As the Super Bowl rapidly approaches, it is important to note that the next Tom Brady or Richard Sherman could be waiting in the wings in this year’s draft class.
After all, the fastest way to rebuild a team is through the draft, and this year’s group of prospects offers a number of intriguing potential selections. Here is a mock draft for the entire first round, as well as a closer look at some of the most interesting picks.
|2015 NFL Mock Draft: Round 1|
|1||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon|
|2||Tennessee Titans||Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska|
|4||Oakland Raiders||Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama|
|5||Washington||Leonard Williams, DT, USC|
|6||New York Jets||Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa|
|7||Chicago Bears||Landon Collins, SS, Alabama|
|8||Atlanta Falcons||Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri|
|9||New York Giants||Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida|
|10||St. Louis Rams||Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford|
|11||Minnesota Vikings||La'el Collins, OT, LSU|
|12||Cleveland Browns||DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville|
|13||New Orleans Saints||Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington|
|14||Miami Dolphins||T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh|
|15||San Francisco 49ers||Danny Shelton, DT, Washington|
|16||Houston Texans||Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State|
|17||San Diego Chargers||Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State|
|18||Kansas City Chiefs||Kevin White, WR, West Virginia|
|19||Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo)||Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon|
|20||Philadelphia Eagles||Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State|
|21||Cincinnati Bengals||Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky|
|22||Pittsburgh Steelers||P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State|
|23||Detroit Lions||Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State|
|24||Arizona Cardinals||Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State|
|25||Carolina Panthers||Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson|
|26||Baltimore Ravens||Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin|
|27||Dallas Cowboys||Marcus Peters, CB, Washington|
|28||Denver Broncos||Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma|
|29||Indianapolis Colts||Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia|
|30||Green Bay Packers||Malcom Brown, DT, Texas|
|31||New England Patriots||Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State|
|32||Seattle Seahawks||Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan|
Intriguing First-Round Selections
No. 7 Chicago Bears: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
The Chicago Bears were a punch line on the defensive side of the football this season and finished 30th in the league against the pass. Few teams, if any, need a safety more than this Bears squad that relied on the oft-injured (and inconsistently effective) Chris Conte as a critical part of their leaky secondary.
Eddie Brown of the U-T San Diego offered a glowing review of Alabama’s Landon Collins, who could help solidify Chicago’s pass defense immediately: “Collins' versatility and Alabama pedigree sets him apart from all other defensive back prospects in this draft class.”
If a scout was to compile a list of ideal safety attributes, Collins would fit the bill in a number of areas. He is a physical force who comes up and makes plays in the running game and is not afraid to levy a hit on wide receivers crossing the middle. He is also quick in the open field and can cover plenty of space from sideline to sideline.
The Bears were also abysmal against the run and finished 27th in the league in that category, so having Collins in the back end of the defense would be critical there as well.
The bottom line is that the Bears need plenty of help on the defensive side, and landing someone like Collins who can cover up multiple areas of weakness would be a great place to start the overhaul.
No. 18 Kansas City Chiefs: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The Kansas City Chiefs got a grand total of zero touchdown catches from wide receivers this season, and there is a desperate need for playmakers at the position.
Enter West Virginia’s Kevin White.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller certainly painted an enticing picture regarding White’s game:
He's got the size and the ability to high-point the ball and go get it. He had a few drops this year, but a lot of balls were thrown his way, so I think he's the third best receiver in this draft behind Amari Cooper from Alabama, behind DeVante Parker from Louisville.
Statistically, White led the Big 12 with 109 catches and hauled in 10 touchdown passes on the season. He also surpassed the 100-yard mark in nine different games on his way to 1,447 receiving yards, which was sixth in the nation.
White torched Alabama for 143 receiving yards and a touchdown, Maryland for 216 receiving yards and a touchdown, and Oklahoma for 173 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The Chiefs need playmakers at wide receiver arguably more than any other team in the country, and White brings the desired combination of speed, physicality, size (6’3”) and the ability to grab the ball in jump-ball scenarios in the red zone. This is a natural match, which doesn't always happen in the draft.
No. 31 New England Patriots: Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
Devin Smith’s draft stock has skyrocketed since September after his Ohio State squad won the national championship and he emerged as one of the best deep threats in the entire country.
Smith shined the brightest in some of the Buckeyes’ biggest games and tallied 137 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin. He also scored a critical touchdown in the second half against mighty Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Statistically, Smith averaged 28.2 yards per catch this season and 37.9 yards per touchdown reception throughout his career. He also scored 30 touchdowns in his time at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes finished a perfect 22-0 when he did catch a touchdown.
Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch noted that Smith’s versatility will also be key at the next level:
As great as the New England Patriots are, there is no real game-breaking deep threat on the roster. In fact, the best deep passes New England connects on are with tight end Rob Gronkowski up the seam rather than on the outside with a receiver.
Smith has the talent to change that.
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