1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
At this point in the draft process, all signs point to the Buccaneers selecting Winston first overall. The 2013 Heisman trophy winner played in a pro-style offense in college, and should transition well to the NFL.
2) Tennessee Titans: QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Mariota, the 2014 Heisman trophy winner, starred in Oregon’s spread offense. Several teams are reportedly interested in trading up, but the general consensus is that the Titans will pick Mariota instead of trading down or bolstering their defensive line with DL Leonard Williams.
3) New Orleans Saints (via Jacksonville Jaguars*1): DL Leonard Williams, USC
Here is the first projected trade. If Williams is available third overall, the Jaguars’ phones ring. The Jags have needs across the board, and the Saints need to improve their front seven.
4) Oakland Raiders: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
Cooper is a polished route-runner and is very dangerous after the catch. Second year QB Derek Carr and the rest of the offense would immediately benefit from the addition of Cooper.
5) Atlanta Falcons (via Washington Redskins*2): DE/OLB Dante Fowler, Florida
The Redskins have several needs and could trade down. In 2014, the Falcons had the second-worst pass rushing unit in the league with 22.0 sacks. Fowler is a very athletic edge rusher and will help improve a lackluster component of the Falcons’ defense.
6) Houston Texans (via New York Jets*3): WR Kevin White, West Virginia
The Jets also could trade out of this pick, and the Texans could go big with White. At a 6’3″, 215-pound frame, White is a very athletic wideout.
7) Chicago Bears: DL Danny Shelton, Washington
In the NFC North, tough defenses and top-notch rushing offenses have collided for decades. This won’t change. Shelton would help the Bears stay alive in their division and in the playoffs.
8) Washington Redskins (via Atlanta Falcons*2): DE/OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson
After losing OLB Brian Orakpo in free agency, the Redskins could use another edge rusher. Trading down would also let the Redskins use a later pick to continue adding depth to their roster.
9) New York Giants: OL Brandon Scherff, Iowa
It will be very tough for the Giants to have another rookie who starts off his career as impressively as WR Odell Beckham Jr. did one year ago, but Scherff is a versatile, physical lineman who dominates the trenches. Scherff’s tenacity would help the Giants.
10) St. Louis Rams: OT Andrus Peat, Stanford
The Rams need another offensive lineman to shore up the unit. Peat is 6’7″ and weighs 313 pounds.
11) Minnesota Vikings: CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
Waynes is the top cornerback in the draft, and has climbed up draft boards in recent months. The Vikings are an emerging team, and adding Waynes could yield big dividends in the future.
12) Cleveland Browns: RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
All three of the Browns’ division rivals—the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Cincinnati Bengals—are some of the league’s top rushing offenses. Running backs complement defenses, and defenses win championships. It’s a step in the right direction.
13) Jacksonville Jaguars (via New Orleans Saints*1): DL Arik Armstead, Oregon
While this seems early for Armstead, the Jaguars would benefit from having the 6’7″, 292-pounder anchor their defensive line.
14) Miami Dolphins: DT Malcom Brown, Texas
The Dolphins added defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this offseason. With Brown, the Dolphins will have one of the most feared defensive lines in the league.
15) Dallas Cowboys (via San Francisco 49ers*4): RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
If Gurley is off the board early, the Cowboys will probably have to trade up to get a running back. RB DeMarco Murray left in free agency, but Gordon, along with Gurley, is one of the top running back prospects in recent years.
16) New York Jets (via Houston Texans*3): OT Ereck Flowers, Miami (Fl)
If the Jets trade down and collect several extra picks, adding an offensive lineman in the first round would be a wise selection. They renovated their defense in free agency, and improving the offensive line can’t hurt.
17) San Diego Chargers: OT TJ Clemmings, Pittsburgh
Clemmings is a very athletic tackle, and with speculation about quarterback Phillip Rivers possibly not returning to the Chargers after this season, the team could solidify their offensive line for Rivers this season, and whoever is quarterbacking the team in the future.
18) Kansas City Chiefs: CB Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest
Many of the league’s top wideouts play in the AFC West. Johnson would help the Chiefs slow opposing offenses.
19) Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills): WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
With the future of Browns WR Josh Gordon in limbo, Strong would help the Browns’ offense find some stability.
20) Philadelphia Eagles: SS Landon Collins, Alabama
If the Eagles elect to not trade up or down, they should take Collins if he is still available. The Eagles need better play from their safeties to make the playoffs and become a Super Bowl contender.
21) Cincinnati Bengals: DE/OLB Bud Dupree, Kentucky
The Bengals were last in the league with 20.0 sacks last season. The Bengals are 0-4 in the playoffs in the past four years, and improving their pass rush is key to advancing farther in January.
22) Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Byron Jones, UConn
Jones is known for his unbelievable 12’3″ broad jump at the Scouting Combine, and has emerged as a potential first round pick.
23) Detroit Lions: DT Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma
After losing DT Ndamukong Suh in free agency, Phillips would the help the Lions rebuild their defensive line.
24) Arizona Cardinals: DE/OLB Randy Gregory, Nebraska
Gregory has slid down draft boards because he failed a drug test at the Scouting Combine. He is talented, but off-the-field concerns dropped his draft stock.
25) Carolina Panthers: OLB Shaq Thompson, Washington
Thompson played linebacker, safety, and running back at Washington. He’s very athletic and could play a number of positions in the NFL.
26) Baltimore Ravens: CB Jalen Collins, LSU
The Ravens need to improve their secondary to slow opposing offenses.
27) San Francisco 49ers (via Dallas Cowboys*4): CB Marcus Peters, Washington
Peters was dismissed from the football team last fall. The 49ers need another cornerback, and in this situation, it’s Peters.
28) Denver Broncos: OT Jake Fisher, Oregon
The Broncos could be in the running for a defensive tackle, but they should address their offensive line to protect QB Peyton Manning and help the run game.
29) Indianapolis Colts: OL Cameron Erving, Florida State
Erving is a versatile offensive lineman who can play center and tackle. As I mentioned before, improving the offensive line can’t hurt.
30) Green Bay Packers: LB Denzel Perryman, Miami (Fl)
Perryman would bolster the Packers’ linebacker unit. The Packers have one of the best rosters in the league, and Perryman would help them contend for a Super Bowl.
31) New Orleans Saints (via Seattle Seahawks): WR Breshad Perriman, UCF
The Saints traded both TE Jimmy Graham and WR Kenny Stills. They need to help QB Drew Brees by adding a wideout.
32) New England Patriots: WR Phillip Dorsett, Miami (Fl)
Dorsett is a fast wide receiver. The reigning Super Bowl champions could use him on offense.