NFL Draft

Three Draft prospects who would make sense for each team:

With the Draft just three days from now I want to take a look at three possible players each time could target with their first pick. There’s no guarantee those guys will be available, but if they are I see a good chance for each team to take either one of them. Certainly Draft day trades and surprise picks can change the complexity of the entire process, but still there are a few prospects out there I assume are high on the respective team’s big boards.


NFC North:

Chicago Bears (7th overall pick): Bears

Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

How come I already cheat on my title of the article by naming four guys? Anyway …

The Bears lost their identity as a defensive team over the last couple of years. The biggest areas of concern are strong play up front against the run and the pass rush department. Shelton is a monster in the middle, while Beasley might be the pass rusher with the most upside in the Draft. Both would fit perfectly in their new 3-4 scheme. Another direction they could go would be a replacement for wideout Brandon Marshall, who they shipped to the Jets. Depending on whether Cooper or White (or either one of them) are available they could make their move.


Detroit Lions (23rd overall pick): Lions

D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida

Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas

The Lions on the other hand were set to be one of the most explosive teams on offense last season, but didn’t reach expectations because Calvin Johnson missed some games to injury but most of all because their O-line wasn’t as good as their skill players. Humphries and Flowers could both immediately upgrade their ground game and develop into solid pass protectors. With both their defensive tackles leaving via free agency and after signing former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata they could also grab another penetrator inside if a guy like Brown is available.


Green Bay Packers (30th overall pick): Packers

Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami

Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

Jalen Collins, CB, LSU

The Packers have one of the top offenses in the league, but the defense struggled at times last year when they were counted on to hold on to big leads. That’s why I only have them target defensive prospects. The O-line played their best since Aaron Rodgers took over under center and I don’t think there’s a tight end worth the 30th overall pick. Eddie Goldman would fit well next to the developing Datone Jones and adding a thumper inside like Perryman would enable them to move Clay Matthews to his natural position. Green Bay has been searching for a shutdown corner for quite a while now and while I don’t think one of my top three corners is available I could them taking a gamble on Collins after he saw his stock fall because of a failed drug test.


Minnesota Vikings (11th overall pick): Vikings

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Todd Gurley, HB, Georgia

Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

The Vikings seem to have found their franchise signal caller in Teddy Bridgewater. Now it’s time to support him with weapons. I don’t think Mike Wallace is much more than a deep threat with highlight reel ability. Reuniting the two former Cardinals and giving Bridgewater a true number one receiver in Parker would really help their young quarterback (Don’t sleep on Cordarrelle Patterson though!). If Peterson gets traded (which I think he will) they could find an immediate replacement in the powerful workhorse Gurley. Even though I’d like them to give him some time to get healthy gggg they have a couple of talented backs. A real position of need is the cornerback spot and Waynes to me is the unquestioned number one guy.



NFC East:

Dallas Cowboys (27th overall pick): Cowboys

Melvin Gordon, HB, Wisconsin

Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

Byron Jones, CB, UConn

The Cowboys are a little tough to figure out since I’m not exactly sure what they will have at running back once day one of the Draft arrives. Personally I think they’ll sell the farm for Adrian Peterson, but if they don’t and Gordon is still on the board they won’t hesitate to get the Wisconsin star. If neither of those two is available they should bolster a defense that played way above their level of talent last year. The biggest area of improvement is their D-line to which they could add one of the top run defenders in the Draft in Goldman. Another direction they could go is cornerback with the feisty Johnson or the ultra-athletic Jones. With Greg Hardy suspended for ten games I could easily see them go edge rusher as well if there’s still one on the board they really like.


New York Giants (9th overall pick): Giants

Brandon Scherff, G/T, Iowa

Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

La’el Collins, G/T, LSU

The Giants used to pride themselves on strong play up front, but have kind of gotten away from their identity. To me both Scherff and Collins are Pro Bowl caliber guards, but could easily start at right tackle for them which would enable them to kick Justin Pugh inside. Looking at the other side of the ball they might go with Washington’s dancing beard Shelton, who I think is very underrated as a contributor on third down – he can really push the pocket.


Philadelphia Eagles (20th overall pick): Eagles

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

Jalen Collins, CB, LSU

I still think Chip Kelly could somehow make it happen and reunite with his former Oregon quarterback Mariota, but if they don’t I see the Eagles go defense early. Alabama’s Landon Collins is an enforcer at strong safety who will immediately upgrade their run defense while also being able to play nickel linebacker. Adding Byron Maxwell to the defensive backfield was the first step, but getting a physical bump-corner like Collins from LSU to line up across from him would give Bill Davis a lot of versatility.


