NFL Mock Draft 2015: Latest 1st-Round Projections for Boom-or-Bust Prospects

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2015

Washington defensive back Marcus Peters runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Pro days are beginning to wind down for 2015 NFL draft prospects, with the last event scheduled to take place on April 15.

Team scouts are nearing as complete a picture as they're going to get for the 2015 class, and that means it's time for them to weigh its players' positive and negative qualities. 

For some players, the negatives carry a little more weight. Teams may not be able to pass on their potential in Round 1, but that could have serious bust implications down the line. 

As we come to the end of March, let's take a look at how the first round is shaping up and highlight three prospects whose NFL careers could take off or flop. 

Updated 2015 Mock Draft: Round 1
PickTeamSelection
1Tampa Bay BuccaneersJameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2Tennessee TitansLeonard Williams, DT, USC
3Jacksonville JaguarsDante Fowler, OLB, Florida
4Oakland RaidersKevin White, WR, West Virginia
5Washington RedskinsShane Ray, DE, Missouri
6New York JetsMarcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
7Chicago BearsAlvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky
8Atlanta FalconsVic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
9New York GiantsBrandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
10St. Louis RamsAmari Cooper, WR, Alabama
11Minnesota VikingsLa'el Collins, OT, LSU
12Cleveland BrownsDanny Shelton, DT, Washington
13New Orleans SaintsRandy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
14Miami DolphinsDeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
15San Francisco 49ersTrae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
16Houston TexansLandon Collins, SS, Alabama
17San Diego ChargersEddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
18Kansas City ChiefsJaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
19Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo)T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
20Philadelphia EaglesDorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
21Cincinnati BengalsAndrus Peat, OT, Stanford
22Pittsburgh SteelersMarcus Peters, CB, Washington
23Detroit LionsEreck Flowers, OT, Miami
24Arizona CardinalsMelvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
25Carolina PanthersD.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
26Baltimore RavensKevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
27Dallas CowboysMalcom Brown, DT, Texas
28Denver BroncosJordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
29Indianapolis ColtsBenardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
30Green Bay PackersEric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
31New Orleans Saints (via Seattle)Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
32New England PatriotsArik Armstead, DT, Oregon
Order via NFL.com; picks by Michelle Bruton

Boom-or-Bust Prospects

Some teams will avoid players with character issues at all costs, even if they sit high on their draft board based on talent alone. Others will roll the dice, hoping such players could improve in their system (see: Cleveland Browns). 

The following players have off-the-charts talent, but if they don't successfully transition to the NFL, they'll give the teams that draft them a headache.

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Marcus Peters, CB, Washington

On talent alone, Marcus Peters could be the most talented cornerback in the 2015 draft class. Past character issues, however, may cause him to fall lower in the first round. It all depends on the team, and in the mock above, I have the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting him at No. 22 ahead of Kevin Johnson and Jalen Collins. 

Such a move could improve the secondary for years to come or cause unwanted problems. 

Peters was dismissed from the University of Washington in November for what he called “miscommunication” with coach Chris Petersen. An NFL.com report quoted an anonymous scout who said Peters got into a physical altercation with an assistant coach.

Members of Washington's coaching staff refuted that claim.

“That obviously never, never happened,” UW defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake told Adam Jude of The Seattle Times in December.

Peters also denied the incident during interviews at the combine, but his dismissal remains a looming mark on his draft profile, despite his elite talent. 

Peters ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the combine and had a vertical jump of 37.5 inches. He is one of the top cover corners in the draft.

"[Peters] competes hard out of press-man coverage and tries to intimidate receivers with his physicality," writes Lance Zierlein of NFL.com. "[He] can redirect talented receivers with his length and flat-out stuff receivers with marginal foot quickness and strength."

Peters led the Huskies with five interceptions in 2013.

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

There's enough need for talented wide receivers that it's not a question of if Dorial Green-Beckham will go in the first round, but of when he will go and what the team that drafts him will get. 

Though Green-Beckham enters the draft via Oklahoma, he has never played a snap for the team. He had two productive years at Missouri, with 28 catches for 395 yards and five touchdowns in 2012 as a true freshman, followed up by a team-high 59 receptions for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013. 

However, Green-Beckham was dismissed from Missouri in April 2014 for an incident in which he reportedly pushed his girlfriend's female roommate down stairs after trying to force his way into the apartment to see his girlfriend, as well as two previous drug charges. 

It appears that Missouri had a three-strike policy in place for Green-Beckham, but in the NFL, it often only takes one to seriously impair the investment a team has made in a player. 

Still, if Green-Beckham has matured, he'd be difficult to pass up on talent alone. There's his size, 6'5" and 237 pounds and speed (4.49 40-yard dash) for starters. He's also a crisp route-runner and has soft hands, a combination that makes him a rare and ideal specimen. 

"[Green-Beckham] uses his body beautifully in coverage to tower over defenders with an outrageous catching radius," writes Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com.

Indeed, his catch radius is one of his best qualities as a first-round prospect. The reward could be huge with Green-Beckham, but if he hasn't learned from his past mistakes, so could the risk. 

Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

Randy Gregory has been mocked in the top 10 for months, and even with the recent news of his failed drug test at the combine, it's uncertain how far he'll fall.

In this most recent mock, I have him falling from the Chicago Bears at No. 7, who decide to go with Alvin Dupree instead, to the New Orleans Saints at No. 13. He's too talented to fall much further.

Gregory ranks ninth on Nebraska's all-time sack list, with 17.5 sacks. In 2013, he had 10.5 sacks, which were the most ever by a first-year Husker, earning him defensive MVP that season. 

The issue with Gregory is that his bad behavior has proved to have a pattern, which gives some teams pause. After all, if he hasn't been able to overcome the issue to this point, why assume he'll be able to overcome it at the pro level?

In an interview with NFL Media's Kimberly Jones, Gregory revealed that he first smoked marijuana after failing to qualify academically to attend Purdue as a result of the subsequent anxiety. Then, Gregory tested positive for marijuana twice at Nebraska, in January 2014 and April 2014. 

He said school officials told him he would be kicked off the team for failing a third drug test. 

"This incident right now is a step toward ending my career," Gregory told Jones. "The last thing I want to do is fail another drug test and be out of the league."

That's the last thing a team that decides to take a chance on him in Round 1 wants, too.