2015 Offense-Only NFL Mock Draft: Does Jameis Winston Deserve the Top Spot?
One of the biggest and most-anticipated NFL weekends of the year is quickly approaching.
It’s amazing to think of all the hype and coverage around an event that doesn’t even include any actual football, isn't it?
The 2015 NFL Draft is heading to Chicago, and once again, there are no shortage of predictions, speculations, and mock drafts around the event. We won’t see this much hype over less game action until fantasy football drafts start to take over our lives in a few months.
To further play into our love for mock drafts and fantasy football, we decided to put together an offense-only NFL mock draft. While taking the defense out of the mock draft makes it even more unrealistic, it gives us a chance to look at the offensive needs of each team and what early-round draft prospects may be a fit to fill those needs.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon)
Michael Luchies: There’s no surprise with the position taken, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in desperate need of a quarterback. According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which quantifies a team’s production in comparison to expectation-level production, the Buccaneers' Passing NEP adjusted for schedule ranked 31st (-.08) last year, which was worse than every team not named the Jaguars.
Despite having one of the worst Passing NEP totals in the league, both Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson were top-20 receivers in terms of Reception NEP per target (5th and 19th, respectively). A quarterback with the ability to effectively get them the ball and handle defensive pressure could bring respectability back to the Tampa Bay offense.
Jameis Winston is widely considered as the best overall prospect at quarterback, but as mentioned in a piece earlier this offseason, Marcus Mariota is the statistically superior quarterback of the 2015 draft class. With Oregon’s potent offense, It’s easy to understand why Mariota has better numbers than Winston, but he also makes better decisions and safer throws. In a Pro Football Focus article comparing Winston and Mariota by the numbers, they provide a graph showing where both quarterbacks stack up to current pros based on their ability to make big-time throws versus risky throws. Mariota ranks significantly higher than Winston and most of the quarterbacks in the NFL.
Even if Jameis Winston is the better overall prospect -- which you can certainly make a case for -- he would not be my pick. As GM in this scenario, I’m simply not comfortable with having Jameis Winston lead my team and be the face of my franchise. I hope he proves me wrong, but there’s too much on the line with the number-one overall pick, and his off-the-field troubles could ruin any potential on-the-field results.
2. Tennessee Titans Select QB Jameis Winston (Florida St.)
Cory Rindone: Well, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The Titans are basically at the mercy of the Buccaneers, and are fine taking whichever quarterback Tampa decides to leave on the board. Some may like what they see out of incumbent Zach Mettenberger, but his Passing NEP total of -8.99 ranked 56th out of the 72 quarterbacks that attempted a pass last season, so it’s not like he’s lighting the league on fire.
Jameis Winston hasn’t exactly been a choir boy off the field, but with a franchise that lacks “star power,” he will certainly bring some excitement to LP Field. His accuracy has been praised by everyone who studied his on-field tape, and he’s considered by some to be one of the best quarterback prospects to come out of the draft in the last 10 years. He’ll be the first face of the franchise for the Titans since Vince Young, and hopefully the results on the field will be much better.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars Select OT Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
Michael Luchies: Weapons only work if you have a chance to use them.
Nobody expected Blake Bortles to come in and set the world on fire, but with a -0.18 Passing NEP per play, Bortles ranked last among all quarterbacks with over 150 passes last year. The Jaguars have already added an offensive weapon in Julius Thomas, who ranked first in Reception NEP per target among tight ends with over 50 targets (0.97), but now they need to give Bortles some time to throw to him and the other options at receiver.
At 6’5'' and 319 pounds, Brandon Scherff has the strength and agility to be effective at tackle or guard, and would be a Day 1 starter. Not only would Scherff provide additional time for Bortles in the pocket, he would be an asset to a run game similar to what Zack Martin provided the Cowboys with in 2014. A running back is also a significant need for Jacksonville, but an improved offensive line is the only way they will be able to take advantage of their offensive weapons.
