Mock Draft Monday: Less than Two Weeks Remain


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, trade rumors have escalated as sports writers and draft analysts scramble to add clarity to their mock drafts leading up to the first round on April 30.

Some prognosticators are staying put on prior predictions, while others have changed their minds as the draft draws near.

Here's the latest from some of the analysts we've been following throughout the process.

In his latest update, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. plays the role of GM and believes the Titans draft Oregon QB Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick.

"I'm drafting Mariota at No. 2 or gathering a huge windfall from some team moving into this slot to get him. It's one of the two," Kiper said. "In drafting him, I'm taking a QB with a far greater upside than any player on the current roster. Zach Mettenberger has some talent, but there's a reason he was available a year ago this week at No. 178 overall. Mariota is a far superior talent at the NFL's most important position, he has the work ethic to adapt to any scheme, if we're patient, and I'm banking on my coaches to help him achieve his potential."

Kiper has the Titans taking Oregon OT Jake Fisher in the second round (33rd overall) and Arkansas DE Trey Flowers in the third (66th overall).

"I shore up a clear need at right tackle with the addition of Fisher as the first pick in Round 2. He's a tremendous athlete, and I like his chance to start right away," Kiper said. "I know we added Brian Orakpo in free agency, but Flowers provides some pass-rush upside because Orakpo has missed 24 games over the past three seasons. And Flowers defends the run. It's a deep draft at WR, and we'll get one in the next couple of rounds. I list safety as a (quiet) need only because Michael Griffin never gets hurt, but we're in trouble if that happens."

ESPN colleague Todd McShay likes Kiper's selections.

"The team with the No. 2 overall pick did well under Mel's guidance," McShay said. "If developed properly, Mariota can be a good NFL quarterback and a clear upgrade over Zach Mettenberger. Fisher helps the Titans' offensive line and is a good value in the second round, and I think Flowers is one of the more underrated players in this draft -- a defensive end who is very good against the run and better than expected as a pass-rusher. He's a steal in the third round."'s Chris Burke believes the Titans will go with USC defensive end Leonard Williams, a widely popular pick at this spot.

"There are myriad reasons why many believe this pick will be available via trade," Burke said. "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."

A pair of NFL Media analysts recently unveiled their latest mock drafts. After previously going with USC's Williams, Charles Davis now has the Titans selecting Mariota at #2.

"More and more I'm hearing Mariota is truly a strong option here," Davis said. "Coach Ken Whisenhunt has liked him more than expected during the draft process."

His counterpart, Charlie Casserly, is sticking with Williams.

"Mariota or Mettenberger?" Casserly asks. "The Titans give Mettenberger a year to develop and take Williams."

Rob Rang at CBS says Mariota will go off the board at #2, whether it's the Titans or another team making the choice.

"Whether the Titans select Mariota or trade this pick to another team (sources suggest that the Jets, Bears, Rams, Browns, Chargers and Eagles all are in play), sources throughout the league expect the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to come off the board at No. 2," Rang said. "The rumored Philip Rivers for Mariota deal is a legitimate possibility, I'm told, with the Chargers perhaps ranking as the favorite to land here should the pick be dealt."

In other recent mock drafts, Mark Maske of the Washington Post also believes Mariota goes off the board at #2.

"The guess here is that Mariota will be taken with the No. 2 pick. Whether that pick is made by the Titans or someone else — potentially the Jets, Browns, Chargers, Bears or Eagles — remains to be seen," Maske said. "The Titans really should come away with a QB. There's not enough evidence to be confident that Zach Mettenberger is the answer. But that QB doesn't necessarily need to be Mariota. If the Titans were inclined to make a trade, it could be Chargers starter Philip Rivers or the Bears' Jay Cutler"

Brian Kalchik of Rant Sports represents one of the few mock drafts showing Florida State QB Jameis Winston going to Tennessee, this after targeting Leonard Williams #1 overall to the Bucs.

"The Titans finally find their first franchise quarterback since Steve McNair in Jameis Winston," Kalchik said. "Ken Whisenhunt, who helped turn around Kurt Warner and Philip Rivers, would love to have this year's best quarterback prospect."


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