2015 NFL Re-Draft

It’s draft week! We are only a few days away from the 2020 NFL draft. To kick us off in the run up to this week’s main event, we will go back five years and rewrite some draft history.

They say it takes five years to properly evaluate a draft class. Going back five years brings us to a loaded draft class with some notable mistakes going early. In 2015, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota went first and second overall respectively. Tampa Bay let Winston walk after completing the first 30-touchdown, 30-interception season in NFL history. Tennessee benched Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill. The former Oregon star inked a deal with Las Vegas to back up Derek Carr. Needless to say, they probably weren’t worth the first two picks in the draft.

However, there aren’t clear replacements for them in this draft class. If you consult the list of quarterbacks drafted in 2015, you will find a list of career backups and spot starters. After Mariota went second overall, the next quarterback off the board was Garrett Grayson to the Saints at 75th overall. Sean Mannion, Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley and Trevor Siemian round out the rest of the position group in this class. Those five haven’t exactly set the world on fire.

Instead, this draft class is chock full of edge rushers and defensive linemen. There is plenty of talent, just not at the quarterback position, which makes this redraft really interesting to tackle.

Buccaneers logo1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Original pick: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Redraft pick: Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU
Rather than tab a streaky passer, Tampa grabs an underrated stud to pair with then defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Hunter far and away leads this draft class in sacks with 54.5 in his career. Frank Clark is the next closest with 43. He has grown as a pass rusher and now has 14.5 sacks in each of his past two seasons, which has translated to a pair of Pro Bowl appearances. Hunter is the real deal and would give the Buccaneers a crucial building block in their front seven.

Titans logo2. Tennessee Titans
Original pick: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Redraft pick: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
There is only one player in the 2015 draft class to reach four Pro Bowls in their first five seasons. That would be Cooper. After staring early in his career with the Raiders, he has become one of the game’s top receivers for the Cowboys. He leads the 2015 class in receiving yards and touchdowns, which is impressive when you consider it consists of Stefon Diggs and Tyler Lockett as well. While Tennessee needed a quarterback, with only Zach Mettenberger on the roster, adding a playmaker like Cooper would make life a lot easier for whoever would take over under center.

Jaguars logo3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Original pick: Dante Fowler Jr., EDGE, Florida
Redraft pick: Frank Clark, EDGE, Michigan
Fowler never lived up to his potential in Jacksonville, which led to them shipping him off to the Rams less than three years into his tenure. The Florida product posted a career-high 11.5 sacks and landed himself a deal with the Falcons, but he is ninth in this draft class for career sacks. Clark on the other hand has become a dominant force as pass rusher, culminating in winning a Super Bowl with the Chiefs this year. He burst onto the scene in his second season with 10 sacks and has posted at least nine in every season since. Clark might have ended up clashing with some of the high profile Jaguars brass, but he would also have been a much more productive pick.

One last note, the Rams acquired Fowler for third and fifth round picks. The Chiefs landed Clark for a first, future second and third-round pick swap. If nothing else, the trade value for the Jaguars would have been much higher.

Raiders logo4. Oakland Raiders
Original pick: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Redraft pick: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
With Cooper already off the board, Oakland opts for the next-best receiver available. Diggs has quite the resume himself, if not quite as polished as Cooper’s. He ranks second in receiving yards and touchdowns, trailing only the current Cowboys star. However, he has more receptions through five years than Cooper despite playing seven fewer games. Diggs can be downright explosive and would fill the roll of then second-year quarterback’s Derek Carr’s favorite target.

Washington made up logo5. Washington
Original pick: Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Redraft pick: Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa
Finally someone makes the same pick again. If after five years, a player is important enough to franchise tag with the intention of keeping him around, he is usually worth a top-five pick. Washington has struggled to find consistency in its secondary and run game, but Scherff has been a constant for them. He became a day-one starter and has three Pro Bowl appearances to show for his efforts. He is one of the best interior linemen in the league today.

