2015 NFL Mock Draft – First Round

by Dan M | Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2015


By Luke Dunlap

The 2015 NFL Draft starts on next Thursday Aprl 30 – May 2.  Here is our take on how the first round will go down.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
This selection is pretty much locked in. Barring something crazy happening over the next week, the Buccaneers will be picking Jameis Winston. There have been rumors about Marcus Mariota possibly going No. 1, but those chances are extremely slim. Tampa Bay’s front office and coaching staff prefers Winston over Mariota by a wide margin. One of the owners expressed concern about Winston’s off-the-field issues, and those are very legitimate, but it’s likely that everyone else in the organization assured her that Winston won’t be a problem.
Also, don’t count on a trade happening. We reported several months ago that Tampa was more than willing to move up for a signal-caller, but that’s not necessary now that the Buccaneers own the top selection. Thus, all speculation of them moving down is pretty pointless.

2. Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Both Chris Mortensen and Jim Wyatt reported back in January that Tennessee is set to go “all in” with Zach Mettenberger next season. That was accurate back then, but things have changed. The Titans’ front office has gotten to know Marcus Mariota, and now it would be a surprise if Mariota wasn’t the No. 2 overall pick in some shape or form.
Mariota isn’t an ideal fit for Ken Whisenhunt’s offense, but there have been many examples of coaches taking talent over system fits in the past. Take Andy Reid drafting Donovan McNabb, for example. The need for a franchise signal-caller trumps everything.
Mariota helped himself at the NFL Combine, impressing teams in the interviews and looking great in the field drills. Sixty-six percent of mock drafts have the Titans picking Mariota, per our mock draft consensus report. Leonard Williams used to be the favorite, but I never bought Williams going to Tennessee. Mariota is much more likely, whether it’s Tennessee pulling the trigger, or someone else. As for the “someone else,” I’d say San Diego is the favorite right now, but anything can happen.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars
Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
The Jaguars needed offensive line help much more than another player on the defensive front heading into free agency, but they signed Jermey Parnell to a big contract, so they can definitely go with the top player on their board. While many believe that to be Leonard Williams, I’m hearing that Williams isn’t as highly regarded among teams as he is in the media, as there is some concern with his consistency. Dante Fowler might be higher on Jacksonville’s board. Besides, Fowler fills a greater need in the wake of the Jared Odrick signing. The Jaguars have to find a better edge rusher.

4. Oakland Raiders
Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC
The Raiders definitely wouldn’t mind landing Leonard Williams. He would fill a huge need, and as Charlie Campbell reported a couple of months ago, Williams told Oakland that he would love to play for them. I didn’t think there was a chance Williams would fall to No. 4, but as I mentioned in the Jaguars’ write-up, teams aren’t as high on Williams as the media is. This is not a rare phenomenon, as we saw this last year with Teddy Bridgewater. Many believe that Bridgewater’s stock dropped because of a poor Pro Day, but in reality – and we reported this ahead of time – teams never liked him to begin with. Perhaps some will be surprised if Williams falls to No. 4, but the Raiders will happily take him.

5. Washington Redskins
Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
I had the Redskins picking Danny Shelton in a previous update, but with Terrance Knighton signed on, Washington can select the top player available who makes sense for them. That would be the rising Vic Beasley, who was terrific at the NFL Combine.
Beasley doesn’t really fill a glaring need, as the Redskins have Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy as edge rushers. However, Brian Orakpo left for Tennessee, so depth is needed. Beasley would join the two to form a very strong rotation of pass-rushers to harass Tony Romo and the other opposing quarterbacks in the NFC East.

6. New York Jets
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
This pick may surprise some, as the Jets brought in Brandon Marshall this offseason to go along with Eric Decker in the receiving corps. However, there are two things to consider: First, Amari Cooper is arguably the best player available, so New York will at least consider him. Second, Brandon Marshall will be owed more than $16 million over the final two years of his contract after the 2015 campaign. He’ll be 32 next offseason, and he showed signs of slowing down this past year. Meanwhile, Decker is not a No. 1 target. Amari Cooper certainly projects to be one.

7. Chicago Bears
Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
I had the Bears addressing the outside linebacker position in a previous update, but that is no longer a prime need in the wake of the Pernell McPhee signing. Chicago could stand to add another pass-rusher, but the front office can look to other positions now with the No. 7 overall pick.
One such position is receiver. Brandon Marshall was traded to the Jets, so Jay Cutler will need someone to throw to besides Alshon Jeffery. Kevin White, who blew up the Combine, is the same type of big target that Marshall was.

