Sunday, March 8, 2015

2015 NFL Mock Draft 1st Round 1.0

By Jason Fletcher
@jfletch38

With the NFL draft 2 months away I've decided to write a mock draft to kind of give an idea where the top college prospects could possibly be playing at the next level. I will be doing 2 more of these 1 at the end of march and 1 right before the draft which is Thursday April 30-Saturday May 2nd.

1.Tampa Bay Buccaneers-QB Jameis Winston, Florida St. By far the most polished QB in this draft. The Bucs can't afford to pass on this type of talent at one of their biggest positions of need. I know Winston has had some of the field issues in the past but I don't think Tampa can take the risk on passing on him and him becoming one of the best in the league. Mike Glennon is the incumbent but he has been given every opportunity to succeed and hasn't put it all together.

2.Tennessee Titans-DT Leonard Williams, USC. The Titans have holes all over the field in which case I believe you take the best player available which is Leonard Williams, in my opinion. Williams has the ability to occupy blockers in the run game and also the quickness and burst to be disruptive as an inside rusher in the pass game. Tennessee was ranked 27th in the league allowing 137.2 rushing yards per game, according to teamrankings.com, drafting someone with Williams ability will definitely help that improve.

3.Jacksonville Jaguars-OLB/DE Dante Fowler Jr., Florida. Normally, you would look at this Jaguar team and say they only scored 15.6 pts a game last year which was the worst in the NFL and say that they should go with a skill position player here, but Jacksonville invested high picks last year in QB Blake Bortles and WR's Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. The Jaguars also got good production from undrafted rookie free agent Allen Hurns in 2014. It is also entirely possible that Justin Blackmon gets reinstated from his suspension before training camp starts. When you have this much invested in young skill position players you hope they continue to develop so you don't need to spend a high pick on one in this position. That leads me to Fowler who is, in my opinion, the best pure pass rusher in this draft. He has an extremely high motor and can play either standing up as an outside linebacker on with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end. He is also good at setting the edge and helping in the run game.

4.Oakland Raiders-WR Kevin White, WVU. The Raiders found a gem in the 2nd round last year drafting Derek Carr to be their QB of the future. The future also became the present as he beat out Matt Schaub in training camp last season to win the starting gig. He showed true progression as the season went on and finished the year strong. The only piece that was missing for Carr was a true #1 WR target. I think Kevin White is that piece. If Al Davis were still alive I would say that White's chance to go here would be 100%. Al always loved guys that were big and fast and White is definitely both. Not only did he run a 4.35 sec 40 yard dash at 6'3" and 215 lbs, but he also led all wide receivers at the combine with 23 reps at 225 lbs on the bench press. He is also the best receiver in the draft at attacking the ball at its highest point and bringing it down with strong hands which will also help the Raiders in the red zone where they struggled in 2014.

5.Washington Redskins-OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson. Beasley was a big winner at the NFL Combine. He showed up weighing 15-20 pounds more than he weighed while dominating at Clemson. This showed that he had the dedication and work ethic to put on the muscle needed to play at the NFL level. He then showed that the added weight didn't slow him down a bit as he ran a 4.53 sec 40 yard dash. He also showed the added strength as he benched 225 35 times. The Redskins could use a pass rusher opposite Ryan Kerrigan with Brian Orakpo set to leave via free agency. Beasley and Kerrigan on the outside could be scary for opposing tackles to block.

6.New York Jets-WR Amari Cooper, Alabama. Before the Combine, most everyone thought Cooper was the most NFL ready receiver in this draft. He really didn't do anything to hurt himself, Kevin White just had a better showing in Indianapolis. Cooper is a polished route runner, has great hands, and still ran a 4.42 sec 40 yard dash. I think the Jets could be tempted to take Marcus Mariota here since the new regime may not be sold on Geno Smith, but I think it would be a couple years before Mariota is able to run an NFL offense and I don't think Jets fans have enough patience to go through that again. I think you give Geno another weapon and let him know going into the year he is the guy. He showed some progression at the end of the year after getting the starting job back from Michael Vick.

