2015 NFL Mock Draft
Last Updated: January 16, 2015
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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The order for the top 8 set, at least save for the forthcoming coin flip to break the strength of schedule tie between San Diego and Kansas City at #17/#18. The window for college players three or more years removed from their high school graduation to enter the draft has closed.
2015 NFL Mock Draft
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida St. (6'4" 235) ~
This could also be where Marcus Mariota goes depending on how the Bucs evaluate the two players. And, no, you can't take them both. Opinion seems to be tilting toward Winston, though ultimately what matters is which one Tampa Bay management believes would fit them best.
There are some who prefer Jameis Winston as a prospect, but in many ways Mariota will be the crown jewel of the 2015 Draft. Look at the crazy money Chicago gave Jay Cutler and Arizona gave Carson Palmer -- top-level quarterbacks are more valuable than ever. Tampa Bay missed out on Chip Kelly, but maybe they'll land the last great QB he recruited to Eugene.
2. Tennessee Titans - Leonard Williams, DL, USC (6'5" 300) ~
Another major decision by a team's management will be made in Nashville, where the Titans must decide if Zach Mettenberger is strong enough of a prospect to keep at quarterback, bypassing Winston and/or Mariota depending on what Tampa Bay does at the top. Mariota would be entering a system far different than he ran at Oregon, while Winston would face perpetual concern/scrutiny regarding his off-the-field behavior -- though that will happen wherever he goes.
Tennessee had a tough transition to a 3-4 base defense last year, and they could sure use a player with Leonard Williams' ability to help solidify things, particularly against the run.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (6'1" 200) ~
The player with the most receiving yards last year for Jacksonville was rookie Allen Hurns with 677 yards. Whether Justin Blackmon returns, the Jaguars need to provide Blake Bortles with some better receiving threats in 2015, and drafting Cooper here would be quite helpful in that endeavor.
Also possible: if Winston and/or Mariota slip, the Jaguars could have multiple teams willing to offer a bonanza of draft picks to move up here to land a quarterback.
4. Oakland Raiders - Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska (6'6" 245) ~
While I like the idea of Oakland drafting Amari Cooper if he's on the board, in this scenario he's gone. Gregory could be an excellent choice here, adding a stronger pass rushing element to the defensive mix for new head coach Jack Del Rio.
5. Washington Redskins - Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa (6'5" 320)
Scherff's stock has been on the rise, and with the torn ACL suffered by Texas A&M OT Cedric Ogbuehi in the Liberty Bowl, he has separated himself from the offensive line pack -- at least at this point.
6. New York Jets - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (6'4" 215) *
Now wouldn't this be interesting. I suspect that for the Jets to get Mariota they will have to trade up, but there is a long way to go between now and day one of the 2015 NFL Draft.
7. Chicago Bears - Landon Collins, SS, Alabama (6'0" 215) ~
Collins will likely be the first defensive back drafted and would fill a huge need for the Bears. It will take more than just Collins to properly improve the team's defense, but he would be a great player to start with in that effort.
8. Atlanta Falcons - Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri (6'2" 240) ~
Another team making major changes this off-season is Atlanta, which desperately needs to add a top-level pass rusher (or two) between now and the start of next season. Ray would be just the latest elite defensive line talent to come from Mizzou, which has been recruiting strong D-line talent for some time now.
9. New York Giants - Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida (6'2" 260) ~
Drafting a high-level talent 4-3 defensive end would help in at least somewhat filling the huge void expected to be created by the anticipated departure of Jason Pierre-Paul via unrestricted free agency this off-season. Fowler was a standout star at Florida who performed well despite the overall struggles of his team in 2014.
10. St. Louis Rams - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville (6'3" 210)
While many still see Amari Cooper as the top WR prospect, Parker is closing the gap. Parker has the size and speed and playmaking ability to warrant being a top 10 pick, and while he won't solve St. Louis' quarterback quandry, he would add another powerful weapon to the offensive attack of the Rams.
11. Minnesota Vikings - Danny Shelton, DT, Washington (6'2" 330)
Defensive linemen with an ability to pressure the quarterback are in very high demand in the NFL. Barring a free agent move like signing Ndamukong Suh, adding Shelton here would be a sensible move for the Vikings.
12. Cleveland Browns - Kevin White, WR, West Virginia (6'3" 210)
Cleveland can't count on Josh Gordon due to his multiple previous NFL suspensions, but even with him on board, adding an exciting playmaker like White would be great for Cleveland's offense.
13. New Orleans Saints - Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson (6'2" 235)
The Saints could really use a boost at the 3-4 OLB spot. Opinions vary considerably on Beasley, but I'm bullish on his chances at becoming a star in the NFL. The guy is a talented pass rusher.
14. Miami Dolphins - Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi St. (6'5" 250) ~
Guys with the size that McKinney has seldom have accompanying top-level skill and speed to match. McKinney is a tackling machine and should be poised to move up draft boards once teams have the chance to see him in person. He would give a boost to a Dolphins defense that finished 24th against the run in 2014.