8. Atlanta Falcons
Alvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
The run on edge rushers continues, which is predictable, but some might be surprised by Alvin Dupree over Randy Gregory or Shane Ray. After all, Gregory was a popular top-three pick in 2015 NFL Mock Drafts prior to the NFL Combine, Ray has been a steady member of my top six, so how could they slip past Atlanta, who are desperate for a pass-rusher?
Well, Gregory had a poor showing at the NFL Combine, for one. Gregory then tested positive for marijuana, making things worse. There’s also his weight loss, and something else that the media is unaware of (but teams are). Ray, meanwhile, just doesn’t happen to be a good fit for the Falcons’ defense.
Dupree has enjoyed an exceptional draft season. He’s also exactly what Atlanta is looking for in terms of an explosive defensive player, and he’s not a reach here. He’s a legitimate top-10 prospect.

9. New York Giants
Brandon Scherff, OT/G, Iowa
Amari Cooper will be the pick if he makes it this far, but I’m beginning to think that’s unlikely. Thus, the Giants will look at a more-pressing need with a slightly lesser talent.
Brandon Scherff makes a ton of sense. New York has had issues protecting Eli Manning the past few seasons, and its most-glaring hole is on the interior. Brandon Scherff, seen by many as this year’s Zack Martin, would be a massive upgrade.

10. St. Louis Rams
Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami
The Rams still have some holes on their offensive line. Jake Long’s health was a serious concern, prompting the front office to release him. There’s a void at the guard spot that Greg Robinson previously occupied. Meanwhile, right tackle Joseph Barksdale is a free agent. Here’s a solution for the latter dilemma.

11. Minnesota Vikings
Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
The Vikings could use an early selection on a cornerback so that they have a long-term starter across from Xavier Rhodes. Trae Waynes was slotted at No. 6 a couple of weeks ago, so taking him with the 11th pick presents solid value. Plus, he’s a perfect fit for Zimmer’s scheme.

12. Cleveland Browns
Danny Shelton, NT, Washington
Cleveland was atrocious against the run to close out the season. Part of the reason for that was incompetent play from the defensive line. It didn’t help that Phil Taylor, who struggled early, missed the second half of the year with a knee injury. He has literally been a huge disappointment. The same goes for Ahtyba Rubin, who is gone.
I’ve had Danny Shelton as high as No. 5 before, so being able to grab him at the 12th selection is a steal. I just couldn’t find a home for him in the top 10. I considered Chicago, but Kevin White seems like the better prospect.

13. New Orleans Saints
Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
The Saints need to draft the best defensive player available to fortify their putrid stop unit. In this mock draft scenario, that would be Shane Ray, who would project as a big upgrade at outside linebacker.
I had Ray going to the Jets in the past dozen or so updates, but that was a bit too high for him. Ray has been an overrated prospect, but this seems like the right range for him.

14. Miami Dolphins
DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
It was a given that Mike Wallace would be jettisoned this offseason, and sure enough, he was dealt to Minnesota. Kenny Stills was acquired, but he’s not a No. 1 target. Neither is Jarvis Landry, who was impressive as a rookie. The Dolphins could stand to add a top-notch receiver, and it appears they are trying to do so, if their interest in Michael Crabtree was any indication.

15. San Francisco 49ers
Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
The 49ers lost two starting cornerbacks this offseason, as Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox have moved on to different teams. This has created a massive void at the cornerback position, which will need to be addressed early in the 2015 NFL Draft. Otherwise, someone like Shareece Wright may have to start for San Francisco, which would be disastrous.

16. Houston Texans
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Todd Gurley to the Texans!? Don’t they have Arian Foster? Sure, but Foster is usually banged up, and Todd Gurley, despite his injury, would be too good for Houston to pass up at No. 16. The Texans don’t have a quarterback, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to get one this offseason – Brian Hoyer doesn’t really count – so they better make sure they can run the hell out of the ball. Foster is too injury-prone and unreliable, so having Gurley in the backfield to split the carries would solidify that aspect of Houston’s offense.
Gurley obviously couldn’t perform at the NFL Combine, but he did check out positively in the medical. He’s ahead of schedule, and many of the teams are reportedly pleased with his progress. He could end up being a steal here, as he would be the favorite to go sixth overall to the Jets if he were healthy.

17. San Diego Chargers
Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
I’d say San Diego’s No. 1 priority is protecting Philip Rivers, but there have been rumors that the front office could trade Rivers if it can somehow land Marcus Mariota. That could happen, and if it does, the Chargers’ top priority would be finding adequate blocking for Mariota.
Offensive tackle is definitely in play at No. 17, as the Andrus Peat selection would mean that one of King Dunlap or D.J. Fluker would move inside (probably the former).

18. Kansas City Chiefs
La’el Collins, G/OT, LSU
The Chiefs had pass protection issues this past season – only six teams surrendered more sacks – and I doubt Andy Reid will pass on an offensive lineman in the first couple of rounds. Reid loves drafting linemen, and he’s getting La’el Collins, who could easily go as high as No. 10.

19. Cleveland Browns
D.J. Humphries, OT/G, Florida
The Browns have expressed a desire to fortify their offensive and defensive lines, so they can take care of the former with this selection. The front office wanted to upgrade Mitchell Schwartz last year, with plans to move him inside. Here’s a potential new starter in D.J. Humphries, who has generated a ton of buzz lately.

20. Philadelphia Eagles
Nelson Agholor, WR, USC
Jeremy Maclin surprised everyone by signing with the Chiefs (i.e. sabotaging his career). The Eagles will probably take a receiver in the first three rounds, and Chip Kelly is very familiar with this Pac-12 receiver. I went back and forth between Jaelen Strong and Nelson Agholor. If you didn’t see it, Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com wrote a great article about why he thinks Agholor will be Philadelphia’s selection. I went with Strong in a previous update because I have him higher on my board, but his injury pushed this selection back toward Agholor.

21. Cincinnati Bengals
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
The Bengals don’t always draft players with character issues; in fact, they haven’t done that recently. However, they haven’t been reluctant to take troubled players in the past, and given that they’re incapable of getting out of the first round, perhaps they’ll take a chance on this sort of mega talent.
Dorial Green-Beckham would be a top-10 lock if he happened to be clean off the field. He would be a terrific No. 2 target for Andy Dalton, and he would definitely draw attention away from A.J. Green.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers
Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
It always seems like a talented prospect falls to the Steelers every April, and that could be Randy Gregory this year. Pittsburgh is usually reluctant to select a conversion player in the first round, but Gregory is too talented for the front office not to consider him. He would also fill a huge need as an edge rusher, as the Steelers desperately need to improve their ability to get to the quarterback.
Some of Gregory’s issues are documented. He tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine and then reportedly showed up below 230 pounds on some of his pre-draft visits. There are even more dire issues that haven’t been brought to the public’s attention yet. However, the Steelers took another troubled player from the Big Ten a few years ago when they spent a second-round pick on Mike Adams. They checked Adams out, and they were content with what they saw. Perhaps history will repeat itself.

23. Detroit Lions
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Reggie Bush was released earlier in the offseason, so the Lions will need to find someone to split the load with Joique Bell. Detroit’s front office typically likes picking the top player available, and Melvin Gordon could fit that description, as he has drawn comparisons to Jamaal Charles.

24. Arizona Cardinals
Arik Armstead, DE/DT, Oregon
The Cardinals have lost a number of talented defensive players over the past couple of years. One is Darnell Dockett, who signed with the rival 49ers. Arizona has brought in Cory Redding, but the former Colt is 34, so the front office has to find a five-technique for the long haul.

25. Carolina Panthers
Shaq Thompson, LB/S, Washington
Shaq Thompson told the media that he has received the most interest from the Panthers. That could mean nothing – or it could mean everything. Carolina’s biggest needs are at receiver and tackle, but the team could select the top prospect available to fill a lesser hole. The Panthers definitely need to find a third linebacker (or a strong safety) and perhaps some insurance for Thomas Davis, a 32-year-old heading into his contract season.

26. Baltimore Ravens
Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
The Ravens will be looking for an offensive weapon with one of their first couple of draft picks. The receiver position needs help; Torrey Smith has signed elsewhere, while Steve Smith, who turns 36 in May, won’t be around for very long.

27. Dallas Cowboys
Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
The Cowboys desperately need help at cornerback. Morris Claiborne has been a bust, while Brandon Carr is extremely overpaid. Dallas could target a potential upgrade at the end of the first round.

28. Denver Broncos
Cameron Erving, OT/G/C, Florida State
Peyton Manning was playing on one leg to close out the season. His pass protection wasn’t very good, and it’s now worse in the wake of Orlando Franklin’s departure. The Broncos would be smart to bolster in the interior of their offensive line so that Manning isn’t banged around very much this upcoming season.

29. Indianapolis Colts
Landon Collins, S, Alabama
The Colts don’t exactly have the league’s best safety corps, as Dwight Lowery is just mediocre, while Mike Adams recently turned 34. They can certainly do better on the back end of their defense. Landon Collins, once projected to go in the top 10, might be seen as a steal here.

30. Green Bay Packers
Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
The Packers will be extremely fortunate if Eric Kendricks drops to them at No. 30. Kendricks, the top inside linebacker in this class by a wide margin, would fill a huge need, as he would allow Clay Matthews to play on the edge in 2015. Kendricks could be chosen by the Chiefs, Browns, Cardinals, Cowboys, Broncos and Colts, so as with Ryan Shazier last year, Green Bay could miss out on the top player who would address its biggest hole.

31. New Orleans Saints
Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami
Phillip Dorsett makes his first-round debut. We’ve spoken to one team selecting in the middle of the second round that loves Dorsett, and they now believe that he won’t make it to their pick. Also, Tony Pauline reported that Sean Payton was overheard gushing about Dorsett, remarking how well the Miami receiver would fit into his offense.

32. New England Patriots
Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
A receiver like Devin Smith is still in play for the Patriots, but they may have a tough time passing on a defensive tackle as talented as Eddie Goldman dropping to them at No. 32. Considering Vince Wilfork’s departure, and the fact that New England has other players at the position set to hit free agency next spring, Goldman makes a ton of sense if he’s available.


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