Soon, the speculating of who's going where and the breakdown of players' strengths, weaknesses and combine numbers will be over when the NFL Draft commences next week.

Until then, though, there will be plenty of prognosticating about how the draft will shake out. While the conventional wisdom seems to indicate that quarterbacks will be taken with the first two picks, the rest of the draft is wide open.

With the draft less than a week away, the Deseret News sports writers and contributors broke down how they think the first round will play out on April 30.

Will a Utes player be taken in the first round? Will there be a run on wide receivers?

The NFL's eight divisions were divided up with each writer taking a division (with some divided up in two). We drafted over the course of a few days using email. Here's how it went down and why. Did we make the right picks? Let us know in the comments section.

1. Buccaneers — Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State
Associated Press

Winston has been making headlines ever since the beginning of his freshman season, for both his on-field and off-the-field behavior. The fact is the young man hasn’t made the smartest decisions in his life — he’s been caught shoplifting, saying stupid things and is in the middle of some legal troubles, but even with all that baggage, he is still the best pro quarterback prospect in the draft.

He has the ability to make every throw and though his mechanics are sometimes questionable, he can still be incredibly accurate. With a little maturity, he will be a franchise quarterback for years to come. His talent makes taking him at No. 1 very much worth the risk.

— Ryan Miller

2. Titans — Marcus Mariota, quarterback, Oregon
Associated Press

A great quarterback is key to having a successful organization in the NFL, and — as of now — the Titans are not sure if they have one. The 2014 season saw rookie sixth round pick Zach Mettenberger take plenty of snaps, but he didn't look like the answer to all of Tennessee's problems.

With that kind of hole to fill, Mariota is the logical choice. The reigning Heisman trophy winner has a solid arm, great feet and the ability to lead. He was nearly unstoppable in the Oregon system and has all the tools to carry that success to the next level.

— Jay Yeomans

3. Jaguars — Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Alabama
Associated Press

The Jaguars have plenty of holes to fill coming off a 3-13 campaign in 2014. While wide receiver isn't the most glaring need of the bunch, quarterback Blake Bortles could really use a No. 1 option to grow with. The perfect fit for that scenario is Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Cooper isn't the fastest of a very deep wide receiver group, but he does have good speed, runs good routes and is a big-time playmaker. After a pair of solid years as a freshman and sophomore, he had a breakout season for the Crimson Tide in 2014 with 124 catches for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns.

— Jay Yeomans

4. Raiders — Kevin White, wide receiver, West Virginia
Associated Press

Yes, the Raiders just picked up free agent WR Michael Crabtree, but they still need more weapons for Derek Carr to throw to. Enter West Virginia’s Kevin White. He led all wide receivers at the NFL Combine in the 40-yard dash with a blazing 4.35-second time, plus he also led in his position in the bench press.

While he doesn’t have the polish of Alabama’s Amari Cooper, he has the greatest potential of any WR in the draft. After all, he set the Big 12 aflame with 1,447 yards and 109 receptions despite being a junior college transfer. He may need a year or two to adjust to the NFL, but he’s well worth the risk.

— Lafe Peavler

5. Washington — Dante Fowler, linebacker, Florida
Associated Press

With the departure of Brian Orakpo this offseason, Washington is looking for a new outside linebacker to be the anchor of its defense for years to come. Florida’s Dante Fowler is an excellent candidate to become the centerpiece of the Redskins’ defense, if chosen. Fowler is a versatile player who can even play at DE when needed, as he did at his alma mater.

The Redskins recently invited Fowler to their facilities to get to know the team better. Fowler’s athleticism is superb, but he needs to improve his first-step burst as well as his technique. With good coaching, this can be corrected. Washington may be a ways away from being a contender, but by drafting Dante Fowler, they get one step closer to becoming a competitive team.

