2015 NFL Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions and Polarizing Prospects to Watch

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2015

Oklahoma's Dorial Green-Beckham works out for NFL scouts during Oklahoma Pro Day in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, March 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Enjoy this—for a brief moment it's all quiet on the NFL front.

The free-agency frenzy has subsided, rampant trade speculation has ceased and major pro days are now few and far between. Individual workouts pepper the schedule in the coming weeks, but for once there seems to be a bit of rest.

Just don't expect it to last long.

About a month away from the first non-New York draft in quite a long time, things will begin to kick into high gear by the day.

Before they do, though, it's important to keep up on the stock of each top prospect, each team's biggest need and an overall value chart of the first round. The best way to do so, of course, is via a mock draft.

2015 NFL Mock Draft

1Tampa Bay BuccaneersJameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2Tennessee TitansMarcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
3Jacksonville JaguarsAlvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
4Oakland RaidersLeonard Williams, DL, USC
5Washington RedskinsVic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
6New York JetsKevin White, WR, West Virginia
7Chicago BearsDante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida
8Atlanta FalconsShane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
9New York GiantsLa'el Collins, OL, LSU
10St. Louis RamsMarcus Peters, CB, Washington
11Minnesota VikingsAmari Cooper, WR, Alabama
12Cleveland BrownsDeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
13New Orleans SaintsRandy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
14Miami DolphinsDanny Shelton, DT, Washington
15San Francisco 49ersTrae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
16Houston TexansDorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
17San Diego ChargersA.J. Cann, OG, South Carolina
18Kansas City ChiefsBrandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
19Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo)Arik Armstead, DE/OLB, Oregon
20Philadelphia EaglesLandon Collins, SS, Alabama
21Cincinnati BengalsMalcom Brown, DT, Texas
22Pittsburgh SteelersOwamagbe Odighizuwa, OLB, UCLA
23Detroit LionsEddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
24Arizona CardinalsEli Harold, OLB, Virginia
25Carolina PanthersAndrus Peat, OT, Stanford
26Baltimore RavensJaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
27Dallas CowboysJalen Collins, CB, LSU
28Denver BroncosMaxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
29Indianapolis ColtsBreshad Perriman, WR, UCF
30Green Bay PackersKevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
31New Orleans Saints (via Seattle)Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan
32New England PatriotsTodd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Polarizing Prospects to Watch

Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State

Matt York/Associated Press

When one thinks of a polarizing prospect who divides most into two camps concerning his stock, Jaelen Strong isn't always the first player that comes to mind.

He should come to mind, though.

First, the good. Strong is productive. His collegiate numbers show this much:


He hit the NFL Scouting Combine at 6'2" and 217 pounds, and he showed he can stretch defenses in a vertical manner (4.44 40-yard dash) and compete for any and all jump balls (42-inch vertical).

What's not to like? Strong may be a bit of a one-dimensional prospect, because he struggles to create separation and make plays over the middle of the field. John Owning of FootballInsiders.com hits the nail on the head:

"While Strong does win vertically, he struggles to win laterally and in the short-area routes that allow offenses to keep the ball moving. As a route-runner, Strong isn’t very polished as he tends to round his cuts and lacks the explosion to create separation at the top of his routes."

Stuck in such a deep wideout class, it will be interesting to see if Strong's physical talents capable of creating mismatches will entice teams to take a gamble on his services in the first round.

In theory, Strong's weaknesses are something coaching can fix. Whether or not teams gamble in the first round will say a lot about his pro potential.

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma

Just stick with wideouts because a deep class offers plenty of wild possibilities. 

Perhaps the most controversy centers on Dorial Green-Beckham, the Calvin Johnson-esque wideout who was dismissed from the Missouri program before watching from the Oklahoma sideline last season.

An off-field issue and a year away from the game may scare some teams away from DGB, but it's impossible to ignore his numbers at the combine—he weighed in at 6'5" and 237 pounds with strong numbers in all athleticism drills.

As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller points out, the positives could land DGB quite high in the draft:

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

He could easily go Top 10 RT @jimmy_89_: highest you could see dorial green-beckham going?

The thing is, players DGB's size don't come around too often, and they certainly don't come with his sheer athleticism and stunning catch radius—aspects that make him a mismatch all over the field.

For some teams, DGB isn't a first-round pick and may not be on the board at all. For others, he's the next big thing.

On draft day, perhaps no set of initials is more interesting than DGB.

Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska 

Questions swirled around Nebraska pass-rusher Randy Gregory well before it was revealed he failed a drug test at the combine. 

It's a strange nugget considering prospects know about the test in Indianapolis, but it fits in with what has been a wild ride for a former potential top-five selection.

Where Gregory lands now is impossible to know. He showed up at the combine both lighter and slower than expected at 6'5" and 235 pounds with a 4.64 40-yard dash.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

In other words, he's too light to play with his hand in the dirt, he may struggle against the rush as a linebacker and his initial pass-rush burst may not be all it's cracked up to be.

Then again, the NFL world seemed ready for all the above about Gregory. An NFC scouting director told NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, "He's super raw, but those physical tools are through the roof. That's why you pay coaches."

With so many factors surrounding his stock, whether or not teams with high draft selections in a class deep at pass-rusher want to take the risk on Gregory is something to watch. He's a talent, but one with flags on and off the field. Time is running out for the Nebraska product to rebuild his stock.

Stats courtesy of NFL.com and accurate as of March 30. All advanced metrics via Pro Football Focus.

Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.