With NFL Free Agency in full swing, mock drafts have changed dramatically. That along with the NFL Combine and Pro Days starting to heat up and the draft board has also dramatically changed. For an up to date list of all the free agency moves, check out our Free Agency Tracker and to see our grades of the trades, check out our Free Agency Grades Page. As always, for our original takes on prospects, check out our Scouting Reports Page, although opinions have been changing recently, particularly on players like Randy Gregory and Landon Collins, who have seen their stock drop in the past few weeks.
I believe that this pick is all but a lock, unless the Bucs trade the pick to acquire Drew Brees, which has been gaining some steam in the past few days. However, I do not believe that will happen and therefore, I think the pick will be Jameis Winston. I have Winston graded as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, as his arm strength and football I.Q. are absolutely off the charts. As long as he can stay out of trouble off the field, he will be a star in the NFL. His ability to read defenses and make all the throws is off the charts. The Bucs have a ton of weapons with Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, and Bobby Rainey and if they get a quarterback like Winston, they should become a very impressive offense as soon as next season.
Publicly the Titans are saying Zach Mettenberger is their quarterback of the future and that they will not pick Mariota. However, I believe that as we get closer to the draft, this will change as Mariota is simply too talented of a prospect to pass up. Sure, he has concerns about whether or not he can play in a pro style system and whether or not he can take snaps from under center. However, those are very teachable things. His arm strength is good and his accuracy is off the charts. He can make all the throws. He is an exceptional athlete and could thrive in a pro style offense similar to the Seahawks offense. A quick-hitting, west coast offense designed around rolling Mariota out of the pocket will be very effective. I believe that the Titans could allow Mariota to grow into his role as the franchise quarterback and with Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Bishop Sankey, Delani Walker and a very good offensive line, this team is one or two pieces away from having a great offense. The other player the Titans could take here is Leonard Williams out of USC but I just think that it is too hard to pass up on a franchise quarterback. I am hesitant on this pick and may change it as we get closer to the draft.
The Jaguars have added some talent in the offseason with players like tight end Julius Thomas and defensive tackle Jared Odrick among others. However, they could still use a talented defensive linemen like Williams, who could play all over the defensive line and make an impact both in the run game and as a pass rusher. Williams’ versatility is unheard of and he has had a couple very good seasons for the Trojans of USC. While he tends to disappear at times, he is an absolutely dominant player when focused. The other options for the Jaguars here are Kevin White and Vic Beasley but I have Williams rated much higher on my board then those two players.
The Raiders have quietly put together a very good offseason, adding talented players at many different positions. However, the one position where the Raiders have not added any talent is at wide receiver, which is a position of massive need for them, as they do not possess a true number one wide receiver. Derek Carr put together a very impressive rookie season last year and looks to be the quarterback of the future, but he needs a legit playmaker at wide receiver if he is going to reach his full potential. White is a very good athlete with a great frame and he runs great routes and has elite hands. He is also extremely dynamic after the catch. Simply put, he can do it all.
The Redskins have made some very good moves this offseason, adding some talent along the defensive line. There key needs are finding an outside linebacker to pair with Ryan Kerrigan (as it looks like Brian Orakpo will not be retained) as well as adding talent at inside linebacker and safety. There offensive line could use some upgrades as well. I have recently revised my initial opinion on Vic Beasley, because he has a very rare combination of speed and explosiveness. He showed up to the Combine at over 240 pounds and looks like he is ready to be a pass rushing terror in his rookie campaign. With the Redskins improved front three, there will be plenty of one on one opportunities for Kerrigan and Beasley to dominate and I believe in building your defense from the front seven out to the secondary. While Trae Waynes is a tremendous prospect, I think that adding a potentially elite pass rusher like Beasley will have a bigger impact for the Redskins in the short term and the long term.
The Jets have added a ton of players in free agency at a variety of positions and have dramatically upgraded the talent on their roster. However, the one position that they have not improved at is outside linebacker, where they still lack an elite pass rusher. There front three and secondary are going to be among the best in football and adding a true pass rushing threat like Fowler could be the piece that takes this defense to historic levels. Fowler is a great athlete with an explosive first step and is rapidly improving his technique. He could come in and dominate behind that front three as a situational pass rusher while he learns to play the outside linebacker position. The Jets could also go with a quarterback like Mariota if he were to fall here or could potentially trade back.
The Bears are in a very interesting situation here as they are in the process of transitioning to a 3-4 defense. To do that, they have added outside linebacker Pernell McPhee as well as safety Antrell Rolle. However, after trading Brandon Marshall to the Jets, they now have a hole at wide receiver across from Alshon Jeffery. Eddie Royal was brought in but he is more of a slot receiver. Amari Cooper would give the Bears a much better compliment to Jeffery, as he can do it all. He can stretch the field, catch jump balls, and most importantly, make the big catches on third down. He is a phenomenal route runner and has great ability after the catch. The other options at this pick are Shane Ray and Danny Shelton but I believe Cooper is a much better overall prospect.
The Falcons have made some decent signings in free agency but they still have not addressed their biggest need which is pass rusher. In this situation, they are lucky that two very good pass rushers are still available in Shane Ray and Randy Gregory. I have Gregory moving way down my draft board as he is too inconsistent on film and doesn’t appear to have the strength to be able to play right away. Ray, on the other hand, is a great pass rushing prospect with multiple years of production. He has an explosive first step and could come in right away and make an impact. The Falcons also need upgrades at tight end, offensive line, and in the secondary but as I said earlier, I like building the defense from the front backwards.
The Giants are in an interesting situation here as they have a ton of options, but none really seem ideal. First, they could replace Antrell Rolle by drafting Alabama’s Landon Collins. However, Collins does not have the ability to play center field like Rolle did so I took him off the board. Second, they could use a talented linebacker but none that are available here are good value. Third, they could use a great pass rusher on the defensive line but again there are none available. That brings me to what is arguably their biggest need, upgrading the interior of the offensive line. The Giants currently have the worst combination of guards in the NFL and adding a player like Scherff would be huge. Scherff was a left tackle in college, but I believe he can have a similar rookie season to Pro Bowl guard Zach Martin of the Cowboys last year. He is great as a run blocker and has the athleticism to be a dominant pulling guard.
The Rams have a few remaining needs at positions like tackle, wide receiver, and possibly some secondary help as well. With the players remaining on the board, I believe their best bet is upgrading the offensive line to protect Foles and allow their offense to function with more confidence. Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, and Chris Givens is not a bad group of wide receivers and with Foles at the helm, this offense should improve. They already have one of the best defensive lines in football and I believe if they can establish a dominant offensive line to go with that, they will dramatically improve their team. I really like Andrus Peat as I believe he has a ton of upside. He is still very young and has improved dramatically each year. As his technique improves, there is no reason he should not be able to use his size and strength to just maul people. While he might take a little time to reach his full potential, I believe Peat could be a top ten left tackle in a few years.
The Vikings have a huge need at wide receiver and possibly running back as well as offensive tackle, but I believe their number one goal should be upgrading the talent in the secondary. Xavier Rhodes is a young player with a ton of upside and Harrison Smith is one of the best young free safety’s in the NFL but they lack talent across from each of these guys. Waynes is a great scheme fit for the vikings and he and Rhodes would give the Vikings a talented, lanky group of corners with lockdown potential. In a division with Alshon Jeffery, Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb, having a duo of corners like Rhodes and Waynes would be a great start for a team with a very good front seven as is.
The Browns biggest need is far and away offensive playmakers and they could go with DeVante Parker here. However, I believe that Shelton is far and away the best player on the board and with Atyba Rubin set to leave via free agency, the Browns have a hole at Nose Tackle. Shelton is a true three down nose tackle with pass rushing ability and the ability to demand double teams and he could come in and start from day one. The Browns could also use another pass rusher as they lost Jabaal Sheard to the Patriots.
The Saints have had an interesting offseason, adding Max Unger, a 1st round pick, Brandon Browner, and retaining Mark Ingram but they have a few huge needs. One, they now need a tight end to replace Jimmy Graham, Two, they need to upgrade their talent in the front seven. And three, they could use an upgrade at guard now that they traded Ben Grubbs. Alvin Dupree is very Lamaar Woodley like in his combination of size and strength but unlike Woodley, he has an incredible first step and is capable of blowing buy people off the snap. I believe he is ready to contribute from day one and that he could have 10 sacks as a rookie.
The Dolphins have had an active and solid offseason, adding franchise defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, cornerback Brice McCain, and tight end Jordan Cameron, however, they still need to add a talented wide receiver to play across from Mike Wallace this year, especially because they cut Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson to create cap space. Parker is a player who has the potential to become a great number one wide receiver, as he has a great frame and leaping ability as well as quickness to make plays after the catch. The other position the Dolphins could choose to address here is at cornerback, as although they have added Brice McCain, they could still use more talent to pair with Brent Grimes.
The 49ers have had a pretty dreadful offseason, losing a ton of talented players and only being able to add Torrey Smith so far in terms of impact additions and having lost many talented players like Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, and Frank Gore. However, they still have reason to hope as Colin Kaepernick is a young quarterback with upside and Carlos Hyde is a great young running back. While Dorial Green-Beckham has some character concerns, he is an unbelievable wide receiver prospect with the potential to be the next Calvin Johnson. The 49ers have proven to be willing to take on players with concerns about their character and when given the chance to add a talent like DGB, it might be too much for them to pass up. He is a great fit in their big play offense and will also be able to block effectively given his size.
The Texans have put together a quiet but effective offseason, adding Rahim Moore at safety and Brian Hoyer at quarterback while also retaining Kareem Jackson and Derek Newton. While they are set at tackle, they still could use a versatile offensive linemen who could play guard. Collins has been a model of consistency at LSU and will fit well in the zone blocking scheme used by the Texans. He is very good as both a pass and run blocker and has the athleticism to be effective when pulling. The Texans could also look to add a wide receiver here or possibly go on the defensive side of the ball and add a pass rusher but I think Collins provides better value here, although Randy Gregory could start to become an option around this time.
The Chargers have had a very good offseason retaining key players while also adding a few talented pieces, like Jacoby Jones and Orlando Franklin. However, they lost Ryan Matthews to the Eagles and I do not believe that Donald Brown or Branden Oliver are capable of being starting running backs in the NFL. Gurley is an extraordinary talent who has had horrible injury luck the past two years, but if he can stay healthy, his combination of vision, power, and speed could turn him into one of the games best running backs from the moment he steps onto the field. The Chargers have a dynamic and talented offense and adding a game changing running back like Gurley could be the piece that finally pushes this team to the next level. The Chargers could also look to upgrade at safety now that Marcus Gilchrist will be heading the the Jets and Landon Collins could be an option here but I believe that Gurley is too talented to pass up.
The Chiefs added a talented but inconsistent wide receiver in Jeremy Maclin but are still lacking of a true number two wide receiver. That is a role that Strong could thrive in, as he is a phenomenal route runner with great hands and quickness, but may not have the size to be a true number one wide receiver in the NFL. Combining Maclin with Strong would give the Chiefs a very talented set of wide receivers to hopefully help them catch a touchdown pass next season. The other spots the Chiefs could possibly look to upgrade are in the secondary or at inside linebacker, but I do not believe the value is there for them at this point. A trade down in this scenario to the mid 20s could also be very possible if they could find a buyer.
The Browns got a great prospect earlier in the draft in Danny Shelton but now they must add a playmaker to the offense. Losing Josh Gordon to suspension and Jordan Cameron to the Dolphins puts them in a situation where Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins are their top receivers and they do not have a tight end on the roster worth starting. While there are players that will provide better value here like Randy Gregory, the Browns simply can’t afford to have the group of playmakers they have. Sammie Coates is a good prospect with a great physical frame and a good ability to run routes. He has the ability to make big plays and require double teams, which is something the Browns simply do not have at this time.
The Eagles have had a very busy offseason to say the least, adding a ton of talented pieces while also losing a ton as well. They have now dramatically upgraded their secondary and I no longer believe they will go with a corner in round one. They could still look to add a pass rusher or defensive linemen but they appear to be one wide receiver away from having a very good offense. Agholor is quietly rising up draft boards two very impressive seasons in the past two years at USC. He is not the biggest wide receiver, but he is incredibly shifty and capable of making huge plays after the catch. This makes him the perfect fit in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo, quick hitting offense and I believe he and Jordan Matthews would be a phenomenal tandem of wide receivers for Sam Bradford to throw to.
The Bengals are in an awesome spot here with a ton of talented defensive linemen to choose from. The choice here comes between Randy Gregory and Armstead for me and I believe that Armstead is the better fit for what the Bengals do. The Bengals could slide Armstead from defensive end into defensive tackle on third downs and use him as a pass rushing threat. He is also a great player against the run and has a tireless motor and never gives up on plays. Unlike Gregory, he is also ready to be a three down player from day one, which is something the Bengals need right now.
The Steelers retained Arthur Moats to provide depth at outside linebacker and have the young Jarvis Jones on the other side of the field. However, Jason Worilds shockingly retired and they still have not been able to resign James Harrison. That leaves a potentially huge hole at outside linebacker for the Steelers. Gregory is a very good athlete but he has battled some injuries and lack of strength throughout his career with Nebraska. If he can add that strength, he could become a very good linebacker, but it is going to take time. I would expect the Steelers to use him as a situational pass rusher in his rookie year, while he learns to play standing up and adds strength. However, in time, I believe the Steelers could have a great outside linebacker tandem in Jarvis Jones and Randy Gregory.
The Lions are in a tricky spot as this free agency has created a big need for them at defensive tackle. With Nick Fairley set to leave and Ndamukong Suh gone to the Dolphins, the Lions did a good job by acquiring Haloti Ngata, one of the games top defensive tackles, for a few mid round draft picks. However, they still have a massive hole at the other defensive tackle spot and luckily, there are a few great options available here at 23. This pick came down to Eddie Goldman and Malcolm Brown for me and I went with Goldman as he provides more of a pass rush than Brown, although both can rush the passer pretty well. A combination of Ngata and Goldman along with talented players at defensive end like Ezekial Ansah, George Johnson, and Jason Jones and this could be one of the NFLs best defensive lines. The Lions could go in a few other directions here, including running back (unlikely), or linebacker but I simply think that defensive tackle is far and away their biggest need and it also happens to have a ton of talent left on the board.
This pick came down to Denzel Perryman and Eric Kendricks for me, as I believe the Cardinals need to add a young, talented middle linebacker of the future for their 3-4 defense, who can come in and learn from some great players. I have Perryman graded higher than Kendricks, but believe that Kendricks is the better fit for what Arizona needs. Kendricks is a good athlete and very instinctive but tends to play over aggresively at times. However, with some good coaching, he could harness this aggression and turn himself into a great inside linebacker, capable of shedding blocks and making plays in the backfield. He is also a capable enough athlete to play in coverage, although he lacks the technique to do it properly.
The Panthers have had a quiet offseason and still need some big time help on the offensive line. Cam Newton is a tremendous talent and they have some great playmakers in Greg Olson and Kelvin Benjamin. They could still use an upgrade at both running back and wide receiver but I believe their best bet is to protect their franchise quarterback and ensure that he makes it through a season injury free. It is much easier to find talented playmakers later in the draft. Clemmings is an unbelievable prospect who has only played offensive tackle for two seasons. However, he is pretty good technique wise, although he is inconsistent, and he is an unbelievable athlete. As he learns the position and becomes more comfortable, I believe he could become an All-Pro left tackle.
The Ravens routinely take advantage of prospects like Landon Collins falling to them in the draft. The Ravens have a few needs, including wide receiver, tight end, and cornerback, but I believe that their biggest need is finding a talented safety. Collins is not a guy who will be their next Ed Reed, as he can’t play centerfield, but he could be a great in the box safety that will inflict fear and pain to slot receivers and tight ends while also providing great support in the running game. He is very talented and slid down the draft board due to lack of team fit as well as lack of versatility but he could come in and start from day one for the Ravens. It also helps that Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome loves his Alabama players, with Courtney Upshaw, C.J. Mosley, and Terrence Cody being some of his early picks in the past few years.
The Cowboys are in an intriguing position here as they have a variety of ways they could go. They could go with the talented running back out of Wisconsin in Melvin Gordon, but I believe they are going to roll the dice with Joseph Randle this year. The other position they could use an upgrade at is defensive end and defensive tackle, and a prospect that could intrigue them here is is Texas defensive tackle Malcolm Brown. However, they are also desperate for help in the secondary, as that is the reason they did not advance further in the playoffs. Jalen Collins is an incredible athlete who has great size and quickness to play as a man cover corner in the NFL. He needs to become more consistent with his technique but I believe that can happen very quicly.
The Broncos have had an up and down offseason, losing talented players like Rahim Moore and Julius Thomas, but also bringing in some decent players as well as retaining a few players. However, they have done nothing to increase the physicality and talent of their front seven, which is their biggest weakness. Malcolm Brown is an impressive athlete with an explosive first step and great pass rushing ability. He is still young and is trying to develop more consistent technique but he could instantly help this team’s interior defense in situations. The other way the Broncos could go here is with a run stopping, physical inside linebacker like Denzel Perryman out of Miami.
The Colts have had a tremendous offseason, adding some great talent at a lot of positions. Adding Andre Johnson for and Todd Herreman will improve the offense but they still need to add some more to the front seven. Getting Trent Cole was a great start but he is more of a stop gap type of player. Adding a talented athlete like Eli Harold who could provide a spark off the edge would be a good improvement to the Colts roster. Harold still needs to add strength but if used properly as a rookie, he could make an impact.
The Packers have a very good roster and don’t really have any glaring need beside inside linebacker. Luckily for them, there is a tremendously talented inside linebacker available here in Denzel Perryman out of Miami. Perryman is undersized but has incredible strength and is great at shedding blocks. He is also incredibly instinctive and rarely makes the wrong move. The other position the Packers could use the upgrade at is tight end but I don’t believe Maxx Williams is worth this pick. Finally, they could also use an upgrade on the defensive line and Jordan Phillips would be an option here but Perryman is as good of a value and fills a bigger need.
The Saints are in a great position here with a ton of good options. They need an upgrade at tight end but again, I don’t believe that Maxx Williams is worthy of a first round pick. They could also use an upgrade at defensive tackle and in this scenario, they get to pick between Jordan Phillips and Carl Davis. I was blown away with what I saw on film from Phillips, as it is not often that a man of his size has a first step like Phillips does. He is incredibly strong, requires double teams, and can collapse the pocket on pass rushing downs. He will dramatically improve the entire front seven of the Saints defense and he can start from day one.
The Patriots are in a great position here, with a few awesome options. They are, Melvin Gordon, Kevin Johnson, and Carl Davis, a defensive linemen from Iowa. I believe with the offseason losses of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, the Patriots have to add a cornerback. Johnson is a good talent who plays well in all three types of coverage and he is ready to start from day one. He has good hands and instincts but needs to improve as a tackler.