I feel your pain, folks.
Football is over. The world is a bit more gray. Now we are stuck watching basketball and hockey (or in my case, European soccer), which is fine, of course, but there's just something special about settling in on Sunday for a full day of the NFL.
But fear not, friends, for we still have the NFL draft to look forward to in the spring. We also have the NFL Scouting Combine, pro days and, most importantly, mock draft after mock draft.
And so below, you'll find my updated NFL mock draft following the Super Bowl along with a look at the most interesting teams to follow at this year's draft and the selections that could completely change the board. Hopefully, this will help ease the pain of another NFL season coming to a close.
|Updated 2015 NFL Mock Draft: Round 1|
|1||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon Ducks|
|2||Tennessee Titans||Leonard Williams, DT, USC|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska|
|4||Oakland Raiders||Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama|
|5||Washington||Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson|
|6||New York Jets||Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State|
|7||Chicago Bears||Shane Ray, DE, Missouri|
|8||Atlanta Falcons||Dante Fowler, DE, Florida|
|9||New York Giants||Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa|
|10||St. Louis Rams||Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford|
|11||Minnesota Vikings||La'el Collins, OT, LSU|
|12||Cleveland Browns||DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville|
|13||New Orleans Saints||Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State|
|14||Miami Dolphins||Danny Shelton, DT, Washington|
|15||San Francisco 49ers||Kevin White, WR, West Virginia|
|16||Houston Texans||T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh|
|17||San Diego Chargers||Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami|
|18||Kansas City Chiefs||Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State|
|19||Cleveland Browns||Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State|
|20||Philadelphia Eagles||Landon Collins, S, Alabama|
|21||Cincinnati Bengals||Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky|
|22||Pittsburgh Steelers||Gerod Holliman, S, Louisville|
|23||Detroit Lions||Malcom Brown, DT, Texas|
|24||Arizona Cardinals||Eli Harold, DE, Virginia|
|25||Carolina Panthers||Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn|
|26||Baltimore Ravens||Marcus Peters, CB, Washington|
|27||Dallas Cowboys||Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest|
|28||Denver Broncos||Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State|
|29||Indianapolis Colts||Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington|
|30||Green Bay Packers||Benardrick McKinney, MLB, Mississippi State|
|31||Seattle Seahawks||Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan|
|32||New England Patriots||Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State|
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We all know that the major storyline of this draft is going to be where the two top quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, are selected. One of them seems likely to be off the board with the top overall pick.
Ah, but which player? And which team will be selecting that player?
What Tampa Bay decides to do here will completely change the rest of the draft. Certain teams might not consider drafting Jameis Winston, for instance, so if the Bucs go with Mariota—or trade the pick to a team that wants Mariota—a whole slew of teams will take quarterback off of their boards in the first round (unless they become completely enamored with Brett Hundley).
But this is also an intriguing decision for Tampa Bay. Will head coach Lovie Smith and company select Mariota and build an offense around him? Will they go with Winston and risk the potential off-field issues? Will they stay put and select a different player altogether, shocking everyone? Or will they trade the pick and look to set themselves up for the future with a slew of first- and second-rounders?
The future of the franchise is very closely tied to this pick. The entire first round of the NFL draft hangs in the balance, too.
Like the Bucs, the Titans are going to have to make a big decision here. Will they take the quarterback remaining on the board, or will they select one of the top defensive players—Leonard Williams and Randy Gregory would fill big needs—and stick with Zach Mettenberger?
Or will they trade the pick?
Kurt Warner, who played for Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona, thinks his former coach needs to have a good quarterback to succeed, per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean:
Ken has to have quarterback. I don't care what coach you are, it's tough to find one who can survive a long period of time without a quarterback. It's what got him here, and that's the biggest reason why the Titans have gone through a couple of regimes of late—they haven't been able to solidify that position with anybody that's shown consistency and been able to stay healthy.
Ken knows what to do. But the whole organization and Ken will be behind the 8-ball until they find somebody. Right now, it's an uphill climb.
Of course, most teams need a good quarterback to succeed, unless they have a legendary defense. And what Warner didn't say was whether Mettenberger could be that man. But by suggesting that the Titans haven't had a legitimate quarterback in years, he certainly hinted that Mettenberger wasn't the guy Whisenhunt needs.
If Winston is on the board, I think the Titans will strongly consider taking him if his character concerns don't chase them away. If Mariota is available, I think Tennessee will focus on the defense, since Mariota doesn't really fit Whisenhunt's needs.
Either way, the draft will be completely molded by the direction the Titans go.
Oakland Raiders and Washington
If both Mariota and Winston are off the board when Oakland picks, this isn't a terribly intriguing selection. But what if one of them is available?
Then things get interesting. Some folks might suggest that Washington's pick would be the selection teams would want to trade for, getting in front of the New York Jets at No. 6. But if Winston is on the board, isn't it also possible that Washington would consider drafting him and trading Robert Griffin III?
It isn't as crazy as it sounds. Jameis Winston would be a far better fit for Jay Gruden's system than RG3. It seems likely that RG3 doesn't have a ton of supporters in Washington's locker room at this point. And dealing RG3 could still bring Washington a pretty nice selection of draft picks while allowing it to draft the quarterback its coach would potentially prefer.
Yes, it's a long shot. But NFL teams aren't dumb. If Winston is on the board at No. 4 and a team really loves him (think the St. Louis Rams or Houston Texans here), well, it isn't crazy to think that the Raiders could suddenly find their phone lines buzzing.
Because the Cleveland Browns own two first-round picks (Nos. 12 and 19), they are better positioned to trade up in this draft than any other team. It's arguable that they would do so, since there should be several excellent players available to them when they pick, but it's not out of the question.
What if, for instance, they've grown weary of Johnny Manziel and decide to move up for one of the quarterbacks, looking to trade Manziel in a separate deal? Manziel isn't exactly Mr. Popular in Cleveland's locker room after his rookie season (though at least cornerback Joe Haden stuck up for him), so the Browns could decide to cut their losses.
Or, you know, they could actually install a system that suits his talents and draft players to complement their young quarterback. Either way, the Browns are an intriguing team to monitor.
Ah, the Eagles, the team that keeps cropping up in discussions about trading up to select Mariota. How they would get from No. 20 to a position where they could select him remains a mystery to me, but the speculation persists nonetheless.
The latest rumor out there is that the Eagles could deal quarterback Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams, according to