After Sunday's Super Bowl, many football fans will shift their attention to the NFL draft. Unless they choose to trade the top pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select first for the fifth time in franchise history. Only the Indianapolis Colts (7) and St. Louis Rams (6) organizations have picked first more.
The direction the Bucs go will shape the draft. If they elect to tab the Oregon Ducks' Marcus Mariota with the top pick, we'll be waiting to see how far Florida State's Jameis Winston slides before a team takes a chance on him.
If Winston is the pick for the Bucs, then the tables will turn on Mariota. Then there's the possibility of a trade as well. Things could get very interesting early. Here's my latest mock, staring off with the Bucs.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Mariota, Oregon, QB
There may very well be a learning curve for Mariota in the NFL, but he brings the intangibles and leadership qualities at quarterback that are necessary for a team with a defensive-minded head coach like Lovie Smith.
Smith will build a respectable defense within the next two years, and Mariota's development could align properly with the maturation on the other side of the ball.
2. Tennessee Titans: Jameis Winston, Florida State, QB
There are a lot of different directions the Titans could go with this pick, but there are only a few chances to draft a quarterback with the skills to lead your franchise for the next decade.
Winston has off-field baggage and character concerns, but he has run a pro-style offense, he's a leader and he has the requisite arm strength to succeed without limitation.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, USC, DL
Jacksonville needs a stud offensive lineman to protect Blake Bortles, but there isn't one worth taking at No. 3. Williams screams "best player available." While he's not the Jags' top need, he is a potential game-changer on the defensive side of the ball.
Check out this glowing praise College Football 24/7 captures in this quote from NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah:
4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, Alabama, WR
If the Raiders want to know whether Derek Carr is their franchise quarterback or not, they have to get him a No. 1 receiver. Cooper has all the makings of that type of receiver.
Short of the height that players like the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson possesses, Cooper is blessed with speed, hands and the toughness to make an instant impact in the NFL.
5. Washington: Randy Gregory, Nebraska, DE
With Brian Orakpo constantly injured and heading toward free agency, Washington must address their pass rush. As pure pass-rushers go, Gregory is among the best in this year's draft. He has explosiveness off the edge and the strength to hold up against the run.
6. New York Jets: DeVante Parker, Louisville, WR
As of now, the 6'3", 208-pound Parker isn't considered a player worthy of this high of a pick. I'm going out on a limb here and believing that he will wow people at the NFL combine. His 40-yard dash could very well be sub-4.5 seconds, and that would undoubtedly open the eyes of every team in the first round looking for a receiver.
Geno Smith and the New York Jets desperately need a playmaker at the position. Aside from Cooper, Parker will prove to be the best in this year's crop.
7. Chicago Bears: Shane Ray, Missouri, DE
Before the Bears hired Vic Fangio to run the defense, Alabama safety Landon Collins seemed like the right pick to help repair the defense. With Fangio likely running a 3-4 scheme and the Bears devoid of natural fits for the outside linebacker position, Ray immediately vaults up the board as the best pick for Chicago here.
Ray has an excellent motor and burst off the line of scrimmage. Here's what Bob Sturm of The Dallas Morning News said about Ray in his scouting report:
He is the real deal as an edge-rusher with quickness and overall explosion that is just silly. There are times where you wonder what the left tackle across from him must be thinking because in the case of the Kentucky game in particular, that poor guy was overmatched all day.
He draws holding calls on a regular basis because his 'get-off' is so impressive. At his size, he is just too quick for offensive linemen to deal with.
He could have the biggest year-one impact of any rookie on defense in the NFL.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Dante Fowler Jr., Florida, DE
Atlanta's pass rush over the last two seasons has been near nonexistent. The team has a total of 54 sacks in that time span. To put how bad that is into perspective, the Buffalo Bills led the NFL in sacks with the same amount this past season.
All that adds up to the Falcons needing to take the best pass-rusher available. In this scenario, that would likely be Fowler.
9. New York Giants: Bud Dupree, Kentucky, DE/OLB
Dupree has the ability to play either OLB in a 3-4 or defensive end in a 4-3. If he were to land with the Giants, it would be the latter. New York needs to add some youth to its front four, and that could become even more urgent if Jason Pierre-Paul's services aren't retained.
10. St. Louis Rams: Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M, OT
As pure athletes at offensive tackle are concerned, Ogbuehi is in the upper echelon. At 6'5", 300 pounds, Ogbuehi is big enough to hold up against bull-rushers and quick enough to cut off the speedy ends and 3-4 OLB.
He's a little raw from a technique standpoint, but he has the most upside of any offensive line prospect in the draft.
11. Minnesota Vikings: Ereck Flowers, Miami (Florida), OT
Flowers is a little heftier than Ogbuehi at 6'5" and 324 pounds, but he's not that far behind in athleticism. Flowers may be a more effective run-blocker, and he might also possess more of a nasty streak.
If the Vikings draft Flowers and team him with Matt Kalil, Minnesota could have the makings of one of the better young offensive lines in the National Football Conference.
12. Cleveland Browns: Danny Shelton, Washington, DT
Checking in at 6'2", 339 pounds, Shelton is the premier run-stuffing defensive tackle in the draft. A team like the Browns that plays the 3-4 and is in need of a nose tackle who can be a force against the run should be interested in Shelton.
Williams might be more dynamic, but in the right scheme, Shelton could be just as effective. Based on this tweet, it would appear that the Browns at least have Shelton on their draft board:
13. New Orleans Saints: Vic Beasley, Clemson, OLB
After an abysmal season on defense in 2014, the Saints have to find playmakers on that side of the ball. Beasley's explosiveness as a pass-rusher is almost unmatched. However, at 6'2" and 235 pounds, he's undersized for the defensive end position.
While he's a little lean for the 3-4 OLB spot as well, that's a better fit for him. Beasley could thrive in the Big Easy.
14. Miami Dolphins: Kevin White, West Virginia, WR
I like Jarvis Landry, but the Dolphins need another wide receiver opposite him to give Ryan Tannehill a set of capable and potentially dynamic receivers.
White is the type of wideout who can win jump balls, and he's able to use his body to shield defenders from deflecting and intercepting it.
15. San Francisco 49ers: Devin Funchess, Michigan, WR
Funchess looks a lot like a tight end, but he has enough quickness and speed to be a wide receiver. He's the perfect big-body target for Colin Kaepernick. The Niners are going to run a ball-control offense with the occasional deep pass.
A receiver like Funchess fits in perfectly with that approach.
16. Houston Texans: Brett Hundley, UCLA, QB
Hundley has excellent physical tools. As a traditional pocket passer, he might be a little behind Winston, but he's extremely coachable, and that will likely appeal to the Texans.
Houston needs a quarterback just as bad as the Bucs and Titans, so this could be one of the steals of the first round.
17. Kansas City Chiefs: Jaelen Strong, Arizona State, WR
The Kansas City Chiefs need to find more playmakers on offense. Aside from Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs are devoid of players who can make things happen in the open field.
Strong is a smooth route-runner with excellent hands. He could make an instant impact as a deep threat. Paired with Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs could have a solid receiving corps.
18. San Diego Chargers: Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin, RB
Ryan Mathews has found it difficult to stay healthy, and Philip Rivers needs some help on offense. Gordon led the nation in rushing with a speed and strength combination that could see him play a major role as a rookie if he lands in San Diego.
The value for running backs is a little down, but Gordon could really help the Chargers.
19. Cleveland Browns: Todd Gurley, Georgia, RB
If Rivers needs a dependable running back, it's hard to quantify how much Johnny Manziel could use a stud to hand the ball off to. Gurley is probably a better prospect than Gordon from a talent standpoint, but there might be character concerns and questions about long-term health.
If Gurley is healthy and available to play, he and Manziel would make for a dynamic run offense in Cleveland if the Browns draft him.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Trae Waynes, Michigan State, CB
Per Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press, Spartans head coach Mike Dantonio said: "There's no question that he'll be an outstanding corner at the next level."
With the Eagles allowing the most passing yards of any team in the NFL in 2014, that endorsement should be enough to encourage them to draft Waynes at No. 20.
Without a cornerback the team can trust on the likes of Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr., the passing defense may not improve.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Shaq Thompson, Washington, LB
This might be the year the Bengals look to potentially replace Andy Dalton, but with Mariota, Winston and Hundley presumably gone, that initiative can wait until the second or third round.
After a strong start to the season on defense, the Bengals faltered on that side of the ball. The team can afford to look at the best player available, and that would be Washington's Thompson.
As versatility goes, no one in the draft can and has worn as many hats as Thompson. He could be a linebacker in the 3-4 or 4-3, and he could also play strong safety. Group that with the fact he also played running back for Washington, and you have a freakish athlete.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Malcom Brown, Texas, DT
Brown is a cut below Shelton in the NT rankings, but he still has the ability to help a 3-4 team clog up the gaps against the run. Since Casey Hampton departed, Pittsburgh's defensive line has been lacking the stout tackle to anchor the line. Brown could be next in line to try his hand.
23. Detroit Lions: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
The Lions have to know there's a chance Ndamukong Suh leaves in free agency. If that happens, the Lions will need to have insurance at DT. A player like Goldman would be a smart choice. Goldman played in just about every facet on the defensive line in college.
He's an excellent natural athlete who could make the potential exit of Suh sting a little less.
24. Arizona Cardinals: Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska, RB
Abdullah is one of the most explosive and versatile offensive players in the draft. The Arizona Cardinals offense desperately needs those elements. If the team had a dynamic running back to lean on during the postseason, perhaps its offense wouldn't have been so lost without its first- and second-string quarterbacks.
25. Carolina Panthers: Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma, WR
If the Panthers are going to maximize the time they are blessed to have Cam Newton as their quarterback, the team must get him a solid complement of receivers.
Tight end Greg Olsen and rookie Kelvin Benjamin are a good start, but one more stud is needed. DGB has all the physical talent, but he must keep his head on straight to live up to his potential.
If he can remain focused, the Panthers would boast size and ability at tight end and receiver that only the Bears could rival.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Marcus Peters, Washington, CB
Peters comes with some baggage as well. He was dismissed from his team in 2014, so NFL teams will do their homework on Peters before drafting him.
Speaking simply from a football standpoint, Peters is exactly what the Ravens need. Baltimore needs a youth injection in the secondary. Peters has the size (6'0", 198 lbs) and strength to contend with the NFL's bigger receivers, and he is an able tackler against outside runs.
27. Dallas Cowboys: P.J. Williams, Florida State, CB
If Peters is gone, the Cowboys should take a look at the next best corner. While the defense was improved from a disastrous 2013, the Cowboys still ranked just 26th against the pass.
Williams is competitive, quick and comfortable playing press coverage. That trait will serve him well in the NFL, and it could make him a starter from Week 1.
28. Denver Broncos: Cameron Erving, Florida State, C/OG/OT
No matter what happens with Peyton Manning during the offseason, the Denver Broncos should shore up their interior offensive line. Pressure up the middle against the Broncos seemed to be as much, if not a bigger issue for the ends and OLBs off the edge.
Erving has played just about every position on the line, but he has the potential to become a Pro Bowl-caliber center.
29. Indianapolis Colts: Markus Golden, Missouri, DE/OLB
We can blame deflated footballs for the New England Patriots' domination of the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, but we can also blame the Colts' inability to get consistent pressure on Tom Brady. That was a fairly common occurrence at times during the regular season.
Golden is a bit unsung because he was teammates with Ray, but he brings a bit of his own heat off the edge. Represent Mizzou captures Golden getting pressure on the quarterback during the Senior Bowl:
30. Green Bay Packers: Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma, DT
Players like the monstrous 6'6", 334-pounder Jordan Phillips are the guys who allow the Clay Matthews of the world to run free without engaging in blocks against offensive linemen. Phillips plugs a gap like no other player in the draft.
He could be an enormous help for the Packers.
31. Seattle Seahawks: Sammie Coates, Auburn, WR
Win or lose on Sunday, the Seahawks could use a deep threat in the passing game. With 11 receptions of 25 yards or more, Coates qualifies. Once Russell Wilson scrambles to get out of trouble and create alternative passing lanes, he could look downfield to Coates for big plays.
32. New England Patriots: A.J. Cann, South Carolina, OG
No one cheers loudly when their team selects a guard, but the Patriots must ensure they have adequate protection in front of Brady. Also, having the ability to run the ball inside is key.
Cann has the athleticism to pull in the run game, and he has the balance to protect Brady from rushes up the middle.