NFL Mock Draft 2015: Risers and Fallers Following Scouting Combine

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2015

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The NFL Scouting Combine involves very few drills with an actual football, speculation about questions prospects might face in the interview room and the phrase "Underwear Olympics."

But straight faces and straightforward analysis only, people.

In our analysis, we will also take on the predraft process that most fans would be lucky to get 33 percent correct: a mock draft.

With that in mind, let's take a complete look at the entire first-round landscape and some risers and fallers from combine week.

1Tampa Bay BuccaneersJameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2Tennessee TitansMarcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
3Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard Williams, DL, USC
4Oakland RaidersAmari Cooper, WR, Alabama
5WashingtonDante Fowler Jr., DE/OLB, Florida
6New York JetsRandy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
7Chicago BearsDanny Shelton, DT, Washington
8Atlanta FalconsShane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
9New York GiantsBrandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
10St. Louis RamsKevin White, WR, West Virginia
11Minnesota VikingsAndrus Peat, OT, Stanford
12Cleveland BrownsDeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
13New Orleans SaintsVic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
14Miami DolphinsLandon Collins, S, Alabama
15San Francisco 49ersArik Armstead, DE, Oregon
16Houston TexansTrae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
17San Diego ChargersMarcus Peters, CB, Washington
18Kansas City ChiefsDorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
19Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo)Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
20Philadelphia EaglesP.J. Williams, CB, Florida State
21Cincinnati BengalsShaq Thompson, LB, Washington
22Pittsburgh SteelersT.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
23Detroit LionsLa'el Collins, OT, LSU
24Arizona CardinalsBenardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
25Carolina PanthersEreck Flowers, OT, Miami (Florida)
26Baltimore RavensBreshad Perriman, WR, UCF
27Dallas CowboysMelvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
28Denver BroncosAlvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
29Indianapolis ColtsDenzel Perryman, LB, Miami (Fla.)
30Green Bay PackersDevin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan
31Seattle SeahawksJaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
32New England PatriotsA.J. Cann, G, South Carolina

Riser: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

The concern about Beasley coming into the combine was size. The concern leaving Indianapolis comes from teams outside the top 10 wondering if he'll still be available in the teens. Beasley arrived 11 pounds heavier than his listed playing weight (235 lbs) in 2014, measured in at a legitimate 6'3" and didn't appear to lose a single step from his athletic makeup.

The Clemson product was a "top performer" in every athletic drill. He posted a remarkable 4.53-second time in the 40-yard dash, a 41-inch vertical that would put a majority of wide receivers to shame and a 130-inch broad jump that was put to shame only by Bud Dupree's freakish 138-inch leap.

It reminded me in many ways of Vernon Gholston's appearance in 2008. The difference here, of course, is Beasley has three years of elite film backing up his top-10 candidacy. Beasley went from possibly falling out of the first round to being a lock last weekend.

Faller: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

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David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Thompson's combine experience was the polar opposite of Beasley's. Rather than assuaging size concerns, Thompson doubled them down, measuring in at 6'0" and 228 pounds. He's basically the same exact size as Landon Collins, who you may also realize plays safety, not outside linebacker.

Two NFL teams told NFL Network's Gil Brandt they're beginning to see Thompson as a safety. There are a couple of issues there—the first being he's probably not fast enough to play safety. Thompson's 4.64-second time in the 40 would have ranked among the worst safeties in this class. What's more, the Washington product also sees himself playing linebacker.

“That’s where I feel the most comfortable,” Thompson told reporters. “I like to be up by the line of scrimmage. I feel like I’m physical enough. I’m not the biggest guy, but I have a lot of heart.”

I've liked a Thomas Davis comparison with Thompson throughout this draft process. It's still in play; just take a look at Davis' combine stats. But teams hoping to get a realized version of Thompson as a player only left Indy more confused.

Riser: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

I don't know how you don't take this kid with a top-two pick. I just don't. If your answer is "Zach Mettenberger," then perhaps I'd suggest taking up a profession other than NFL talent evaluator. I mean...literally any other profession. Mettenberger might, in the long term, be a fine pro quarterback. History says he's far more likely to be Tim Rattay than Tom Brady.

As for Mariota, he checks all the "franchise quarterback" boxes. He blew teams away during the interview process, with ESPN's Louis Riddick likening him to Russell Wilson. He stunted on them haters with a 4.52-second time in the 40 and a 4.11 time in the shuttle, the former being best among players at his position. He also did well throwing the football, flashing good placement and a clean dropback.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock liked what he saw, per Bryan Fischer of NFL.com.

What I liked about Mariota was just the footwork. You can see how athletic he is. He ran the 4.5. You can see that translate to his dropbacks, a sense of urgency with his feet. I know he'll be able to adapt to being able to get under center. It's the pocket awareness part that you can't tell out here. Physically, he'll be able to do all the things they ask of him.

None of these drills will assuage concerns about whether he can read NFL defenses, but players with his all-around makeup are few and far between.

Faller: Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA;  Missouri defensive lineman Shane Ray talks to the media at the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It's mostly unfair to penalize a player for not participating in the combine. It's especially unfair to do so when a player is injured. That said, Ray finds himself playing catch-up among his peers following a nondescript weekend.

The Missouri pass-rusher bowed out of the workout portion due to a foot injury suffered in the team's bowl game and suffered as a result. The only physical thing he did was the bench press, during which he turned in a disappointing 21 reps. No official diagnosis was given on the severity of Ray's injury, but the Anonymous Scout Brigade was already at work with disparaging comments.

"I don't like him," a scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "People see who he is, they're going to fall off him quick. The body structure. No way in hell he can be an outside backer. Competitive, smart and reliable. Wins with effort, urgency and great first step. He has a degree of stiffness. He's got to win with quickness because of his lack of size and strength." 

Keep in mind that Ray is competing with Dupree, Beasley, Randy Gregory and Dante Fowler at the top of this class. At least one of these guys is going to succumb to the Scout Brigade and fall into the late first or early second rounds. Ray's still a top-10 pick to my mind right now, but the pressure is on heading into his pro day.

Riser: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

White was so good in Indianapolis that some are putting him above Amari Cooper on their draft boards. Others are projecting him to go above Cooper come April. I really don't think there's much more to be said here. Given where White was and where Cooper was when this process started, that says it all.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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