Jets logo6. New York Jets
Original pick: Leonard Williams, DL, USC
Redraft pick: Preston Smith, EDGE, Mississippi State
The Jets hoped Williams would develop into a premier pass rusher. After trading him to the Giants, I think it is fair to say he felt short of his lofty expectations. Snagging Preston Smith over draftmate and 2019 Pro Bowler Za’Darius Smith might seem a bit controversial, but Preston actually has more career sacks (36.5 to 32) and a bit more consistency to lean on. The former Mississippi State edge rusher would represent the option New York has had to get after opposing quarterbacks since Sean Ellis left. Maybe he could have helped chase Tom Brady from the division a few years earlier.

Bears logo7. Chicago Bears
Original pick: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Redraft pick: Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State
Bears fans, I will spare you by not even bothering to list White’s career stats here. Instead, imagine the prospect of Jay Cutler and maybe eventually someone other than Mitch Trubisky throwing passes to Lockett instead. The current Seahawks receiver turned in his best season as a pro in 2019, eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving. He has become Russell Wilson’s security blanket and would a much more reliable option for a regularly anemic Bears passing game.

Falcons logo8. Atlanta Falcons
Original pick: Vic Beasley, EDGE, Clemson
Redraft pick: Za’Darius Smith, EDGE, Kentucky
Believe it or not, Beasley actually has more career sacks than Smith. The reason the Falcons pass on him though is that 41.3 percent of his career sacks came in one season. Beasley’s 2016 campaign is a frustrating anomaly. Atlanta thought they had found a star pass rusher, only for Beasley to never top eight sacks over his next three seasons. Smith on the other hand is definitely on the way up in his NFL career. In his first season as a full-time starter, he posted 13.5 sacks and recorded a staggering 37 quarterback hits. Perhaps it was just a one-season spike, but his pass rush win rate of 23% (7th in 2019) makes these numbers feel very sustainable.

Giants Logo9. New York Giants
Original pick: Ereck Flowers, OL, Miami
Redraft pick: Trent Brown, OL, Oregon State
Flowers turned out to be a bust in New York, but has turned himself into a serviceable interior lineman elsewhere. Meanwhile, Brown goes from seventh-round flier to top-10 pick in this redraft. He has had some issues with injuries, but he has turned into a top-end tackle. His 2018 season with New England flashed his immense potential. He is the only offensive tackle from this class to reach a Pro Bowl as well (Brandon Scherff and Andrus Peat have made it as guards). If he could stay healthy, he would solve a lot of problems that plagued the Giants in Eli Manning’s final five seasons.

Rams logo10. St. Louis Rams
Original pick: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Redraft pick: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
I thought long and hard about this pick. Rams fans are probably not happy to see Gurley taken again. However, I will maintain that the mistake the then-St. Louis front office made was not drafting Gurley, but handing him a monster contract. There are only two players from the 2015 class to be named first-team All-Pro twice. Gurley is one of them. The other is Marcus Peters (reminder, the Rams once had both of them). Obviously Jeff Fisher’s usage of Gurley did not help things. In a perfect world, St. Louis would monitor his touches and play the long game. It would be hard to pass on him. After all, he has 22 more touchdowns than any other non-quarterback in this draft.

Vikings logo11. Minnesota Vikings
Original pick: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Redraft pick: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
In terms of talent, no corner in this draft class matches Peters. Waynes never really lived up to the expectations, but still cashed in on a solid second contract with the Bengals. Peters no doubt has a vibrant personality that can lead to him drawing some frustrating penalties, but when he is locked in, he is a shutdown corner. He showed that after being traded to Baltimore this season. He has 13 more interceptions than anyone else in this draft class and has a knack for making big plays. If the Vikings could get him to dial in and put the nonsense aside, they would have an all-world corner.

Browns logo12. Cleveland Browns
Original pick: Danny Shelton, DL, Washington
Redraft pick: Grady Jarrett, DL, Clemson
Shelton has turned into a decent player bouncing around the NFL, but never really lived up to the billing. Instead, Cleveland could grab a top-end interior rusher in Jarrett. He holds the edge over Arik Armstead for most sacks by an interior lineman in the 2015 class. He posted the second-best pass rush win rate by a defensive tackle in 2019 as well, trailing only Aaron Donald. Jarrett has also been available, missing just three games in five years. He has been a fixture in the middle of the Falcons defense for the past three years now and was handsomely rewarded with a four-year, $68 million extension in the 2019 offseason. He would be well worth the investment for the Browns.

