Daily Egyptian

Donley’s NFL Mock Draft

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

Here are my predictions for the way the first 32 NFL Draft picks will shake out. If you think I’m wrong, I’m open to discuss the picks on Twitter or through email.

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

Bucs coach Lovie Smith has said several times his team is not set on taking Winston No. 1 overall. This is just an attempt to drum up enough trade interest to get an offer too big to pass up. Tampa Bay will not get such an offer and will end up taking Winston, its man from the start.

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2.       TRADE San Diego Chargers – QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon

The most highly-speculated draft day trade will go down with Philip Rivers heading to the Tennessee Titans along with San Diego’s first round pick for the No. 2 and No. 33 picks. With the Chargers possibly headed to Los Angeles, General Manager Tom Telesco will decide four years of Mariota is a better option than the one year he will get out of Rivers.

3.       Jacksonville Jaguars – WR Amari Cooper, Alabama

Jacksonville will add another offensive weapon for second-year signal caller Blake Bortles to pair with free-agent acquisition tight end Julius Thomas.

4.       Oakland Raiders – WR Kevin White, West Virginia

Just like the Jags want a receiving threat for their young quarterback, the Raiders need a target for Derek Carr. Cooper may be the better football player of the two, but White, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, better fits the mold of a Raiders’ draft pick.

5.       Washington Redskins – DT Leonard Williams, USC

The two defensive tackles on Washington’s roster have combined for 8 tackles in five seasons. Williams will bring a much-needed physical presence to the Redskins’ interior line.

6.       New York Jets – OLB/DE Vic Beasley, Clemson

Beasley’s pass rush abilities combined with the shutdown cover ability of cornerback Darrelle Revis will give the Jets a chance against the likes of quarterbacks Tom Brady and rising star Ryan Tannehill.

7.       Chicago Bears – OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa

Disclaimer: I am a Green Bay Packers fan. As much as I’d like to see the Bears trade this pick for running back Trent Richardson or take quarterback Reilly O’Toole, the Bears allowed 41 sacks last season and finished 27th in rushing yards per carry. Wherever Scherff winds up fitting into the Chicago line, he should make a difference.

8.       Atlanta Falcons – DE/OLB Dante Fowler, Florida

The Falcons recorded 22 sacks in 2014, tied for 30th in the NFL. Fowler, the top pass rusher on the board at this point, will be the guy they call on to try to make Winston, Cam Newton and Drew Brees uncomfortable for the next few years.

9.       New York Giants – DT Danny Shelton, Washington

The Giants had the league’s worst run defense last season, allowing 4.9 yards per carry. Statistically, teams did not have to throw against the Giants if they did not want to. At 6 feet 2 inches and 339 pounds, Shelton has the size and athleticism to help stop the run. 

10.   St. Louis Rams – WR DeVante Parker, Louisville

The Rams invest in their new acquisition, quarterback Nick Foles, giving him an option opposite Tavon Austin. The Rams can pick up a running back in the second round. 

11.   Minnesota Vikings – CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State

A quarter of the Vikings’ schedule features Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Their secondary can use all the help it can get, and the top corner in this draft is the answer.

12.   Cleveland Browns – LB Shaq Thompson, Washington

The Browns need some of everything, and Thompson does everything. This super athlete, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox despite not having played baseball since high school, can fill any role Cleveland needs him to and gives the team some flexibility with the 19th pick.

13.   New Orleans Saints – DE/OLB Bud Dupree, Kentucky

This roster must improve. Dupree joins Cameron Jordan to give NFC South offensive coordinators nightmares.

14.   Miami Dophins – S Landon Collins, Alabama

The Dolphins signed injury-prone safety Louis Delmas to patrol their secondary. Collins will give them a more reliable option for the future.

15.   San Francisco 49ers – LB Eric Kendricks, UCLA

After the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, the Niners will pick up a undersized, yet playmaking linebacker.

16.   Houston Texans – WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri

The Texans get a replacement for the departed Andre Johnson. While Green-Beckham may present coachability issues, he has a combination of size and speed that cannot be taught. At 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 237 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds.

17.   TRADE Tennessee Titans – OT La’el Collins, LSU

The Titans had one of the worst ground attacks in the NFL last year. Collins can help open holes for Bishop Sankey while protecting new starting quarterback Philip Rivers.

18.   Kansas City Chiefs –  DE/OLB Randy Gregory, Nebraska

Perhaps a top-10 pick before his positive marijuana test at the NFL combine, the Chiefs will not pass up on his talent.

19.   Cleveland Browns – DT Malcom Brown, Texas

Cleveland allowed a league-high 141.6 rushing yards per game in 2014. Brown has the athleticism to disrupt an opponent’s ground game.

20.   Philadelphia Eagles – DE Arik Armstead, Oregon

At this point, who really knows what coach Chip Kelly is going to do here? A former Duck is as good a bet as any.

21.   Cincinnati Bengals – WR Breshad Perriman, Central Florida

Andy Dalton allows his defense to carry him. The Bengals will pick up an offensive weapon here, giving him fewer excuses for his inability to escape the first round of the playoffs.

22.   Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest

The Steelers will add a solid starter to a dumpster fire of a secondary.

23.   Detroit Lions – OT T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh

The Lions will add depth to their offensive line after completely reworking the defensive front on the trade market.

24.   Arizona Cardinals – RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

They have been linked to Adrian Peterson trade rumors, but ultimately the Cardinals will go with a less controversial option. Gordon is the safer of the top two running backs in this draft.

25.   Carolina Panthers – OT D.J. Humphries, Florida

They have needs at receiver and offensive line. The best offensive lineman at this spot — Humphries — is better than the best available wideout Devin Smith.

26.   Baltimore Ravens – RB Todd Gurley, Georgia

With Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice gone, Justin Forsett could use some help in taking pressure off Joe Flacco. If healthy, Gurley could combine with Forsett to create one of the top running back tandems in the AFC.

27.   Dallas Cowboys – DT Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma

Phillips will bring size to the Dallas front line. The Cowboys can pick up a pass rusher in the second round.

28.   Denver Broncos – TE Maxx Williams, Minnesota

Williams will step in to replace the departed Julius Thomas, teaming up with Peyton Manning for his last try, or tries, at one last Super Bowl ring.

29.   Indianapolis Colts – CB/S Jalen Collins, LSU

Expect the Colts to go heavy on defense in the draft after adding Andre Johnson and Frank Gore. Collins can help tighten up the secondary.

30.   Green Bay Packers – LB Bernardrick McKinney, Mississippi State

With B.J. Raji and Letroy Guion returning to the interior D-Line, middle linebacker is the only real weakness on this team. McKinney can step in and be the tackler A.J. Hawk was in his prime.

31.   New Orleans Saints – G A.J. Cann, South Carolina

The Saints are in the middle of a roster overhaul, and after the trade of Ben Grubbs, Cann will come in and contribute on the interior offensive line.

32.   New England Patriots – DE Shane Ray, Missouri

Ray will give coach Bill Belichick another defensive weapon to throw at opponents after falling due to his arrest Monday.

TE MyCole Pruitt, Southern Illinois – Dallas Cowboys (4th Round, No. 127 overall)

As unpopular a fact as this may be to Cowboys fans, Jason Witten is not immortal. Pruitt could potentially be seen as an eventual replacement for the future Hall of Famer. 

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269

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