2015 NFL Mock Draft: Best Team Fits for Top Talents on the Board in Round 1

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2015

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 12:  Quarterback Marcus Mariota #8 of the Oregon Ducks looks on in the first half against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Between now and the NFL draft, prospects will rise and prospects will fall. Scouting reports will change, rumors will emerge, players will be dissected and, eventually, sheer madness will reign supreme as NFL fans become more and more obsessed with the draft.

But before we all descend into that madness like Charles Marlow floating down the Congo River, let's take a look at where the draft's top stars would fit in my latest mock draft.

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

Jameis Winston has the ability to solidify a position for the Bucs that has been in flux for a long time. Lovie Smith would essentially be tying his future in Tampa Bay to the success of Winston, but given how talented Winston is, that won't be a huge risk if the former Florida State quarterback and Heisman winner remains focused and dedicated to being great.

Distractions might beckon. If Winston tunes them out, he could be special.  

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

The Titans have a really tough decision to make: Do they give Zach Mettenberger the chance to prove he can be the guy and draft a potential stud on the defensive side of the ball, or do they take the plunge on Winston?

I say they do the latter. Winston has enough red flags and Mettenberger is an investment that probably shouldn't be given up on just yet. Plus, nabbing an edge-rusher like Randy Gregory would really give a terrible defense a major boost.

The bold move is selecting Winston. The smart one, or perhaps the prudent one, at least, is going with Gregory. I'm guessing the Titans go the prudent route. 

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri 

They say you should never trust a man with two first names. It's a dumb rule that doesn't make any sense, but people definitely say that. Those people don't need a compelling pass-rusher to add some sizzle to a solid defensive line and a defense that is growing under Gus Bradley. So, yes, I think the Jags will trust a man with two first names—defensive end Shane Ray.

4. Oakland Raiders: Leonard Williams, DT, USC 

The Raiders have three options here.

  1. They could add a compelling wideout to pair with Derek Carr in Amari Cooper. That would probably be the fan-favorite pick.
  2. They could trade the pick to a team looking to cash in on the Winston sweepstakes should the quarterback still available. 
  3. They could take the best defensive player on the board—and arguably the best player on the board, period—in defensive tackle Leonard Williams.

I think they'll do the latter, pairing Williams with Khalil Mack at linebacker and D.J. Hadyen at cornerback to form the core of a transitioning defense. In a division with Peyton Manning (assuming he's back with Denver), Philip Rivers and Jamaal Charles, solidifying the defense should be a priority for Jack Del Rio and his new staff.

5. Washington: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson

The player the team doesn't need but, boy, would it be fun to watch would be pairing Cooper at wide receiver with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.

The player that would really make everybody's head explode would be selecting Marcus Mariota and trading Robert Griffin III, but that might be a bit too wacky even for Daniel Snyder.

Landon Collins will probably be a consideration, but that feels like a bit of a reach, though Washington's pass defense was dreadful this year.

Ultimately, I think the team will select Vic Beasley, likely to replace Brian Orakpo who hits free agency this year. One way to improve the pass defense is to improve the pass rush. Beasley would certainly help in that regard.

6. New York Jets: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon Ducks

Marcus Mariota has the sort of attitude and work ethic you want in a franchise player. His athleticism will bring a new element to the offense, and he simply doesn't carry the character concerns that Winston brings to the table, making his selection a coup for the Jets at No. 6.

I think his upside is a physically bigger version of Russell Wilson. Yes, players like Wilson and Mariota aren't traditional passers, and you have to build an offense around them. But if you do, the results often lead to championships, or at least trips to championships.

Mariota will be a good NFL player, I truly believe that. He won't allow himself to be anything else. This is the pick.

