Todd McShay NFL Mock Draft 2015: Notable Picks from ESPN Guru's First Mock

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2014

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks warms up during pregame warmups prior to playing the Arizona Wildcats in the Pac-12 Championship game at Levi's Stadium on December 5, 2014 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Well, folks, it's official—mock draft season is upon us.

Nothing dominates the NFL offseason quite like the hype and buzz leading up to the NFL draft, which leads to a slew of mock drafts by various experts around the web. Right in the middle of it all is ESPN's Todd McShay, who recently released his first mock draft of the year.    

You can find McShay's full list of selections and justifications for each pick at ESPN Insider (subscription required).

Todd McShay's ESPN Mock Draft
1Tampa Bay BuccaneersMarcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
2Tennessee TitansJameis Winston, QB, Florida State
3Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard Williams, DE, USC
4Oakland RaidersRandy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
5WashingtonShane Ray, DE, Missouri
6New York JetsAmari Cooper, WR, Alabama
7Atlanta FalconsDante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida
8New York GiantsVic Beasley, DE, Clemson
9Chicago BearsLandon Collins, S, Alabama
10Carolina PanthersBrandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
11Minnesota VikingsCedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
12St. Louis RamsEreck Flowers, OT, Miami
13Houston TexansDevante Parker, WR, Louisville
14Cleveland BrownsDanny Shelton, DT, Washington
15San Francisco 49ersDevin Funchess, WR, Michigan
16Miami DolphinsShaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
17Kansas City ChiefsKevin White, WR, West Virginia
18San Diego ChiefsEddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
19Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo)Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
20Philadelphia EaglesTrae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
21New Orleans SaintsTJ Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
22Pittsburgh SteelersMalcom Brown, DT, Texas
23Baltimore RavensMelvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
24Cincinnati BengalsAndrus Peat, OT, Stanford
25Dallas CowboysKevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
26Detroit LionsMarcus Peters, CB, Washington
27Indianapolis ColtsLa'El Collins, OT, LSU
28Green Bay PackersBendardrick Mckinney, MLB, Mississippi State
29Seattle SeahawksTodd Gurley, RB, Seattle Seahawks
30Arizona CardinalsBud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
31New England PatriotsAJ Cann, OG, South Carolina
32Denver BroncosDenzel Perryman, MLB, Miami
ESPN Insider

Let's break down some of the notable selections.

Obviously, it's hard to look past the first two picks, with Marcus Mariota going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jameis Winston going to the Tennessee Titans. Over the next several months, these two are going to be compared, contrasted, poked and prodded as folks try to decide who the top overall pick should be.

Rotoworld's Josh Norris provided his analysis of Mariota:

Josh Norris @JoshNorris

Written it before, but w/ Mariota I see a QB who uses his mobility & athl as a passer. We've seen very positive eye lvl & pocket management.

As for what ultimately prompted McShay to bump Mariota higher than Winston, it was the off-field concerns that follow the latter around everywhere he goes:

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But [Winston's] off-field behavior to this point frightens me. The Titans and any team that considers drafting him are going to have to be comfortable with what they find when they look into his past, and with his psychological testing. But as I mentioned in the Mariota section, even if one or two teams that need a QB pass on either of these top two QBs, I don't think they all will. It's hard to envision either getting out of the top 10, at this point.

Winston's ability on the field isn't going to be questioned. Whether a team is comfortable making him the face of its franchise will be.

Five of McShay's next six picks are defensive ends, suggesting that this is a great year to have a high pick if you need help on the defensive line. The one notable exception in the run of defensive ends is Amari Cooper going to the New York Jets, however. 

Cooper was dominant at Alabama this year, though in New York the question remains who will ultimately be throwing him the ball, with Geno Smith failing to prove he can be a franchise quarterback at this point in his career. Still, Cooper would certainly make the Jets more dynamic on offense.

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 25:  Amari Cooper #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide steps to the line against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Two of the most interesting picks come much later in the mock, as McShay has Wisconsin running back and Heisman Trophy finalist Melvin Gordon going to the Baltimore Ravens and Georgia running back Todd Gurley going to the Seattle Seahawks.

Gordon makes perfect sense for Baltimore. The Ravens have been pleasantly surprised by the production of Justin Forsett but would likely love to pair him with a more traditional between-the-tackles runner. As McShay notes, Gordon played in a zone-blocking scheme at Wisconsin, which offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak brought to Baltimore this season.

And then there's Gurley heading to Seattle. While it's far from a guarantee that Marshawn Lynch will return to the team after this season, the Seahawks do have capable backups for him in Robert Turbin and exciting talent Christine Michael.

Gurley's talent is unquestioned, and he's the sort of bruising runner that would fit Seattle's scheme perfectly. Still, it's fair to wonder if the team would look to address other areas of need before selecting another running back.

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