2015 NFL Mock Draft: Post-Week 1 Breakdown

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2014

The first week of college football always comes with first-wave overreactions. Supposedly elite teams are overrated. Teams that surprise with dominant performances were underrated. Basically, if wildly assumptive opinions bound to look ridiculous within the next month are not next to a team's name, it's likely they were off this week.

The same can be said for individual players. Especially when it comes to assessing the draft stock of elite prospects. Jameis Winston's turnovers against Oklahoma State were signs he hasn't improved enough as a passer. Todd Gurley's unbelievable Week 1 outburst was merely the latest indication that he is God in shoulder pads.

Which, of course, is ridiculous. (Well, maybe except the Gurley as God thing. Don't ruin my point.)

Nothing about the first round of the 2015 NFL draft changed Saturday. Literally zero. Nada. Zilch. We cannot form coherent opinions on the game film of one week, and that's even more so the case when half the nation is going head-to-head with cupcakes.

With that in mind, let's take a very early look at how next spring could, but almost certainly will not, play out. You'll be unsurprised to see not much has changed. 


1. Oakland Raiders - Jameis Winston (QB, Florida State)

It wasn't all roses in Winston's first Heisman defense. On one side, he threw for 370 yards and a touchdown while also adding perhaps the finest run of his collegiate career—a 28-yard touchdown scamper late in the third quarter. On the other, Winston tossed two picks, struggled with accuracy and watched on as Oklahoma State gave the Seminoles an upset scare.

"We've got to get better," Winston told reporters. "I told our guys...we've got to go higher."

It's far from a guarantee at this point Winston winds up being the top pick. His mechanics remain imperfect. His release is still too much of a wind up, and it's hard to tell at times just how much of a beneficiary he is of Florida State's combination weak schedule and elite talent. The push for Marcus Mariota will only grow stronger if Winston spends his season oscillating between transcendence and head-scratching.

The Raiders already have a quarterback they hope can lead them into the future in Derek Carr. But if they wind up with the top overall pick as I suspect, well, odds are Carr's transition (or lack thereof) will have something to do with that. 


2. Tennessee Titans - Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)

We're heading into Year 4 of the Jake Locker experiment. Assuming he's a combination of ineffective and injured—traits he's displayed in each of his three NFL seasons—he'll be headed out the door next spring. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt's last head coaching stint was derailed by the team's inability to develop a star quarterback after Kurt Warner's retirement.

Whisenhunt isn't about to let history repeat itself.

Mariota, who combined for over 300 yards of total offense and four touchdowns against South Dakota on Saturday, has Pro Bowl potential. He is the rare combination of prototypical size (6'4", 219 pounds) and elite quickness on the outside. The concept of a "dual-threat" quarterback is not a fluke. The Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys of the world will look archaic within the next decade or so, as offenses continue to realize the massive advantage of having a signal-caller who can scramble for a first down.

Worries about Mariota's transition to the next level should also continue to subside as Chip Kelly mows down the world with his offense in Philly. The Titans are a borderline lock to take a quarterback at some point in 2015. 


3. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills) - Leonard Williams (DE, USC)

The draft breaks perfectly here for Cleveland. Pass rushing has been almost as constant a source of frustration since the Browns' revival as their quarterback spot. Despite using high draft picks and spending a ton of money in free agency, they enter 2014 with exactly zero players who had six or more sacks last season.

While Williams himself isn't going to rack up a ton of sacks, his presence should make it much easier for rushers coming off the edge. The 6'5", 300-pound defensive end is a perfect fit for an NFL 5-technique position. He's powerful and quick enough to necessitate double-teams off the edge, and his body type should be able to add a few extra pounds without losing explosion.

When watching him play, I'm constantly reminded of Richard Seymour. That should be more than good enough for Cleveland to pull the trigger on what amounts to a free top-five pick.


4. Cleveland Browns - Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)

This isn't exactly what Cleveland would have in mind if you offered back-to-back first-round picks. The Browns, having fired nearly everyone in their front office and coaching staff, are looking for an improvement over a 4-12 outcome a year ago. That's probably not happening.