Washington Redskins (5th overall pick): Redskins

Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

Leonard Wiliams, DE, USC

There are a lot of speculations going on about the quarterback situation in Washington, but I’m not buying it. I think the Redskins will give RG3 one more shot and see if he can reach his Rookie of the Year form once again. At number five they absolutely have to go pass rusher. I really like Ryan Kerrigan, but adding another guy to the mix would certainly help the entire defense. Beasley is a stud and Ray runs around like a mad man, but doesn’t have quite the upside and tools to be a linebacker like the Clemson product. If the best player in the Draft is still on the board they won’t think twice about their decision.



NFC South:

Atlanta Falcons (8th overall pick): Falcons

Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska

Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

The Falcons were tied for the second-fewest sacks last year (22) and are desperate for an edge rusher since they weren’t able to add one via free agency. I don’t think Beasley will be available at number eight so they need to make a big decision – take a risk on Gregory who has a lot of upside, but already failed a drug test at the Combine, or go with Ray who’s not quite the athlete the Nebraska pass rusher is, but would be an energy booster to their defense. If they’re not sold on either one of those guys they could bring in my number one tackle available to pair with last year’s first round pick Jake Matthews.


Carolina Panthers (25th overall pick): Panthers

D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida

T.J. Clemmings, OT, Stanford

Nelson Agholor, WR, USC

I really like Michael Oher, but he’s not a starting left tackle. He struggled on the right side as well when he was with the Titans last year, but I think the Panthers can plug him in on that side. Still, they need someone to protect Cam Newton’s blinside. Humphries would be a solid pick-up and Clemmings might need some time but could pay off big-time once he learns the nuances of the position. Many analysts even think Humphries is the number one left tackle in the Draft. He’s a much better athlete then he gets credit for, will work hard on his hand placement and plays with an edge. The heroics of Greg Olsen and rookie Kelvin Benjamin overshadowed one of the worst receiving unit’s in the NFL, so I think they would benefit from taking another talented and versatile pass catcher like Agholor.


New Orleans Saints (13th and 31st overall pick): Saints

Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

La’el Collins, G/T, LSU

Philipp Dorsett, WR, Miami

The Saints look like a team that’s in transformation. Giving away their number one receiving target and adding one of the league’s top centers plus another first round pick shows me they want get away from being a team that shows by far the highest negative numbers in salary cap. Rob Ryan’s defense went from being top five in yards and points allowed in 2013 to being number 31 and 28 in those categories. I thought letting Lofton walk out the door really hurt them, especially because they didn’t pay him huge numbers but were kind of forced into that because of their poor salary management, so maybe they are looking at inside linebacker at number 31, but at 13 they probably think edge rusher in Dupree or an O-lineman to plug in at tackle or as a guard who can play at a Pro Bowl level early, but doesn’t earn the money of a Pro Bowl wideout. With their late first-rounder outside of a new signal caller on defense they could bring in a new target for Drew Brees who can take the top off of defense which Kenny Stills, who they let go, did to some degree. Dorsett is a speedster who can really do damage, not just on the deep ball. I don’t think they look at Maxx Williams is an immediate replacement for Jimmy Graham.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1st overall pick): Buccaneers

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Leonard Williams, DE, USC

The Bucs already know who they take number one overall. I’m pretty sure it will be Winston, because they feel like they have the pieces to win right now. If they have some confidence in Mike Glennon to win games as their starting QB they could go with Mariota and develop this special talent. I think Glennon didn’t get any shot last season, but has shown some promise. Personally I’d like them to take my number one player available, which is USC’s versatile D-lineman. Just think if they would pair him with Gerald McCoy up front – scary.



NFC West:

Arizona Cardinals (24th overall pick): Cardinals

Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia

Melvin Gordon, HB, Wisconsin

Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

I’m not sure if Carson Palmer is the guy who can lead the Birds to a championship, but handing him 50 million dollars to stay with them shows me they are sold on him. This is a team that has won a lot of games without great play at the quarterback position, so they need to even improve on that. A guy who can win his matchups in pass rush situations to give the defense the ability to drop an extra man on third downs and not having to rely on their secondary to hold up in man coverage all the time, especially considering the loss of Antonio Cromartie, would be a nice way to guy. For Dupree to fall this far would be suprising to me, but I see a good chance for them taking a little off-the-radar prospects to a lot fans in Harold. If Gordon is still on the board they would upgrade a backfield that relied heavily on a 200 pound back. Even though he did a much better job than his 3.3 yards per carry indicate.


Saint Louis Rams (10th overall pick): Rams

Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Brandon Scherff, G/T, Iowa

Nick Foles certainly didn’t come anywhere near his 2013 form in his short time on the field last year, but I look at him as the Rams guy for the future. Now they have two options – support him with an elite wideout or protect him with the addition of another O-lineman in pass protection as well as building the offense around a strong ground game. White and Parker are certainly worth the number ten pick and Scherff is my number one guy up front available.