4. Oakland Raiders Select WR Amari Cooper (Alabama)
Cory Rindone: The first wide receiver goes off the board to the Raiders, who are in desperate need of a top target. Derek Carr showed a lot of promise after a rough start in Oakland, and surrounding him with as many weapons as possible would be the best move the franchise could make. None of their current top five receivers finished in the top 40 in Reception NEP in 2014, with Michael Crabtree (62.53 Reception NEP, 45th out of 184 wide receivers), Andre Holmes (58.30, 49th), James Jones (52.82, 54th), Kenbrell Thompkins (22.39, 99th), and Rod Streater (8.82, 129th) adding up to an uninspiring bunch.
Cooper would really change that, as he’s been lauded as one of the best route runners to enter the draft in years. The Biletnikoff Award winner led the nation in receptions (124) and finished second in yards (1,727) and touchdown receptions (16) in 2014. He’s seen by most draftniks as a can’t-miss prospect with a very high floor, which makes him a perfect fit as a building block for the Raiders offense that could really use some firepower.
5. Washington Redskins Select OT Andrus Peat (Stanford)
Michael Luchies: The Washington Redskins are in a dangerous position if looking to improve their offense with the number-five overall pick in the draft. Although at least one supremely talented wide receiver will likely be available at this spot, the Redskins aren’t likely to select one with both Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon on the roster.
The 2014 Washington Redskins were tied for 26th in Adjusted Passing NEP last season, and while they need better play at quarterback, it’s unlikely that either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota is still on the board. Tackle Andrus Peat is an excellent choice considering what’s on the board in this position and his ability to plug into the hole at right tackle on the Redskins offensive line.
6. New York Jets Select WR Kevin White (West Virginia)
Cory Rindone: The Jets are in an interesting situation at this point in the draft. Even though it’s their number-one need, there are no quarterbacks worthy of being taken this high, and their decent backfield rotation of Chris Ivory, Stevan Ridley, and Bilal Powell makes taking a running back seem a bit superfluous. With Brandon Scherff off the board to Jacksonville, the Jets will gladly add another weapon to the passing game and take the other top-flight wide receiver in Kevin White, giving whoever ends up under center in New York the best chance to succeed.
While Brandon Marshall fits the need of a number-one target for the time being, at 31 years old, his best days may be behind him. Eric Decker is best utilized as a number-two option, and Jeremy Kerley operates solely out of the slot, so bringing in White as an additional playmaker who doesn’t have to be “the guy” right away makes a lot of sense. A junior college transfer, he really burst onto the scene in 2014 with 109 receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. While some may consider him a one-year-wonder, he has steadily risen on draft boards since the season ended and intense film study began, and is now considered a 1B to Cooper’s 1A.
7. Chicago Bears Select WR DeVante Parker (Louisville)
Michael Luchies: The Chicago Bears are in a similar to position to the Washington Redskins. They have many needs, but unless they trade up or down, their pick will depend on the best player available instead of their biggest overall need. Unlike the Redskins, the Bears do have a significant need at wide receiver. Outside of Alshon Jeffery, the Bears lack depth at receiver. Third-year receiver Marquess Wilson shows promise, but has a total of 19 receptions over the past two seasons and hasn’t yet lived up to the hype.
DeVante Parker gives Jay Cutler -- or whoever else will be playing quarterback for the Chicago Bears -- a red zone threat and another big target to throw to, similar to the departed Brandon Marshall. Solidifying the offensive line is another potential move here with the seventh pick, but DeVante Parker comes from a strong pedigree (father Anthony Shelman played running back for Louisville), and showed he could return strong after an injury nearly derailed his career. Parker had 33 touchdowns in his Louisville career and will have many more in the NFL.
8. Atlanta Falcons Select RB Todd Gurley (Georgia)
Cory Rindone: A running back in the first round? And in the top 10, no less?!
