In 10 days, 32 players will forever have the first sentence of their biography changed to “first round NFL draft pick.” From Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks, to national championship winning wide receivers, to big ugly guys on the line, many of the sexier first round picks will be offensive side of the ball. After all, that’s where the highlights are made. Right?
There are plenty of quality athletes, but I’m going to take a look at the 10 offensive players who should be the first ones taken from that side of the ball. Each team is going to take what they need (or just be like the Dolphins and draft another lineman … maybe the Vikings and draft another quarterback), but in a perfect world these would be the first 10 guys picked.
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1) Jameis Winston (QB-Florida State) – Purely grading on field accomplishments, he’s the true winner out of this group. He had every situation thrown at him on the college field and lost exactly once. Winston many not have the best overall career (especially if he gets thrown in a potentially bad situation), but for the moment he’s the only player who can be a bonafide game changer from the jump.
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2) Amari Cooper (WR-Alabama) – I don’t understand why some idiots have him as the number two receiver in this draft. Cooper is the only player who, right now, could start day one in the NFL and compete with the top guys in the game. Cooper may not be the fastest in the group, but he has “game speed” and will make some team a heck of a lot better by calling his name. He also has been in the spotlight since high school, so he won’t flounder under the big NFL lights.
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3) Marcus Mariota (QB-Oregon) – There is the continuing debate over who should be the top overall pick between Mariota and Winston (I’ll throw in my two cents next Monday). Mariota, in my mind, may have the better career when it is all said and done, but for the moment he still needs to adapt to a pro style offense unless a team drafted him that runs more spread … like Philly or even Miami. That is literally the only knock on him.
4) Brandon Scherff (OL-Iowa) – By now, my thoughts on drafting offensive lineman are well known (as someone who has been burned by his team drafting way too many in the first round). Scherff could be the exception to that rule. He’s big, physical, and can play both the right tackle position and the all important left tackle position when needed. That versatility is enough to make him highly coveted by teams needing help in the trenches.
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5) Kevin White (WR-West Virginia) – This is the player that has vaulted up the board with a great combine, pro day and workouts. He’s a big target who gives the quarterback a chance to just throw it up and he’ll go get it. My only knock would be him not playing against quality defensive backs in the Big 12-Minus-Two, which makes me think he needs a little big more time to adjust than fellow wideout Cooper.
6) Melvin Gordon (RB-Wisconsin) – You look up workhorse in the dictionary and there is a picture of this playmaker. Gordon came up just short of setting the single season rushing record, getting almost eight (8!) yards per carry this past season. He showed up in the big games (even gaining almost eighty yards against Ohio State) and is durable in the backfield, something that will make him look lovely to teams that love the running game.
7) DeVante Parker (WR-Louisville) – He already has the championship pedigree with that last name, but Parker has excelled in college to the point he would be the receiver in this draft is Cooper had stayed in school and White didn’t have a good practice. Parker has the speed and can get the yards after catch that make him more than just a possession receiver.
8) Ereck Flowers (OL-Miami) – I’ll put aside for a moment the fact that the Hurricanes couldn’t succeed while having players that will go in the first twenty picks of the draft. Flowers has the size that is coveted by teams, and has quick feet that keep him from looking like a brick wall on the field that people can blow past.
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9) Todd Gurley (RB-Georgia) – The biggest asterisk in the draft belongs to this player, right here. If he is healthy and has recovered from a torn ACL, Gurley can be the next Marshawn Lynch. If he still needs time and can’t come back to form, the red flags come up and he won’t be worth the risk. I’m betting he’ll be okay, and if so he’s worth a high pick and will have a successful career.
10) Breshad Perriman (WR-Central Florida) – Here’s a player who, at least to many, has come out of nowhere and brought himself into the conversation of being a first day pick. The son of a former NFL receiver, Perriman averaged almost 21 yards per catch the last two seasons and smoked the time clock with a 4.26 forty time at his workout. One advantage most people don’t think about is his huge hands, which allow him to bring in catches he has no business making.