2015 NFL Mock Draft: Post-Combine Update
The 2015 Scouting Combine did much to validate what was seen on film, and there were also many cases of players putting on a performance that made you go home and recheck the tape. Vic Beasley, Chris Conley and Byron Jones are the three most notable names in that category.
But there's no time to sit back and reflect as the NFL draft train rolls on at 500 mph now until April 30, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turn in their draft card with the No. 1 overall pick.
I left Indianapolis convinced the Buccaneers already know who they will draft with that first pick. Who will it be? Find out in this brand new two-round mock draft.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: Quarterback Jameis Winston, Florida State
The NFL draft is two months away, but it's becoming more and more likely Jameis Winston is the quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Winston followed up two very good seasons at Florida State—including a national championship, a Heisman Trophy and just one loss—with a fantastic showing at the combine. His interviews and on-field work were that of a franchise quarterback. Winston is the best choice right now and moving forward for a Tampa Bay team with a massive need under center.
2. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams, USC
The Tennessee Titans don't have a sure thing at quarterback, but Zach Mettenberger showed enough at LSU and in his rookie season to believe he can be the long-term answer with another season of maturing at the position. With Marcus Mariota a bit of a project at the position, the Titans will look to win now by turning their defensive line into a huge strength.
Jurrell Casey is already a stud defender for the Titans, which makes adding a top-tier talent like Leonard Williams a huge boost for the defensive line. Williams has the versatility to play as a 5-technique or 3-technique, making him perfect for Ray Horton's defense.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Edge-Rusher Randy Gregory, Nebraska
Worried about Randy Gregory's weight? Don't be. Trainers told me this week that Gregory was up to 250 pounds before scaling back his weight in preparation for the combine. Last week he was at 245 pounds before getting sick and losing weight.
Gregory can bump up to a solid 250 pounds for his rookie season and play the "Leo" role in the Jacksonville defense. Chris Clemons has been the man there, and at 6'3" and 254 pounds, he's a great example of a smaller, agile defender playing to his scheme. Gregory also gives you versatility, because he's shown he can rush from a linebacker position and has surprising quickness and awareness in coverage.
4. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: Wide Receiver Kevin White, West Virginia
Fans of the Oakland Raiders have not liked this pick in previous mock drafts, but after watching Kevin White run a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at 6'3" and 215 pounds, I'll bet they are coming around to it.
White offers the most upside, sure, but he's also the type of big, physical, violent wide receiver who can dominate a game. Amari Cooper is close behind him, and it may come down to scheme preference when looking at the two, but in my rankings, White comes out as the best wide receiver in the draft.
The Raiders have many holes, so a trade down would make sense for them if a quarterback-needy team is trying to come up for Marcus Mariota.
The Pick: Edge-Rusher Dante Fowler, Florida
New general manager Scot McCloughan has been influential in building powerhouse football teams in San Francisco and Seattle. Now he'll take that mentality to Washington, where Dan Snyder's team needs an identity.
McCloughan has favored athletes with long arms and big hands in his previous stops, which is what makes Dante Fowler such a good fit here. Fowler is only 6'3", but his arm length of 33.75" is very good. Add in a 9.5" hand with an impressive 261-pound frame, and Fowler is one of the bigger edge-rushers in the class.
With Brian Orakpo set to leave in free agency, Fowler can step into this defense and be the complementary rusher Ryan Kerrigan needs.
6. New York Jets
The Pick: Quarterback Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Too many fans have begun to think of Marcus Mariota as a consolation prize, or a quarterback not worthy of the No. 2 pick in this draft. He's definitely worth it, and he may even be the second player taken when the 2015 draft kicks off.
Mariota isn't Jameis Winston as a passer, but he can do amazing things with his mind, his arm and his legs. He's a top-notch athlete with a high football IQ, and that's a deadly combination given his upside, character and youth. Mariota is a bit of a project because of the Oregon offense, but nothing about his actual traits and tools is a project. He's capable of being a franchise quarterback.