Saints logo13. New Orleans Saints
Original pick: Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
Redraft pick: Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford
While an Dante Fowler was tempting here, Peat felt like a solid choice for the Saints five years later. He had a rocky 2019 season, missing six games due to injuries. However, New Orleans still believes in him. They locked him to a five-year deal that makes him sixth-highest paid guard in the league, on average. When he is healthy, Peat has been one of the better interior offensive linemen in football, but he has never started all 16 games in a season. The Saints are clearly counting on him to stay healthy over the next few years, but there is a bit of doubt there given his track record.

Dolphins logo14. Miami Dolphins
Original pick: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Redraft pick: Dante Fowler Jr., EDGE, Florida
Dolphins fans might be interested in seeing Parker go here again after watching him grown up in his fifth NFL season. However, his injury history and otherwise lack of production make it hard for me to get behind that. While Fowler certainly carries some injury concerns of his own, his talent for disruption makes it worth keeping him in the state. Miami has missed on a number of pass rushers around this time, notably Ndamukong Suh and Charles Harris. Fowler’s potential might have taken a few years to fully appear, but his 11.5 sack showing in 2019 seems like a sign of things to come.

49ers Logo15. San Francisco 49ers
Original pick: Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon
Redraft pick: Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon
The 49ers traded down and still landed Armstead on draft night in 2015. While it might have taken a few years to for him to settle in, Armstead flashed his potential with a 10-sack season in 2019. He has the second most sacks of any interior lineman in this class and has the versatility to line up all over the defensive line. While injuries are still likely a concern to resurface. He has started every game over the past two seasons. Expect Armstead to keep climbing as well.

Texans logo16. Houston Texans
Original pick: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
Redraft pick: Byron Jones, CB, UConn
Johnson has started just nine games over the past four seasons. Meanwhile, Byron Jones just cashed in to join the Dolphins on a massive deal. I think it’s fair to say the Texans probably wish they had taken Jones, who went 11 selections later to their in-state rival. Jones does not have gaudy numbers, read as only two career interceptions, but he does well in coverage and is a sure tackler. He would represent a reliable upgrade in a Houston secondary that has struggled to get it right in recent years.

Chargers logo17. San Diego Chargers
Original pick: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Redraft pick: Mitch Morse, OL, Missouri
Gordon’s time with the Chargers did not end amicably with the former Wisconsin running back signing with the division rival Broncos. Gordon was not consistent enough at a position the league is continually devaluing. Adding Morse would give them somebody to stabilize what has been a mess of an offensive line for years now. For the record, the Chargers have had a different starting center each of the past five seasons. Morse had some injuries problems, but started all 16 games for Buffalo this season. He is a solid run blocker and holds up well enough in pass protection.

Chiefs Logo18. Kansas City Chiefs
Original pick: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Redraft pick: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA
Kansas City never really found anyone to replace Derrick Johnson when he retired. They also started Josh Mauga alongside him in 2015. Kendricks has turned into one of the best off-ball linebackers in the NFL. He excels in coverage and has the speed to go sideline to sideline. He allowed just 53.3 percent of passes to be completed when he was the primary defender in 2019, which is better than a lot of corners. He would be the perfect replacement for Johnson when he hung up his cleats and could have enjoy a few seasons learning from him before that day came.

Browns logo19. Cleveland Browns via Buffalo Bills
Original pick: Cameron Erving, OL, Florida State
Redraft pick: David Andrews, OL, Georgia
The Browns had the right idea in locking down the interior of their line. Unfortunately, Erving never turned into the starting center they hoped for. Andrews on the other hand signed as an undrafted free agent and took over the starting job that season. He missed all of 2019 due to a blood clot in his lung, but he is expected to make a full recovery. Andrews dominated in the 2018 playoffs en route to another Patriots Super Bowl. He would have been a massive upgrade for Cleveland and provided a lot of stability at the position.

