2015 NFL Mock Draft
Last Updated: September 2, 2014
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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2015 NFL Mock Draft
Here is the order I will use, based on the odds of winning the next Super Bowl (adjusted for actual playoff possibilities for spots 21-32, e.g. no two teams from the same conference at #31 and #32) just as I always do from this point in the process to a few weeks into the season. People seem to get more upset at me over perceived slights about a given team. Odds for this will vary depending on where you look, but this is for demonstrative purposes more than anything.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Williams, DL, USC (6'5" 300) *
As great as the prospects might be at quarterback and offensive tackle, odds are the Jaguars wouldn't be taking one here. In the copycat NFL, one would think that Seattle's success with rushing four and dropping seven into coverage into Super Bowl will be replicated in various iterations. It's a logical progression in the adaptation by defenses to rules put in place for player safety that tilted football toward being so passing-oriented. Williams in a 4-3 set as a DT could be able to do some great things in the NFL.
2. Minnesota Vikings - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (6'1" 200) *
Another no QB, no OT scenario here for the Vikings. But if Cooper lives up to the expectations that he set with his outstanding 2012 season, he could be in legit contention as a top five pick.
3. Oakland Raiders - Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (6'5" 300)
This is lining up to be a potentially very strong offensive tackle class. Ogbuehi is hardly a lock to be the top guy off the board, but he would fill a need position for the Raiders.
4. Tennessee Titans - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida St. (6'4" 235) *
As a Titans fan, I still hope I'm wrong about Jake Locker. But time is running out for that. Winston is coming off a national championship with the Seminoles and has tremendous long-term potential. Some like Marcus Mariota better, and he might win out, but Winston's accuracy is as outstanding as his athleticism. So, for now, he goes above Mariota on this board.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (6'4" 215) *
If the Bucs are picking this high with their own selection, going with a quarterback like Mariota would seem to be an extremely likely scenario. If it ends up being Winston vs. Mariota in this draft, it should be a good battle for the top QB slot.
6. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo) - Sammy Coates, WR, Auburn (6'2" 200) *
There's a reason that Coates is number one on Bruce Feldman's recent list of college football freaks for 2014. Raw speed is a very valuable commodity in the NFL.
7. Cleveland Browns - Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford (6'7" 310) *
Joe Thomas is a superstar at left tackle, but that won't necessarily preclude the Browns from going with an elite prospect like Peat.
8. New York Jets - Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska (6'6" 245)*
If Gregory can post a season similar to his 10.5 sack, 19 TFL (tackle for loss) 2013 campaign, he could very well end up as one of the first few defensive players taken in the draft.
9. San Diego Chargers - Jaelen Strong, WR, Michigan St. (6'4" 210) *
Can Malcom Floyd recover from the neck injury that waylaid his 2013 season? Will the Chargers offer a pending free agent Eddie Royal a new deal between now and the off-season? Decisions must be made.
10. Miami Dolphins - Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio St. (6'2" 290)
The value of defensive linemen with the capacity to effectively pressure the quarterback is on the rise but still behind the curve. Sooner or later, teams will adjust, particularly with the NFL having the defensive holding rules called tighter than ever this year. It's like 1994 all over again, for those of you who remember the rules being tightened up going into that season.
11. Houston Texans - Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland (6'0" 195) *
Diggs suffered a broken leg last season, so this projection is based on the belief that not only is he going to return and play well -- he'll be able to do so at a top-tier level. After his monster 2012 campaign (1,896 all-purpose yards), expectations are high for Diggs to perform in a major way as the Terripans begin play as a member of the Big Ten.
12. Washington Redskins - Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson (6'2" 235)
OLB Brian Orakpo ended up franchise tagged, which helps Washington for this season but raises some concern for the long-term. I'm a huge fan of Vic Beasley, and he could ultimately end up going in the first five picks of this draft. He has an innate ability to effectively pressue the quarterback.
