Quick Season Predictions

Forget the order of that mock draft I posted months ago. Times have changed. Training camp has begun, players have been moved, and suspensions have been handed out (some bigger than others).

The following is a quick summary of how I believe the season will go down.

This baby includes records and playoff seeding for each team, as well as playoff and award predictions. Let’s take a look.

AFC EAST
Jets 8-8
Patriots 14-2 (1)
Dolphins 4-12
Bills 5-11

AFC NORTH
Steelers 10-6 (5)
Ravens 7-9
Bengals 10-6 (4)
Browns 5-11

AFC SOUTH
Titans 4-12
Texans 7-9
Colts 10-6 (3)
Jaguars 6-10

AFC WEST
Chiefs 10-6 (6)
Broncos 11-5 (2)
Raiders 3-13
Chargers 6-10

NFC NORTH
Packers 11-5 (3)
Bears 8-8
Lions 9-7
Vikings 5-11

NFC EAST
Eagles 10-6 (4)
Giants 5-11
Cowboys 3-13
Redskins 9-7

NFC WEST
Rams 8-8
Cardinals 8-8
Seahawks 12-4 (2)
49ers 11-5 (5)

NFC SOUTH
Buccaneers 3-13
Saints 12-4 (1)
Panthers 9-7
Falcons 11-5 (6)

WILD CARD ROUND
(3) Colts vs. (6) Chiefs

(4) Bengals vs. (5) Steelers

(3) Packers vs. (6) Falcons

(4) Eagles vs. (5) 49ers

DIVISIONAL ROUND
(2) Broncos vs. (3) Colts

(1) Patriots vs. (5) Steelers

(2) Seahawks vs. (3) Packers

(1) Saints vs. (4) Eagles

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
(3) Colts vs. (1) Patriots

(3) Packers vs. (1) Saints

SUPER BOWL

Patriots vs. Packers

WINNER- New England Patriots

SUPER BOWL MVP- Tom Brady
MVP- Aaron Rodgers
OPOY- Drew Brees
DPOY- Vontaze Burfict
Coach of the Year- Chip Kelly
OROY- Sammy Watkins
DROY- Jadeveon Clowney
Comeback Player of the Year: Robert Griffin III

There you have it. All of this will most likely be completely irrelevant in a matter of weeks, but that’s exactly what makes the ever-changing world of football so damn great.

Fantasy Football Mock Draft

Fantasy football season is among us, so it’s time to start taking a look at where we should be drafting our favorite players en route to dominating and humiliating our fellow league members. Here’s a look at how a draft might unfold in a 12-team league with rosters as follows: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 K, 1 DST, 5 BN

ROUND 1

1. Jamaal Charles RB Kansas City Chiefs- Truly the only legitimate weapon on the Chiefs, Charles is a do-it-all back who’s only getting better.

2. Lesean McCoy RB Philadelphia Eagles- Honestly, McCoy could easily be the draft’s top pick as he is just as heavily featured in his offenses as Charles is in his.

3. Adrian Peterson RB Minnesota Vikings- Future Hall-of-Famer. Next.

4. Matt Forte RB Chicago Bears- Forte flourished under Marc Trestman, and should continue to do so in both the running and passing game.

5. Eddie Lacy RB Green Bay Packers- A lot of people may like Marshawn Lynch here, but I rather go with the high-upside player in Lacy.

6. Marshawn Lynch RB Seattle Seahawks- Every fantasy team could use a guy with a nickname as awesome as Beast Mode.

7. Alfred Morris RB Washington Redskins- Morris has done extensive damage on the ground in his career, and should only get better as a runner and a receiver under new head coach Jay Gruden.

8. Calvin Johnson WR Detroit Lions- Megatron should still receive a healthy number of targets this season, and will continue to be the best receiver in football.

9. Jimmy Graham TE New Orleans Saints- Your brain may tell you a tight end shouldn’t be drafted in the first round of a fantasy draft, but follow your heart on this one. Jimmy Graham’s fantasy value would be that of a stud at any position, and is worthy of a first round selection.

10. Montee Ball RB Denver Broncos- This pick is pretty risky but you have to chase upside in a fantasy draft, and Ball presents plenty of it. Just look at what Knowshon Moreno did in Denver last season.