Josh Gordon's suspension leaves the offense looking anemic without a downfield playmaker, and their defense probably tops out somewhere around above-average. For as solid as Brian Hoyer looked in limited time last season, he's not good enough to prop up a supporting cast in which Miles Austin is his top receiver.

Enter Amari Cooper. The Alabama standout opened his season with a 12-catch, 130-yard performance in the Tide's 33-23 win over West Virginia. Listed at 6'1" and 210 pounds, Cooper already looks like a professional. He's an intuitive route-runner and catches nearly everything thrown his way—a nearly perfect fit next to the more explosive Gordon.

Many Browns fans criticized their team for trading down and not taking Watkins. They'll see why it was a prudent move if Cooper winds up in Cleveland.


5. Jacksonville Jaguars - Randy Gregory (DE, Nebraska)

The Jaguars worked on their typically flailing pass rush this offseason by bringing in veterans Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, but they need a longer-term fix. Gregory could be just that.

One of the best all-around athletes in the nation, Gregory could either player a typical defensive end role or stand up at outside linebacker—a la how the Texans are using Jadeveon Clowney. The Nebraska star made 10.5 sacks last season and should be ready to match that total in 2014 if he stays healthy. He played in only one series in Saturday's win over Florida Atlantic due to a knee injury, though it's not considered serious.

Assuming he can stay on the field, Gregory is a perfect fit for the defense Gus Bradley is building. Florida's Dante Fowler could also get a long look here. 


6. St. Louis Rams - Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon)

Good luck finding a perfect fit for the Rams in this scenario. They're an obvious match for either Winston or Mariota should one of them fall. St. Louis brass has to be finally ready to move on from the Sam Bradford era—which cost a grand total of $65 million for 59 touchdown passes. It might be tempting here to reach for Brett Hundley, but this organization has time and again expressed a patience in waiting for the right guy.

With Winston and Mariota off the board, the Rams could focus on shoring up their secondary. Ekpre-Olomu is the best cover corner in college football and an excellent athlete with a combination of quick feet and high intelligence. He'd be a lock for the top five if he weren't 5'9"—puny in an age where teams are desperately searching for the next Richard Sherman.

The Rams have amassed one of the NFL's best front sevens. Adding Ekpre-Olomu to Janoris Jenkins might allow their secondary to start catching up.


7. New York Giants - Cedric Ogbuehi (OT, Texas A&M)

Odds are Ogbuehi goes higher than this next spring. Like Jake Matthews a year ago, Ogbuehi moves over to left tackle in 2014 as he hopes to flash more versatility in the passing game. So far so good. 

Ogbuehi was absolutely dominant in Texas A&M's Week 1 obliteration of South Carolina, allowing Kenny Hill to nearly eliminate the memories of Johnny Manziel in one fell swoop. Hill went down for only one sack on the afternoon, which came when the game was already 31-14 in the Aggies' favor.

The Giants began their offensive rebuild this offseason by drafting wideout Odell Beckham Jr. Adding Ogbuehi would allow them to move the steady Will Beatty over to the right side, solidifying an offensive line that has done Eli Manning few favors over the last couple years. Then again, should New York wind up as one of the 10 worst teams in football, maybe it'll be Manning it's looking to move on from.


8. Minnesota Vikings - Dante Fowler (DE, Florida)

The Vikings invested big in Everson Griffen this offseason, but defensive end remains a bit of a question mark. Brian Robison turns 32 in April. He's under contract for three more seasons after 2014, yet it might be smart to begin grooming his replacement.

Fowler is a versatile talent who excels against the run. He's good at using his strength and leverage to disrupt plays in the backfield, often requiring double-teams from overmatched offensive lines. Though a little undersized, the Vikings could even slide Fowler inside in a 4-3 alignment if they wanted to keep Robison on the field.

Minnesota has quietly done an excellent job of establishing a deep, young roster. Fowler would address one of its few long-term concerns.


9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Andrus Peat (OT, Stanford)

The identity of the player selected in this spot depends a ton on how Anthony Collins fares as a starting left tackle. A versatile sixth lineman on the Bengals for the last handful of seasons, Tampa signed Collins with designs on keeping him on the left side. If he's able to continue his solid play from Cincy in 2013, the Bucs might go with Iowa's Brandon Scherff, who is both safer and a better fit for right tackle.

Peat, however, becomes the obvious choice if Lovie Smith wants to shift Collins over to the right side long-term. The Stanford star might wind up challenging Ogbuehi as the best offensive lineman in this class before the season's out. He's the total package from a skill-set standpoint, boasting the strength to drive defenders off the ball against the run and the quickness to handle edge-rushers.

The Bucs would probably like to take a quarterback here. But, again, Hundley would be a bit of a stretch. 


10. Washington - P.J. Williams (CB, Florida State)

The Washington Professional Football Team is starting DeAngelo Hall and David Amerson as its starting cornerbacks in Week 1. I repeat: The Washington Professional Football Team is starting DeAngelo Hall and David Amerson as its starting cornerbacks in Week 1.

Need we say more?


11. New York Jets - Nelson Agholor (WR, USC)

I do not believe in Geno Smith. That much needs to be acknowledged. But if the Jets truly think he's their franchise quarterback—which seems to be the case based on all public quotes—then they need to start helping him. Signing Eric Decker to be your top wide receiver won't get the job done. Teams that rely heavily on Jeremy Kerley aren't having above-average offenses.

Alghor doesn't project as a superstar, nor does he have the upside of a Dorial Green-Beckham, but he's an explosive athlete who would give the Jets a dynamic their offense sorely lacks. A downfield threat with a massive burst, Agholor showed off his underneath skills on Saturday, catching five balls for 57 yards and two touchdowns.

The Trojans are going to work to get the ball in his hands any way possible this season. Alongside the steadier Decker, Agholor might give New York its first wide receiving corps that reaches competence in a long time.


12. Houston Texans - Brandon Scherff (OT, Iowa)

The Texans could solidify their offensive line by taking Scherff a few spots below where most project he'll wind up. The latest in a long line of top-tier Iowa offensive linemen, Scherff is a ready-made right tackle at the next level. He's a run-blocking menace who rarely commits mental mistakes and plays with an infectious toughness.

Houston already has the left side locked up with Duane Brown. Derek Newton will get a shot to win the right tackle job in 2014, but he's mostly looked like organizational depth and an occasional starter for most of his career. If Scherff is available when the Texans pick and they feel comfortable passing on Hundley, this is a solid fit.


13. Dallas Cowboys - Vic Beasley (OLB, Clemson)

[Looks at Cowboys roster] Yep. Best defensive player available it is. Beasley needs to add bulk to his frame but has the ability to be a natural successor to DeMarcus Ware, who is currently plying his trade in Denver. Dallas needs help basically everywhere defensively, so any number of players could fit in this spot.


14. Arizona Cardinals - Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA)

The Cardinals passed on their opportunity to select their franchise quarterback in May. Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater were both available when Arizona came on the clock, and instead the Cardinals decided to trade back and select safety Deone Bucannon. Considering Bucannon looks to be behind Tony Jefferson on the depth chart, that might not have been the most prudent move.

Arizona could right the ship here by taking Hundley. The UCLA signal-caller is far from a perfect prospect. His foibles were on full display Saturday, with Hundley failing to complete a touchdown pass in an up-and-down outing against Virginia. The Bruins' porous offensive line played a factor in the team's struggles, but scouts need him to better overcome obstacles—especially against mediocre competition.

Assuming Week 1 was a blip on the radar, Hundley is a top-20 prospect who will get selected earlier because of his potential. But he also has a real shot of sliding out of the first round if he doesn't show marked improvement.


