2015 NFL Mock Draft: Post Week 15 Breakdown

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVDecember 15, 2014

Southern California defensive end Leonard Williams gestures to fans during the first half an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Los Angeles. Southern California won 49-14. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Although the end of Week 15 is nearing, it's still far from certain how the top few picks in the 2015 draft will shake out.

A handful of 2-12 teams are vying for the top overall pick, with Tampa Bay, Oakland, Jacksonville and Tennessee among them. A few of the teams mired in the league cellar play one another in the coming weeks, so a more concrete draft order will soon present itself.

As for now, let's go ahead and rank the teams as if the season ended after Sunday's Week 15 action and project who should come off the board.

1. Oakland Raiders: Leonard Williams, DT, USC

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Highlight tapes of USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams won't go viral, but there doesn't need to be any flash in this pick. Oakland desperately needs formidable players at almost every position, and few spots are more important than the defensive trenches.

Although, he's not even guaranteed to leave school after 2014, per Orange County Register's Michael Lev:

If he leaves for the draft, there's little doubt that Williams will be the first overall pick. The only way it won't be Oakland is if the Raiders somehow win their way out of it or trade the pick to another suitor. 

2. Tennessee Titans: Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

Many Titans fans—and perhaps even quarterback whisperer Ken Whisenhunt—will be itching for one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, but Tennessee's front office will realize the gaping need for talent across the board. Most notable is the lack of a pass rush, which it can seemingly shore up in one pick by grabbing the best end-rusher in the draft—Nebraska's Randy Gregory.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

The Jaguars could really use a defensive-line presence like Williams or Gregory to finish rebuilding their trenches, but they won't do much worse in Missouri's Shane Ray. The Tigers pass-rusher is among the most lethal in college football and has the physical skill set to make a quick transition into the NFL

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

The needs for Tampa Bay in the upcoming draft are numerous, as Bleacher Report's Luke Easterling noted:

The Bucs can address their offensive-line woes later, but they won't blink at the chance to have their pick of the top quarterbacks in the draft. Marcus Mariota is a less-polished pocket passer than Jameis Winston, but he boasts the ability to single-handedly extend plays and even pick up big yardage with his feet. And when your offensive line is a mess, that's a coveted skill.

5. New York Jets: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Whether it's a completely new staff or—somehow—Rex Ryan and John Idzik making the call, the Jets will enter the 2015 draft in position to target a new franchise quarterback and will jump at grabbing Winston. The Florida State gunslinger has a winning mentality that New York sorely needs and boasts all of the physical tools to be an effective passer immediately. 

6. Washington Redskins: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Whether it's Robert Griffin IIIColt McCoy or somebody not even on the roster right now, the quarterback of 2015 will need to be protected in Washington. To help shore up a struggling offensive line, the Redskins will strike gold by nabbing physical, bull-dozing tackle Brandon Scherff as a building block—more like a concrete slab—for the future.

7. New York Giants: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

The Giants don't have any formidable pass-rushers outside of Jason Pierre-Paul, which means opponents can double up on him and forget about the pass rush. That won't be the case in 2015 if New York grabs Shaq Thompson, a speedy, physical edge-rusher who can line up in a plethora of different spots on the defensive line or drop into coverage.

8. Chicago Bears: Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

If you need living proof of Chicago's blatant need for safety help, just turn on one of the Bears' games in 2014. Landon Collins won't turn around the defense by himself, but the ball-hawking Alabama safety will block off one side of the field while also helping to stuff the run. 

9. Carolina Panthers: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

The Panthers might narrowly miss out on the postseason, but they will feel like they won a lottery if Amari Cooper lands in their laps. Cooper is the complete package at wideout and would make life easier for any quarterback—much less a gunslinger with the ability of Cam Newton.

Hopefully they can put their Auburn-Alabama allegiances aside for a handful of years.

10. Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Whether the Falcons miraculously make the postseason or not, there's a gaping hole on their defense that needs to be filled by a formidable edge-rusher. Vic Beasley is among the best there is in the draft, wreaking havoc on the edge for Clemson and showcasing his NFL talent.

11. St. Louis Rams: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

St. Louis has shown signs that it is on the rise as 2014 comes to a close, but the Rams need more consistent secondary play to take the next step. They would do no wrong in selecting Trae Waynes out of Michigan State, a 6'1" cornerback who uses his size to fend off receivers.

CBS Sports' Dane Brugler analyzed his strengths:

Does an excellent job using his body and length to gain inside leverage and keep outside receivers from getting comfortable vertically. Tough-minded competitor and plays with a physical, downhill demeanor, delivering a pop at contact in run support. 

Always keeps his eyes alert to quickly diagnose and break on...the ball with natural ballskills to make plays.

Waynes isn't a finished product, but few players in the first round are. What the Rams will get is a player who is among the best development corners in the class, and they will be rewarded when Waynes makes a quick ascension.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

The Vikings pass rush has been formidable, but their offensive line is horrible in defending opponents' pass rush. Minnesota has allowed 40 sacks on the season, and it will draft Andrus Peat in the hopes that the Stanford offensive tackle can quickly remedy the Vikes' problems.

13. Cleveland Browns: La'el Collins, OT, LSU

The Browns have some pieces capable of possessing a dominant run game, but it won't be complete without another key piece on the offensive line. Cleveland will wrap up its final tackle spot by grabbing LSU's offensive tackle La'el Collins, a physical specimen who can adapt to the Browns' zone-read schemes and also sit back to protect the passer.