11. Peyton Manning QB Denver Broncos- The most delusional of Broncos’ fans should know that Manning won’t replicate his 2013 season. Nevertheless, Manning should post huge fantasy numbers once more in 2014. And while QB’s shouldn’t be drafted in round 1 of a fantasy draft, someone will undoubtedly jump on Manning.

12. Le’Veon Bell RB Pittsburgh Steelers- Bell’s impressive rookie season indicates even better days ahead.

ROUND 2

1. Arian Foster RB Houston Texans- Foster was once the best back in fantasy, and could make strides towards regaining such prestige in a Houston offense that will rely on him heavily.

2. Giovani Bernard RB Cincinnati Bengals- Keep chasing that upside. Bernard may lose some goal-line carries to Jeremy Hill, but will still have the chance to put up big numbers.

3. A.J. Green WR Cincinnati Bengals- A.J. Green is incredibly reliable, and should be selected early in round 2.

4. Josh Gordon WR Cleveland Browns- Until a suspension is officially handed out, Josh Gordon deserves to be picked in the second round.

5. Doug Martin RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Martin’s season was cut short by injuries last year, but could have a year close to his rookie campaign under Lovie Smith.

6. DeMarco Murray RB Dallas Cowboys- If Murray can avoid any injuries, he has the ability to give fantasy owners first-round value.

7. Demaryius Thomas WR Denver Broncos- Peyton Manning’s favorite target. Simple as that.

8. Dez Bryant WR Dallas Cowboys- I hate the Cowboys, but I sure wouldn’t mind having Dez Bryant on my fantasy team.

9. Aaron Rodgers QB Green Bay Packers- Believe it or not, I expect Rodgers, not Manning, to have the most prolific season at QB this season.

10. Brandon Marshall WR Chicago Bears- There are enough targets to go around in Chicago to make every weapon there a fantasy star.

11. Drew Brees QB New Orleans Saints- Drew Brees has a ridiculous array of weapons at his disposal, and should be able to make good use of all of them.

12. Zac Stacy RB St. Louis Rams- Zac Stacy is a yet another back that presents whomever drafts him with tremendous upside.

ROUND 3

1. Julio Jones WR Atlanta Falcons- Forget the injury, enjoy the production.

2. Andre Ellington RB Arizona Cardinals- It’s a bit questionable as to how much he’ll be featured in the Cards’ offense, but could pay big dividends if he’s used regularly.

3. Jordy Nelson WR Green Bay Packers- If he can stay healthy, he’s a reliable WR1.

4. Reggie Bush RB Detroit Lions- Will split carries with Joique Bell, but is explosive enough to remain productive.

5. Antonio Brown WR Pittsburgh Steelers- Coming off a career year, Antonio Brown should only get better in 2014.

6. Alshon Jeffery WR Chicago Bears- Alshon Jeffery will receive enough targets to be a fantasy star opposite Brandon Marshall.

7. Andrew Luck QB Indianapolis Colts- Luck is getting better each season, and could heavily outplay his draft position.

8. Pierre Garcon WR Washington Redskins- Desean Jackson should chew into his targets slightly, but Garcon will remain RGIII’s favorite target.

9. Cam Newton QB Carolina Panthers- The rushing ability provides a floor, but the lack of quality weapons may provide a ceiling.

8. Larry Fitzgerald WR Arizona Cardinals- Doesn’t matter who throws him the ball, Fitzgerald always gets the job done.

11. Bishop Sankey RB Tennessee Titans- The first rookie off the board, Bishop Sankey has an opportunity to be a feature back for the Titans and fantasy owners alike.