Eagles Logo20. Philadelphia Eagles
Original pick: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
Redraft pick: Adrian Amos, S, Penn State
There is no question the Eagles have been eager to find talent at wide receiver for several years now. Agholor did not pan out for this team though and ended up being a miss for the team. In this version of the 2015 draft, Philly selects a local kid ready to start from the moment he reached training camp. Amos had four really good seasons in Chicago, who inexplicably let him walk over to the division-rival Packers. The Eagles started converted corner Walter Thurmond at safety in 2015. That was his last season in the NFL.

Bengals Logo21. Cincinnati Bengals
Original pick: Cedric Ogbuehi, OL, Texas A&M
Redraft pick: Ali Marpet, OL, Hobart
On the whole, this turned out to be a pretty disappointing offensive tackle class. Ogbeuhi never caught on and would eventually lose his starting job in 2018. His lack of development led to him joining the Jaguars as a free agent that offseason. Meanwhile, Marpet has turned into a versatile starting-caliber lineman. He has started at both guard positions and center in his career. He is far from an elite player, but he is a solid building block on the offensive line.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logo22. Pittsburgh Steelers
Original pick: Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky
Redraft pick: Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky
After being consistently average for four years with the Steelers, Dupree finally broke out in 2019. He had 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. While it may have taken a while for Dupree to finally match his potential, he is still worth the pick here because of his consistent contribution. He produced between four and six sacks each of his first four seasons. That’s not setting the world on fire, but it is still decent production. If Dupree can produce another season like the one he just had, Pittsburgh will have no problem handing him an extension to stick around.

Lions Logo23. Detroit Lions
Original pick: Laken Tomlinson, OL, Duke
Redraft pick: David Johnson, RB, Northern Arizona
Back in 2015, the Lions traded down and tabbed Tomlinson in an effort to beef up their offensive line. The former Duke lineman last just two years in Detroit, but has bounced back with the 49ers. Rather than trade down, the Lions could land their most promising running back since Barry Sanders by taking Johnson. He has struggled quite a bit with injuries and had a rough 2019 season. Prior to that, he was one of the best players in the league. His ability as a receiver out of the backfield would have been huge for Matthew Stafford. On a team with Calvin Johnson, there is a good chance David Johnson would have had plenty of running room as well.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)24. Arizona Cardinals
Original pick: D.J. Humphries, OL, Florida
Redraft pick: Vic Beasley, EDGE, Clemson
Even though the Cardinals locked up Humphries to a big contract, I’m not sure he was worth a first round pick. He draws a ton of penalties and has struggled with injuries. Instead, the Cardinals pickup the talented, but inconsistent Beasley. Arizona definitely needed another pass rusher to add to the mix. 35-year old Dwight Freeney led the team in sacks that year with eight. Beasley has shown an ability to be productive in spurts. He might have been able to learn a thing or two from a veteran like Freeney as well before taking on a bigger role.

Panthers logo25. Carolina Panthers
Original pick: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Redraft pick: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
Thompson didn’t really have a position coming out of college. He had played some running back at Washington and was viewed as being a hybrid linebacker/safety type because of his size. He developed into a solid off-ball linebacker who has enough speed to cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. I strongly debated going with Benardrick McKinney here, who fits the more prototypical middle linebacker role. However, I think Thompson was a great pairing with Luke Keuchley and the Panthers would be happy to bring him again if given a second chance.

Ravens logo26. Baltimore Ravens
Original pick: Breshaud Perriman, WR, UCF
Redraft pick: Bernardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
Perriman just signed with his third NFL team in his five-year career. He flashed a bit of the potential the Ravens saw in him when they drafted him in 2015, but there is no way the front office would choose him again. Instead, they solidify their linebacking core by grabbing a thumping tackler in McKinney. Only Eric Kendricks has more solo tackles by linebackers in this class. McKinney has been a stalwart for the Texans over the past five seasons and would have slotted in really nicely next to C.J. Mosley. He would have taken over Daryl Smith’s job when Smith left the team after the 2015 season.

