2015 NFL Mock draft: Part 1
It’s that time of year again where we needlessly speculate about this year’s crop of college draftees and try to predict what NFL teams are actually thinking. Regardless we do this for 2 reasons. 1. It means we can familiarise ourselves with the future stars of the NFL and where we think they would be the best fit. 2. It’s fun. We’ve been without American Football for nearly 2 months. This gives us something to talk about and to speculate wildly about how good we think teams will be 5 months before the Season even starts.
Anyway this mock draft will be based around teams needs more than ability of players, which might see players drop down the list that might have been thought to be top picks, which leads me to my final point.
This is just my opinion. I don’t have any inside knowledge, I don’t have any say in what teams will do, it’s just what I think we may see happen at the end of April. That being said, I’d love to hear your opinion on it, so hit us up on facebook, twitter or email.
Anyway lets get started.
1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State.
Winston is who I think the Bucs will take, but not necessarily who I think they should take. The Bucs have a few different needs that a premier talent would make a real difference at. Now admittedly quarterback is one of those positions, but I still think Glennon deserves a shot with a decent offensive coordinator in Dirk Koeter, also imagine teaming up Leonard Williams with Gerald McCoy and you have potentially the best defensive line in the NFC South. That being said, talent like Winston doesn’t drop into your hands and it makes total sense to install a franchise QB… It’s just not what I’d do.
2) Tennessee Titans: Leonard Williams, DE, USC.
Tennessee has been heavily linked with Mariota here. Whisenhunt has had nothing but good things to say about the former Oregon QB claiming that if he comes to the Titans at 2, he’s their starter.
I don’t buy it. The Titans until a month ago had nothing but faith in last year’s 6th round pick Zack Mettenberger and believed he was worth a shot as the starter. For me this team is trying to drum up interest in a trade, for which Cleveland could be a good partner, who have 2 1sts this year, and a GM who needs to make some big moves after a lack lustre off season so far, as well as being on the hot seat after a train wreck of a 1st season. The Chargers have also been heavily rumoured for a trade up to the no. 2 spot, sending Philip Rivers to Tennessee. The Titans are in a similar situation to the Rams in 2012 and seem to be doing a great job of making this pick look very appealing.
If they do decide to just take a pick here, The Titans have needs pretty much everywhere on the roster, leaving the Titans with an opportunity to just pick up the no. 1 talent in the league, which in my opinion is Leonard Williams, giving Tennessee a formidable defensive front line in Casey and Williams. The Titans do need to address nose tackle at some point in the draft however, but really there isn’t anyone of 2nd pick value at nose tackle.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler Jr, OLB, Florida.
This is all looking a little predictable isn’t it. Anyway the Jags have done a great job of filling needs through free agency, despite missing out on DeMarco Murray and there still being some holes on the offensive line. That being said if there is a chance to pick up a dynamic 4-3 pass rusher at no. 3, they should take it, despite being considered a 3-4 OLB, his size means he could work well at defensive end in a draft that is seriously lacking dynamic players in this system. The Jags could potentially try and move down to pick up a late 1st round left tackle or guard, but at no. 3 they have a rare opportunity to pick up a defensive game changer.
4) Oakland Raiders: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia.
A coin flip here between Amari Cooper & Kevin White, that results in the Raiders drafting a great weapon for Carr. The Raiders probably have the most to lose in the draft if they don’t get it right. Thanks to being an unappealing place to play football, they have found it hard to bring in top tier talent despite having $50m to spend. Last year they did exceedingly well making up for a disappointing free agency, bringing in Derek Carr and Khalil Mack, 2 players that will form the core of this team for years to come. Dante Fowler would give the Raiders a tough decision to make if he drops to them, especially with the depth of talent at receiver in this draft, but really they need a no. 1 target for their young QB and White or Cooper fit that bill nicely.
5) Washington: Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
It took me some time to get to Gregory here, with Shane Ray being another potential pick here, but I think Washington need to win now and Gregory gives them the best chance to do that. Shane Ray would probably be a better future prospect after he figures out the 3-4 system, but I think Gregory is ready to go in Washington’s system, which has seen a massive improvement through free agency.
6) New York Jets: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri
Okay, I’ll take some stick for not putting Mariota in a Jets uniform and it was probably my 3rd or 4th pick for the Jets, but I got to think if a talent like Ray drops this low, Bowles would love to add a defensive end that could be coached up to play outside line backer. The Jets are looking much better than last season in terms of talent and here they’d have a chance to put in a player to replace Coples or Pace in a couple of seasons, whilst being a situational pass rusher this year. Chan Gailey’s history with newly acquired backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is what puts me off seeing them take Mariota here. I think Geno gets the start, but they are well aware Fitzpatrick can run Gailey’s spread system if Geno looks, well, like Geno. I also think there is a chance we could see an offensive tackle go here, like Peat or Flowers, as well as a possibility the Jets reach on a running back in Gurley or Gordon. It’s an unpopular opinion, but I think we might see Mariota fall a little.
7) Chicago Bears: Danny Shelton, NT, Washington
Great 3-4 defences are built around nose tackles, despite them never really getting any credit. The Bears have the opportunity to pick up a vital piece for their new defensive scheme. 3-4 defensive end is a huge need for this team too, but really any players here would be something of a reach. The Bears have to load this line throughout the draft.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa
This one took some time to figure out simply because the Falcons are light in a few areas. I had the Falcons taking Beasley originally, but the fact is Atlanta have had huge issues on the offensive line and have a chance to improve their chances of keeping Matt Ryan upright by spending a 1st round pick on the O-line 2 years in a row. That being said, I’m not sold on the pick and having Dan Quinn as a head coach could be enough to tip the scales in the direction of a pass rusher.
