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2015 NFL Mock Draft: Ideal 1st-Round Selections for Every Team

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJanuary 17, 2015

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota warms up before the Rose Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal against Florida State, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015 in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

The 2015 NFL draft will once again be loaded with talented underclassmen who will help this year's class boast comparable overall depth to the 2014 crop that produced numerous immediate-impact players.

Pass-rushers and versatile offensive linemen in particular will make a lot of news, and a top-heavy group of receivers should also infuse the NFL with additional passing-game theatrics in the next year.

Unlike the prior class, though, only two quarterbacks figure to be first-round locks. Oregon's Marcus Mariota will be tempting at No. 1 overall, and Florida State standout Jameis Winston could even beat Mariota for the top choice.

There is a considerable drop-off from there among the QBs. Fanbases hoping for a signal-caller to play franchise savior may need to wait another draft, as Mariota and Winston have their own risky traits.

Below is an updated mock of the first round, outlining the most ideal selections for every team and analyzing the picks that would make the biggest splash in this scenario.

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

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks looks to pass the ball against the Florida State Seminoles during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Based on the lack of off-field concerns, a far superior 2014 campaign, fewer turnovers and better athleticism, Mariota takes his talents to Tampa.

Although Mariota plays in a spread system at Oregon, he's still an extremely intelligent quarterback who accounted for numerous touchdowns and so few turnovers this season.

Ahead of the national championship loss, Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry praised Mariota's ability to make full-field reads, per the Buckeyes' official Twitter account:

The Bucs need a spark on offense, to say the least, as they were 29th in the NFL in scoring at just 17.3 points per game. Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans are capable, big-bodied receivers who could benefit from Mariota's mobility to post up deep down the field and generate huge plays.

In an NFC South division that features Drew Brees in New Orleans, Matt Ryan in Atlanta and Carolina dual-threat star Cam Newton, Tampa Bay needs a better player to compete on a consistent basis. Mariota can be that man thanks to his physical tools and demonstrated desire to learn the game.

2. Tennessee Titans: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

With the woeful run of quarterbacks coach Ken Whisenhunt has had, he will do everything in his power to discourage the front office from taking a risk on Winston.

That leaves the next best fit in Tennessee as Gregory, who can start at outside linebacker or switch to defensive end if the Titans deploy a new system in the coming years. Gregory has tremendous length, an explosive first step and natural bend to be a pass-rushing force.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DL, USC

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Jags will be disappointed to lose out on Gregory, but coach Gus Bradley will still want to build his defense with an elite prospect.

Williams can line up anywhere on the line and excel right away against the run and the pass. This choice is based on a sudden need as well, since Sen'Derrick Marks suffered a torn ACL in Week 17.

4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Oakland has to be pleased with what it saw out of Derek Carr as a rookie. He fared quite well with the worst running game in football and a dearth of playmakers on the outside. Adding Cooper to the mix gives Carr a legitimate No. 1 target. An upgrade on the offensive line can be found early on Day 2.

5. Washington Redskins: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Ranking 31st in Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate makes bolstering the offensive trenches a priority in the nation's capital. Scherff has excelled at tackle but has also played guard in his college career, so he's a necessary piece to the puzzle wherever Washington plugs him in.

6. New York Jets: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 30:  DeVante Parker #9 of the Louisville Cardinals warms up before the Belk Bowl against the Georgia Bulldogs at Bank of America Stadium on December 30, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik are both gone, so the Jets are in a state of serious flux. Complicating matters is the fact that Geno Smith, who has looked awful for most of two seasons with the team, registered a perfect 158.3 passer rating in a regular-season finale win over Miami.

Owner Woody Johnson seems to have faith that Smith can still be the long-term answer in New York.

"I've got confidence in Geno," said Johnson, via ESPNNewYork.com's Danny Knobler. "I really do. He'll be good. [...] He's a young quarterback who the last five games has gotten much, much better...I mean, the last five games he's played pretty well."