— Xoel Cardenas

6. Jets — Brandon Scherff, offensive lineman, Iowa
Associated Press

Since, in this scenario, both Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are off the board, the Jets have two options: reach up and pluck the next best quarterback or stick with Geno Smith and fix any other needs the team has. By taking Scherff, arguably the best lineman in this draft, New York adds to an offensive line that helped the Jets to third-best in rushing last season, but also allowed 2.9 sacks per game — tied for eighth-worst in the league.

If the Jets decide to look defensively, a defensive end or linebacker is also probable in this slot.

— Carter Williams

7. Bears — DeVante Parker, wide receiver, Louisville
Associated Press

After trading Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets, the Chicago Bears are looking thin at wide receiver. In fact, according to the team's current depth chart, Marquess Wilson, who has just 19 catches in two seasons, is slated to start opposite Alshon Jeffery. For that reason, Parker would be a solid pick for the Bears here.

Parker, who is listed as Scouts Inc.’s No. 3 wideout, can beat defensive backs with his size (6-3) and speed (4.45 40-yard dash). He also has great hands, which have dropped just three passes since 2012. After missing the first seven contests of his senior season with a foot injury, Parker caught 43 balls for 855 yards and five touchdowns in the final six games.

— Jared Bray


8. Falcons — Vic Beasley, linebacker, Clemson
Associated Press

Atlanta needs a pass rusher desperately, and Beasley projects to be just that. Sure, the senior from Clemson is a little small, and because of that he may not be a three-down defensive end, but he totaled 45.5 tackles for a loss and 25 sacks in the two seasons.

He still needs to improve, and because of his lack of size will need to develop some more moves. Yet even with his limitations, he has been able to terrorize offensive lines and was a big part of the NCAA’s best defense.

— Ryan Miller

9. Giants — Randy Gregory, defensive lineman, Nebraska
Associated Press

I know what most people are thinking: How can Randy Gregory be picked over Leonard Williams?

Here's why: Gregory is a freakish athlete, running the 40 at 4.64, which was faster than Williams. The Cornhusker racked up 17.5 sacks in two years at Nebraska. Media outlets in New York have reported that the Giants have shown interest in Gregory, who due to some off-the-field issues has slipped at bit in mock drafts.

But Tom Coughlin is a known disciplinarian, and new “old” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo would love to get a player like Gregory in the Giants' 4-3 defense. Gregory may become the “steal” of the draft, as some teams may cross him off the list. But the Giants are drafting experts, as we’ve seen in recent years like the “steal” of picking Odell Beckham Jr., and the G-Men will look to grab another one in Gregory.

— Xoel Cardenas

10. Rams — Leonard Williams, defensive lineman, USC
Associated Press

This pick is all about taking the best available talent over the team’s greatest need, given that Williams is seen by most as the draft’s top defensive prospect.

Williams is a dynamic playmaker on the defensive line and, at 6-foot-5 and 302 pounds, can move seamlessly from outside to inside on the line. He joins what would be a logjam in St. Louis, as the Rams have used two of their five previous first-round picks in head coach Jeff Fisher’s era on defensive linemen and have a talented D-line. But Williams is a powerful defensive lineman with a high ceiling and will be able to make an immediate impact.

St. Louis is in need of offensive line help at guard, center and at right tackle. Those needs will have to be addressed later in the draft.

— Brandon Judd


11. Vikings — Trae Waynes, cornerback, Michigan State
Associated Press

In a division with Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Alshon Jeffery, the Vikings will need to have two strong corners they can count on to help them compete for a playoff spot in the tough NFC North. Because of that, Minnesota will select Waynes, Mel Kiper's top-rated cornerback in this year’s draft.

With his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame; talent; and athletic ability he may be the shutdown cornerback that the Vikings have been looking to slide into the starting corner spot opposite of last year’s first round pick Xavier Rhodes.

