Updated: January 29th | Click here for Brian's Mock Draft (1/27)
|1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Marcus Mariota (QB Oregon)|
Marcus Mariota is not the perfect quarterback prospect, but when you consider the alternatives and how desperately Tampa needs a quarterback it's hard to see the Bucs going away from the Oregon Duck. I compare Mariota very similarly to RG3 when he came out of Baylor; highly intelligent and accurate passer with special athleticism, but I do worry some about his durability. He's no Andrew Luck and there definitely will be a learning curve, but the Bucs have enough talent on offense to support him as he develops and at the very least injects some energy into this stale franchise.
|2) Tennessee Titans - Leonard Williams (DT/DE U.S.C)|
|It seems as though most early 2015 mock drafts have the Titans jumping all over their need for a quarterback and selecting the enigmatic Jameis Winston, but I'm not buying it. Even when you look at solely on the field there are reports Ken Whisenhunt is content to develop Zach Mettenberger, who might actually provide the Titans with more than Winston who has thrown 27 interceptions over the past two years. Then you look at the never ending supply of off-field drama which has many in NFL circles looking at Winston as "Radioactive." Moving on from Winston, the draft's number one defensive player is the versatile and explosive Leonard Williams who could be an immediate difference maker for the Titans who ranked 31st in the NFL giving up almost 140 yards per game on the ground.|
|3) Jacksonville Jaguars - Dante Fowler (DE Florida)|
Gus Bradley's Jags gave up over 25 points per game last year, and though they have some promising pieces in place, they lack a foundation stone that they can truly build around. For a long while our mock draft has had the Jaguars selecting Randy Gregory with this pick, but it is my belief that Dante Fowler will be the first pass rusher off the board on draft day. If you wish to start from physical traits he's the prototype at 6'3" and 275. He produced in a big way for Florida this past year, proving to be NFL-ready in terms of technique. Then there's his work ethic and maturity which has been lauded. Fowler checks every box and stands to be a dominant force at the next level.
|4) Oakland Raiders - Amari Cooper (WR Alabama)|
|Believe it or not the Oakland Raiders have more than a couple pieces in place and could potentially be trending upward for the first time in a while. They showed some progress down the stretch last year and I'm definitely on the Derek Carr bandwagon, but there's no questioning this team lacks playmakers; difference makers. They have one on defense in otherworldly Khalil Mack, but on offense Derek Carr can't do it alone. The Raiders could go a number of different ways here, but taking the draft's top wide receiver and a proven game-changer in Amari Cooper would give add a dangerous feel to their offense.|
|5) Washington Redskins - Landon Collins (Safety Alabama)|
I try my best not to make 'need' the basis for our mock draft selections, but in this particular case I don't see any other way around it. Washington has the talent in place on offense, it's just a matter of coaching it up. When you look at the defense there isn't a down lineman they can take this high, and though I've seen some mock drafts giving them a pass rusher, I think Kerrigan, Orakpo and Trent Murphy is good enough for now. There isn't a cornerback they can take in the top five, which leaves only the safety position which has been one of the worst units in the league for some years now. Landon Collins is probably more of a 10-15 prospect, so ideally they would trade down and get him, but he's only a slight reach here.
|6) New York Jets - Randy Gregory (DE/OLB Nebraska)|
As much as I cringe along with Jets fans at the thought of starting Geno Smith for another year, I have a hard time seeing the Jets under the leadership of Todd Bowles sitting here and taking Jameis Winston. 'Famous Jameis' in The Big Apple is a nasty divorce waiting to happen, and for as bad as Geno Smith looked at times he wasn't the sole reason the Jets failed last year. They have one of the best defensive lines in football led by Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, but they don't have a speed rusher on the edge; something that would make this unit one of the best in football. A combination of lightning and thunder all on his own, Randy Gregory has the lethal quickness to win outside, but it's his natural strength which makes him a consistently dominant force.
|7) Chicago Bears - Shane Ray (DE/OLB Missouri)|
Defense, defense and more defense; it doesn't matter so much which defensive positions the Bears draft in 2015, they just need to make sure they add playmakers on that side of the ball. Unfortunately for them, their biggest needs, middle linebacker and safety won't present good value at their pick, but Missouri's Shane Ray is not somebody Bears fans should be disappointed with. Ray's lightning quick first step enabled him to lead the SEC in sacks last year. The definition of a speed rusher, Ray fires off the snap and shows elite bend, flexibility and explosion around the edge which demands a double team from the defense. Even though DE isn't Chicago's biggest need, it'll be the best value for them.
|8) Atlanta Falcons - Vic Beasley (OLB Clemson)|
Atlanta ranked second to last in the NFL in sacks last year, and as a group their pass rushing unit has been one of the worst in football for a couple years now. Whatever scheme the Falcons decide to run next year, adding some edge rushers to get after the quarterback is a must. Continuing the run on defensive ends in our mock draft is Clemson's Vic Beasley who could fit in either a 3-4 or 4-3. He'd be a natural fit as a 3-4 edge rusher, but I also like his potential playing in a role similar to Von Miller and Khalil Mack in their respective 4-3 defenses. Using Beasley's quickness and lethal first step, he would be listed as an outside linebacker but would find himself blitzing on almost every play. Either way, he'd be an immediate impact player for the Falcons who are dying for an edge rusher with his skill set.
|9) New York Giants - Danny Shelton (DT Washington)|
You can never count a defensive lineman out for the Giants, and especially so this year as they remain in the process of rebuilding their front four. Out wide J.P.P should be back next year, along with Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore. At defensive tackle they have Johnathan Hankins who broke out in a big way last year, but nobody besides him. Fresh off his dominant Senior Bowl performance Danny Shelton has now rightfully established himself as a top ten prospect and could be a perfect fit for the Giants. His ability to consistently create havoc and blow up blockers would be a big boost to a poor linebacking core, and working along with Hankins, Shelton should have a field day when he's left one-on-one.
|10) St Louis Rams - Jameis Winston (QB Florida State)|
This is the perfect match for both parties. Jameis Winston finds a soft landing spot with mitigated pressure in St Louis, and we know the Rams are not afraid to take chances on players with character concerns. In my opinion Winston is the superior passer to Marcus Mariota, but his never-ending indiscretions and distractions will likely lead to a longer wait on draft day than many are expecting. Winston's off-field woes have been documented ad nauseam, and he shows no signs of easing those concerns; last we heard from him he was bickering with his coach and in regards to the NFL Draft said it was something he was "not focused on at all." As for the Rams, it could be a perfect match as they look for somebody to push Sam Bradford and wouldn't be forced to rush Winston before he's ready.
|11) Minnesota Vikings - Shaq Thompson (LB Washington)|
For the past couple mocks we've had the Vikings taking Andrus Peat on the heels of Matt Kalil's sudden decline, but if Washington's Shaq Thompson is on the board I think he presents better value and meets more of a need. It looks like Minnesota is going to give Kalil another year to work things out, and they still have Phil Loadholt at RT who is solid, but at linebacker they have a gaping hole, and have had such since E.J Henderson walked out the door. Pound-for-pound Shaq Thompson is possibly the best overall athlete in this draft and has far beyond the necessary tools to be a star NFL linebacker
|12) Cleveland Browns - DeVante Parker (WR Louisville)|
Just because Ray Farmer does not "value" the wide receiver position like everybody keeps saying does not mean he's never going to select a wide receiver in the first round. It's hard to peg Farmer, but one thing I do know is that he's not so blinded by opinion that he'll go into the season with either Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel throwing to Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel. A size/length/speed prototype who can win jump balls and work after the catch, DeVante Parker has the makings of a future number one receiver. Parker missed the majority of the season with a broken foot, but still managed to record an amazing 855 yards in just six contests.
|13) New Orleans Saints - Trae Waynes (CB Michigan State)|
|The Saints defense took a huge step back in 2014, with constant breakdowns in the secondary being largely to blame. Losing veteran Malcolm Jenkins proved to hurt more than initially thought, making upgrading on the back end one of their main priorities this offseason. Michigan State's Trae Waynes is viewed by many as the top cornerback in this year's draft class and would present a nice value with the 13th pick. Waynes has excelled playing the boundary cornerback for the Spartans who left him on an island on almost every play. He's a physical cornerback who does a nice job disrupting the timing of receivers, but also has the speed and fluid hips to excel in man coverage.|
|14) Miami Dolphins - Sammie Coates (WR Auburn)|
2015 will be the make it or break it year for both Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill in Miami so look for them to focus this offseason on loading up on as much offensive ammunition as possible. Mike Wallace hasn't fit with the Dolphins offense and looks to already be done with the squad, and Brian Hartline looks to be in the same boat. Jarvis Landry had a great rookie year but in Auburn's Sammie Coates the Dolphins could get the explosive deep threat they hoped they were getting in Wallace. Coates' has the athleticism to take the top off a defense but unlike Wallace brings no off the field baggage. It wouldn't shock me to see the 'Phins take Gordon or Gurley here but Lamar Miller should be good enough.
|15) San Francisco 49ers - Kevin White (WR West Virginia)|
|Michael Crabtree is a free agent at the end of the season, and combined with Stevie Johnson's near five million dollar cap hit, Anquan Boldin might be the only starting receiver to return for San Francisco next year. West Virginia's Kevin White, who many have compared to Crabtree would be a perfect fit in this offense considering his strengths as a possession receiver. Thanks to his ability to win tightly contested passes, run sharp routes and break tackles, the former JUCO transfer has developed into one of the most dominant receivers in the country.|
|16) Houston Texans - P.J Williams (CB Florida State)|
Sorry Texans fans, I know cornerback has been the pick for a long time but it'll be the position which provides them with the best value while also filling a need. Up front the Texans have created arguably the best young front seven in all of football, but their secondary still needs quite a bit of work. At cornerback Johnathan Joseph is past his prime and Kareem Jackson will be a free agent at the end of the season. If available, P.J Williams would garner strong consideration from the Texans as we confidently rank him as the draft's number one cornerback prospect. He plays outstanding bump and run coverage, but his ball skills and ability to get his head around downfield are what set him apart.
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