The Jets need that—unless you believe Geno Smith is going to turn his career around. And unless the Jets sign a veteran quarterback in free agency, I'll continue to think the pick here is a quarterback.
7. Chicago Bears
The Pick: Nose Tackle Danny Shelton, Washington
The Chicago Bears need an infusion of talent with new head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio bringing a 3-4 defense to the Windy City. That transition can't happen in one draft, though, so expect the Bears to be smart about adding value and not reaching for positions.
With pick No. 7, Danny Shelton is the best value on my board and a need for the Bears in a 3-4 scheme. He's a classic 0-technique anchor for the three-man front. And while Shelton didn't wow anyone with his 40-yard dash times, he's 339 pounds and his 10-yard split (1.88 seconds) is right on par with nose tackles drafted in the past 10 years.
Baseball teams build from the middle of the field out, and smart football teams do too. Shelton can be the foundation for a new era in Chicago.
8. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Edge-Rusher Shane Ray, Missouri
The Falcons won't run a 3-4 under Dan Quinn as head coach, but much like the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars, they'll want a 3-4 style pass-rusher for the edge. Cliff Avril does this in Seattle, and I'm projecting the Jaguars will draft Randy Gregory to do it in Jacksonville. For the Falcons, Shane Ray becomes that Avril/Bruce Irvin-type player.
And while Quinn may want Dante Fowler—a player he recruited to Florida—Ray has the speed and toughness to fit into this defense. Just look at the hit he put on Blake Sims as evidence of his "take it to the wire" style of play.
9. New York Giants
The Pick: Wide Receiver Amari Cooper, Alabama
Amari Cooper fans can rest easy—his draft day ends with a top-10 spot and a dang-good quarterback to get him the ball. And he'll play with Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. taking coverages away from him.
You might wonder why wide receiver is the pick for the Giants here, and that's valid. But everyone expected them to go offensive line last year and they drafted Beckham. General manager Jerry Reese is trying to build a football team—not reach for needs. And Cooper is the highest-rated player on my board.
With Cooper, Cruz and Beckham, the Giants would have one of the NFL's most dynamic passing games.
10. St. Louis Rams
The Pick: Offensive Lineman Brandon Scherff, Iowa
The St. Louis Rams are facing another offseason of uncertainty along the offensive line, but this time they have an anchor in No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson from the 2014 class and left guard Rodger Saffold. Now they just have to fill out the rest of the starting gigs.
Jake Long may be back in 2015, but he also may not be due to injuries and salary-cap room. Whether Long is or isn't a Ram next year, Brandon Scherff is an ideal fit for this team. The Iowa left tackle projects best to guard, but he could have a long, fruitful career at right tackle given his strength in the run game. He's technically savvy in tight windows and can be a dominant run-blocker on the strong side.
11. Minnesota Vikings
The Pick: Wide Receiver DeVante Parker, Louisville
Reunited and it feels so good for DeVante Parker and his college quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The two Louisville Cardinals need each other—Teddy needs a legitimate No. 1 receiver and Parker will step into an NFL offense begging for his ability in the red zone.
With freakish size, game speed and the ability to post up in the end zone, Parker has the skill set needed to open up the Minnesota offense with speedsters like Jarius Wright and the big-play potential of Cordarrelle Patterson. With 2014 surprise Charles Johnson being the team's most consistent threat last year, the 2015 Vikings could look a whole lot different at receiver.
12. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: Defensive Tackle Malcom Brown, Texas
The Cleveland Browns just miss out on the big three at wide receiver, but general manager Ray Farmer passed on wide receivers last year when it was an obvious need. It's more likely the No. 19 pick—added in a draft-day trade with Buffalo last year—is used on the receiver.
With pick No. 12, the Browns are in a good position to beef up the defensive line. Phil Taylor had a nice career for a short time, but he's not a long-term plan at nose tackle. Malcom Brown can be with his 6'2", 319-pound frame and surprising quickness and burst from the 0-technique position. He can also bump down and play a shade technique if needed in a four-man front.
