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2015 NFL Mock Draft: Projections for Each 1st-Round Selection

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IDecember 31, 2014

FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2014, file photo, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) passes the ball in the second half during an NCAA college football game against Utah in Salt Lake City. When Mariota and second-seeded Oregon face Jameis Winston and third-seeded Florida State in the the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 it will be the third time Heisman Trophy winners have met in a postseason game. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

For 20 NFL teams, the offseason has officially begun. 

That begins with moves in the front office, franchising players, free agency and a slew of other events, but there is no mistaking the importance of the draft. You won't find many top teams who haven't done a lot of their roster construction through the draft, and if a team doesn't nail its early picks, chances are the organization will toil in mediocrity. 

No pressure. 

That said, with the first 20 picks now set in stone, let's take a very early look at the first round. 

 

1. Tampa Bay BuccaneersMarcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Unless the Tampa Bay Buccaneers feel confident in resurrecting their franchise with 35-year-old Josh McCown, Mike Glennon or whatever pile of garbage free agency has to offer, it's fairly safe to say the top overall selection will be a quarterback.

It's going to come down to Marucs Mariota or Jameis Winston, and really, it just depends on each individual's personal preference. An argument could be made for either stud. 

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Ultimately, the most recent Heisman winner will hear his name called first. 

Many will question his ability to transition to a pro-style offense, but that's not really a concern. Mariota has the physical and mental skill set to thrive inside any system at the next level. He's a game-changer with both his arms and legs, and that's exactly what Tampa Bay needs. 

2. Tennessee Titans: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Tennessee isn't nearly as much of a lock to take a signal-caller, as the jury seems to be out on rookie Zach Mettenberger, who is prepared to fight for his job, per The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt:

But with a top-two pick, the Titans—without a playoff appearance in six straight seasons—can't afford to pass up a potential franchise-altering quarterback. 

Winston's maturity has been called into question during a fairly rocky sophomore campaign, but only the Titans can judge him on that. On the field, he looks and plays like a prototypical pro-style QB. He can make every throw on the route tree, has terrific anticipation and possesses the size and athleticism to move around and make plays outside of the pocket. 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Defensive line isn't the Jaguars' biggest area of need, but they simply need to go with the best player available. 

Randy Gregory is going to get a long look here as someone who would be a great fit for Gus Bradley's LEO position, but ultimately, Leonard Williams is the better talent. 

"The nation's top defensive lineman can play inside or outside, and unlike some of the pass-rushing ends who might record a higher sack total, Williams can hold his own against the run as well, " NFL.com's Chase Goodbread said. 

While Gregory's ability as an elite edge-rusher is tantalizing, Williams' freakish size (6'5", 290 pounds) and versatility to line up anywhere across the line will be too much for Bradley to pass up. 

4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Derek Carr has shown glimpses of being the Oakland Raiders' future quarterback. But as Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit recently argued, he needs more help on offense:

Carr makes adjustments at the line of scrimmage. He throws with conviction and velocity, suggesting that unlike a lot of young passers, he trusts what he sees and is willing to anticipate and attack tight windows. His fundamentals are encouraging though, granted, inconsistent. That inconsistency will abate once (O.K., if) he is surrounded by better receivers and a stronger running game.

Amari Cooper is a really good place to start. 

Playing in a run-heavy offense at Alabama, the electrifying wide receiver led the country in receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,656). He doesn't possess overwhelming size or speed, but he's blindingly quick and has the route-running skills to create instant separation. 

The Raiders need playmakers, and no one in this draft can stand toe-to-toe with Cooper in that aspect. 

5. Washington Redskins: Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

Per Football Outsiders' defensive metrics, Washington finished ninth in the NFL against the rush and dead last against the pass. It's pretty clear what needs improvement on that side of the ball. 

While someone like Landon Collins is an option, Bruce Allen and Co. could help fix the pass defense by adding players who can flush the pocket, as no one besides Ryan Kerrigan has produced consistent pressure. 

Gregory is still more sky-high potential than polish at this stage, but there's no question he thrives in getting to the quarterback.