— Zach Smith


12. Browns — Danny Shelton, defensive lineman, Washington
Associated Press

Last season, the Browns’ run defense was just plain terrible. They gave up an average of 141.3 rushing yards per game, which was worst in the league. Danny Shelton is a 6-foot-2, 339-pound, run-stopping beast. Shelton led the Huskies to the 22nd-ranked run defense in all of college football and second in the Pac-12.

He is also an above-average pass rusher for a tackle, sacking the opposing quarterback nine times. The negative on Shelton is that he needs to show more consistency; he tends to give up on plays or even take some off. Browns fans may need to worry about Shelton keeping his weight down also. NFL scouts have used Vince Wilfork, a five time Pro-Bowler, as a comparison for Shelton. If Shelton can come close to living up to that comparison, the Browns will have gotten a steal in this draft.



— Kincade Upstill

13. Saints — Shane Ray, defensive lineman, Missouri
Associated Press

Ray has some limitations, but I think the Saints would love what he brings to the table. He has one of if not the best first step in the draft, and will be able to get to opposing quarterback. Ray led the SEC in sacks with 14.5 and tackles for loss with 22.5 in 2014 and should be able to be an effective pass rusher at the next level as well. He is a prospect for which you need to trust his productivity and on-field performance more than the combine numbers.



— Ryan Miller

14. Dolphins — Arik Armstead, defensive lineman, Oregon
Associated Press

The Dolphins have a few needs, but adding to the defensive line would probably help them out the most with this pick — especially if the top three receivers are off the board. Miami allowed 121.1 yards per game on the ground — 23rd best in the league in that category. The Dolphins were also just middle-of-the-road when it came to sacking the opposing quarterback. The team ended up in a five-way tie for 14th best in the league in sacks, wrapping up quarterbacks 2.4 times per game.

Enter Armstead. At 6-foot-7 and a tick under 300 pounds, he’s a big guy that’s fairly athletic, too, and can help plug up the middle for the Dolphins.


— Carter Williams

15. 49ers — Alvin “Bud” Dupree, linebacker, Kentucky
Associated Press

While Oregon’s Armstead is also a solid selection here, he went off the board one pick before. Dupree is a hot prospect as the draft approaches, and he had 23.5 career sacks at Kentucky. He would add a pass-rushing punch to a front seven that has been dominant in recent years but whose future is full of uncertainty.

Inside linebacker is also a big position of need with the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. A knee injury forced outside linebacker NaVorro Bowman to miss all of last season, and there’s speculation that defensive end Justin Smith could retire as well. This gives some credence to taking a pass rusher here.


— Brandon Judd

16. Texans — Todd Gurley, running back, Georgia
Associated Press

The Houston Texans offense is at its best when it has two great options in the backfield to carry the rock. Arian Foster is already in the fold putting up big numbers (1,246 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground in 2014), but he could use a running mate to solidify the Texans.

That is where Gurley comes in. Even though he didn't have a great junior year, thanks to a suspension followed by a season-ending injury, he was able to show off enough skills (911 yards and nine touchdowns in six games) to be one of the first backs taken in the draft.

He is a terrific athlete who is nearly untouchable when he gets to the edge, making him a great option for the Texans or whoever is lucky enough to draft him.


— Jay Yeomans

17. Chargers — Melvin Gordon, running back, Wisconsin
Associated Press

BYU got a taste of what Melvin Gordon is capable of when the Cougars made the trip to Madison back in 2013. Of course, Gordon rushed for a mere 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns that year. Gordon surpassed himself and came close to Barry Sanders’ record with 2,587 yards and 29 rushing touchdowns.

He’s got all the athleticism to succeed at the next level, as he proved at the NFL Combine, but he needs to do better at holding on to the ball, as he fumbled the ball six times in his last five games. That being said, Gordon is a solid addition to the Chargers as they need a running back with Ryan Mathews gone to the Eagles.


— Lafe Peavler

18. Chiefs — Dorial Green-Beckham, wide receiver, Missouri
Associated Press

Andy Reid would have his work cut out for him with Green-Beckham. He’s had some run-ins with the law and needs to do some growing up, fast. Of course, Green-Beckham is hardly alone in that category. That said, Green-Beckham is a most promising wide receiver.