12. Julius Thomas TE Denver Broncos- Not many tight ends are deserving of an early selection, but Julius Thomas sure is.

ROUND 4

1. Randall Cobb WR Green Bay Packers

2. Ben Tate RB Cleveland Browns

3. Ryan Matthews RB San Diego Chargers

4. Andre Johnson WR Houston Texans

5. Ray Rice RB Baltimore Ravens

6. Vincent Jackson WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7. Rob Gronkowski TE New England Patriots

8. Wes Welker WR Denver Broncos

9. Victor Cruz WR New York Giants

10. C.J. Spiller RB Buffalo Bills

11. Michael Crabtree WR San Francisco 49ers

12. Keenan Allen WR San Diego Chargers

ROUND 5

1. Tom Brady QB New England Patriots

2. Cordarelle Patterson WR Minnesota Vikings

3. Nick Foles QB Philadelphia Eagles

4. Ben Tate RB Cleveland Browns

5. Robert Griffin III QB Washington Redskins

6. Rashad Jennings RB New York Giants

7. Chris Johnson RB New York Jets

8. Matthew Stafford QB Detroit Lions

9. Frank Gore RB San Francisco 49ers

10. Colin Kaepernick QB San Francisco 49ers

11. Roddy White WR Atlanta Falcons

12. Desean Jackson WR Washington Redskins

ROUND 6

1. Torrey Smith WR Baltimore Ravens

2. Greg Olsen TE Carolina Panthers

3. Vernon Davis TE San Francisco 49ers

4. Shane Vereen RB New England Patriots

5. Dennis Pitta TE Baltimore Ravens

6. Percy Harvin WR Seattle Seahawks

7. Kendall Wright WR Tennessee Titans

8. Jason Witten TE Dallas Cowboys

9. Julian Edelman WR New England Patriots

10. Jordan Cameron TE Cleveland Browns

11. Emmanuel Sanders WR Denver Broncos

12. Charles Clay TE Miami Dolphins

ROUND 7

1. Reggie Wayne WR Indianapolis Colts

2. Jordan Reed TE Washington Redskins

3. Frank Gore RB San Francisco 49ers

4. Kyle Rudolph TE Minnesota Vikings

5. Toby Gerhart RB Jacksonville Jaguars

6. Matt Ryan QB Atlanta Falcons

7. Martellus Bennett TE Chicago Bears

8. Trent Richardson RB Indianapolis Colts

9. Steven Jackson RB Atlanta Falcons

10. Eric Decker WR New York Jets

11. Marques Colston WR New Orleans Saints

12. Tony Romo QB Dallas Cowboys

ROUND 8

1. Maurice Jones-Drew RB Oakland Raiders

2. Darren Sproles RB Philadelphia Eagles

3.  Danny Woodhead RB San Diego Chargers

4. Mike Wallace WR Miami Dolphins

5. T.Y. Hilton WR Indianapolis Colts

6. Zach Ertz TE Philadelphia Eagles

7. Darren McFadden RB Oakland Raiders

8. Philip Rivers QB San Diego Chargers

9. Jeremy Maclin WR Philadelphia Eagles

10. Russell Wilson QB Seattle Seahawks

11. Pierre Thomas RB New Orleans Saints

12. Joique Bell RB Detroit Lions

ROUND 9

1. Ben Roethlisberger QB Pittsburgh Steelers

2. Eric Ebron TE Detroit Lions

3. Michael Floyd WR Arizona Cardinals

4. Johnny Manziel QB Cleveland Browns

5. Jared Cook TE St. Louis Rams

6. Dwayne Allen TE Indianapolis Colts

7. Sammy Watkins WR Buffalo Bills

8. Antonio Gates TE San Diego Chargers

9. Joe Flacco QB Baltimore Ravens

10. Delanie Walker TE Tennessee Titans

11. Golden Tate WR Detroit Lions

12. Andy Dalton QB Cincinnati Bengals

ROUND 10

1. Cecil Shorts WR Jacksonville Jaguars

2. Jay Cutler QB Chicago Bears

3. DeAndre Hopkins WR Houston Texans

4. Dwayne Bowe WR Kansas City Chiefs

5. Terrance Williams WR Dallas Cowboys

6. Fred Jackson RB Buffalo Bills

7. Alex Smith QB Kansas City Chiefs

8. Khiry Robinson RB New Orleans Saints

9. Antonio Gates TE San Diego Chargers

10. Levine Toilolo TE Atlanta Falcons

11. DeAngelo Williams RB Carolina Panthers

12. Riley Cooper WR Philadelphia Eagles

ROUND 11

1. Mark Ingram RB New Orleans Saints

2. Josh McCown QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. Devonta Freeman RB Atlanta Falcons

4. Brandin Cooks WR New Orleans Saints

5. Stevan Ridley RB New England Patriots

6. Mike Evans WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7. Kelvin Benjamin WR Carolina Panthers

8. Ryan Tannehill QB Miami Dolphins

9. Garrett Graham TE Houston Texans

10. Carson Palmer QB Arizona Cardinals

11. Tyler Eifert TE Cincinnati Bengals

12. Heath Miller TE Pittsburgh Steelers

ROUND 12

1. Steve Smith WR Baltimore Ravens

2. Terrance West RB Cleveland Browns

3. Shonn Greene RB Tennessee Titans

4. Bernard Pierce RB Baltimore Ravens

5. Lamar Miller RB Miami Dolphins

6. Sam Bradford QB St. Louis Rams

7. LeGarrette Blount RB Pittsburgh Steelers

8. Anquan Boldin WR San Francisco 49ers

9. David Wilson RB New York Giants