Cowboys logo27. Dallas Cowboys
Original pick: Byron Jones, CB, UConn
Redraft pick: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
With Jones off the board way before this, Dallas opts to bolster its secondary in a different form. Keep in mind that Jones actually spent his first two seasons at safety, so Collins could fill the same position. Now Collins is more of a box safety. Somebody who plays around the line of scrimmage and attacks downhill. He actually leads this draft class by a wide margin with 407 tackles in his career. Collins can hold up well enough in coverage for the Cowboys to get the necessary value out of this pick.

Denver_Broncos28. Denver Broncos
Original pick: Shane Ray, EDGE, Missouri
Redraft pick: Shaq Mason, G, Georgia Tech
Back in 2015, Denver traded up to grab in hopes that he could be DeMarcus Ware’s successor. That never happened. The Broncos went on to win the Super Bowl that year in Peyton Manning’s final season largely thanks to that defense regardless. One of the biggest issues exposed for Denver that season was it’s porous offensive line. Mason ended up sliding to the fifth round, but became an immediate starter for the Patriots. He is a solid guard with the size and power to play the position. He has lapses at times in protection, but he would be a massive upgrade for a Broncos line that really struggled that season and beyond.

Colts logo29. Indianapolis Colts
Original pick: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami

Redraft pick: Darren Waller, TE, Georgia Tech
Back to back Yellow Jackets coming off the board here. It is important to note that Waller was drafted as a receiver actually and it took him a few years to find his way into his role. He also struggled with substance abuse and missed 20 games due to suspension, including the entire 2017 season. He finally broke out in 2019 with the Raiders. While that doesn’t usually scream first round pick, the Colts essentially got the same amount of production out of Dorsett. They ended up trading him to the Patriots in exchange for Jacoby Brissett. Indy has struggled to find reliable pass catchers in recent years and seem to need a tight end more than ever now. Based on his eventual breakout, I could see the Colts taking a flier on him.

Packers logo30. Green Bay Packers
Original pick: Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State
Redraft pick: Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas
Randall had a fairly productive career with the Packers, but they were more than happy to trade him to Cleveland in exchange for a backup quarterback. Instead, Green Bay can grab a quick linebacker who would’ve been a nice depth option and eventual starter. Hicks has missed a lot of NFL games due to injury, but over the past two seasons he has stayed fairly healthy and been one of the best tacklers in football. He nearly led the league in tackles in 2019. For a Packers team that has been looking for some linebacking help for years, Hicks would be worth developing.

Saints logo31. New Orleans Saints
Original pick: Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
Redraft pick: Kwon Alexander, LB, LSU
Swapping out an under-performing linebacker in Anthony for an oft-injured one in Alexander is a bit questionable, but when healthy, Alexander is one of the best linebackers in the league. He has only played in 54 of a possible 80 games in his NFL career, but he trails Bernardrick McKinney by only two career tackles. McKinney has played in 22 more NFL contests. Alexander’s upside and playmaking ability are worth investing in here, even if he is not always available.

Patriots Logo32. New England Patriots
Original pick: Malcolm Brown, DL, Texas
Redraft pick: Leonard Williams, DL, USC
If there is anyone in football who could have found a way to maximize Williams’ skillset and capitalize on his versatility, it would definitely be Bill Belichick. Williams actually generates a lot of pressure, even if those plays don’t always result in sacks. He leads this whole class of talented rushes with 101 career quarterback hits. In a Patriots defense that is always looking for reliable, tough players along the line, Williams would fit right in and likely excel.

No love for Lovie

I was sitting playing NBA 2K last night, when my phone buzzed. It was a notification from ESPN breaking the news about now former Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith.

I immediately opened my phone and texted Matt Lupinno, whom many of you know from his contributions to this site. Matt has been a Bucs fan for as long as I have known him. He was dumbfounded when he heard about Smith being fired.

Lovie Smith
Smith posted an 81-63 record while he was the head man in Chicago.

I have to admit that I am in the same boat. Lovie Smith is one of the better coaches I’ve seen in the NFL over the last 10 years. He has a career record above .500, he lead Chicago to a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman under center and posted five winning seasons in his nine year tenure in the Windy City.