He was the highest-rated player in his recruiting class, after all. The Chiefs are clearly interested as they met with him for the second time this year. It’s a gamble, but with the right mentoring it’s a risk worth taking.


— Lafe Peavler

19. Browns (via Bills) — Breshad Perriman, wide receiver, Central Florida
Associated Press

The Browns' top three receivers this past season were Miles Austin, Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins. That group doesn’t move the needle much, and even with this offseason’s signings of Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, the Browns still need serious help at this position.

It gets worse with top receiver Josh Gordon being suspended again. Perriman is the hot name among receivers and is moving up draft boards fast. He is a physical specimen for a receiver; he has the height, weight and speed that scouts covet. Perriman has big play potential on every play and is a willing blocker. The downside is he has a problem with drops that will drive the fan base crazy and also needs to improve his route running. He probably is a boom-or-bust kind of player, but his upside is worth the risk.


— Kincade Upstill

20. Eagles — Byron Jones, defensive back, Connecticut
Associated Press

Eagles head coach Charles “Chip” Kelly has made some headlines with his offseason moves, to say the least. While most of the media attention goes to the offense, it’s the defense that is in bad shape, ranked the No. 23rd D in the NFL last season. The secondary is arguably the defense’s weakest link, as Philly was ranked second to last (31) in passing defense in 2014.

Enter Connecticut’s Byron Jones to help the secondary.

Jones made headlines both at UConn for his play and at the NFL Combine when he recorded a 147-inch broad jump — a Combine record. NFL.com recorded that Jones finished among the top-three cornerbacks at the Combine in all the drills he participated in. Kelly can put Jones at CB or even safety. Jones is a tremendous athlete and despite some not having him selected very high, he is considered as a “league-ready” player, meaning he can start from day 1. Chip Kelly loves speed, and Jones has that and more.


— Xoel Cardenas

21. Bengals — Malcom Brown, defensive lineman, Texas
Associated Press

With a roster full of defensive talent but an overall team defense that slipped to No. 22 in the league last year, the Bengals need immediate run-stuffing help on the D-line. Additionally, the Bengals have drafted defensive ends in the first round the past two years, and to do so again would no doubt elicit howls of disapproval from the Bengal faithful gathered to watch the proceedings.

Brown is generally recognized as a prospect that will be able to play multiple positions along the defensive line at the pro level. An Outland Trophy and Nagurski Award finalist, he has the strength and footwork skills to be an immediate force on the line for the Bengals. He is quick off the line, yet keeps his head up and is able to find the ball quickly, which resulted in him leading the Longhorns in tackles for loss last season.


— Chris VanCampen

22. Steelers — Landon Collins, safety, Alabama
Associated Press

With Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor retiring this offseason, the Steelers will have some big holes in their secondary, which was not the greatest this past season. They gave up the fifth-most passing yards per game.

This year’s top corner Trae Waynes is already off the board, so the Steelers will grab the best safety. Collins already plays like a Steeler, a no-nonsense football player. Collins is better against the run than the pass but is not a liability. He plays similar to the Broncos’ T. J. Ward. Collins does have a case of the butterfingers; he drops a lot of interceptions. Who better to take over for Polamalu than Collins, who will help set the tone for the defense like his predecessor did for this generation’s Steel Curtain?


— Kincade Upstill

23. Lions — Eddie Goldman, defensive lineman, Florida State
Associated Press

The Detroit Lions lost two key pieces from their defense as both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley chose to leave the team via free agency.

Goldman will have a great opportunity with the Lions as he will have the chance to be mentored and work with a future hall of famer in Haloti Ngata.

Eddie has all the tools to become an elite DT. At 6-foot-3 and 320-pounds, Goldman is a great athlete and he has already shown that he can be a great run stopper. Goldman isn’t a great pass rusher, but with experience he could become the dominate pass rusher the Lions have been looking for to replace Suh as the face of the franchise.


