As everyone tries to sort out the truth from the lies, it's time to make some predictions for Round 1, 2 of the 2015 NFL draft.
Just two weeks to go. Hang in there.
The seemingly eternal draft process is nearing its end, with April 30 now visible off in the distance. As such, don't believe everything—or anything—you hear. Much of what circulates now, like a team's sudden interest in a certain player, is for show. Needs have not changed, for the most part, since the first rush of free agency and the prospects have been well investigated by now.
So as everyone tries to sort out the truth from the lies, it's time to take another swing at predicting what will happen in Rounds 1 and 2.
33. Tennessee Titans: Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon
34. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State
35. Oakland Raiders: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
36. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Collins, CB/S, LSU
37. New York Jets: Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
From about the 20th-overall pick on down, you could shuffle the players around and no one would blink an eye. The headliner among them is Gordon, at No. 35 to Oakland. Coupling that pick with Cooper makes it so the Raiders are focused heavily on offense, but if they believe in Derek Carr, that's exactly the approach they should take. Gordon would leapfrog to the front of the depth chart, allowing Roy Helu and Latavius Murray to settle into complementary roles (and letting Trent Richardson do whatever it is Trent Richardson does).
Fisher is an underrated, NFL-ready starter on the right side. Smith, Collins and Harold could step right in, too—Harold would be a nice fit off the edge in Todd Bowles's Jets attack.
38. Washington Redskins: Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke
39. Chicago Bears: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
40. New York Giants: Eric Rowe, CB/S, Utah
41. St. Louis Rams: A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina
42. Atlanta Falcons: Danielle Hunter, DE/OLB, LSU
Tomlinson or Cann could sneak into the end of Round 1, especially since both the Saints and Patriots could use a little depth at guard. Goldman is one of several outstanding DTs still on the board—Carl Davis, Michael Bennett, Marcus Hardison and Grady Jarrett are all out there, as well. Realistically, any of them could find a home on the draft's first day.
43. Cleveland Browns: Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
44. New Orleans Saints: Byron Jones, CB, UConn
45. Minnesota Vikings: Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami (Fla.)
46. San Francisco 49ers: Paul Dawson, LB, TCU
47. Miami Dolphins: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The Devin Smith bandwagon reached max capacity just prior to the combine. As is typical of the ridiculous draft season, the hype has waxed and waned some since then, but Smith remains the best deep threat among the wide receivers. He's just what the Browns are missing in their passing game. The meter on Jones spiked at the combine, when the UConn product posted eye-popping numbers during drills. If a team falls in love with him as more than just an athletic marvel, he could climb as high as the top-15 overall.
48. San Diego Chargers: Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
49. Kansas City Chiefs: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
50. Buffalo Bills: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
51. Houston Texans: Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
52. Philadelphia Eagles: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami (Fla.)
You should be getting a sense by now of one of the draft's major talking points: the depth. The 2015 class is not all that loaded with elite prospects near the top, but teams will find starters into Rounds 4 and 5. Pretty much every guy taken in Round 2 could make an argument that he belonged in the first round.
Case in point: Green-Beckham, an exceptionally talented player who is still dealing with the consequences from his rocky college career—he was dismissed from Missouri's team after an alleged domestic-violence incident, then sat out all of 2014 on a redshirt at Oklahoma. He could be a 1,000-yard receiver out of the gate. Dorsett might be, too, in the right system. And Philadelphia's scheme falls under that category.
53. Cincinnati Bengals: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
54. Detroit Lions: Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
55. Arizona Cardinals: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
56. Pittsburgh Steelers: Clive Walford, TE, Miami (Fla.)
57. Carolina Panthers: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
Less than a year ago, Ogbuehi projected out as a potential top-five pick. Inconsistent play and injuries drove him down the list a bit, and yet it still would count as a steal for Cincinnati to find him here. Some believe he'll still wind up as a Round 1 pick. Williams also was in the Round 1 discussion until a boneheaded, ill-timed DUI arrest earlier this month. Hard to say exactly how many spots that mistake will cost him.
58. Baltimore Ravens: Alex Carter, CB, Stanford
59. Denver Broncos: Ali Marpet, G, Hobart
60. Dallas Cowboys: Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State
61. Indianapolis Colts: Derron Smith, S, Fresno State
62. Green Bay Packers: Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson
Odds are, the Cowboys will have a shot at one or both of the Todd Gurley/Melvin Gordon combo in Round 1. Should they wait on RB until later, they'd be hard-pressed to find a better fit than Ajayi, whose north-south running style would mesh with their blocking scheme. Green Bay would be similarly thrilled to land Anthony here, should it pass on an ILB in Round 1. Anthony could be a difference-maker immediately next to Clay Matthews inside. Marpet plus Gary Kubiak's offense could equal Pro Bowl-level success.
This is the first pick for Seattle, barring a trade back up. Using it to replace Max Unger with the guy that took over for him at Oregon makes a lot of sense. Not sure the Patriots would pass on Grady Jarrett a second time, though Hardison's mix of pass-rushing skill and size (6'5", 298 pounds) would offer plenty of options for Bill Belichick.