15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Marcus Peters (CB, Washington)

The Steelers are starting Cortez Allen and 86-year-old Ike Taylor at cornerback in 2014. That is less than ideal. Taylor remains a roughly league-average starting corner and Allen is fine, but neither are Pro Bowl-caliber players, and the Steelers' slow descent outside the NFL's best defenses has put more pressure on a just-OK offense.

Peters would help Pittsburgh slowly phase Taylor out while also providing insurance in case Allen bolts in free agency. He's a willing run defender and has enough size and top-end speed to cover elite wideouts.


16. Kansas City Chiefs - DeVante Parker (WR, Louisville)

Parker's decision to return to school looks awfully concerning after the Louisville product suffered a broken foot. He's expected to miss six to eight weeks, per ESPN's Matt Fortuna, which is going to hurt a draft stock that was trending toward the first round. If he's able to come back this season and produce the way he did as a junior, Parker might wind up being a mid-first-round steal. Missing the entire 2014 campaign would leave him with the choice of applying for a medical redshirt or rolling the dice on entering the draft.

Having him at No. 16 will either look silly or about right in a couple months. We'll keep him here as a placeholder for now.


17. Carolina Panthers - Rashad Greene (WR, Florida State)

The Panthers need to help Cam Newton somehow. They used their first-round pick on a Florida State receiver in Kelvin Benjamin in May, but otherwise they have the worst cast of skill-position players in football. Taking wide receivers in the first round two straight years is a risk worth taking if it reunites Greene and Benjamin—the best one-two punch in college football last season.

Greene returned to school for his senior season and is already off to an unbelievable start. He had 11 receptions for 203 yards in the Seminoles' season-opening win over Oklahoma State, highlighted by a 51-yard pitch and catch.

Already a more consistently productive target than Benjamin last year, Greene should be out to prove he's just as explosive as a playmaker in 2014. Given the way he looked Saturday, he's well on his way to playing himself into the first round.


18. San Diego Chargers - Michael Bennett (DE/DT, Ohio State)

Bennett is one of the safest picks in his class. He's the very definition of a pretty good prospect. He performs well against both the run and pass, playing with a high motor and using his above-average explosiveness to disrupt the backfield. The Chargers' base alignment is a 3-4, so he'll have to move outside if selected in this spot.

Either way, San Diego needs "safe" defenders. Its offense is among the best in football, and the Chargers could be a perennial playoff team if they even get to above-average defensively. They definitely weren't there last season. They're not going to be there in 2014 either.

Selecting an instant starter in Bennett would help start a revamping of the front seven.


19. Atlanta Falcons - Shilique Calhoun (DE, Michigan State)

The Falcons had one of the worst pass rushes in football last season and had little opportunity to make wide-scale fixes. They drafted defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman in the second round but will enter Week 1 with Kroy Biermann and Jonathan Babineaux likely starting on the ends. This is a unit that may struggle to even make the two sacks per game it did last season.

Although he's a year away from being draft-eligible, the Falcons would probably trade their 2015 first-round pick to have Calhoun on their roster right now. He won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award last season as a sophomore, making 37 tackles and 7.5 sacks as part of an elite Michigan State front seven. A repeat of 2013, and Calhoun has the chance to go much higher than this.

In this scenario, though, the Falcons jump to land the foundational pass-rusher they've been missing since John Abraham's prime.


20. Chicago Bears - Landon Collins (S, Alabama)

The Bears don't have many weaknesses. If they played in the AFC North rather than the NFC, I'd probably be picking them to win their division. As it is, they're a member of one of the NFL's toughest divisions—thus leading to them being the last team left outside the playoffs.

Collins would provide some solace for Chicago by filling one of those aforementioned few holes. The Bears will open 2014 with Ryan Mundy and Danny McCray as their starting safeties. That is—as Jay Z would say when making one of the more vile rap disses in history—Supa Ugly. Should the Bears miss the playoffs, their secondary will be first in line to receive scorn.

Collins grades out as average in coverage, but he's an excellent run defender who might be better than Mundy overall right now.


