Can you feel the excitement? Can you? The draft is less than 24 hours away! You've probably read through a million mock drafts and are tired of the fake thing and just want the real thing. I know, I get it, but too bad! You're going to get another fake one. This time I'm going to mock out the entire 1st round of the draft, complete with potential trade scenarios. Every year there are multiple trades in the first round alone, which means that creating a mock draft that doesn't involve trades is sort of a fool's errand (even though I've done a couple of those already), because no draft plays out with all teams selecting at their assigned draft spots. But trying to predict which teams will move up and down the draft through various trades is equally impossible. So maybe we should just all give it up...I mean why bother, because we're all failures either way, right? Homer Simpson probably gave all of us failures the best advice anyway. But no! I will trudge forward and offer up a full first round mock. I've scoured the interwebs to derive a consensus on team needs for every team in the NFL, and then utilized Arif's Consensus Big Board over at Vikings Territory for value. I sprinkled in a bit of creative magic and ta'da, mock draft! You'll find the rest of the Vikings picks at the very end. Here it goes...
Pick #1, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
The Bucs have been rumored to want Winston for months now, so this makes as much sense as anything else. It's possible they trade down with the right offer, but they desperately need a quarterback and Winston is probably the least worst of the class. I actually don't like this quarterback class at all and I think it's one of the weakest we've seen in years. But nobody asked me.
The Titans are rumored to be looking to trade down. There are only three viable trade partners for the rights to Mariota: Jets, Browns and Texans, unless of course you buy that Chip Kelly is interested in a reunion (I don't). Of those three options, the Browns have the most ammunition to give, and the rumor this afternoon was that the Browns are offering both first rounders to move up. So in this mock the rumor becomes reality! Now they'll be able to add Mariota's name to their league leading list of starting quarterbacks over the past 10 years.
With the Bears switching to a 3-4 defense, they have a huge gaping hole at defensive tackle, and with quarterbacks going 1-2 that lets the consensus best player overall fall to #3 where the Bears don't have to give up nearly as much draft capital to secure Williams.
The Falcons are rumored to be interested in moving up and they need a pass rusher badly. With the Redskins poised to take a DE at #5, Jets at #6 and the Jaguars at #7, the Falcons are compelled to jump up and get one of the best pass rushers in the draft in Dante Fowler.
Pick #5, Washington Redskins: OLB/DE Vic Beasley, Clemson
In this mock the Redskins are pissed off that the Falcons jumped over them for Fowler, but they get a nice consolation prize in Vic Beasley out of Clemson. They briefly considered Brandon Scherff here to address their offensive line woes, but they will wait until the 2nd round to address their next most glaring need.
Pick #6, New York Jets: OT/OG Brandon Scherff
The Jets have three big needs: quarterback, edge rusher and offensive line. With Todd Bowles now at the helm, they stun everyone by going after the least sexy pick so far and take Brandon Scherff.
Pick #7, Jacksonville Jaguars (from Chicago): DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska
The Jaguars were hoping that Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley would fall into their lap at #7, but the Falcons and Redskins had other ideas. The Jaguars take a chance on the very talented Randy Gregory, hoping his drug problem and ability to handle the "mental" aspects of the NFL are a non-issue. In terms of pure talent on the field, Gregory is a top 5 talent.
Pick #8, Oakland Raiders (from Atlanta): WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
Oakland has a wide receiver problem and what better way to solve it than with arguably the best all-around wide receiver prospect in the draft in Amari Cooper. Somehow, Cooper falls all the way down to #8. If this were the days of Al Davis they would have just drafted the fastest wide receiver at the combine, but instead they'll get a guy who can come in and provide Carr with an immediate weapon that fits perfectly in Musgrave's west coast scheme.
Pick #9, New York Giants: OT Andrus Peat, Stanford
The Giants miss out on Brandon Scherff, but while there are reports that they are targeting an offensive lineman in the 1st round, it may actually be Stanford tackle Andrus Peat. And in this mock, they have to settle for him regardless. This is going to be viewed as a bit of a reach, since Peat has a consensus ranking of #21 overall on the VT Consensus Big Board. But reaches are all part of the game, and one of the better draftniks for offensive lineman, Lance Zierlein, has Peat as his top offensive lineman in the draft.
Pick #10, St. Louis Rams: OT La'el Collins, LSU
The Rams would have liked to have Brandon Scherff or Andrus Peat fall to them, but they are desperate for some offensive line help. It's a bit of a reach perhaps, but the Rams need all the help them can get. There is the murky situation with Collins and the murder investigation, but he's not a suspect in that investigation and in this mock the Rams aren't concerned about it.
Pick #11, TRADED - San Francisco 49ers give the Vikings their #15 overall pick and a 3rd rounder to move up for: WR Kevin White, West Virginia
I almost mocked Trae Waynes to the 49ers here with a trade up, but the reason the 49ers make this trade is to hop over the Titans and Saints, both of whom have severe needs at wide-out. They want to secure one of the most intriguing size/speed combinations in the draft.
Pick #12, Tennessee Titans (from Cleveland): DT Danny Shelton, Washington
The Titans were hoping that Kevin White would fall into their lap, but they settle on the 2nd best defensive tackle in the draft to shore up their defensive line.
Pick #13, New Orleans Saints: WR DeVante Parker, Louisville
After losing Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills this off-season, they go get some help for Drew Brees and company.
Pick #14, Miami Dolphins: RB Todd Gurley, Georgia
The Dolphins have bigger needs at guard and linebacker, but they feel they can address those in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. They decide to go after the best running back prospect in years in Todd Gurley.
Pick #15, Minnesota Vikings: DE Bud Dupree, Kentucky
In a surprising move, the Vikings go after a proto-typical Mike Zimmer defensive end in the big and fast Alvin Dupree. He will be the replacement for Brian Robison along the defensive line sooner rather than later and resembles Carlos Dunlap for prototypical size.
Pick #16, Houston Texans: ILB Eric Kendricks, UCLA
The Texans really need a quarterback, but at #16 they aren't in position to take one in the first round. So they address their next biggest need by taking the best inside linebacker prospect in the draft, although probably a bit of a reach.
Pick #17, San Diego Chargers: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
The Chargers need help at several positions, but the value isn't right for an outside linebacker or guard at this point in the draft, so they take the 2nd best running back in the draft in Melvin Gordon who will replace the oft-injured Ryan Mathews who left in free agency.
Pick #18, Kansas City Chiefs: WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
The Chiefs need help at wide receiver and offensive line, and go after the talented, but troubled Green-Beckham. He has the skills to be a dominate receiver in the NFL.
Pick #19, Tennessee Titans: OT Ereck Flowers, Miami
The Titans get lucky that Ereck Flowers falls right into their lap and immediately snatch him up to address their holes on the offensive line.
Pick #20, Philadelphia Eagles: S Landon Collins, Alabama
The Eagles are rumored to want to move up for Marcus Mariota, but barring a crazy trade involving one of their quarterbacks, they might end up being stuck at #20. With no good value at guard, and Green-Beckham going a few picks ahead of them, they settle on the best safety prospect in the draft.
Pick #21, Cincinnati Bengals: OT D.J. Humphries, Florida
With a run on offensive lineman earlier in the draft, the Bengals reach a bit for D.J. Humphries, the best tackle prospect available. They briefly considered tight end Maxx Williams, but felt it was too early and that they could wait until later for tight end.
Pick #22, Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
In this mock draft Trae Waynes tumbles down draft boards due to questions about his hand technique and agility at the combine. But the Steelers like his coverage skills and take the consensus best cornerback in the draft, arguably a steal at pick #22.
Pick #23, Detroit Lions: DT Malcolm Brown, Texas
After losing Suh and trading for Ngata (who is 31 years old) they address their defensive line in the first round with Malcolm Brown falling in their lap.
