. Waynes excels in man and zone coverage and has the size to be physical with receivers off the line of scrimmage. Waynes will provide the Steelers with good value at this point, and fill a major area of need.
23) Detroit Lions: Eddie Goldman, DT, FSU
The Lions could very well lose both of their starting defensive tackles to free agency, and Eddie Goldman is the quick, disruptive type of defensive tackle that the Lions will need should that be the case. Goldman has some consistency concerns, but when he plays to his capabilities there is no denying his talent.
24) Arizona Cardinals: Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
Arik Armstead has a rare combination of size, speed, and athleticism. The 6’8 290 pound defensive end was also a stud on the hardwood, and has all the physical tools to be a dominant pass rusher. Armstead is a raw prospect and hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential, whoever is calling the shots as the Cards defensive coordinator will welcome the physical freak to the bird gang.
25) Carolina Panthers: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The Panthers could go a couple different directions here, they could add a younger back to their roster, or give Cam another target to go along with Kelvin Benjamin, but instead Carolina focuses on protecting their quarterback who has superstar capability when healthy, but has also taken entirely too many hits early in his career. Peat is a massive tackle, at 6’7 315 pounds, he would help solidify the line in front of Cam.
26) Baltimore Ravens: Devin Funchess, TE/WR, Michigan
The Ravens may need some help when it comes to pass catchers. Torrey Smith is set to hit free agency, Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger, and neither is the injury prone Dennis Pitta or Owen Daniels. Funchess lines up mostly as a receiver, but figures to transition to more of a mismatch tight end in the NFL. The Michigan product is a massive 6’5" 230 pounds and simply overpowers corners and safeties, and can outrun linebackers. Joe Flacco will gladly welcome the physical freak to the Ravens.
27) Dallas Cowboys: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
The Cowboys have built a very solid offense, and have had some players really step up on defense. However, if the Cowboys want to get over the hump and get to a Super Bowl, they are going to have to continue to improve their defense. Without his off the field concerns, Marcus Peters is a steal at this point in the draft; he has undeniable top-15 talent. The Cowboys could use an upgrade at the cornerback position and Peters will be too good to pass up.
28) Denver Broncos: Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas
The Broncos are a tough team to evaluate at this point. They have made some significant changes already this off-season and have some big time free agency decisions to make, not to mention the future of Peyton Manning is still very much up in the air. The Broncos beef up their defensive line with the selection of Malcolm Brown, a very solid defensive tackle from the longhorns.
29) Indianapolis Colts: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
There are a lot of different directions I could see the Colts going here, and although their defense gave up 40 or more points four times and could use some upgrades, the Colts simply didn’t have an effective rushing game throughout the season. No matter how good Andrew Luck is, without at least the threat of a rushing attack their offense will be one dimensional and the Colts will not be as good as they could be. Enter, Melvin Gordon. The do-it-all running back from Wisconsin would immediately add a different element to the offense and make it that much more difficult to stop.
30) Green Bay Packers: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
The Packers had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL before switching Clay Mathews to the inside, however, the Packers are still pretty thin at inside linebacker and the addition of McKinney would help immediately. McKinney is a big, fast, athletic linebacker that is ready to contribute now, who can help solidify the middle of the Packers defense.
31) New England Patriots: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
The Patriots are heading to the Super Bowl, and obviously don’t have many glaring needs. However, having a mismatch tight end is what makes the Pats offense so special, and you can see the difference Gronk makes when he is on the field. However, with his injury history the Patriots invest in another big athletic tight end that will keep defensive coordinators up at night.
32) Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Jalen Collins was born to play for the Seahawks. Collins who is just a junior is a bit of a raw prospect, but has a great combination of size and speed. Collins is 6’2 200, which is exactly the mold of the Seattle secondary. Collins might not be ready to contribute right away, but the Seahawks will stash him away for a year or two, develop him and he could turn into the latest star of the legion of boom.