Similar to last year with Johnny Manziel, the talk of the 2015 NFL Draft will be where Marcus Mariota ends up. While he could go anywhere from first overall to the middle first round, the majority of the 2015 first round will be made up of pass rushers, offensive linemen and receivers.
While trades are very likely in this year’s top-10 picks, for quarterbacks and top pass-rushers, I won’t include trades in this mock draft. However, with the draft nearing, I’ve included a second round that focuses more on player value than actual team/need fits.
1. Tampa Bay Bucs – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
It seems clear that Winston to the Bucs is the only safe bet of the first round, but it’s not a lock quite yet. The team worked out Marcus Mariota already, Phillip Rivers may be on the market, and teams like the Saints and Browns may look to move up for a quarterback. Still, Jameis in Tampa seems likely.
2. Tennessee Titans – Leonard Williams, DT, USC
After bringing back Derrick Morgan and signing Brian Orakpo, the Titans may look to add the draft’s best defensive prospect to continue to build their defensive front-seven. However, with the Titans planting effective smokescreens on their interest in Marcus Mariota, it’s possible this pick is traded for Marcus Mariota, with the Browns, Saints and Chargers the most likely suitors.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
The Jaguars added receiving talent (Julius Thomas), offensive line help (Jeremy Parnell) and multiple defenders (lead by Jared Odrick and Davon House). However, they still lack youth in their pass-rush. Beasley’s college production and elite NFL Combine workout makes the 3rd pick his likely destination to play at Gus Bradley’s “LEO” position.
4. Oakland Raiders- Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
If Marcus Mariota doesn’t go second overall in a trade, the Raiders will be the likely next team to move down for a Mariota hunting team. The Raiders need to add another receiving weapon, but I’m not sure Cooper or any receiver is worth the 4thoverall pick. However, Cooper is a good fit to play alongside Derek Carr and can instant contribute as a rookie.
5. Washington Redskins – Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida
After letting Brian Orakpo go in free agency, the Redskins have a serious need at pass-rusher. They’ll have options at #5 overall, and Fowler is the best fit as a versatile rusher. The Mariota rumors linger, but it’s highly unlikely their new GM will add a quarterback like Mariota in year one.
6. New York Jets – Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska
The Jets loaded up this off-season, with additions including Brandon Marshall and Darrelle Revis, and in a wide-open AFC East, they may be pushing for a playoff berth in Todd Bowles first year. Ryan Fitzpatrick back with Chan Gailey (who he had his best season of his career with) may be adequate to try out for one year instead of investing in Marcus Mariota. Adding a high-upside pass-rusher like Gregory to work with Quinton Coples and the aging Calvin Pace could complete this defense.
7. Chicago Bears – Arik Armstead, DE, Chicago
Adding youth and talent to the defense is likely a crucial focus to the Bears draft plans. While they’ll have options to replace Brandon Marshall here at pick #7, bringing the best talent for their defense, especially on the defensive line, is a must-do. Armstead offers a high-upside, moldable defensive line talent that can fit into the 3-4 defense Vic Fangio wants to bring to the Bears.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky
Landing one of the top pass-rushers in the 2015 draft should be atop the Falcons wishes, and the explosive Dupree can fit perfectly as the edge player the Falcons can build their defense around moving forward. Vic Beasley and Dupree are likely top two on their board, with Randy Gregory or an offensive tackle (Jake Fisher fits) being backup plans.
9. New York Giants – Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Eli Manning and the running game didn’t have a great opportunity to be productive in 2014 thanks to a poor offensive line. The Giants value upside first usually with their early round picks, and while Peat didn’t dominate in his final college season, he has left tackle upside.
10. St. Louis Rams – Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
Scherff’s next level position isn’t clear, but he can offer versatility and NFL-readiness more than any other offensive lineman in this class. After adding Greg Robinson last year, bring in Scherff can complete this offensive line moving forward and give Nick Foles a great opportunity to thrive in his first year with the Rams.
11. Minnesota Vikings – DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Even after trading for Mike Wallace, receiver still stands as one of the Vikings biggest needs. Parker is in the mix to be considered the draft’s best receiver, and with his built-in connection with Teddy Bridgewater, the fit makes too much sense.