6. New York Jets: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

The Jets need help all over the ball. But with Mariota, Winston and Cooper off the board, and no cornerback really worthy of a top-six pick, their options become somewhat limited. 

It's also tough to predict what they'll do with so much uncertainty in the front office, but it's never a bad idea to shore up the offensive line, especially when they have their pick of the entire crop. 

At 6'7" and 316 pounds, Andrus Peat possesses an enticing blend of daunting size and impressive agility. He needs work on his technique, but his ceiling is a franchise left tackle. 

7. Chicago Bears: Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

No. 7 overall may be a bit early for a safety, but the Chicago Bears are desperate for help in the secondary. 

There are some slight concerns about Landon Collins' ability in coverage, but he's an explosive, downhill player who can deliver some powerful hits. He would give this defense a don't-cross-the-middle-against-us identity it has been lacking. 

 

8. Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson

The Atlanta Falcons' pass rush was mostly nonexistent for much of the season. They finished 31st in sack percentage, recording just 22 sacks despite facing the 10th-most dropbacks in league. 

With this year's class of edge-rushers insanely deep, the Falcons may choose to continue to address the offensive line here instead. But Vic Beasley is extremely quick off the snap, a good fit as a 3-4 OLB and very productive (32.0 sacks at Clemson). 

9. New York Giants: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

The New York Giants were one of the best teams in the NFL at getting to the quarterback in 2014, but it's going to take a big contract to bring back leading sack-getter and potential free agent Jason Pierre-Paul. 

"I think I am worth a lot of money," he told ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk.

If the G-Men choose to replace him via the draft, Shane Ray is fine place to start. The SEC Defensive Player of the Year is a quick, relentless player capable of not only getting into the backfield but playing on all three downs. 

10. St. Louis Rams: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

The St. Louis Rams have shown glimpses of competing in the difficult NFC West, and as such, they may want to spend this pick on a player who can make a more immediate impact. But until they find a solid QB, they are still very much in the rebuilding process. 

Enter Cedric Ogbuehi, who is a bit raw but whose size, length, quickness and athleticism paint the picture of a player with an incredibly high ceiling. 

Ogbuehi and Greg Robinson would give the Rams a potentially dominant tackle duo for the foreseeable future. 

11. Minnesota Vikings: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

DeVante Parker missed five games due to injuries in 2014 and still racked up 35 catches, 735 yards and five touchdowns. At 6'3" with terrific athleticism and electrifying ability after the catch, he is a special talent. 

Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham recently drew a lofty comparison, via WAVE-TV's Kent Taylor:

As a bonus, reuniting Parker with former quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would certainly expedite his transition to the NFL. 

 

12. Cleveland Browns: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Kevin White doesn't have breakaway speed or the same kind of athleticism of someone like Parker, but he has good size, wins jump balls and has the hands plus anticipation to typically come down with anything in his area. 

Exhibit A:

Josh Gordon's future with the Browns is suddenly murky. Best-case scenario, he and White form one of the most talented receiving duos in the NFL. But if Gordon is shown the door, White serves as a skilled player who can contribute right away and become the Browns' new big-play threat. 

13. New Orleans Saints: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

This was a nightmare season for the New Orleans Saints, but they still have Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Mark Ingram (free agent), Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills and an array of talented offensive players. They are not far away from competing in 2015. 

Brandon Scherff is a rock who may be the strongest player in the draft. He is a nasty, bruising blocker who can make an impact right away, whether it's at tackle or inside as a guard. 

Another obvious option here is adding a pass-rusher opposite Junior Galette. Someone like Florida's Dante Fowler would make plenty of sense for Rob Ryan's defense. 

14. Miami Dolphins: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

Exemplifying his astounding physical gifts, Shaq Thompson played everywhere from safety to running back to linebacker during his career at Washington. 

With that kind of athleticism and versatility, Thompson is someone who can line up all over on the defensive side of the ball. He's good in run support, he has the speed to drop in coverage or cover sideline to sideline, and he's a playmaker with a knack for forcing turnovers. 

The Dolphins need improvement at the linebacker position, and Thompson is the kind of gamer who can make an immediate, noticeable impact. 

15. San Francisco 49ers: Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida

Another team with turnover in the front office, it's a little difficult to project what direction the San Francisco 49ers will go. But Ray McDonald is gone, there have been whispers about Justin Smith retiring and Aldon Smith has just one more year on his contract. 

If DeVante Parker or Kevin White are still available, expect the 'Niners to take one of them to help replace free-agent Michael Crabtree. But with both off the board, adding some depth to the aging front seven wouldn't hurt. 

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah gave his evaluation of Dante Fowler:

He only had 6.0 sacks in two seasons, but he's a menacing beast with an impressive blend of speed and power. His stock may not be this low after the combine. 

16. Houston Texans: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Kareem Jackson is slated for free agency, so the Houston Texans could stand to search for a potential replacement opposite Johnathan Joseph. At the very least, it would be beneficial to add some youth to the secondary. 

Trae Waynes might even be better than former Michigan State teammate Darqueze Dennard, who was selected in the first round last year. A former 2-star recruit, he has the speed and length to be a shutdown corner at the next level. 

17. San Diego Chargers: La'el Collins, OT, LSU

The Chargers graded out as the second-worst run-blocking team in the NFL in 2014, per Football Outsiders' rankings. In the more traditional stats, they produced a woeful 3.4 yards per carry, which was also second-worst. 

Throw in the potential free agency of longtime center Nick Hardwick and left tackle King Dunlap, and offensive line is an obvious area to address for San Diego. 

La'el Collins, much like Brandon Scherff, is a powerful blocker who has the size and strength to play either tackle or guard. His physical nature would instantly help the Chargers move the ball on the ground. 

18. Kansas City Chiefs: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan

You may not have heard, but the Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers don't like catching touchdowns. This about sums it up, via SportsCenter's Twitter feed:

It's not as if they don't have weapons in the passing gameDwayne Bowe, Travis Kelce and Jamaal Charles are plenty talented. But they need a playmaker on the outside. 

Devin Funchess is a similar prospect to Kelvin Benjamin. The former tight end is a big, athletic target who has a massive catch radius and can create mismatches down the field. He's also dangerous after the catch, which is ideal for Alex Smith. 

19. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo): Alvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky

Much like Fowler, Bud Dupree's stock is probably going to continue to rise in the coming months, culminating in a big jump after the combine. 

He's an unbelievable athlete who has the potential to do a lot of damage if let loose as a situational edge-rusher right off the bat. An OLB rotation of Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo and Dupree is a frightening thought for opposing lineman. 

20. Philadelphia Eagles: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State

Bradley Fletcher became a running joke by the end of the season, as he continually got burnt by a host of different wide receivers. Even if he wasn't hitting free agency, it was clear the Philadelphia Eagles were going to need help at cornerback. 

P.J. Williams has the size and physicality to jam receivers at the line, but he also possesses sub-4.4 speed. He would serve as an immediate upgrade for this defense. 

21. Carolina Panthers: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

The Carolina Panthers, despite being a team focused on the run and featuring an athletic, elusive quarterback, allowed 42 sacks on the season. They played better down the stretch, but for the most part, the offensive line was an absolute mess. 

Ronnie Stanley's stock is steadily rising, and some view him as the top O-line prospect in the draft. He's long, aggressive and can play either left or right tackle. 

22. Baltimore Ravens: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Justin Forsett has been outstanding in 2014, but he's also 29 years old (which is getting up there in running back years), 5'8" and 197 pounds and a free agent after the year. No matter how good he has been, he's not the team's future ball-carrier. 

Melvin Gordon is a special player who would fit as an ideal replacement. 

The Heisman finalist enjoyed one of the most spectacular seasons in recent memory, running for 2,336 yards and 26 touchdowns. He averaged a ludicrous 7.8 yards per tote for his career and has the speed, acceleration and vision to thrive in Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking scheme.  

23. Cincinnati Bengals: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State

The Cincinnati Bengals finished the season with the NFL's worst sack percentage. Carlos Dunlap led the team with eight sacks, but no other player on the edge had more than 1.5 (defensive tackle Geno Atkins finished with three). 