13. New Orleans Saints
The Pick: Edge-Rusher Vic Beasley, Clemson
The great Vic Beasley's combine showing either made you a believer or had you looking up Vernon Gholston's combine numbers. Believers in the speedy Clemson edge-rusher now want him in the top 10 picks, but let's remember that Beasley weighed 233 pounds when his training began. Or that he weighed 220 pounds last spring, per NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah.
Beasley is a monster, and I'll admit to moving him up my board after seeing him weigh in heavier and then move well with that weight. My biggest concern with him was always size, but if he can maintain this weight through his pro day and private workouts, I'll be very impressed.
For the Saints, Beasley's rise could be bad news. They sit right on the edge of where the edge-rushers are expected to go, and it's a major need in Rob Ryan's defense.
14. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Cornerback Marcus Peters, Washington
Take away the off-field concerns and Marcus Peters may go No. 5 to Washington. He might even with the off-field concerns.
The University of Washington dismissed Peters midway through the season, but the film he put out in 2013 and 2014 is some of the best you'll see from a cornerback—better than anyone in the 2014 class, and better than even top-tier player Dee Milliner (who was more upside than production at Alabama). Peters' on-field grade will be my highest on a cornerback since Patrick Peterson in 2011.
The Dolphins are good with Brent Grimes, but they could no doubt use a potential No. 1 cover man opposite him.
15. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: Wide Receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma
I wouldn't draft troubled former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham in the first round on Feb. 24 (my grade on him is still pending), but I'm willing to bet some NFL team will. And the San Francisco 49ers have a habit of accepting off-field issues for on-field results. That perfectly sums up DGB, a player who would easily be in my top 10 players if not for his checkered past.
The 49ers need speed at receiver, and in Green-Beckham they get 4.49 speed on a 6'5", 237-pound frame. That's not quite Calvin Johnson, but it's pretty damn close. Michael Crabtree isn't giving you that size or speed, and especially in the red area, that mix of explosion and length would be dangerous for the 49ers offense.
16. Houston Texans
The Pick: Edge-Rusher Bud Dupree, Kentucky
Lost in all the Vic Beasley talk was the day Kentucky's Bud Dupree turned in during linebacker workouts.
At 6'4" and 269 pounds, Dupree posted a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash, a 42" vertical jump, an 11'6" broad jump and a 1.60-second 10-yard-split. That's insane. Dupree didn't get the attention he deserved in the coverage I saw and heard, so here it is. He's a freak.
The Texans could use a freak like that on the edge. The future is completely unknown for Jadeveon Clowney after he underwent microfracture surgery on his knee, and with Brooks Reed hitting free agency this year, Dupree is a need now and into the future.
17. San Diego Chargers
The Pick: Tackle La'el Collins, LSU
Don't be surprised if there is a run on offensive tackles and La'el Collins goes in the top 10—especially to the New York Giants. But for now, with no run predicted, Collins slides into the middle of the first round, but he has the skills to start at right tackle for the San Diego Chargers on Day 1 as they move D.J. Fluker to guard.
Collins had an impressive combine when looking at on-field drills. His times were a bit lost in the crowd, but he's been a consistent performer in the SEC while showing versatility and improvement each season. Want him at right tackle? No problem. Collins can line up protecting Philip Rivers' face or kick King Dunlap to the right side to protect the blind side.
18. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Strong Safety Landon Collins, Alabama
The Kansas City Chiefs need a wide receiver. You know it, I know it, they know it, the entire NFL knows it. But that doesn't mean they'll draft one in the first round, because the Chiefs also need to replenish the secondary, fix the offensive line and look at adding another inside linebacker.
