2015 NFL Draft: First Round Mock Draft of Non-Playoff Teams
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now on the clock. A franchise that has some familiarity with picking first in the NFL Draft (Vinny Testaverde, Bo Jackson) blew a fourth-quarter lead and fell to the New Orleans Saints 23-20.
In a story on ESPN.com, the question of “tanking” for the top pick was brought up on more than occasion on Sunday.
The collapse happened with the Bucs (2-14) playing a lot of backups, and it led to questions about whether the team "tanked" to get the No. 1 pick. Coach Lovie Smith strongly denied that.
"It had nothing to do with substitutions," Smith said. "You look at how we played. To me, I'm going to go back, we're moving the ball fairly well even in the second half. They played a lot better. We played a lot of guys the first half also. Vincent Jackson only played a few reps. That happened in the first half also, and the team we put on the football field had a chance to win right up until (the end).
"Yeah, we didn't have some of our best players there right in the end. But the guys we had in there we felt like we could move the ball and be able to win."
The Bucs played the fourth quarter with three young offensive lineman that aren't starters, lots of changes on defense and without their starting wide receivers.
Here is a look at the top 20 picks of teams that did not make the playoffs in 2014.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Oregon – The Bucs must decide whether they want this year’s Heisman Trophy winner or last season’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, behind center.
Tennessee Titans – Leonard Williams, Defensive Tackle, USC – I believe the team has found its signal caller of the future in Zach Mettenberger, which means an end to Jake Locker in Tennessee. Good riddance. Williams can be the dominant defensive lineman this team needs.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Randy Gregory, Defensive End, Nebraska – The Jaguars front line has been very good this season, but there is not a dominant pass rusher on the team. Gregory gives this team something it has not had since the days of Tony Brackens.
Oakland Raiders – Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver, Alabama – Derek Carr to Amari Copper could be the new pass/catch combination in the NFL. The Raiders have plenty of holes to fill all over the field, but speed on the outside and in the return game is too good to pass up.
Washington Redskins – Andrus Peat, Tackle, Stanford – Another solid lineman from Stanford. The Redskins have many holes to fill as well. The team must start with giving RG III all the protection he can get to lead this offense.
New York Jets – Jameis Winston, Quarterback, FSU – The Jets luck out and get an early (or late) Christmas present. Now, who coaches this uber-talent? Geno Smith said this team may be better with a change at head coach. He never thought about a change behind center.
Chicago Bears – Dante Fowler, Jr., Defensive End, Florida – The standup defensive end could also see time at outside linebacker in the Bears’ scheme. He could be reunited with former Gators linebacker, Jon Bostic. I think Fowler may be the best pass rusher in the draft.
Atlanta Falcons – Vic Beasley, Defensive End, Clemson – The Falcons need help on the defensive line. Beasley is a force would could be used in rush packages on the line or could stand up on the outside as a linebacker. The best linebacker they could have since Jessie Tuggle.
New York Giants – Brandon Scherff, Tackle, Iowa – In the classic mold of the Giants offensive lineman. Scherff may be the best lineman in this Draft. The Giants need to continue to build along both lines. Scherff is the best player on the board.
St. Louis Rams – Devante Parker, Wide Receiver, Louisville – We do not know who will be playing quarterback for the Rams next season (Jay Cutler) but it will be to their benefit, whoever it is, to have someone like Parker with his size, catching passes.
Minnesota Vikings – Shane Ray, Linebacker, Missouri – The Vikings hit last season with Anthony Barr of UCLA. He and Ray make a really fast, intense combination. I can see Ray playing on the outside or lining up on the edge in rush situations.
Cleveland Browns – Shawn Oakman, Defensive End, Baylor – A very raw talent, but at 6’9” you have to take a look. Cleveland will be a team everyone will be aware of next season. Oakman with his wingspan will be havoc on quarterbacks and tackles.
New Orleans Saints – Shaq Thompson, Linebacker, Washington – Thompson fits into the Saints scheme. A tough player who can rush the passer or step back and cover a tight end or running back out of the backfield. The Saints need more youth and speed of defense.
Miami Dolphins – Melvin Gordon, Running Back, Wisconsin – Lamar Miller proved he could be the lead back with his performance Sunday. But the Dolphins still have issues moving the ball on the ground and could use more than one bell cow to carry the load.
San Francisco 49ers – Trae Waynes, Defensive Back, Michigan State – The best defensive back in the Big Ten. Waynes helps a weakness for the 49ers who will have a new head coach and new coordinators when the season starts.
Kansas City Chiefs – Kevin White, Wide Receiver, West Virginia – Is there any other position on this team that needs a huge overhaul? Look for the Chiefs to get a receiver early in the draft and possibly in free agency. No Kansas City receiver caught a touchdown this season.
San Diego Chargers – Landon Collins, Defensive Back, Alabama – Collins falls out of the top 10 and lands in the lap of the Chargers. This is a perfect fit for the former Crimson Tide All American. The Chargers may also look to solidify the offensive line.
Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo) – Ronnie Stanley, Tackle, Notre Dame – Solid blue-collar tackle who will help solidify the running game. The Browns may use Isiah Crowell as their lead back in 2014. Stanley also provides protection for whoever is behind center in 2014.
Philadelphia Eagles – PJ Williams, Defensive Back, FSU – Williams is a solid cover guy and is also adept at playing in the nickel and in zone coverage. He will also be a key player in Philadelphia’s kick return game.