To ensure that Smith succeeds in his third year, he needs all the help he can get. Percy Harvin may not be with the team in 2015, and the only other passable receiver is Eric Decker. Choosing Parker at No. 6 overall is a viable strategy under those circumstances.

NFL Network scouting expert Daniel Jeremiah compares Parker favorably to San Diego Chargers star Keenan Allen:

If Harvin stays, the Jets have the tools for a high-flying offense to complement their past penchant for pounding the rock. In any case, Parker is tremendous at high-pointing the ball, has experience in a pro-style offense and is as ready as any wideout this side of Cooper to make a big rookie-year impression.

Should the Allen comparison prove to be true, there's a chance Parker could be an even better, faster version of a receiver in that mold.

7. Chicago Bears: Landon Collins, SS, Alabama

Ousted coach Marc Trestman did what he could with an offense quarterbacked by Jay Cutler, but the defense was Chicago's real undoing. The Bears ranked 30th against the pass and could use someone with Collins' savvy in the secondary to improve the team's problematic safety situation.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

It's pretty clear which side of the ball Atlanta needs to prioritize. Ray racked up 13 sacks and played in the SEC (h/t CFBStats.com), which should help him prepare for the competitive jump to the pros. The Falcons had just 22 sacks as a team in 2014, so Ray can help regardless of his schematic fit.

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

Starring on both sides of the ball at Washington as a linebacker and running back offers an idea of the caliber of athlete Thompson is. The Giants ought to deploy him predominantly on defense and be thrilled to add such a playmaker to their front seven.

10. St. Louis Rams: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

The big edge Winston has on Mariota is that he has the responsibilities a pro signal-caller does at the line of scrimmage and in studying the playbook. This puts Winston ahead of the curve and may make him a greater success to begin his NFL career.

On the other hand, Winston has some serious maturing to do to prove he can be the face of an organization. Rams coach Jeff Fisher has experience in dealing with those who have character concerns, making Winston an ideal fit in St. Louis.

With all the criticism Winston has received, it's a wonder he was able to keep playing at a high level when it mattered most and achieve what he did on the field in his past two years at Florida State.

11. Minnesota Vikings: La'el Collins, OL, LSU

Like Scherff, Collins can line up at either tackle or guard, but he's uniquely light on his feet for someone listed at 321 pounds.

Playing multiple positions in LSU coordinator Cam Cameron's intricate offense will prepare Collins to fill in as a Week 1 starter in Minnesota to help protect potential franchise QB Teddy Bridgewater.

12. Cleveland Browns: Danny Shelton, NT, Washington

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Lackluster depth up front played a role in the Browns fading down the stretch and finishing dead last in run defense. Getting a disruptive force in the limber, shockingly quick 340-pound Shelton with its first of two Day 1 choices would be ideal for Cleveland to shore up that issue.

13. New Orleans Saints: Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky

Whether the Saints decide to deploy Dupree at defensive end or linebacker, he has the size (264 pounds) and quickness to be a tremendous edge-rusher.

There won't be as much of a need for Rob Ryan or whoever is defensive coordinator to send complex blitzes with a matchup problem like Dupree attacking the opposing QB.

14. Miami Dolphins: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

Goldman has rare speed for a 314-pounder and proved capable of thriving as a 4-3 interior lineman in Tallahassee. Staying in the Sunshine State and joining the Dolphins rotation would be a great fit for both parties.

15. San Francisco 49ers: Malcom Brown, NT, Texas

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 15:   Defensive tackle Malcom Brown #90 of the Texas Longhorns looks at the video board before the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys November 15, 2014 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Longhorns defeated
Brett Deering/Getty Images

The potential retirement of veteran defensive tackle Justin Smith creates a huge potential void the 49ers will have to fill in the coming years. Tank Carradine could slide into Smith's spot, while Brown could provide a definitive answer at nose tackle and change the dynamic of San Francisco's defensive front.

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

Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson is a free agent this offseason and will command a considerable payday. It may be best for Houston to invest in a player in Waynes who brings better value and gives Houston a promising youngster to start opposite Johnathan Joseph.

17. San Diego Chargers: Dante Fowler Jr., DE/OLB, Florida

San Diego was among the league's worst in getting sacks, and it can't count on aging Pro Bowler Dwight Freeney any longer. Not only can Fowler line up on the line, but he's also capable of dropping in coverage, making him a great get for the Chargers at No. 17.

18. Kansas City Chiefs: Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Despite being ineligible to play in 2014, Green-Beckham was permitted to practice. A 6'6", 225-pound frame to go with magnificent speed makes Green-Beckham a first-round prospect despite legal issues that got him dismissed from Missouri.

No Chiefs wide receiver caught a touchdown pass in 2014. If a game-managing QB like Alex Smith is meant to thrive, he needs an elite weapon like Green-Beckham to help him out.

19. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo): Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan

Reluctance to draft a receiver last year ultimately cost Cleveland this season. General manager Ray Farmer would be wise to pull the trigger on Funchess, if only because he's a converted tight end who could still play the position in the NFL or continue on at receiver and develop into a No. 1-caliber option.

20. Philadelphia Eagles: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The departure of free-agent-to-be Bradley Fletcher may appease Eagles fans who watched him struggle in coverage. Coach Chip Kelly has established a culture that should be able to foster Peters' development.

Peters is arguably the most talented cover corner in the draft. Unfortunately, he was dismissed from Washington for repeated clashes with the coaching staff. Presuming Kelly can get Peters to buy in, Philly would add some serious punch to its defensive backfield.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State

Sideline-to-sideline range and immense burst allow McKinney to close quickly on the ball-carrier and to be disruptive on inside blitzes. His skills could make for a transition to an NFL outside linebacker.

Cincinnati had trouble on its hands when Vontaze Burfict was banged up this year. Due to Rey Maualuga's status as an impending free agent, it'd be logical to add McKinney to the linebacker corps.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State

Veteran Ike Taylor is on the way out, so Pittsburgh needs cornerbacks who can hold up on the back end for the Steelers' vaunted defense to continue working after the resignation of longtime coordinator Dick LeBeau. 

Someone with Williams' physical style of play and willingness to step up in run support is precisely what the Steelers will be looking for in the first two rounds. Taking Williams is a sound decision if he's still on the board, and he'll have the chance to start in Week 1.

23. Detroit Lions: Alex Carter, CB, Stanford

PALO ALTO, CA - AUGUST 30:  Alex Carter #25 of the Stanford Cardinal warms up before their game against the UC Davis Aggies at Stanford Stadium on August 30, 2014 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Practicing against the Cardinal's pro-principle offense certainly can't hurt Carter's draft stock, nor can the fact that his father was a first-round pick in 1993. Natural instincts, a feel for the position and a tenacious style of play help Carter compensate for a lack of top-end speed.

The Lions have long neglected addressing the cornerback position with any truly viable solutions. Aging cornerback Rashean Mathis is on the open market, and there is no discernible depth on the rest of the roster. This only strengthens the case for Carter or a different cornerback.

24. Arizona Cardinals: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Defensive play-caller Todd Bowles, now the coach of the Jets, used a ton of blitzes to manufacture pressure after Arizona struggled to get to the quarterback early in the 2014 campaign.

Provided the Cardinals stick with a 3-4 hybrid alignment based on the strengths of their current personnel, Beasley is an athlete with great bend and the type of speed-rusher Arizona needs in a big way.

25. Carolina Panthers: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

The punishment QB Cam Newton has absorbed doesn't bode well for his long-term prospects. That's why the Panthers must not only give him another weapon, but perhaps more importantly make a concerted effort to protect him.