While under normal circumstances, the Falcons would almost certainly address their glaring need for a pass-rusher, but an offensive-only draft allows them to tackle another huge need and grab arguably the most complete running back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson. Out of the 151 running backs to receive at least one carry in 2014, Falcons rushers Steven Jackson (-4.25) and Devonta Freeman (-18.80) finished 95th and 146th, respectively, in Rushing NEP. Bringing in a bell-cow back would really take some of the load off of Matt Ryan’s shoulders, and should help the passing offense to get even better.
It was only three years ago that Trent Richardson (yes, this Trent Richardson) went number-three overall to the Browns, so Gurley going this high isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility. At 6’1” and 222 pounds, the Marshawn Lynch comparisons are warranted. A unique blend of speed and power, he has never averaged fewer than 6.0 yards per carry in any of his three seasons at Georgia, and has scored 44 total touchdowns. A torn ACL cut his junior season short in November, but he is on track to be ready for Week 1 and should be the frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year right out of the gate.
9. New York Giants Select RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin)
Michael Luchies: Taking a running back in the first round seems like a luxury the Giants can’t afford, but it’s not only a good decision here with the ninth pick (in an offense-only draft), it’s a need.
Andre Williams was awful in his rookie year, with a per rush NEP of -0.08, which was 33rd among all running backs with over 100 carries in 2014. Although Rashad Jennings was 13th on the same list with a 0.00 per rush NEP, he has struggled with injuries to his knee, ankle, and has missed games in multiple seasons due to concussions.
Shane Vereen is a fantastic offseason signing and will help take attention away from star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but he is better suited as a receiving back and shouldn’t be relied on as the workhorse back, which Melvin Gordon could be.
Keep in mind that, if Scherff or Peat (both already selected in this mock draft) were still on the board, they would be the pick here. With Gordon in the backfield, the Giants offense goes from dangerous to deadly.
10. St. Louis Rams Select T Ereck Flowers (Miami)
Cory Rindone: The Rams are in a great spot. With one of the most talented young rosters in the NFL -- thanks in large part to the haul from the Robert Griffin III trade (or, as I call it, the gift that keeps on giving) -- St. Louis is able to pick the best player available while aiming to address a few key areas. One of those areas is along the offensive line, where holes at center and right tackle loom large. Having already drafted their blindside protector of the present and future last year in Greg Robinson, the other tackle spot is addressed this time around with the selection of Miami behemoth Ereck Flowers. Their O-line play was decent at best in 2014, but could definitely stand to improve, having allowed the 8th most sacks (47) and finishing 15th in Adjusted Rushing NEP per play and 24th in Adjusted Passing NEP per play.
With only Brandon Washington and Garrett Reynolds ahead of him on the depth chart, the 6’6” 330 pound tackle should slide right in as a starter from Day 1. He’s better as a run blocker at this point in his career, and definitely needs work as a pass blocker, but not having the pressure of being the left tackle and lynchpin of the offensive line early in his career should ease the pressure off of his massive shoulders and allow him to progress into a very solid right tackle.
11. Minnesota Vikings Select WR Breshad Perriman (UCF)
Michael Luchies: In my NFC North Draft Needs preview, I received criticism for stating that Minnesota’s biggest need is a playmaking wide receiver. “How can you say wide receiver is the Vikings biggest need? Do your research! You don't even mention Mike Wallace, plus we still have high hopes for Patterson.”
The Vikings were one of only six teams in the NFL to average a negative Passing NEP per drop back when adjusted for schedule. And what about Mike Wallace and Cordarrelle Patterson? Out of 99 NFL wide receivers who received over 40 targets in 2014, Mike Wallace was tied for 45th in per-target NEP (0.69), and Patterson was a pathetic 92nd (0.44).
The Vikings desperately need a home run target for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and speedster Breshad Perriman is just that. Wallace and others can be counted on as short-range weapons, while Perriman can come in and immediately be a deep threat.