9) New York Giants: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
This feels like something of a no brainer for the Giants. The Giants O-line has suffered over the last couple of years with the great Super bowl winning linemen seemingly moving on or retiring creating an area of need. The Giants are pretty close to being a playoff contender and the addition of a strong tackle that’s ready to plug in straight away, could be what tips them over the edge.
10) St Louis Rams: La’el Collins, OT, LSU
The Rams spent a 1st round pick on an offensive tackle last year, but with the release of Jake Long, Joe Barksdale, Davin Joseph and Mike Person, the offensive line is in desperate need of a talent injection, which La’el Collins could provide. Collins will almost certainly slot in straight away at right tackle. Free agency has seen the Rams improve their already loaded front 7, so expect them to add multiple linemen through the draft. Oh and with this many needs on the line, don’t expect them to be in the running for Mariota.
11) Minnesota Vikings: Erick Flowers, OT, Miami
I haven’t seen a mock draft that’s seen the Vikings take an offensive lineman, which I find strange considering how often Bridgewater hit the floor last year. Towards the end of the season Teddy did eventually find his groove, but this was more in spite of the line rather than because of them. Anyway with the crazy run on linemen that I’ve predicted here Flowers would be an exceptional addition to play at right tackle, with eyes that if Matt Kalil has another poor season, they can move him over to the blind side.
12) Cleveland Browns: Marcus Mariota, QB, Browns
I think it’s time to own my opinion. I can honestly see Mariota dropping to 12. I think the Titans are doing a great job of making the no. 2 pick look very appealing, but if no one bites Mariota will almost certainly fall, shy of the Jets taking him at 6. We see this every year. A player that is cited as a clear top 5 player, just fall because there is little demand for a player in that position. So let’s look at who could possibly take Mariota. The Titans have huge needs across the board, but actually have a serviceable QB, so I would think they just role with Mettenberger. The Jets could have a shot at taking him at 6, but with an entirely new coaching staff, you have to think they give Geno a shot and if that doesn’t work, they’ve got Fitzpatrick who has already worked in Roman’s system. The Rams could be potential suitors for the highly rated QB, but they have too many other needs, especially when they’ve just traded for another QB. The offensive line has been decimated over free agency and the receiving corps is desperate for a clear no. 1. Of teams that could trade up the Chargers seem the most likely, trying to get the most of Philip Rivers whilst they still can and with the Titans jumping at the chance to pick up a legitimate franchise QB that still has a good 5-7 years left in him. But really how often does that happen? Surely the Chargers find a way of keeping the veteran QB happy. Finally there’s the Eagles, who genuinely seem smitten with Sam Bradford and have other needs that could be addressed in the 1st round. So that leaves Cleveland at 12. Now I won’t put it past the Browns making a needless, desperate move to the no. 2 spot, giving away 2 greatly appreciated 1st round picks to the Titans, but the way these things play out I genuinely think they can still get Mariota at 12, a move that could potentially save Ray Farmer’s career with Cleveland.
If the Browns miss out on Mariota then receiver and corner are next down on their list of priorities, so expect to see Amari Cooper or Trae Waynes come off the board here.
13) New Orleans Saints: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
A lot of mock drafts see Beasley going a lot sooner, thanks in part to an excellent showing at the scouting combine. However in my draft a run on offensive linemen from teams that are desperate for some pass protection has to see a couple of stud players miss out on a top ten pick, specifically Vic Beasley and Amari Cooper. That being said if Beasley does drop this far the Saints will be doing somersaults. Adding Beasley would add a much needed legitimate pass rusher to a team that has seen a remarkable amount of turnover on defence over the last couple of years. If Beasley is gone expect to see the Saints attempt to replace Ben Grubbs, who was traded to the Chiefs in free agency. The Saints need to take the draft very seriously. After an off season pulling the Saints under the salary cap, they have more than a few holes on the team.
14) Miami Dolphins: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St.
Miami did a great job in free agency of not just filling gaps on the roster but also improving in already pretty decent areas. As a result the Dolphins get to improve in an area that has been half decent if not exceptional, one such area being at cornerback. Having Trae Waynes, Brent Grimes and Brice McCain in the slot gives the Dolphins potentially the best cornerback group in the AFC East. On an individual level Trae Waynes could be the Dolphins answer to Revis, just as long as he can cut down the pass interference.
15) San Francisco 49ers: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Okay, so this is the pick I feel the least confident about. I struggle to believe we’ll see Cooper drop this far, but the teams above all have bigger needs that they’ll struggle to fill in the later rounds. So for example the Rams do need a wideout, but are desperate for help on the offensive line. The Saints could use some help at wide receiver, but the defence is a huge mess and in my draft they’ll have Vic Beasley landing in their lap. If the Browns don’t get Mariota, Cooper or White could land in Cleveland, vastly improving the receiver group. Any way someone will fall in this draft, so why not a receiver, a position where nearly every team could pick up a starter in the later rounds. Whilst this is a position of need for a few teams, generally the top picks will have needs they simply can’t pick up in the later rounds.
16) Houston Texans: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The Texans quietly did a pretty darn good job filling needs in free agency on Defence. On offence however the Texans lost their greatest all time player in Andre Johnson, which just leaves DeAndre Hopkins and free agent pick up Cecil Shorts. If the draft plays out this way they have a chance to pick up a legitimate big body receiver to help either Hoyer or Mallett at QB, who both look set for a rough season this year.
So that’s part 1 done. Picks 17-32 coming soon!