Well, folks, it's official—mock draft season is upon us.
Nothing dominates the NFL offseason quite like the hype and buzz leading up to the NFL draft, which leads to a slew of mock drafts by various experts around the web. Right in the middle of it all is ESPN's Todd McShay, who recently released his first mock draft of the year.
You can find McShay's full list of selections and justifications for each pick at ESPN Insider (subscription required).
|Todd McShay's ESPN Mock Draft|
|1||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon|
|2||Tennessee Titans||Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Leonard Williams, DE, USC|
|4||Oakland Raiders||Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska|
|5||Washington||Shane Ray, DE, Missouri|
|6||New York Jets||Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama|
|7||Atlanta Falcons||Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida|
|8||New York Giants||Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson|
|9||Chicago Bears||Landon Collins, S, Alabama|
|10||Carolina Panthers||Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa|
|11||Minnesota Vikings||Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M|
|12||St. Louis Rams||Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami|
|13||Houston Texans||Devante Parker, WR, Louisville|
|14||Cleveland Browns||Danny Shelton, DT, Washington|
|15||San Francisco 49ers||Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan|
|16||Miami Dolphins||Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington|
|17||Kansas City Chiefs||Kevin White, WR, West Virginia|
|18||San Diego Chiefs||Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State|
|19||Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo)||Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State|
|20||Philadelphia Eagles||Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State|
|21||New Orleans Saints||TJ Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh|
|22||Pittsburgh Steelers||Malcom Brown, DT, Texas|
|23||Baltimore Ravens||Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford|
|25||Dallas Cowboys||Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest|
|26||Detroit Lions||Marcus Peters, CB, Washington|
|27||Indianapolis Colts||La'El Collins, OT, LSU|
|28||Green Bay Packers||Bendardrick Mckinney, MLB, Mississippi State|
|29||Seattle Seahawks||Todd Gurley, RB, Seattle Seahawks|
|30||Arizona Cardinals||Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky|
|31||New England Patriots||AJ Cann, OG, South Carolina|
|32||Denver Broncos||Denzel Perryman, MLB, Miami|
Let's break down some of the notable selections.
Obviously, it's hard to look past the first two picks, with Marcus Mariota going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jameis Winston going to the Tennessee Titans. Over the next several months, these two are going to be compared, contrasted, poked and prodded as folks try to decide who the top overall pick should be.
Rotoworld's Josh Norris provided his analysis of Mariota:
As for what ultimately prompted McShay to bump Mariota higher than Winston, it was the off-field concerns that follow the latter around everywhere he goes:
But [Winston's] off-field behavior to this point frightens me. The Titans and any team that considers drafting him are going to have to be comfortable with what they find when they look into his past, and with his psychological testing. But as I mentioned in the Mariota section, even if one or two teams that need a QB pass on either of these top two QBs, I don't think they all will. It's hard to envision either getting out of the top 10, at this point.
Winston's ability on the field isn't going to be questioned. Whether a team is comfortable making him the face of its franchise will be.
Five of McShay's next six picks are defensive ends, suggesting that this is a great year to have a high pick if you need help on the defensive line. The one notable exception in the run of defensive ends is Amari Cooper going to the New York Jets, however.
Cooper was dominant at Alabama this year, though in New York the question remains who will ultimately be throwing him the ball, with Geno Smith failing to prove he can be a franchise quarterback at this point in his career. Still, Cooper would certainly make the Jets more dynamic on offense.
Two of the most interesting picks come much later in the mock, as McShay has Wisconsin running back and Heisman Trophy finalist Melvin Gordon going to the Baltimore Ravens and Georgia running back Todd Gurley going to the Seattle Seahawks.
Gordon makes perfect sense for Baltimore. The Ravens have been pleasantly surprised by the production of Justin Forsett but would likely love to pair him with a more traditional between-the-tackles runner. As McShay notes, Gordon played in a zone-blocking scheme at Wisconsin, which offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak brought to Baltimore this season.
And then there's Gurley heading to Seattle. While it's far from a guarantee that Marshawn Lynch will return to the team after this season, the Seahawks do have capable backups for him in Robert Turbin and exciting talent Christine Michael.
Gurley's talent is unquestioned, and he's the sort of bruising runner that would fit Seattle's scheme perfectly. Still, it's fair to wonder if the team would look to address other areas of need before selecting another running back.