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.
1. Jameis Winston, QB
RS Sophomore, Florida State
Over? Done? Not quite, though the scales continue to tip steadily in Winston’s favor over Marcus Mariota. The Tampa Bay tenures of coach Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht likely depend on the decision made here, so there is no reason to finalize the plan before it’s absolutely necessary.
2. Leonard Williams, DT
There are myriad reasons why many believe this pick will be available via trade, but start here: Tennessee is not a player (or two or three) away from being true contenders. The need for a significant talent infusion, plus at least some internal belief in Zach Mettenberger, could allow the Titans to dangle a shot at either Winston or Mariota here. If they stay put, Williams would be their safest play.
3. Vic Beasley, DE/OLB
RS Senior, Clemson
Beasley has a chance to be special—like best-player-in-this-draft special—if he lands with a coach that can unleash his athleticism on a consistent basis. Gus Bradley would have as much a chance as anyone to do just that.
4. Amari Cooper, WR
The Raiders will be crossing their fingers that Mariota or Winston lasts until this spot, because … well, they don’t need either guy. Arguably, the best-case scenario for Oakland is that it can strike up a bidding war, slide down to pick six or 10 or 12, and add a couple later selections. Cooper makes for a sensational fallback plan. He’s the best player at a position of need in Oakland.
5. Dante Fowler, DE/OLB
Brandon Scherff was penciled in at this spot during previous mocks. Moving him down a few spots says nothing about his potential—I’d argue he can start at guard or RT next season. Washington can find O-line help in Round 2 or beyond; it can’t find an edge player with Fowler’s upside.
6. Marcus Mariota, QB
RS Junior, Oregon
The most worrisome sticking point in a Mariota-to-the-Jets discussion (no, it’s not Geno Smith being there) is Mariota’s admitted disdain for being in the spotlight. That, uh, will not work in New York. Beyond that, Mariota would fit well with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey and has a chance to be great before too long.
7. Kevin White, WR
Senior, West Virginia
The additions of Pernell McPhee, Mason Foster and Antrell Rolle bought Chicago a little time at the draft—it does not have to focus exclusively on that side of the football early. White has the look of a star, and would take on WR2 duties with Brandon Marshall gone.
8. Brandon Scherff, OT
RS Senior, Iowa
I know, I know: the pass rush. However, this Falcons team remains built around its offense, so in the interest of keeping Matt Ryan upright and grabbing traction on the ground, the pick is Scherff. He’s an instant upgrade, no matter where Atlanta uses him.
9. DeVante Parker, WR
GM Jerry Reese was asked at the combine if taking a receiver in last year’s first round made it less likely the Giants would do so in 2015. His response: “Best player available. Best player available. We’ll take the best player on the board.” In this mock, that player is Parker. Nabbing him also helps keep the staff from rushing back Victor Cruz.
10. La'el Collins, OT
The Rams, not the Chargers or Browns, would be the ones I’d keep an eye on for a potential trade-up for a QB. They’re right on the cusp of legit playoff contention. Do they trust Nick Foles to take them the rest of the way. If so, Collins would help Foles and the run game, adding another mauler to 2014 first-rounder Greg Robinson.