It's easy to armchair quarterback it and say, "The Chiefs are drafting a receiver in Round 1!" but you have to have value to match the need. The absolute worst thing the Chiefs could do in the 2015 draft is reach on their board for a receiver they don't value. And with Jaelen Strong as the best of the bunch left—and with him not being a great scheme fit in the Chiefs' underneath passing game—there are other areas to fill.
With Eric Berry's future in doubt, Landon Collins makes sense here as a value and fit. He can be the anchor at safety until Berry can hopefully return, and in that future they can play alongside one another.
19. Cleveland (from Buffalo)
The Pick: Wide Receiver Jaelen Strong, Arizona State
Jaelen Strong was not a good fit for the Kansas City Chiefs at pick No. 18, but he's an ideal fit for the Cleveland Browns at pick No. 19. That's because he's a deep threat with limited yards-after-catch skill underneath. The Chiefs want to dink-and-dunk; the Browns want to hit home runs. Strong is a home run hitter.
Strong has the size (6'2", 217 lbs) and speed (4.44) to take the top off the defense. He's a little stiff in his stem (where his route breaks) at times, but is enough of a straight-line guy to burn past defenders and then attack the ball in the air downfield.
20. Philadelphia Eagles
The Pick: Cornerback Jalen Collins, LSU
This may be anticlimactic, but the Philadelphia Eagles need a cornerback. A big, rangy cornerback. Unless they sign a Byron Maxwell in free agency, Jalen Collins looks to be that guy. He might be even if they sign Maxwell or another cornerback in March.
Collins is my No. 2-ranked cornerback after the combine (and was heading into it) thanks to his size (6'1", 203 lbs) and what I saw on film as good speed and a toughness and confidence to play well in man coverage. Turn on the Alabama game and watch him battle Amari Cooper, and you'll see his 4.48 speed and good use of his length to fight for the ball.
The days of Bradley Fletcher are behind you, Philadelphia. Let Jalen Collins into your hearts.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Linebacker Shaq Thompson, Washington
The Cincinnati Bengals face an offseason with Rey Maualuga entering free agency, Vontaze Burfict coming back from an injury-filled 2014 and uncertainty at the linebacker spots with young guys such as Vincent Rey and Emmanuel Lamur seeing major reps and mixed results.
One way to fix the linebacker spot would be drafting Shaq Thompson, moving Burfict to "Mike" linebacker full-time and letting Maualuga hold down the other starting spot after he outplayed Lamur in '14. A linebacker corps that was a weakness becomes a strength and gives the Bengals versatility in the middle of the defense they've never had under Marvin Lewis.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: Cornerback Ronald Darby, Florida State
Ronald Darby tore up Monday morning at the combine, posting a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash to go with an impressive showing in position drills. This matches the film, and Darby's reputation as a track star is secure. But how does he look in coverage?
Darby has always impressed me as a confident, patient cornerback who uses his speed well. He doesn't gamble or bite on plays, and his coverage became such a known factor that many teams started throwing at P.J. Williams and avoiding his side of the field completely.
That's respect. And it's what the Pittsburgh Steelers don't have in their secondary.
23. Detroit Lions
The Pick: Defensive Tackle Arik Armstead, Oregon
The Detroit Lions enter the offseason with four free agents at defensive tackle—Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, C.J. Mosley and Andre Fluellen. Expecting even three of the four back next year is pretty far-fetched, and it means drafting a starting-caliber tackle is a huge need if there's a value.
And there's a value, all right. Arik Armstead is a massive man (6'7", 292 lbs) who plays with rare quickness and leverage. This isn't Ra'Shede Hageman or Daniel McCullers, but an athlete with movement skills and agility. He can play the 3-technique but has shown the versatility at Oregon to bounce around the line and be a matchup nightmare. Much like Calais Campbell, Armstead has a high ceiling.
24. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Edge-Rusher Eli Harold, Virginia
Did you forget about Eli Harold in all the edge-rusher excitement? That's exactly what teams drafting in the back of Round 1 are hoping will happen.