12. Cleveland Browns – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Determining where Marcus Mariota will land is a complete crapshoot at this point, as arguments can be made for and against his selection for as many as ten teams. The Browns are my favorite as of now. After offering a first for Sam Bradford, it’s clear they’re willing to move past Johnny Manziel already. If Mariota slips past the first five or six picks, the Browns could probably move up for Mariota without dealing both first-round picks.
13. New Orleans Saints – Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri
With two first-rounders and in the midst of a rebuild/retool, I’d expect the Saints to take the best player available, almost regardless of position. Ray isn’t this high on our board, but many teams still feel he’s a top-10 worthy pick in this class. Adding an edge player fills a need as well.
14. Miami Dolphins – Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
The Dolphins don’t have a strong side linebacker worthy of starting on their depth chart, but they could look to move Dion Jordan to that spot. If they don’t, adding another athletic freak like Shaq Thompson can give Jelani Jenkins a high-upside running mate to lead this linebacking corps into the future.
15. San Francisco 49ers – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
“Trading” Michael Crabtree for Torrey Smith this off-season doesn’t change their need to add another plus-talent at receiver. While many seem to believe most of the top receivers will be gone at this point, it’s unclear if NFL teams feel the same way about the top receivers that the media does. Don’t be surprised if a top receiver falls to this spot.
16. Houston Texans – Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Addressing their most glaring needs in free agency (resigning Derrick Newton and signing Cecil Shorts and Vince Wilfork), the Texans don’t have to reach for need at this spot. Adding Shelton to offer front-three depth behind Vince Wilfork and Jared Crick.
17. San Diego Chargers – Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The Chargers are expecting to put a premium on the run game in 2015, but didn’t replace Ryan Matthews in free agency. Also, if Phillip Rivers does, in fact, leave in 2015, Gurley can provide a stable offensive playmaker as they find their new quarterback, similar to Adrian Peterson did in Minnesota.
18. Kansas City Chiefs – La’el Collins, OT, LSU
Clearly still needing receiver help, Andy Reid and the Chiefs may prefer to find their second receiver to Jeremy Maclin later in the draft. However, after adding Ben Grubbs via trade, giving this offensive line a mauling run blocker like La’el Collins may be a better value. If Andy Reid wants to find his Kansas City version of Jason Peters, TJ Clemmings of Pittsburgh fits that mold.
19. Cleveland Browns (via BUF) – Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
The Browns seem initially content at receiver with Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline as there top two options, so a receiver at this point doesn’t seem likely. Adding t their defensive line is a must do, and Phillips has plus-upside as a nose tackle or a power 5-technique.
20. Philadelphia Eagles – Jake Fisher, OT/OG, Oregon
Adding a receiver or defensive back seems like the most likely options for the Eagles, but with right guard being a position of need and Evan Mathis on the trade block, adding an interior lineman may be quietly high on the Eagles need list. Plus, the Oregon connection give Fisher the edge over other offensive linemen.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – TJ Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
While not an immediate need, offensive line may be an issue for the Bengals after this upcoming season, with both starting offensive tackles and guard Kevin Zeitler off the books. Clemmings is very raw and still learning offensive line technique, but he offers upside that could give scouts hope that he’s the next Jason Peters.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida
Pittsburgh is usually very good about focusing on value over need in the draft, and with Eddie Goldman being worth a top-10 pick in my mind, he’s a fantastic value here. While not an ideal fit for the nose tackle spot, he can likely offer pass-rush potential as a versatile 3-4 defensive lineman as a rookie.
23. Detroit Lions – Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
After letting Reggie Bush go in free agency and not replacing him, it seems unlikely the Lions want to enter the 2015 season with just Joique Bell, Theo Riddick and George Winn as their running backs. Gordon can add an immediate impact to the offense, giving Stafford a weapon aside from the passing game.
24. Arizona Cardinals – DJ Humphries, OT, Florida
I personally am not a huge fan of DJ Humphries as a prospect, especially when considering tackle options in the first round, but NFL teams seem to really be intrigued with his upside. The Cardinals paid plenty for Jared Veldheer and Mike Iupati the last two years, and added Jonathan Cooper in the first round din 2013, so adding Humphries solidifies this offensive line well into the future.
25. Carolina Panthers – Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
As the top cornerback in this class, Waynes could go as high as the 7th overall pick, with the Vikings, Saints and Texans all being realistic options as well. For Carolina, Josh Norman has been a great value, and pairing him with a talent like Waynes, who can keep Bene Benwikere where he fits best in the slot, could be the Panthers one of the best young cornerback units in the NFC moving forward.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
After letting Torrey Smith walk, the Ravens are left with an older Steve Smith and a bunch of young, very unproven receiver options. The Ravens could look to move up in the draft if one of the top receivers falls in the draft. Jaelen Strong fits well into Joe Flacco’s skill set and Marc Trestman’s offense.
27. Dallas Cowboys – PJ Williams, CB, Florida State
The Cowboys will be debating between running backs, linebackers and defensive backs at this spot. With Gurley and Gordon likely gone at this point and linebackers not having value at this point, cornerback offers the value here. Williams is a physical defender with plus footwork and an NFL-ready style.
28. Denver Broncos – Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (FL)
As the Broncos look to make one-last Super Bowl run with Peyton Manning, adding to his offensive line to reduce interior pass-rush seems exactly where they need upgrading. Flowers can add value at both guard spots and right tackle, and could be a seamless replacement for Orlando Franklin.
29. Indianapolis Colts – Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
While Vontae Davis and Greg Toler are a plus-duo at cornerback, both are set to be free agents in 2016. Peters could go much higher if his character isn’t a red flag for teams, and he provide a similar immediate impact that Bradley Roby brought the Broncos last year as a rotational/nickel cornerback.
30. Green Bay Packers – Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
Long-term, Clay Matthews isn’t the team’s starter at inside linebacker, and they’ll need to address the position early in the 2015 draft. Kendricks is easily the best stand-up linebacker in the class after Shaq Thompson, and could blossom on the inside of the Packers front seven.
31. New Orleans Saints (via SEA) – Landon Collins, SAF, Alabama
Landon Collins could certainly go much higher than this thanks to his range, finishing ability as a tackler, and a weak safety class in the draft. However, consistent failings of past Alabama defensive backs (Dre Kirkpatrick, Dee Milliner, Mark Barron to name a few) should sting NFL teams, and Collins doesn’t possess elite upside either. The Saints will likely keep a “best player available” focus, and Kenny Vaccaro hasn’t lived up to his first-round billing.
32. New England Patriots – Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
The Patriots have struggled in drafting cornerbacks and receivers early in the draft, but both are needs this year. After a great NFL Combine workout and playing in a Florida State defense that supplies ample NFL talent each year, Darby has become a late riser in the process.
33. Tennessee Titans – Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest
Continuing to add to their defense is a must, and Johnson can start at corner or nickel.
34. Tampa Bay Bucs – Cameron Erving, OC, Florida State
Bucs offensive line hasn’t been strong. Adding Erving who has experience at multiple positions helps.
35. Oakland Raiders – Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State
Front-seven player is likely where the Raiders look in round one, but if they don’t, Smith, among others, will be strong options
36. Jacksonville Jaguars – Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE, UCLA
They have quality starters in their front seven, but not much youth. Odighizuwa and Vic Beasley fix that quickly.
37. New York Jets – Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke
If Ryan Fitzpatrick return to his previous Chan Gailey form, the Jets are just strong offensive line play away from the playoffs.
38. Washington Redskins – Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas
Not a major need, but Malcolm Brown is a likely first-round who any team may scoop up for value in the early second.
39. Chicago Bears – Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF
Receiver may be a target in the first, but they’ll be high-upside options in the early second. Perriman has athletic upside to work with.
40. New York Giants – Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
Larry Donnell isn’t the long-term answer at tight end, and after adding an offensive lineman in the first, giving Eli another weapon makes the most sense.
41. St. Louis Rams – Devin Funchess, WR/TE, Michigan
The Rams haven’t had success in adding quality offensive pieces to their offense, but Funchess could have a Kelvin Benjamin-like impact for Nick Foles.
42. Atlanta Falcons – Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
After another season of poor offensive line play, the Falcons need to continue to add talent. Ogbuehi is a first-rounder talent who only needs to overcome his injury
43. Cleveland Browns – Justin Hardy, WR, ECU
Signing Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe don’t solve the Browns receiver problems. Hardy can be the perfect fit as a slot target.
44. New Orleans Saints – Quentin Rollins, CB, Miami (OH)
Rollins played just one year of FBS football, but his patience, quick feet and athleticism could make him an early contributor.
45. Minnesota Vikings – Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
Mike Zimmer wants to continue to stockpile defensive line talent. Davis was a first-rounder entering the year, and Zimmer may be able to get the most out of him.
46. San Francisco 49ers – Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
After retirements and free agency, the 49ers have plenty of needs. Collins can start right away on the outside, utilize his plus length and ball skills.
47. Miami Dolphins – Eric Rowe, CB/SAF, Utah
Rowe has played both cornerback and safety at a high level in college, and he can offer value to both spots for the Dolphins.
48. San Diego Chargers – Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
If they don’t trade up for Marcus Mariota and keep Phillip Rivers for the 2015 season, Hundley could be the perfect one-year project to groom.
49. Kansas City Chiefs – Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State
The Chiefs added Jeremy Maclin, but Smith could be Andy Reid’s newest version of DeSean Jackson as a reliable deep threat.
50. Buffalo Bills – Hau’oli Kikaha, OLB, Washington
Rex Ryan loves to have a bevy of pass-rushers, and Kikaha, despite past injuries causing concern, may thrive in Ryan’s defense.
51. Houston Texans – Eli Harold, OLB, Virginia
A trio of Jadevon Clowney, Whitney Merclius and Harold gives the Texans a dynamic pass-rush for the future.
52. Philadelphia Eagles – Tre McBride, WR, Williams & Mary
I think it’s doubtful the Eagles look receiver in the first round, and may not until much later in the draft. But McBride fits what Kelly wants in a receiver.
53. Cincinnati Bengals – Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State
Most of the Bengals depth defensive tackles haven’t developed into fringe starters, and it may be time to move on. Bennett can play multiple defensive line positions.
54. Detroit Lions – Byron Jones, CB, UConn
After posting one of the best Combine scores of all time, Jones may skyrocket to the first-round. If he’s here, the Lions would love to add another high upside cornerback.
55. Arizona Cardinals – Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
If they don’t end up trading for Adrian Peterson, they’ll look for a starter. Coleman can offer immediate starter capability.
56. Pittsburgh Steelers – Nate Orchard, OLB, Utah
A team that’s consistently all about value, adding Orchard as a pure edge rusher in their defense fits both value and adds a key position of need.
57. Carolina Panthers – Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas
After Charles Johnson and last year’s second rounder Kony Ealy, the Panthers don’t have much depth at defensive end. Flowers can battle with Ealy in year one.
58. Baltimore Ravens – Duke Johnson, RB, Miami (FL)
The team brought back Justin Forsett, but cut Bernard Pierce. Johnson can provide a unique weapon at running back for the Ravens.
59. Denver Broncos – Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
The Broncos are in hot pursuit of a quarterback to take over for Peyton Manning, and I’ve repeatedly heard Petty’s there man.
60. Dallas Cowboys – Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State
If they can’t get a first-round running back or Adrian Peterson, the Cowboys need to add a runner in the 2nd or 3rd round. Ajayi is our 3rdranked running back.
61. Indianapolis Colts – Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami (FL)
Short-term, the Colts seem set at linebacker. But they’re no longer young at the position, and Perryman could likely be the 2016 starter.
62. Green Bay Packers – Garrett Grayson, QB, Colorado State
Ted Thompson subscribes to the draft and stash method of drafting quarterbacks. Grayson has starter potential to develop.
63. Seattle Seahawks – Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri/Oklahoma
I don’t buy the idea that Green-Beckham will be a first-rounder. His character woes make him a fit for only a few teams. Seattle’s one of them.
64. New England Patriots – Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
Agholor isn’t an ideal fit for what the Patriots need at receiver, but he’s a second-round value who likely ends up in the top-64 picks on draft day.