10. Marcus Lattimore RB San Francisco 49ers

11. Latavius Murray RB Oakland Raiders

12. Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE Tampa Bay Buccaneers

ROUND 13

1. Seattle Seahawks DST

2. San Francisco 49ers DST

3. Kansas City Chiefs DST

4. Arizona Cardinals DST

5. Cincinnati Bengals DST

6. New England Patriots DST

7. St. Louis Rams DST

8. Denver Broncos DST

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers DST

10. Houston Texans DST

11. Baltimore Ravens DST

12. Buffalo Bills DST

ROUND 14

1. Stephen Gostkowski K New England Patriots

2. Matt Prater K Denver Broncos

3. Steven Hauschka K Seattle Seahawks

4. Justin Tucker K Baltimore Ravens

5. Matt Bryant K Atlanta Falcons

6. Phil Dawson K San Francisco 49ers

7. Dan Bailey K Dallas Cowboys

8. Nick Novak K San Diego Chargers

9. Robbie Gould K Chicago Bears

10. Blair Walsh K Minnesota Vikings

11. Graham Gano K Carolina Panthers

12. Mason Crosby K Green Bay Packers

Giving Those Guys in the Trenches Some Love

I was recently exploring NFL.com’s top 100 page. The site allows you to create your own top ten players by continuously voting on who you believe is the better of two randomly selected players. The module will also show you percentages indicating how other users have voted on each match-up. As I toyed around with the site, I soon found that a majority of the league’s top offensive linemen were not being given the respect they deserved. Those big guys that do all the dirty work just weren’t winning a large percentage of NFL.com users’ votes, and that can only mean one of two things: users aren’t familiar with very many offensive linemen, or just don’t consider many of them much better than players at a skill position. Either way, it doesn’t make much sense at all for these players to be considered lesser than their peers. So, in an attempt to educate readers who may not be all that familiar with the big boys paving the way for their favorite NFL team, here’s a list of some of the league’s best offensive linemen.

10. Tyron Smith OT Dallas Cowboys- Tyron Smith was drafted ninth overall by the Cowboys in 2011, and has turned out quite nicely for them. Jerry Jones passed on a lot of good players to grab Smith, so he must feel pretty relieved that Smith has developed into an elite NFL offensive lineman.

9. Jason Kelce C Philadelphia Eagles- The light-hearted center for arguably the league’s top offensive line, Kelce is among the league’s top centers after being just a sixth-round pick by the Eagles in 2011.

8. D’Brickashaw Ferguson OT New York Jets- Ferguson played mostly center in college, and was supposed to continue doing so in the NFL. However, he excelled when once put at left tackle, and has been kept there ever since. Crossing over into 30+ territory, D’Brickashaw Ferguson is still going strong for the New York Jets.

7. Ryan Kalil C Carolina Panthers- Kalil is a bit undersized for the center position, but makes up for it with his intangibles. He’s played a key role in the success of Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense over the past few years. He was the league’s highest paid center, but that distinction now belongs to another guy whom we’ll get to later on.

6. Matt Kalil OT Minnesota Vikings- The brother of Ryan Kalil, Matt Kalil gets lost in the discussion of the 2012 draft’s top five, as Andrew Luck, RGIII, and Trent Richardson are the names most fans remember. Kalil, however, has quickly developed into a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings.

5. Trent Williams OT Washington Redskins- In a season that proved to be a total disaster, Trent Williams was the lone bright spot for the Redskins. He was the team’s lone representative at the Pro Bowl, as he continued to protect whichever QB stood in the backfield, and pave the way for Alfred Morris.

4. Jason Peters OT Philadelphia Eagles- Jason Peters, even at age 32, is the NFL’s most athletic lineman. He makes a strong case to be the best left tackle in football, as he’s just about flawless every time he steps on the field.

3. Alex Mack C Cleveland Browns- Alex Mack became the highest paid center in the NFL this offseason, after inking an extension with the Cleveland Browns. Mack is only 28, and has a chance to build a historic career by the time he’s done.

