NFL Mock Draft 2015: 1st-Round Projections and Top Underrated Prospects

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2015

Virginia defensive lineman Eli Harold runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

When it comes to the NFL draft, it's best to know the underrated names.

As pro days wind down, teams begin to complete draft boards with just a few slight alterations still on the way due to individual workouts and interviews.

At the same time, teams and fans need to know the prospects flying under the radar. Think back to last year, when Teddy Bridgewater almost fell out of the first round. He went on to complete 64.4 percent of his passes in his debut season despite a tough situation, and now the sky seems the limit.

It's a much better result than the Cleveland Browns got by rolling the dice on Johnny Manziel.

This year, don't be caught off guard by the underrated names, as more often than not, a bargain value births the proverbial chip on shoulder, leading to great things for all parties.

2015 NFL Mock Draft

1Tampa Bay BuccaneersJameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2Tennessee TitansMarcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
3Jacksonville JaguarsDante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida
4Oakland RaidersLeonard Williams, DL, USC
5Washington RedskinsVic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
6New York JetsKevin White, WR, West Virginia
7Chicago BearsAlvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
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)Mario Edwards Jr., DE, Florida State
32New England PatriotsByron Jones, CB, UConn

Top Underrated Prospects to Watch

Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia

Steve Helber/Associated Press

Look, it's easy for a pass-rusher to get lost in the hype of others this year. 

Dante Fowler Jr., Vic Beasley, Shane Ray, Randy Gregory and Alvin Dupree are just a few of the names in first-round consideration as members of one of the deepest classes at the spot in years.

Hence Virginia's Eli Harold flying under the radar.

Harold showed up at the NFL Scouting Combine at 6'3" and 247 pounds before posting strong numbers in the 40-yard dash (4.6 seconds), three-cone drill (7.07 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.16 seconds).

A disruptive presence off the edge in college, Harold has the athleticism and sheer talent to make an impact at the pro level from his first snap. This is why ESPN's Todd McShay is one of many who continue to up their opinion of him:

Todd McShay @McShay13

UVA's Eli Harold keeps growing on me, man. He's got a chance to be one of the best edge rushers in this class when it's all said and done

The upward momentum doesn't stop there, as NFL.com's Gil Brandt notes Harold at his pro day "looked good in the position drills, showing a good burst with his hand in the ground."

Harold touts some qualities coaches cannot teach, his athleticism and instincts are just the cusp. It's sure to make him a first-round pick, and one folks look back on as a steal. 

Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 06:  Cedric Ogbuehi #70 of the Texas A&M Aggies warms up before playing the Lamar Cardinals at Kyle Field on September 6, 2014 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Remember Cedric Ogbuehi?

It's time to, because the NFL realm seemed to write off the Texas A&M star despite obvious first-round talent thanks to an ACL tear in a bowl game back in January.

Really, it's a funny thing. The NFL is an instant gratification league, yes, but it's not like knee injuries are as devastating as they used to be, so why not take a top talent and show some patience?

Perhaps the above is why NFL.com's Lance Zierlein noted the following:

Lance Zierlein @LanceZierlein

After speaking with multiple teams I have no doubt that Ced Ogbuehi's ACL tear will NOT keep him out of the first round. He's going in 1st.

Ogbuehi is a physical specimen. He weighed in at 6'5" and 306 pounds in Indianapolis, and on tape, he is an elite athlete who is a natural in pass protection, making him one of the top left-tackle candidates in the class.

So while some teams continue to knock him down a peg or two, Ogbuehi has the look of a natural left tackle who, once healthy, won't exit the lineup.

Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Breshad Perriman #11 of the UCF Knights completes a pass for 44 yards in the first quarter against the defense of Terrell Burt #13 of the Baylor Bears during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Wideouts are the only position to match pass-rushers this year when it comes to depth and difficulty for underrated players to stand out.

It's funny. Breshad Perriman flew under the radar after not running drills at the combine, then he exploded at his pro day, running a 4.26 40-yard dash, per his agent Drew Rosenhaus.

One dash and now the globe seems abuzz about Perriman. In fact, he even crept into the top 10 of Mel Kiper's rankings:

A big receiver, he has the explosiveness off the line and deep speed of a player who typically comes in a smaller package; no player has moved up more on my board since the season began. Perriman can make the big play with his ability to win on contested throws by beating defenders in the air via size and strength, and with the ability to turn short catches into big plays by running past tacklers and through contact. He's raw in terms of some of the finer points, but he could put up big numbers early if he gets his share of targets.

The thing is, now Perriman needs to hope the hype remains at a fever pitch for another month. It's no easy task for any wideout to claim a first-round spot in a class headlined by Amari Cooper and Kevin White.

Thanks to great size (6'2", 212 pounds) and strong measureables, Perriman figures to make a strong impact as a rookie no matter how far he falls.

Stats courtesy of NFL.com and accurate as of April 7. All advanced metrics via Pro Football Focus.

Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.