2015 NFL Mock Draft: Prospect Predictions for Every Selection of Round 1

Kenny DeJohn@@kennydejohnAnalyst IIIJanuary 14, 2015

In this Jan. 1, 2015 file photo, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston passes against Oregon during the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal, in Pasadena, Calif. Winston declared himself eligible for the NFL draft Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015,  the same day the woman who accused him of rape filed a lawsuit against the university saying it failed to properly investigate her allegations.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The college football season is over, and the NFL season concludes on Feb. 1 with the Super Bowl. We'll soon be without football.

That leaves plenty of time to analyze draft prospects and potential Round 1 outcomes, though. Mock drafts change constantly this time of year, with more players deciding on their futures with each passing day. Mocks are living, breathing predictions.

They'll change even more after NFL free agency. That's when teams generally address their biggest needs. This is a mock based on what they need now, prior to that time in the offseason. Read on to find out who your team should take in Round 1.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Jameis Winston is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this class, which makes him an ideal fit for the Buccaneers. Mike Glennon and Josh McCown should not be starters in this league. There are quality options in place in the passing game in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, and bringing in Winston could start a major turnaround if he can stay out of trouble.

2. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

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Perhaps the most exciting player in the draft, Marcus Mariota isn't a fine-tuned NFL quarterback just yet. He has all the skill in the world to become a starting-caliber player, but he needs time in an NFL system before taking the reins of an offense. The Titans have Zach Mettenberger and Charlie Whitehurst, so they can sit Mariota for a year and stock up with another high pick in the 2016 draft.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DT, USC

Jacksonville got its quarterback last season, and it also got a handful of talented young wideouts who will grow with Blake Bortles. Now it's time to address the defense.

Leonard Williams is the best defender in the draft because of his ability to shed blocks and get into the backfield with ease. Nabbing a big body to clog running lanes in the middle would help the Jaguars defense take the next step.

4. Oakland Raiders: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

There are enough wide receivers in this draft that the Raiders can address that need with value picks in later rounds. Instead of going with Amari Cooper, Oakland will select the best offensive lineman, Brandon Scherff.

Derek Carr proved he has what it takes to succeed in the NFL. Assuming his decision-making skills progress this season, he will be the future quarterback in Oakland. Protecting him with a surefire 10-year starter is imperative.


5. Washington Redskins: Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska

Randy Gregory is a hybrid pass-rusher capable of using speed off the edge or strength to push back tackles, and that makes him a top-five pick. The Redskins could use a little more physicality on defense, hence the fit. 

If it were up to Gregory, though, he might like to go to the Denver Broncos:

6. New York Jets: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Eric Decker couldn't slide into New York last season and play like a No. 1 receiver, so the Jets have no choice but to draft a receiver at No. 6. Cooper is a dynamic weapon who could make Geno Smith look like a far more effective quarterback. That is, of course, if Smith is still calling the shots on offense.


7. Chicago Bears: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

Wade Payne/Associated Press

Addressing needs on defense is a must for the Bears, and they could go a number of different ways. The secondary needs work, as does the defensive line. Given the position in which Chicago will draft, defensive end Shane Ray is the top option. He's a freak pass-rusher who spends his free time in the backfield.

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

A team in desperate need of ferocity on defense, the Falcons need versatility and guys who are unafraid of making big hits. Vic Beasley fits the mold here. He's a hybrid defender who gets off the line faster than most:

Matt Ryan can't do it all by himself in Atlanta. He needs a defense behind him to get stops and take pressure off him and the offense.

9. New York Giants: Landon Collins, S, Alabama

The Giants allowed 375.8 yards per game last season, 29th in the NFL. A variety of factors created this problem, but the key to immediate improvement is bringing in a safety who is capable of playing coverage, tackling and stopping the run. That's Landon Collins.

With Prince Amukamara, Jon Beason and others set to return from injury next season, the Giants defense should perform far better than it did.

10. St. Louis Rams: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

Marcus Peters is an athletic corner who can play valuable snaps out of training camp. The Rams defense is solid from top to bottom, but adding more skill in the secondary would be the icing on the cake.

