NFL draft breakdown

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By James Howey


jhowey@jccc.edu


As the summer approaches and warm weather returns, the biggest part of the NFL off­season comes as well. Chicago will host the NFL draft this year in the event’s first time away from New York. As usual, the first pick seems like a lock with Florida State’s Jameis Winston likely headed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For me this a slam dunk, and the Buccaneers would be absolute buffoons not to draft Winston.

Winston is clutch, big and athletic, has great leadership skills on the field and can make all the throws necessary to be an NFL quarterback. Ob­viously many people have issues with the con­stant immaturity of Winston in college, which is understandable, but to me Winston will be an All-Pro quarterback in two or three years.

The true intrigue starts with the next pick with the Tennessee Titans. The question of who will draft Oregon’s Marcus Mariota is pretty up for grabs, with no favorite. Rumors are every­where, from him being drafted by the Redskins, the Browns or Jets trading up to draft him and the possibility of the blockbuster trade where the Chargers trade Philip Rivers to the Titans for Mariota.

Of course, some still think that Eagles head coach Chip Kelly could make one more daring move this offseason by using multiple picks and maybe players to trade up and grab his former Oregon quarterback. I personally believe Mari­ota will land with the Browns.

The Browns do not have an answer at quar­terback right now and reportedly many in the organization have given up on Johnny Man­ziel. This would just add to the circus that is the Cleveland Browns. The selection would bring even more offseason headlines with Mariota and Manziel competing for the starting quarterback job.

For the Titans, I don’t see them passing on USC’s defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who many believe is the best overall player in the draft. As many scouts and coaches would tell you, Williams can play the piano, which means he can play every position on the line. That makes Williams similar to All-Pro J.J. Watt and has a chance to be an All-Pro in his own right.

Williams would be a critical addition to a Titans team who was bottom-five in most de­fensive categories. The wide receiver position is headlined by two potential stars in West Virgin­ia’s Kevin White and Alabama’s Amari Cooper.
White has climbed up the draft board pro­jections with his amazing speed and athleticism, and many people think he may end up being a better player than Cooper.

Cooper may not have the upside of White, but he is arguably the most polished and pro-ready receiver in years. In my opinion, the poten­tial steal of the draft is undoubtedly Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham.

Green-Beckham had numerous off-the-field issues in college, but when playing, the upside was clearly seen. If he is drafted by the right team and stays out of trouble, Green-Beckham will be a Calvin Johnson-like stud in the league.

Pass rushers are a premium in this draft, with players like Dante Fowler, Randy Gregory, Vic Beasley and Alvin “Bud” Dupree, who will likely all go high in the draft and make an impact on a team. Another talented pass rusher is Missouri’s Shane Ray, who has done a remarkable slide down the draft board with surgery on his foot and now being sighted for marijuana possession on Monday.

Early on, Ray was thought to perhaps be in the top ten in the draft, and now may go as late as third or fourth round. This class of running backs features one of my favorite players to watch in recent memory out of college in Georgia’s Todd Gurley.

Literally the biggest knocks on Gurley are that he tore his ACL last year and got suspended for signing autographs for money. Gurley is a monster on the field. He can run around people and he can run over them. I can easily see Gurley by his second season being an All-Pro running back.

Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon III had one of the greatest college careers of any running back and would be a perfect fit for the Dallas Cowboys, who no longer have DeMarco Murray. The odds of Dallas trading for Adrian Peterson are close to none right now, and Gordon would prove a much cheaper alternative for them.

Along with the draft this weekend, sports fans also get one of the most anticipated boxing matches ever. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally meet in the ring Saturday in what will hopefully be a classic to remember. Also, for movie fans, the long-anticipated sequel to Marvel’s The Avengers hits theatres this week­end. Long story short, this weekend is going to be jam-packed.
 

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