I was confused after his firing from Chicago. The Bears went 10-6 that season and narrowly missed the playoffs. I’m even more perplexed by his firing from Tampa Bay. Smith took over a struggling Tampa team two years ago and laid the ground work for Tampa to be a playoff contender next season. His record, 8-24, isn’t very impressive, but it there were definitely signs of improvement this season.

Doug_Martin
A big part of Tampa’s rise to fifth was Doug Martin, who finished second in the NFL in rushing.

The Bucs were the NFL’s worst team in 2014, winning just two games. The offense was pitiful, ranking 29th in scoring offense and 30th in yards per game. The defense wasn’t much better, ranking 25th in both scoring and yards allowed. 2015 saw Tampa take major strides as the team’s offensive scoring jumped to 20th, the offensive yards rank moved up to fifth and the defensive yards rank pushed to seventh.

The only reason I can think of for Lovie being fired was because the scoring defense actually got worse. The Bucs were 26th in the league in points allowed per game this season. Smith is supposed to be a defensive guru, so that type of stat really reflects poorly on him.

Yet, it still shouldn’t have been enough for the Tampa front office to pull the plug. The Bucs are clearly trending in the right direction. This was a rebuilding project down in western Florida.

The Buccaneers had a rookie quarterback, left tackle and right guard starting this year. They had a second year starting wide receiver, the explosive Mike Evans, and sophomore tight end as well. Their number three receiver was an undrafted rookie. That group produced the fifth most yards in the NFL this season. That is tremendous for such a young group with so much room to grow.

On defense, the Bucs had four guys who started at least 11 games for them, all 25 years old or younger. By the end of the season, either due to injuries or poor play from veterans, Tampa was starting seven players 25 or under. The scoring defense was woeful but finishing seventh in yards allowed has to count for something.

With so much youth and potential, it does not seem to make sense to fire the man at the forefront of this rebuilding project. The fact that this team relies so heavily on it’s youth too shows how well Smith has done at building the team through the draft. The Bucs brought in Lovie to rebuild their team. He laid the foundation to build on and then the cut him loose, just before the team had a chance to really shine.

Jameis_Winson and Mike_Evans
Winston (left) and Mike Evans (right) were the Bucs first round picks under Lovie Smith.

If anything, I think this move actually hurts Tampa Bay. You have a rookie quarterback in place who is definitely your future at the position in Jameis Winston. You let him play for a year in an offensive system, then get rid of his head coach and force him to restart in a different system. That seems counter productive to Winston’s growth.

The real question now is who will replace Smith. There are not many ways in which Tampa can really find an upgrade. The only hire I think that would make sense is Adam Gase. He is a young coach with a lot of potential himself. Many have pegged him as the premier head coaching candidate for the last three seasons. He would present the Bucs with a coach that would grow with the team. Otherwise, I fail to see who the front office could target that would have more upside than Smith.

As for Lovie, I hope he isn’t out of a job for long. I could see him taking over the Tennessee gig, getting to work with the other quarterback selected at the top of the 2015 NFL draft. Other potential fits for Smith could be New York, where the Giants need a defensive make over, or Cleveland, who is in desperate need of a proven coach to help turn around their situation.

Well I definitely gave Lovie some love in this post. Hopefully, someone else will give him some soon.

 

Trades surrounding the second pick

Jameis Winston There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the Tennessee Titans number two overall selection in tomorrow’s draft. Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston will be available at that point and there are several teams in need of a franchise quarterback. Neither is a guaranteed solution, but both offer the potential for a bright future. Among teams reportedly in the mix to trade for the Titans’ pick are San Diego, New York Jets, Philadelphia and Cleveland. The Titans themselves could even draft one of the two signal callers. Time to look at who should be serious about making the swap and who should back off.Marcus_Mariota

For Tennessee, trading out is probably the best option. They are more than a quarterback away from being a playoff team. The problem is that they should not trade with San Diego. Landing Philip Rivers would put them in a win now situation. Tennessee has holes all over the place and Rivers would put them in a weird flux position. If Philadelphia or Cleveland (who reported has made an offer) decides to make an offer with a bunch of draft picks in return, that would be the best option. The Eagles could even send Sam Bradford to Tennessee, which would give them a veteran who still has a lot of time left if he is healthy.