12. Cleveland Browns Select WR Dorial Green-Beckham (Oklahoma)
Cory Rindone: After passing up on Sammy Watkins last year, the Browns decided to go the entire draft without addressing their need at wide receiver. That can’t happen this year, as Dwayne Bowe (68.13 Reception NEP, 38th among wide receivers), Andrew Hawkins (65.05, 42nd), and Brian Hartline (44.95, 64th) just aren’t going to cut it. With superstar Josh Gordon facing yet another season-long suspension, an impact playmaker needs to be brought in, and Green-Beckham is one of the best on-field talents in the entire draft, regardless of position.
If not for the off-the-field concerns, DGB would be right up there with Amari Cooper and Kevin White in consideration to be the top wide receiver selected, as 6’5” 240 pound pass-catchers with sub-4.50 wheels don’t just grow on trees. His combine numbers were exceptional for a man of his stature, and he did score 17 touchdowns in his two seasons with Missouri. However, the hesitation is warranted, as he was dismissed from the program after a third off-the-field incident and had to transfer to Oklahoma, where he ended up not playing a game before entering the draft. Cleveland definitely doesn’t want another Gordon situation on their hands, but the talent is too great to pass up at this point in the offense-only draft.
13. New Orleans Saints Select OT La’el Collins (LSU)
Michael Luchies: With what’s on the board and their wide range of needs, La’el Collins makes the most sense here and can help solidify an offensive line that struggled with pass blocking. Adding Max Unger to a line with Zach Strief was already a great move, although they had to give up tight end superstar Jimmy Graham. Adding Collins will provide immediate depth and upgrade a mediocre line.
14. Miami Dolphins Select WR Jaelen Strong (Arizona State)
Cory Rindone: Even after adding Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings to the already-reliable Jarvis Landry this offseason, the Dolphins would still like to add another young weapon to their receiving unit to maximize Ryan Tannehill's potential.
Strong brings something a little different to the table, as his height (all of those three are six feet or shorter) and vertical jump allow him to win contested balls, something he should continue to do as a red-zone target in the NFL. Adding this new dimension to an already solid group gives Miami a really nice stable of options for Tannehill in the passing game, who should continue to improve after finishing 15th in Passing NEP (46.72) out of the 23 quarterbacks with at least 450 drop backs last year.
15. San Francisco 49ers Select WR Nelson Agholor (USC)
Michael Luchies: The USC standout stays in California and brings some talent to a depleted and aging group of receivers. The 49ers' Passing NEP adjusted for schedule in 2014 was 22nd in the league (0.02). Losing Michael Crabtree for Torrey Smith is a trade I’d make any day, but 34-year-old Anquan Boldin’s best days are behind him, and Agholor could come in to start at the slot and then move opposite of Torrey Smith when ready.
16. Houston Texans Select WR Phillip Dorsett (Miami)
Cory Rindone: As I've now written a couple of times, the Houston Texans have one obvious need above all the rest, and it's at the quarterback position. However, after Mariota and Winston, there are no franchise talents in this draft, so why not give whoever does start at quarterback (Brian Hoyer? Ryan Mallett? Tom Savage? David Carr? OK, that last one was a joke.) as many weapons as possible.
DeAndre Hopkins looks the part of a future stud, and his 96.06 Reception NEP ranked 17th among wide receivers in the NFL last season. But without Andre Johnson, the rest of the group that includes Nate Washington (57.12 Reception NEP, 50th in the NFL among wide receivers), Cecil Shorts (33.32 Reception NEP, 84th), and Damaris Johnson (20.39 Reception NEP, 105th) is just average.
Enter Philip Dorsett, a diminutive target at 5’9”, but one with arguably the best wheels of anyone in the draft. His 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine ranked third overall, and second among wide receivers behind UAB’s J.J. Nelson. Instead of sitting on those outstanding numbers, he bested them at Miami’s Pro Day, running a 4.29 and 4.27. But unlike several other combine warriors, Dorsett’s speed translates onto the field, as a whopping half of his 36 receptions this past season went for 25-plus yards, with 10 of them going for touchdowns. That elite speed and explosiveness is definitely missing in the Texans offense, and he’ll be a welcome addition for whoever ends up under center.
17. San Diego Chargers Select OT D.J. Humphries (Florida)
Michael Luchies: With Gurley and Gordon off of the board in our offensive-only draft, addressing the offensive line provides the best value for a need, although they will need a running back later in the draft. Humphries is a mauler and could be the Chargers left tackle for the next decade.
18. Kansas City Chiefs Select WR Sammie Coates (Auburn)
Cory Rindone: By now you’ve heard the stat over and over again: the Chiefs finished 2014 without a single touchdown catch by a wide receiver. They were only the third team in NFL history to “accomplish” this feat, and the first since the 1964 New York Giants, who did it during an era of rushing offenses, where the best passing attack that season averaged just over 200 yards per game.
Swapping Dwayne Bowe (68.13 Reception NEP, 38th among wide receivers) for Jeremy Maclin (111.21, 9th) is a big upgrade, but not the only one that’s needed. Even though noodle-armed Alex Smith doesn’t stretch the field vertically very often, if he had some playmakers at wide receiver, it could really expand the offense.
Coates is a bit of a boom-or-bust prospect, but with Maclin already on board, he doesn’t need to come in and be “the guy” right away. At 6’1” 212 pounds with 4.43 speed, he certainly looks the part, having finished his college career with a 20.9 yards per reception average. However, he’ll need to improve his hands if he wants to be successful at the next level, as he doesn’t have an extended catch radius and his drop rate of 19.1% was the worst in the nation last year.
19. Cleveland Browns Select TE Maxx Williams (Minnesota)
Michael Luchies: After Cory drafted DGB with Cleveland’s 12th pick to replace suspended wide receiver Josh Gordon, it paved the way to bring in Maxx Williams, who is a perfect compliment to help balance their offense and replace tight end Jordan Cameron.
Dorial Green-Beckham is a red zone threat and deep threat. The addition of Maxx Williams brings a large and reliable target to the offense that can provide steady hands and consistency. The combination of the two makes it difficult to blame future offensive struggles on receivers.
20. Philadelphia Eagles Select WR Devin Smith (Ohio State)
Cory Rindone: The Eagles lost a big part of their offense when they released Desean Jackson before last season, and have failed to adequately replace him with another deep threat up to this point. Jordan Matthews (78.9 Reception NEP, 30th among wide receivers) was a very nice surprise as a rookie, but he plays mainly out of the slot. Riley Cooper was the worst starting wideout in the NFL last year, as he had the lowest Reception NEP (45.13) of any pass-catcher who played at least 80 percent of his team’s offensive snaps.
Adding a speedster like Devin Smith would really add another dimension to Philadelphia’s offense, something that they’ve missed since the player he’s most compared to (Jackson) left for Washington. While still very good, his 4.42 40 time left a bit to be desired, but his game-breaking speed can easily be seen on film by throwing in any Ohio State tape. He averaged 28.2 yards per catch this past season, and 54.5% of his receptions went for 25-plus yards, making him arguably the best lid-lifter in the draft.
21. Cincinnati Bengals Select OT TJ Clemmings (Pittsburgh)
Michael Luchies: Not even a stress fracture can slow tackle TJ Clemmings. The foot injury, reported just a week before the NFL draft, may hurt his draft position slightly, but he remains one of the most talented and physical lineman in the draft.
With the offensive weapons that the Cincinnati Bengals have, there’s no reason they should be in the middle of the pack in terms of production. Putting Clemmings on the Bengals’ line will help protect quarterback Andy Dalton and give running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard enough space to keep the chains moving. Clemings is a great fit for Cincinnati.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers Select WR/TE Devin Funchess (Michigan)
Cory Rindone: While the Steelers will almost certainly be taking players on the defensive side of the ball for the majority of their real draft, in an offense-only draft, they'll look to add another dimension to an already fantastic group. Heath Miller will turn 33 during the season, and while he’s still very solid (55.74 Reception NEP, 12th among tight ends), he isn’t the weapon he once was in the passing game.