San Francisco 49ers (15th overall pick): 49ers

Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

La’el Collins, G/T, LSU

Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon

How about the Niners offseason so far? I wonder how many official posters need to be changed since they lost their faces of the offensive and defensive side of the ball of this decade. But there are so many other guys that aren’t on this roster anymore. Many fans haven’t thought about this, but they are without their two starting cornerbacks. If Waynes falls to them they almost have to take him. But losing the best run blocker leaves a big hole as well. I know they are high on second-year guard Brandon Thomas who had to sit his rookie year because of a torn ACL, but if Collins makes it to number 15 they could easily go with him. Another excellent player they need to replace at some point is Justin Smith. With the addition of Darnell Dockett and with Smith not having made a decision to retire they could look at a freakish athlete in Armstead who still needs to improve his technique and game overall.


Seattle Seahawks (63rd overall pick): Seahawks

A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina

Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke

Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

If the Hawks wouldn’t have brought in Jimmy Graham I would certainly have any kind of pass catcher as a serious consideration for them to pick up, but with the things they are I only have the big-play guy Coates up here. Max Unger was excellent for them, but I don’t there will be a center worth the 63rd pick. A couple of interesting guard prospect might be though. Both Cann and Tomlinson are powerful maulers in the run game, who will need some work in pass protection.



AFC North:

 

Baltimore Ravens (26th overall pick): Ravens

Melvin Gordon, HB, Wisconsin

Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

As I’ve already said in one of my last columns – to me Ozzie Newsome is the best GM in the league and therefore he’s smart enough to take the best player available. Peters and DGB are two prospects who have the talent that would enable them to be the top player are their respective position, but off-the-field issues have hurt their draft stock. Both of those guys aren’t just very gifted, but also would fill a need, as the Ravens just lost wide receiver Torrey Smith to the 49ers and struggled to cover on the outside with their two best corners missing large parts of the season. If Gordon is sitting there at 26 I have no doubt they will get the superstar Wisconsin back, who would fit perfectly in their zone scheme.


Cincinnati Bengals (21st overall pick): Bengals

D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

The Bengals biggest area of improvement is their pass rush department as the finished the season with the least sacks among all teams (20). Unfortunately I don’t think Dupree will be available at that point, but if he or any other edge rusher they really like is they won’t hesitate to make their move. Outside of that they could be looking to build on one of the stronger offensive lines in the league by adding an offensive tackle such as Humphries or maybe taking a project-type-of player in Pitt’s T.J. Clemmings. Andy Dalton is at his best throwing the ball up to A.J. Green and letting him fight for it. With DGB lining up on the other side Dalton would have another similar playmaker.


Cleveland Browns (12th and 19th overall pick): Browns

Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

The Browns have the luxury of selecting twice in the top 20 because of their day one trade with the Bills in 2014. Their two biggest needs are a stout nose tackle and a stud wideout. If both are available at number 12 and 19 I see them shaping their roster early in the Draft and taking the two. I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see them go with Mariota or even trade down though.


Pittsburgh Steelers (22nd overall pick): Steelers

Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

The Steelers defense often gets labeled as old and while they have added some young pieces in the front seven, they still need to upgrade their defensive backfield with youth and playmaking ability. Peters and Johnson are both feisty competitors who would fit the Steel Curtain style well. With Troy Polamalu retiring they don’t have anyone on the roster to move into the starting strong safety roll. If Collins somehow gets past the Chiefs and Eagles Pittsburgh would get a hard hitter and tone-setter on D.



AFC East:

Buffalo Bills (50th overall pick): Bills

Bernardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State

Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA

Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke

The Bills were one of the best (if not the best defense) last year and have already given the offense a different look with the additions of Shady McCoy, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay. If they’re not in love with a quarterback right here I see them taking an inside linebacker. McKinney is a huge presence in the middle and Kendricks looks like he was born to play football. Another direction they could go is improving on the O-line by selecting a mauler in the run game like Tomlinson to really go ground-and-pound.


Miami Dolphins (14th overall pick): Dolphins

Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

La’el Collins, G/T, LSU

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

With Cortland Finnegan driving off in Miami’s sunset the Dolphins might spend their first round pick on a running mate to Brent Grimes to finish their moves on the way to a dominant defense. Ryan Tannehill needs better protection and Collins is even better at opening up holes in the running game. If Parker is still up for grabs I see him staying in Florida and as the future number one receiver for Tannehill.


