Mock drafts are nice, but I'm much more interested in perfect marriages.
I'm talking about those ideal draft fits that benefit all parties involved -- the pairings where the team fills a big need and the player gets an opportunity to immediately showcase his skills.
Allow me to propose cozy landing spots for some notable first-round talents, Schein Nine style. Now, just to be clear, this is not a straight projection of how things will play out on draft day -- it's how things could play out in a perfect world. That said, I won't be the least bit surprised if a number of the following marriages do indeed come to fruition.
(NOTE: In each subhead, click on the player name for an expanded scouting report, click on the team name for a list of this year's draft picks.)
I think Cooper is a dream pick for Oakland. After seeing plenty of promise from rookie quarterback Derek Carr last season, the Raiders crave an instant-impact star at receiver, a guy who can significantly foster Carr's development. Cooper is the real deal, a can't-miss prospect. He brings hands, strength, savvy, refined route-running and the experience of winning big and starring at one of the nation's premier college football programs. This guy has the makeup to provide immediate returns and establish himself as an NFL star in the coming decade.
Now, with Beckham as a stud receiver, they really need to address the areas where you win football games.
Scherff isn't a sexy pick, but neither was Martin to Dallas -- it was just pure genius. The Iowa lineman will give New York needed toughness, talent and versatility on the O-line.
Character issues are a major concern with Peters, who was suspended and then dismissed from the Washington football team last season. But it's that uncertainty that could bring him into Green Bay's draft range, as a trade-up option or even in the team's draft slot at No. 30. This is a very skilled cornerback -- without the attitude issues, he'd be projected to go much higher.
If Peters checks out OK -- and Mike McCarthy and Co. are convinced that he's learned from past mistakes and will fit into the Green Bay locker room -- it's the kind of move that could solidify the Packers as the team to beat in the NFC.
I also think Peters would fit in incredibly well with the Baltimore Ravens, who pick 26th in Round 1.
Suddenly, there's a ton of buzz that Gurley is going in the top 10. And I don't think this is overcooked hype in the final stretches of the pre-draft slog. The only concern with Gurley was health in the wake of an ACL tear last November. Well, the knee looked good at the medical recheck, and now teams are highly attracted to the former Georgia star. Rightfully so -- this guy's a rock star, the rare back who should be drafted in the top 10.
But don't the Falcons need a running back? Wouldn't the superstar who played his college ball in the Peach State make sense?
If the stud pass rushers are gone before Atlanta picks, grab Gurley. Heck, even if they aren't, Gurley could be the best player on the board.
It's easy to assume defense makes sense for Atlanta at No. 8. It does. But the arrival of new head coach (and former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator) Dan Quinn should provide a boost on that side of the ball. And Quinn knows from his Seattle days how much a great run game helps everything.
Many think Gurley goes to San Diego at No. 17. I think that's a pipe dream.
Gordon has pure speed and a fantastic rep coming out of Wisconsin. He just posted the second-highest single-season rushing total in FBS history: 2,587 yards, behind only Barry Sanders' 2,628-yard effort in 1988. Not too shabby. He'd be a great home-run hitter in the Chargers' offense and fill the void left by Ryan Mathews' departure to Philly.
I think White is perfect for the Dolphins, as well, but the Browns pick ahead of Miami and have more overall draft currency should a trade-up be required. And quite frankly, Cleveland is more desperate at the receiver position. Josh Gordon isn't walking through that door. Dwayne Bowe, Taylor Gabriel, Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin ... Is that a receiving corps or a witness protection program?
This team doesn't have the quarterback talent to produce with such an underwhelming cast of pass catchers. White could immediately establish himself as Cleveland's No. 1 target and give this offense some much-needed punch in the passing game.
The Saints now have two first-round picks after the Jimmy Graham deal (something I still have trouble understanding from New Orleans' perspective). With the offense apparently becoming more of a ground-based approach -- as evidenced by that trade, as well as the re-signing of Mark Ingram and acquisition of C.J. Spiller -- the Saints' defense can't rely on high-flying offensive fireworks to win games.
New Orleans finished 31st in total defense last season. Rob Ryan needs an influx of talent. A versatile, athletic defender would certainly help. Hello, Mr Dupree! The Kentucky product is still raw, but he has the kind of explosive traits that can't be taught.
Many a mock draft have this pairing coming together at pick No. 3 -- and for good reason: It just makes sense.
Yup, Chip Kelly gets his man.
As mentioned in the intro, this is a fit column, not necessarily a prediction one. And obviously, there is no better outcome for Mariota than to be reunited with Kelly. The Eagles would almost certainly have to trade up to make this happen, but why not? Mariota knows the offense, that's for sure. There will be no learning curve, just instant success and a division title. I believe Mariota can eventually thrive anywhere, but he can immediately thrive in Philly.