From San Diego’s standpoint, adding Mariota or Winston at number two would be a great addition, especially if Rivers is truly set on leaving. It would be a much cheaper option for the Chargers and give them a chance to rebuild around him as well. The only thing that does seem a little bit off is that the Chargers would have to give up their own number one and Rivers to move up. I think San Diego could back off of the deal if only because they are undervaluing Rivers and believe they might find a better offer elsewhere.

Speaking of teams who could make a better offer, Cleveland is in need of a franchise quarterback. Johnny Manziel could still develop into something, which makes me think that bringing in either Mariota or Winston would not be a smart idea. Josh McCown is there already but if the Chargers would be willing to make a swap for both of Cleveland’s first round picks, a third rounder and maybe McCown, Cleveland should take it. The Chargers then have a chance to draft someone like Hundley, or Grayson later in the draft and use those now three first round selections to solidify both the offensive and defensive lines. I don’t think this will necessarily happen but it could be an interesting possibility.

Mariota would obviously be the grand prize for Chip Kelly. The question is what is too much to give up. If the Eagles can trade Bradford and a pair of first round picks (one in next year’s draft), I think Tennessee might be willing to listen. That is a lot for Philadelphia to give up though. It would give Kelly the quarterback he desperately desires but Philly has needs elsewhere. Without a wide receiver, a starting safety or a starting guard, the Eagles really need all of the help they can get. I think Philly would be wise to hold off on making a blockbuster deal quite yet. If Mariota begins to slide, then all bets are off.

The question that the Jets have to ask themselves is do they already have their quarterback of the future in house. If that answer is yes, (which it probably isn’t) then there is no reason to move up. However, if they really believe Mariota or Winston could be a once in a generation player, maybe make the move. They still would need to likely give up a lot just to jump four spots in the draft order. Realistically though, the Jets should just wait it out. There is always a possibility that one of the quarterbacks, probably Mariota, slides all the way to six. If that is the case, then I think the Jets would and should pull the trigger.

There is always so many unforeseen trades in the NFL draft and we could see a different team entirely swoop in and steal one of these players. That is the beauty of the NFL draft. You never have any what is going to happen until it has already happened.

Are you kidding me Mayock?

Seriously? After all this time now he makes a change. Based on what? For those who are unaware, NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock made a major switch today in his big board rankings. He moved former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota ahead of his Florida State counterpart Jameis Winston. This may seem like no big deal on the surface because both players are still being evaluated but there seems to be no reason for the change. Mayock cited that the new rankings are being released with pro days being wrapped up but that doesn’t provide any answers either. Winston had a stellar pro day workout with only 11 incompletions on over 100 throws. Mariota on the other hand, threw only 7 incompletions but on only 65 throws. The numbers aren’t even what was concerning. The wide consensus following the workouts was that he had nailed it and Mariota was “underwhelming.”

With all of that said, I have no idea why Mariota would get the bump up to the number one positional spot for quarterbacks according to Mayock. He might just be one guy but he is a bit of a draft guru as NFL Network’s answer to Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. What he says usually holds some weight. Now this makes me wonder if Mayock knows something the rest of us don’t. Has he been talking to teams who feel that Winston hasn’t won them over? Whatever the case may be, it raises some concerns, even if they are minor, about Winston.

Another report appeared today, which should also shake some confidence in the Winston camp. Tampa Bay hosted Mariota for a private workout earlier and Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dick Koetter called the workout “outstanding.” They raved about his footwork, athleticism and speed. The workout also came from the Bucs, not from Mariota. All of these signs definitely point to a boost in Mariota’s draft stock. After being considered the lock as the top pick for so long, Winston’s move down comes as almost a shock for fans.

However, I think this might be part of the learning experience from last year. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a very tough pro day last year and that led to him dropping all the way from the first projected overall pick down to being actually selected thirty-second overall. Bridgewater went on to be arguably the best rookie quarterback in the NFL last season. That mistake on many team’s part probably underlines why teams have not made as big a deal this year about Mariota’s lackluster pro day. It doesn’t mean a ton but these trends should be noted at the very least when it comes to projected who might be selected where.

