The CBS draft braintrust of Rob Rang (mock here) and Dane Brugler (mock here) dropped new mocks in the last 24 hours. Here's their top 11 leading up the Rams' pick:
|#||Team||Rang's Pick||POS||team||Brugler's Pick||POS||team|
|1||Tampa Bay||Marcus Mariota||QB||Oregon||Marcus Mariota||QB||Oregon|
|2||Tennessee||Jameis Winston||QB||Florida St.||Jameis Winston||QB||Florida St.|
|3||Jacksonville||Randy Gregory||DE||Nebraska||Leonard Williams||DL||USC|
|4||New York Jets||Shane Ray||DE||Missouri||Randy Gregory||DE||Nebraska|
|5||Oakland||Leonard Williams||DL||USC||Amari Cooper||WR||Alabama|
|6||Washington||Brandon Scherff||OT||Iowa||Andrus Peat||OT||Stanford|
|7||Chicago||Landon Collins||SS||Alabama||Landon Collins||SS||Alabama|
|8||Atlanta||Vic Beasley||OLB||Clemson||Shane Ray||DE||Missouri|
|9||Minnesota||Amari Cooper||WR||Alabama||DeVante Parker||WR||Louisville|
|10||New Orleans||Dante Fowler, Jr.||DE||Florida||Vic Beasley||OLB||Clemson|
|11||New York||Shawn Oakman||DE||Baylor||Shawn Oakman||DE||Baylor|
That's a pretty solid setup for the Rams. Only one tackle off the board, all interior linemen available and one wideout gone from Rang's compared to two in Brugler's. I'd take that right now in a heartbeat, and I'm struggling to think of why I wouldn't in April.
So here are the picks, first up from Rang:
Shaq Thompson, OLB (Jr.) - Washington
The Rams' issues lie predominately on the offensive side of the ball and it is entirely possible that the club rolls the dice again on a receiver. Success in the NFC West, however, comes through defense. Thompson doesn't possess great size but his athleticism and instincts have helped him stand out wherever the Huskies have needed him - including at safety, linebacker and running back. Plugged in with Alec Ogletree and James Laurinaitis, Thompson could help St. Louis' defense become truly elite.
Not sure how I feel about this one. Thompson's a fine player, but I have trouble seeing him replacing Alec Ogletree. The intent here then I guess would be to move more 4-3 looks, though I don't know that that's a priority to the point of using your top pick to cement.
Take Sunday's game. The Rams have been playing solid defense, but clearly still have some issues to rectify over the offseason. I'd be surprised if anyone watching Odell Beckham, Jr., and Rueben Randle chop at the Rams' pass defense and think, "The Rams just need another linebacker to clear this up."
On to Brugler:
Brandon Scherff, OT (RS Sr.) - Iowa
The Rams addressed the offensive line early in the first round last year, drafting Greg Robinson second overall, but with Joseph Barksdale set for pay day this off-season as a free agent, the Rams might have a need at right tackle. Scherff has the skill-set of a guard, but several teams will look to keep him at tackle.
This one feels more comfortable. Scherff is, like GRob, a powerhouse lineman who excels in anchor drive blocking. In fact, you're going to see a lot of similar cliches popping up in Scherff scouting reports. But if power and tenacity are going to be the traits we build this offensive line around, Scherff will fit in just fine from day one.
On to the news.
Jaelen Strong Declares
The Arizona St. product will forego his senior year to enter the 2015 NFL Draft. NFLDraftScout has him as the fourth-ranked WR prospect behind Cooper, Parker and West Virginia senior Kevin White in that order. Personally, I might have him second behind Cooper, and not by much. He's a physical terror to guard, and a beast in the red zone. And if you're worried about off-field issues, this is a great read on how he had to overcome the death of his father, a former Drexel basketball standout, at a young age.
The same attributes that once made Rankin [, Strong's father,] so beloved in Philadelphia now shine through in Strong. Arizona State quarterback [Taylor] Kelly is quick to point out that Jaelen has a special relationship with his mother -- who made it out to a few games this fall, including the Notre Dame game -- and is just as willing to take pictures with young fans as he is to crack jokes in the locker room when the team needs it.
"Off the field he’s a special dude," Kelly said. "He’s a giver. That kid is going to do whatever he’d like to do. Whether it’s own a business or play 10 years in the NFL, that kid is going to be an unbelievable human being."
That sounds like the kind of player you want on your team and in your locker room.
Might wanna carve out some time Saturday after noon as #15 Arizona St. takes on Duke in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
Jameis Winston Scouting Report from MMQB's Greg Bedard
Winston may be the prospect heading for the most discussion among the chattering class and fans alike ahead of the 2015 NFL Draft...and that's before he and fellow top QB prospect Marcus Mariota have even played through the first ever College Football Playoff.
I've said it since the beginning of the season: Jameis Winston is the top prospect on my big board. He was there on day one, and he's still there on...whatever today is. The reason is simple: he's the most skilled player at the most important position. By a mile.
"Oh, if I needed a quarterback, you bet your ass I’d have boots on the ground in Tallahassee—a lot of them—as soon as he declared for the draft," says one AFC general manager, who wished to remain anonymous because of the NFL’s rules prohibiting discussion of an early-entry player before he has declared. "Because on the field there’s something special there. The problem is, can you ever trust him? Are you going to be able to sleep at night? That’s a rough deal with a quarterback.
"This guy is going to be a fascinating case study."...
...If Winston’s NFL evaluation were just about what’s on film, he’d be the no-doubt No. 1 pick—especially because, given his sloppy footwork and mechanics, he hasn’t come close to his ceiling yet. But it’s never just about talent when it comes to the NFL. And with Winston, that’s especially true. You’d be hard-pressed to recall a quarterback prospect who makes such brilliant choices on the field and such poor ones off it.
More to come on Winston in the weeks and months ahead as we're sure to have plenty of fawning over his football skills matched with all kinds of pieces on his off-field life (ready when you are, Nolan Nawrocki...). In the end, he's the best prospect in the draft, and one of the most interesting decision points for Tampa Bay, Tennessee and potentially any other team in the mix at the top of the draft.
(Note: If you're asking why Mariota isn't anywhere close to Winston in my estimation, I'll be poking at it in the coming months. I'll try to have something up this week that clarifies it in deeper terms.)