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Mock NFL Draft 2015: 1st-Round Projections for Most Talented Prospects in Class

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2015

West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

The 2015 NFL draft features plenty of unknowns, which is the case every year, but in terms of pure talent, it can be argued that the current class is as good as any in recent memory.

Several positions appear to be extremely deep on paper, and while that doesn't always translate to success at the NFL level, it certainly has franchises and their fans excited. It should also make for an entertaining and unpredictable first round because there is no consensus regarding how it will ultimately unfold.

As the highly anticipated 2015 NFL draft approaches, here is a full first-round mock draft, in addition to a closer look at some of the top talents who figure to come off of the board on the night of April 30.

2015 First-Round NFL Mock Draft
PickTeamSelection
1Tampa Bay BuccaneersJameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2Tennessee TitansMarcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
3Jacksonville JaguarsBrandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
4Oakland RaidersAmari Cooper, WR, Alabama
5Washington RedskinsLeonard Williams, DL, USC
6New York JetsRandy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
7Chicago BearsKevin White, WR, West Virginia
8Atlanta FalconsShane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
9New York GiantsLandon Collins, S, Alabama
10St. Louis RamsTrae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
11Minnesota VikingsAndrus Peat, OT, Stanford
12Cleveland BrownsDeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
13New Orleans SaintsVic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
14Miami DolphinsBenardrick McKinney, ILB, Mississippi State
15San Francisco 49ersDanny Shelton, DL, Washington
16Houston TexansDante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
17San Diego ChargersCameron Erving, OL, Florida State
18Kansas City ChiefsBreshad Perriman, WR, UCF
19Cleveland Browns (from BUF)Alvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
20Philadelphia EaglesMarcus Peters, CB, Washington
21Cincinnati BengalsOwa Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
22Pittsburgh SteelersKevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
23Detroit LionsEddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
24Arizona CardinalsEli Harold, OLB, Virginia
25Carolina PanthersLa'el Collins, OT, LSU
26Baltimore RavensMelvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
27Dallas CowboysShaq Thompson, LB/S, Washington
28Denver BroncosMalcom Brown, DT, Texas
29Indianapolis ColtsArik Armstead, DE, Oregon
30Green Bay PackersDenzel Perryman, ILB, Miami (Fla.)
31New Orleans Saints (from SEA)Devin Funchess, TE/WR, Michigan
32New England PatriotsDorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
Mock Draft

Predictions for Top Athletic Talents

Kevin White

Wide receiver Kevin White's ability became quite apparent at West Virginia last season, but it wasn't until after the 2014 campaign that talent evaluators truly became aware of his status as an elite prospect.

After posting 109 receptions for nearly 1,500 yards (1,447) and 10 touchdowns for the Mountaineers, White was dominant at the NFL Scouting Combine. Alabama's Amari Cooper was the odds-on favorite to be the first wideout off of the board following his bid as a Heisman Trophy finalist, but White has since gotten himself into the conversation.

Experts seem split on which receiver will be a better pro, but White himself feels as though he is a more complete player than his biggest competition, according to ProFootballTalk:

PFTonNBCSN @PFT_Live

WR Draft Prospect Kevin White @kwhite8 on what separates him from Amari Cooper: "I can do it all." Tune in at 6ET for the full interview

White's confidence is understandable not only because of his incredible skill set but also since he has some big names in his corner.

That includes Hall of Fame wide receiver and former Buffalo Bills star Andre Reed:

Andre Reed @Andre_Reed83

Good luck to the next great receiver from the "Valley"@kwhite8 in this year's NFL Draft. ... Be the Best....#Booyah!!!!!!!#NFLDraft15

It seems likely that Cooper will manage to beat out White in terms of draft position, but White shouldn't have to wait long to hear his name called. A number of teams in the top 10 have a need at wide receiver, and he is undoubtedly a top-10 talent.

With Brandon Marshall no longer in the fold, the Chicago Bears need a complement for Alshon Jeffery, and White could be the perfect fit since he is big (6'3", 215 lbs) and has great leaping ability.

Some team is going to strike early on White, and if he is still available at No. 7, then it will be very difficult for Chicago to pass him up.

Dante Fowler Jr.

Perhaps no position in the 2015 NFL draft is deeper than that of pass-rusher. A first-round case can easily be made for a number of defensive ends and outside linebackers, but it can be argued that Florida's Dante Fowler Jr. is the most talented of them all.

Fowler is coming off of an 8.5-sack season with the Gators. He was impressive at the combine due to his combination of size (6'3", 261 lbs) and speed (4.6-second 40-yard dash) and his ability to play standing up or with his hand on the ground. Teams are constantly searching for guys who can get to the quarterback, and that is certainly Fowler's forte.

With that said, opinions are split regarding how good he can potentially be. That is evidenced by this tweet, passing along thoughts from NFL Mock Draft Live, courtesy of the NFL's official Twitter account:

NFL @NFL

"Absolutely not." "He's a jack of all trades..." Two scouts. Two different responses: http://t.co/679abUehkX http://t.co/OEv6wChVuP

Fowler could conceivably be taken as early as No. 3 by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he could just as easily fall well outside the top 10.

Fowler clearly doesn't feel as though he should, however, based on his belief that he is an all-around player, per the Denver Broncos' Twitter account:

Denver Broncos @Broncos

"I can rush, & I can drop in coverage. I can play everywhere." LB prospect @TheDanteFowler6 [http://t.co/Ci0CtUPqws] http://t.co/vUTQPXEld9

The main thing working against Fowler may be a lack of consistency. There were games in which he dominated at Florida, but he could just as easily do next to nothing the following week. That type of effort simply won't get it done in the NFL.

A team will be mesmerized enough by his talent to take a chance, though, and that team could be the Houston Texans at No. 16. Their selection of Jadeveon Clowney hasn't paid dividends yet, but if he becomes the great player most expect him to be, then that would take a lot of pressure off of Fowler's shoulders.

Add in the presence of J.J. Watt, and the Texans would have a chance to develop the most dominant front seven in all of football.

Melvin Gordon

The running back position as a whole has dropped in terms of draft value in recent years, but Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon is such a special talent that he could very well buck the trend and come off of the board in the first round.

Gordon rushed for nearly 2,600 yards (2,587) for the Badgers last season, and there is no doubt that he has the makeup needed to be a workhorse back at the next level. In fact, Charley Casserly of CBS Sports has massive expectations for the dynamo right out of the gates, according to NFL Network's Twitter account:

NFL Network @nflnetwork

"Melvin Gordon. 1,500 yards. Write it down." - @CharleyCasserly #PathToTheDraft http://t.co/Tu8LLm0EbI

As is the case with every prospect, though, Gordon doesn't come without concerns. Per Bleacher Report's Matt Miller, ball security was an issue down the stretch last season:

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Biggest Melvin Gordon concern is fumbles. Six in last five games, and they come when he's trying to finish a run.

That is something Gordon needs to clean up, but it should also be taken with a grain of salt since he touched the ball over 360 times (362). As the unquestioned leader of Wisconsin's offense, Gordon was bound to turn the ball over on occasion.

Holding onto the football is definitely something that can be improved upon, and it is unlikely that it will make teams shy away from him.

There are a number of teams that could use a back of his caliber, and Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback is hearing that he won't slip past the Baltimore Ravens at No. 26.

The Ravens took a big step forward last season due to the play of running back Justin Forsett, but he may not have much time left as a quality NFL starter. With that in mind, Baltimore would be wise to invest in a younger option.

Gordon certainly fits the bill, and he is a player who would help the Ravens have a well-balanced offense for many years to come.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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