7. Chicago Bears: Landon Collins, S, Alabama 

The Bears could go in a number of directions here, but they really need to upgrade their pass defense and solidify the safety position. Landon Collins is not only this draft's best safety, he's the best defensive player on the board at this point. He's a natural fit for John Fox and the Bears.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Dante Fowler, DE, Florida

Atlanta could pretty much address any position on defense, but improving the pass rush would be a great place to start. Dante Fowler is going to have the opportunity to get a whole lot of playing time next year if Atlanta makes him the pick, that much is for certain.

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

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Shaq Thompson isn't as big as his Hall of Fame, basketball-playing namesake, but he's a bit more versatile. Linebacker, safety, running back—you name it, Thompson can play it. He's a special talent and a football player, though he'll likely settle in at linebacker, a position the Giants need to address. This is a nice fit.

10. St. Louis Rams: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama  

If Amari Cooper slides this far it will be a pretty big surprise, though if he gets past the New York Jets at No. 6 he'll likely drop to the Rams at No. 10. In Cooper, the Rams would finally have a go-to receiver to pair with Brian Quick (probably better suited as a No. 2 option), Stedman Bailey working out of the slot and Tavon Austin splitting time between wideout and running back.

Suddenly, Sam Bradford would have quite the, um, arsenal to work with. See what I did there?

11. Minnesota Vikings: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Like quarterbacks, offensive tackles generally often rise up the board, so I could easily see Brandon Scherff sliding into the top five or even top 10 of the draft. What might hold him back is if teams judge him to be a right tackle or a guard even, but the Vikings won't care. If he sticks on the right or at guard, great. But the fact that he has a background as a left tackle also makes him insurance for disappointment Matt Kalil.

This is a win-win for Minny, in other words.

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

Cleveland, I'm begging you—either commit to Johnny Manziel or trade him. Seriously. Build an offensive scheme around his talents. Get him weapons like Kevin White, who would be a nice replacement for Josh Gordon. Accept the fact that Manziel is always going to be a bit of a playboy. You invested in him, now build around him or move on. White would be a good start.

13. New Orleans Saints: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The Saints couldn't cover opposing wideouts to save their lives—or playoff aspirations—last season, so targeting a corner here makes sense. Trae Waynes is the top corner prospect in this draft class for teams that are wary of Marcus Peters' character concerns, making him the logical selection for New Orleans.

14. Miami Dolphins: Danny Shelton, DT, Washington 

Danny Shelton is that rare defensive tackle who can consistently pressure the quarterback. The most difficult pressure for any quarterback to deal with is the pressure that comes right up the middle and ruins the pocket, and Shelton will bring that type of pressure for the Miami defense for years to come.  

15. San Francisco 49ers: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville 

Niners fans have wanted the team to upgrade at wide receiver for years now. Drafting DeVante Parker, a great value at No. 15, will finally fulfill their wishes.

16. Houston Texans: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

The Texans might ultimately opt to address several potential needs on defense with this pick. They'd probably love it if they could address the quarterback position here, too, but that likely isn't happening. Instead, I think they'll nab one of the top talents at offensive tackle to protect whomever is starting at quarterback next year.

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

The Chargers missed the postseason this year in part because Philip Rivers spent as much time on his back looking up at the clouds as he did looking downfield for his own receivers in the team's final game against the Kansas City Chiefs, a loss.

What I'm saying is the Chargers need to address the offensive line. Enter La'el Collins.

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

The aforementioned Chiefs had the league's least-productive crop of wideouts this year, so if they don't nab a receiver in the first round, well, folks in Kansas City aren't going to be pleased with Andy Reid. Alex Smith will probably be pretty annoyed, too. Draft another weapon in the passing game, Big Red. Just do it.

19: Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills): Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State 

Eddie Goldman will step in and instantly bolster Cleveland's defensive line, given the fact that he's talented enough to play pretty much anywhere the Browns need him. While he can disappear at times, when he's on his game he can be downright dominant. That fact paired with his versatility make him a great selection. 

