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Thursday, 2 April 2015

2015 1st Round NFL Mock Draft: Volume 1.0


With less than a month away, I figured it was a good time to release my first mock draft of the year.   Slowly but surely the picture is becoming clearer as to what prospects teams are gunning for.


1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14): Jameis Winston, Quarterback, Florida State


While the Bucs have several question marks on the defensive side of the ball, the biggest thing currently holding them back is the quarterback position.  Mike Glennon has filled in admirably; however he is not the answer if the Bucs want to find success any time soon.  While Winston, no doubt has several character concerns, the talent is too much for Tampa to pass on.  If he stays out of trouble he will be a franchise quarterback for the next 10-12 years.   


2. Tennessee Titans (2-14) Marcus Mariota, Quarterback, Oregon


While the Titans are publically saying they are comfortable with Zack Mettenberger as the quarterback of the future, I believe a player of Mariota’s stature will be too much to pass on.  Another option would be a trade down if teams such as the Jets or Rams are willing to offer a massive package to move up.  In this scenario, the Titans stick with the pick and take the promising young quarterback.  Mariota would most likely slide in as the starter for the Titans as a rookie. 


3. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13) Leonard Williams, Defensive End, USC


The Jaguars luck out having already gotten their franchise quarterback last year and snagging the best player in this year’s draft at third overall.  Williams is disruptive who will wreck havoc on quarterbacks for years to come.  Williams, one of the safest picks in the draft, would be a great fit in Gus Bradley’s defense and could help turn them into one of the better young defense in the league.


4. Oakland Raiders (3-13) Kevin White, Wide Receiver West Virginia


One thing that has remained true throughout the years is that the Raiders love speed.  White, one of the NFL combine standouts, not only possesses elite speed but has good size at 6”2; and 215 pounds.  White has all the tools to be a number one wide receiver for the next decade and would make a great 1-2 punch with second year quarterback Derek Carr for years to come. 


5. Wahsington Redskins (4-12) Dante Fowler Jr., Outside Linebacker, Florida


With the Jaguars passing on Fowler to grab Leonard Williams, this opens the door for the Redskins to nab Fowler, one of the best edge pass rushers in the draft.   Fowler played defensive end with the Gators, however, he projects as more of an outside linebacker at the next level.  Fowler could greatly improve a Redskins pass rusher that had been lacking at times in 2014. 


6. New York Jets (4-12) Vic Beasley, Outside Linebacker, Clemson


After revamping the defense by bringing back both Darrell Revis and Antonio Cromartie, the Jets defense has a chance to be special this year.  However, the weakest spot on the defensive side of the ball was outside linebacker in 2014.  Beasley is an explosive pass rusher who would most likely slide in immediately at the outside linebacker position in their 3-4 defensive base.   If Beasley pans out like many think he will he could be the missing piece of an elite defense in 2015 and forward. 


7. Chicago Bears (5-11) Danny Shelton, Defensive Tackle, Washington


Over the last few seasons the Bears have been consistently bad at stopping the run even finishing last in 2013.  While they improved somewhat during the 2014 season there is still much room for improvement.  Shelton would help solve that problem immediately, he is massive at 6”2’ 339 pounds and would demand constant double teamswhile helping plug holes in the middle of the field.


8. Atlanta Falcons (6-10) Shane Ray, Outside Linebacker, Missouri


With defensive mastermind Dan Quinn, taking over in Atlanta, you can bet he will make revamping the defense a priority.  Ray is an elite pass rusher who could line up on the outside for the Falcons as a rookie.  He would go a long way in improving a defense that has been subpar for several years with his elite speed and first step quickness. 


9. New York Giants (6-10) Amari Cooper, Wide Receiver, Alabama


As I mentioned in previous articles, while offensive line is the biggest need for the Giants, I just don’t believe the value is there at 9th overall.  In a perfect world Jerry Reese would find a trade partner to trade down and accumulate an extra 2nd or 3rd rounder and then address the offensive line.  Having said that, Reese is a strong proponent of drafting the best player available and in this case that would be Amari Cooper.  Cooper would give the Giants two cost controlled stud receivers for the next four years. 


10. St. Louis Rams (6-10) Brandon Scherff Offensive Tackle/Guard, Iowa


Even after investing the second overall pick on Greg Robinson in last year’s draft, the Rams could still use another talented lineman to help build the line.  With the recent success of last year’s Cowboys offensive line, many teams may try to mimic the strategy by investing premium picks on offensive lineman.  Scherff is the top lineman prospect in the draft and may start out his career as a guard. 


