The NFL regular season has come to an end, and the top-20 order of the 2015 NFL Draft has been solidified. With the Bucs at the top of the draft, they’re on the clock and tasked with the decision to take a quarterback or not.
With just two quarterbacks projected to go in the first-round and another draft class that features offensive and defensive linemen depth, the start of the NFL draft season will certainly give rise to plenty of debate on which prospects are first-rounders, and where the top talents will land in early May.
*Please note that we do not focus our scouting on juniors until after they declare. However, for Mock Drafts, we will include underclassmen that merit first-round consideration*
1. Tampa Bay Bucs – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The Bucs opted to start Josh McCown instead of giving Mike Glennon time to develop, a clear sign that team doesn’t feel Glennon’s their future. With a late loss to the Saints, the Bucs secured the right to choose Marcus Mariota.
2. Tennessee Titans – Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
Tennessee made clear they have faith in Zach Mettenberger as their quarterback, and while he didn’t get many starts to show his upside, he proved in that time to be a fit for Ken Whisenhunt’s offense. Instead, the Titans should look at the 2015 class’s best defensive player.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Williams, DT, USC
With recent draft picks on the offensive line and quarterback, look for the Jaguars to target defense early in the 2015 class. With Leonard Williams, he offers versatility to play inside, at five-technique and on the edge.
4. Oakland Raiders- Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Derek Carr made great strides as a rookie, despite protection and poor receiver play. The Raiders have invested in recent drafts on their offensive line, and if they want to push Carr’s growth to the next level, they’ll need to get him a featured weapon.
5. Washington Redskins – Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
While offensive tackle isn’t a glaring need, the Redskins would be wise to not make a high risk selection with their first-rounder, opting to bolster their offensive line that saw rookie Morgan Moses struggle and Trent Williams see another injury. Peat may be a slight project, but has top-end upside for the future opposite Trent Williams.
6. New York Jets – La’el Collins, OT, LSU
Jameis Winston will be frequently mocked here, but it’s hard to place him at fourth overall for two reasons. For one, the Jets don’t have a GM or head coach yet, and it’ll be tough to pair that are sold on Winston. And two, Winston’s character concerns may be too great for New York, at least at this point. Collins gives this team either an upgrade at right tackle or a plus guard.
7. Chicago Bears – Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington
After a miserable season as a unit, the Bears defense needs yet another overhaul. With needs across the linebacker unit and a need to further upgrade their pass-rush performance, the high upside Shaq Thompson fits the bill.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Alvin Dupree, DE, Kentucky
It’s no secret the Falcons need defensive line help. Alvin “Bud” Dupree’s upside is clear after his senior season, and his ability to attack on the edge and finish as a tackler is exactly what the Falcons need to bolster their defense.
9. New York Giants – Shane Ray, OLB, Missouri
As the Giants go through a defensive transition, they’ll need to further add to their front-seven, especially on the edge and at linebacker. Ray can fill the edge rushing or strong-side linebacker role for the future, keeping this front-seven stocked with pass-rushing threats.
10. St. Louis Rams – Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
Last year, the Rams twice passed on receiver options in favor of linemen. This year, with Sam Bradford expected back as the starter, the Rams need to give him starting weapons. Add Strong to Brian Quick and Tavon Austin, and he’ll have his best set of options he’s ever had as a pro.
11. Minnesota Vikings – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Matt Kalil has struggled this year, and while he doesn’t need to be replaced, the team does need to continue to bolster its protection for Teddy Bridgewater. Stanley is still raw, but his pass protection upside is worthy of considering in the top-20 picks, if he declares early.
12. Cleveland Browns – DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
The selection of Justin Gilbert over the top receivers in the 2014 draft has already begun to haunt the Browns. Thankfully, they’ll have some options with both of their first rounders in 2015. DeVante Parker is one of the top receivers in the class, and can help this team move on from Josh Gordon.
13. New Orleans Saints – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
While Winston isn’t a lock for the top-10, at this point in the process, it’s tough to expect him to fall completely out of the first-round. The Saints need to begin thinking about replacing Drew Brees in the future. Letting him develop behind Brees without the pressure to play early could be a perfect situation.
14. Miami Dolphins – Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan
Ryan Tannehill started to show what his future could be once he starts to get comfortable in an offense. Adding Funchess, a unique tight end-receiver hybrid, to Jarvis Landry is a good duo to build with for Tannehill in the future, and could see immediate returns.
15. San Francisco 49ers – Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
With Jim Harbaugh gone, the team’s future is much cloudier than a year ago. However, they’re needs haven’t changed much, and the 49ers still need to add a cornerback. Waynes is battling for the top cornerback spot, and he fits the 49ers defense.
16. Houston Texans – Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
JJ Watt deserves the MVP attention he’s gotten this year, but it’d be wise for the Texans to bolster the defensive line around him. Goldman hasn’t declared yet, but if he does, he’ll be just behind Leonard Williams as the draft’s best interior defensive line prospect.
17. San Diego Chargers – Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
The Chargers need to continue to upgrade their offensive line, either to replace one of their starting tackles or upgrading their interior offensive line. Scherff can be a plus offensive tackle, but his length concerns could push sometimes to consider him more as a guard prospect, including the Chargers.
18. Kansas City Chiefs – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Zero receiving touchdowns by their receivers. That’s what the Chiefs dealt with all year. With a talented receiver class in 2015, there will be more than a few options for them in the mid-first round, including Kevin White, who’s length and route-running would give Alex Smith a feature weapon.
19. Cleveland Browns (via BUF) – Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
After adding a receiver with their first pick, the Browns would be wise to bolster their defensive line. I’ve grown to a big fan of Sheldon Day, and if he declares for the draft, he’ll be firmly in the mix for a first-round selection thanks to his activeness and short-area athleticism.
20. Philadelphia Eagles – Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
The Eagles desperately need cornerback help, and they’ll have plenty of options in the mid-first round of this class. Jalen Collins, with plus length and top-end speed, is an ideal fit for what Chip Kelly wants in his cornerbacks.
21. Carolina Panthers – Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M
Carolina needed to upgrade their offensive line a year ago, but they stuck to value in the 2014 draft. Now, after injuries again to Cam Newton, the team can’t afford to not aid in his protection moving forward. Ogbuehi struggled as a senior, but his talent-level will keep him in the first round.
22. Baltimore Ravens – PJ Williams, CB, Florida State
Baltimore has done a great job in solving problems before they become major red flags, and keeping their defensive backfield stocked with talent is wise. Williams is a plus athlete, and he’ll slowly be worked into the team’s lineup.
23. Cincinnati Bengals – Eli Harold, DE/OLB, Virginia
Adding talent to their defensive front-seven has been a key to the Bengals defensive success, and bringing in the high-upside of Eli Harold, who can fill either the SLB or defensive end role for the Bengals.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Landon Collins, SAF, Alabama
Collins could go well before this, but recent struggles by Alabama defensive backs may give teams pause. Collins would be a great fit for the Steelers looking to upgrade their defensive backfield.
25. Detroit Lions – Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
The duo of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell has their share of impressive turnouts, but not consistent enough to take pressure off of Matt Stafford. Adding Gurley to Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate would give the Lions a feared three-headed offense.
26. Indianapolis Colts – Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
The Colts have some depth at the outside linebacker spot, but after Robert Mathis, the team lacks a feared pass-rusher. And with Mathis on just a one-year deal, the team needs to find his future replacement. Beasley’s dynamic is very similar to Mathis, and can aid in a smooth transition.
27. Arizona Cardinals – Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Andre Ellington lead an injury-riddled Cardinals backfield in 2014, and the team is still unsettled at the position. Gordon can give this team a stable force on the offense when Carson Palmer returns, and keep defenses honest in the box.
28. Dallas Cowboys – Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Marcus Peters has major red flags off the field that will need to be addressed, but on the field, there may not be a more talented cornerback in the class. Cue Jerry Jones, who certainly is afraid to take a chance on high-upside players in the first round.
29. Green Bay Packers – Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
After moving Clay Matthews to inside linebacker, the Packers made it clear that’s where they wanted to target in the upcoming off-season. Kendricks is an active, positioning-polished linebacker who can slide in and start for the Packers immediately on the interior of their defense.
30. Denver Broncos – Gerod Holliman, S, Louisville
Rahim Moore improved at safety for the Broncos this year, but he hasn’t been a plus in their defensive backfield this year. While Holliman has serious concerns in run support and in controlling his aggressiveness, his ball skills are rare and could be a great specialty player early in his career on the Broncos defense. Don’t rule out a quarterback here either.
31. Seattle Seahawks – Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
A recent declaree to the 2015 NFL Draft, Williams is the only tight end in the class that could merit a fringe first-round grade. With the Seahawks in need of updating their talent at the position, Seattle could reach here for the class’s top player at the position.
32. New England Patriots – Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State
Bill Belichick isn’t used to taking a receiver in the first-round, but in a lackluster class and a need to bolster their receiving unit for the future, grabbing Rashad Greene in the late first-round could be a good value for New England.