7.Chicago Bears-CB Trae Waynes, Michigan St. Chicago was the 30th ranked pass defense in the NFL last year. I can see them also going with a pass rusher here, but I went with Waynes because the Bears having a glaring hole opposite of CB Kyle Fuller. Waynes is by far the best corner in this draft and has the size, speed, and technique to be a true shutdown corner. With Fuller and Waynes on the corners it should give Jared Allen and Willie Young another second or so to get to the QB which would dramatically improve their porous pass defense.

8.Atlanta Falcons-DE Shane Ray, Missouri. The Falcons have been missing a true pass rusher for years. Now that Dan Quinn has come in from Seattle and taken over the reigns I expect him to finally get that pass rusher. I envision Ray playing a role a little like Bruce Irvin of the Seahawks with Quinn in charge. Ray was a dominant defensive end in college. He has a quick first step and has the power and speed to beat tackles all day long. If the Falcons can start to get pressure on the QB they should be able to threaten in the weak NFC South. They already boast a top offense led by Matt Ryan.

9.New York Giants-DT Malcom Brown, Texas. Brown possesses a great first step and quick hands which will help him penetrate and get into backfields and be disruptive. He can play multiple spots on the defensive line whether it be in a 4-3 or a 3-4. The Giants can use an inside pass rusher/run stopper to go along with Johnathan Hankins. If the Giants can improve their defense they could be a surprise team next year with Eli Manning finally getting comfortable in Ben McAdoo's offense and the absolute freak that is Odell Beckham Jr.

10.St. Louis Rams-WR DeVante Parker, Louisville. St. Louis is a few big plays away from being the 2nd best team in their division. If they can get Sam Bradford to stay healthy this year and pick up a receiver with the talent of Parker to go along with a receiving corps that already includes Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey, and Tavon Austin then this team will be knocking on the doorstep of a wild card spot. Parker is 6'3" 209 lbs and has great hands to go along with that big frame. He also ran a 4.45 sec 40 at the Combine which is solid for a big receiver.

11.Minnesota Vikings-OG Brandon Scherff, Iowa. With or without Adrian Peterson next year the Vikings need to be better running the ball to help out Teddy Bridgewater. Scherff has a nasty streak to him that makes him a perfect road grader for whoever is the Vikings RB next year. After a 7-9 season last year the Vikings aren't that far away from being a playoff contender.

12.Cleveland Browns-QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon. Cleveland is in an unenviable position. They are a 7-9 team with the looks of a playoff team everywhere except in the passing game. They traded back into the 1st round last year to draft Johnny Manziel and so far that looks like a huge mistake. He did nothing with the opportunity he was given and now has gone to rehab for alcohol addiction. Brian Hoyer is a free agent and Connor Shaw might be the best QB on their roster right now. The Browns could hold out hope that Manziel comes back and becomes the player everyone thought he would be or they can draft Mariota. I'm not as high on Mariota as most. I think he is a great kid and has potential, but i think he is at least a year away if not more from being able to run a pro-style offense. Being in that Oregon offense is about the worst thing when it comes to translating to the NFL. He is used to playing fast tempo with receivers all over the field and throwing to his first read and if that read isn't open then he pulls it down and runs. In the NFL, it's been proven over and over again you have to win from the pocket. You have to be able to go through progressions and find the open man or you'll get beat up when you run the ball i.e. Robert Griffin III.

13.New Orleans Saints-OT Andrus Peat, Stanford. New Orleans struggled last season protecting QB Drew Brees which led to him being hit a lot more often and throwing 17 INT's. If the Saints are going to win the NFC South this year it starts with being able to protect their franchise QB. Peat was a left tackle in college but I think he is better served to play on the right side in the NFL. If the Saints are able to put Terron Armstead and Peat on the field together for 16 games next year life will become much easier for Brees.

14.Miami Dolphins-OT La'el Collins, LSU. Collins can play either tackle or guard and I think that versatility will help him at the NFL level. Coaches love versatile players who can play more than one position. I think ultimately he is better suited as a guard and would help the Dolphins immensely as they continue to rebuild their offensive line. Ryan Tannehill took a big step forward last year and upgrading the line in front of him will only help. The Dolphins are on the brink of a playoff team they just need those last couple pieces to the puzzle to get them over the hump and I think Collins would be a great start.

15.San Francisco 49ers-NT Danny Shelton, Washington. I know the common thought here is that the 49ers should go with offense here since that is where they struggled last year but I think Shelton is too big of a talent to pass up. I emphasize the word big as Shelton weighed in at 339 lbs at the Combine. He fits the 49ers 3-4 defense perfectly as a space eater which is going to allow Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, and Chris Borland to have free lanes to get to ball carriers quicker. The 49ers new coach, Jim Tomsula, is the former defensive line coach and I think this would be a match made in heaven.

16.Houston Texans-CB Marcus Peters, Washington. If not for some off the field issues the resulted in him being kicked off the Huskies, Peters, would be vying with Waynes for the top corner in this draft. He has all the physical skills to be a starter for the Texans opposite of Jonathan Joseph if the Texans let Kareem Jackson walk. Hopefully, whoever ends up drafting Peters, he will understand he needs to take coaching better. He will not last long in the NFL if he doesn't grow up. I believe he will and the Texans will get a steal.

17. San Diego Chargers-OLB Randy Gregory, Nebraska. The Chargers have some other holes to fill but if Gregory drops this far the Chargers will getting the best value in the 1st round. Gregory is a great 3-4 outside pass rusher. He needs to get a little stronger and put on some weight but other than that he has all the tools that you want in a speed edge rusher. Great quickness/speed that has a high-ceiling but could take some time to develop into an every down starter. He may start out as a 3rd down situation pass rusher.

18.Kansas City Chiefs-WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona St. Kansas City has a glaring need at wide receiver. They didn't have a single wide-out catch a touchdown pass last year. Some of that has to do with Alex Smith who would rather hit his check downs than throw the ball down the field, but a lot of it had to do with the Chiefs not having any explosive players on the outside. Strong would be a great addition because he is a big receiver who can go up the ladder to snag the football. He would be a perfect weapon for Smith especially in the red zone.

19.Cleveland Browns-DT Arik Armstead, Oregon. Armstead is a giant at 6'7" 292 lbs he also has room to put some weight on and become a great run stopper. I think he could play either DT or DE for the Browns in their 3-4 front. Cleveland was the worst run defense in the league last year allowing 141.6 yds a game, according to teamrankings.com. Armstead would certainly help that improve and if the Browns defense can slow down their opponents run game it would allow their offense to spend more time on the field instead of watching teams bleed the clock.

20.Philadelphia Eagles-CB Jalen Collins, LSU. Collins is a big corner at 6'1" 203 lbs who also has speed with a 40 yd dash of 4.48 sec at the Combine. He has all the physical tools that teams look for in a cornerback. The Eagles finished 30th in the league last season allowing 264.9 passing yards per game. Conventional wisdom says that comes from the defense always being on the field because of the hurry up offense that Chip Kelly runs, but the Eagle corners were also sub-par last season. Collins would come in a be a starter from day 1 as Philly tries to improve that atrocious pass d.

21.Cincinnati Bengals-Landon Collins, Alabama. Collins is the best safety in this draft. Reggie Nelson is on the downside of his career. If the Bengals draft Collins and put him beside George Iloka it would form one of the best safety tandems in all of football. Wide receivers would think twice about exposing their bodies coming across the middle and both safeties are also good tacklers who could help inside the box in the run game.

22.Pittsburgh Steelers-CB Byron Jones, Connecticut. By now, you have probably have heard the name Byron Jones. He was the athletic freak that long-jumped 12'3" at the combine which beat the world record. The Steelers struggled all year against the pass finishing 25th allowing 253.1 yds a game, according to teamrankings.com. The corners were the biggest reason. Ike Taylor was injured most of the year and when he was on the field he was getting beat like a drum, Antwon Blake was ok at times but really stuggled at the end of the year, and Cortez Allen was also injured and has the Steelers rethinking that 5 year deal he signed just last offseason. Jones should be able to start from day 1 and immensely help this struggling pass defense.

23.Detroit Lions-DT Eddie Goldman, Florida St. I don't believe there is any way for the Lions to keep both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. If one walks via free agency, Goldman would be a perfect fit to replace one of them. Known as more of a run-stuffer than a pass rusher, Goldman would help clog up the middle and possibly get either Fairley or Suh some one on one matchups with guards. The Lions could go offense here since that's where they struggled last season but I believe there is enough talent on that side of the ball for them to progress after spending last year in a completely new offensive system under Joe Lombardi.

