NFL Draft 2015: Full 1st-Round Mock Draft, Top Talent to Watch During Offseason

R. Cory Smith@@RCorySmithSenior Writer IFebruary 7, 2015

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 16: Defensive end Randy Gregory #44 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers reacts after a tackle during their game at against the Michigan State Spartans Memorial Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

On the heels of an exciting conclusion to the 2014 NFL season, the offseason has arrived for every team. Now, it's time to look ahead to the latest crop of future stars who can change the entire complexion of a franchise.

Fans have focused in on both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota for the past several months. As the college football season came to an end, neither had seemingly grabbed the reins of the No. 1 pick. However, a shoulder injury to Mariota has propelled Winston back into the top spot.

Along with both quarterbacks, there is an array of options for teams to choose from to help rebuild. In order to catch the New England Patriots, the 31 other franchises will need to pick the ideal player in the first round.

Heading into what promises to be an eventful offseason for the 2015 class, here's a look at the latest mock draft and analysis of some of the top defensive players.

Latest 1st-Round 2015 NFL Mock Draft
1Tampa Bay BuccaneersJameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2Tennessee TitansRandy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
3Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard Williams, DT, USC
4Oakland RaidersAmari Cooper, WR, Alabama
5Washington RedskinsBrandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
6New York JetsMarcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
7Chicago BearsShane Ray, DE, Missouri
8Atlanta FalconsVic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
9New York GiantsLa'el Collins, OT, LSU
10St. Louis RamsTrae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
11Minnesota VikingsAndrus Peat, OT, Stanford
12Cleveland BrownsDeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
13New Orleans SaintsShaq Thompson, LB, Washington
14Miami DolphinsEreck Flowers, OT, Miami
15San Francisco 49ersKevin White, WR, West Virginia
16Houston TexansLandon Collins, SS, Alabama
17Kansas City ChiefsDanny Shelton, DT, Washington
18San Diego ChargersJaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
19Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo)Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
20Philadelphia EaglesMarcus Peters, CB, Washington
21Cincinnati BengalsEddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
22Pittsburgh SteelersP.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
23Detroit LionsOwamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
24Arizona CardinalsBenardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
25Carolina PanthersT.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
26Baltimore RavensMelvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
27Dallas CowboysAlvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky
28Denver BroncosMalcom Brown, DT, Texas
29Indianapolis ColtsTy Sambrailo, OT, Colorado State
30Green Bay PackersMaxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
31Seattle SeahawksDevin Funchess, WR, Michigan
32New England PatriotsDorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
R. Cory Smith's Projections

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

At 6'6" and 240 pounds, Randy Gregory has the frame to destroy the NFL as a defensive lineman. Thanks to his strength and speed, he can also break out as a linebacker. Needless to say, the Nebraska standout has options at the next level.

One way he plans to prove that he belongs with elite-level talent in the NFL is to excel in the combine, which is exactly what Gregory plans to do once he arrives at the showcase event. He spoke about his expectations and his functionality, per Eric Olson of the Associated Press (via Yahoo Sports):

I'm going to turn a lot of heads at the combine. ...

I like standing up. It serves my body better, my physical traits better, being able to see the play form and stay in an athletic stance and make plays. At the same time, if a 4-3 team comes around, I feel I can help them and play that spot.

Gregory lived up to the hype last season and will bring some nastiness to the Tennessee Titans. If he can demonstrate that at the NFL Scouting Combine, Gregory will make an ideal fit for the Titans. In need of help at the position, look for the Titans to pick up the Nebraska lineman and slowly gain an identity on defense.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DT, USC

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 11:  Defensive end Leonard Williams #94 of the USC Trojans warms up before the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Tucson, Arizona.  The Trojans defeatred the Wildcats 28-26.  (
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arguably the best defensive player in this year's crop, Leonard Williams might land in the perfect location. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a team that added a plethora of offensive weapons last year but still need a defensive identity.

That's something Williams will immediately provide the team that drafts him. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com had high praise for the future NFL star:

"Leonard Williams, from all the guys I've seen so far, has been the most dominating player. Everything you want—the size, the length, the explosiveness, the versatility. You can play him all over the line on defense. He reminds me a lot of Richard Seymour. That's pretty good company to keep."

Differing opinions are common around the NFL draft, but almost every analyst agrees that Williams is special. In fact, Luke Easterling of Draft Breakdown points out it should only be a three-horse race for the top talent in the draft:

Luke Easterling @LukeEasterling

After Leonard Williams & the top 2 QBs, there's not much separating my No. 4 overall player from the next 50 or so.

Yet another talented defensive player, Leonard Williams has the strength and tenacity that can make a huge difference up front. If he slips behind Gregory, the Jacksonville Jaguars won't blink when looking to take him.

7. Chicago Bears: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri

Just behind Gregory in terms of talent, Shane Ray is as versatile as any player in the draft. His athleticism shined all season, but he projects best as a defensive end at the next level.

Even in a difficult SEC, Ray dominated almost every time he was on the field. Bob Sturm of The Dallas Morning News offered his take on Ray:

There are times where you wonder what the left tackle across from him must be thinking because in the case of the Kentucky game in particular, that poor guy was overmatched all day. ...

He rallies to the ball well. He has a swat move where he can knock guys off balance by just using one arm to push them aside. He may be undersized, but unlike Nebraska’s Gregory, Ray appears to be very strong for his size. He can move larger men with one arm.

Ray showed that strength with 14 sacks and has a game that will translate well to the NFL. His explosion off the ball makes him special, something that has been evident for former Mizzou players such as Kony Ealy and Aldon Smith at the next level.

If there is one area where Ray can improve, it's his discipline on the field. Though he was regularly held by opposing linemen, Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus notes just how often Ray was penalized:

Steve Palazzolo @PFF_Steve

Shane Ray led all defensive linemen with 10 penalties this year. #CFF

The Chicago Bears sit at the No. 7 spot due to poor defensive play and, well, Jay Cutler's shortcomings. Adding Ray might not immediately make the Bears a playoff team, but he would give John Fox a defensive star to build around for the future.

10. St. Louis Rams: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

This is no slight to Vic Beasley but simply an attempt to move away from the front seven.

In terms of defensive backs in this year's crop, it doesn't get any better than Trae Waynes. The Michigan State cornerback was avoided by opposing quarterbacks for much of the season due to his elite talent. Waynes still came away with three interceptions and eight passes defended in 2014.

Following in the footsteps of Darqueze Dennard from last season, Waynes is a virtual lock for the draft's first night. He'll also likely be a top-10 pick with the St. Louis Rams having a need for him. Already equipped with an elite front seven that includes Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald, Waynes is a perfect fit.

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.