The Virginia defensive end has length (33" arms) to go with speed (4.60 40) to go with production. He's able to use his first step to get into the chest of tackles but has to learn to use those long arms to keep his body clean and swat away at blockers. If you want to see a prospect use his hands well, Harold isn't your guy, but he does have the upside to learn that skill. Things like quickness, bend and agility can't be taught. Hand use can.
Given his athleticism and versatility, Harold is a perfect fit in Arizona's scheme and fills its biggest need along the way.
25. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: Tackle D.J. Humphries, Florida
No player has moved more on my big board in the last month than Florida tackle D.J. Humphries. And this late first-round grade is 100 percent warranted on film.
I made the mistake of grading Humphries early off of one game (against Missouri), and he looked bad. Shane Ray attacked him, setting up inside pass-rushing lanes with a hard sell off the edge that had Humphries getting too much depth off the line of scrimmage. But then I started watching more, and Humphries' athleticism, length and recovery in other games was the opposite of the Missouri game.
A lesson in scouting: Never grade off of one game. So I've revised, and here Humphries is with the most upside of any left tackle prospect in this class.
That's great news for Cam Newton, as the Panthers found out in 2014 how important Jordan Gross was to them following his retirement.
26. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: Running Back Todd Gurley, Georgia
Sometimes a player just looks like he belongs on a certain team. Todd Gurley looks like an Ozzie Newsome running back. The Baltimore Ravens have a need at the position with Ray Rice released, Justin Forsett a free agent and no young back in the pipeline they can trust.
Gurley may not be ready Week 1 after suffering a torn ACL against Auburn, but before serving a two-game suspension in 2014, he looked like a Heisman Trophy candidate and a top-five player in this draft class. At 222 pounds, Gurley was running over, around and past defenders as a runner, receiver and return man.
Would you be willing to spend a first-round pick on a back who could take the pressure off Joe Flacco and grind out 1,300-yard seasons behind a very good offensive line? I would.
27. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: Defensive Tackle Eddie Goldman, Florida State
The Dallas Cowboys need help at defensive end and defensive tackle, and you can almost bet they'll draft one of each early on. Who they draft at No. 27 overall depends on scheme fit and graded value. Eddie Goldman, the big nose tackle from Florida State, is both.
Goldman moves very well for 6'4", 336 pounds (he didn't test at the combine), and has the type of penetration/anchoring skills that can become the foundation of a defensive line. With Henry Melton gone via free agency and Tyrone Crawford a good, versatile defensive lineman, Goldman can take his natural spot on the line and fuel the defense as a three-down player.
28. Denver Broncos
The Pick: Center Cameron Erving, Florida State
Cameron Erving hasn't been in many mock drafts of mine since the season began, but that's about to change.
The senior Seminole entered the year as a promising left tackle, but he struggled early in the season before making a move to center that solidified the entire FSU offensive line. It also set Erving's draft stock on fire, and he's been climbing ever since.
The Broncos have a massive hole at center with Will Montgomery entering free agency, and Erving's shown the ability to handle pass protection calls in a pro-style offense for Jimbo Fisher. That makes his adjustment to handling the ball for Peyton Manning that much easier.
29. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: Running Back Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Two running backs in the first round? What is this, 2012?
It's not, but this is the year for a run on running backs in the first round. Two reasons: (1) This isn't a great draft class for top-tier talent (especially on offense); and (2) there are legitimate needs at the position. That sets up well for Todd Gurley (No. 26, Baltimore) and 2,000-yard rusher Melvin Gordon.
I'm not completely sold on Gordon's ability to transition to the NFL (he doesn't show great burst or long speed, had six fumbles in his last five games and definitely benefited from the scheme), but he has unquestioned vision, patience and balance as a runner. The Colts need a bell cow, and Gordon is a much better option than Trent Richardson.
30. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: Cornerback Trae Waynes, Michigan State
Trae Waynes became the cornerback Twitter wants after he posted an official 4.31 in the 40-yard dash, but let's go back to the film. Waynes is good but has a weak lower body and struggled getting through transitions against underneath routes. Pure 40 speed is good for cornerbacks, but he's not the top-10 player I saw many hyping up.
Waynes, though, is a better prospect than Darqueze Dennard was last year and is a smooth operator down the field. He can cover bigger receivers, but he has to learn to play without his hands so much in the NFL. If he can do that, the Green Bay Packers will have an ideal replacement for free agent Tramon Williams on the roster.
31. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: Edge-Rusher Owa Odighizuwa, UCLA
General manager John Schneider loves two things in prospects—long arms and big hands. Owa Odighizuwa has both (33.75" arms, 11" hands) and has shown the speed and production as an edge-rusher to fit in well with the Seahawks' 4-3 defense.
Odighizuwa would ideally play a defensive end role, allowing Michael Bennett to continue being a wild card at end and tackle. When Odighizuwa is in, Bennett is allowed to wreck the offensive line, and it has to focus on Cliff Avril and the former UCLA pass-rusher at the same time. That's a nightmare for any offensive line.
32. New England Patriots
The Pick: Offensive Lineman Jake Fisher, Oregon
Jake Fisher has been under the radar among offensive linemen all year, but it's his time to shine.
Fisher, who won't wow you with athletic testing but had a respectable combine, has some of the best hand placement and football IQ you'll see this year. So why does he project to guard?
For most teams, Fisher would be a left or right tackle, but in New England—where they throw the ball and operate from spread sets so often—Fisher's value as a right guard is huge. A right guard is on an island often in pass protection because most NFL teams slide their protection to the left (to protect the quarterback's blind side), so the right guard doesn't have the help of the center. Fisher's ability in pass protection added in with his agility and IQ are a huge key for why he's a fit with New England.
|1||Tennessee||CB P.J. Williams||FSU|
|2||Tampa Bay||ILB Benardrick McKinney||Miss. State|
|3||Oakland||CB Alex Carter||Stanford|
|4||Jacksonville||ILB Eric Kendricks||UCLA|
|5||NY Jets||T Andrus Peat||Stanford|
|6||Washington||T T.J. Clemmings||Pitt|
|7||Chicago||ILB Paul Dawson||TCU|
|8||N.Y. Giants||DE Preston Smith||Miss. State|
|9||St. Louis||WR Devin Funchess||Michigan|
|10||Atlanta||WR Devin Smith||Ohio State|
|11||Cleveland||TE Maxx Williams||Minnesota|
|12||New Orleans||T Ereck Flowers||Miami (Fla.)|
|13||Minnesota||MLB Denzel Perryman||Miami (Fla.)|
|14||San Francisco||CB Kevin Johnson||Wake Forest|
|15||Miami||DT Carl Davis||Iowa|
|16||San Diego||RB Tevin Coleman||Indiana|
|17||Kansas City||T Cedric Ogbuehi||Texas A&M|
|18||Buffalo||RB Jay Ajayi||Boise State|
|19||Houston||WR Nelson Agholor||USC|
|20||Philadelphia||WR Phillip Dorsett||Miami (Fla.)|
|21||Cincinnati||DT Jordan Phillips||Oklahoma|
|22||Detroit||RB Duke Johnson||Miami (Fla.)|
|23||Arizona||DT Ellis McCarthy||UCLA|
|24||Pittsburgh||OLB Nate Orchard||Utah|
|25||Carolina||DE Danielle Hunter||LSU|
|26||Baltimore||WR Breshad Perriman||UCF|
|27||Denver||FS Gerod Holliman||Louisville|
|28||Dallas||RB T.J. Yeldon||Alabama|
|29||Indianapolis||OLB Lorenzo Mauldin||Louisville|
|30||Green Bay||ILB Stephone Anthony||Clemson|
|31||Seattle||CB Byron Jones||UConn|
|32||New England||RB Ameer Abdullah||Nebraska|