11. Minnesota Vikings (7-9) Trae Waynes, Cornerback, Michigan State


While the Vikings are solid in the front seven, they lack size and depth in the secondary.  Waynes is one of the safest picks in the draft and has the potential to be an elite cornerback in the NFL.  In a division with some of the top passing offenses, this would be a wise pick for the Vikings to shore up their secondary.  


12. Cleveland Browns (7-9) Randy Gregory, Outside Linebacker, Nebraska


A recent failed drug test has Gregory plummeting down the draft boards.  While the risk is there, the Browns could greatly benefit if Gregory drops all the way to number twelve overall.  Gregory is a top five prospect who has the potential to be an elite pass rusher.    Adding Gregory to an already young and talented defense could help make the Browns defense one of the best in the NFL.


13. New Orleans Saints (7-9) La’El Collins, Offensive Tackle/Guard, LSU


The Saints could use an upgrade and infusion of youth on their offensive line.  La’El Collins is one of the top tackles in the NFL who could start his career as a guard.  He would go a long way in solidifying an offensive line to protect Drew Brees in the later years of his career. 


14. Miami Dolphins (8-8) Devante Parker, Wide Receiver, Louisville


This past off-season the Dolphins made it a priority to revamp their wide receiver corps.  They decided to let Brian Hartline walk in free agency along with trading Mike Wallace to the Vikings.  Parker would help solidify a young talented wide receiver corps with Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills.   While Parker was injured for part of the past season, he absolutely dominated ACC competition when healthy.  Parker has the upside to be the best wide receiver in the draft and would be another great weapon for Ryan Tannenhill. 


15. San Francisco 49ers (8-8) Arik Armstead, Defensive End/Tackle, Oregon


Armstead is one of the higher upside players in the draft and would fill a huge need for the 49ers defense.  The 49ers defense was absolutely obliterated this off-season due to retirements and free agent departures.  The defense desperately needs an injection of young talented play makers on the defensive side of the ball.  He is a physical specimen and has the potential to be an All-Pro defensive lineman. 


16. Houston Texans (9-7) Breshad Perriman, Wide Receiver, Central Florida


With the departure of mainstay Andre Johnson, the Texans have a glaring hole at wide receiver after DeAndre Hopkins.   Perriman is blessed with elite speed and good size at 6”2’ and could line up on the outside and stretch the field for the Texans.  He would most likely be a starter day one and has the potential to be a superstar. 


17. San Diego Chargers (9-7) Todd Gurley, Running Back, Georgia


With the departure of former first round pick Ryan Mathews to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Chargers now have a huge need for a starting caliber running back.  Gurley is one of the most talented players in the draft, and had he not torn his ACL at the end of last season would most likely be a top 10 pick.  He is a great pick for the Chargers here and would be the starter from day one.  Look for him to be the favorite for Offensive Rookie Of The Year


18. Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) Jalen Strong, Wide Receiver, Arizona State


While it may not be the best value to get the fifth ranked wide receiver eighteenth overall, there isn’t a team in the league that needs wide receiver help more than the Chiefs.  The Chiefs recently cut mainstay wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and went the entire 2014 season without a receiver catching a touchdown pass.  Strong would start right away for the Chiefs and has a good chance of being their top receiver in 2015. 


19. Cleveland Browns (7-9) Ereck Flowers, Offensive Tackle, Miami


With five wide receivers already off the board, it won’t make sense for the Browns to reach for a second round talent here even though they need a wide receiver.  In this case Flowers is the best player available for them and can help anchor their offensive line for the next decade.  Flowers would most likely start his career at right tackle with the potential to move over to left tackle after a year or two. 


20. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) Landon Collins, Safety, Alabama


The Eagles secondary was absolutely putrid at times during the 2014 season.  In this scenario the top safety in the draft class slide to the Eagles at number twenty overall.  He is an athletic strong safety who absolutely excels at run support and would be a staple in the Eagles secondary for years to come.   


21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) T.J. Clemmings, Offensive Tackle, Pittsburgh


Clemmings is a versatile lineman who is great value at number twenty-one overall.   Starting tackle Andrew Whitworth is getting up there in age and will be thirty-three at the start of the season with one year remaining on his contract.  Cincinnati would be wise to start off Clemmings at one of the guard spots for the first year then move him outside to tackle after Whitworth’s contract is up.


22. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) Eli Harold, Defensive End, Virginia


While Harold is a raw prospect he has a ton of upside and would give the Steelers a young defensive lineman who could be a mainstay on the defensive line for years.  He excels at run stopping and would at the very least be a rotational player for his first year with the Steelers.  


23. Detroit Lions (11-5) Malcolm Brown, Defensive Tackle, Texas


After losing superstar defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to the Dolphins during free agency, the Lions would be wise to find a replacement along the defensive line.  While they traded for nose tackle Haloti Ngata, he seems to be in the twilight of his career and will not be in the Lions long-term plans.  Brown is a borderline top 10 talent and a great run stopper.  He would most likely slide in alongside Ngata and start from day one.


24. Arizona Cardinals (11-5) Eddie Goldman, Defensive Tackle, Florida State


While the Cardinals have a great front seven, they could use an injection of youth.  Goldman is an elite defensive tackle prospect with great size and strength.  He’s great against the run and can plug holes in the middle of the field for the Cardinals.  Look for him to help propel the Cardinals defense to the next level if he meets his potential. 


25. Panthers (7-8-1) Andrus Peat, Offensive Tackle, Stanford


The offensive line is one of the biggest needs for the Panthers.  Peat is a great talent who is a bit raw and would most likely benefit from starting his career at right tackle.  With the recently signed Michael Oher most likely manning the left tackle spot, Peat could slide in at right tackle during his rookie season and move to left tackle in a few years.   


26.  Baltimore Ravens (10-6) Kevin Johnson, Cornerback, Wake Forest


Last seasons the Ravens secondary fell apart due to several injuries.  Johnson would be a much needed depth piece that could be eased into the defense possibly starting as the Ravens nickel cornerback.  Johnson would be great value at the end of the first round.  He excels in man coverage and is very disruptive at the line in press coverage.  Look for him to be one of the steals of the draft. 


27. Dallas Cowboys (12-4) Eric Kendricks, Inside Linebacker, UCLA


While the Cowboys recently resigned Rolando McClain to a one-year deal, the linebacker has a history of run-ins with the law and has already retired from football once.  McClain most likely isn’t in the Cowboys long-term plans despite his come back season last year.  Kendricks could be an immediate contributor on special teams and become a starter at the inside linebacker position in his second year with the Cowboys.


28. Denver Broncos (12-4) D.J. Humphries, Offensive Tackle, Florida


With the departure of offensive tackle Orlando Franklin to the San Diego Chargers, this seems like a no brainer pick for the Broncos.  He is the best tackle left on the board and could contribute at either right tackle or left tackle during his rookie campaign.  With Manning getting up there in age it is extremely important to protect him with a solid offensive line. 


29. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) Bud Dupree, Outside Linebacker, Kentucky


The Colts have an embarrassment of riches on the offensive side of the ball; however, they would greatly benefit infusing some young talent on the defensive side of the ball with their premium picks.  Dupree is a great athlete who could potentially start on the outside as a rookie.  He would be a great start to revamping a defense that has struggled the last few years. 


30. Green Bay Packers (12-4) Marcus Peters, Cornerback, Washington


Peters is an extremely talented cornerback who dropped a bit due to some character concerns after a few run-ins with law.  With the Packers losing cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House to free agency, Peters would fill a huge needs for the Packers and slide in as either a nickel cornerback or number two corner during his rookie year.


31. New Orleans Saints (7-9) Maxx Williams, Tight End, Minnesota


While some may think this is a bit of a reach, after trading Jimmy Graham away the Saints have a huge void to fill at the tight end position.  Based on how big a part the tight end is in Sean Payton’s offense, I believe they will spend one of their first few picks at the tight end position.  Williams is a great pass catching receiver and would most likely start from day one.  He would greatly benefit from catching passes from Drew Brees in the Saints heavy passing offense. 


32. New England Patriots (12-4) Melvin Gordon, Running Back, Wisconsin


The rich get richer.  The defending Super Bowl champs benefit from a top 15 talent like Gordon sliding in the draft.  While running back has been a revolving door the last few years in the Patriot’s backfield, Gordon could bring some stability as a work horse back from the get go and has the chance to be a superstar in the league.  


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