Pick #24, TRADED to Minnesota Vikings for Adrian Peterson, straight up. Vikings select: OLB Shaq Thompson, Washington
The Cardinals get antsy when both Gurley and Gordon go off the board early, and the Vikings have motivation to get ahead of a bunch of linebacker needy teams at the end of the draft. This trade was one of the first rumored ones all the way back during free agency and it's a win/win trade scenario that keeps Peterson out of Dallas, but still gets the Vikings another 1st round pick (something they really want) and also gets the Cardinals a running back. Shaq Thompson is a bit of a safety/linebacker tweener, but could fill that weakside linebacker spot perfectly in Zimmer's scheme, and gets them that coveted 5th year option.
Pick #25, Carolina Panthers: WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
While the Panthers just drafted a wide receiver last year, they are still looking to reload on offense and get Cam Newton more weapons. With Kelvin Benjamin more of an outside receiver Jaelen Strong would slide right into the slot.
Pick #26, Baltimore Ravens: OLB/DE Shane Ray, Missouri
The Ravens have a huge hole to fill at outside linebacker and while they may have reservations about taking a player with such a major character red flag as Shane Ray, they consider it a steal this far down in the draft.
Pick #27, Dallas Cowboys: CB Marcus Peters, Washginton
The Cowboys miss out on the Peterson sweepstakes, and settle for a Peters...just missing the ‘on' at the end. Peters may be the most talented cornerback in the draft on the field and would slot in as an immediate starter on the Cowboy defense.
Pick #28, Denver Broncos: OT T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh
The Broncos need the most help at offensive line needing arguably a center, guard and an offensive tackle. T.J. Clemmings is the best available offensive lineman at this point in the draft and the Broncos snatch him up.
Pick #29, Indianapolis Colts: OT Jake Fisher, Oregon
In what may be a bit of a reach, the Colts are annoyed that they miss out on Clemming, Flowers and Peat, their top three draft targets. They take the next best offensive lineman to help out Andrew Luck and company, Jake Fisher.
Pick #30, Green Bay Packers: DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State
The Packers finally get their nose tackle in Eddie Goldman. They considered Kevin Johnson here and would have hoped that Eric Kendricks fell to them, but take a falling nose tackle to shore up their defense instead.
Pick #31, New Orleans Saints: DE/OLB Eli Harold, Virginia
The Saints could consider Maxx Williams here since they traded away arguably the best tight end in the NFL, Jimmy Graham. If they don't go tight end here, I could see them going after an edge rusher, since they took DeVante Parker earlier. The best available edge rusher in this mock is Eli Harold.
Pick #32, New England Patriots: DT Arik Armstead, Oregon
The Patriots need a guard and a cornerback most of all, but Arik Armstead is too good of value to pass up, and they have needs on their defensive line too. They could have considered Jalen Collins or Byron Jones here, and perhaps they trade down and get one of those prospects. But with Armstead still on the board in this mock, they stay put and get excellent value.
So, this was all totally unrealistic, right? Well, assuming everything pans out this way on draft day the Vikings would continue on with the following selections. To finish out the mock draft I used the VT Consensus Board for value and tried to focus in on team needs as well as prospects they've shown interest in with pre-draft visits and meetings. Here is the rest of the Vikings draft with a recap of the Vikings first two picks:
Round 1 (#15 overall, from SF): DE Bud Dupree, Kentucky
Round 1 (#24 overall, from ARI): OLB Shaq Thompson, Washington
Round 2 (#45 overall): OG A.J. Cann, South Carolina
Round 3 (#76 overall): RB David Johnson, UNI
Round 3 (#79 overall, from SF): S Damarious Randall, Arizona State
Round 4 (#110 overall): DT Marcus Hardison, Arizona State
Round 5 (#137 overall): OT Tyrus Thompson, Oklahoma
Round 7 (#228 overall): ILB Alani Fua, BYU
Round 7 (#232 overall): WR Mario Alford, West Virginia
I wouldn't rule out another trade down at some point in the draft so that Spielman could amass his magic "ten" picks that he wants in every draft. But this is just one more take out of a million that are floating around. Hopefully it's a little different than the usual "Trae Waynes/DeVante Parker" mocks we've been staring at for months. Any thoughts? Nobody cares because they just want the draft to be here already, right?