Funchess is a bit of a tweener, as he’s not strong enough to be a true tight end, but may not be fast and fluid enough to be a full-time wide receiver. He did use his Pro Day to improve greatly on his NFL Combine 40 time of 4.70, running a 4.47 and 4.53 to try to dispel the speed concerns I listed above. While he may not lack a true position, he definitely has the skills to play in the league, and could be a matchup nightmare right out of the gate.
23. Detroit Lions Select RB Tevin Coleman (Indiana)
Michael Luchies: This was a no-brainer for my beloved Detroit Lions. Coleman is a home run hitter and proved he can withstand a grueling season on a bad team. Coleman gained over 2,000 yards in 2014 with an average of 7.5 YPC, which was the same as fellow Big Ten back Melvin Gordon. Gordon had a better offense and offensive line. Comparisons to Darren McFadden are scary due to his injury problems and inability to live up to lofty expectations in Oakland. The Lions will still need to beef up their offensive line in order to give Coleman room to run, but they’ve already met with the running back twice in the offseason and he would be a perfect complement to current top back Joique Bell.
24. Arizona Cardinals Select RB David Johnson (Northern Iowa)
Cory Rindone: This is one of the more clear-cut needs in the entire draft, as the Cardinals’ rumored interest in trading for Adrian Peterson shows they are really looking for a true workhorse back to complement Andre Ellington. Arizona ranked 26th in the NFL last year with an Adjusted Rushing NEP per play average of -0.05, so they will be looking to take a foundation back to play on early downs at some point this weekend.
With most of the bigger name running backs off the board, David Johnson is a little bit of a sleeper in this year’s crop. He didn’t get much national recognition at Northern Iowa, but he was All-Conference in both his junior and senior years, and became the first player in school history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, finishing his career with 64 total touchdowns. He is a big back at 6’1” 224 pounds, but moves well for his size and is a very good receiver out of the backfield, making for a perfect complement to Ellington.
25. Carolina Panthers Select OT Jake Fisher (Oregon)
Michael Luchies: Simple logic here. Cam Newton was sacked over 40 times in 2014. Taking Fisher to sure up their offensive line is the best pick here, and Fisher, a third-team All-American, is polished and can start week one.
26. Baltimore Ravens Select WR Tyler Lockett (Kansas State)
Cory Rindone: Another obvious need, the Ravens lack of talent at the wide receiver position is a bit alarming. Just this weekend, Joe Flacco was quoted as saying that the Ravens lack “that one guy who can stretch the field” since Torrey Smith fled for San Francisco earlier in the offseason. Steve Smith (84.65 Reception NEP, 22nd among wide receivers) is an ageless wonder, but the remaining group of Kamar Aiken (26.06, 95th), Marlon Brown (21.83, 101st), and Michael Campanaro (13.52, 118th) is nothing to write home about and is severely lacking in depth and experience.
Similar to the aforementioned Steve Smith, Lockett is a smaller receiver but plays like the biggest man on the field. A willing blocker and team leader, he was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist and second-team All-American in 2014 after posting 106 receptions for 1,515 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also adds special teams value as a return man to a team that lost Jacoby Jones, as he finished his college career with six return touchdowns.
27. Dallas Cowboys Select RB Jay Ajayi (Boise State)
Michael Luchies: There’s no surprise here with the position. The Cowboys need a running back to take advantage of their dominant offensive line. Jay Ajayi was a combine superstar and is similar to former Cowboys’ running back DeMarco Murray. Ajayi ranked in the top five among all running backs in the vertical jump, broad jump, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle at the combine. His performance on the field was just as impressive.
Ajayi is the first running back in FBS history to rush for over 1,800 yards and have 500 yards receiving in a single season. It’s hard to imagine any running back getting off to a bad start in Dallas. Ajayi would be a fantastic pick for the Cowboys.