Cincy has a talented secondary, but if they could produce a consistent pass rush, they would be scary on that side of the ball. 

Shilique Calhoun had somewhat of a quiet year after winning Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year as a sophomore in 2013, but that was in large part due to constant double-teams. He's a big, powerful player who can be disruptive off the edge and also play the run. 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

What a wild year it has been for Marcus Peters—he may or may not have choked a Washington assistant coach, but either way, he was definitely kicked off the team. 

While it wasn't a good look for his draft stock, a team could end up getting a bargain if it ultimately feels comfortable about his off-the-field issues. 

It's a worthwhile risk at this point for the Steelers, who are in need of secondary help with Cortez Allen struggling and 34-year-old Ike Taylor entering free agency. 

25. Detroit Lions: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

There is no team that will potentially be gutted at one position more than the Detroit Lions at defensive tackle, as studs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are both set for free agency in the offseason. Heck, even backup C.J. Mosley is on the same path. 

It will almost surely be a position that Jim Caldwell and Martin Mayhew need to address, and Danny Sheltona physical, active interior presence who can play both the run and the pass—is a great way to re-anchor the defensive line. 

 

26. Indianapolis Colts: Eli Harold, DE, Virginia

Although it's never a bad idea to keep building up the offensive line to protect franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts need more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. 

Eli Harold is a fast-rising prospect. He's an explosive, natural edge-rusher who has racked up 15.5 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss in two years as a starter. 

27. Arizona Cardinals: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

Jared Veldheer has done well to lock down the left tackle position, but as Bleacher Report's Shaun Church noted, right tackle Bobby Massie has been slightly below average:

T.J. Clemmings, who has spent just two seasons on the offensive line, is still a bit raw. But with his size and quickness, his upside is clear. He could spend 2015 providing depth before eventually replacing Massie, who has just one season left on his contract. 

28. Dallas Cowboys: Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA

While the Dallas Cowboys have been better than expected defensively, they still have holes on that side of the ball. Secondary is an option here, but with Sean Lee coming off a major knee injury and Bruce Carter and Justin Durant both set for free agency, linebacker may be the more likely route. 

Eric Kendricks isn't a consensus first-round pick, but Jerry Jones and his staff have proved in recent years that they are perfectly willing to go against the grain. 

And as Rotoworld's Josh Norris argued, there's a lot to like about the UCLA product:

One of the most impressive defensive performers I have watched regardless of position. We know Kendricks can recognize running lanes and read the triangle, but where he can be most beneficial to a team early on is in coverage. Turn on the Virginia game to find out.

Kendricks is a machine. He has nearly 500 total tackles, eight sacks and five interceptions during his career at UCLA and is a sneaky-good pick who could play inside or out for the 'Boys. 

29. Green Bay Packers: Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State

The Clay Matthews middle linebacker experiment has went just fine, but the Packers would still probably be better served with their star causing havoc on the outside. 

Adding Benardrick McKinney, a versatile, athletic player who can make plays all over the field, would be a good way to make that happen. 

Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

30. New England Patriots: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

Defensive tackle isn't the biggest need for the Patriots, but Vince Wilfork is 33 years old and Eddie Goldman presents tremendous value at this spot. 

He is a dominant, disruptive player in the trenches. 

 

31. Denver Broncos: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

The Denver Broncos line has struggled for much of the season. Injuries haven't helped, but it has become clear that Louis Vasquez is far more effective as a guard than as a right tackle. 

Ereck Flowers is a physical specimen who would form with Ryan Clady to give Peyton Manning two stout bookends on the offensive line. 

 

32. Seattle Seahawks: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Speaking of physical specimens, Dorial Green-Beckham is the kind of wide receiver that today's NFL drools over. He's 6'5" with the speed and leaping ability to terrorize cornerbacks. 

Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse have been solid, but he would add an entire new dynamic to the Seahawks offense. 

Character concerns seem to have Green-Beckham's stock anywhere from top-20 pick to well outside the first round, but Pete Carroll and John Schneider have never let that stop them from grabbing who they believe is the most talented football player.