15. San Francisco 49ers - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington (6'0" 200) ~
Things didn't work out for Peters with the new administration at the University of Washington. But perhaps life in the NFL will prove better for the talented corner, and joining an already strong defense in San Francisco would seem to be a great opportunity for Peters.
16. Houston Texans - Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford (6'6" 315) ~
It remains to be seen what approach the Texans will take at quarterback this fall, but drafting Peat here would give whichever QB is under center a protection boost.
17/18. Kansas City Chiefs - Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona St. (6'4" 210) ~
A coin flip will break the tie for the #17 spot between the Chiefs and Chargers. Wide receiver is a major need for the Chiefs, and landing Strong here would be a beneficial turn of events for the Chiefs.
17/18. San Diego Chargers - P.J. Williams, CB, Florida St. (6'0" 195) ~
This move would make considerable sense if pending unrestricted free agent Brandon Flowers (playing on a one-year "prove it" deal) leaves southern California this offseason.
19. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo) - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St. (6'1" 185) ~
Joe Haden is great, but the Browns need more firepower at corner. Waynes is not afraid to get physical and should in particular help the Browns in man-to-man defensive situations.
20. Philadelphia Eagles - Ronald Darby, CB, Florida St. (6'0" 195) ~
Defensive help, particularly at defensive back, needs to be a point of emphasis for the Eagles. It will be interesting to see what moves the team will make now that head coach Chip Kelly has been given player/personnel responsibility.
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Sammy Coates, WR, Auburn (6'2" 200) ~
It would make sense for the Bengals to look for a defensive back here, but remember that the further you move from the top of the draft, the less you can match up prospects and team needs with much accuracy. Coates is a tremendous talent who would give some extra firepower to the Bengals' passing game.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers - Cody Prewitt, FS, Ole Miss (6'2" 215)
Even if strong safety Troy Polamalu remains in Pittsburgh next year, teaming Prewitt at the free safety spot is an enticing possibility. Prewitt is a hard hitter with great size and NFL quality speed who is underrated on the national draft evaluation level, in my estimation.
23. Detroit Lions - Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida St. (6'3" 320) ~
All indications out of Detroit are that Ndamukong Suh will be allowed to walk after the season as his contract expires. This may be a pipe dream for the Lions, with Goldman having the potential to go much higher. We'll see.
24. Arizona Cardinals - Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio St. (6'2" 290)
Bennett would be interesting to see fit into a 3-4 scheme, but there is no doubting his ability to fill space and, in particular, to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
25. Carolina Panthers - Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (6'6" 325) ~
The abrupt retirement of offensive tackle Jordan Gross in the 2014 off-season dealt a serious blow to Carolina's offensive line. A towering force like Flowers could help improve things in that department.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan (6'5" 230) ~
This projection is done with the anticipation that Owen Daniels will leave in free agency after the season.
27. Dallas Cowboys - Shilique Calhoun, DE/OLB, Michigan St. (6'4" 255) ~
Cornerback is a glaring need, but if the run on DBs projected above this spot happens, the Cowboys can always look in other directions, perhaps for a pass-rushing force like Calhoun.
28. Denver Broncos - Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford (6'2" 215)
Free agency will be rough for Denver, and it's hard to think they will have the cap room to sign Thomas & Thomas (Demaryius and Julius). All kinds of options are in play here for the Broncos.
29. Indianapolis Colts - Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest (6'0" 175)
Will Darius Butler and Josh Gordy be back for 2015? That could play a role in what the Colts opt to do with this selection. Johnson would bring the added benefit of being strong against the run, particularly so for a cornerback.
30. Green Bay Packers - Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky (6'4" 265)
Julius Peppers has been an effective player for Green Bay this season, but he turns 35 in January and can't be expected to last forever. What the Packers opt to do with pending free agent Randall Cobb remains to be seen, and they could choose to go with a wide receiver here if they lose Cobb. But I've seen Dupree play in person and I can affirm he is an effective edge player and a strong tackler.
31. Seattle Seahawks - A.J. Cann, OG, S. Carolina (6'3" 320)
One of the better-kept secrets in the NFL this year is how Seattle's offensive line has been below par at times. Having the dynamic Russell Wilson at QB has helped with that, but adding Cann would be a wise consideration.
32. New England Patriots - Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma (6'5" 225) ~
Bill Belichick is known for taking talented players discarded from other teams and/or available for pennies on the dollar and spinning them into gold. The latest examples: LeGarrette Blount and Akeem Ayers.
DGB is a freakishly talented wide receiver prospect who would, at least in theory, be able to thrive in a system that could use a top-level talent. This isn't the norm for Belichick, but he is notably unpredictable. More likely perhaps is trading down into the upper part of round two, then scooping up DGB there.
~ indicates player with NCAA eligibility for 2015 who gave it up to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft