UPDATED 2015 NFL MOCK DRAFT
TUSCALOOSA– Now that the 2015 NFL season is over, fans will really only have 1 thing to look forward to, the 2015 NFL Draft. All 32 teams know where they will be drafting and have the time to clearly decide who will be their guy come April. Of course this is still just an early opinion by one draft fan and expert here at 90.7, but then again it’s never too early to look ahead at the draft. Over the next several months there will be a new an improved draft update on the players who will go in the first. This does not always mean I’ll change the writing material on each player so if you read the same thing twice, it’s just case my opion hasn’t changed. So without further ado, Tampa Bay is on the clock.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Sorry Marcus Mariota but when it comes to the most NFL ready quarterback, Winston is the most NFL ready guy to come out in years. His arm strength is superb and when it comes to making decisions in the pocket, he is arguably the best quarterback in the country this season. Teams also have to like his resume of 26-1 as a starter in college plus a Heisman trophy to his name is another checkmark. His off the field antics might cost him the number 1 spot but Lovie Smith has been known to work with nut-case quarterbacks in the past (hint; Jay Culter). Personally I think Smith will make the overall decision and since Winston seems like a better with Lovie, expect “Famous Jameis” to be in New York….but just for the draft.
2. Tennessee Titans- Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
Now I know recently before I had Shane Ray here from Missouri and personally that could still happen, However, really look back at the game film of both these two athletes, Gregory is probably the better selection here. His 6’6 statue is something that could equal that of AFC South Talent JJ Watt. Not to mention his arm reach of 67 inches will be huge to get off offensive linemen and into the backfield. The defensive front is what the Titans have to work on and Gregory will be a big upgrade this offseason if he isn’t taken number one over all.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Williams, DT, USC
This pick should be a no brainer since Williams is possibly the most talented player in the draft. The Jaguars got their possible franchise quarterback in the last draft and three receivers from his to throw to for the next several seasons. Add Luke Jockel from the year before and the offense is slowly coming together, but the defense really needs help. The Jags were abysmal last year in the pass rush and Williams could definitely be an upgrade that the Jags need. Long story short, Williams is the best player on the board at this point and Jacksonville should just pick the best player at the time.
4. Oakland Raiders- Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Amari Cooper may be the best wide receiver project in this draft class but Reggie Mackenzie is known for making choices like theses. Derrick Carr seems to be the future of Oakland as long as Mackenzie is the GM there. Since Carr only had James Jones to throw to last year, they should really find their franchise receiver to match up with their franchise quarterback. White’s breakout senior raised his draft stock from mid 2nd round to top 10 product. According to NFL.com, some team worry of draft Cooper due to his size and would choose White over him. While White isn’t “top” receiver talent, his 6’3 frame looks a lot better the a 6’0 Cooper. The Raiders have been known to draft poorly but after the rookie season linebacker Kali Mack had, they need a wide receiver in the first round. My money is in White to be the first to go.
5. Washington Redskins- Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
While the offensive line is a train wreck, the Redskins have got to add an elite pass rusher this offseason. Brian Orakpo is about to hit the free agent market and Ryan Kerrigan is average at most. Also with the injury of Cedric Obeguhi from Texas A&M, he’s bound to be there second round for one of these teams to steal him. Shane Ray was possibly the best defensive end in the country last year with a combined 20.5 sacks with Markus Golden. He could easily replace Orakpo as a pass rusher and fill in the role of sack leader in the NFC east. If Ray isn’t taken before here, there’s a chance he won’t be passed up.
6. New York Jets- Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Sorry Geno Smith, you had your chance and you blew it. With a new revamp in the front office for the jets, they also are going to need a new face for their franchise. While Winston in New York seems like a dream come true for fans, another Heisman trophy winner from the west coast isn’t a bad constellation prize. Considered by some as the top pick in the draft, Mariota definitely could be the answer to saving the Jets. He has excelled in the college level and multiple times put the team on his back in order to get a win. The jets have some talent including Eric Deker and Percy Harvin, so if they could have a good quarterback and draft a running game in a later round, they should be back to a decent season come next year.
7. Chicago Bears- Landon Collins, S, Alabama
There’s only one word the Bears need to know in this years draft; defense. My mind has been torn on this pick between Dante Fowler Jr. and Collins so for now I’ll stick with the original. The Bears have spent their last three first round picks on defensive players and should consider making it a fourth year. The “Monsters of the Midway” were more like the Care Bears of Chicago this season. Landon Collins would be a major improvement in the defensive backfield, which finished 27th this season. He’s the most versatile safety to come out of Alabama in the last four years (including former first round picks Mark Barron and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix). Collins could step in immediately and play well, which could be more then what Chris Conte could say most this season. If Lamar Houston and Jared Allen can stay healthy at D-End, safety is the clear choice for drafting this off-season for the Bears.
8. Atlanta Flacons- Dante Fowler Jr., DE/OLB, Florida
If the Bears stuggled on defense in the backfield, then the Falcons match evenly to them with the pass rush. Sure take away the fact the Sean Weatherspoon was out with a torn ACL this year, but even with him in the Falcons really wouldn’t have been much better. With Gregory and Ray off the board, Fowler would make a nice constellation pick here. Fowler was another top SEC defensive player and probably was the only consistent player in Florida’s defense this past season. He may have only had 9 sacks this season but he also had over 75 tackles including 13 for losses. Atlanta needs help with the pass rush so Fowler would be a pretty nice choice.
9. New York Giants- Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
The Giants just fired the defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and have been known for better drafting on the offensive side of the ball. The thing is, Eli Manning isn’t that bad of a quarterback, but his line has suffered over the years. Brandon Scherff is another tackle who could go first overall but more then likely will fall right in the top 10. With Scherff playing the tackle position permanently, the Giants could move Justin Pugh back to his normal guard position and have a solid right side of the line. With Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. dominating at the receiver position, the Giants could be a team to look out for in 2015.
10. St. Louis Rams- Adrus Peat, OT, Stanford
The Rams always seem to be the only team in the top 10 every year that seems like they’re just one pick away from finishing with a .500 record. The offensive line isn’t horrible but there are some major gaps. Jake Long has health concerns and he could be playing less and less over the year. Greg Robinson was a great pick last year but adding another lineman would be a smart move to protect a weak Sam Bradford, that is if Bradford even comes back. Peat has been a day one start for the Cardinal since arriving in Palo Alto three years ago. Built like a tackle with the ability to play almost anywhere on the line, what could you not love about this kid. The Rams have issues everywhere but if Long can’t get healthy, Peat is a pretty good replacement.
11. Minnesota Vikings- Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Well, it finally has happened. Possibly the best prospect in the draft has fallen to his future home. Amari Cooper will not be passed up by a team needing a wide receiver. The Minnesota Vikings need help on the offensive line but also need to give Teddy Bridgewater another receiver besides Corradele Patterson. Cooper’s lean 6’0 frame makes him a perfect No.2 or slot receiver for Mike Zimmer’s offense, not only because of the way Zimmer has revamped the team, but also this would be a reunion of former teammates. Bridgewater and Cooper were not only friends but teammates back in high school. If Bridgewater has any say in this pick, Cooper might become his next favorite target.
12. Cleveland Browns- Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
I’ve had Danny Shelton falling to 19th earlier in my mock drafts but that’s almost impossible the way he’s been producing these past few weeks. Cleveland needs all the help they can get in probably any position but pass rush is probably the weakest. The Browns rush defense was not only the worst in the AFC North, but one of the worst in the AFC period. Take away the fact that Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo fought injuries most of the year and you still have nothing. Shelton could be the nose tackle to compliment Mingo and Karlos Dansby. Shelton is possibly the best defensive tackle in this years draft class, he shouldn’t be passed up past here.
13. New Orleans Saints- Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
The Saints were a heavy favorite to be in the Super Bowl this year and yet they didn’t even make the playoffs. The defensive back position needs work but they also just drafted Kenny Vaccaro and signed Jarius Byrd so they should at least give them another year. The Saints have been missing a pass rush since they released Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith last year and defiantly should be looking to pick up a new one in the draft. Fowler would be a great pickup here and so would Bud Dupree but I think the smartest pickup is Vic Beasley from Clemson. He was easily one of the best pass rushers in college football the past 2 seasons and has been possibly one of the bigger names in the draft class. Beasley is known for putting pressure on players on the ground and that is definetly something the Saints need. As long as his pro day and combine performances don’t head south, he would be a great pick for the Big Easy.
14. Miami Dolphins- DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The Dolphins should consider adding another running back and wide receiver to complete the Dolphins offense in the draft and they really could wait until next round to pick one, that was until rumors of Mike Wallace started flying. According to reports coming out of Miami, the Dolphins are about ready to cut ties with him so they defiantly need a new number 1 receiver. Jarvis Landry impressed last year, but he never was nor will a top receiver. DeVante Parker however is and could go as high Oakland in the first round. He may not be as a fast as Cooper or as quick handed as White, but Parker is just as good at running routes and finding his way to the ball as both of those two. Easily a replacement for Wallace for Tannehill to become best buds with.
15. San Francisco 49’ers- Jalen Strong, WR, Arizona St.
With Harbaugh out, the 49er’s best option would be to go with an offensive mind as their head coach to help out Kaepernik. The receiver position as a whole was weak for the 49er’s this season and may not get much better. Michael Crabtree could be gone to free agency, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis aren’t the same players they used to be and Stevie Johnson was the biggest disappointment of the four. Finding a new, fresh face for Kaepernik might be the smart solution. With the top three receivers off the board, the 49er’s could go a lot of ways with this pick, for me I go Jalen Strong. Strong is quick like Parker and almost as big as him, just not the best receiver with hands. He still could come in quick and make an impact on the 49er’s offense though. Also, he’s used to playing in a west coast offense so this could be a an easy transaction for him.
16. Houston Texans- Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas
Take nothing away from the Texans season, if they would have beaten the Cowboys this playoff picture might be a whole lot different. The Texans should give Ryan Mallet at least one year before drafting a first round quarterback. While Andre Johnson is on the back end of his career, he still has some fight left in him. JJ Watt is the unsung hero for the Texans and could use some help up front. Malcolm Brown was part of the reason the Longhorns defense was so good in the Big 12. The 6’2, 300 pounder could really help destroy some weak AFC south offensive lines and has the ability to compliment Watt as a pass rusher. Imagine Watt, Brown, Clowney and Cushing all coming out you…..that’s a nightmare for most quarterbacks.
17. San Diego Chargers- La’el Collins, OT, LSU
I know earlier I said that Melvin Gordon would be going here but with three running backs returning, the Chargers will probably wait before adding a forth or possibly fifth. They could however use help on the offensive line and La’el Collins could be a blessing for the Chargers. He was possibly the best Tackle in the SEC and helped save LSU’s mediocre season. Collins only allowed 11 sacks on the season which could benefit an aging Phillip Rivers. With him and DJ Fluker on the edges, this could finally be Rivers year to win the MVP.
18. Kansas City Chiefs- Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
This is a shock pick, but then again…is it? Although he sat out for a year, DGB is clear a top five receiver in this draft class and will more then likely dominate at the combines. Sure his off the field antics might cost him a first round selection but if Jameis Winston can go number 1 after all he did, so can DGB. The Chiefs clearly need help at the Wide Receiver position after not having a single touchdown reception to a receiver since week 16 of the 2013 season. DGB grew up watching the Chiefs play on Sundays and could find himself as their first round choice this draft. If he nails the combines, DGB should be returning home.
19. Cleveland Browns (via. Buf)- Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
I hate doing this to Cleveland since they need a wide receiver in the first round but they have to get one at 19th. Danny Shelton was too good not to pass up on and with possibly the top five off the board, Sammie Coates is the next best guy. Coates shined in the Tigers offense in 2013 and was still a hot target in 2014 with over 700 receiving yards. He could easily also become Johnny Man..or Brian Hoy…well whoever is throwing the ball next season’s target with Josh Gordon out again. This isn’t the best best, but Coates does have talent and could easily shine in the NFL out in Cleveland.
20. Philadelphia Eagles- Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
There has been a lot of talk of the Eagles trading up to take Marcus Mariota or even waiting here to take Brett Hundley of UCLA but honestly don’t buy into it. Nick Foles before his injury was on track to have another good season, so the Eagles should cut him a break and give him another year. One thing the Eagles will need to do is find someone who can cover Dez Bryant, DeSean Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr. week in and week out. Trae Waynes fits in perfectly with the Eagles due to his size. Not to mention his shiftiness and agility make him a great cover corner in a division with three star receivers going at it twice a year. More to the point, Chip Kelly likes bigger guys covering receivers and at 6’2, you don’t find many corners bigger then that.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- Alvin “Bud” Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
It seems like every year that the Bengals just keep taking a corner back and yet they never seem to have enough. Of course there are some great corners still on the board, they could easily get one in the second round to keep the streak alive but a pass rusher might not be there come time at the 58th pick. The Bengals have to add pressure to Flacco and Roethlisberger every week and Geno Atkins isn’t the long term answer. Bud Dupree might be however, after all he did have a fantastic season for the Wildcats. Dupree recorded 8 sacks for the Wildcats, which matches up with Carlos Dunlap almost in tandem. Dupree also has the athleticism as former Oregon Duck Dion Jordan which makes him a huge talented prospect. If he falls this far, he might be helpful to this very average Bengals Defense.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers- Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
Washington had such a stellar defense that it’s very shocking how mediocre their season was. If there’s one thing the Steelers are known for it would be “the steel curtain defense”. The Steelers the last two years have passed on top corners such as Darqueze Denard and Desmond Trufant and went for linebackers Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shaizer. Both linebackers haven’t panned out to what they were supposed to be but the Steelers have an aging secondary. The sad thing is…they’re gonna pass up on secondary again and get another pass rusher in Shaq Thompson. Thompson was a star in the Huskies defense this past season leading the team in tackles with 67. Not only that but he’s built like a Linebacker with the speed of a safety. He also can run the ball so on a trick formation the Steelers could hand it off to him. Thompson would fit nicely into Kevin Butler’s defense and as much as the Steelers need secondary help, they’re probably gonna go with rushing defense.
23. Detroit Lions- Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida St
While Todd Gurley would be a perfect fit for the Lions, they have a much bigger hole to fill on defense. Both defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Ndomukung Suh are impending free agents this season and there is no chance they both will be back next year for the Lions. Goldman helped lead the Seminoles defense to the National Championship last season along with the help of Timmy Jernigan. Goldman also can play defensive end in a 3-4 defense which makes him a huge project for any team looking to draft him. Goldman is wrecking ball for a defense and could replace Fairley or Suh no problem.
24. Arizona Cardinals- Erik Kendricks, LB/OLB, UCLA
The Cardinals need help with possibly just one thing; pressuring a quarterback. Against Carolina in the first round of the playoffs, Arizona couldn’t even get a hand on Cam Newton once, that’s a major problem. Erik Kendricks is possibly the best pass rusher on the board at this point so the Cardinals would be foolish not to take him. John Abraham will be 37 this year and is also a free agent. Kendricks could fill a void that’s been missing ever since Karlos Dansby left in a good pass rush. Kendricks isn’t the best in the game, but he still is good and has first round talent around his name.
25. Carolina Panthers- TJ Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
Just to make it clear, Ron Rivera is going to be around for a while so he better get used to working with Cam Newton. Newton his without a doubt the super star of this franchise so the Panthers should draft around him. Although wide receiver is key for a quarterback to throw to, his protection is a little more important. With Cedric Ogbuhei tearing his ACL, his draft stock is going to drop dramatically. Still, offensive tackle is such a valuable position in the NFL and Panthers need one to protect Newton for many years to come. TJ Clemmings is a pretty good one who could help out on the front. He’s big enough to take on guys like Dante Fowler and Season Weatherspoon but also quick enough to shed a tackler and help get a bigger block down the field on a linebacker. If the Panthers can help protect Cam long enough for to throw, the Panters could be going to the playoffs in a weak NFC South for a long time.
26. Baltimore Ravens- Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
It’s time for the Ravens to replace Ray Rice for good. Justin Forsett was a quality pick up at running back but he’s had up and down years and also will push 30 this offseason. Bernard Pierce is injured prone so he really isn’t the hottest player anymore. Both running backs are still on the board here but the defensive backfield is possibly more important this round. With Marcus Peters here, this pick is perfect for both. Peters does have some personality problems but his coverage corner is without a doubt the best coverage corner in this class. Jimmy Smith is a good corner but everyone else in the backfield for the Ravens is mediocre. Peters could be that piece that brings the Ravens back to the Super Bowl. Plus John Harbaugh doesn’t allow his players to disrespect him so it’s a win-win for both.
27. Dallas Cowboys- Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
The Cowboys were probably the biggest surprise team in the NFL this season. They not only won their division but also won a playoff game before getting beat down by the Packers. Unfortunately the guy who was the key player on the offense possibly may not return next season. Demarco Murray is going to be one of the top names in NFL free agency this offseason and if he leaves the lone star state, Dallas will have no one to replace. In steps Melvin Gordon to solve their problems. Gordon had a monstrous season and after Todd Gurley went down, he was the unanimous top running back for 2014. He could easily be a replacement for Murray and more importantly, become Jerry Jone’s new best friend.
28. Denver Broncos- Cameron Erving, OT/OG, Florida State
The main question this offseason isn’t going to be who to draft but rather will Peyton Manning be coming back to the team. Last week, Manning allowed the world to know the played the final weeks of the regular season and all the playoffs with a torn quad. A torn quad is hard enough to come back from but Denver will need to protect him by upgraded their offensive line. Cameron Erving is a nice fit here. He’s already a champion after going 27-1 as a starter at Florida State so he’ll bring the winning mentality. More to the point, he’s a versatile player when out on the field. Erving has played all three roles on the line and could replace any Bronco if they become injured. Manning might not even come back, but if he does he’ll need help up front.
29. Indianapolis Colts- Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
Andrew Luck is future of this team and so far, the Colts have drafted around him very well. Since 2011, the Colts have taken their first overall pick with an offensive lineman (Jack Mewhort and Anthony Costanzo) so it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they do it again. Ereck Flowers is a much better tackle then to fall this far but for some reason, he probably won’t go much higher then here. Flowers help Brad Kaaya only get sacked seven times from the right side which is pretty impressive due to how average the Hurricanes really are. Flowers could fit in on the right tackle position nice in Indy, but more importantly Andrew Luck will have another huge guy to protect him.
30. Green Bay- Benardrik McKinney, LB, Mississippi St
This pick is not only the best pick in the first round, but it’s also the smartest pick for both sides. The Packers desperately need help at the Mike linebacker, Nick Perry is a bust and AJ Hawk is turning 32 this offseason. Clay Matthews did play in the middle part of this year but he’s a pass rusher and needs to be there. McKinney finished 4th overall in the SEC with 76 tackles and 4 total sacks. McKinney could thrive in Green Bay with the help of Dom Capers. Capers has turned first round line backers such as AJ Hawk and Clay Matthews into superstar athletes. The Packers have drafted three SEC players in the last fives year in the first round, McKinney should and more importantly will be their fourth.
31. Seattle- Erik Armstead- DT, Oregon
Seattle was able to pressure Tom Brady sometimes but most of the time, he had all the time to throw that ball in Scottsdale. Cliff Avril is getting up there and age and Micheal Bennett can’t to it all forever. Erik Armstead could be the solution to a front line pass rush. While he did’t get a sack in the national championship, he was able to push Cardale Jones out of the pocket over 25 percent of the game. He could help add pressure to guys like Colin Kaepernik and an already banged up Sam Bradford. With all the top receivers off the board and with the possibility of Chris Matthews being an overnight star, Seattle should help out their front line.
32. New England- Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
This is just a dirty tag team with the final pick in the first round. Todd Gurley is easily a top 20 talent, but after tearing your ACL, there is reason to worry about a player’s draft stock. The Patriots need help at running back however. Sure Steven Ridley went down but if you combine every running back on their bench, they quadurpled Marshawn Lynch’s rushing attempts and didn’t come close to matching him…combined. No matter how you look at it, rushing will be key for the Pats to draft, 1st, 2nd or 3rd round. If Gurley is here, he’s just like Teddy Bridgewater, a blessing who fell that far. Plus just imagine Todd Gurley running around in a New England uniform.
Cole Thompson is the SEC and NFL Draft writer for WVUA-FM. Follow him on Twitter at @ColeThompson32