2. Evan Mathis OG Philadelphia Eagles- Fine, I’m an Eagles fan. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Eagles really do have one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, consisting of players deserving of their given rankings. Mathis is the best guard in football, as he is an elite blocker and always manages to stay healthy. Like Kelce, Mathis is full of personality.

1. Joe Thomas OT Cleveland Browns- If the Eagles don’t have the league’s best offensive line, the Browns definitely do. In addition to Mack, the Browns have the league’s very best offensive lineman, Joe Thomas. Thomas stays healthy and always plays at a high level. The guy never has an off day, and deserves a lot of the credit for mediocre Browns quarterbacks looking like actual NFL players every once in a while.

That’s all folks! There are countless more names NFL fans should be able to recognize and appreciate, but this is just a short lesson regarding those guys in the trenches; hope you learned something!

QB’s of the 2014 Draft

A record fourteen quarterbacks were drafted in 2014, and they all seem to have a pretty bright future ahead of them in the NFL.

Believe it or not, I’m not a huge Johnny Football fan, and if you asked me right now to predict which highly drafted quarterback will turn out to be a bust, I’d tell you Johnny Manziel. I know, that’s the last thing Browns fans want to hear, as they’ve suffered through 20 subpar quarterbacks since 1999. And although I could rant about Manziel’s small frame, and propensity for dancing around in the backfield for way too long, that’s not even the main reason I don’t have faith in the draft’s 22nd pick. With Josh Gordon’s future in Cleveland- or the NFL for that matter- in doubt, there are really no quality options in the passing game behind him. It’s Drafting a Quarterback 101: surround that guy with weapons! Lots and lots of weapons! The Browns did an excellent job of drafting Joel Bitonio to help their supposed face of the franchise, but failed to give him anyone to throw to, something they needed before the Josh Gordon reports even surfaced.

Personally, I’m a huge Blake Bortles fan. The Ben Roethlisberger comparisons are spot on, but Bortles has even better mobility. The Jags say they’ll develop him on the sideline this season, but I expect him to start at least a few games in 2014.

Derek Carr is another quarterback I think will find success, but, similar to Cleveland’s ignoring Johnny Manziel, I fear that Oakland will have a tough time giving Carr the solid protection he needs to put on the passing clinics he did at Fresno State.

Teddy Bridgewater might be in the  best position to succeed right away, as he has a stud running back in Adrian Peterson, a reliable receiver in Greg Jennings, and a developing young weapon in Cordarelle Patterson. He was a steal for the Vikings with the last pick of the first round.

Tom Savage was a great value pick for the Texans, who had to feel fortunate that he fell to them at that spot. He could very well be the best rookie QB this season if named the starter, as Arian Foster and Andre Johnson (assuming he stays) are two pretty great pieces to surround a rookie QB with.

I’m a little disappointed Jimmy Garoppolo won’t be getting the chance to start anytime soon, as I was hoping to be able to say Tony Romo isn’t even the NFL’s best Eastern Illinois alumni. Nevertheless, I equate Garoppolo to Denver’s Brock Osweiler, as both quarterbacks were highly touted prospects drafted into a situation in which they’re groomed behind an elite quarterback. Osweiler and Garoppolo are two names to keep in mind for two or three years down the road.

Out of all the other quarterbacks drafted, two names stick out to me as guys who could one day be an NFL starter: Logan Thomas and David Fales. Thomas just might have been the draft’s most talented passer,  but he lacks the decision-making ability to succeed at the NFL level. He often makes boneheaded mistakes, but if any one can correct those issues and release Logan Thomas’ full potential, it’s Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. David Fales was drafted by the Bears, who have Jay Cutler and not much else at quarterback. Fales was a prolific passer at San Jose State, but his senior season was disappointing by his standards, causing his draft stock to plummet. Honestly, Fales doesn’t have any glaring flaws, and could easily develop into an NFL starter. Besides, Jay Cutler doesn’t exactly have a knack for staying on the field or making deep playoff runs.

Tajh Boyd could start a few games for the Jets this season; Michael Vick can’t stay healthy and Geno Smith is far from proven at this point in his career. The Lions selected Ball State QB Keith Wenning, who has a ceiling as a quality NFL backup.

Aaron Murray and A.J. McCarron were unexciting picks; McCarron is no threat to Andy Dalton in Cincinnati, and Andy Reid drafting a quarterback shouldn’t have surprised anybody. However, Reid seems to like former Tennessee Volunteer Tyler Bray as his”Kansas City Kevin Kolb” AKA his so-called “developmental quarterback.” The addition of Murray clouds things up a little bit, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Ken Whisenhunt is a great quarterbacks coach, but I think that means a lot more for Jake Locker than it does Zach Mettenberger. The last quarterback drafted was Garrett Gilbert out of SMU, who actually has all the makings of a last-round gem. College football fans will remember him as the guy who replaced Colt McCoy for the Texas Longhorns in the 2010 BCS National Championship. He has a strong arm that indicates some developmental talent to pair with his tremendous size.

Every year, we talk about these quarterback prospects to the point of exhaustion, and many of them disappear or bust not too long after. However,keep in mind the 2014 NFL Draft was one of the deeper drafts in NFL history, and could produce more quality pros than any of its predecessors. Let me know in the comments which rookie QB you believe will be the most successful pro.

 

Way Too Early 2015 NFL Mock Draft

With my first post, I take a look three-hundred-and-something days ahead. I fully intend on discussing this year’s draft and its many storylines, but in the meantime, let’s take a terribly early look at what the first round could look like next offseason. The 2014 NFL Draft was one of the deepest and most exciting drafts in years, and 2015’s may be even better. The draft order is based off my general belief as to how this upcoming season may unfold, so bear with me. Comment as you like!

1. Tennessee Titans- Brett Hundley QB UCLA

I’m a Jake Locker fan, but I still have my doubts regarding his ability to stay healthy. If 2014 is another injury-plagued season for the athletic QB, the Titans could be in for a long, frustrating season, and the only cure might be a new face of the franchise. Brett Hundley isn’t considered the nation’s top QB right now, but I expect him to have an excellent 2014 season, passing Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston to become the favorite for the draft’s No.1 pick.

2. Cleveland Browns- Leonard Williams DT/DE USC

The Browns will most likely have two top-ten picks in 2015, and may just draft the best available player with at least one of them. It would take a disastrous junior year for Leonard Williams to not enter the 2015 NFL Draft as one its top prospects. Williams’ versatility should allow Cleveland to keep their defensive linemen fresh, as they’ll have one of the league’s better young d-lines.

3. Oakland Raiders- Cameron Erving OT Florida State

Donald Penn could very well disappoint Raiders’ fans in 2014, as he might continue his struggles that started in Tampa Bay. If Penn does disappoint, the Raiders will make offensive line a priority in the 2015 Draft. Cameron Erving would’ve already been a first-rounder in 2014 if he declared, but made a wise decision in returning to school for his senior year. Now, Erving can improve upon his technique and overtake Cedric Ogbuehi as the best offensive lineman in the draft.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Randy Gregory DE/OLB Nebraska

The Jaguars passed on Khalil Mack to grab a franchise quarterback in Blake Bortles in this year’s draft. As a huge Blake Bortles fan, I loved the move. However, the Jags are still in desperate need of a pass-rusher, but could find one next offseason in Randy Gregory. Gregory picked up 10.5 sacks while only playing in ten games. That’s crazy good. If Gregory can build upon those numbers in his junior year, he’ll be hard to ignore for teams drafting in the top five.

5. Dallas Cowboys- Shilique Calhoun DE Michigan State

The Cowboys don’t seem to have much better of a defensive unit than they did a year ago, so taking the top defensive player available is the logical move here. At this point in time, Shilique Calhoun seems to be that guy. If Calhoun declares next season, he will join an already impressive group of backfield disruptors in this draft class, and should aid Demarcus Lawrence in replacing Demarcus Ware and turning this pathetic Cowboys defense around. However, if the Cowboys do pick this high next year, Jerry Jones will undoubtedly consider a quarterback.

6. St. Louis Rams- Marcus Mariota QB Oregon

If the Rams are drafting this high next offseason, a QB almost has to be the pick. Sam Bradford is entering his final year in which he can prove himself to be “the guy” in St. Louis, something he has failed to do so far. Marcus Mariota is as mobile and exciting as Johnny Manziel, but has an even better arm and stands at 6’4. Mariota falling out of the top five would most likely come as a surprise to most teams, so Jeff Fisher and Les Snead would have to scoop him up.