28. Denver Broncos Select C/G/T Cameron Erving (Florida State)
Cory Rindone: While many of these selections (especially as we get later and later into the mock) don’t have much of a chance of happening in real life given our format, this is a marriage that seems to be very popular among draftniks. The Broncos have a big hole on their offensive line after losing Orlando Franklin to the division rival Chargers, and could use one (if not two) new lineman in the early rounds of this year’s draft to give Peyton Manning the most protection possible.
Erving to Denver is such a widespread pick because of his versatility –- at 6’5” 313 pounds, he has the build of a blindside protector and was a first team All-ACC selection in 2013 at left tackle. He then seamlessly transitioned to center late in 2014 and was again outstanding, with most scouts agreeing that should be his NFL position. With such limited experience at the pivot, he should continue to improve as his familiarity with the position increases, and could become a Pro Bowler before we know it.
29. Indianapolis Colts Select RB Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska)
Michael Luchies: Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah is a steal here and a great pickup for the Colts. Indianapolis was tied for 28th in Rushing NEP per play adjusted for schedule (-.07) a season ago, and Abdullah is a workhorse with the ability to make plays as a receiver and a kick returner. He may not have had the college career of Melvin Gordon or have the flash of Todd Gurley, but he could become the best player out of the bunch if used correctly.
30. Green Bay Packers Select TE Clive Walford (Miami)
Cory Rindone: The Packers are still searching for Jermichael Finley's replacement, and they may have found it here. Andrew Quarless (32.06 Reception NEP, 21st among tight ends) and Richard Rodgers (18.43, 40th) currently top the depth chart, but an all-around tight end to go along with Green Bay’s already-great wide receiving corps could do the unthinkable and take this offense to new heights. The rich get richer.
What makes Walford such an intriguing prospect is his blocking ability, along with a very solid receiving skill set. While most tight ends these days excel at either one or the other, this Dwayne Allen clone has the hands to make tough catches with legit run-after-catch ability, while also not being afraid to stick his nose in there and block in the run game.
31. New Orleans Saints Select WR Rashad Greene (Florida State)
Michael Luchies: This second-team All-American wide receiver is extremely talented -- Greene can play both in the slot and on the outside, but at 5’11” and 182 pounds, his size is a concern.
After selecting La’el Collins with their first pick, the Saints now focus on filling the large hole left by the departure of Kenny Stills -- Stills was first in Reception NEP per target in the entire league among receivers with over 40 targets last year. While the Saints still have aging target Marques Colston (31) and young rising star Brandin Cooks, adding another playmaker to the mix is a good idea to help balance the Saints offense and give Drew Brees a chance to regain his spot as one of the league’s best quarterbacks.
New Orleans is a perfect place for Greene to develop and he won’t be pressured to be the top receiver from the start of the season.
32. New England Patriots Select RB T.J. Yeldon (Alabama)
Cory Rindone: The “Mr. Irrelevant” of our one-round offense-only experiment goes to the Super Bowl champion Patriots, and they take a back who was far from irrelevant during his time in the SEC. While on paper it looks like New England fared pretty well in the run game, ranking sixth in the NFL in Adjusted Rushing NEP per play, a huge chunk of their Total Adjusted Rushing NEP was accumulated during Jonas Gray's Week 11 thrashing of the Colts, making it a pretty big outlier. In fact, if you take out that week, the Patriots’ Adjusted Rushing NEP per play falls from .038 to .002, bringing them all the way down to 15th in the NFL.
Of course Gray only received 20 regular season carries after that game, and he’s joined on the depth chart by LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, and James White –- an overall uninspiring group. The 6’1” 220 pounds, Yeldon isn’t a game-breaking track star or a true power back, but he offers a nice blend of both that makes him a good overall back. He scored double-digit touchdowns in all three years at Alabama, finishing his career with 39 total scores.