New England Patriots (32nd overall pick): Patriots

Byron Jones, CB, UConn

Jordan Phillips, NT, Oklahoma

Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State

The Patriots secondary looks completely different without Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, so they might look at getting a guy to take over on the outside. Jones is a freakish athlete with a lot of potential and growing room. With their face of the defense Vince Wilfork going to Houston, they could also draft another mobile large man in Phillips. A couple of up-and-coming receivers are already on their roster, but nobody to really challenge defenders on the outside with speed and ball skills as far as climbing up the ladder and coming down with contested balls. Nobody was better at playing the deep ball than Smith was for the national champions last year.


New York Jets (6th overall pick): Jets

Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

The Jets might have improved their roster the most during this offseason and with the number six overall pick they can add another big playmaker. Their defensive line is one of the best in the NFL, but they could still be looking at Dupree or Ray to give them some pressure from the edge. Depending on how confident they are at wideout with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker they could be looking at that White or Cooper if they are still there. And yeah, they’re also in the hunt for that Oregon kid.



AFC South:

Houston Texans (16th overall pick): Texans

Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

I like Ryan Mallett, I love the addition of Vince Wilfork and what the Texans have in general. So right now I can’t really name a need for this team other than wideout. Perriman and DGB are both freaks and could help the passing game with big plays. Tight end would be an area for improvement, but certainly not at 16. They might need a future replacement for Jonathan Joseph and Johnson could be a possibility. If they don’t like either one of those guys that much I could easily see them trade down and get some extra picks.


Indianapolis Colts (29th overall pick): Colts

Cameron Erving, C, Florida State

Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

Andrew Luck is one of the most hit quarterbacks in the NFL. That certainly comes partially because of his willingness to stay in the pocket and take shots, but also because the O-line allows too much pressure on him. Erving is clearly my number one center in the Draft and getting a great player who communicates with the other four guys up front would certainly help them a lot. Flowers is another guy who would fit in very well and both should immediately upgrade the Colts’ ground game. If they look to add some beef on the D-line a great run defender like Goldman is a possibility.


Jacksonville Jaguars (3rd overall pick): Jaguars

Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Leonard Williams, DE, USC

Blake Bortles looks like he’s the guy for Jaguars as he played much better than his statistics tell. Now it’s time to get to the opposing passer more often. Gus Bradley builds his defenses on locking down receivers in the secondary and getting to the quarterback. Fowler and Beasley are both special talents- If Winston and Mariota go number one and two which would leave Williams on the board they may try to get into the backfield with him from the inside.


Tennessee Titans (2nd overall pick): Titans

Leonard Williams, DE, USC

Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

At number two overall the Titans can do a lot of different things. Go defense and get someone who can disrupt offenses on a play-to-play basis with Williams or Fowler, surprise everybody and take Mariota or trade down and use the extra picks to improve one of the worst rosters in the league. If they don’t get a great offer I think they will take one of the impact players on the defensive front.



AFC West:

Denver Broncos (27th overall pick): Broncos

T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

Cameron Erving, C, Florida State

Jordan Phillips, NT, Oklahoma

You need to protect Peyton Manning! The Broncos have a very good roster, but are no title contenders if number 18 isn’t upright. By adding Clemmings or Erving they would be able to fill either the center or right tackle spot, protect Manning and build on a strong running game led by C.J. Anderson. With the loss of Terrance Knighton, who was an extremely underrated contributor for them, they might also take the ultra-talented Phillips and try to get him to play at 100% on every play.


Kansas City Chiefs (18th overall pick): Chiefs

Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

The Chiefs’ prayers go out to Eric Berry, but his play on the field needs to be replaced. Collins is not the coverage specialist Berry is, but he’s an intimidator who can step right in and take over the open spot. Probably all of you know this, but the Chiefs receivers didn’t have a single touchdown in 2014.That’s as many as I had. Perriman and Green-Beckham are just two possibilities. This is a talented wide receiver group and depending on how high they are Johnson he could be what Brandon Flowers was for them a couple of years ago.


Oakland Raiders (4th overall pick): Raiders

Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Leonard Williams, DE, USC

The only way I see the Raiders not go wideout right here is if Williams somehow is still on the board, but otherwise I have to think they’ll take Cooper or White. Cooper is a polished number one receiver who could help one of the worst third down offenses while White is a deep threat who has all the tools to be the number one guy himself. What’s their flavor?


San Diego Chargers (17th overall pick): Chargers

Todd Gurley, HB, Georgia

Melvin Gordon, HB, Wisconsin

Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

The Chargers will probably take one of the top two running backs out there if they stay at 17. If Gurley is gone by then and Peat is still on the board they might upgrade their ground game that way and also get a solid pass protector who can use his big body to shield edge rushers. With all the hype around Philip Rivers getting traded to the Titans (that doesn’t mean I’m buying it) and the possibility of the Bolts moving up to the number two spot you’d have to think they would grab Mariota then.

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