20. Philadelphia Eagles: Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest

The quarterback position will dominate the headlines in Philly this offseason, but the biggest need for the Eagles is the secondary. After all, the team made the playoffs with Nick Foles as the quarterback in 2013. It's harder to imagine the team making the playoffs if Bradley Fletcher remains a starting cornerback. Kevin Johnson will have the chance to take his job next year.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

If Marcus Peters hadn't antagonized the Washington coaches to the point of being booted off the team this year, he might be a top-10 pick. That's how talented he is. Instead, he'll drop into the 20s, where the Bengals will take a chance on the talented corner, hoping he redeems himself like Vontaze Burfict has done since Cincy gave him a shot. This isn't a need, but Peters' talent will make him too tough to pass on.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Gerod Holliman, S, Louisville 

Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown led one of the better offenses in the NFL this season, but the defense really struggled—namely due to a poor, aging secondary. A poor defense in Pittsburgh simply isn't acceptable, and Gerod Holliman will be given a chance to help right the ship.

23. Detroit Lions: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas 

This pick won't happen if Ndamukong Suh re-signs with the Lions. But if he doesn't, addressing the defensive tackle position will be a major priority. Malcom Brown is no Suh, but he'll certainly help alleviate the loss of such a compelling, if controversial, player. 

24. Arizona Cardinals: Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

Bud Dupree is going to be one of the big risers in this year's draft. He's continued to get better in his time at Kentucky and will bring a much-needed upgrade to Arizona's pass rush. I wouldn't be shocked if he goes even higher than this, however.

25. Carolina Panthers: Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

With Greg Olsen working over the middle, Kelvin Benjamin going up to get the ball in the red zone and Sammie Coates working deep down the field, Carolina would have one heck of a trio in the passing game for Cam Newton to utilize. Carolina's offense would really come alive with Coates stretching the field.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia 

Bernard Pierce is looking like a bust, but the combination of Todd Gurley and Justin Forsett would be pretty tough to deal with. With Gurley busting up the middle on the early downs and Forsett playing the scat-back role, Baltimore would be able to grind opponents on the ground and open up the play-action passing game for Joe Flacco. Running backs don't regularly go in the first round these days, but Gurley is a special talent.

27. Dallas Cowboys: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State

TALLAHASSEE, FL - APRIL 12:  P.J. Williams #26 of the Gold team reacts to a recovered fumble against the Garnet team during Florida State's Garnet and Gold spring game at Doak Campbell Stadium on April 12, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Re
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Morris Claiborne still has a lot to prove in Dallas, but if the Cowboys don't think he's going to do so, selecting a cornerback early would address a major need. P.J. Williams has plenty of experience in big games, so stepping into the fold on a high-profile team like Dallas would be business as usual.

28. Denver Broncos: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami

The Broncos' season ended for one reason, and one reason alone—Manning wasn't healthy down the stretch. Should he return, keeping him upright is the first, second, third and fourth priorities, so addressing the line with a player like Ereck Flowers makes plenty of sense.

29. Indianapolis Colts: Benardrick McKinney, MLB, Mississippi State  

The New England Patriots have made a habit of gashing the Colts on the ground in the running game in recent years and did so in the AFC Conference Championship this year, ending Indy's season. Addressing linebacker would certainly help solidify against the run, and Benardrick McKinney has the chance to be special at the next level. This pick practically makes itself.

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

Forcing turnovers nearly vaulted the Packers into the Super Bowl, but the team still had struggles down the stretch slowing down Marshawn Lynch and Seattle's read-option offense. Part of that is due to the team's lack of talented middle linebackers. Denzel Perryman serves a major need.

31. Seattle Seahawks: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

When a team goes to two Super Bowls in a row, well, it's hard to find many weaknesses. But Russell Wilson has bailed out the offensive line on more than a few occasions this year, so adding some young talent and depth makes sense. The rich get richer.

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

New England doesn't have many major holes; it won the Super Bowl, after all. But adding another wideout to pair with Brandon LaFell on the outside makes sense to add a vertical threat to the team's running attack and to complement Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman working the middle of the field. Jaelen Strong would have the chance to make a big impact with the Patriots next year.

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