The 2015 NFL draft is just over two weeks away, and as the first round inches closer, its outlook becomes murkier.
Why is that? Smokescreens.
At this time of year, teams begin intentionally "leaking" information regarding their draft plans. Most of the time, the divulged information is mostly false, as its only intention is to throw off other teams. A recent example is from Tim McManus of PhillyMag.com, who relayed comments from Ron Jaworski surrounding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' intentions to select Marcus Mariota instead of Jameis Winston at No. 1 overall.
Could there be truth in the information given to Jaworski by unnamed sources? Possibly. But chances are the Buccaneers will still go with Winston—the guy they've been targeting all along—with the draft's first selection.
Opinions may differ on this matter, but that's what makes the draft so intriguing in the first place. That said, here's a look at how the first round is likely to shake out with projected trades included.
|Updated 2015 NFL Mock Draft: 1st Round with Trades|
|1||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State|
|2||Tennessee Titans||Leonard Williams, DT, USC|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida|
|4||St. Louis Rams (via Oakland)||Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon|
|5||Cleveland Browns (via Washington)||Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama|
|6||New York Jets||Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson|
|7||Chicago Bears||Danny Shelton, DT, Washington|
|8||Atlanta Falcons||Shane Ray, DE, Missouri|
|9||New York Giants||Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa|
|10||Oakland Raiders (via St. Louis)||Kevin White, WR, West Virginia|
|11||Minnesota Vikings||DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville|
|12||Washington Redskins (via Cleveland)||Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska|
|13||New Orleans Saints||Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky|
|14||Miami Dolphins||Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State|
|15||San Francisco 49ers||Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon|
|16||Houston Texans||La'el Collins, OT, LSU|
|17||San Diego Chargers||Malcom Brown, DT, Texas|
|18||Kansas City Chiefs||Landon Collins, S, Alabama|
|19||Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo)||T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh|
|20||Philadelphia Eagles||Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State|
|21||Cincinnati Bengals||Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma|
|22||Pittsburgh Steelers||Jalen Collins, CB, LSU|
|23||Dallas Cowboys (via Detroit)||Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin|
|24||Arizona Cardinals||Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami|
|25||Carolina Panthers||Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford|
|26||Baltimore Ravens||Marcus Peters, CB, Washington|
|27||Detroit Lions (via Dallas)||Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida St.|
|28||Denver Broncos||D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida|
|29||Indianapolis Colts||Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia|
|30||Green Bay Packers||Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut|
|31||New Orleans Saints (via Seattle)||Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma|
|32||New England Patriots||Cameron Erving, C, Florida State|
|*highlighted picks are projected trades|
Analyzing 1st-Round Trades
Trades are a big part of draft day each and every year. In 2014, there was a total of five trades that took place within the first 32 selections, and considering the multitude of teams that may be aiming for the same prospects in this year's draft, we should be expecting more of the same.
So, here's a look at some insight regarding the trade scenarios listed in the above mock draft.
Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams Swap Picks
The Raiders have been one team rumored to trade back in the draft. They feel they can still grab a quality wide receiver while compiling draft picks in the process. In this scenario, they do exactly that, moving back to No. 10 overall and accumulating extra draft picks in a trade with the Rams.
Oakland still lands Kevin White of West Virginia here. At 6'3" and 215 pounds with a great amount of athleticism, White is a game-altering wide receiver who has the ability to instantly become a No. 1 target for Derek Carr.
The Rams traded Sam Bradford to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Nick Foles earlier this offseason. Foles may not be the long-term starter in Jeff Fisher's mind, but he'd be an excellent quick fix for the time being. That said, St. Louis moves up to draft Mariota at No. 4 overall. The team gets its quarterback of the future and has the ability to allow him to develop before sending him into action.
Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns Swap Picks
The Browns may be the draft's most unpredictable team since they have tons of trade ammunition and several glaring needs to fill. In this scenario, Cleveland trades up to No. 5 overall to land Alabama's Amari Cooper. The team needs a true No. 1 pass-catcher, and Cooper fits the bill perfectly.
At 6'1" and 211 pounds, Cooper isn't the biggest receiver out there, but he's extremely polished and experienced. His ability to run crisp routes and get separation will be a tremendous asset to a team that desperately needs one of its quarterbacks to step up in a hurry.
Washington moves back to No. 12 overall and still lands Nebraska's Randy Gregory. The outside linebacker was a popular pick for the Redskins at No. 5 before he tested positive for marijuana at the combine. Now that he's fallen down draft boards, the team can trade back, collect extra picks and still nab the replacement for Brian Orakpo.
Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions Swap Picks
The Dallas Cowboys lost running back DeMarco Murray to the Eagles in free agency. The team did acquire Darren McFadden as a replacement, but due to the former Raider's injury history and lack of overall production, it's easy to think Dallas will still be aiming for a long-term replacement via the draft.
The 6'1", 215-pound Melvin Gordon would be an ideal fit for the Cowboys. He's a north-south runner with good vision, speed and toughness—much like Murray. Adding him to the backfield and utilizing McFadden as a third-down back would be the best-case scenario for a Cowboys offense that was phenomenal a season ago.
Detroit moves back to No. 27 overall, accumulates picks and still gets Florida State's Eddie Goldman—a player it would have selected at No. 23. At 6'4" and 336 pounds with a great deal of power on the interior of the defensive line, he'll help lessen the blow of losing both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley in free agency this offseason.