2015 NFL Mock Draft
Last Updated: December 16, 2014
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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Three weeks are left in the regular season. With five teams tied at 2-11, the strength of schedule tiebreaker comes into play in a major way at the top. Here's a link with details.
2015 NFL Mock Draft
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (6'4" 215) *
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 - Jameis Winston, QB, Florida St. (6'4" 235) *
The draft board has Mariota and Winston, then a massive drop-off. Despite the multiple top-level defensive line prospects in this draft, demand for high-end quarterback prospects is so high that Mariota and Winston going 1-2 in this draft is entirely reasonable. There are concerns about Winston's decision-making off the field, but there is no doubt that he is a winner. And the Titans could really use that at the QB position.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska (6'6" 245)*
Either Gregory or USC's Leonard Williams could be a viable option here, and don't count out Amari Cooper if the Jaguars decide that giving Blake Bortles a top-tier receiver is a high priority.
4. Oakland Raiders - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama (6'1" 200) *
Oakland is in a loaded division and had the entire NFC West on its schedule for this year, and its very tough schedule paradoxically hurt the team in the draft order game due to strength of schedule being the lone draft order tiebreaker before a coin flip. Cooper would provide a major spark for an offensive unit that could very much use some help.
5. Washington Redskins - Leonard Williams, DL, USC (6'5" 300) *
You might see the Redskins target an offensive lineman here, but Williams is a special talent who has earned nationwide attention in his time at Southern Cal. In this scenario there are a variety of options the Redskins could go with at this spot.
6. New York Jets - Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (6'5" 300)
Wholesale changes would seem to be in order for the Jets after the season, and that could lead the team to go in any number of directions in the draft. But if the Jets don't have a chance to draft Mariota, Winston or Cooper, going with a top-flight prospect like Ogbuehi, particularly to work at least initially on the right side, could be the best course of action.
7. New York Giants - Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri (6'2" 240)
Drafting a high-level talent like Ray would help to negate the huge void expected to be created by the anticipated departure of Jason Pierre-Paul via unrestricted free agency this off-season.
8. 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.
9. Carolina Panthers - Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa (6'5" 320)
The abrupt retirement of offensive tackle Jordan Gross this past off-season dealt a serious blow to Carolina's offensive line. There will be multiple options for the Panthers in the first round to address the problem, even if they sneak into the playoffs and thus end up drafting outside of the top 20.
10. 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.
11. New Orleans Saints - Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida (6'2" 260) *
Even in a down season for the Gators, Fowler has looked great despite being the focus of opposing offensive lines. He could give the Saints a much-needed boost at the 3-4 OLB spot. Much like Carolina, the Saints would end up drafting outside the top 20 if they end up winning the moribund NFC South.
12. St. Louis Rams - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon (5'9" 195)
The Rams need a quarterback, but taking one here would be a huge stretch. Rather than that, perhaps St. Louis would look to improve its secondary with the highly-touted IEO.
13. Houston Texans - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville (6'3" 210)
Beyond Amari Cooper, there is a strong trio in the 1B tier of Parker, WVU's Kevin White and Arizona State's Jaelen Strong. Having their choice of the three would be a nice scenario here for the Texans, another team needing a QB but unlikely to find one here without making a major stretch.
14. 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.
15. San Francisco 49ers - Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor (6'8" 275) *
Oakman is a massive defensive lineman, and while opinions on him vary, adding him to an already talented front seven on defense would be advantageous for the 49ers. A new era seems imminent for the 49ers, with all sorts of speculation on where Jim Harbaugh might go and what (if anything) the 49ers might be able to extract by trading his rights to another NFL team.
16. 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.
17. Kansas City Chiefs - Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona St. (6'4" 210) *
Wide receiver is a major need for the Chiefs, and landing Strong here would be a beneficial turn of events for the Chiefs.
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 after the season.
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 this off-season.
21. Atlanta Falcons - Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan (6'5" 230) *
Note that if Atlanta doesn't win the NFC South, it will be drafting at a much higher spot. Funchess is more of the modern form of TE/WR hybrid than a traditional blocker, but the absence of the now-retired Tony Gonzalez hasn't helped things for Atlanta's offense, to be sure.
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. Baltimore Ravens - Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson (6'2" 235)
I admit that I like Beasley more than most and could see him potentially being a top 10 pick, but others feel he won't end up going in the top 32 slots. He's a sack machine, and despite some questions about his run defense, his skillset would seem to fit in well in Baltimore.
24. 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.
25. Dallas Cowboys - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington (6'0" 200)
Things didn't work out for Peters with the new administration at the University of Washington. But forget that: Peters is supremely talented and would be a great fit at a need spot for the Cowboys.
26. 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.
27. Indianapolis Colts - Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia (6'3" 225) *
Floyd had his struggles in the Cocktail Party game with Florida, but overall he brings so much speed coming off the edge that he could fit a need spot for the Colts.
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. Denver Broncos - Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford (6'2" 215)
Free agency will be rough for Denver, and they don't have the cap room to sign Thomas & Thomas (Demaryius and Julius) and others like CB Chris Harris who are set to make money elsewhere next year. All kinds of options are in play here for the Broncos.
* 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
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