This is C3’s pre-free agency Mock Draft with my picks (Mel Mayock) along with guest contributor, @SamSslater96. This Mock is a little different than the others you’ve seen. I’m picking and stating my reasoning for the first round. I give my reasoning and insights as to why a team will go after a certain player. The reasoning could be based on last year’s weaknesses as rated by our friends at ProFootballFocus.com. Or the reasoning could be the pending loss of a Free Agent. And BPA logic comes into play too. THEN (here’s the fun part) Smokewagon has inserted his picks along with his reasoning. We did our picks independently so this should be interesting.
We also have C3’s Professor and Freakin’ Puerto Rican chiming in on who they think the Panthers should take should the board fall this way. We want to hear from you, leave your thoughts on our picks and look for our next Mock to come out just before the draft.
If you don’t already, you should follow our guest, @SamSslater96 on Twitter, as he is one of the most insightful Panther fans and we thank him for his joining us for this Mock.
We hope you enjoy and look for an updated Mock as we get past Free Agency. Hit me up on Twitter @PanthersDrafter to give me your thoughts. You can tell me I’m great or that I suck. All comments appreciated.
I don’t see how Lovie passes on Winston. Personally, I like Mariota better as the Face of a Franchise and as a better athlete. But Jameis will pull in the Seminole fans and let’s face it, Tampa can use more fans right now. Winston is a very smart young man on the field. The Glazer family just needs to pray he gets smarter off the field.
The Titans ranked 26th in Defense (according to ProFootballfocus.com) and Leonard Williams is the best player in this Draft in my opinion. He can be a cornerstone to build around and I look for New Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton to get his way and gets the best defensive player in the draft.
The Jags could go a number of different ways here and Scherff is not the sexiest pick. But the Jags gave up 71 sacks in 2014 and that was the worst by far. If that isn’t fixed, then nothing else matters. Scherff will most likely kick inside to Guard but has the tools and temperament to be an All-Pro.
The Raiders finished 31st in Offense last year and absolutely must give their promising young QB in Derek Carr a big play maker. Kevin White or Amari Cooper will be the guy here, but how can the Raiders pass on a 4.35 guy? And he is my personal favorite in the Draft.
This may seem high for Waynes, but the Skins have a huge need here as they had the worst rated Pass Defense (while have a positively rated pass rush). Their highest rated CB rated 99th and their other two CBs finished last and second-to-last. Trae Waynes is the cream of the CB crop. At 6’1 and 185 lbs, he has great size to go with his sizzling 4.31 40. Not sure the Skins can pass on this kind of talent.
Mariota is the perfect pick for a new regime to attach their wagon to. He is clearly the best athlete as a QB but he also provides mobility to the position. He’s also such a calm and cool character that I see him being able to handle the NY media. The Jets will need to customize their Offense to take advantage of his talents.
This is the perfect John Fox pick. Danny Shelton reminds me a lot of Kris Jenkins that Fox built his Defense around in Carolina. Good strength (34 reps on the bench at the Combine) and is someone that will stay on the field. He will bring teeth back to the Bears Defense that has lost it’s way over the past two years.
The Falcons have not had a Pass Rush since the departure of John Abraham and their Defense desperately needs one. Randy Gregory, Dante Fowler Jr., and Vic Beasley are all in play here, but Fowler gets the nod for his size. At 6’2/ 265, he is the heaviest of the bunch and he will be able to set the edge and rush the passer. He has the mentality that new coach Dan Quinn will build around.
This pick was always down to only two possible choices in Winston or Marcus Mariota for Tampa Bay. The organization decided to move on from the Josh McCown spinoff “Down and Out in Tampa Bay”, after it bottomed out in Nielsen ratings. With no quarterback of note on the roster except for the floundering Mike Glennon, the no-brainer is to take the hometown kid to address the most important position on any NFL roster while using the local ties to generate excitement in the fan base (goodness knows they need it.)
Now Tennessee could go in a number of directions at this spot with the remaining talent available, but this is where coach Ken Whisenhunt snags a player that is being compared to a certain wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald from Whisenhunt’s time in Arizona that he knows what that kind of playmaker can bring to an offense. Tennessee has invested draft picks over the last few seasons into the wide receiver position (Kendall Wright 2012) and (Justin Hunter 2013) but both have not showed enough to warrant either one of them becoming a true number one in the NFL. Here is the opportune time for coach Whisenhunt to grab a receiver that has the same traits to become another Larry Fitzgerald at the next level.
With those wondering why not take Leonard Williams at this spot with him being the number one ranked prospect by many, it is very simple. Jacksonville missed out on taking Dee Ford in the 2014 draft, a prospect that this staff and coach Bradley were hoping to land after working with him during last years Reese’s Senior Bowl. This time around Jacksonville doesn’t miss the chance to grab an edge rusher of Gregory’s abilities to harass QB’s at the next level, especially when you have to face one who’s last name is Luck twice a season.
Oakland takes the best player on the board and keeps this USC stud on the West Coast. Williams can play all along the defensive line and give new head coach Jack Del Rio a chess piece to move around in different looks to frustrate opposing offenses. Oakland now with back to back drafts of Khalil Mack and Leonard Williams also have secured cornerstone pieces for years to come on the defensive side of the ball.
The offensive line for Washington was just flat out abysmal during the 2014 season. If Jay Gruden ever wants to keep a quarterback upright for more than two games he is going to have to bring in some personal protectors on that side of the ball. Starting RB Alfred Morris rushing numbers also have been on the decline over the course of three straight seasons. This is in direct correlation with the o-line’s performance. La’el Collins can be the first step in the right direction in correcting both of these issues. Collins is a hoss in the run game with his pass pro skills above par for the NFL level. It has been stated many see Collins as an OG in the NFL, I for one can stick at OT in the NFL and succeed.
The Todd Bowles era starts with the same old mantra, “New head coach, new QB.” The Jets will move away from the Geno Smith endeavour under the old Ryan/Idzik regime and try to find a face of the franchise. It has to get old for Jet’s fans to continually bring up “Broadway Joe” as the only QB the franchise has ever had. Please… that was over 45 years ago and it’s time for that fan base to finally have a new show in town worthy of picking up a ticket to go see.
With the Chicago Bears ushering in the John Fox era as their new head coach and the hire of Vic Fangio as the DC, they are tasked with turning around one mess of a defense that outgoing DC Mel Tucker left behind. Fox has said that Vangio will implement a 34 system in Chicago. With that comes the need of rush linebackers to get after the passer and at the moment Chicago has none that fit the bill like a Vic Beasley on the roster. Plus factor in Beasley has been compared to Von Miller of Denver from where Fox coached previously and this would seem to be a match destined to happen.
New head coach Dan Quinn is also tasked with rebuilding a stop unit that has been neglected with quality personnel over the last few season’s under Thomas Dimitroff’s watch. Atlanta has no pass rush to write home about and the first order of business for Quinn and company is to fix this. Lucky for them Shane Ray falls right into their laps here.