7. New York Giants- Cedric Ogbuehi OT Texas A&M

Arguably the top prospect in this draft class, Cedric Ogbuehi would be the last piece needed for the Giants’ offensive line. They added a great center in Weston Richburg, and enjoyed a great rookie campaign from Justin Pugh. Pugh is best suited at guard, so an upgrade and some youth at tackle will be a must fairly soon for the Giants. Ogbuehi is the third straight Texas A&M offensive tackle to be atop the first round (Joeckel in 2013, Matthews in 2014) and just might be the best of them all.

8. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo Bills)- Amari Cooper WR Alabama

The Browns have two picks, and one almost has to be spent on a receiver. Josh Gordon’s future is uncertain, and weapons are needed across from him regardless. Amari Cooper is this draft class’s top receiver, and should shine in 2014 with Kevin Norwood now in the NFL.

9. Minnesota Vikings- Landon Collins S Alabama

The Vikings need a safety to pair with Harrison Smith, and recently drafted Antone Exum most likely isn’t that guy. Just like the Texas A&M linemen, Alabama safeties have been prominent NFL players over the past few years. Mark Barron went to Tampa in 2012, and HaHa Clinton-Dix was drafted by Green Bay this year. Landon Collins might be better than both of them. Collins is stout in run support, and has ball-hawking ability.

10. New York Jets- Andrus Peat OT Stanford

I don’t expect Breno Giacomini to excel as a Jet, which may leave the Jets longing for a solution at offensive tackle. Andrus Peat is a mammoth-sized lineman with great footwork. He is an excellent pass blocker but needs to improve as a run blocker as he moves closer towards his potential.

11. Miami Dolphins- Todd Gurley RB Georgia

I’m not convinced the Dolphins see Knowshon Moreno as their long-term answer at running back, and they’ve already shown their disinterest in Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. Running backs haven’t gone in the first round in the last two years, but Todd Gurley is one of the best RB prospects in years. Gurley has respectable speed, but it’s his rare power that will have NFL scouts salivating. He can both block and catch out of the backfield, and should become a key cog in Miami’s improving offense.

12. Houston Texans- Ifo Ekpre-Olomu CB Oregon

The Texans addressed almost every need during their excellent 2014 Draft, with the exception of cornerback. Ekpre-Olomu would’ve been among the top corners selected in 2014 if he declared, and could become the first one off the board next year if he turns in a strong senior campaign.

13. Washington Redskins- Tre Jackson OG Florida State

Shaun Laovao will almost definitely disappoint the Redskins, leaving them wanting an upgrade at guard. Tre Jackson will most likely be the draft’s top guard, and should aid the ‘Skins in rebuilding their o-line.

14. Detroit Lions- Ronald Darby CB Florida State

The Lions somehow thought they could get by without addressing their defensive backfield, but will see how wrong they were once they struggle for the third straight year in the 2014-15 season. Ronald Darby is one of two great Florida State cornerbacks, and if the Lions are smart enough to draft him, he could quickly turn around a rather lackluster defense.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jameis Winston QB Florida State

The Bucs should win a decent number of games in 2015 with their plethora of offensive weapons and relatively stingy defense. However, they don’t have a long-term answer at QB, and could find one in Jameis Winston. With Johnny Football gone, Winston is college football’s most polarizing figure, which can only hurt his draft stock. Winston’s strong arm and playmaking ability will convince a team to select him as their franchise QB, but his off-the-field concerns need to be corrected.

16. Chicago Bears- Benardrick McKinney ILB MIssissippi State

The Bears improved their defensive line to assist in stopping the run this season, but most likely need to make improvements to their linebacking corps to continue the building up of their run defense. Benardrick McKinney has the long, athletic frame of an outside pass-rusher, but the speed and tackling ability of an inside linebacker. He should be able to get to the quarterback and plug up running lanes in the NFL.

17. Atlanta Falcons- Vic Beasley DE/OLB Clemson

The Falcons didn’t get the stud pass-rusher they hoped for this offseason, so they’ll have to find one in 2015. Vic Beasley, like many other players in this draft class, chose to improve upon his already high draft stock by returning for his senior season. Beasley needs to prove himself to be more than just a one-trick-pony, but has scary speed and athleticism and is a relentless pass-rusher.

18. Carolina Panthers- Brandon Scherff OT Iowa

The Panthers failed to grab a proper replacement for Jordan Gross, and will most likely see the unfortunate results this season. Brandon Scherff’s aggressive style of play and tremendous upside should make him a viable replacement for Jordan Gross in next year’s draft.