Quarterback is a glaring need for St. Louis, but No. 10 is a difficult position to select one. If Winston or Mariota somehow slides down this far, expect the Rams to bypass the secondary.

11. Minnesota Vikings: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Teddy Bridgewater was successful in the fourth quarter of games as a rookie, making it obvious that he can be a quality signal-caller in the NFL. The best way to ensure his growth in his early years is to keep him on his feet with time in the pocket. Andrus Peat, a mammoth of a man at 6'7" and 300 pounds, would look good in Vikings' purple.

12. Cleveland Browns: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

DeVante Parker isn't Cooper, but he's capable of helping out Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer. ESPN's Mel Kiper has him as the class' second-best wideout:

The need for Parker is clear given the uncertainty surrounding Josh Gordon and the lack of depth at the position. With a capable quarterback, Parker can turn into a star.

13. New Orleans Saints: Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida State

Generating a pass rush capable of forcing errant throws needs to be a priority for a Saints defense that regressed considerably this year. This team still has the offensive weapons to compete in the NFC, but the Saints will never go anywhere with this currently constructed defense. Drew Brees probably has one or two strong years left in his arm. He needs someone like Dante Fowler to anchor the defense and keep the pressure off him to light it up on every single drive.

14. Miami Dolphins: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington

Also a running back at Washington, Shaq Thompson will suit up as a linebacker in the NFL. His athleticism helps him make plays, although he needs some work as a tackler. He's a bit raw as a linebacker given the fact that he didn't play there full time in college. This is a small risk for the Dolphins, but one that has the potential to pay off in a big way.


15. San Francisco 49ers: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Trae Waynes is a future ball hawk. He contests the ball at its catch-point, something many established corners struggle to do. He isn't afraid to go up there and get in a wide receiver's way, and the 49ers will appreciate this tenacity. San Francisco already has a strong defense; Waynes will make it even stronger.

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

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Quarterback and wide receiver are obvious needs for the Texans, but the second and third rounds are viable times to select those positions. The team can take care of another area of need, offensive tackle, at No. 16. Cedric Ogbuehi is somewhat of a hometown player given the fact that he grew up and went to college in Texas, so seeing him play in Houston makes sense. He can help protect whoever the new quarterback is next season.


17. San Diego Chargers: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State

Brandon Flowers is only on a one-year deal, so finding a corner who can eventually play alongside Jason Verrett and cover the No. 2 wide receivers of the AFC West is a priority for the Chargers. P.J. Williams can provide that need while also helping against the run, as NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah points out:

18. Kansas City Chiefs: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

If the Chiefs select Kevin White at No. 18, you can say goodbye to a lack of touchdown passes to wide receivers. They didn't have one of those this past season, but White might just get one in Week 1.

He's 6'3" but plays taller because of his leaping ability. Alex Smith will quickly build a rapport with the West Virginia product.


19. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills): Eric Kendricks, ILB/OLB, UCLA

The crop of inside linebackers in Round 1 is mostly interchangeable depending on who you ask. Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star has Eric Kendricks above the rest:

The Browns need a leader on defense, and Kendricks' monster season at UCLA proves that he can be an impact performer against quality competition.

20. Philadelphia Eagles: Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State

Any number of defensive prospects will be tied to the Eagles from now until they select in Round 1. Should they stay at No. 20, cornerback Ronald Darby is a good value pick. He uses his speed to limit separation against his assignments. In a division where Odell Beckham Jr., DeSean Jackson and Victor Cruz look to torch defensive backs, Philadelphia will appreciate his speed.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jalen Collins, CB, LSU

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Jalen Collins #32 of the LSU Tigers reacts to a defensive stop during the fourth quarter of a game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Tiger Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  LSU won the game 3
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Another team in need of a corner, the Bengals would be smart to take one in Round 1 because of how many would have already gone off the board by No. 21. Pro Football Talk's Mike Wilkening wrote about why this position is an area of need:

The Bengals need reinforcements here. Their top corner, Leon Hall, is coming back from his second ruptured left Achilles tendon in the last three seasons. Also, key corners Terence Newman (36 in September) and Adam Jones (31 in September) are closer to the end than the beginning of their pro careers. Ideally, the Bengals will draft at least one cornerback capable of contributing in “sub” packages in 2014 and pushing for a bigger role in years to come.