— Zach Smith

24. Arizona — Eli Harold, linebacker, Virginia
Associated Press

New defensive coordinator James Bettcher adds the first new toy to his arsenal with this selection. Several pass rushers have already gone off the board at this point, but the Cardinals need some help generating pressure after finishing last season with 35 sacks — 24th in the NFL.

Harold is strong at the point of attack and displayed his physical skills at the combine. He could be a solid complement to Alex Okafor and Calais Campbell, who led Arizona with eight and seven sacks last season, respectively.

Running back was a strong possibility here until Gurley and Gordon went off the board several picks before. Drafting an offensive lineman to help along strengthen the right side of the line was also a consideration here, as was finding a replacement for Antonio Cromartie at cornerback.


— Brandon Judd

25. Panthers — Andrus Peat, offensive lineman, Stanford
Associated Press

There might not be a school that relies more heavily on its offensive line than Stanford, so Andrus Peat is used to being counted on. He has elite length and quickness, and at times can be very dominant — but not always. When a defensive end attacks Peat aggressively he can be beat, something Utes' fans saw firsthand when they witnessed Nate Orchard beating him on the edge this past season.

Still, he has the tools to be a very effective offensive lineman; he may just need to develop a little more of a mean streak to reach his full potential.


— Ryan Miller

26. Ravens — Jaelen Strong, wide receiver, Arizona State
Associated Press

Strong is just that: strong. A big, physical possession-type receiver, Strong is long and tall enough to battle NFL defensive backs and was first team All-Pac 12 in 2014. He is able to find open spots in space, where he has a decent vertical leap and strong hands to finish catches in traffic. He is also physical in his lower body, enabling him to pick up yards after the catch.

The Ravens already have a pretty well-known guy in Steve Smith (go Utes!), but he is nearing the end of his career, and most experts agree that Joe Flacco needs more targets to throw at. While Strong may not be the breakaway threat that Smith is, he does have a knack for finding the open spaces and coming away with big catches. Flacco should have a new favorite target here.


— Chris VanCampen

27: Cowboys — Marcus Peters, defensive back, Washington
Associated Press

With the departure of DeMarco Murray, many are predicting that Dallas selects a running back at No. 27. But running back is just one of a few items Jerry Jones needs to consider in the draft. Dallas’ weakness at defense is without question the secondary. With this in mind — as well as with RBs Toddy Gurley and Melvin Gordon off the board — the Cowboys will look for a cornerback, and the best one available is Marcus Peters.

Peters had issues at Washington, leading him to be kicked off the team in November of last year. Peters is in need of mentoring and discipline, something defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and secondary coach Jerome Henderson will have to conduct. The Cowboys are one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl, and the addition of a stud CB to the secondary will only further enhance their chances of reaching the big game. Peters is the best cover corner in the draft, and as we’ve seen, Jones is not afraid of taking a chance on a player with off-field history in order to help the Cowboys win.


— Xoel Cardenas

28. Broncos — T.J. Clemmings, offensive lineman, Pittsburgh
Associated Press

Clemmings is a bit raw as he started his football career at defensive end rather than at offensive tackle, but he certainly has the athletic ability for the job. He’s going to need some development. However, a top priority for the Broncos will be keeping Peyton Manning healthy for as long as possible, so getting solid offensive linemen is key. Clemmings is the best offensive tackle on the board at this pick.


— Lafe Peavler

29. Colts — Cameron Erving, offensive lineman, Florida State
Associated Press

Most teams struggle with depth at the offensive line and the Colts are no different. With its franchise quarterback already under center, Indianapolis could use another blocker to protect its investment. If Cameron Erving is still on the board when the Colts make their pick, he would be a great choice.