24.Arizona Cardinals-NT Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma. The Cardinals just released Darnell Dockett and Dan Williams is a free agent. They have a glaring hole in the middle of their 3-4 front. Phillips would fit that spot perfectly. He is a huge kid at 6'5" 329 lbs and that girth would help him plug up the middle and keep his linebackers clean so they can make tackles in the run game.

25.Carolina Panthers-OT Ereck Flowers, Miami. If the Panthers are even going to think about getting back to the playoffs next year, they need to rebuild a porous offensive line. Last year's starting left tackle, Byron Bell, has already been released and I think Flowers would be the perfect fit there protecting Cam Newton's blindside. He is athletic and a mauler in the run game which is perfect for what the Panthers are trying to do in their offense.

26.Baltimore Ravens-RB Todd Gurley, Georgia. The Ravens will probably let Justin Forsett walk in free agency this off-season, which means they would be left with Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro who are ok running backs but lack explosion. Gurley is the best back in this class and is threat to score every time he touches the ball. Marc Trestman is the new offensive coordinator in Baltimore and he has coached Matt Forte to 2 brilliant seasons and there's no reason to think that Gurley wouldn't produce in the same way. He is coming off of ACL surgery but reports say he should be ready for training camp.

27.Dallas Cowboys-RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin. I may change this one next time around depending on what happens with the whole Dez Bryant situation. If Dallas ends up letting him walk then I'm sure they would re-sign DeMarco Murray, but if the Cowboys keep Dez then there's no way they could keep both players with how many holes they have to fill on the defensive side of the ball. Even if they lose Murray, Gordon would be a perfect fit behind that nasty offensive line. He broke all kinds of records while at Wisconsin and he has the ability to run inside while also being able to hit the home run. The only concern is the amount of carries he had at Wisconsin. He could have a little wear on him compared to other backs.

28.Denver Broncos-WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri. If not for some off the field issues that caused him to be dismissed from the Missouri Tigers team, Green-Beckham would be going much higher in this draft. He is a big receiver at 6'5" 237 lbs who can go up a pluck a ball out of the air and who can run with a 40 yd dash time of 4.49 sec at the Combine. The Broncos could potentially lose Demaryius Thomas to free agency, although I don't see that happening. They have already lost Wes Welker and probably TE Julius Thomas to free agency as well. Even if the Broncos bring Demaryius back, they would then have Thomas and Green-Beckham on the outside and can bump Emmanuel Sanders down into the slot making for another scary set of receivers for Peyton Manning to throw to in possibly his last season.

29.Indianapolis Colts-OLB Bud Dupree, Kentucky. Bud Dupree is a natural edge pass rusher. He can come right in on 3rd downs and help out. He also has the skill set to be a 3 down OLB down the road. The Colts lack pass rushers off the edge. Bjoern Werner was decent last year but they didn't have a consistent pass rush. It was clearly evident in the AFC championship game against the Patriots. The Colts could not touch Tom Brady and then once the Patriots took the lead they just leaned on the running game. If the Colts are going to get back to the AFC title game or even the Super Bowl they are going to need to improve the defense.

30.Green Bay Packers-T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh. The Packers will probably bring Bryan Bulaga back he was a huge piece of their improved offensive line play, but I believe the weakness was David Bakhtiari. Bringing in Clemmings solidifies the right side of the offensive line and will only improve an offense that was ridiculous last season. There would be no reason to think the Packers wouldn't be right back at the top of the list of title contenders.

31.Seattle Seahawks-WR Devin Smith, Ohio St. It must be nice to have talent all across the field and not have any glaring weaknesses. While Smith will never be a true number 1 receiver, he has the speed to blow the top off of defenses. With Russell Wilson's play-action ability and the way he throws the deep ball, Smith could be just what the doctor ordered. If the Seahawks start hitting more big plays in the passing game, it will make their running game that much scarier to defend and once again make them the odds-on favorite to win it all come next February.

32.New England Patriots-OLB Eli Harold, Virginia. Harold is the prototypical stand-up 3-4 outside linebacker edge rusher. The Patriots have Jamie Collins on one side and if you put a gifted athlete like Harold on the other side with the secondary that New England has quarterbacks will have nightmares facing this defense. Bill Belichick loves to have roles and role players instead of a set lineup. Harold would make the perfect situational player for the way Belichick plays defense.

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