To be honest, my assessment of the two is that Winston is more pro ready with a lower ceiling, while Mariota is a little rawer with a much higher ceiling. In the short term, Winston will be a much better pick. He will make a big difference for a team next season but he won’t improve a ton over his time in the league. He will likely become a steady, above average starter if he can work out some of his accuracy issues and ball security. Meanwhile, Mariota has the potential to be a game changer once he fully develops. He will take at least one season to get comfortable in a true pro system but he has enough talent that he could become an elite quarterback if he gets the right coaching and stays healthy. His concerns will be more just grasping the offense gameplan.

If I had to pick though, I think I would go with Mariota. He projects better in the long term and he definitely has shown more maturity off the field. He has demonstrated his ability to buy into a system and he definitely a player that I would feel comfortable leading my team for the next 15 years.

Tampa Bay making moves

Yesterday afternoon, news broke in Florida that the Buccaneers had cut veteran quarterback Josh McCown after only one season. McCown had an up and down year with only 11 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. He also suffered from an arm injury and lost his starting job to the much younger Mike Glennon. This seems like a pretty routine move for a team to make, cutting a veteran quarterback who struggled this past year. However, the Bucs also hold the number one overall pick so this might project as to what the Bucs are planning to do with that pick.

It might be a bit of stretch to say, but this seems like a vote of confidence in Glennon. Logically speaking, a team who was planning to draft a rookie quarterback would probably want to keep around the knowledgeable veteran who can act as a teacher for a year before the rookie takes over the following season. That would have been the perfect role for McCown tutoring either Florida State’s Jameis Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. McCown’s contract would have expired at the end of next season leaving it for one of those two signal callers to take the reins. Glennon would represent the intriguing trade piece that the Bucs might be able to convert into a mid-round draft pick in either of the next two years.

Instead, it seems like Tampa is preparing to buy into the North Carolina State product Glennon. He has shown some promise in his first two seasons. He played 13 games his rookie year and completed almost 60 percent of his passes. He also tallied 19 touchdowns to only 9 interceptions. This year Glennon’s numbers dropped slightly but that can likely be attributed to a much worse supporting cast and sporadic playing time that never allowed him to find a rhythm. He still through 10 touchdowns in only 6 games and limited himself to as many interceptions as he played games. His total quarterback rating even jumped up to 55.9. That’s not anything special but that is a solid number for a young quarterback.

If the Bucs truly are buying into Glennon then there are a couple of things we could see happen in the weeks leading up to draft day. There are several teams looking to make a move up to select either Winston or Mariota. The most likely suitor could be St. Louis who is toying with the idea of releasing oft-injured Sam Bradford as he will account for $17 million for 2015 if he is on the roster. Cutting him would save St. Louis almost 13 million. If the Rams were willing to give up a veteran, starting lineman and their pick at number 10, I think we could see these two teams swap picks.

However, if the Bucs aren’t really sold on Glennon and are looking to bring in a veteran then I think they have two options here. The Eagles have made it known that they would love to land Mariota, whom Eagles coach Chip Kelly recruited to Oregon when he was running the program. Philadelphia might be able to send Nick Foles, who the team has been rumored to have been shopping, and a late round pick in exchange for the number one pick. The other team that could be in the mix is Kansas City. This team has a lot of problems on the offensive side of the ball but in a year where the free agent class of wide receivers is looking stronger than ever, the Chiefs may be able to turn their attention elsewhere. Alex Smith is a good, veteran quarterback but he has been more of a game manager throughout his career. If the Bucs want to build a team based on running the ball and efficient quarterback play, Smith could be their guy.

We also cannot rule out the Buccaneers simply looking at a position other than quarterback at number one. Nebraska’s Randy Gregory is a great linebacker who has made his name putting pressure on the quarterback. He could be a plug and play helping Tampa’s defense get after division rivals Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Drew Brees. Leonard Williams out of USC might also be a fit. He played mostly inside in college but has the skills to play anywhere along the defensive line. Either way he would be a huge asset to Tampa’s unit. Lovie Smith made Chicago a Super Bowl caliber team with a great defense and Rex Grossman at quarterback. Don’t be surprised if he follows the defense first formula again.