21. Miami Dolphins - Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia)

Much like Gretchen and "fetch," the Dolphins keep trying to make Lamar Miller happen. It hasn't yet, and Gurley might be at the top of their board if Miller fails to show signs of life in 2014. The Georgia star solidified his standing in the Heisman race on Saturday, needing only 15 carries to accumulate 198 rushing yards and three touchdowns against Clemson.

If this were 10 years ago, Gurley would be a consensus top-10 selection. But we're in an era where teams understand running back value has never been lower. The last two years were the first two times in the NFL's modern history that a running back has not been selected in the first round. And it's going to continue trending in that direction.

Only players on Gurley's level, meaning 6'1", 226-pound behemoths with breakaway speed, are going to get teams to take a risk on their talent. The Dolphins need to become a playoff-level team to justify this pick—which I'm predicting they will—but Gurley will break the first-round running back drought.


22. Detroit Lions - Trae Waynes (CB, Michigan State)

The Lions have reached a point where their secondary's putridity is beyond unacceptable. I'm typically in favor of going with the best player available, but Detroit's draft board needs to consist of only cornerbacks and safeties until it gets it right.

Waynes is taking a big step up from a responsibility standpoint this season after Darqueze Dennard's departure and seems ready for the challenge. The Michigan State secondary was on point in an easy opening win against Jacksonville State, with Waynes' side of the field basically being put on lockdown. The 6'1", 185-pound corner has a solid combination of size and speed, two traits sorely lacking in the Detroit back half.


23. San Francisco 49ers - Mario Edwards (DE, Florida State)

With Colin Kaepernick's cap number due to significantly rise next season, the 49ers are going to be making difficult roster decisions come next spring. The depth once afforded by having a quarterback on a dirt-cheap contract will be gone, leaving holes in need of filling at key spots.

Edwards might be in line to replace one of San Francisco's defensive ends, both of whom have questions about their future. Justin Smith turns 35 later this month and has openly spoken about retirement. (He's under contract through the 2015 season, so the likelier scenario is Smith retiring then. Still.)

The 49ers are also left with a difficult decision regarding Ray McDonald, who was arrested Sunday and charged with felony domestic abuse, per Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today. The legal proceedings will have to play out, but McDonald may be subject to a six-game suspension under the NFL's new policy on domestic violence.

No matter, Edwards is a solid fit at a position where San Francisco has question marks going into the future. 


24. Indianapolis Colts - Cameron Erving (OT, Florida State)

Andrew Luck would probably appreciate a little protection at some point. Luck has spent his first two seasons being hit more often than any other quarterback in football and doesn't have much reason to feel encouraged coming into 2014. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo has been a pretty dreadful pass-blocker for his entire career, and right tackle Gosder Cherilus didn't do much to shore up the line last season either.

Erving is more of a project than you'd like for a first-round pick, but he has all the physical tools to be the solid two-way tackle Luck desperately needs. He's a big, mauling presence at 6'6" and 308 pounds while maintaining enough quickness to handle most edge-rushers.

NFL teams will need to see more from Erving in 2014 to justify using a first-round pick on him, but he has that potential.


25. Baltimore Ravens - Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin)

Could we really have two running backs taken in the first round? It's definitely within the realm of possibility. Gordon entered his junior season considered a better NFL prospect than Gurley by some and certainly did not disappoint.

The Wisconsin star ran for 140 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries against a stout LSU front seven in Saturday's 28-24 loss. The only thing that could stop Gordon was apparently Badgers coach Gary Andersen, who curiously went away from his best player in the second half. Leading 17-7 at the half, Gordon watched on silently as he stayed on the bench despite being healthy.

Depending on how their season goes, the Ravens may choose to move on from Ray Rice next offseason. Given the struggles of Bernard Pierce in an increased role a year ago, Gordon is a potentially interesting fit for a team that should return to the postseason in 2014.


26. Cincinnati Bengals - Noah Spence (DE/OLB, Ohio State)

The Bengals have issues on both of their lines and would be able to check off the primary pass-rusher need by taking Spence. The Ohio State product doesn't possess elite size and may be better off as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 set, but he's an athletic freak who would at the very least add some versatility to the front seven.


27. Philadelphia Eagles - Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Oklahoma)

Call it a hunch. Call it Chip Kelly being willing to take a risk on a top-five talent where others are gun-shy. Call it me just having more faith in Kelly to turn Green-Beckham's career around and unlock the kid's considerable potential.

There are a heaping pile of potential complications. Green-Beckham, who will not be eligible to play this season after transferring from Missouri, could return to Oklahoma with hopes of recouping his draft value. His year away from football might take away what made him special—much like it did with former USC star Mike Williams.

Green-Beckham has as much talent as any player in this class. He also has more risk. With the Eagles needing a long-term No. 1 receiver, though, taking a chance on DGB might be worth it.


28. New Orleans Saints - Carl Davis (DT, Iowa)

The Saints need a long-term replacement for Broderick Bunkley and might stumble into an ideal candidate if Davis is still on the board. The senior defensive tackle already plays a role at Iowa similar to the one he'd play under Rob Ryan, plugging up run gaps and forcing double-teams with his strength.

Davis will need to be more consistently effective in 2014 to lock himself into the first round, but he's currently being undervalued. His role, which sees him do so-called grunt work to make teammates look better, often goes underappreciated until scouts really delve into the film. There was enough on tape to make him a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season, and I suspect he'll vie for the first team in 2014.


29. Denver Broncos - Shaq Thompson (OLB, Washington)

This really depends on how well the DeMarcus Ware signing turns out. If Ware turns back the clock for an All-Pro performance, the Broncos can probably wait another year before adding another playmaker at outside linebacker. If Ware continues to show signs of aging and the team is uncomfortable relying on Von Miller, Thompson will be a nice long-term project.

The Washington star will need developmental time, mostly because he's too slight for the NFL right now. He'll need to add 15-20 pounds to withstand the rigors of the league and simply not get blown off the field against the run. His nose for the ball and athletic ability allows him to still be dynamic in college, and nearly every professional has those traits.

Add the weight and keep the explosiveness, though? Thompson has the potential to be special.


30. Seattle Seahawks - Denzel Perryman (LB, Miami)

The Seahawks are stacked everywhere. You have to start digging deep to find weaknesses, and even then you're stretching. Hence we land here with Seattle taking Perryman, a good prospect and talented player who would almost certainly begin his career as a backup.

Linebacker is one of the few spots where the Seahawks could use better depth, and Perryman is an unmovable force of nature whose only real knock is his below-average height. Pete Carroll is more than innovative enough as a defensive mind to figure out the best way to use him at the next level.


31. New England Patriots - Leonard Floyd (LB, Georgia)

The Patriots eventually have to get Tom Brady pass catching he—wait, Leonard Floyd is available at No. 31? Never mind then. Nothing to see here. Don't tell Tom they were considering a wideout here. Aaron Dobson is a perfectly acceptable option!

(Seriously, though. Floyd is a really good player and fits another need. So this is at least better than that time the Patriots used a second-round pick on Brady's eventual replacement. You know. Last year.)


32. Green Bay Packers - Shawn Oakman (DE, Baylor)

With the Packers so obviously heading for a Super Bowl win since I've never been wrong about anything in my life, chances are their defense will be pretty good in 2014. They added Julius Peppers and seem due for a season of good health luck after having the last few years derailed by injuries.

Even in the best possible outcome, though, Oakman is the type of player Green Bay should leap at drafting. A physical specimen at 6'9" and 280 pounds, the Baylor standout is a better and more fluid athlete than one would expect for someone his size. He also has room on his frame to add extra bulk, which would be key to transitioning into Green Bay's 3-4 base defense.

Plus, dude is really, really long. J.J. Watt is a once-per-generation freak, but Oakman could become a poor man's version if he pans out.


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