Erving is a big, physical offensive lineman with good athletic ability. He played both tackle and guard at Florida State after switching from the defensive side of the ball early in his college career, but will more than likely play center in the NFL.


— Jay Yeomans

30. Packers — Jalen Collins, defensive back, Alabama
Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers need a cornerback and with Trae Waynes, Marcus Peters and Byron Jones off the board, Collins looks like the Pack's best option. Thanks to size and athleticism, Collins can press and reroute receivers at the line of scrimmage as well as run with quick wideouts and win 50-50 throws.

Plus, he’s from LSU, aka Defensive Back U. Several highly-rated secondary players have come out of Baton Rouge in the last few years, including fellow cornerback Patrick Peterson, who has 15 picks in four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Collins isn’t as good as Peterson, but he can definitely benefit the Packers and makes a lot of sense at No. 30.


— Jared Bray

31. Saints (via Seahawks) — Nelson Agholor, wide receiver, USC
Associated Press

After trading away Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham the Saints need some receivers, enter Agholor. The USC receiver is good at creating separation as a route runner, and is versatile, with the ability to play out wide and in the the slot. He also could become an effective returner, which further adds to his value.


— Ryan Miller

32. Patriots — Eric Rowe, defensive back, Utah
Deseret News

For a team coming off winning the title and its fourth under the same quarterback, New England actually has a few needs. The Patriots lost Steven Ridley and Darrelle Revis to the rival Jets, Vince Wilfork to Houston, Brandon Browner to New Orleans, Akeem Ayers to St. Louis and Shane Vereen to the Giants. Thus, New England likely goes with the best available player that fits any of their needs.

However, losing two big, athletic and physical corners such as Revis and Browner, this would be a grand opportunity to snatch a similar corner before the second day of the draft. Rowe fits that description and would be a perfect addition to the Patriots’ scheme.


— Carter Williams

Mock draft summary
Associated Press

What was the best pick of the draft? Vote here

1. Buccaneers — Jameis Winston, quarterback, Florida State
2. Titans — Marcus Mariota, quarterback, Oregon
3. Jaguars — Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Alabama
4. Raiders — Kevin White, wide receiver, West Virginia
5. Washington — Dante Fowler, linebacker, Florida
6. Jets — Brandon Scherff, offensive line, Iowa
7. Bears — DeVante Parker, wide receiver, Louisville
8. Falcons — Vic Beasley, linebacker, Clemson
9. Giants — Randy Gregory, defensive line, Nebraska
10. Rams — Leonard Williams, defensive lineman, USC
11. Vikings — Trae Waynes, cornerback, Michigan State
12. Browns — Danny Shelton, defensive line, Washington
13. Saints — Shane Ray, defensive line, Missouri
14. Dolphins — Arik Armstead, defensive line, Oregon
15. 49ers — Alvin “Bud” Dupree, linebacker, Kentucky
16. Texans — Todd Gurley, running back, Georgia
17. Chargers — Melvin Gordon, running back, Wisconsin
18. Chiefs — Dorial Green-Beckham, wide receiver, Missouri
19. Browns (via Bills) — Breshad Perriman, wide receiver, Central Florida
20. Eagles — Byron Jones, defensive back, Connecticut
21. Bengals — Malcom Brown, defensive line, Texas
22. Steelers — Landon Collins, safety, Alabama
23. Lions — Eddie Goldman, defensive line, Florida State
24. Arizona — Eli Harold, linebacker, Virginia
25. Panthers — Andrus Peat, offensive line, Stanford
26. Ravens — Jaelen Strong, wide receiver, Arizona State
27: Cowboys — Marcus Peters, defensive back, Washington
28. Broncos — T.J. Clemmings, offensive lineman, Pittsburgh
29. Colts — Cameron Erving, offensive line, Florida State
30. Packers — Jalen Collins, defensive back, Alabama
31. Saints (via Seahawks) — Nelson Agholor, wide receiver, USC
32. Patriots — Eric Rowe, defensive back, Utah