The 2015 NFL draft class remains unsettled. Although most prospects have a general range in which they will likely land, the lack of separation in the positional rankings still leaves room for movement. Those who shine over the next few months could make a nice jump on final big boards.
Most of the conversations during that time will surround the strengths and weakness of each prospect. While that's obviously important, perhaps the most overlooked factor when it comes to making an instant impact is the situation the player is entering.
That's true even for prospects like Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. The quarterbacks could very well be the first two players off the board. It's still going to take some time building around them before their talent truly shines through, however.
With that in mind, let's check out a complete mock draft for the first round and then examine some players who could walk into ideal situations as rookies.
|2015 NFL Round 1 Mock Draft|
|1||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon|
|2||Tennessee Titans||Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa|
|4||Oakland Raiders||Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama|
|5||Washington Redskins||Leonard Williams, DT, USC|
|6||New York Jets||Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska|
|7||Chicago Bears||Landon Collins, SS, Alabama|
|8||Atlanta Falcons||Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson|
|9||New York Giants||Shane Ray, DE, Missouri|
|10||St. Louis Rams||Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State|
|11||Minnesota Vikings||Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford|
|12||Cleveland Browns||Kevin White, WR, West Virginia|
|13||New Orleans Saints||Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky|
|14||Miami Dolphins||Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington|
|15||San Francisco 49ers||DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville|
|16||Houston Texans||La'el Collins, OT, LSU|
|17||San Diego Chargers||Danny Shelton, DT, Washington|
|18||Kansas City Chiefs||Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State|
|19||Cleveland Browns (from BUF)||Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State|
|20||Philadelphia Eagles||Dante Fowler Jr., OLB, Florida|
|21||Cincinnati Bengals||Marcus Peters, CB, Washington|
|22||Pittsburgh Steelers||Malcom Brown, DT, Texas|
|23||Detroit Lions||P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State|
|24||Arizona Cardinals||Nate Orchard, DE, Utah|
|25||Carolina Panthers||T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh|
|26||Baltimore Ravens||Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin|
|27||Dallas Cowboys||Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU|
|28||Denver Broncos||Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota|
|29||Indianapolis Colts||Benardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State|
|30||Green Bay Packers||Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State|
|31||Seattle Seahawks||Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan|
|32||New England Patriots||Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma|
8. Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
Beasley is an interesting prospect. He lacks ideal size, which definitely hurts him in terms of setting the edge and making consistent plays against the run. The question is whether teams are willing to sacrifice in those areas to secure potentially the best edge-rusher in the class.
The Clemson product made the right decision returning to school last year. He didn't eliminate all of the questions about his lack of size, but he showed at least some progress in areas outside of rushing. Bryan Fischer of NFL.com is more bullish about his chances of success:
Beasley landing with the Falcons seems like a perfect match for both sides. Atlanta needs somebody who can get after the quarterback after finishing in a tie for 30th in sacks this past season. That would allow Beasley to focus on what he does best.
One thing new head coach Dan Quinn did consistently during his time as Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator was put players in a position to succeed—building the defense around the strengths of the talent rather than force them into a certain role. Beasley would benefit from that big time.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
The Chiefs' woes at wide receiver were well-documented throughout the season. That said, it's worth repeating that they went through an entire 16-game season without a wideout catching a single touchdown. It's an amazing factoid in today's game.
Now, Kansas City doesn't need a high-powered passing game to succeed. What it does need is a player who can come up with key plays on third down to keep drives alive and in the red zone to turn those field goals into touchdowns. Strong can be that player right away.
He possesses a powerful frame and doesn't mind working the underneath routes, which is key to make a consistent impact while working with Alex Smith. Kyle Bonagura of ESPN passed along comments from Arizona State coach Todd Graham, who said the receiver's upside goes beyond physical tools:
Jaelen's enormous impact was felt from the first day he stepped on the practice field with us more than 16 months ago. His work ethic, attention to detail and overall football IQ are just a few of his attributes that make him such a special talent.
Strong will need further coaching on the finer points of the position, like route-running and blocking. That's not uncommon, though. As long as he makes a strong impression during camp, he will be in line for plenty of targets as a rookie with the Chiefs.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Gordon is coming off a monster junior campaign at Wisconsin that saw him rush for over 2,500 yards and score 32 total touchdowns. It should be enough for him to secure the top spot among running backs, though he'll probably have to hold off a challenge from Todd Gurley.
The one thing that always stands out when watching him run is how quick he can identify a lane and hit it. He isn't going to become the most explosive runner in the league. Yet his ability to read the field and a quick first step should help him stand out.
Landing with Baltimore would help make for a quicker transition. Marc Trestman, the Ravens' new offensive coordinator, said he plans to adapt to the team's zone-blocking scheme. Pete Smith of Football Savages believes that's where Gordon will fit best:
Gordon's best utilized in a zone scheme where he can do what he can attack the way he is most comfortable; slashing and making cuts based on what he can see and react accordingly. This would also allow him to run at angles and keep the ball away from defenders more effectively.
Justin Forsett did extremely well to hold down the fort for the Ravens this past season. But he's 29, so the team has to look toward the future of the position. Gordon could fill that long-term void and ensure the rushing attack remains an effective part of the offense next season.