De Jesus: Top picks for worst teams
Manuel De Jesus | Sunday, February 8, 2015
Now that the 2014-2015 NFL season is over, we have the next most exciting event aside from the Super Bowl to look forward to: the NFL draft.
Every year, we watch each NFL franchise select the best college athletes in the country, hoping the newest class of rookies can either be the missing link to a Super Bowl-caliber roster or the start of the rebuilding of an organization in the dumps. This year, we have a pretty solid group of talented prospects led by names like Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Leonard Williams, Andrus Peat and Amari Cooper.
The best part about experiencing the draft is predicting where each prospect will go, so I’m going to play the role of the general manager of each team with the top five draft picks and select who I think would fit best on each team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Mariota, quarterback, Oregon
I have already seen tons of mock drafts take Jameis Winston with the first pick, but I strongly advise the Bucs to avoid that path of misery and choose Mariota as the new face of the franchise. Although Winston may have the prototypical size and mobility of an NFL quarterback, maturity is something that means a lot to me as a general manager, especially if it’s at the quarterback position. Last season, Johnny Manziel was the talk of the draft after falling to the Browns late in the first round, and we all know how that turned out. Mariota may not be pro-ready, but he has the arm strength, mobility and game-changing skills to thrive in most NFL offenses.
Tennessee Titans: Brandon Scherff, offensive lineman, Iowa
ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen has already reported that the Titans plan to go all in with second-year quarterback Zach Mettenberger, so I don’t think they’ll waste this pick with Jameis Winston. Instead, I think they’ll go with an offensive tackle since they just let go of Michael Oher. Scherff was a highly rated prospect at the beginning of the college football season by ESPN, and he finished the year as the Outland Trophy winner as the country’s best lineman. Some say he can play inside at guard or outside at tackle, so that versatility can push the Titans to make a move for another lineman in free agency to further protect Mettenberger next season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Randy Gregory, defensive end, Nebraska
The Jaguars just can’t seem to get out of the top 10. With another high pick in this year’s draft, the Jaguars would be smart to address the defense. The linebacking corps isn’t terrible, but the defensive line needs a ton of work. Red Bryant and Tyson Alualu combined for just three sacks at the left defensive end position. Gregory is one of the quickest and most athletic pass rushers, so it makes sense to pick him here.
Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, receiver, Alabama
Despite Leonard Williams’ desire to play in Oakland, Cooper has to be the guy for the Raiders here. The Biletnikoff Award winner displayed ridiculous athleticism throughout the season and proved he has the necessary intangibles to be a special receiver in the NFL. The Raiders don’t have a single offensive star, and with Derek Carr heading into his second year as the starting quarterback, he needs a weapon to rely on. The Raiders really can’t pass on Cooper here.
Washington Redskins: Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State
Most mock drafts have the Redskins picking a pass rusher, but none of those mock drafts have Winston still available by the time the fifth pick rolls around. Robert Griffin III isn’t the answer, and Kirk Cousins is more of a backup. Winston is the quarterback the Redskins need. He’s not someone flashy like Griffin, but Winston is someone who can move around the pocket and not resort to running the ball every time there is a broken play. Winston is talented, and for the Redskins, who are on the edge of moving into playoff contention in a talented NFC East division, you need to have a win-now mentality and choose talent over character issues.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.