Mel Kiper, Jr. is back with his second mock draft of the season less than a week before the NFL Scouting Combine begins and for the second week in a row he has the Redskins taking Nebraska OLB Randy Gregory. Also in this mock he has Marcus Mariota falling out of the top 5 and landing with the New York Jets at #6. There has been heavy speculation that if Mariota does fall to the Redskins at #5, there will be heavy interest in a trade down which could give the Skins a healthy assortment of picks. The pre-draft rumor machine has been cranking out possible suitors, with the newest one being the Cleveland Browns. GM Ray Farmer has reportedly "shown a liking for" Mariota and the Browns are hiring Kevin O'Connell who worked with Mariota pre-combine. The Browns currently have two 1st round picks(12th and 19th overall), but are facing possible penalties that could include the loss of draft picks from "Text-Gate".
And lurking in the shadows, there is always Mariota's former coach Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles. They would have to pay a fortune to get near the Top 5 in the draft from their current spot at 20, but with Chip Kelly ripping personnel control away from Howie Roseman last month, anything is possible.
Shane Ray has taken Mariota's place in the top 5 on Kiper's mock. Ray was Todd McShay's pick for the Redskins in his latest mock, and is becoming a popular pick for them at that spot. In NFC East news, the New York Giants get Brandon Scherff for the second time in a row. The Philadelphia Eagles also get a repeat player in CB Marcus Peters. And the Dallas Cowboys switch DTs from Jordan Phillips to Carl Davis this week.
DT Danny Shelton rises from 12 to 7
DE Arik Armstead from 17 to 8
OT Andrus Peat from 25 to 10
WR Kevin White from 15 to 11
WR Breshad Perriman enters 1st round at 15
RB Melvin Gordon from 25 to 17
WR Devin Smith from 32 to 18
DT Eddie Goldman from 30 to 19
WR Jalen Collins enters 1st round at 24
TE Maxx Williams enters 1st round at 26
ILB Denzel Perryman enters 1st round at 28
OT La'el Collins enters 1st round at 29
WR Phillip Dorsett enters 1st round at 31
OLB Vic Beasley from 13 to 21
S Landon Collins from 7 to 22
OT TJ Clemmings from 10 to 25
ILB Shaq Thompson from 14 to not in 1st round
OLB Bud Dupree from 21 to not in 1st round
CB Kevin Johnson from 22 to not in 1st round
As I often do at this point in the draft process, let me offer up a few reminders:
• Most teams are still really early in their evaluation process. Draft boards aren't remotely set. So in the absence of any teams really having a sense who their "best player available" might be I'm projecting a bit more on need at this point.
• I simply can't project any trades this early in the process. Teams needs to have a better sense of player value up and down the board before they can get too far into those discussions.
• The draft order for the final four teams is based on regular season record. It's not a playoff prediction.
Kiper's Mock Draft 1.0 Reasoning:
Gregory is the type of pass-rushing talent that can transcend systems. Long, athletic and highly explosive coming off the edge, he's a little undersized as a classic 4-3 defensive end and could play in space a little better as a 3-4 outside linebacker. But he can flat out cause disruption -- not just as a pass-rusher, mind you, because he'll also play with good leverage against the run and make plays in the backfield. Washington should be purely in the "take a great football player" category, and Gregory fits the bill and can make them better as a rookie.
Kiper's Mock Draft 2.0 Reasoning:
Gregory -- a freak athlete who brings scheme versatility, the ability to disrupt in the passing game and hold up a lot better than many realize against the run -- would be a fit for any team drafting in the top five, because you just can't beat the upside as a disruptive force on defense. I also like Shane Ray here if he drops, and this is a spot where teams looking at Marcus Mariota could move, but if they stay put and don't have interest in Mariota, Gregory makes a lot of sense.