19. Baltimore Ravens- Jaelen Strong WR Arizona State

The Ravens need a big, fast target for Joe Flacco and no receiver fits that description better than Jaelen Strong. The redshirt sophomore is 6’4 and hails from Philadelphia. He could help the offense click and the Ravens make a deep run in the playoffs once again.

20. San Diego Chargers- La’el Collins OT/G LSU

The Chargers could use an upgrade at guard, or even at tackle over King Dunlap, who Eagles fans just can’t believe is an NFL starter. La’el Collins could play both positions for San Diego, and at a fairly high level nonetheless.

21. Kansas City Chiefs- Anthony Harris S Virginia

Kendrick Lewis isn’t the player he once was, so the Chiefs may look to replace him next offseason. Anthony Harris is a quintessential ball-hawking safety, as he led the nation with eight interceptions last season. If he can replicate a performance even close to that one, Anthony Harris could begin to challenge Landon Collins as 2015’s top safety prospect.

22. Cincinnati Bengals- Ray Drew DT/DE Georgia

Domata Peko isn’t all too exciting and Geno Atkins is coming off an ACL injury. Meanwhile, Michael Johnson was lost in free agency, so the Bengals defensive line will be mighty thin in 2014. They can correct that in next year’s draft, however, with the versatile Ray Drew.

23. Philadelphia Eagles- Trae Waynes CB Michigan State

The Eagles grab a corner with good size to upgrade either Bradley Fletcher or Cary Williams, who are both marginal starters. Waynes is in for a big year with Darqueze Dennard now in the NFL.

24. Arizona Cardinals- T.J. Yeldon RB Alabama

The Cardinals don’t seem  to like Andre Ellington as an every-down back. He has a high ceiling as a change-of-pace back, but T.J. Yeldon would be a perfect fit in Bruce Arians’ offense. Yeldon runs with a balance of speed and power, but is at his best catching the ball out of the backfield.

25. Indianapolis Colts- Melvin Gordon RB Wisconsin

The Colts may quickly see Trent Richardson become a full-fledged draft bust this season, putting them in the market for a new feature back. Gordon is this draft’s most polished runner, but is yet to prove himself as a blocker or receiver out of the backfield.

26. New England Patriots- Devin Funchess TE Michigan

If Rob Gronkowski’s injury troubles continue, the Patriots could be in the market for a tight end next offseason. Funchess has freaky athleticism, allowing him to be split out wide on a majority of snaps. He’s very comparable to 2014 first-rounder Eric Ebron, but is a bit of a better blocker.

27. New Orleans Saints- Hroniss Grasu C Oregon

The Saints may be kicking themselves for not grabbing a competent replacement for Brian De La Puente, and may not be able to get one until next offseason. However, Hroniss Grasu would ultimately be an upgrade at the position, as the slightly undersized Grasu has incredible speed and athleticism for a center.

28. Green Bay Packers- Devonte Fields DE/OLB TCU

Packers GM Ted Thompson typically takes the best player available when drafting in this range, so Devonte Fields could very well be the pick. Injury and off-field issues are holding him back, but if Fields can put it all together he could be a top five pick in 2015.

29. Denver Broncos- Ramik Wilson ILB Georgia

The Broncos will need some more youth at linebacker next season, and getting a guy who can move fluidly from sideline to sideline like Ramik Wilson might be key to the Broncos’ making one last Super Bowl push before Peyton Manning calls it a career.

30. Seattle Seahawks- Marcus Peters CB Washington

Addressing the secondary may seem somewhat odd for the Seahawks, but it makes sense. The team has an excellent group of cornerbacks, but could use a guy to play the nickel at a high level. Marcus Peters is one of the few top corners in this draft class under six feet, making him best suited to play inside. Not to mention, the Seahawks should be pretty familiar with Peters as he plays practically in their backyard.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers- P.J. WIlliams CB Florida State

Ronald Darby’s secondary mate, P.J. Williams has the ability to play both safety and cornerback, giving the Steelers the versatility they covet in their draft picks. The Steelers have a major need at cornerback, one that they failed to truly address this offseason. Williams’ stock could rise significantly over the course of his junior season.

32. San Francisco 49ers- Dante Fowler DE Florida

Justin Smith is on his last legs in San Fran, so some youth on the defensive line is needed. Dante Fowler could be poised for a fantastic junior year after a breakout sophomore campaign. He is a bit undersized, but will add on weight as he matures and has the upside to become an elite replacement to Justin Smith for the 49ers.