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The 2015 NFL draft is months away from being on the minds of most NFL fans—unless you're a fan of the Oakland Raiders, then you're probably honed in on the upcoming draft class—but it's never too early to do a mock draft.

Early-September mock drafts should be looked at as such: entertaining, informative and not predictive of where players will be drafted in the next year's draft. An early mock draft is like a power-rankings article—this is where the players rank right now with a hint of where they're expected to be drafted. 

When I sit down to write a mock draft in September, I'm hoping to show readers where teams have needs and which talented players in college football fit those needs based on my preseason rankings. Much can, and will, change between now and the 2015 draft, but this is a first look at which players are trending as future first-rounders.

For this mock draft, and all early mocks, I'm using a draft order based on Odds Shark's futures bets. Take the Super Bowl odds, reverse them and you have the draft order.

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There is something great about walking outside on an August morning and feeling that dew in the grass, the hint of another hot day in the air, and knowing, with every bone in your body, that football season is just around the corner.

With the 2014 college football season kicking off this weekend, it's time to dust off the Scouting Notebook and start our weekly look at the upcoming 2015 NFL draft. This weekly feature (every Friday) will be published as a complete resource on rumors, news, notes, insights and analysis surrounding the 2015 draft class.

Let's get started.


- Let's kick things off with a great quote I received this week from a top-level AFC scout: "(The) key is to not miss on under-the-radar seniors this time of year. Plenty of time to evaluate the juniors." 

- Speaking of the senior class, everyone loves a sleeper, and NFL scouts are raving about quarterback Bryan Bennett from Southeastern Louisiana. The former Oregon player was a backup to Darron Thomas and Marcus Mariota but started for the Lions in 2013. At 6'3", 205 pounds, he has the athleticism and arm teams want at the next level.

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The 2015 NFL draft class projects to be a strong one on the backs of players such as Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon), Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA), Jameis Winston (QB, FSU) and Brandon Scherff (OT, Iowa), but what about the defense?

That's where USC's Leonard Williams comes in. The 6'4", 300-pound junior has the talent, size, athleticism and production that NFL scouts will go crazy for. That's why he comes into the season as my top-ranked defensive player among all draft-eligible juniors and seniors.

What makes him so good?


Positional Versatility

The NFL is becoming more about versatility and how many different roles you can play on defense, and Williams fits that style perfectly.

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Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller took home the last two Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year awards, but now his 2014 season is over. He is dealing with an injury to the same shoulder that ended his 2013 season prematurely. 

Miller has already said he intends to return for the 2015 season in Columbus, which would represent his last chance to convince NFL teams of his potential.

It's worth wondering, is Miller an NFL-style quarterback?

The Ohio State system, made famous by Urban Meyer at Utah and Florida, asks the quarterback to be a heavy runner, and Miller has done that. In his three years as Ohio State's starter, Miller ran the ball (557 times) almost as often as he passed it (666 attempts).

USA Today

Every football fan in the country knows about Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, but out at UCLA there is another quarterback making a run at becoming the No. 1 prospect in the 2015 draft. The NFL knows about Brett Hundley, and fans should too.


The Tale of the Tape

6'3", 227 lbs

53 touchdowns, 20 interceptions (career)

320 career rushes



Many college quarterbacks are spending their Saturdays throwing checkdowns and bubble screens, but not at UCLA. The Bruins offense asks Hundley to move the ball down the field. The quarterback in this system must read the field, find the best option and deliver passes at varying levels. That's great for showcasing Hundley's accuracy and understanding of space.

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The most important position in football is, and always will be, quarterback. If you don't have a quality QB in the NFL, your entire focus becomes finding one. Teams will spend draft picks and boatloads of money trying to find the right guy.

The next wave of quarterback talent in college is very good, with Jameis Winston, Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty and others showing NFL-level talent.

However, the player who does it best comes from an offense many still consider to be a gimmick. How will the NFL view Oregon's Marcus Mariota, and just how good is he?


The Tale of the Tape

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Look back through the history of Iowa football, and you will see name after name on the offensive line who made their mark in the NFL. Left tackle Brandon Scherff is the next Hawkeye you'll want to get to know.

With the 2015 draft still nine months away, Scherff has the tools, film and talent to be the top pick in the entire class. What makes this stud from Iowa so good?

Can Scherff be the next Bryan Bulaga or Riley Reiff? That's very possible given the football IQ (FBI), footwork, strength and upside he showed during the 2013 season. But now Scherff is back for his senior season after deciding to wait on the NFL—even though he looked like a sure-fire first-round talent after his junior season. The big left tackle went back to school to work on his technique, and along the way he has a chance to entrench himself as the nation's best tackle—and maybe the best overall prospect. 

The Iowa schedule in 2013 put Scherff up against some of the nation's best pass-rushers, and he showed weekly why he's the best technician in the college game. Facing future NFL talents like Shilique Calhoun (Michigan State), Joey Bosa (Ohio State) and Danielle Hunter (LSU), Scherff made a name for himself as a top-tier run-blocker and athletic corner-stop in the passing game. 

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Jameis Winston enters the 2014 college football season as the savior of Florida State football, the returning Heisman Trophy winner and an Adonis-like figure at the quarterback position. But does all that add up to a solid NFL prospect?

The summer months are slow for an NFL draft evaluator, and it's during this time when extended film study of previous seasons are so important. Last summer, I sat down with every throw Johnny Manziel had made and walked away a believer in his potential. This week, Winston goes under that same microscope.

Where will Winston be selected in the 2015 or 2016 draft? It's way too early to tell.

But what can be done is a thorough evaluation of his 2013 season and his potential as an NFL quarterback right now. Much can—and likely will—change over the course of his college career. But taking what Winston put on the field (and off the field) in 2013, here's what he needs to work on most before he's ready to be a legitimate No. 1 overall pick.

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The ink on the 2014 NFL draft is still drying, but that won't keep us from looking ahead to the 2015 draft with a fresh mock. 

An early first-round mock draft has to be taken with some context, so here are a few ground rules.

1. Jameis Winston says he's not entering the draft this year, so I'm not putting him in any mock drafts at this time. 

2. The draft order is based on the 2014 draft order (updated for trades). This is the only fair way I know to list draft order so early in the process. Once updated Super Bowl odds come out, I'll begin using those for my draft order.

USA Today

The 2014 NFL draft was one of the deepest in recent memory. Next year's crop of talent may not live up to the 2014 class, but it is still a very deep group heading into this fall.

A group loaded at offensive tackle, defensive end and running back will excite fans who love watching the ball in the trenches, but it's the top three quarterbacks who will draw the most attention. Florida State's Jameis Winston, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley will be the driving force for much of the national coverage of this class—and for good reason, as all three have top-five talent.

With these top three signal-callers expected to compete for the Heisman Trophy and the chance to be selected No. 1 overall in 2015, expect plenty of coverage surrounding each of them this season. But what about the rest of the class?

Here's an early look at the top 10 players at each position this season. Think of this as a watch listnot a definitive ranking but a good starting point for the preseason evaluation period.