NFL Mock Draft 2015: Latest Projections for Highly Sought-After Prospects

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2015

Georgia running back Todd Gurley (3) breaks into the open against Auburn in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The NFL draft is less than two weeks away, which means that mock drafts should be getting more and more accurate as analysts refine their projections.

However, we've also entered prime smokescreen season, where teams host players for meetings in order to drive down the price of other players, and analysts take the bait and reshuffle their mocks frantically. 

In this mock, we're staying conservative and projecting prospects at the picks that make sense in regard to their talents. Marcus Mariota is not being taken over Jameis Winston. P.J. Williams has fallen out of Round 1. The Chicago Bears are not selecting a wide receiver with their No. 7 selection, despite the fact that most analysts currently have them doing so.

There are also no trades projected in this mock, but plan for some to take place on draft day. 

Let's take a look at how the first round is shaping up less than two weeks out and highlight the prospects who have been earning their frequent flier miles as they travel around the country meeting with teams. 

Updated 2015 Mock Draft: Round 1
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 BearsDanny Shelton, DT, Washington
8Atlanta FalconsVic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
9New York GiantsBrandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
10St. Louis RamsAmari Cooper, WR, Alabama
11Minnesota VikingsDeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
12Cleveland BrownsAlvin "Bud" Dupree, DE, Kentucky
13New Orleans SaintsRandy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
14Miami DolphinsLa'el Collins, OT, LSU
15San Francisco 49ersTrae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
16Houston TexansMarcus Peters, CB, Washington
17San Diego ChargersTodd Gurley, RB, Georgia
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 SteelersKevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
23Detroit LionsMalcom Brown, DT, Texas
24Arizona CardinalsEddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
25Carolina PanthersD.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
26Baltimore RavensMelvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
27Dallas CowboysArik Armstead, DT, Oregon
28Denver BroncosEreck Flowers, OT, Miami
29Indianapolis ColtsLandon Collins, SS, Alabama
30Green Bay PackersEric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
31New Orleans SaintsByron Jones, CB, Connecticut
32New England PatriotsOwamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
Order via; picks by Michelle Bruton

Highly Sought-After Prospects 

Walter Football has compiled a list of meetings between prospects and teams, and it's obvious which players are considered to be the top of the class. Meetings have taken place at the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, NFL combine, pro days or on campus as well as at team facilities.

For meetings that have been reported, wide receiver DeVante Parker has met with 17 teams, defensive tackle Danny Shelton has met with 14 teams and nine teams have interest in running back Todd Gurley.

Let's break down why these prospects will be selected where they're projected to be in this mock. 

DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

There are many potential landing spots for Louisville product DeVante Parker in this draft, and where he ends up coming off the board will largely depend on how early the run on receivers begins. 

Pundits talk about the big two in this class—Alabama's Amari Cooper and West Virginia's Kevin White—but it's really the big three, with Parker rounding out the group. 

In fact, at the time of the combine, Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke wasn't sure White was a better prospect than Parker. 

In his latest mock, Burke has White coming off the board before Parker, but only by two spots.  

Where the 6'3", 209-pound prospect is selected will be partially determined by which direction the Chicago Bears and New York Giants in particular choose to go. In this mock, those teams address much-needed positions on the defensive line and offensive line, respectively, and Parker is snatched up by the Minnesota Vikings. 

The Vikings could also go with cornerback Trae Waynes, or even an offensive lineman. However, Parker is one of the best big outside threats in this class, whereas beyond him what's left are a lot of speedsters and slot guys, or big guys who don't have starting talent.

Parker is a franchise-changing prospect who could turn an offense on the verge in Minnesota into something really special. 

Yes, the Vikings have Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Wallace, but rather than arguing they should pass on Parker, that means adding him would complete their top three and give young Teddy Bridgewater a potent pass-catching corps, reuniting him with one of his favorite targets at Louisville. 

Especially if the Vikings lose running back Adrian Peterson this offseason, they'll want to be sure their offense doesn't suffer as a result. 

"Parker does his best work when the ball is in the air," writes Lance Zierlein of "He uses his height and wingspan to consistently snatch anything that comes his way."

He could be a potent addition to offensive coordinator Norv Turner's quarterback-friendly offense. 

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Now that Todd Gurley "checked out fine" at his medical rechecks, per's Ian Rapoport, let the jockeying for him begin.

Talent-wise, Gurley was always a first-round prospect, and he likely would have gone in the first even had his knee been a lingering issue.

Now, however, one of the nine teams that appear to have serious interest in himincluding the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers—will make him the first running back in three years to be selected in Round 1. 

The Chargers could also look to address the defensive line or the offensive line at this spot; Arik Armstead and T.J. Clemmings are both still on the board. 

However, the Chargers will find it hard to pass on Gurley, who could keep their backfield competitive for years to come, especially with Ryan Mathews now gone. 

And, regardless of whether the Chargers do trade Philip Rivers, adding Gurley ensures that at least one facet of their offense is going to be potent heading into 2015.

In addition to being a powerful back who gains many yards after contact61.9 percent of his total rushing yardage, in fact—the 6'1", 222-pound Georgia product can also catch passes out of the backfield. 

Danny Shelton, DT, Washington

Most analysts are convinced the Chicago Bears are going to take a wide receiver at No. 7.

Yes, there's a Brandon Marshall-sized hole in Chicago's offense, which won't make life any easier for Jay Cutler, and the Bears certainly need to add a weapon. But they're in great position at the top of Round 2 where, depending on how things shake out, they could draft Miami's Phillip Dorsett, USC's Nelson Agholor or Ohio State's Devin Smith.

The Bears still have Alshon Jeffery (who had 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014), promising up-and-comer Marquess Wilson and Martellus Bennett, not to mention Matt Forte's contributions to the passing game out of the backfield.

They also had a defense that finished 30th in the league in 2014 and are in the process of transitioning to a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. The anchor of a 3-4 defense is its big body up front, its space-eating nose tackle. 

Washington's Danny Shelton fits that spot perfectly. 

"At No. 7, when you talk about a great fit, Danny Shelton was made to play the nose tackle in that defense," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said on April 13, via's Bryan Fischer. "He would be a perfect, perfect fit."

Shelton would instantly upgrade Chicago's run defense, but they won't be surprised to see that their pass rush improves with him at the nose, as well. 

"Shelton is an above-average interior pass rusher for a man his size, thanks to his surprising athleticism," writes Zierlein

Chicago met with Shelton at the Senior Bowl and the combine, per Walter Football. As for Shelton's interest? "I can see myself playing over there," he told the Chicago Sun-Times' Patrick Finley. 


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