13. Dallas Cowboys - Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA (6'3" 230)
Think the Cowboys will go interior offensive line for a third straight year? Only joking... I think.
Tony Romo is under contract through the end of the 2019 NFL season. But forget that -- the reality is that he'll turn 35 in the upcoming off-season, he's coming off of back surgery and there are concerns about his deep passes. And, if the Cowboys are drafting in this spot it means, absent a trade, they'll be out of the playoffs this year. Those factors would lead me to think the Cowboys would consider a talent like Hundley at this spot.
14. St. Louis Rams - Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor (6'3" 230)
His completion percentage (62% last year) is somewhat of a concern, though Petty will have the chance to remedy that this season. I nearly projected a quarterback to the Rams before Sam Bradford's latest injury, but with him out for the year, the likelihood of the Rams viewing him as a sunk cost and finally moving on at the position would seem to increase considerably.
15. Arizona Cardinals - Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi St. (6'4" 245) *
With the loss of Daryl Washington for the season thanks to another failed drug test, and the likelihood that there will be a long-term rift there involving his $10 million option bonus, the Cardinals will likely be inclined to look elsewhere to find a replacement. McKinney is a tackling machine who could easily play himself into a top 15 spot if he performs as expected in the SEC this year.
16. Carolina Panthers - Cameron Erving, OT, Florida St. (6'5" 305)
Jordan Gross deciding to retire was just part of a brutal loss of talent this off-season for the Panthers. Protecting Cam Newton is vital, and while moving Byron Bell to the left side might work for the short-term, but long-term an elite talent like Erving would hit the spot.
17. Atlanta Falcons - Lorenzo Mauldin, DE/OLB, Louisville (6'4" 245)
With the Falcons in a 3-4 and in need of pass-rushing help, going with a player like Mauldin makes sense. There are plenty of top-tier 4-3 DE/3-4 OLB types who have the potential to make an impact in the next draft, and at least in theory the Falcons should have several options to choose from here at the position. Mauldin's solid performance against Miami on national television won't hurt his draft stock, to be sure.
18. Baltimore Ravens - Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa (6'5" 320)
From all indications, Scherff has the size and the experience and the motor and the heart you want from a top-tier offensive line prospect. There has been some instability with the Ravens on offensive line, in part because of the retirements/free agent departures that often come with winning a Super Bowl, but drafting Scherff would go a long way toward remedying that situations.
19. New York Giants - Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan (6'5" 230) *
It's curious that the Giants didn't adequated replace Martellus Bennett with a suitable replacement after the 2012 season and then doubled-down on that this past off-season. With Larry Donnell listed as the starting tight end late last month, there will likely be potential for the Giants to upgrade at the position in a major way this upcoming off-season.
20. Detroit Lions - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon (5'9" 195)
I'm pulling for Darius Slay to have a strong second season after a disastrous 2013 campaign -- he was part of a very fun to watch cornerback duo in Starkville with Johnthan Banks. The Lions choosing to take Slay over Banks at #26 overall in the 2013 Draft puzzled me at the time, even though Slay ran a blistering 4.36 time in the 40 at the NFL Combine.
Ekpre-Olomu very easily could have been a first-round pick in last year's draft. But IEO opted to return to Eugene for 2014 and he could end up being the first defensive back taken in the 2015 Draft.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida (6'2" 260) *
Will the Chiefs pay the high price expected to keep Alex Smith beyond 2014? They could franchise tag him, but that business can get dicey. Kansas City's current management is who opted to trade the 2013 #34 overall pick and a conditional 2014 pick that turned out to a 2014 second-rounder to get Smith in March of last year, which makes me think they'll keep him one way or another. Never underestimate the power of ego in this sport.
Fowler is a talented player with a strong ability to reach the QB and size that would seem to avail himself to playing in a 3-4 OLB role.
22. Cincinnati Bengals - P.J. Williams, CB, Florida St. (6'0" 195) *
Not only is Williams a superior defensive back, he has especially strong tackling skills for the position. Don't count out the thought that the Benglas might also instead go with a defensive lineman here.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Tre' Jackson, OG, Florida St. (6'4" 340)
There might be a temptation to project the Eagles taking a wide receiver here with the release of De'Sean Jackson earlier this year. Don't do it. Philadelphia used its 2014 second rounder (Jordan Matthews) and third rounder (Josh Huff) in this past May's draft.
Adding an elite interior offensive line prospect like Jackson makes considerable sense for the Eagles. He has been a sturdy force for the Seminoles and should help whichever team drafts him to shore up things between the tackles.
24. Chicago Bears - Shilique Calhoun, DE/OLB, Michigan St. (6'4" 255 ) *
Adding a defensive end here would make considerable sense for Chicago. Calhoun is a supremely talented playmaker with good size and tremendous long-term potential.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St. (6'1" 185) *
Cornerback has been a problem spot for the Steelers for many years now. Will 2015 be the year that Pittsburgh decides to address that need with a first-round pick?
26. Indianapolis Colts - Landon Collins, SS, Alabama (6'0" 215) *
Collins has played both free safety and strong safety for the Crimson Tide. Drafting him here would help the Colts shore up a need position with a top-tier player at the position.
27. New Orleans Saints - Devonte Fields, DE/OLB, TCU (6'3" 245) *
Fields was supposed to transfer to FCS (I-AA) Stephen F. Austin, but the kibosh was put on that because TCU changed its mind on allowing him to leave. This sort of thing is a great example of why I despise the NCAA rule structure. Capricious and arbitrary.
In 2012, Fields recorded an impressive 18 1/2 tackles for loss and was named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. But an injured foot derailed his 2013 campaign, and domestic violence accusations led to him parting ways with TCU.
So there is a giant question mark hanging over Fields at this point. But if he's able to devote his fall and winter on getting into top-level shape and becoming the best player he can be, there would seem to be the capacity for him to develop into the great player many believe he will become.
28. Green Bay Packers - Ramik Wilson, ILB, Georgia (6'2" 230)
Wilson was a tackling machine last season for the Bulldogs with an SEC-best 133 recorded last year. A similar performance in 2014 should put him in contention to be a first-round selection.
29. New England Patriots - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia (6'2" 230) *
Plenty of people think the Patriots will use this pick on a wide receiver, provided they don't trade it. But you would be remiss to overlook Bill Belichick's penchant for unpredictability in the draft.
When the rests of the league zigs, he zags. There hasn't been a running back taken in the first round since 2012, which would seem to make this the type of spot where Belichick would run counter to a trend and take the top running back on his board. As always with Belichick: expect the unexpected.
I would move Gurley higher after his tremendous second-half against Clemson this past Saturday, but he faces a full season of the SEC grind between now and potential NFL first-round riches in May of next year. If he's survives without major injury, his ceiling is extremely high for a running back in the modern NFL. That's a big if, though.
30. San Francisco 49ers - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington (6'0" 200)
Peters is slightly heavier than you would think the ideal would be for a cornerback prospect, but if he builds on his five-interception 2013 season, he could find himself in contention among the top corners in next year's draft.
31. Denver Broncos - Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky (6'4" 265)
It will be interested to see how Dupree handles the likely major attention from most opponents this season. Defensive linemen without surrounding talent in college generally have a tougher road since they end up facing so many double-teams. But there's no doubting his athleticism or tackling ability.
32. Seattle Seahawks - Josh Shaw, CB, USC (6'1" 200)
It's easy to see how a big, physical corner like Shaw would fit in very well with Seattle's defensive scheme.
* indicates player with NCAA eligibility for 2015 who may opt to enter the 2015 NFL Draft
~ indicates player with NCAA eligibility for 2015 who has either declared for the 2015 NFL Draft or who has signed with an agent