14. Houston Texans: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Houston enters the 2015 draft with a plethora of needs, but the Texans will jump for the best overall player on the board by drafting Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. He's far from a finished product, but Ogbuehi will settle into an experienced Houston offensive line with the expectations to soon develop into an impact starter.

15. San Francisco 49ers: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State

The 49ers have had numerous problems in the secondary this season, largely due to injury troubles. To help the depth, San Francisco will target Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams, who will quickly show his ability to guard one-on-one on the outside. 

16. Miami Dolphins: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

The Dolphins are set on the edge with Dion Jordan and Cameron Wake, but they could use a run-stuffer on the inside to keep offenses honest. Danny Shelton would be just that. As one of the nation's top defensive tackles, he will make a quick impact by blowing up running lanes in Miami.

17. San Diego Chargers: Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State

Benardrick McKinney is the perfect example of the player San Diego needs to revamp its defense. Lacking a signal-caller in the middle of the field, the Chargers will quickly target the instinct-driven McKinney to quarterback the defense.

18. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Garry Jones/Associated Press

The Browns will pass on adding a dangerous offensive threat with their first first-round pick, but they won't be able to deny addressing it at No. 19. They will take Louisville's DeVante Parker, who will emerge as a deep threat alongside Josh Gordon.

19. Kansas City Chiefs: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

Kansas City will enter the 2015 draft eyeing improvements for Alex Smith's offense, and the Chiefs will do magnificently by grabbing Arizona State's Jaelen Strong. One of the most physical wideouts in college football will immediately emerge as the big-play threat the Chiefs need and prove to be one of Smith's favorite targets off the bat.

20. Philadelphia Eagles: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

Strike up that Chip Kelly-Oregon connection once again. This time, the pick makes complete sense as Philadelphia is in desperate need of some secondary reinforcements. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu isn't the physical defender that Kelly typically targets, but he worked to get him on the Ducks and will do the same here.

21. New Orleans Saints: Dante Fowler, DE, Florida

The Saints rank a lowly 26th in the league in sacks forced, which is far from their average during Sean Payton's tenure. Shoring up the pass rush will be a priority in the draft, and New Orleans will walk into a great pick by grabbing Florida defensive end Dante Fowler. 

22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

The Steelers are in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt despite an incomplete offensive line, and they will be hungry to address the problem early in Round 1. Pittsburgh will make a great pick by selecting Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley, a tackle who can have an early impact at a number of different positions.

23. Baltimore Ravens: Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Baltimore has done well to replace a number of future Hall of Famers on the defense, but cornerback help is sorely needed. Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby will answer the call. He's not even the best position player coming out of his school, but the hard-nosed corner will have no trouble adapting to the NFL.

24. Cincinnati Bengals: Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA

The Bengals have been largely unable to find a recipe for success in the middle of the defense—in part due to Vontaze Burfict's injury troubles. To help shore up the team's most glaring need, Cincinnati will target Eric Kendricks out of UCLA to step into big playing time as a rookie on a formidable defense.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

If there's one reason for the Seahawks' struggles throughout the middle of the 2014 season, it was an ineffective pass rush. Alvin "Bud" Dupree will help offset some offseason departures in Seattle, and his high draft stock will bestow big-time expectations on the athletic Kentucky defensive end.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State

After successfully building their offensive line via the draft, the Cowboys will be intent on addressing the defensive trenches come April. Dallas will do well by selecting Ohio State's Michael Bennett, who will step into immediate playing time on the defensive line and should quickly develop into an immovable force up front in a physical division. 

27. Detroit Lions: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

John Bazemore/Associated Press

A torn ACL won't hinder Todd Gurley's draft stock, as he'll fall into a perfect position to thrive in Detroit. The Lions don't have a long-term answer at running back with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell past their primes, and depth at the position will allow him to take his time in rehabilitation.

28. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

The Packers haven't been the same on defense without a presence like B.J. Raji in the trenches. Eddie Goldman out of Florida State may not have that type of impact off the bat, but anything he can offer should be better than what Green Bay has been getting up front in recent years.

29. Indianapolis Colts: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

It's pretty remarkable what Andrew Luck has done in Indianapolis in spite of a weak offensive line. The Colts won't back down on giving Luck some better protection, nabbing Pittsburgh's T.J. Clemmings—who can slide around the line wherever needed until he develops into a starting role.

30. Arizona Cardinals: Gerod Holliman, FS, Louisville

Arizona's blitz-happy defense relies heavily on having a wealth of playmakers in the secondary. Already with Tyrann Mathieu and Tony Jefferson, the Cardinals will quickly grab Gerod Holliman to give them an extra punch in the secondary and offer some depth for the inevitable injury bug.

31. Denver Broncos: A.J. Cann, OG, South Carolina

As long as Peyton Manning is around and firing, the Broncos will do whatever they can to keep him protected. Offensive-line reshuffling has doomed Denver at times in 2014, and the front office will be quick to grab South Carolina guard A.J. Cann to help alleviate some of the burden on the Broncos' interior blockers.

32. New England Patriots: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

The Patriots are in a similar boat as Denver—as long as Tom Brady is there, the organization will have to work extra hard to keep him firing on all cylinders. Brady could use a formidable target like Dorial Green-Beckham, who resembles the physical receiver Brady has lacked in New England and is one player who could help transition the Pats into a new era.


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