Collins fits that mold perfectly.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU

Danielle Hunter, Collins' LSU teammate, showed a solid first move off the line against offensive tackles. Pittsburgh didn't have the ferocious edge rush that we're used to this season, so upgrading along the defensive line is key. Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown were the team leaders this season, but the defense let them down by allowing too many easy points.

23. Detroit Lions: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are free agents. It's likely that at least one of them will leave, creating a glaring gap on the defensive line. Thankfully, Danny Shelton's large frame will be available at No. 23. He's 6'2" and 339 pounds, so it isn't easy to get around him while running up the middle. 

24. Arizona Cardinals: Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State

Eddie Goldman is another candidate for the Lions, so the Cardinals could easily flip-flop players with Detroit. Like Shelton, Goldman can clog running lanes because of his 320-pound frame. His size can stabilize the interior of this Cardinals defense.

25. Carolina Panthers: La'el Collins, OT, LSU

La'el Collins is a powerhouse at offensive tackle, as the below video shows:

Jonathan Stewart was a rock in the backfield for the Panthers in the final games of the season, but he isn't exactly known for his consistency. Collins will give Stewart every opportunity to produce more frequently.

26. Baltimore Ravens: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

Sharon Ellman/Associated Press

Don't let T.J. Clemmings' big frame (6'5", 305 pounds) fool you. He's quick on his feet. Justin Forsett proved he can be an every-down back following unforeseen circumstances, and Clemmings' quick feet should help him bounce the ball outside and pick up yards off the edge.

27. Dallas Cowboys: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is perhaps the most talented corner in the draft, but his knee injury has put his draft stock in question. The consensus All-American will be given a shot at No. 27 because of the laughable secondary the Cowboys put on the field. They allowed 251.9 yards through the air per game, 26th-worst in the NFL.

Ekpre-Olomu is a project given the uncertainty, but this pick could prove to be a major steal in a few years.

28. Denver Broncos: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State

Benardrick McKinney's biggest flaw is that he's not a great tackler, but he's still a first-rounder. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller rates him highly:

Denver's defense could benefit from adding McKinney, even if he can't contribute as a starter right away.

29. Indianapolis Colts: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

The stock of running backs in the NFL draft has fluctuated from year to year considering the volatility of even the game's top rushers, but Melvin Gordon is worthy of a pick in Round 1. His explosiveness makes him a home run threat whenever he touches the ball. Andrew Luck can't throw the ball 40 times per game if the Colts want to take the next step up the ranks in the AFC. Adding Gordon will take the pressure off him.


30. Green Bay Packers: Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Denzel Perryman #52 of the Miami Hurricanes in action against the Boston College Eagles during the game on September 1, 2012 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Denzel Perryman is a bad, bad man. He hits people absurdly hard, and Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel described the reactions associated with those hits perfectly: "The bone-crushing hits he often lays on opponents elicit equal parts cheers and groans from those who know just how powerful those blows can be."

The Packers defense has played well down the stretch, but any defense would benefit from a tackler like Perryman playing in the middle.

31. New England Patriots: Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

Tom Brady needs a deep threat. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are possession receivers at best, and Brandon LaFell doesn't do anything exceptionally well. Rob Gronkowski can do it all, but he doesn't have the speed to break away against defensive backs.

That's where Sammie Coates comes in. He's fast and no stranger to long gains.

32. Seattle Seahawks: Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan

Devin Funchess can jump and make catches in traffic, plus he has the speed to outrun many defenders. The Seahawks haven't necessarily suffered from a lack of top-notch receiving options, but just imagine how much more potent that offense could be with somebody like Funchess. Seattle needs a wideout in this draft. It might as well be at No. 32.

Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn