The dust has settled somewhat from the crazy first wave of free agency, meaning it’s high time for another mock draft. And there’s nobody better at making a mockery of a mock draft than yours truly. See if you agree with my version 3.0 – specifically my pick at No. 11 for your Minnesota Vikings (spoiler alert: it’s a repeat pick).
I’ve stopped waffling with the top two picks in my mock drafts. Something weird would need to happen in order for me to change up my projected selections for the Buccaneers and Titans. After that, things get interesting. This really needs no further introduction. We all know how these mocks work, so let’s buckle up and get right to it.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Winston hasn’t screwed this up yet – so he’s sticking with the plan. He looked great at the combine, as expected, and hasn’t raised too many eyebrows with off-field comments or antics since the end of the Seminoles’ season. From the sound of it, the Buccaneers have vetted him well. He still has his doubters, but I think the Bucs are sold on their new franchise quarterback.
2. Tennessee Titans – Leonard Williams, DE, USC
For the third mock in a row, I have Williams going to the Titans. The other possibility here, for all the obvious reasons, is Marcus Mariota, but in my scenario the Titans will ultimately decide to stick with Zach Mettenberger as the starter and then grab another quarterback in the middle rounds. Their last first-round quarterback (Jake Locker) might leave them a little gun shy. Most draftniks list Williams as the best overall player in this draft so it’s hard to see him slipping much past the second spot.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida
I had the Jaguars going with Randy Gregory in my first two mock drafts and that could still happen. A wide receiver is also an option with Amari Cooper and Kevin White standing by impatiently waiting for their phones to ring. Jacksonville had a ton of room under the salary cap and has been active in the early stages of free agency, plugging some of its myriad roster holes. They could be in “best defensive player available” mode with this pick. If that’s the case, Fowler is a strong candidate.
4. Oakland Raiders – Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
In my first mock draft I had Cooper sliding to 10 to the Rams. Then in my second mock draft I slotted him here with Oakland. I was tempted to change this pick to Kevin White, who pulled into a neck-and-neck race with Cooper for the title of “top wide receiver in the draft” on the strength of an eye-popping combine. Indeed, White could be the pick here, but Cooper still feels like the slightly safer play. I suppose that’s reason enough to change it to White, huh? We are talking about the Raiders here after all. Maybe in my next mock…
5. Washington Redskins – Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
Washington is in need of help on both the offensive and defensive lines -- as well as wide receiver, linebacker, maybe the secondary – you get the picture. Lots of issues here. Gregory seems like a good fit (for any team really) and should immediately upgrade the pass rush for Washington. He shouldn’t slide much past five if he even makes it this far.
6. New York Jets – Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
This is the spot where a lot of folks are projecting Marcus Mariota to land. It’s also where I had him going in my previous mock draft just over a month ago. Not anymore. It’s time to throw a curveball into this mockery and keep Mariota waiting in the Draft Day green room. Oddly enough, the Jets appear to be content to put their quarterback job in the hands of Geno Smith and let the recently acquired Ryan Fitzpatrick back him up. In fairness, Brandon Marshall will make whoever is under center better. New Jets head coach Todd Bowles is all about an attacking 3-4 defense. They got their shutdown cornerback back in the fold by throwing a giant wad of guaranteed money at Darrelle Revis. Now it’s time to add the edge rusher. Beasley was an early-to-mid first-round pick before tearing it up at the combine. I think this pick will come down to him or Shane Ray.
7. Chicago Bears – Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
The Bears finished 30th in pass defense in 2014 and I had them selecting outstanding Alabama safety Landon Collins with this pick in each of my first two mock drafts. However, the signing of Antrel Rolle makes that less of a need. The switch to a 3-4 scheme will change the dynamic of their defensive line, and they cut defensive tackle Stephen Paea (who signed with Washington) so grabbing Shelton makes some sense here. An outside pass-rushing linebacker could also be a fit, and there are plenty of those at the top of his draft. Also worth considering: a wideout like Kevin White to replace the aforementioned Brandon Marshall.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
For the third mock draft in a row I have the Falcons taking an OLB/DE hybrid, and for the third mock draft in a row it’s someone different. Ray is going someplace in the top 10 and Atlanta is as good of a fit as any. The Falcons ranked last against the pass and next-to-last in sacks (22) in 2014. The need is obvious and Ray should help right away.
9. New York Giants – Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The Giants could use help on both sides of the ball and my temptation was to make Kevin White the pick here. I imagine Eli Manning would be cool with that. Can you imagine a tandem of White with Odell Beckham Jr., plus Shane Vereen catching passes out of the backfield? It could happen. But adding the guy who some feel has pulled even – or even surpassed – Brandon Scherff as the top offensive lineman in this draft also makes a great deal of sense. Give Eli better protection and just let him throw in the vicinity of ODB – he’ll catch it.
10. St. Louis Rams – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The Kevin White slide ends here. This could also be Amari Cooper should a team like the Raiders opt to grab White earlier. Regardless, I think both wide receivers will wind up going in the top 10. The Rams could use some help along the offensive line as well, especially after letting Jake Long go. I just think the temptation of adding someone with bona fide No. 1 wideout upside will be too strong for the Rams to resist.
11. Minnesota Vikings – Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
For the second mock draft in a row, I have the Vikings slated to select Scherff. Truthfully, he might not drop this far. The Rams, Giants, Bears and Redskins are all candidates to take him. However, if Scherff does slide this far I don’t see how the Vikings could pass him up. The Vikes struck out in their efforts to land Clint Boling to plug the hole at left guard, meaning right now that job would go to the likes of Joe Berger or David Yankey. Lining one of them up next to Matt Kalil is a little unsettling. Wide receiver Devante Parker remains a possibility with this pick, as does a top cornerback such as Trae Waynes. However, it feels like the Vikings are intent on finding defensive back help in free agency, as they have been linked to several names. They’ve also reportedly been linked or checked in on a handful of free agent wide receivers. My next mock draft could have a different name next to the Vikings’ pick depending on how free agency shakes out, but for now I’m sticking with the big man from Iowa.
I now direct you to VikingsJournal.com for a look at the rest of this mock draft. Find out where players like Marcus Mariota, Melvin Gordon and Maxx Williams are projected to land. The entire first round was simply too long to post here at VikesCentric.
Bo Mitchell is the Vice President of Content at SportsData, head writer at VikingsJournal.com, co-host of the Fantasy Football Pants Party at 1500ESPN.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell