MINNESOTA VIKINGS: TRAE WAYNES, CB, MICHIGAN ST.
Reuniting Teddy Bridgewater with DeVante Parker of Louisville would be a nice story but the Vikings may not view wideout as a top priority. Minnesota already traded for Mike Wallace this offseason and the team, particularly Norv Turner, is much higher on youngster Charles Johnson than most realize. Plus former first rounder Cordarrelle Patterson, who is still just 24-years-old, is in the mix as well. The Bengals used a number of premium draft picks on cover guys during Mike Zimmer's tenure in Cincinnati and that philosophy could carry over to Minnesota. Especially since there are far more questions than answers beyond Xavier Rhodes and they have to face Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler twice a year. Michigan St. CB Trae Waynes is a fast, rangy, aggressive cover guy with a short memory and some playmaking ability. Waynes could very easily come off the board in the Top 10 overall so landing the premier corner in the class at this point would be a coup. Minnesota could also opt to move down aa bit and target
Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson or Washington CB Marcus Peters a little later. The offensive line could be an option as well and Brandon Scherff of Iowa could be a fit at either tackle or guard. If the Vikings choose to part ways with Adrian Peterson they could consider Todd Gurley of Georgia or Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin as a replacement. Don't completely write off Nebraska DE / OLB Randy Gregory either because Zimmer has displayed quite a knack for bringing out the best in talented but troubled prospects.
CLEVELAND BROWNS: DANNY SHELTON, NT, WASHINGTON
It seems as though almost everyone expects the Browns to use this choice on a wide receiver like Kevin White of West Virginia or DeVante Parker of Louisville but don't be surprised if they look to address other positions in the first round. After all they already added Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline and are in better shape than a year ago when they completely took a pass on an historic group of pass catching prospects. Cleveland will likely be looking for some help in the trenches with at least one of their two first rounders and Washington NT Danny Shelton would be an ideal replacement for Ahtyba Rubin in the middle of their odd front. Especially since Phil Taylor will be a free agent next offseason. Shelton checks in at 339 pounds and excels at occupying space and stuffing the run. Shelton isn't necessarily just a typical, one-dimensional nose tackle though and is more of a playmaker than you would expect from the position.
In fact, Shelton's uncommon athleticism, quickness and motor helped him register an impressive 16.5 tackles for a loss and 9.0 sacks as a senior. The Browns could also be in the market for a blocker to replace Mitchell Schwartz, who is entering the final season of his contract, at right tackle and options there could include La'el Collins of L.S.U., Ereck Flowers of Miami (FL). Cleveland has the ammunition to trade up into the Top 5 overall for Oregon QB Marcus Mariota as well, assuming they are willing to pay what figures to be a very steep price.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: KEVIN WHITE, WR, WEST VIRGINIA
Defense is the priority in New Orleans but the recent off-the-field troubles of Nebraska's Randy Gregory and Missouri's Shane Ray means there probably won't be a pass rusher available worthy of this pick. Unless they attempt to move up, perhaps for Clemson OLB Vic Beasley, or reach for someone like Virginia OLB Eli Harold. With that being the case the Saints could call an audible and address a need on offense with a guy who also happens to be the proverbial "Best Player Available". It would be somewhat surprising to see West Virginia WR Kevin White fall this far but stranger things have happened on Draft Day. A former junior college transfer, White is a big, physical wideout with great hands, terrific ball skills and body control and enough speed to make plays down the field. White has even drawn favorable comparisons to none other than Larry Fitzgerald.
Not only would White be an outstanding replacement for the aging Marques Colston but he would also be an ideal complement to the smaller and quicker Brandin Cooks. Louisville WR DeVante Parker could be an alternative here too and they've also been strongly linked to Miami (FL) WR Phillip Dorsett, although he is probably a potential target for their pick later in the first round. The Saints could also opt for a top cover guy in the form of Michigan St. CB Trae Waynes, Washington CB Marcus Peters or maybe Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson.
MIAMI DOLPHINS: TODD GURLEY, RB, GEORGIA
This choice could be a curveball since Dennis Hickey proved to be a bit of a wild card in his first year at the helm in Miami. With that said the Dolphins have been strongly linked to Georgia RB Todd Gurley throughout much of the pre-draft process. Granted Lamar Miller ran for over 1,000 yards last season and is still in his prime but he has some durability issues and doesn't offer much between the tackles. The fact that Gurley will be a first round pick even though his position has been devalued and he is coming off a major knee injury really speaks volumes about how truly special he is. One of the best running back prospects to come along in years, Gurley is a dynamic playmaker whose incredible blend of size, speed and power has elicited favorable comparisons to none other than Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch. In short, Gurley is capable of both running over linebackers and running away from defensive backs. Many agree that Gurley is one of the ten most talented prospects in this class but his stock is clouded by a torn ACL in his left knee suffered in mid-November. Despite those durability concerns Gurley will likely come off the board somewhere in the Top 20 overall. In many ways Gurley will serve as a litmus test to gauge the value of elite running back prospects in the modern NFL Draft. Will he revitalize the positions value or be the final nail in its coffin? Miami could also opt to upgrade at wide receiver with DeVante Parker of Louisville, Breshad Perriman of Central Florida or Nelson Agholor of USC to bolster their passing attack.
Even though the Dolphins used their first round pick last year on a blocker there are still some issues on the interior of the offensive line and La'el Collins of L.S.U. could be the solution that they have been searching for. Michigan St. CB Trae Waynes or Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson could prove tempting as well because youngsters Will Davis and Jamar Taylor have been disappointments thus far. An inside linebacker might actually be the most pressing need in Miami but the value just is not there in mid-Round 1.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: ARIK ARMSTEAD, DE, OREGON
The Niners are one of the deepest teams in the league and one of a select few that could legitimately justify going the best player available route. However, the defensive line may have to be addressed sooner rather than later since the 35-year-old Justin Smith is contemplating retirement, Ray McDonald was jettisoned following multiple off-the-field incidents and Darnell Dockett is merely a short-term solution. Oregon DE Arik Armstead is one of this years most impressive physical specimens, checking in at 6-8 and 290 pounds with freakish athleticism. Armstead isn't a dynamic pass rusher off the edge but profiles as an ideal five-technique in an odd front due to his ability to play both the pass and run. Armstead is still rough around the edges but there is no denying the rare, God-given gifts and incredible potential. Sounds like a perfect project for new head coach and noted d-line guru Jim Tomsula. San Francisco could also use reinforcements at cornerback after losing
Chris Culliver and Parrish Cox in free agency and they might be willing to roll the dice on Marcus Peters of Washington. This is probably too early for an inside linebacker like Benardrick McKinney of Mississippi St. but that is a need as well following the unexpected retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. It wouldn't hurt to bring in another top-shelf wideout at some point either but that may no longer be a first round priority following the signing free agent Torrey Smith for $40 million.
HOUSTON TEXANS: DEVANTE PARKER, WR, LOUISVILLE
After addressing the majority of their pressing needs in free agency the Texans will have a bit of leeway with this choice. However, after parting ways with franchise stalwart Andre Johnson it might be wise to bring in another wideout to bolster their anemic passing attack. Especially if DeVante Parker of Louisville is still available. Last year when just about every top underclassmen wide receiver bolted for the pros Parker was one of the few who actually opted to return for his senior season. Things got off to a rough start as Parker missed the first seven games with a foot injury but he came back with a vengeance and finished the year with a flourish. Parker is big and strong with excellent hands, terrific body control and ball skills as well as sneaky vertical speed. There is actually not all that much separating Parker from Alabama's Amari Cooper or West Virginia's Kevin White. If Parker is gone, which is a distinct possibility, the Texans could turn their attention to other alternatives at the position such as Breshad Perriman of Central Florida, Nelson Agholor of USC, Jaelen Strong of Arizona St. or even Phillip Dorsett of Miami (FL).
Houston is also in the market for another edge pass rusher and could use some reinforcements at inside linebacker as well following some personnel losses in free agency but the value at both spots is shaky at this point. Don't be surprised if the Texans also consider Georgia RB Todd Gurley since Arian Foster has considerable mileage on his tires and has battled some injuries. Cornerback could be a darkhorse since Johnathan Joseph is now in in his thirties and there isn't too much to speak of in terms of quality depth.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: CAMERON ERVING, C, FLORIDA ST.
To say the center position was troublesome for the Chargers last season would be a massive understatement. That is why even though they could use a running back like Todd Gurley of Georgia or Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin to replace Ryan Mathews they could very well opt for an interior blocker. It's somewhat rare for a center to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft but Cameron Erving of Florida St. will be an exception. Erving is a converted defensive tackle who was named the top blocker in the ACC as a junior and senior. After protecting the blindside for much of his college career Erving was kicked inside to center late last season and it looks like that will be where he makes a living at the next level. A terrific athlete with an outstanding blend of size and quickness, Erving is still mastering the nuances of his new position but possesses the physical tools and intangibles to
eventually be one of the best pivots in the league. The addition of Erving would allow Chris Watt to move back to his more natural position at guard and really solidify the entire offensive line. San Diego could also be in the market for an edge pass rusher such as Virginia OLB Eli Harold. Then of course there is the potential for a major trade of Philip Rivers to the Titans in a package for the #2 overall pick (Oregon QB Marcus Mariota) but that would probably only happen if Rivers really forces the organizations hand.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: BRESHAD PERRIMAN, WR, CENTRAL FLORIDA
Even though there was little or nothing to speak of beyond Dwayne Bowe the Chiefs failed to upgrade the wide receiver position last offseason. As a result they once again had one of the least productive passing attacks in the league. In hindsight they probably wish they had taken advantage of that bumper crop of pass catchers from the 2014 NFL Draft. Especially since Kansas City went more than a full calander year without a wideout catching a touchdown pass. Unbelievable. Throughout his college career Central Florida WR Breshad Perriman was best known as the son of Brett Perriman, who played in the NFL for a decade. However, as scouts began looking more closely at Perriman after he declared they became more and more intrigued. The hype reached a fever pitch after the 6-2, 212 pound Perriman ran a 4.25 at his Pro Day. A big, physical pass catcher and sneaky vertical threat, Perriman's game is eerily reminiscent of Bowe right down to the inconsistent hands. It goes without saying that Perriman,
Arizona St. WR Jaelen Strong, USC WR Nelson Agholor, Oklahoma WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Derrick Alexander, Sylvester Morris, Tamarick Vanover or basically anyone with a pulse would be an upgrade over what they currently have opposite Jeremy Maclin. Andy Reid was notorious for prioritizing the offensive and defensive lines during his time in Philadelphia and that philosophy may have followed him to Kansas City so watch out for Florida St. C Cameron Erving, L.S.U. OT / OG La'el Collins or perhaps another high - level blocker as well.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (f/BUF): LA'EL COLLINS, OT, L.S.U.
After flirting with the notion of selecting Greg Robinson a year ago it's obvious the Browns aren't completely comfortable with the state of their offensive line. Mitchell Schwartz is a weak link at right tackle and entering the final season of his contract so Cleveland could use one of their two first round picks to bring in a replacement. La'el Collins of L.S.U. is an interesting prospect whose versatility is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand Collins has seen action outside and inside and has performed well at both against elite competition. On the other hand it's unclear exactly where he is best suited to play at the next level. Left Tackle? Right Tackle? Guard? While his ability to protect the edge is still in question Collins is undoubtedly a big, strong, physical blocker who generates movement in the run game.
Miami (FL) OT Ereck Flowers, Florida OT D.J. Humphries and Penn St. OT Donovan Smith are other possible alternatives up front. Depending upon what they do with their earlier choice the Browns could also be in the market for a wideout such as Breshad Perriman of Central Florida, Jaelen Strong of Arizona St., Nelson Agholor of USC or Phillip Dorsett of Miami (FL) or a nose tackle like Danny Shelton of Washington or Malcom Brown of Texas. Minnesota TE Maxx Williams could be a potential darkhorse.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: NELSON AGHOLOR, WR, USC
Chip Kelly is basically playing by his own set of rules in Philly so it's difficult to get an accurate read on his true intentions. In fact, this may just be the toughest pick to project. Apparently the legendary Gil Brandt knows who the Eagles are targeting and even dropped a couple of hints but he is in the minority. There has been rampant speculation about Philadelphia trading up for Oregon QB Marcus Mariota and while it would be fun to see him reunited with Kelly in the pros that scenario is unlikely because the cost of moving from #20 into the Top 5 overall would be exorbitant. The Eagles have no trouble putting points on the board but stopping others from doing the same continues to be an issue. Even so don't be surprised if Kelly opts for a playmaker to bolster the passing attack after losing Jeremy Maclin as a free agent. USC WR Nelson Agholor doesn't have elite size but is a
superb athlete with an extremely polished all-around skill set. The Eagles have also been linked to Arizona St. WR Jaelen Strong and Miami (FL) WR Phillip Dorsett. Oregon's Jake Fisher could be the solution to their interior offensive line woes as well. If Philadelphia does opt to address the defense it would probably be with a defensive back such as Wake Forest CB Kevin Johnson, Connecticut CB Byron Jones, Arizona St. S Damarious Randall or Utah CB / S Eric Rowe. Be prepared for just about anything here though.
CINCINNATI BENGALS: JAKE FISHER, OT, OREGON
For many years the Bengals were a laughing stock but they have quietly assembled a very impressive collection of talent and are now a legitimate contender built for the long-haul. With that in mind Cincy has the luxury of preparing for the future and with Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith both entering the final years of their contracts it may be time to bring in an eventual replacement. Jake Fisher of Oregon made a lot of money with a strong senior campaign as well as an impressive performance during the pre-draft process. A good athlete with nice length who moves extremely well, Fisher could project to either tackle or guard at the next level. Fisher might actually have been one of the most valuable players in all of college football this past season. That sounds like an exaggeration but just look at how the Ducks offense struggled when Fisher missed some time with an injury. Texas A&M OT Cedric Ogbuehi and Florida OT D.J. Humphries could be possible alternatives as well. There is also room to upgrade at safety and
Alabama's Landon Collins would be a nice replacement for Taylor Mays. It wouldn't hurt to bolster the interior of the defensive line with Texas DT Malcom Brown, Washington DT Danny Shelton, Iowa DT Carl Davis or Oklahoma DT Jordan Phillips either. The Bengals have also had a great deal of success taking chances on talented but troubled prospects so watch out for Nebraska DE Randy Gregory, Missouri DE Shane Ray, Washington CB Marcus Peters or maybe even Oklahoma WR Dorial Green-Beckham.
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