The 2015 NFL Draft is upon us and trades be damned, it’s time to unleash my final mock of the draft season. I still think we’re going to see at least three trades within the top-15, but it’s impossible to know who or for what, so I’m not going to waste much time wondering how things will go down. Instead, I’m focusing on player value and team needs as I see it. Of course, we also need to keep in mind where players may rank on certain team’s draft boards, which could totally mess things up, depending on who starts to slide in this draft.
For an actual draft board of gigantic proportions, take a look at Keet Bailey’s 2015 Big Board. Without further haste, here is my final first round mock of the 2015 NFL Draft:
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Tampa Bay needs a franchise passer and there are two in this draft. They’ll take the more NFL-ready one, which happens to be Winston.
2. Tennessee Titans – Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
I don’t know if the Titans trade this pick or keep Mariota for themselves, but this is the spot he goes in this year’s draft.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Here’s to tossing my mock out the window. I thought Fowler was the guy here for forever, but the Cooper buzz is starting to get louder and louder. It’s been clear for a while the Jags want to surround Bortles with weapons, and this would do that. I could also see Todd Gurley here.
4. Oakland Raiders – Leonard Williams, DE, USC
Oakland could make the splash with Amari Cooper, but why pass on a defensive stud that can anchor your line? Games are won and lost in the trenches and hopefully the Raiders finally get that.
5. Washington Redskins – Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida
Fowler is probably the top edge rusher in this class and the ‘Skins badly need a replacement for the departed Brian Orakpo. They’ve been reshaping their defense all off-season, so why stop now?
6. New York Jets – Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson
The Jets need a quarterback but they won’t find one here, so it’s back to the defense where they could use some more punch in their pass rush. Easily a top three pass rusher, Beasley fits the bill.
7. Chicago Bears – Danny Shelton, DT, Washington
Shelton is a monster up front and the Bears need a big man to eat space and put pressure up the middle of their new 3-4. Shelton can do both right away.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Steven Jackson is gone and all the Falcons have is Devonta Freeman. They need pass rush help but with Randy Gregory and Shane Ray seemingly falling, perhaps they get a stud runner here and hope one of those guys slides to round two (even though they won’t).
9. New York Giants – Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky
Big Blue is going either pass rush or offensive line here, in my opinion. They could really use another defensive end for their rotation, which hasn’t been close to elite since their last Super Bowl win. Dupree could help change that.
10. St. Louis Rams – Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The Rams have decent wide receiver depth but still lack a true #1 target. White is just that and gives Nick Foles a legit deep threat.
11. Minnesota Vikings – Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
Minnesota needs to patch up an inconsistent offensive line and Scherff can play all across the line. They could also make a splash with a receiver but this is the smarter pick.
12. Cleveland Browns – Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
Cleveland can’t give up on Johnny Football after six quarters. They might, but they shouldn’t. Instead, they need to get him a big-play weapon for the outside.
13. New Orleans Saints – Eli Harold, DE/OLB, Virginia
The Saints can go guard or edge rusher here. Considering how much of a dip we saw out of their defense a year ago, I think they go after a stud pass rusher. They could take a stab at the free falling Gregory or Ray, but I think they grab the safer prospect in Harold. La’el Collins is a major candidate here, as well.
14. Miami Dolphins – La’el Collins, OG, LSU
Miami’s o-line is not good despite statistically doing well in 2014. They need help at both guard and tackle. Collins is a stud run blocker who should slide in at guard from day one.
15. San Francisco 49ers – Arik Armstead, DT, Oregon
Justin Smith is on his way out and the Niners keep losing solid defensive boddies. Armstead is a force on the line and could be a two-way presence for them, helping against both the run and pass.
16. Houston Texans – DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
Andre Johnson is gone and DeAndre Hopkins needs a long-term running mate in the passing game. Parker is a total stud that will end up being an elite #2 option.
17. San Diego Chargers – Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Ryan Mathews is gone and the Bolts don’t currently have a plan to replace him. Gordon is it.
18. Kansas City Chiefs – Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State
Kansas City could use some help in the secondary or they could add another wide receiver talent. Since they already signed Maclin, I think the best corner in the draft will do here.
19. Cleveland Browns – Randy Gregory, DE/OLB, Nebraska
Gregory has made some off field mistakes but he’s slid far enough. He just might be the best pure pass rusher in this entire class and the Browns will do the Browns thing and make at least one of their first round picks a major risk.
20. Philadelphia Eagles – Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Philly could trade up for Mariota, but if they’re here they’re going safety. They only have one legit safety on the roster and could use more talent in the secondary, while Collins is far and away the top safety this year.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Malcom Brown, DT, Texas
Cincy has issues up front defensively so it’s time to correct them with a staggering menace in the middle in Brown. He surprisingly has the athleticism and versatility to fit any scheme, so he’ll be perfect for them down the road.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers – Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
Ike Taylor is done so the Steelers need cornerback help pronto. They could grab more pass rush help or a body for the defensive line, as well, but Peters is a top-two corner and shouldn’t slide much further.
23. Detroit Lions – Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley both left and Haloti Ngata is a rental. The Lions need to think long-term and start rebuilding their defensive line.
24. Arizona Cardinals – Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
Ray could easily slide out of the first round entirely, but the need for elite pass rushers is probably too great. For as awesome as they were a year ago, the Cards are in serious danger of dropping off in a big way. They sorely need pass rush help.
25. Carolina Panthers – Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford
Carolina still needs help on the o-line. They could get another wide receiver but they took one last year and the o-line is still too shaky to leave alone. Peat is a stud tackle that should be gone by now.
26. Baltimore Ravens – Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma
Baltimore has no one outside of an aging Steve Smith. Wide receiver is a massive need for them and DGB may have top-three upside.
27. Dallas Cowboys – Jalen Collins, CB, LSU
Dallas is mostly set on offense unless the right running back falls into their lap. I could see them reaching for T.J. Yeldon here, but they also need to keep adding pieces to an average defense. A stud corner like Collins is a good move.
28. Denver Broncos – Jake Fisher, OT, Oregon
Denver’s offensive line needs some work, both to improve pass protection and to get new, young bodies that can operate in Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking scheme. Fisher is built perfectly to do just that.
29. Indianapolis Colts – D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida
Indy can do whatever they want with this pick, but it’s probably going to be spent on the o-line or on an impact defender. I say offensive line, since their run-blocking has been shaky and Andrew Luck continues to get hit more than he ever should.
30. Green Bay Packers – Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA
Green Bay moved on from it’s top two inside linebacker and it’s top two corners. Linebacker is the immediate need, but corner obviously is in the running here. Kendricks is a fringe first round talent, but at 30 the Packers can go ahead and reach. They need him badly.
31. New Orleans Saints – Cameron Erving, C, Florida State
If the Saints don’t grab La’el Collins with their first pick they’ll hope the ever versatile Erving falls to them. He’s probably best suited to play center but he can really play literally any position. They’ll need him at guard, where he could excel.
32. New England Patriots – Eddie Goldman, DT, Florida State
Vince Wilfork is gone so the Pats need to get him a replacement. Goldman is a steady presence in the middle, but if New England gets bold and waits on DT, I could see corner or offensive line here.