Ogbuehi hails from College Station, where first-round tackles in Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews have preceded him. He has played both left and right tackle, though Carolina will hope he lives up to his potential as a Pro Bowl-caliber option on Newton's blindside.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

Wouldn't it be fun to see the Ravens choose Ohio State speedster Devin Smith to go with Torrey Smith and Steve Smith in the Baltimore receiving corps?

A comparable player who figures to be a better NFL wideout is Coates. A bigger, thicker frame and similar big-play ability give Coates the nod, despite the limited route tree he ran in Auburn's run-dominant system.

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

Bennett put on a show against the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl and has flashed enough in the past to warrant a first-round grade.

Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe noticed Bennett's standout play:

An injury history clouds the future of Henry Melton, and Dallas could use another defensive tackle. What makes Bennett interesting is his knack for collapsing the pocket from the inside, which could prove to be a great combination with fellow young defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence.

28. Denver Broncos: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (Florida)

Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Nimble enough to be a tackle but bulky and mauling enough to play inside, Flowers offers Denver an intriguing solution to an underlying problem.

Orlando Franklin hasn't been quite the same since moving from right tackle to left guard and will be a free agent. Thus, the Broncos can reshuffle as they see fit with Flowers in the fold.

29. Indianapolis Colts: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

What the divisional round of the playoffs should reinforce is that Andrew Luck can't carry the Colts on his own forever. Indianapolis needs to improve on the ground to take the next step. Although Trent Richardson will not be the answer, Gordon very well could be.

NFL Network's Charles Davis believes Gordon deserves to be the first running back chosen in the first round since 2012:

Gordon had one heck of a close-out performance, compiling 251 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a 34-31 win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl. The Badgers star can also catch the ball and pass protect, making him suited for a feature role to complement Luck.

30. Green Bay Packers: Arik Armstead, DE/OLB, Oregon

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Defensive lineman Arik Armstead #9 of the Oregon Ducks pressures quarterback Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles during the first quarter of the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

A meme phenomenon occurred recently involving Baylor's Shawn Oakman because of his gigantic body, but Armstead has reminiscent, freakish measurements.

NFL Network's Albert Breer spoke to an NFL GM who had great things to say about Armstead's upside.

"No. 9 (Armstead) is extremely gifted," said the GM. "He has first-round talent, no doubt. The more he shows us in the playoff game, the better chance he has. But he's a 6-foot-8, 290-pound freak."

Breer adds the caveat that Armstead didn't come into his own as a starter until this season. With a strong outing in the national championship, stellar performances in pre-draft workouts and no red flags in team interviews, though, Armstead will be impossible to resist for Green Bay.

Former first-round pick Nick Perry hasn't panned out at outside linebacker. The same goes for Datone Jones at defensive end. Armstead could fill in at either of those spots and shine, depending on what Dom Capers would want to do with him.

31. New England Patriots: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

For all the brilliant moves New England has made to stay competitive over the years, the one missing element has been a draft-day home run to supply Tom Brady with a young receiving target.

In a low-risk situation at the bottom of the first round, this is the Patriots' chance to get redemption by selecting the sure-handed Strong, whose big frame and ball skills are assets Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola don't boast.

32. Seattle Seahawks: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Based on this draft order, Seattle is in line to win a second straight Lombardi Trophy. Nothing really needs to change on defense, but the fact that the Seahawks were 24th in Football Outsiders' pass protection even with Russell Wilson's scrambling prowess is a big cause for alarm.

The downhill running game and West Coast brand of offense are what Peat is accustomed to from his Stanford days. A prospective transition to Seattle would therefore be easier than most, and he has the football IQ and athletic ability to be groomed as a franchise left tackle.

Russell Okung will be a free agent in 2016 and has never made it through a full 16-game season. As effective as he's been when healthy, the Seahawks have to focus on value when they decide who to hold onto as they hope for sustained success in the years to come.